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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 1 : Let’s go be explorers…

“That’s a space battleship, come on, that’s kinda cool.”

USS Atlantis, Delta Quadrant
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Mission Day 93
1830 HR
Counsellor Gavin Hu’s office

Being off duty afforded both Tikva and Adelinde the opportunity to be more comfortable and out of uniform when they attended their joint appointment with Counsellor Gavin Hu. For his own part, Counsellor Hu was rarely in uniform anyway, seeing to the mental wellbeing of an entire ship’s crew, he tended to prefer appointments and found being out of uniform helped calm people. The office itself was well decorated – a bookshelf full of books, knick-knacks and mementos all accompanied by a couple of very healthy-looking plants on either side, a very comfy looking couch separated from a very well lived in single seat separated by a low coffee table that maintained a vigil keeping a light grey shag rug pinned to the floor.

For a room in an internal compartment to the ship, it didn’t feel it. This was mostly due to the single wall that had a box frame that resembled a window sill taking up the majority of the wall and inside of that a single massive monitor displaying the most realistic and life like image of a garden somewhere. Green grass, a variety of plant life in some well maintained, but not harshly so, beds, with a timber fence on both sides, the back fence obscured by a shed and more plant life. The garden looked to be twice or maybe even three times the size of most holodecks.

This a recording or just a generated image?

If it’s generated it’s damn good! If it’s a recording, damn that’s a nice-looking garden.

“So,” Hu said as he lowered himself into his chair, having seen to Tikva and Adelinde’s needs by bringing a carafe of water and some glasses for all to the coffee table, “what can I do for you two?”

He knows, they all know! So why do they ask that question?

Because Reptile-Brain, they want us to voice it and therefore acknowledge it. Now shut up, Fore-Brain needs to do the thinking now.

“We’re here,” Adelinde started, “because we clearly need to establish some work and personal life boundaries.”

“We’re in a relationship,” Tikva blurted out, then winced, eyes closing before opening just one and looking at Adelinde for any disappointment at her sudden announcement. She was confused and that carried to her face when she didn’t see it but was instead greeted by a smile.

“That too,” the larger woman said as she returned her attention to Gavin, who was taking a few notes on a padd.

“Ah, rank imbalance, chain of command, Captain and officer situation. My my, were we trying to collect all the potentional sources of conflict?” Hu asked with mirth in his voice and a smile coming to his face. “I can see we’re going to have our work cut out for us, but there is no reason we can’t…establish some work and personal life boundaries. Couple’s counselling, individual sessions and you, Captain Theodoras, will have to actually set regular sessions with me I think.”

“Ugh, really?” Tikva asked, getting the answer in the form of a withering stare even her mother would have to respect. When she turned to Adelinde for any form of support she found the same stare.

Are they just handing these looks out now? Why wasn’t I issued a withering stare?

You got the center chair, a starship that violates classical physics and enough firepower to start and end numerous planetary wars in an afternoon. You don’t need a stare; you’ve got people for that.

Oh yah, I got people. Who are staring at me!

Okay, point, this could be a problem. Surrender might be the best option here.

“Okay, fine, I’ll set down a time for regular sessions. And I’ll even put them in my calendar as non-negotiables,” she relented, slumping a little in the couch before sitting up again. Being the shortest person in the room, then making herself ‘shorter’ by slouching just made her feel uncomfortable.

“And you Adelinde?” Hu asked, turning on the ship’s tactical officer.

“I’ve already sent you a request for appointment times, having compared my schedules with your free appointment slots, for you to confirm at your leisure.” Someone was clearly more…motivated? Well prepared? Tikva couldn’t quiet decide, but Hu’s look of surprise was pleasant as he pulled up info on his padd and confirmed Adelinde’s comment.

Gods she’s gorgeous when she’s organised.

She’s gorgeous. Fixed that statement for you.

Thanks Reptile-Brain, much appreciated.

Any time!

“Oh…okay. Not used to people chasing me up. I’ll get back to you by morning then on appointments.” He pushed a button on the padd, deactivating the screen and slide it between his leg and the chair arm. “Right, so, where would you like to start?”

“And how does that make you feel?” Hu asked.

“Terrified actually. I mean, ordering people into potentially deadly situations? I knew I was going to face that, heck I subjected myself to the Kobayashi Maru and the Rivaldi Paradox training scenarios after my injuries. But can I do it? Yah. I’ll be sick about it; I’ll question myself at every turn afterwards. But…I have done it. I’ve been that person ordered to do something dangerous, I’ve ordered others before. Never liked it, hated each time, but…well…some things have to be done. Greater good and all that.”

Hu nodded and noted down something on his padd. “And what if the best person for the job was Adelinde? You think you can still order her to undertake a dangerous, potentially life-threatening mission?”

“I…I don’t know. I’d like to think I could. I’d like to think I’d weigh up the options, be professionally detached and send the best person with a chance of success to do the job. But…I just don’t know. But isn’t that why commanders have XOs and senior staffs? To call them out, or spot the bad decision and challenge them?” Tikva responded, actually slumping back in to the couch this time. She looked to Adelinde and offered a smile. “I…” she started, then stopped. “You were right, we need to do this. We need to work on these boundaries and lines.”

“Your first date was a fight?” Hu asked, entering in something into his padd with a stylus and looking up as both women before him were smiling. Like school girls.

“It wasn’t a fight, it was combat training,” Adelinde corrected. “And I won.” She threw that last bit in because she knew she’d get a rise out of Tikva.

And on cue it happened. “Won? You fought dirty.” There was a definitive blush to Tikva’s cheeks as she glared at her girlfriend.

“I won.”

“Okay,” Hu said. “Let’s change subject.”

“Communication?” Hu asked of Adelinde.

“I’d like to think we’re pretty good at communicating. We have a no work policy when eating dinner together, so we actually do talk. And I insist on date nights,” Adelinde responded, looking over to Tivka, which rewarded her with a smile from the smaller woman. “We’ve had a few disagreements, but nothing major yet. Neither of us has stormed out, preferring to talk the problems out.”

“That’s actually pretty heartening to hear,” Hu said. “Never go to bed angry.” His padd chirped and he looked at it. “Right, I’m going to call it there,” he said, gently pushing to his feet. “I’ve got plenty, and I do mean plenty here to work with here. I’m going to find a spot for another session in three days. I want you to think about what was said here, leave it percolating in your brains for a bit. Okay?”

Royal Navy Starcruiser Talaru
Command Center

The Royal Navy starscruiser Talaru was rigged for combat as Captain Gareli Nularu sunk down into her command chair. She was, like the entire crew, kitted out in the best light pressure suits the Royal Navy had in inventory. The suit wasn’t rated for long term space use, but in the event of a catastrophic hull breach it would save your life hopefully long enough for someone to come and find you and rescue you from a fate of endlessly drifting in the void.

While the navy uniforms tended towards the darker colours, the pressure suits tended to white, the better to be seen with after all. It wasn’t as bulky or scary as the original pressure suits her people had used in their early space days, this barely being more cumbersome than her normal uniform. She could do without the helmet, but she’d ordered all helmet’s sealed just in case they took fire immediately upon disengaging the Hetch drive.

“Hetch drive shut down in one minute,” her helmsman said from his station to her forward left. No one was on the viewing bridge now, they were all here in the Command Center, in the middle of the ship, with armour plates and bulk of the ship between them and hostile intentions.

At the front end of the command center was a massive screen, displaying a visual feed from one camera in the middle, numerous other camera feeds along either side but which could swap with the central feed at the push of a button. Ship statistics were also displayed with a series of orthographics along the bottom to show ship status along all three axis.

All weapons were reporting ready for action. CiC reported ship’s sensors were ready to spot targets and provide what targeting information they could. Engineering was reporting problems with the Hetch drive still, the source of their problem being mechanical failure outside of their current stocks to repair – they’d be limping home at Hetch Four if they survived where four other ships hadn’t.

“Still no response?” Nularu asked, her helmet’s mic relaying her spoke words to the entire bridge crew around her.

“No ma’am. Galiru Outpost confirms the target is still present, but they haven’t responded to our communication attempts, or those of Galiru Outpost either. They’ve moved within the star system though, but not by far,” Commander Jamin Chru confirmed. But he wasn’t on the bridge. He was safely ensconced in another chamber, similar but smaller, elsewhere in the ship, but he heard everything she said and his face was on a screen on the main viewer, picked up by a visual pickup somewhere on his chair, as she was for those in Secondary Command.

“Hetch Drive shut down,” the helm officer spoke and the ship once again resumed sub-luminal velocities. The streaks of stars disappeared to be replaced with pinpricks of light, unmoving but steady in their luminosity.

For the outside observer, the bulky form of the RNS Talaru was a gunmetal grey somewhat flattened and elongated ovaloid. A dark purple line ran around the ships’ mid line on the equator of the ovaloid. The dorsal side of the craft had a tower structure of harsh edges sticking out, with a smaller version of the structure on the ventral side of the craft. What could only be described as large turrets existed along the dorsal and ventral hulls, running down the long axis, two fore and one aft of the tower structures. Towards the rear of the craft two large nacelles were held away from the body of the craft on pylons, a dark blue glow emanating from grills on the outer surfaces.

Those grills however rapidly faded in colour as green vapour emitted from the rear of the nacelles and they began to retract towards the hull, even slipping inside as armour plates came down to enclose them and keep the ship’s drive nacelles safe from enemy fire.

A hatch opened towards the front point of the ship, not terribly large, and a cylinder the same width of the pipe but twice the height of a human shot out before the hatch closed. The cylinder coasted away from the ship before firing up an engine of its own and disappearing into the Stella Incognito system at a rapid pace.

“Probe away to last known location of Bogey Alpha,” came a response from Tracking. Nularu nodded acknowledgement in case one of the Tracking team was looking towards her, but if they weren’t doing their jobs and looking to their Captain for approval, then they’d be in trouble.

“Engineering reports Hetch drive is stowed and secured ma’am. Impulse engines are ready for manoeuvring. Turret Dorsal Charlie is reporting a powerloss in their number two barrel and drive motors. They’ll be slow in bringing weapons to bare until resolved.”

“Understood,” she said to this report. It demanded a verbal acknowledgement to let her Tactical team know she had heard the report. She wished her chief gunnery officer was with her, but he was in Secondary Command, as part of splitting the senior officers between both locations – just in case after all.

“Mr Gali, set a pursuit course after our probe and proceed at one quarter impulse if you please. Guns, keep an eye out for anyone that might be looking to shoot at us. Unlike everyone else, I intended to return home.”

“Aye aye ma’am,” came two sets of voices confirming her orders.

Mission Day 04
1600 HR
Main Bridge

“Still no response?” Mac asked from the XO’s seat, looking pretty confused while keeping his eyes on the main viewer. The image of the alien spaceship was a little blurry to say the least, seeing as the distance between Bogey 1 and Atlantis was the better part of five AU at the moment. They’d been trying to get a hold of the alien newcomers for a while, but they’d had no response since they’d dropped out of warp.

“None,” Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr said as he checked his instruments again. “Their probe’s engine has just burned out. But it’s maintaining a subspace field. Huh…it’s keeping it’s driver coil online to coast at high speeds. That coil shuts off and the mass side of the equation will slow them down. That’s…absurdly beautiful in its simplicity.”

“I think I see why we haven’t got a response yet,” Carmargo said. “Or, well, Lieutenant Jarro just figured it out and messaged me.”

“Spill,” Tikva said. She wasn’t seated, but had been pacing around in the space between the command chairs and helm and operations consoles. Now she was standing still and looking straight at her science officer, eager to hear the theory.

“We’re looking for, say a transmission, directed at us via subspace. They clearly have some subspace technology, but that doesn’t mean subspace radio. I’m likely going to pick up some actual radio chatter from the probe and the ship soon enough, but…” She stopped and threw up a subspace emissions spectrum from the alien ship on the main viewer.

“It looks like they’ve been pulsing their drive signature ever so slightly to communicate. Likely not efficient, or much bandwidth, but it’d work as long as someone can track subspace signatures. But since they stopped moving at warp, they’ve still been doing it, just not as loud since they’ve basically only got their warp core to beat the subspace drum, not the warp coils, so to speak.”

“Wait, what?” asked Mac, looking horribly confused. “They’ve been using their engines to try and communicate?”

“Jarro is calling it a hypothesis currently. You might be able to get some directionality with certain field modulations and such, but really only ahead or behind you, as well as omnidirectional if you’re not fussy on your recipient.”

“That’s absurd,” Mac said, shaking his head. “Seriously, who does that?”

“These folks do,” Tikva responded. “And don’t knock it. Maybe no one has held their hand like the Vulcans did for us or the Federation has for countless other species. Maybe everything they’ve done makes perfect sense to them. After all, if you’ve got a warp drive and tracking, but no radio, why not use the engine to tap out some morse code?”

“Uh, Captain, you might want to see this,” Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr said, dismissing Carmargo’s spectrum and returning the view screen to the alien ship.

The turrets were no longer sitting in straight lines, pointing in the direction of the ship’s travel, but turning to present barrels at a target. Before she could ask Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr had split the screen to show an asteroid in the outer system they’d failed to catalogue, but which was just an asteroid, spinning through the depths of space.

“Looks like our friends spotted a platform that’s just gone live and spotted them as well.”

“Looks like they’re about to fire cannons at it too. If they fire honest to goodness artillery at that platform, I’m going to officially call these people anachronistic and my new favourite species of the Delta Quadrant,” Mac said. “That’s a space battleship, come on, that’s kinda cool.”

Adelinde spoke up from her station. “I agree, that is kind of cool. I’m not detecting any shields coming online though.”

Tikva sighed, rolled her eyes and returned to watching as the twin barrelled turrets, six in total, bore down on the asteroid. The asteroid itself was now spinning against nature, its own guidance systems likely bringing its own weapons to bare. This was a race to see who could fire first.

The newcomers won.

There was no artillery as Mac and Adelinde had wanted, but searing blue beams of phaser fire screamed across the cosmos from the ship and slamming into the asteroid. The beams were immense monsters of firepower, making up for efficiency and accuracy, for technological design, by simply being immensely powerful and brutal. Where they slammed into the asteroid, they fused and melted rocks. They tore through material and into the heart of the platform there, destroying critical machinery and circuits, smashing power systems and killing a centuries old sentinel before it could carry out its orders.

“Okay…that was scary.”

Royal Navy Starcruiser Talaru
Command Center

“Ma’am, probe has a visual on the alien ship,” Ms Hitaru spoke up from Tracking. She was one of Nularu’s favourites, but that was more because she was the only other female on the command staff and they both came from the same province.

“On screen Ms Hitaru, if you please.”

Soon enough the smouldering remains of the asteroid they’d fired on disappeared and was replaced with a blurry image. It was the first image returned after all that was more then just a spec of light. The signal was delayed by the speed of light from the probe, but the camera onboard the probe was now significantly closer to the ship in question then the Talaru was.

The vessel was…odd. It bore no weapon turrets, or weapon blisters of any kind as far as she could see. The front of the vessel was an arrowhead that tapered and then drew out away from the arrow base to form the body of the ship. But instead of having their hetch nacelles on retractable pylons to keep them safe, this ship looked like they were permanently mounted in place on pylons held away from the bulk of the craft and underslung so that looking at the ship from head on you could see them hanging below the arrowhead.

They were woefully under armed and woefully unprepared for a fight if they weren’t prepared to defend and protect their hetch drive. It even looked active, which was just asking for someone to fire on it. The drive plasma would destabilise, react with the coils and permanently ruin the drive, limiting a ship to sublight. Everyone knew that and it was taught at the Tactics Academy to command and gunnery officers from the beginning.

Always flush drives before battle to protect the hetch drive.

The hull was a glistening grey-white with smatterings of red lines or grey patches along the hull with darker grey raised bumps that ran along segments of the hull. And there, along the upper surface of the arrow head on either side of raised portion that looked like a growth stunted version of her own conning towers where a series of numbers and letters, matching on either side.

U.S.S. Atlantis