Part of USS Denver: Eye of the Storm and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

Hurry Up & Wait

Bridge, USS Zebulon Pike
Takes place during
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The Pike was cloaked orbiting the Earth that wasn’t.  Audren Swiftblade pulled the earphone from her Vulcanesqe right ear and sighed. So far communications around the planet had been perfectly routine,  and mostly irrelevant.  There was some insight into their culture.  It seems most of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants were split amongst the Romulans and Klingons with the Romulans seemingly sitting at the top of the heap. Earth for its part never made first contact with that Vulcan ship on that fateful day

Turning away from her console Audren smirked. “You know,  I find it funny the only people in command of a Starfleet ship are not in Starfleet.  I know it’s a tiny Raven-class but still.”

Mikaela looks up from her console, grateful for the conversation Audren was starting. It took her a minute to readjust her focus, but she was happy there was a distraction. Turning to look at Audren, Mika smiled and nodded. “You’re right. It is funny. Though at the same time, it’s nice that this can be a Starfleet ship without adhering to the rigid structure of Starfleet.” Mika glances back at the console, then looks back at Audren.

“There is no equal in the Empire,” Audren agreed.   “Narlin ships are steeped in tradition and most of it is antiquated.  The Royal Guard still wears full plate armor and carry her’koths… It’s a type of sword similar to a human long sword only much bigger.”

“Federation and Starfleet vessels derive much of their customs from the ancient navies that once crossed the oceans on Earth; you might say that Starfleet also has ancient traditions, but the way it’s expressed is modern.” Mikaela takes a breath before looking at Earth, breathing deeply and summoning a memory from her time in the FSA. “Yes; I do remember the her’koths. If I’m not mistaken, its use is both ceremonial and practical in the Royal Guard. It was very intimidating, but at the same time; being around them was almost a dream come true. The members of the Guard were polite, kind, and quite accommodating. That trip was a magical trip, in more ways than one.” Mika blushes slightly, nervous that she’s let too much slip.

“You’ve been to Talaria?” Audren asked with a raised eyebrow. “Of course the war ravaged planet had been receiving  humanitarian aide from the Federation for several years now, and trade was slowly being established between the two governments. It of course helped considerably that there were several Narlin colonies on Federation worlds now too.

Mikaela smiled fondly at her memories. “Yes I have. It happened fairly recently as a matter of fact; I was on the Presidential Detail when the Federation President made a state visit to Talaria, in hopes of strengthening diplomatic ties. It was a challenging mission, because the planet was still recovering from war and there were some who saw our presence there as disruptive to the process, but thankfully, nothing major happened.” Mika sighed then grimaced. “That was a trip the Presidential Detail never forgot. It was a beautiful planet, with idyllic scenery, and sunsets to die for. It was very easy to forget that we were still technically in a war zone.”

“Emperor Magus Stormtalon is a good man, but he… well he did not take the deaths of his family very well, and I’m afraid he has gone slightly mad.  This is speaking as a sitting member of the House of Lords as well as a citizen. The Kethel Lowlands was the most fertile farming land in the whole known galaxy. Green all year long, and you could plant a sword in the spring and have three more in the fall.  Unfortunately the war took that from us. The Govan poisoned the land.  Not that we were innocent or anything.  We had enslaved them for a very long time and poisoned their crops.” She sighed remember the famine that befell Talaria after that. “I do hope you saw Tirisfel Falls in the Forrests of Minith’el,” she said changing the subject.

“That’s what it was called! Yes, I did! During my off-duty cycle, I went horseback riding with one of the members of the Royal Guard, and he showed me the falls. The iridescence of the falls was magical; the way the water sparkled and shone in the sunlight, reflecting back a rainbow in the mist; It was lovely.” Mika’s happy countenance shifts slightly into a more serious tone. “The aftermath of war were all evident in the countryside…the devastation was…” she just looked away, not wanting to describe what she had seen. “That’s an observation the President made as well. I heard him venting about the Emperor’s condition while I was in his quarters on the Normandy.” Mika looked back at Audren, but didn’t want to say more. Though not actively a part of the detail, she still felt duty-bound to the oath she had sworn back when she had joined the unit – “…to serve and protect the Federation President and uphold all laws; to hold in confidence, that which you hear and see, and never disclose….” It seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet…she still felt duty-bound to uphold her oath.

“Presidential detail?” Audren asked.  She was impressed.  Only the best of the best would get an assignment like that.  “What brings you to us? I know Ethan didn’t recruit you.”

“Yes,  I was” Mikaela nodded sheepishly as she spoke. “I was part of the detail that protects the Federation President; at least until that fateful day at the Starfleet Command gala. An Admiral gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I put in for a clandestine transfer to the Pike. I had to go to Starfleet Academy to learn a little bit about their procedures and such; then I came here. The Admiral thought that my skill set would be beneficial to the ops team aboard and got someone to sign off on it. I still miss my old assignment, but I love the adventure and secrecy.” Mika let out a small giggle. “I guess you could say I came here a bit differently than most.”

“Let’s just say Ethan was less than thrilled when he heard Starfleet Intelligence was assigning him an officer instead of someone he’d hand picked for the job,” Audren replied.  “Speaking of which. The away team has been silent for a long time.” She checked the chronometer.  “Twenty minutes past their scheduled check-in time,” her voice had a touch of worry.  Especially since the last communique from them was something about busting them out of jail.

Mikaela nodded gravely, quickly turning her attention to the task at hand. “Why don’t you open the channel, I’ll run the encryption and encoding?”

Turning to the comm station she entered commands, “Ethan, what’s your status.”

As Audren spoke, Mikaela typed commands to hide their signal from any potential listening and ranging posts that were sure to be everywhere. She disguised the comms channel as background radiation, undetectable as a transmission; a trick she had learned in the Presidential Detail training.

Breathing for now,” Ethan replied.  “Audren, can you download the sensor data we collected on the rift onto a PADD and beam it down to my location?”

Audren paused and gave Mikaela sidelong glance, “Sensor data?  Are you sure Commander?”

Mikaela gave her an “I don’t know what he’s talking about” shrug and turned her attention to her console.

Very much so,” Ethan replied.   “Also I expect once we disconnect you will not be able to reach us for the foreseeable future.”

“Understood Commander,” Audren replied, “Zebulon Pike out.” Audren gave Mikaela a concerned look before turning her attention to downloading the data into a PADD.  Once the transfer was complete she used the site to site transporter to beam the PADD to their team leader.

“That doesn’t sound good,” Audren finally said to Mikaela.

Mikaela nodded. “Absolutely not. What are they doing down there? If their cover had been blown, there should be tachyon beams sweeping through the area looking for us. Or we should see warships on their way to intercept us.” She checked the sensors for any proximity alerts; nothing. It was quiet. Peaceful, even. Mikaela glanced at the weapons locker, and instinctively put her hand on her hip where her holster had been. She panicked for a second, then glanced over. Her weapon was stored in her console’s type-2 holder, though she briefly considered putting it back in her holster. “Audren,” she finally said, “when’s their next check-in time?”

“Considering I just spoke to Ethan, an hour,” the Hylon woman said meditatively. “It’s unlikely they will be able to detect the cloak considering they these humans are  a good two-hundred years behind yourself.” She tapped her chin thinking, “How do you feel about a rescue mission?”

Mikaela looked at Audren pensively. “A rescue mission? It sounds good on paper, but it may not be the best idea. At least not yet. It sounded like Ethan had everything well in hand, but then again…” she paused and looked at her console, then resumed speaking as she looked back at Audren. “I think we should wait an hour, then reassess the situation. I just don’t want us to jump into something where we’re the ones in need of rescue instead of the ones doing the rescuing, you know?” Mikaela hoped that this was enough to convince Audren to wait a bit and gather intelligence before they both rushed into a situation. From past experience, she had seen how it ends, and wanted to avoid it at all costs.