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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 6: Turbulent Waters and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

You don’t ask for much do you?

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There was nothing else to do but wait now, Mac told himself. Wait for news, wait for a decision to be made, wait for trouble to arise that he was uniquely qualified to squash. So instead of getting in people’s way he had taken to looming by the window looking onto the manufacturing floor and simply watching everyone go about their duties.

His engineers, including Chief Velan, had long left the design office to lend their talents to actually producing the arrays and emitter heads for the umbrella towers. They wouldn’t be needed for installing them on Stormlea since the people of Port Arthur Manufacturing had that down pat. If all went to plan, they should have the Stormlea array completed by end of day tomorrow.

Highcroft was the pain point. They could manufacture the towers and arrays, but getting them to Highcroft was going to be tight, as was installation. And now all work was halted until authorities there could confirm there wasn’t a threat to anyone trying to install such a tower.

And they got back Atlantis’ missing people. His people. His crew.

A fist clenched, then unclenched. Then his jaw after he realised it was aching.

It just made no damn sense.

The manifesto was a half-edited collection of conspiracy theories that blamed a collection of imaginary problems and slights on people who had nothing to do with them. A drought in certain parts of inland Highcroft was apparently the fault of a secret weather control grid to display farmers. Not being able to source certain farming equipment was because of non-existent import regulations meant to keep them impoverished.

He couldn’t keep thinking about it and had to trust that Lieutenant Gantzmann would handle it.

His reverie was interrupted by a chirp from his communicator. Atlantis to Commander MacIntrye.”

“MacIntrye here,” he replied after tapping his combadge. “What’s the story Rrr?”

“We just got into orbit sir. Warp drive is officially out of commission till this storm passes. I’ll be calling Commander Velan in a moment sir to start transporting materials aboard ship. Without Waihou or the fighters aboard, we can also use the shuttlebays as cargobays as well. Should get us back on schedule for freight runs.”

He let out a relaxed sigh at that. Little miracles, brought on because of disasters elsewhere, were still miracles. “Sounds good Rrr. Pack Atlantis to the rafters with parts. Hopefully, by the time you get back, Gantzmann will have resolved the problem and those towers can start being stood up.”

“Roger that sir. We’ll get on it. Atlantis out.”

Not even two minutes later he watched as entire sections of tower, similar to those used to stand construction cranes of old, started to disappear in blue light, then shipping containers full of parts followed, leaving huge empty sections of the work floor like some unseen god was putting their toys away. Which just meant that the engineers and more importantly engineering students now had free space to start the next round of tower construction.

He watched for another few minutes, took a call from Rrr informing that Atlantis was on its way back, then decided he needed to do something. He’d come down planetside to support operations and so far was finding little to do. The people and institutions here were genuinely happy and pleased to assist Starfleet in preparing their worlds for trouble.

That was how he came to be, ten minutes later, walking across the manufacturing floor with a coffee in both hands as he approached one Harold Zimmerman, PAM’s director, chief engineer and head designer. Apparently, a man of many talents and boundless energy for someone in his late fifties. “Harold!” he shouted over the noise and held the left most coffee up high as the man turned to look at him.

The grin on the man’s face told Mac he’d made the right decision in bringing coffee to start this conversation off with. “We need to talk,” he said as he handed the cup over. “Highcroft is going to be in trouble.”

“How so?” Harold asked as he sipped at the coffee in his possession, visibly savouring the beverage.

“There’s been a delay in standing up the towers there. Only tower number two has been finished and no more work is being done right now. We’re hoping to resolve the problem soon, but I’m worried we won’t get the rest installed in time.” He could see the other man’s face scrunching up as he spoke. “How many people can PAM spare to head to Highcroft to assist once we remove the blocker?”

“You want to pull people from tower work on Stormlea and send them to Highcroft?” Harold asked, his eyebrows furrowing at Mac’s affirmative head nod. “I’m not sure how realistic that is. This storm could get bad and I don’t want anyone stuck on the wrong planet if these towers don’t work.”

“If we don’t get some more people, and I’m talking a lot of people, Highcroft won’t have enough towers up by the time the storm hits.” He knew he was pushing, but it was his job. He didn’t want to wait for someone to tell him they had a problem when it was too late to sort out a solution. He wanted to head this off before someone brought it to him. “How many can PAM spare? And who amongst your competition here do you recommend to fill the ranks?”

“I wouldn’t trust anyone else with these towers. There’s a reason my company is the premier manufacturing company in this system,” Harold stated, took another sip of his coffee, then pointed at Mac with a finger from that same hand. “I’ll ask for volunteers. But only if you promise me that first sign of trouble you whip them all up and keep them safe on that fancy ship of yours. I know that sucker can weather a storm.”

“I’ll do everything in my power to keep them safe, but I need as many as you can give me. A couple of hundred should help get Highcroft ready.”

“Christ man, you don’t ask for much do you?” Harold exclaimed. “I’ll have numbers and names to you by the afternoon.”

“Sounds fair to me. Finish up Stormlea’s array tomorrow, then pack up to Highcroft straight away.” Mac nodded as he did some admittedly bad math. It might just work.

Depending on what was going on Highcroft.

“Even better,” Harold offered. “I’ll scare up some of the foundation guys to ship out on the next run. Get the groundwork done at least so the towers can go up.”

“Do that Harold and I owe you.”

“Already do Starfleet, already do.” With that, the older man smiled, sipped at his coffee and turned to walk away, back to managing his own people.

That done he wandered off, leaving the building altogether to go and find something on campus for lunch. Which in its own way turned into an impromptu question and answer time with a number of students. With nothing else to do he happily entertained questions that he was pretty confident no recruiting office would answer, directing a few eager souls back to their studies, others onto Starfleet.

It was all interrupted however by a rather exasperated looking Doctor Lisa Birmingham as she approached him in the middle of a group of students asking day to day types of questions about life aboard a ship. The welcome interruption of someone actually needing him was appreciated, the look on her face wasn’t.

“What’s the matter?”

“Something’s happened to the storm front. It’s accelerating towards the system. We don’t have two days till it hits, it’s more like one. Come, I’ll show you.” She grabbed his hand and started pulling him through the campus towards the physics department.