Part of USS Avenger: Perilous Rescue and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

Prologue

U.S.S. Avenger bridge
Feb. 4, 2400 (stardate 75747.5)
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Captain’s log, stardate 75747.5. U.S.S. Avenger, Paul Gordon, commanding. After a mostly uneventful six-week patrol mission, we are returning to Devron Fleet Yards for replenishment and much needed shore leave. Commendations to Lieutenant Commander Ino and Lieutenant T’Meris for a successful sequence of simulations that, among other things, kept the crew on their toes during long stretches of inactivity.

On the Avenger’s main viewscreen, the cluster of drydocks surrounding the Unity-class station that comprised Devron Fleet Yards slowly grew larger. Seated in the command chair, Commander Paul Gordon could feel the relief among his bridge crew. Having completed a six-week patrol of high-traffic shipping routes in Sector 348, the Avenger officers and crew, Paul included, were ready for a week of R&R.

“Exec,” Gordon turned toward his first officer, Lieutenant Commander Ino. The Andorian was standing behind him at the master situation monitor, “are you sure you want to take first skeleton crew watch? Ensign Jacobs has been itching to take a shift in the chair ever since he qualified.”

“I’ll be fine, sir,” she replied. She stepped toward the command chair, leaned down and lowered her voice. “You might consider having the base commissary send some actual food aboard, though, for the first skeleton crew shift.”

“Is there a danger of mutiny or something?” Gordon responded.

“No, just some unpleasant grumbling at how the rotation turned out.”

Gordon nodded in agreement. “All right, I’ll speak to commissary officer when we’re ashore.”

Shipping lane patrol made for long days, with not much activity. Avenger had caught three smugglers, assisted two personnel transports with repairs, and rescued a stranded yacht with a malfunctioning astrogation system. Fortunately, they had not been under radio silence, and he’d been able to keep in touch with his wife, Ariana, a physician on the medical staff at Devron Fleet Yards. They had started trying to get pregnant before Paul had left on his most recent mission. He had been hoping to draw a new assignment that would allow he and Ariana to serve on the same ship, and had put in for a transfer he was hoping would materialize when they arrived for shore leave. Paul had no reason to believe it would not happen. He had done everything Starfleet had asked him, including taking command of the Avenger at the last minute when he was slated to take command of the U.S.S. Feynman, a Nova-class surveyor.

Paul practically began his Starfleet career at war in the Battle of Sector 001, when the Borg threatened to travel back in time to change Earth history, making the planet ripe for assimilation. When that threat abated, it wasn’t long until the Federation was back on a defensive footing against the combined alliance of the Dominion, the Cardassians and the Breen. Casualties were many, and Gordon found himself rising through the ranks, thanks to attrition and his own combat experience. It was a double-edged sword. It allowed him to take more positions of responsibility, but it kept him pigeonholed in assignments that were more geared toward defense than exploration.

He hoped, however, that his next assignment would put him back on a path of scientific discovery.

“Exec, open a channel to base operations. Let them know we’re arriving.”

Ino did so and began speaking. “Devron Fleet Yards ops, this is U.S.S. Avenger on final approach, requesting docking bay assignment.”

The reply was quick.

“Negative, Avenger. Follow your escort to the edge of the yard boundaries. You’ll be tractored to drydock facility one-seven for emergency shipfitting. You will be briefed upon arrival at drydock. Ops out.”

Paul became aware that six pairs of eyes were on him, all with the same question.

“I don’t care to engage in idle speculation,” he said, “but I’m guessing shore leave is canceled.”