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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 7: The lost ship of Atlantis

2 – This stinks

USS Atlantis, Memory Alpha
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“Memory Alpha system in one minute,” T’Val announced, breaking up the quiet of the bridge.

There wasn’t much to do this deep in Federation space at high warp. Monitor comms for distress calls, and watch for anomalies, but otherwise not much to do, which meant the bridge was sparsely populated at the moment. Helm, Ops, someone from Sciences at one of the bridge consoles in conversation with a lab doing calibration work and Mac, sitting in the XO’s seat and getting paperwork done.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” he replied, then keyed the call button to the ready room. No need to speak or deliver a message, he knew Tikva would understand why he’d chimed. “Once we’re at impulse proceed in system at full impulse. Lieutenant Michaels, call ahead and get vectors for orbit.”

“Aye sir,” Michaels replied just as the ready room door opened and Tikva stepped out, reading her own padd which she offered to him as she passed.

“Velan’s having disciplinary issues with De León and Corrin,” she offered as a summary. “Lover’s quarrel impacting work.”

“I’ll talk with Velan and switch their shifts around for a couple of weeks.” He didn’t read the padd, just sat it on his lap with two others. “And let Gavin know as well. See if our ship’s counsellor can’t pull some insights for us.”

“Ugh…Gavin,” Tikva complained.

“You don’t like Gavin?”

“No, he’s a great guy. Just you reminded me that I’ve got a session with him this evening.”

He couldn’t help the eyebrow that rose. “Didn’t you have a session with him yesterday?”

“That was couples counselling,” she offered as the steaking stars on the mainviewer came to a relative stop, no long lines but points. “Adelinde and I actually find it really helpful. Every two weeks, we hit the holodeck for an hour then straight to Gavin’s office. Work the body and mind.”

“Kids these days, so responsible,” Mac chuckled as he shook his head.

“You’re barely older than I am!”

“Ah youth, protesting to their elders.”

Before they could continue, Michaels turned in her seat next to T’Val to face them. “Captain, incoming message from the Robinson. Admiral Harding wishes to come aboard. They’ll be in transporter range in two minutes.”

“We’re a few hours out from Memory Alpha,” Mac said, voicing the obvious fact. “Having a ship waiting for us out here, he must have something important to say.”

“Yah…wonder what.” Tikva shrugged at him, just as confused as he. “Tell the Robinson the admiral is welcome to beam over as soon as they’re in range. Oh and Samantha, message Ch’tkk’va and get him to arrange an escort for the admiral to my ready room.”

“An escort, or should he escort?” she asked for clarification.

“Oh, I knew there was a reason I liked you,” Tikva teased. “Why not ask Ch’tkk’va themselves to escort the admiral.”

It was nearly an hour later when Mac found himself called in from the bridge to the Ready Room, a bridge which was considerably better staffed than it had been. Yes, it was performative art, but Admiralty had to be convinced all ships were running at peak performance at all times, right? Harding had been escorted through the ship, with just enough of a delay to man most bridge stations with staff who really didn’t need to be there at the moment, and shown straight to Tikva’s office and he’d not heard a peep until his summons.

“You called?” he asked, stepping and letting the door close behind him.

“Yah Mac, you might want to take a seat.” He didn’t like Tikva’s tone, the foreboding dripping off it. He certainly didn’t like the look of Admiral Harding.

“So, it’s a good news, bad news situation Mac,” she continued. “First off, the entire crew is getting three weeks R&R. Everyone.” She added the last word as an emphasis to him. Everyone was getting off the ship. The bad news had to be bad.

“That’s ominous in light of bad news,” he offered.

“We’re losing Atlantis.” She didn’t dance around the point, just got straight to it. Before he could protest, she rose a hand, waited for a half-second, and then continued. “Archeology and Anthropology have been studying the T’Kon artefact and came up with a couple of conclusions, namely we’re not likely to dislodge the T’Kon AI sitting dormant in our computer core any time soon.”

“To be fair we haven’t tried a complete wipe and restore, but that would take weeks in a shipyard to manage.”

“That is correct Commander,” Admiral Harding final spoke. The man’s face was a cross between a bull terrier and a collapsed star and despite his size and appearance, his voice was some nasally little thing. It irked him immediately, but he also knew the man’s reputation. Clearly blessed in some regards, cursed in others. “We’ve also concluded that the AI integrated itself with Atlantis as a whole far more than expected. A&A want to attempt to reactivate the AI for interviewing or at least study it, but we’re loathed to lose another starship or even more expansive computing resource within the Federation when we have a perfectly viable platform already.”

“So A&A, a part of Federation Science Council, are taking Atlantis for their own?” he asked.

“Technically the Science Council are taking receipt of the ship from Starfleet Command upon its decommissioning, then entrusting it to a sub-council for research purposes.”

“This ship has just had an engine overhaul, it was refitted only a year ago, the crew were looking forward to getting back to the DQ and Command is going to decommission the ship in it’s prime?” He knew he’d been speaking faster and faster. “Excuse me Admiral, but I feel it’s my duty to point out a mistake when I see it.”

“Mac,” Tikva spoke up before either man could continue. Just her interruption was enough to draw his attention from the Admiral and back to her. “There are other reasons as well, but they’re classified.”

“Omega?”

“What do you know?” Harding snapped out immediately.

“It’s classified such that I don’t know and I don’t like it,” Mac answered truthfully. “This stinks.”

“No argument here,” Tikva said.

“I’m unconcerned with your opinions on the orders Captain, Commander. I am here to do my job, which is secure this vessel for the Science Council. You’ll have the R&R orders on your desk within the hour. You’ll deliver Atlantis to Memory Alpha, specifically a Dr Gork and then have the crew disembark.” Harding paused for a breath. “Transports will be arranged for your crew to a variety of primary transportation hubs to allow them to take their R&R where they wish. New orders will arrive for yourselves and your crew at the earliest Command finishes drafting them.”

There were a few more formalities, some very precise and polite pleasantries and then the admiral was gone, leaving Mac and Tikva alone.

“This ship has years left on the clock,” Mac said breaking the quiet.

“Yeah. But the crazy lady living in the basement is apparently enough of a draw to get us kicked out for new tenants.” She shrugged, rolled her shoulders, and then slumped down. “Call a senior staff meeting Mac. Best we tell them before we break it to the crew.”

“You’re going to have to spill the beans on this Omega bullshit one day you know.”

“Oh no, I’m not doing that. Command gets to brief you on that can of worms. But, once they give you that fourth pip, we’ll talk about this and all that shit in the DQ. Somewhere far away from any prying ears. Over a bottle of something nice.”

“If I get my fourth pip,” he replied, getting to his feet. “An hour?”

“Make it thirty minutes. Rumour mills are prone to self-starting based on some weird quantum information principal I’ve never figured out.” She sat up and smiled at him. “And Mac, you’ll get your fourth pip, if I have to make Admiral and give it to you myself.”