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

12 – Páme

Beta Antares Shipyard, USS Atlantis
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To survive a commissioning party, physically, mentally or spiritually, one had to pace themselves. Such events were marathons, not sprints. Dignitaries who all want to put their stamp on the launch of a starship, or rub shoulders with others who do would drain the will to live of anyone they came into contact with that wasn’t of the same sub-taxonomical class as themselves. It wasn’t limited to politicians either, but Starfleet brass who wanted to impart their ‘infinite wisdom’ earned during the trails of their youth.

Then came the families invited along as well. They ranged from those not turning up an opportunity for free drinks and a chance to meet movers and shakers they never would otherwise, to those simply basking in the joy of their own family member at being assigned to a brand-new ship, to those that worked hard to let everyone else know that the success of their progeny was, in fact, their own success. And unfortunately, you had to be polite and not clarify that Lieutenant Such-and-such had actually worked their backside off, not them.

Then there was the wait staff. Those vile, evil, pernicious delivers of alcohol through the main event and the elbow-rubbing afterwards. And no, not synthehol, thank you Commodore Denevan, but actual alcohol. They were animated by a singular directive from whatever demon dispatched them – to make sure everyone had a drink that wanted on, to fetch custom orders and ensure that everyone was socially lubricated.

At least they had the good sense to help those that may have imbibed too much and perhaps switch them over to some other liquid refreshments.

One Captain Tikva Theodoras however had been at the centre of this particular maelstrom of social engagement that was not at all helped by her gregarious and engaging mother, happy to entertain admirals and politicians she had only met a few hours ago. Some of them looked happy, engaged even, but even she could taste the feeling of them wanting to escape but unable to find the polite way of doing so. She could sense her mother’s joy at that, her only comment to Tikva being ‘I’m saving you from talking to them sweetie’.

Vile woman. ‘Love you Ma!’

Hate her.

Yeah, but we love her.

Oh yeah, she’s Ma after all. But still…mother’s right?

Then came the other side of the conspiratorial coin – her father. Sure enough, he had brought enough ouzo for the party. And tonight, after many nights and dinner on more than a few occasions with the few officers of the Atlantis present, he was going to make sure everyone drank. First was the celebratory shot to toast the Atlantis as the traditional bottle of wine shattered across the hull. Some vintage from a vineyard here in system she’d been told. Then the shot to the crew, then another to her officers, then to each officer that Ballis Theodoras had been able to rope into his drinking.

Her father was a happy drunk, if he got there. Born with stamina that would make the gods proud, he’d likely be ‘tipsy’ when everyone else had been admitted to sickbay. And he wasn’t letting his only daughter off lightly either. “You only get to launch a ship once,” he had said to Tikva while refilling her glass. “And I rarely get to drink and be merry with my kóri anymore since you launched yourself into the heavens.”

So, in the end she’d obliged her father, she’d been thankful for her father, she’d dealt with politicians who wanted to say their piece, brass who wanted to do the same and many other names and faces she was bound to forget thanks to fleeting encounters and the wonders of ouzo. She’d watched her senior officers file out after a socially acceptable time, having briefed them earlier in the day and given them permission so they could slip aboard and prepare for departure.

She’d have to cover their retreat. She and a newly promoted Lieutenant Commander Adelinde Gantzmann, who unfortunately wasn’t allowed to be armed. How else were they supposed to fight their way out if the politicians wouldn’t stop talking?

“Captain,” Commodore Ricta Denevan spoke as he approached Ballis’ drinking station, where she’d encamped herself with her father and the ouzo. She nodded respectfully at him, then the glass her father set in front of him and then filled. The hint was taken, the glass raised in salute, to which she joined, her father too, and knocked back.

She watched Denevan twitch slightly before setting the glass down with a slight smile. “I see your senior officers have left you to cover their retreat. Some very nervous looking junior officers out there looking for guidance.”

“Traitors and insubordinates every last one of them Sir,” she replied. “They’re making Atlantis ready for departure right now.”

“Perhaps then Captain, your last speech then for the dignitaries and you can bring some relief to your junior officers by getting out of here?” He looked back across the room and she could see what he meant. Not all of Atlantis’ officers were present, but a lottery had been held and those present were looking rather concerned for their lives.

Here we have the junior officers, separated from the guidance of an elder officer, huddling in packs for protection from the likes of predatory dignitaries and brass.

Wait, I thought Documentary had disappeared?

Behold, the magnificent Captain reappears, to talk down the predators and guide the wayward junior officers to the safety of their assigned billet.

Aw crap…

She nodded in the affirmative, took one last mouth of liquid courage from her father, a quick kiss on the cheek, and then went for the podium that she’d already spoken from earlier in the day. Just her presence there had the desired effect as conversations quieted down, attention turned her way and she could taste anticipation from all gathered.

‘Be magnificent sweet child, be magnificent,’ her mother spoke to her.

“Gathered dignitaries, officers of Starfleet and the Atlantis, families and friends,” she started, the introduction a good chance to gather one’s thoughts one last time. “You’ve already heard me talk about the legacy of the name Atlantis, from an intellectual thought exercise by Plato, to the misinterpreted narrative as historical fact, a supposed utopia sunk beneath the waves, the inspiration of a better world for dreamers and poets over the centuries. Then we have the ships Atlantis, starting with sailing vessels, Earth’s first reusable orbiters, through to starships of the United Earth and later Federation Starfleet.”

She paused for a moment, then looked to her officers who all seemed to straighten under her scrutiny a little. She couldn’t help but smile as they seemed…proud of themselves?

“I was lucky enough to be the commander of one Atlantis and under the grand auspice of those who went before me,” her attention turned to her former captain, offering Denevan a nod, “I am in command of another. We have commissioned this fine vessel in grandiose tradition, but to complete the process, one final thing must take place.”

Again, her attention went to the junior officers and she smiled. “Report to your stations and make ready for immediate departure.”

“Aye aye, ma’am!” came the response and the officers, their dress uniforms immaculate, filed out of the room in silence. They’d have the good grace to wait till at least two doors separated them from this room before they started to talk amongst themselves.

“If you’ll excuse me, on that note, I should report to my own station. Please, enjoy your evening,” she finished, then stepped away from the podium and towards her parents and Adelinde as well. “Ma, Pa, I do have to go.”

“I know sweetie,” Mikou said. “You take care of yourself out there.”

“Pah! She’s got this one to do that for her,” Ballis said as he wrapped an arm around Adelinde’s shoulders in a rather familiar way. A familial way actually. “You take care of my daughter, you hear me?”

“Of course, sir,” Adelinde said. “I’ll only shoot her when I have to.”

“Ha! Love it!” Ballis exclaimed. “Now love, you take care of her as well, yah?” he directed to Tikva, and she smiled back at him. “That’s my girl.”

A solid and reaffirming family hug, to which Adelinde nearly escaped before being pulled in by her father, settled the matter and with last goodbyes, they finally extracted themselves from the pageantry and officiousness of the commissioning party.

“I am drunk,” Tikva finally admitted as they neared the nearest transporter.

“You’re walking fine,” Adelinde replied. “Besides, didn’t you warn us all not to match your father’s drink for drink?”

“Don’t remind me,” Tikva muttered.

Only a few minutes later both women were stepping out of a turbolift and onto the bridge of the USS Atlantis, her senior staff all manning stations on the bridge and all of them having changed out of their dress uniforms.

Lucky for some.

“Catch,” Mac said, then lobbed something in Tikva’s direction, her own hand coming up to catch the tumbling awkward object. There were three keys and a Starfleet delta all connected to each other by a ring they could all easily slide around, which had contributed to the tumble. She looked at it in her hand, blinked once, then back to Mac. “Keys to the ship.”

The keyring slipped over a finger, she held her hand up to let them dangle, visible to all. “New Atlantis tradition, is it?”

“I like it,” Gabrielle said from Sciences. “New ship, new totems, right?”

“Works for me,” Rrr muttered from Ops. “All systems in the green Captain.”

“Warp and impulse engines are reporting ready,” T’Val said from the helm.

Taking a deep breath in, soaking up that new starship smell, which was more imagined than anything else, Tikva walked around the bridge towards the centre seat. She looked at it, studied it, and contemplated it. Her chair. She’d sat in more than a few centre seats now, but this was her first capital ship.

A glance upward and she saw Adelinde at tactical, built into the arch running behind the command chairs. Ch’tkk’va, her now independent chief of security, separate from tactical, was there as well, a perfectly reasonable stand-in for a tactical officer.

Then she turned and sat herself down, making a show of it for everyone on the bridge that the captain had now taken command. Her hand found the familiar controls on the right, tapping the comm button straight to Engineering. “Mr Velan, how’s she looking.”

“If I said I was in love Captain, I’d be underselling it,” her Efrosian chief engineer said, the smile evident in his voice. “Normally out of dock I’d say be gentle with her, but if you want, I can give you all the way to the red line right now. She’s rearing for it.”

“No need for that Ra. We’ll keep it sensible.”

“Aye aye, ma’am. Have fun with her. Velan out.” The comm channel closed and Tikva smiled.

“Mac, would you like to get us ready please?” she asked her XO as he sat himself down to her left.

“Secure all airlocks, release all moorings and umbilicals. Helm, set course zero mark zero, full thrusters on the captain’s order.”

Rrr and T’Val both turned their work, though Rrr’s was probably the more onerous of the two tasks, even if he’d only been a few button presses away from completing tasks already set in motion hours ago. “All airlocks secure, mooring and umbilicals have been cleared. Yard Ops has cleared us for departure.”

Tikva had waited, finding a new nervous tick with the new keys in her hand, twirling them around a finger, catching them on each rotation, then setting them in motion once more. But then attention once more returned to her, from Mac this time. She looked at him, caught the keys, gave a smirk and sat back, displaying comfort and confidence, the former of which was just a bit harder in a dress tunic. “Let’s go find an adventure. Lieutenant T’Val, páme.”

Comments

  • Why have I never thought to hold a party on the same day as launch?! What an ingenious plan. Get smashed, have fun, fly a starship into space. This should be mandatory for all launches. On a more serious note, I could not relate to Tikva and her relationship with her parents more than I do right now. To have them there, in her special moment, and to seemingly loathe every minute is great reading. I love the keyring idea, too. Wonderful tradition to have. Might need to come up with one for Temeraire.

    May 22, 2022