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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 8: The Art of Restrained Power and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

The Art of Restrained Power – 4

USS Atlantis, inbound for Daloon IV
May 2400
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“Evening,” Blake announced as she stepped onto the bridge of the Atlantis at the incredibly early hour of 1945 hours. She’d not been entirely pleased with discovering a few days ago that she’d been assigned a single watch rotation this week, but her protest to the man sitting in the centre seat right now had gone amiss. A double shift was not her idea of fun and hadn’t ingratiated Mac in her eyes at all.

So combined with his good looks and charming personality, he was still sitting at ‘Tell me more’ in her ranking system.

“Evening Doctor,” Mac said as he stood up, turning to face her. “First duty watch, excited?”

“Not my first time in the centre seat, but first on a ship this big that’s for sure.” She noted the gaggle of other people who had been in the lift with her all filing about, catching up with those they were relieving, getting the gist of how things were going. “And my first on a ship crossing the Romulan border on purpose that’s for sure.”

“Nothing to it. Just keep her on course and call out if anything comes up. Should be at Daloon in?” Mac had turned to the helm as he spoke, the question aimed at the two individuals there who had noticed to their credit and the senior of which was showing the junior how to quickly pull it up.

“Six hours, twenty-eight minutes sir,” the young ensign said. The boy looked barely old enough to be out of the Academy and probably was. But one didn’t get posted to a ship like this without either being good or patronage. She filed it away to look into which, just to make sure she didn’t piss off some admiral or planetary representative in the future.

“Nothing to it,” Mac said. “Captain will be up thirty minutes before arrival, so won’t even be a full shift for you.” With that, he produced a set of keys and handed them to her with a little shimmy to rattle them. “You have the conn.”

“I,” she paused, “have the conn.” The keys in hand, she looked them over, then looked back to Mac confused. “The ship has keys now?”

“Tradition I started,” he smiled. “They stay on the bridge, they stay with whoever has the conn.”

“Least the ship explodes,” Lieutenant Kurtwell said from Tactical, taking over from an Ensign who looked relieved to no longer be responsible for the ship’s defence coordination.

“That’s not likely,” Mac responded, then turned to Blake. “We think.” He took a single step past her, then stopped and leaned in. “Breakfast?”

“Yours or mine?” she asked back.

“Captain’s Mess,” he stated in rejection of both more private options, indicating something a bit more professional than she was hoping for.

She smiled, gave him a slight wink and then a nod of her head. “I’ll call you.”

“Works for me.” With that he stepped away and soon enough departed the bridge, leaving her with the mighty Gamma shift, a rotating cast of rogues and troublemakers assigned to the night duties. “Right, now that the responsible people are all gone,” she started, pacing around and ignoring the captain’s chair for now, “status report from…sciences first.”

“Oh…uh…” The young man didn’t look flustered, just wasn’t expecting to have to give a report so quickly. But he was quick to bring up details and recall what he’d been told. “Nothing on long-range sensors we aren’t expecting. A swarm of other ships, a flight of Raven-class ships all pouring across the border as well.”

Ravens eh?” She mulled it over. “They cap out at what, warp eight right?” An affirmative from the helm answered the question. “We’re doing nine point five right?”

“Nine point five one six apparently,” the answer came to her. “We’re about a hundred cee short of double the speed of a Raven at the moment.”

“Anyone think Engineering would mind if we pour on the speed just a bit more? Show those slow boats what a real starship looks like?” A few nervous faces came back to her, a couple of cocky affirmative looks and one engineer on bridge duty who didn’t look to enthused at the idea. But in the end, it was her watch, her call.

“Right, uh, Lieutenant Birmingham, yes?” The positive response let her know she got the name right, a win in her book. “Bring us up to whatever speed it is that’s double one of those Ravens will you?”

“Aye ma’am, increasing to warp nine point six-two. Time to arrival is now five hours and fifty-eight minutes.”

“That’s it?” she protested. “Guess it’ll have to do.” That done she finally walked over and dropped herself into the centre seat. “Right, who’s next with status reports?”

After the initial five minutes, things on the bridge settled down into a nice comfortable routine. Everyone had jobs to do, Blake herself had reports to read, a few orders to issue to finish preparations for any humanitarian work needing doing but otherwise, nothing of real import at the ship continued to cruise along. It was all time on the clock for her, though in truth she’d only taken the bridge officers exam as a laugh.

She made a point of walking around, spending a bit with each officer present to learn who they were, not the bland medical and duty records she’d already read at one point or another. It filled in the time, drove some limited conversation, but night shift was night shift after all and the only real excitement came when Captain Theodoras arrived on the bridge exactly as Mac had predicted.

“Doctor,” she said past a cup of coffee that looked large enough to wake a starbase. “You increased speed.”

“Wanted to show off for all the Raven-class captains out there,” she said with a smile, standing from the captain’s chair, keys in hand as she’d been dutiful not to misplace them.

“Huh…should have gunned it then,” Tikva said, accepting the keys and pocketing them in quick order. “But then I’d be really unhappy with how little I’ve slept.”

In quick order both officers were seated again, though Blake had opted not for the XO’s seat but the other rarely used third seat. It seemed more appropriate to her. “Trouble sleeping?”

“More like couldn’t,” the captain responded. “We were supposed to get a proper shakedown, not thrown into this.” She sounded more disappointed that they weren’t getting what the ship and crew probably really needed. “Least we get a soft task like Daloon, so the pressure is really on the senior staff, not the ship itself.”

“If you need help sleeping, pop by sickbay.” Black could see the protest forming and smiled in the face of it. “A well-rested captain is just as important as a functional starship, more so even.”

“Yes doctor,” Tikva finally responded, punctuated with another sip of her coffee.

“Captain, incoming hail from Daloon for you.” The ops officer looked apologetic but was just doing their job.

“Uh…hold this,” Tikva thrusted the cup in her direction and Blake took it as the other woman stood up, tugged her uniform tunic once, then made she was standing up as straight and tall as she could. “On screen.” A moment later the connection was made and the captain was introducing herself in a manner everyone had seen every starship captain do, with name and ship and pleasantries aplenty.

The two individuals on the screen were both romulan and Blake could immediately see the family resemblance. Father and daughter, so the magistrate and secretary if she recalled from what she’d read, or even been told in one of the many follow-up briefings. “Captain, I am Magistrate L’rilt of Daloon IV, this is Secretary L’rilt, head of government. I would…” the man stopped as if the next few words didn’t want to come forth, but he brought himself to say them anyway. “I would like to extend my personal invitation to your ship to enter our system.”

The woman behind the magistrate spoke up, and Blake noticed the slight twitch from the magistrate when she did. “We would also like to formally invite you captain, and whoever you wish to bring with you, to Government House in order to discuss in more detail the specifics of our request for Federation assistance.”

“I would be delighted to accept such an offer,” Tikva had started, “but perhaps I could offer Atlantis as a meeting ground instead?” Both romulans reacted to that, though very differently. Blake had some practice reading romulan facial expressions after all and could tell immediately the magistrate didn’t like the idea, but his daughter seemingly did. Someone was eager to see what Starfleet had to offer.

“We will of course travel with a personal guard Captain,” the woman said. “And expect our weapons to remain functional when we arrive aboard ship.” That seemed to calm her father.

“Perfectly acceptable,” Tikva answered. “We’ll make orbit shortly and be ready for you and your party in say a couple of hours.”

“Time,” Magistrate L’rilt spoke up, “is of the essence Captain.” His voice was deep and rumbling, conveying his unhappy state. “We will be ready in an hour.”

“I look forward to it Magistrate.” Tikva barely got her response out before the channel went dead.

“He seems lovely,” Blake found herself saying, then winced as Tikva turned on her, placated quickly with the cup of coffee. “I think that went well actually.”

“Good, you’re in the room then as well,” the captain said. She reached for the comm button on her chair arm and pressed it firmly. “Lieutenants Hu and Ch’tkk’va to my ready room in fifteen minutes.” Then she let the button go and turned to the fellow at ops. “Prep the diplomatic lounge for visitors. Get Rrr to find something for romulan guests.”

“Aye, ma’am.”

Then the captain turned once more on her and Blake stood up in anticipation though was forced to quickly catch the keys thrown at her once more. “You have the conn, I’m going to see if Terax has a pick-me-up.”

And with that she was gone, leaving Blake once more in command.

“Guess who’s coming for breakfast.”