Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

Better Late Than Never

Main Bridge
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Streaks of light zipped by the USS Cygnus, tell-tale signs of stars, comets and space dust which the ship zoomed past at speeds exceeding the speed of light by several hundred times. The ship and her crew were on their way to seek out new life and new civilizations, going where nobody in the Federation had ever been before. Her crew worked diligently and efficiently, with the thoughts of advancing understanding dancing beautifully in the backs of their minds.

Inside the ship, in the main control room, called the Bridge, a chirp came from the Tactical position. It was the first time it had made any noise during their trek through the stars and comets and space dust over the last two days. The chirp sounded again, and the person manning Tactical, a Klingon named Ensign Jin’tok, finally tapped on it. After a moment of careful consideration, Jin’Tok looked to the back of the Captain’s head. “Captain, I am reading a Federation shuttlecraft just coming into range on our sensors.”

At the front of the bridge, Lieutenant junior grade Lisald Vaat, Chief Operations Officer, manipulated his controls. “Confirmed Captain.” It wasn’t absolutely necessary to make the confirmation verbally, but Lisald did it anyway. He was still trying to show his new Captain that he was, at the very least, up to par.

Bane furrowed his brow at this new information. “I thought we were the first Federation ship out this way,” he said to the room, not to anyone in particular. “Ensign, how far ahead are they, and are they moving? What is their heading,” he asked rapid-fire. This was a new mystery, and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. He hoped nobody aboard was in trouble.

Jin’Tok focused his tactical sensors in on the shuttle. “They are not in front of us Captain. They are behind us, and gaining. I show them travelling at warp 8. I believe that is the maximum warp factor for that class of shuttlecraft.”

“Behind us,” Bane asked, turning around and looking at the Klingon proper. “Please confirm, Ensign. Lieiutenant Lisald, please focus your sensors in on that shuttlecraft to help Tactical.”

Neither the Lieutenant nor the Ensign answered; there was no need. Both had their orders and went to work manipulating the ship and her instruments to the Captains will. A moment later, Lisald responded. “Power diverted to aft sensors. 120% of normal.”

“Telemetry coming in much clearer, sir,” Jin’Tok said to one of his best friends on the ship, Lisald. “Captain, confirmed, it is a Federation shuttlecraft, carrying two people. At this range, I cannot discern their species, but it is confirmed a Federation shuttle. Warp signature, data trunk, name and hull number all match up to official Starfleet registry.”

Plase thought for a moment, his finger and thumb stroking his chin. “Alright, helm, all stop. Let the shuttle catch up to us.”

”They’re dropping out of warp,” stated Ensign Grall, the young Bolian pilot of the Shuttlecraft Myrmidon, to his passenger. Thanks to a colossal breakdown in communication, this trip had become necessary; otherwise, the Cygnus would go on its mission without its newly minted Executive Officer. 

Lieutenant Commander Erik Larsen, said XO, made his way from the aft passenger compartment of the sleek Class Two shuttle. “That will certainly make catching them easier,” he deadpanned. “Hail them.“

”Channel open,” said Grall, perhaps a bit too cheerfully. 

Cygnus, this is the Shuttlecraft Myrmidon. Carrying Lieutenant Commander Erik Larsen, your XO. Please acknowledge.“

Aboard the Cygnus, the crew on the Bridge listened to the hail. “Sir, I thought you said we were going to go without a Executive Officer this mission,” Lisald said, turned in his seat looking at Captain Bane.

“As did I, Lieutenant. This is news to me. Confirm again that shuttle and cross-reference it from the Starfleet database. Mr. Jin’Tok, could this be some sort of trap or ruse by the Cardassians? We are, after all, close to their space.”

Lisald went to work on what the Captain ordered him to. At Tactical, Jin’Tok screwed his face up. “I think everything is a trap or a ruse, Captain. It is certainly well within their capabilities to fake the readings our sensors are picking up. However, I do not read anything else on sensors. We are, in effect, in the middle of nowhere in uncontested space. I recommend caution.”

Lisald seized the moment after Jin’Tok stopped speaking to report his findings. “Sir, the Shuttlecraft Myrmidon is a shuttlecraft that was recently reassigned to Deep Space 9. Prior to that, it was assigned to the USS Ascension, which was lost due to a major systems malfunction. Also, I show that Lieutenant Commander Erik Larson was the Chief Science Officer aboard that vessel.”

The Captain thought for another moment, then made his decision. All the evidence was pointing towards this shuttle being legitimate. Plus, it was not unusal with the recent plight that the Cygnus was suffering. Starfleet was having a hard time apparently and continually failing to communicate properly with the ship. “Open a channel, Mister Lisald.” A second later, the viewscreen came to life. In that instant, he was assured he had made the correct decision. “Hello Commander Larsen. I’m Captain Bane. I must say, this is a surprise.”

”Captain Bane,” said Larsen, inclining his head in greeting. “It was a surprise to me as well; my transport did not arrive at DS9 until after the Cygnus had departed. My orders were to report to the station pending reassignment.” He keyed a short string of commands into the console. “I am transmitting a copy of my transfer orders for your review.”

“Thank you, Commander. Lieutenant Lisald, please see to it that those orders are sent to my office, and see to Commander Larsen’s arrival, billiting and a tour of the ship. Helm, as soon as the shuttle is aboard and secured, please resume our course and speed. Commander, as soon as you come aboard and get your gear in your quarters, please come see me in my office.”

”Understood, Captain. Myrmidon out.”

Twenty-six minutes after closing the channel, Erik was aboard the Cygnus and exiting the turbolift car onto the bridge. He took notice of the positioning of the stations, mentally noting the faces of the officers staffing them; Erik had not had sufficient time to memorize any crew names, but that would come in time. In fact, the only service dossier he had reviewed as of yet was that of Captain Bane. Erik steeled himself, not quite certain what to expect, and pressed the chime outside the Ready Room to announce himself. He was instructed to enter, and when the pneumatic doors swished open Erik entered and approached the desk.

”Erik Larsen reporting for duty, Captain.”

For several moments, Captain Bane let Lieutenant Commander Larsen stand there. He continued to review the file that had been sent over, the transfer orders from Starfleet Command. They all appeared in order. After another moment, he turned the computer display off, the projection of the screen disappearing completely. He then looked carefully at the flaxen-haired officer standing before him. Bane took a deep, audible breath in through his nose, then let it out before speaking. “Generally speaking, I am not in the habit of getting an Executive Officer assigned to me that I had not picked out myself, Mr. Erik Larsen.”

Erik frowned slightly. Not the direction I expected this to take, he thought. It was up to him to turn the tide of this meeting in his favor. “I appreciate your concerns, Sir, and hope that in time I will prove my value to you. As I am sure you are aware, this is my first command level posting.”

Again, Bane stared at the man for several long moments before responding. “Unfortunately, I am not aware. As I mentioned to you in our communication shortly ago, this is all a surprise to me. In the short time between the end of that communication and now, I have been reviewing the transfer orders from Starfleet Command. I know nothing about you, unfortunately. So,” he said, leaning forward, resting his elbows on the desk, his arms folding flat on the surface, “tell me about you. Oh, and please Commander, take a seat.”

“Thank you,” Erik responded as he slid into one of the  chair in front of the desk. He crossed his legs,  folded his hands together and placed them on his knee. “I am from the colony world Europa Nova, which  recently became a member of the Federation. I hold a PhD in Physics and a Master’s in Computer Science. I was the leader of the team that wrote the source code for the Astrometrics software upgrade in 2382. I have served on the Olympia, Deep Space Six, the Mordor and the Ascension previously. When the Ascension was launched four weeks ago, we suffered a catastrophic systems malfunction and I was forced to take command under Regulation 19, Section C.“

Plase nodded. “I had to take command of the Pegasus, my first command, unexpectedly too, though certainly under very different circumstances. You say you hold a doctorate in Physics; the Chief of Operations used to be the Chief Science Officer aboard this ship, before my time, and holds a double doctorate in archaeology and, I believe, astronomy. I think you two will get along well.” Bane leaned back in his chair. “Do you feel you are ready for command-level responsibilities?”

”I’m sure he…or she…and I will have plenty to discuss. To answer your question, yes I do believe I am ready for the challenge of helping to run a ship. I have served under several outstanding Executive Officers, and I believe I have a sound understanding as to the duties of that position. I am eager to please and I get along well with just about everybody.“ Erik exhaled a long breath through his nose. “I understand that you don’t like feeling that you had somebody forced on you, Sir. I will do my best to prove that Starfleet Command made a good call.“

“I appreciate that, Commander.” Bane meant it. “Do you have any questions for me, about me, about the crew or the ship?”

”I will get to know all of you, given time. I do have one significant question, though. What is our current mission?”

Plase had to smile. That was a significant question. “Excellent question. I’m sure you know that no Federation vessel has ever been out this way when you set course in your shuttle to chase us down. Command has heard reports of a space-faring civilization on the relative bac side of Cardassian space somewhere. We are to find them, survey and investigate them, and if the reports are true they are warp-capable, then we will make First Contact. The only intelligence we have at this time is that they are back here somewhere, and they call themselves ‘The Commonwealth.’ I’ve asked Starfleet Command for more information, and even asked the Cardassian Central Command for more, but so far, we’ve been met with silence. And I tell you, that silence is deafening, especially from Starfleet.”

”Well,” said Erik with a smirk, “I guess there’s nothing like baptism by fire.“ He leaned forward slightly. “This is what enticed me to join Starfleet in the first place…here I was, a University Professor on an independent world just opening itself up to the greater galaxy, when a Starfleet delegation told me tales of the wonders beyond my solar system. I was hooked.“

Plase smiled again. He was beginning to like this Lieutenant Commander Erik Larsen. “Seems you and I have something in common then.” The puzzled look on the Commanders face was the reward that Bane was looking for. “You were a teacher, and I love to teach.” He sat forward again, this time his body language not as closed off and rigid, but much more friendly and welcoming. “I am thrilled I get to be your mentor and teacher in the finer points of command. Maybe someday in the not too distant future, I’ll get to welcome you to your first command.”

”If that’s the path my career takes,“ said Erik, relaxing visibly. “Whatever the future holds, I am ready for it. Respectfully, Sir.“

“Of course.” Sitting back in his chair again, and never taking his eyes off Lieutenant Commander Larsen, Bane said, “Computer, please show Lieutenant Commander Erik Larsen as Executive Officer, USS Cygnus, as of this time and stardate. Authorization Bane, Omega Zeta 4-7-9, Authorize.”

The computer chirped, then responded. “Confirmed. Lieutenant Commander Erik Larsen is now the Executive Officer, USS Cygnus, security clearance level 9.”

Bane stood and held his hand out. “Welcome aboard the Cygnus, Commander.”

Erik took the offered hand and shook it firmly. “Thank you, Captain. I look forward to the adventure.“

“As do I. We have a big mission and one hell of an adventure in store for us up ahead. I find it incredibly useful and very advantageous that the senior officers on the ship know each other. I recommend over the next few days you take the time to get to know the rest of the senior officers, and as well as you can, most of the junior officers and crew before we get to the meat and potatoes of our mission.”

Meat and potatoes. That reminded Erik of the rumbling in his stomach, and of the fact that breakfast had consisted of a double espresso in the Replimat at DS9 and nothing else. “I fully intend to do just that. But, lunch first.“

“Of course. Dismissed, Commander.”

 

Erik Larsen, Lieutenant Commander

USS Cygnus, Executive Officer

&

Bane Plase, Captain

USS Cygnus, Commanding