Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 1: On the Precipice of Greatness and USS Hathaway: Season 1: The Santa Fe Chronicles

Out Among the Stars at Last

USS Santa Fe, Starbase Bravo Dockyards
August 1st, 2399
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“A dark blanket, contrasting with blacks and yellows, and the occasional white, which is shaped as a circle and sometimes a crescent. There are stars which dot the blanket in an intricate pattern. This is space.”

Words of his grandfather, words that had stayed with him for all his life and would be passed to his children if he would be lucky to have any.

“In the ancient time, men used the magical symbols above the night sky for navigation. These star patterns saved a lot of lives in the old age,” he would say as they as they looked up and saw the stars from their garden on Earth. They illuminated the darkness and his fears crumbled to dust beneath his feet as he listened to the wise old man’s words. “Some stars fade and some shine brighter with each passing day. Each of them has its own unique shape, level of brightness and size. Some stars are bigger than others, showing they are the king of the heavens…”

“Sometimes, many stars appear at once above the dark, sombre sky, and they look like flakes of snow flowing out into the galaxy,” the wrinkled wise man would say, always finishing with the same wise words, no matter how often they shared these moments, and he’d always remind grandfather of their earlier conversations because they would always bring him great joy, and there was nothing he loved more than to bring his grandfather such happiness. “As we watch these dust-like particles slowly swimming above our head, we begin to raise our hand, yearning to touch them and be swept into the heavens…”

Ready Room, Deck One
Stardate 71010.38, 2399

Sebastian’s eyes opened suddenly as he dragged himself, metaphorically kicking and screaming back to the late 24th century. Gone was his beloved grandfather’s voice and in its place, there was a calming silence as he stared beyond the bulkheads of the Santa Fe and out into the ocean of space. Whenever he felt particularly restless, he’d enter an incense-induced state of relaxation and he’d call out to his grandfather, to hear his words and to bring him clarity and focus. It never failed to work.

Turning from the window of his private office, the Captain pulled his uniform jacket from the back of his chair and slipped it over his muscular frame, pulling his arms through the sleeves until it comfortably engulfed him. Pulling the zip up to his collar, he let out a sigh as he ran his hands down the front of his jacket, then over each of the red coloured shoulders in turn. When he was content that he looked his absolute best, like a leader of men should, he left the sanctuary of his ready room and entered the command centre of the ship.

Travis, seated at the science station, heard the doors swish open and glanced up. As he realized it was the captain entering the bridge he stood. “Captain on the bridge,” he called out and nodded in greeting to the man who had just entered. He hadn’t really gotten to know him well yet and wasn’t sure how much formality the man required. Some commanding officers seemed to eat, sleep, and breathe the ceremonial aspects, some found them foolish and a complete waste of time and effort. Only time would tell what this particular man would require.

Dante was only a split second behind Travis, and stood as well, going to attention, and giving the man a nod much as Travis had.

Beside him,  Lieutenant Prida did the same, a sparkle of excitement in her dark eyes as she considered that they were about to actually leave on a mission at last. Across the bridge, her Bajoran counterpart stood next to the recently appointed Vulcan strategist. they exchanged glances before looking respectfully at the Captain.

Sebastian nodded in thanks to the Chief Science Officer, and then at the Vulcan nearby. “Lieutenant Prida,” he addressed the Ops Chief at the front of the bridge, “sound departure stations and have all senior staff report to the bridge,” the Captain requested as, for the first time in what felt like forever, he took his seat at the heart of the bridge.

“Aye Captain,” replied the Cardassian, a grin slowly crossing her face. This was it, it was really happening. She tapped a couple of quick commands on her console and opened a ship-wide communique. “Attention all hands, prepare for departure. All decks, report readiness and departure status.” There was a soft chime that followed, toning that alerted the ship it was time to depart. A second whistle tone followed. “All senior officers, report to the bridge.” She said and closed the comm.

Tharia returned to her seated position at the Captain’s right and placed her hands in her lap. “Ready to get this show on the road, sir?” She asked with a proud smile.

“I was ready the minute I arrived here,” the older gentleman spoke as he nodded towards his right-hand woman.

Soon enough, Lieutenant Commander Zinn emerged from the port turbolift, unsure of what purpose he could possibly serve on the Bridge as the ship departed. He’d rather be down in Sickbay doing actual work but the Captain felt it important that he be there. “Medical’s good to go.” Zinn reported when he caught the Captain’s eye.

With no specific place for him on the Bridge, he wandered over to the security console and stood beside the Tactical Operations Officer, making sure to give the officer enough room to work. He had an unobstructed view of the screen and was out of everyone’s way.

Given the proximity of sickbay and the counseling offices, it was not surprising that Vittoria entered the bridge not long after the CMO. She wasn’t sure what would be needed of her just then, but it was less surprising for the chief counselor to be called to the bridge than the chief of medical. After all, counselors were often advisers as well.

“Captain,” she greeted politely before moving to stand unobtrusively to the side–in sight of command but out of the way of everyone at work.

“I thought you both might want one last look at the station,” the Captain told as he looked at his lead medical professionals. “One we leave this station, it’s going to be a long time before we visit another one. You’re going to be the senior most medical professionals in our task group; no relying on support from Starbases once we arrive at our destination, so I hope you’re ready,” he advised them, knowing almost certainly that they would be more than ready.

“No pressure, Doctor,” Tharia commented with a chuckle.

Zinn gave a wry grin. “Nothing like a good pep-talk to put a guy at ease.”

Grinning at the Doctor, the Andorian shook her head a little as she tapped her commbadge. “=/\=Bridge to engineering,” she spoke, “status report.”

“=/\=Engineering here Captain,” the voice of Lieutenant Udal declared over the comm, “all systems available at your request, but we’d appreciate it if the engines were run in slowly. No sudden jumps to maximum warp from impulse… if you get my drift?” and there was an audible smirk on the end of the line which drew a smile from the Commander on the bridge.

“=/\=Understood, Lieutenant. I’ll relay the request, sh’Elas out,” the Andorian pressed the controls on the arm of her chair, and nodded at the Captain. “Engineering respectfully request we break the ship in gently, sir,” she smiled, antennae bobbing freely.

“No promises,” Seb smirked, shaking his head.

With the report from engineering, the Captain and his Andorian colleague were finally ready to take the ship out and into the unknown for the first time. With the bridge crew at their stations and a few visitors present, he called the ship to order. Pressing the small pad of controls built into the arm of his chair, the Captain opened a ship wide communique. Mere seconds later, the trademark boatswain’s whistle sounded across the ship.

“=/\=All Starfleet personnel, this is the Captain,” he began as he rose to his feet and stood at the heart of the bridge. “Today marks a momentous occasion in this proud ship’s long history. In mere moments, this vessel will depart for its latest, and arguably most important mission. What we do from this moment on will have lasting repercussions for the fleet and for the greater United Federation of Planets that we so willingly serve,” he paused for a moment as he looked out at the stars via the view screen. “Out there, among the stars of our galaxy, the Gamma Quadrant looms large,” he didn’t know if telling his people was the right thing or not at this point, but he didn’t feel comfortable keeping the details of their mission from them. “We have been tasked by the Fleet Admiral himself with leading the first exploration initiative of the Gamma Quadrant since the start of the Dominion War. We will begin our adventure with a stop at New Bajor. Usually, a commanding officer would give a speech about how they need nothing but the best from their crewmates, but it’s not me who needs your best in this endeavour; the entire Federation is counting on you to be at your very best in the coming weeks,” he looked around at his people’s faces. “Farrell out.”

“Lieutenant Prida,” Sebastian called out as he retook his seat, “clear our departure with station operations. Mister Rawlins; bring the impulse engines online and prepare to take us out,” he requested in his gravelly tone.

“Clearing for departure, aye sir!” the Cardassian at Ops declared, tapping her console several times until a light turned green. “We are green for departure,” she soon confirmed and fed navigational data across to Rawlins.

Dante noted the information flowing to his console and made a few slight adjustments as his navigational computer interface suggested. “Course laid in,” he called out.

Tharia looked at the Captain and together they savoured the moment for a few seconds. This would likely be the last time the ship would be so deep into Federation space for quite a while. They had a mission to carry out and they would push the crew as far as they could in order to carry it out. With the permission of her Captain, Tharia gave the next order. “Take us out,” the Andorian commanded, looking ahead at the Flight Operations Officer, and then at the view screen.

A few deft taps to his console and Dante had the vessel moving, slowly, and carefully as they moved towards open space. “We are clear, Sir,” he called out over his shoulder.

“Set a course for the Bajor system and the Wormhole,” the Captain requested with a stern tone to his voice, “start us off at warp three and commence a gradual cycle to maximum warp,” he ordered before looking at the XO. “Number One, monitor the engines from the aft engineering display if you wouldn’t mind?”

“Aye, sir,” the Andorian said before he headed to the rear of the bridge. She activated the engineering console and stood ready to monitor the engines.

Dante tapped a few commands into his console and then replied. “Warp three, aye,” Dante called out, and then put in place the necessary commands to increase the speed incrementally from there until they were at maximum. “Projected time to maximum warp twenty seven minutes,” he added.

“Sensors online and calibrated. Nothing on long-range sensors. Course is clear,” Prida announced.

With the ship now cruising along at high warp, the stars were streaking past the main view screen at incredible speeds. It felt so good to be back among the stars again, but this time in charge of his own destiny as Master and Commander of the ship. He took a deep, satisfied breath and relaxed back into his command chair, thinking back to his grandfather once again.

“A dark blanket, contrasting with blacks and yellows, and the occasional white, which is shaped as a circle and sometimes a crescent. There are stars which dot the blanket in an intricate pattern. This is space.”