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Part of USS Erigone: Into the Fire and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Light the Match

USS Erigone
May 10, 2400
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USS Erigone – Bridge – 0800

“…this briefing is concluded.”  The screen blinked and then displayed the Starfleet symbol before fading out.

Helmsmen Prentice was the first to react, “What the hell?” as he turned in his chair to face Commander Harris in the center chair and Lieutenant Reid at one of the back stations.  “This means a mess, doesn’t it?”

Ambrose sat forward in his chair, the news about the Romulan Star Empire and the now lack of a Romulan Star Empire leaving him with a great host of questions which had not been really answered in the briefing they had just received as a part of their fleet operations.  “I think the official term is a matter of galactic security or a galactic incident.”

Reid spoke up, “You think we’ll be sent to the front of this thing?”  She wasn’t nervous as much as she was uneasy.  Historically events like this brought more blood and suffering to the table than hope and restoration.

He turned towards her in the command chair, “I think everyone is going to be in play.  The Raven class is a fast response ship and we’re supposed to be able to get into situations better than larger class ships.  In my experience Starfleet doesn’t hesitate to throw everything into the mix.  This…this is massive.”  He glanced around the room, “To Doctor Reid’s point, we’re going to need to be ready to go wherever they tell us.  Prentice, get us underway to Starbase Bravo for resupply.  Reid, my ready room.”  Ensign, you have the conn.”

USS Erigone – Ready Room / Quarters– 0815

The CO sat on one couch while his Chief Medical Officer sat on the opposite couch.  He had poured himself a glass of apple cider and had handed her one as well.  Silence held in the room for a moment before he spoke, “We’re picking up a Chief of Operations at Bravo.”  He handed her a PADD with his service jacket and she read it while quietly sipping on her chilled cider.  Another moment passed and she returned the PADD to him.

“He’s pretty light, only served on freighters and one station.”  She took another swig and chuckled, “Sometimes I think Raven class must just be a dumping ground…but then I wonder if we’re just the dumping ground.”  Reid glanced at her CO.

Harris shrugged, “I don’t know.  We’ve been doing this a few months and nobody got sent our way until now.  We’re still short a security/tactical officer, and given what we’re going to get thrown into…I don’t know how to feel about that.”  He leaned forward, “How are you feeling about this?”

Reid scoffed, “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”  He gave her a questioning look and she continued, “I’m a pessimist when it comes to these kinds of things.  There’s probably going to be some war, or battle, or something. Everyone’s gonna shoot at each other and we’ll have to figure out how to stabilize the galaxy…again.  This kind of thing never goes quietly.  It’s usually loud, angry, bloody, and piled with bodies.”  He gave her another questioning look, “…and no, I didn’t add anything to this cider.  I’m just irritated.”

Ambrose pursed his lips, “I couldn’t tell.”  She rolled her eyes at him and scoffed again.  They had grown close in the few months they’d been on the Erigone.  Both would steal glances at the other and the banter had become a regular feature of their relationship.  “Joking aside, how are you feeling?”

Jordan sighed, “That famous quote from James T. Kirk…about risk being our business?  That’s where I’m choosing to sit at the moment.  I signed up for Starfleet because I wanted to get out and do something different.  Bigger, better…or whatever.”  She drained the glass and sat back in the couch, “Any more good news?”

Harris chuckled quietly, “They’re probably going to assign us a group of response engineers, probably 15 or so.  We’ll get our assignment at Bravo and then off we go.”  His cup was empty and he went to fill it again.

Reid watched him for a moment before asking, “How are you feeling about this?”

He sat back on the couch roughly and sipped at his refilled cup, contemplating his feelings.  He settled on, “I always thought I would be a chief engineer for the rest of my life.  Like, I’d just be like a Scotty, or a LaForge – a lifelong commitment to the same old girl until she either blew up or was retired.”  He swirled the brown liquid, his eyes searching the cloudy cider for answers, “But I never imagined being a command officer.  Maybe because I stuck myself in engineering…maybe that’s why they kicked me out and up.”  He shrugged, “This rank and this job mean I’m responsible for more than just the ship.  I’m responsible for people…and their safety.  That’s what I’m sitting in at the moment.”

Jordan nodded thoughtfully and stood, “I’m going to do some work in sickbay.  Lots of medical journals to read and inventory to check for the 23rd time.”  She paused at his door, “I think you should stick around command for a while, Commander. Hate to have to get used to another one.”  With that, she was out the door and down the corridor, leaving Harris to think on that.

USS Erigone – Bridge – 1800

“This is a very small ship.”  Lieutenant Phillips stood on the bridge, a bag at his side and a look of growing concern crossing his face.  His new CO stood near the center chair, having welcomed the officer onboard moments ago.

Harris nodded, “She is small, yes.  But capable.  We’ve found her to be reliable and comfortable given the circumstances.”  A pause.  “Your quarters are available to you and your first duty will be a staff meeting at 1900, here on the bridge.”  The operations chief continued to look around the bridge and then settled on the commander before nodding softly and walking back out the door.

Prentice was already turned in his chair.  He wasn’t sure what to say, and had found himself running foul of Harris with his mouth so he searched for the right words to avoid another long staring glare from his CO.  He tried, “He’s…different.  Different is good.”

Harris raised his eyebrows but said nothing as he returned to the center chair.  He tapped away at his PADD for a moment and sighed, “Ensign, status on our engineering detachment?”  A thumbs up from Prentice was his signal all was well.  There were 15 of them, and it pushed the Raven class a little in how crowded it suddenly had become.  The former Chief Engineer had taken some time to run through the files of the men and women he’d been assigned…and it wasn’t a terrible bunch of officers…but it wasn’t a stellar group either.  In keeping with the Erigone’s ongoing reputation, it was a mix of outlaws, inlaws, and others who may have been dumped.  Ambrose tried to keep an open mind.  “Ensign, plot our course to the mission point Starfleet provided.  Maximum warp at your leisure.”  The Erigone was gone in a flash.

USS Erigone – Bridge – 1900

The command crew was all seated while the engineering support team stood around, eyes shifting from chief to commander and back again.  Harris felt that old stage fright sensation making a startling return but fought to push it down.  He stood by the command chair, and gestured to the screen, “Our current assignment is to make our way towards the Velorum sector.  Starfleet anticipates there to be many refugees and assorted folks fleeing or seeking refuge from any number of worlds and sectors.  We’re going to be keeping an ear out for distress calls, ships in need, or even medical emergencies.  Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Reid has already been working with some of you on field medical training and that training will continue as we travel and get closer.  Our more pressing need will be lending a hand with the engineering detachment.  We’ll be checking in with colonies and other assorted folks along the way to see who needs our help.”  He glanced at the assembled crew, “We expect to arrive in our target investigation area within a few hours.  Get what rest you can, I suspect it’s going to be a bumpy ride from here on out.  Dismissed.”

The engineering crew broke apart and headed to their respective bunks, leaving Harris with this command crew on the bridge.  The newly assigned Operations Chief spoke up, “Who will run the ship while we sleep?”

Harris nodded, “We’ve worked on that.  Between myself and Dr. Reid, we installed holographic projectors on the bridge so that our EMH can handle the night shift in concert with the ship’s computer.  If anything comes up, the klaxon sounds and we’re immediately summoned to the bridge.  We got some help from Bravo’s engineers and operations teams with additional protocol controls and paths for the EMH – she can administrate command line options within a select operational bubble.” Our daily shifts from 0600 to 1900 – each of us is layered.  I start out the day at 0600 and go to about 1600, Reid goes from 0700 to 1700, and you go from 0800 to 1800 while Mr. Prentice is 0900 to 1900.  That’s going to change on the fly as mission needs change, so keep that in mind.”  He looked around to them, “Get your rest, team.  We’ve got a mission to work in the morning.”  The command team headed off until it was just the commander on the bridge.  He took a deep breath, “Computer activate Emergency Command Hologram.”

There was a beep and then a whir and then the image of the ECH appeared in full on the bridge.  “Please state the nature of the command emergency.”

Harris chuckled a little, “No emergency.  You’re on duty for the night shift.”  He stopped, “We never settled on a name, did we?”

The ECH shook her head, her eyes searching the ceiling for an idea, “We did not, Commander Harris.  My databanks do not have a preference.”  She looked back at him, “Perhaps you can assist?”

Ambrose thought for a moment, “What about Rachel McKee?”

The hologram studied him for a moment, “What is the name’s significance?”

The CO contemplated just dismissing it, “It’s a long story.”  The ECH blinked and stared at him.  “Right. Time doesn’t matter to you.  Right.  Okay.  You have access to my personnel file?”  The ECH nodded, “Then you know what occurred to give me this”, he pulled up his uniform pants to reveal the mechanical leg underneath.  The ECH nodded once more.  “The incident in which I lost my leg was when I saved everyone in engineering.  The last girl…I barely got her out…hence the leg.”  He rubbed the imaginary itch that started, “She was in ICU for a month…nearly died.  Thankfully, she lived.”  He paused as he felt the memories of the event slipping back into his heart, “However…she resigned from Starfleet…refused to step foot in any starship ever again.  Last I heard she was working in Denver on a power support project.”

The ECH did not frown but simply asked, “What do you feel about your role in her life choice?”

Harris shook his head, “A younger me woulda blamed myself for the whole thing.  But I don’t.  I don’t blame her either.  She endured a horrifying experience that left scars that will never heal.”

Another blink or two.  “And you?  Are you healed?”

A sigh, “I knew I made a mistake giving you counselor traits in your programming.”  The ECH didn’t react, just waited for his answer.  “Humans never really fully heal from trauma.  We process, we repair, we cope…we endure.  And before you ask, we endure because a life lived long is worth every struggle and every heartache.  The beauty of life is connected to the pain.”  He looked up at her.

“My programming is satisfied with your answers.  This ECH is now named Rachel McKee, ranked Lieutenant Commander and XO of the USS Erigone.  Program underway.  I have the CONN.”  She turned away from him and gently sat in the command chair, staring ahead.  For Harris, it was an odd thing, but he trusted the work they had done to build and improve her.  They needed her to work.

The day ahead would challenge each of them in its own way.

Comments

  • Well, I wasn't expecting this from reading about such a small crew. The Romulan Empire is going to hell in a handbasket, yet with this little bunch of heroes on the case, I feel a little better about things out there! As a lover of grand old ladies such as the Galaxy, and the original Excelsior, I've never been a fan of small ships, but you're doing a damn fine job of showing me what I've been missing all these years. I love the need for a holographic XO to run the night shift just so everyone else can get some kip, such is the size of the crew. Perfect, can't wait for more!

    May 29, 2022
  • I’m really impressed with how you’re leaning into the potential of these Raven-class commands. You make a good point about how they’re quick and nimble to get into, and out of, situations. The story sets up good challenges for the crew, given how the senior-staff is half-formed and still growing. Their insecurities about being underdogs of the fleet (outlaws and inlaws, ha!) leaves them with a lot to prove at the start of a daunting mission into Romulan space. I’m enjoying reading Harris’ approach to leadership, as a reluctant hero in his first command, when all he wanted to be was an engineer. It’s a nice touch. As was the line, “And you? Are you healed?” That one really got me. Tie all of it together, and it’s a beautiful combination you’ve created with plenty of avenues to explore in the mission to come!

    June 2, 2022