Part of USS Challenger: You Can’t Go Home Again and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

Acceleration

U.S.S. Challenger NCC-71099
Stardate 77025.97
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Commander Bennett lifted the steaming cup of tea from the replicator. She’d never been much of a tea drinker but since breakfast, Bennett had worked her way through four mugs of raktajino. If she continued at that rate, she wouldn’t sleep for days. The tea was a herbal blend that Captain Forrester had introduced her to; spiced camomile, vanilla and chicory root. According to Forrester, it was meant to be calming.

Moving back to the master systems display table in the middle of engineering, Bennett took a small sip of her tea as she studied the hologram that was being projected above the table’s surface. It was a simulation involving the Challenger and the subspace rift. At a nearby wall mounted display, Lieutenants Armstrong and da Costa were discussing making modifications to the warp field that would allow the Challenger to maintain her warp field in the face of the coming storm.

“What do you have?” Commander Kailir asked as she strode into engineering.

Out of the corner of her eye, Bennett could see Armstrong joining them. “Lieutenant Armstrong and I have discussed the proposal from Starfleet Research.”

“Turning the deflector dish into a dekyon beam is fairly easy.” Armstrong told the XO. “But, like a snowflake, no two subspace rifts are alike. What works for one, won’t necessarily work for another.”

Kailir looked from Armstrong to Bennett. “Are you saying that the dekyon beam won’t work?”

“That’s right.” Bennett shook her head. “Based on the data we’ve collected, a dekyon beam won’t have any effect on this rift but Lieutenant Armstrong had an idea.”

The young lieutenant, acting as chief engineer with Jackson on the surface, typed a command into the msd table. “A properly calibrated anti-graviton beam should be sufficient to close the rift.” The hologram of the Challenger fired a beam from it’s deflector directed at the rift. Instantly the rift began to shrink until it disappeared completely.

“Good work, Lieutenant.” The XO’s praise brought a smile to Armstrong’s face and caused a flush to creep up his cheeks. Kailir’s eyes were drawn to the figure over Armstrong’s shoulder. “Lieutenant da Costa, what are you doing here?”

Bennett fought to suppress a smile at Armstrong’s panicked expression. “I suggested the Lieutenant consult with Mister da Costa. I thought he might have some interesting insights into the warp field modifications.” She told the XO. Armstrong’s eyes met Bennett’s and he gave a slight, thankful nod.

“I see.” Kailir replied, studying the chief science officer sceptically. “Very well,” she said, turning her attention back to Armstrong, “carry on.”

When Kailir turned and began walking out of engineering, Bennett quickly fell into step beside her. “What was that?” The XO asked when they were halfway down the corridor.

“What was what?” Bennett asked innocently, unable to keep a smirk from pulling at her lips.

With an exasperated look, Kailir stopped at the turbolift and reached out to press the call button. “You know what I’m talking about.”

“It seems that Lieutenant Armstrong has a crush on our Mister da Costa.” Bennett admitted quietly as the turbolift arrived and the door opened with a soft hiss.

Rolling her eyes, Kailir walked into the turbolift. “Prophets preserve me from horny junior officers.” Once they were both inside, Kailir ordered the turbolift to the bridge.

“Oh sush.” Bennett scolded the XO, unable to hide her annoyance at the Commander’s response. Judging by the look on her face, Kailir hadn’t been expecting Bennett to be quite so forceful. “It’s not like that.”

An awkward silence filled the small space of the turbolift for a few seconds before Kailiar announced, “Well, as long as it doesn’t affect their duties, I don’t care what they get up to.”

Bennett didn’t reply, beyond an agreeing nod.  That awkward silence between them returned and remained until the turbolift door opened, revealing the bridge. Commander Kailir was first out, walking down the ramp and around the horseshoe rail to the command area while Bennett crossed the back of the bridge and relieved the officer at the forward facing science station.

The lateral sensors were still focused on the rift, but a glance at the data told her that nothing had changed. So, she turned her focus to the models that were being developed that would give them some idea of the kind of freak weather Coltar would experience when the ion storm hit and where the worst affected areas would be.

When Lieutenant da Costa stepped off the turbolift forty minutes later, Bennett managed to catch his eye as he walked towards the helm. She gave him a knowing smile that got a confused look from da Costa in return. Bennett shook her head; maybe Armstrong hadn’t managed to ask him out yet. She made a mental note to have a word with the engineer when she got the chance before returning to her work.

It was another hour of studying the weather models for Coltar before an alarm sounded, drawing her attention away. Bennett’s fingers began dancing across the surface of her console, her eyes were locked on the display and her fingers moved entirely from memory.

“Commander, we have a problem.” Bennett announced.

Kailir shot out of the centre chair and moved towards the science console. “What is it?”

“The ion storm is accelerating.” Bennett worked her console silently for a few moments, gathering more data.

The XO’s eyes went wide. “Accelerating? How’s that possible?”

“I don’t know.” Bennett replied with a shake of her head. “I’ll need more data before I can determine the cause but it is accelerating and if it continues at this rate, it’ll hit the planet in ten hours, not twenty five.”

Bennett could see Commander Kailir doing the maths in her head. “So instead of three months the captain’s team only has one?” With a simple nod, Bennett confirmed the XO’s workings. “I’ll prepare a data burst to send to the captain.”

Comments

  • Armstrong's flustered panic and his boss' bailing them out - it's the little interactions like these that make a crew endearing! Enjoyed this as a nice set-up for further action!

    March 22, 2022
  • Riveting stuff!

    March 22, 2022