[Captain Bastin’s Quarters, USS Argonaut]
Captain Jonathan Bastin woke with a start as his nearby desk console began to warble loudly with an incoming communication. Bastin pushed himself to a sitting position, which soon followed a rather stumbling journey around the desk that finally brought him to a seated position in front of the monitor. A quick tap on the operator panel brought the message up into view, and the symbol that was displayed was all he really needed to see to know that the news that followed it would be anything but good.
The screen changed to show the image of an Admiral that Bastin wasn’t immediately familiar with, though given that the Omega symbol had preceded his appearance, it was highly likely that the person he was looking at wasn’t someone a starship Captain would meet outside of the most critical of situations.
“Captain Bastin, I’ll make this as short and to the point as I can. Starfleet sensor platforms near your location have detected Omega particles. As I’m sure you’re aware, these particles are a threat to everyone in the region. As you are the closest starship to the outbreak, we are diverting you from your current mission to cordon off the area and prevent anyone from interacting with these particles until our eradication team can arrive on scene. You should be able to arrive within the hour at maximum warp. Luckily no other ships have been observed to have plotted a course that will take them through the affected region, so hopefully it will be a simple enough matter of just holding your position prior to the teams arrival. If, by some chance, you do run into anyone else while you’re out there, remember that the Omega Directive takes priority over all other concerns. I will send you the coordinates at the end of this transmission. Any questions, Captain?” the Admiral explained without so much as a pause.
“Then good luck to you… Starfleet out.”
His screen went black, replaced shortly thereafter with the Omega symbol. Bastin knew he couldn’t do anything about it until he got to the bridge, so he abandoned his desk and threw his uniform on as quickly as he could before setting out for his Ready Room.
[Bridge, USS Argonaut]
Captain Bastin stepped out onto his ship’s bridge to find the officers on watch in a panic over being locked out of every ship system imaginable. While internally he sympathized with his crew and their confusion, the reality was that he couldn’t afford to give them even a cursory explanation, much as he would have liked to ease their minds.
“Captain, the ship suddenly locked us out of all but the most basic of functions,” the officer on watch reported.
“I’m aware, Lieutenant,” was all Bastin could muster before changing the topic, “I want you to go inform the First Officer, Operations Officer, Security Chief, and Chief Engineer to meet me in the Conference Room in ten minutes.”
“But sir, we can’t even use ship wide intercoms…” the Lieutenant began before being cut off.
“I am aware of that as well. I want you to designate everyone here on the bridge to contact each of the individuals I’ve names, and anyone who is not going after them is relieved and is to return to their departments until told otherwise,” the Captain said curtly.
“Aye… sir…” the Lieutenant said haltingly, probing the Captain’s face for some clue as to what brought about the bizarre change in his usual demeanor.
“Lieutenant, I appreciate that this is an unusual situation, but now isn’t the time to stand around waiting for answers, they won’t be forthcoming. Please carry out my orders and clear the bridge,” Bastin said, his eyes narrowing slightly in displeasure.
“Right away, Captain,” the man nodded, spooked by his normally friendly Captain’s dismissive treatment.
The entire bridge watch began to scatter, heading after their respective department heads in an effort to escape the heavy atmosphere that had settled on the bridge. It wasn’t until the compartment was well and truly empty that Bastin allowed himself a long and frustrated sigh.
[Conference Room, USS Argonaut]
The officers gathered in the conference room could feel the pressure of what was transpiring even as they waited for Captain Bastin to speak. Everything about the situation was strange, from the computer lockout to the manner in which they had been informed of the meeting they were now waiting to start. It was not unfair to say that the assembled people in the room were confused and on edge as they watched their Captain round the table and take his seat.
“The next few hours are going to be very difficult for all of us,” Captain Bastin said as an opener, “As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the ship has been locked down. It will remain that way, with the sole exception of the bridge, until further notice. The only people who are authorized to be on the bridge are those in this room right now. With me so far?”
Everyone assembled gave the Captain a brief nod, though their faces didn’t reflect any great sense of relief at the directive being handed out. They were, however, professional enough not to voice their doubts and questions immediately.
“I have been given a set of coordinates, which I have already programmed into the helm and set the ship to navigate to. Once we arrive, our mission is to monitor the area and intercept anyone who would try to enter the area we’ve been tasked to defend. Another Federation vessel has been dispatched behind us, it will be their job to actually handle the situation we’re being sent to contain. Nothing you see or hear during the lockdown leaves the bridge, under any circumstances. Any order I give you during this lockdown is to be followed without question, even an order you would not normally expect me to make. I appreciate that I’m asking a lot and explaining next to nothing, but I’m afraid this is how the situation we’ve been dispatched to handle must be approached,” the Captain said, waving a meandering string of directives together that seemed very disjointed.
“Is the situation that dangerous that we have to be kept in the dark like this, Captain?” the ship’s First Officer spoke up, voicing the concerns that everyone in the room had.
“Yes, Commander… it is extremely dangerous. So much so that mishandling this situation could have catastrophic consequences for not just the crew, but the entire region. Beyond that, I can’t divulge any particulars or provide much in the way of follow-up information. Just believe me when I say that I would very much like to explain things to you if there were some way that I could without violating the regulations that govern this particular situation. Unfortunately, there is no room to bend on this… even less room than the Prime Directive,” Bastin responded to Cmdr. Yuri’s question.
“There’s something worse than the Prime Directive for being inflexible? Now I know this is bad…” Lt. Cmdr. Brak muttered from his chair in his usual surly manner.
“While your phrasing is questionable, Commander, I cannot help but agree that the severity of the situation is rather obvious when put in such a manner,” Lt. T’Rel said from his seat at the table.
“Are we to assume that anyone entering the area we are patrolling that isn’t Starfleet is hostile?” Lt. Nieru inquired, bringing the topic of discussion back to the nuts and bolts of things.
“For lack of a better explanation, Lieutenant… yes. Anyone who is not Starfleet is to be treated as hostile. While I would prefer to end this without a single shot fired… if we can’t warn them off, crippling their vessel… or even outright destroying it… isn’t outside of our acceptable measures,” the Captain responded.
The officers gathered in the room began to cast glances at one another, searching for reassurances from one another that they hadn’t just hallucinated and heard their Captain just explain that destroying a vessel was a viable option. Their history with him had proven to them he was adverse to such extreme measures even at the worst of times. His casual admission that he would entertain such a thing as if it weren’t so much as saying they would use their thrusters to move forward had them all at a loss.
“That’s all I can really brief you on. I understand that it isn’t a lot, and I’m leaving you with more questions than answers, but it is unavoidable. I just hope we can make it through this without having to resort to means and measures that will leave a bad taste in all of our mouths. Man your stations, people. I’ll be in my Ready Room monitoring things. The only systems you will have access to unless the need calls for it is tactical sensors and vital ship systems. Everything else will be locked out. If there’s no other burning questions, please man your stations,” Bastin said, pushing himself up out of his chair.
[Captain’s Ready Room, USS Argonaut]
Five hours slipped by, all of which were uneventful. The eradication team that had been dispatched arrived on the scene without issue, and the threat was handled without any loss of life or any need to sacrifice the principles that the crew normally upheld. It was the best possible outcome out of all the myriad scenarios that might well have played out during the intense few hours. After getting the official word from the team that the threat was well and truly gone, Captain Bastin ended the Omega lockdown, bringing the ship back to full mission capability.
The sudden ring of his door chime brought a small smirk to his lips, he hadn’t expect it to take very long at all for his First Officer to react to the sudden lifting of the lockdown. He bid her enter and watched as the woman crossed the somewhat small space between the door and the chairs in front of his desk.
“I take it we’re out of the woods now,” Cmdr. Yuri said as she sank down into a chair.
“We are,” Bastin nodded with a fair bit of indifference in his voice.
“Can you explain what happened now that it’s over?” the woman asked, leaning back and crossing her legs in a rather impatient manner.
“No, Rena… I cannot. The only thing I can say is that we are no longer in any danger and our lives and mission can proceed,” the Captain said, shaking his head.
“Everyone on the bridge is concerned. This whole thing was just too strange not to have questions. And the fact that you can’t give us any answers makes it all the more bizarre. I’m sure Brak and T’Rel will just write it off in their own ways as just being another part of Starfleet that either doesn’t make sense or must have some logical explanation for it that just can’t be divulged… but a lot of the crew are going to have questions… more importantly they’re going to have doubts over how this situation was handled… how they were kept in the dark,” Yuri explained, almost pleading for some kind of explanation that could smooth things over with the crew.
“And they are going to simply have to work through those doubts and questions on their own, Commander. Because this is one series of events that has no other explanation that can be tied to it. We made it through this without issue, no one was forced to make any bad calls or do something against their nature. We were lucky… If this ever happens again… we may not be so lucky. Just be thankful it played out this way and move one. That’s the best I can say in this situation. I’m sorry…”
“Yeah…” Cmdr. Yuri said as she stood to leave, “Hopefully that’ll be enough for the crew…”