Irving Berlin was playing lightly in the background as Captain Noah Armstrong made two drinks at the bar cart in his new quarters, new as of a few weeks prior. The Columbia had been at warp nine for almost two weeks, on a direct course from Starbase Bravo to Starbase 38, for their transition through the wormhole to the Delta Quadrant. A long burn at high warp was a good chance for the crew to settle in, most of whom had worked together on either the Europa or the Venture, two crews married together when their previous ships were marked for refit.
“What do you think, Mr. Forrest? Are we ready for this?” Armstrong asked, handing his new first officer a vodka highball as he sat down with his own bourbon on the rocks.
“Absolutely, sir. The ship and crew are both at the top of their game,” Forrest replied.
Armstrong was still getting a read on his new first officer. The younger man was ambitious and sometimes even abrasive, but he’d already proven himself quite able to whip a crew into shape. He’d come with high recommendations from Fleet Captain Logan, but also with the caveat that he needed to be watched and kept on a short leash when it came to his own grandiosity.
“What about you? Are you ready for this?” the captain asked, earning an arched eyebrow from Forrest.
“This is the type of assignment I’ve been waiting for my entire career, sir. I’m ready for it unless you feel otherwise,” Forrest replied.
“No complaints, so far,” Armstrong replied, shaking his head. He offered Forrest a smile and took a drink. “I was mostly just seeing how you’d react to the question,” he clarified.
“Did I pass the test?”
The captain chuckled. “For now. I think it’s good to stay aware of the line between confidence and arrogance, though,” he said, more pointedly.
Forrest shifted in his seat. “So, I guess it’s up to me to put my money where my mouth is, then, sir,” he said with a smirk. “That’s fair. I’d expect the same of anyone on the crew myself.”
“Glad we’re on the same page then, Number One,” Armstrong replied, trying out that nickname for the first time.
Before either of them could say more, the ship rocked dramatically. Red alert sounded immediately, and Armstrong felt the ship falling out of warp, the stars spinning outside the viewports. Both of their drinks ended up on the floor but managed to stay in their seats. There was nothing outside the windows other than empty space, the apparent cause of their distress not evident.
“Armstrong to Bridge. Report!”
“Sensors say that our port navigational shields grazed a coherent energy field. We’ve reached all stop, sir,” the officer on the bridge reported.
“Senior Officers to the Bridge,” Armstrong ordered.