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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 – 7

USS Atlantis, in orbit of Daloon IV
May, 2400
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“Here you go sir,” the young junior grade lieutenant said as he handed Mac a padd for his review.

Technically Lieutenant Junior Grade Stirling Fightmaster, and yes he had gone and checked the man’s name three times to make sure it wasn’t some elaborate joke, was Tikva’s yeoman, a role neither he nor her had ever had the circumstances to ever be in proximity to before getting underway this mission. But going from a ship of two hundred to just over four times that meant a hefty increase in paperwork and organisation.

Which was why while the cat’s away, the head mouse was happy the assistant had stayed behind. It meant he had someone who could at least filter incoming reports, or a subset of them at least, and get the important ones in front of him. That way he could focus on some of the more important minutiae of command and not be bogged down with filtering all of the reports immediately.

“Thanks Lieutenant,” he said in receipt, enjoying the peace and quiet of the ready room, only interrupted by Stirling’s entry and delivery of the padd. “What is it?” He hadn’t looked up from the computer screen, or even set the padd down to be fair, his multitasking not doing so well at the moment.

“Fleet notice. Just arrived. Lieutenant Michaels forwarded it through but I thought I should bring it to your immediate attention.”

All of that broke Mac’s attention away from the screen, his gaze going to Stirling, who was standing opposite him, at rest. He was not built to handle the mantle of power that was Stirling Fightmaster. If either he or Tikva had been shown a two metre tall blonde-haired slab of muscle who had to turn sideways to go through doors, ate all of his dinner including the plate and bench pressed shuttles neither would have checked his name was real. Instead what they had was someone barely a metre eighty, scrawny as heck and mousy brown hair but who had distinguished themselves already for having an intensely sharp mind.

He’d never make it as a starship captain, not without gaining a personality beyond ‘intensely focused young officer’, in Mac’s own opinion, but no doubt he’d get stolen for an analyst position somewhere one day, then an admiral’s staff and off his career would go. For now though he was Atlantis’ to enjoy and he knew Tikva was thankful for his efforts already.

“Anything going to scare me?”

“Updates from across the task forces here in the Velorum Sector and a generalised reminder from Fleet Intelligence about the possibility of increased pirate activities.”

Mac blinked, then glanced at the padd briefly, then set it down. “Anything that should be immediately top of my mind about these pirate notices?”

“Increased incidents of run-ins with Romulan officers of the Star Navy. Harassment campaigns seem to be the order of the day but most seem to break off after moderate resistance. I suspect either under orders to preserve strength or the Star Navy is merely scouting in force.” Stirling took in a breath, then continued. “Refreshments sir?”

“What?” He had been halfway back to his readings when the question pulled his attention back to the lieutenant. “Oh, no, I’m fine. Tell me Lieutenant, what do you know of hundred year old Romulan planetary defence systems?”

“Very little sir I’m afraid to say.” His answer couldn’t have betrayed him as British or British-descendant any more than it just did. “I can begin a search through the computer as well as make a request to Memory Alpha if you want sir. We could be awaiting some time for a response however.”

“That’s quite alright Fightmaster,” he answered, stopping himself from chuckling at the name. The kid just wasn’t a ‘Fightmaster’ and to use his name was ridiculous. “Send a message to both Rrr and Ra for me though, tell them I want to meet them in the Captain’s Mess for their breakfast as I’ve got a job for them. They should both be up in a few hours hopefully.”

“Yes sir. Will that be all?”

“Hmm…did you get the captain’s message about preparing an overnight bag for her?”

“Already sent planetside. Commander Gantzmann took it down personally sir.”

He couldn’t help the singular chuckle at that and smiled. “Ch’tkk’va and Gantzmann both off the ship eh? Very well then Lieutenant, you’re dismissed.”

“This,” Velan said a few hours later out over breakfast, “is worse than we thought.” The Captain’s Mess wasn’t busy at all, in fact it rarely was seeing as it was the senior officer’s lounge. Which meant it was ideal for a planning session over breakfast as either no one would be present or those that did make appearances could be trusted to actively not overhear anything.

“Isn’t it just?” Mac shot back. “This isn’t last generation weapons,” he shuffled about for the right padd and brought it to the top of the pile, “but at least three or four generations. I’m honestly surprised it hadn’t been decommissioned instead of mothballed.”

“Likely a symbol issue,” Rrr rumbled. “The people felt protected because the system was there. It didn’t need to be functional or have a realistic chance as long as the symbol of it was there.”

“Case in point would be Betazed during the Dominion War,” Velan added. “Antiquated systems make people feel comfortable at least. Up until they fail that is.” Velan’s breakfast had been attacked in pieces as he went from scans, schematics, work outlines and projections. It was finally set aside now and he’d been able to devote his whole attention to the plan. “We can’t build these people a new defence system, that’s just not possible with what we’ve got. But we can reactivate the orbital platforms, give them as much of a tune up as we possibly can. Overhauling the control centre planetside is the easiest task actually. Really just giving everything an overhaul and making sure all the comms and control gear works.”

“My people can handle that,” Rrr volunteered. “If we hit any major issues we can always ask for help.”

“Appreciated Rrr,” Velan responded. “This shouldn’t tax Engineering much either. A handful of orbital platforms shouldn’t take too long. I’m more worried about the captain’s intent to update these platforms as best we can. There’s only going to be so much we can do tweaking wise, or replicating new parts, to give these old disruptors some bite. But we’ll give it a go.”

“Excellent, now I was thinking we could,” Mac started, but was cut off by a blaring klaxon, the lights in the Captain’s Mess rising to full brightness, save for a few that went dark red.

“Red alert, all hands to battlestations,” shouted Gabrielle Camargo over the shipwide. “Commander MacIntyre to the bridge.” By the time she’d said ‘commander’ all three of them had left already, bounding for the closest lift.

“Report!” he barked, stepping out onto the bridge where he found Gabrielle standing in the middle, giving a decent impression of a battle-ready leader and on the main viewscreen a relic of bygone error was waiting for him. A D’deridex-class warbird hung there, a peaked bow pointed straight at Atlantis, looking as menacing as possible for a ship that presented a legitimate threat a generation ago.

“She decloaked just outside of weapons range, sir. No response to hails but all her weapons are active and she’s run scans of us.. Flying Star Navy ID codes,” Gabrielle said, brief and to the point. With an exchange of the keys, she went straight for her station. Where was this Gabrielle most of the time? He had half a mind to let her keep the conn.

“Get me a channel,” he ordered. “This is Commander MacIntyre of the USS Atlantis to the Imperial warbird off my stern. Identify yourself immediately.” He’d tried his best to keep an implied threat out of his tone of voice, but he knew he’d failed. Least he hadn’t put it to words just yet.

Finally the image flickered and showed a warbird’s bridge, all the officers pristine in their uniforms, their posture – their uniformity. Save for one that seemed to be lounging in his command chair like he had little to no care. “This is Commander Koteb of the warbird Implacable,” the man drawled out. “You seem to be lost Starfleet. This is Romulan territory and you are in violation of the Treaty of Algeron. Surrender your ship and crew and I’ll speak on your behalf to prevent my superiors from declaring war on the Federation.”

Mac stood there, shocked, just blinking for a few moments before looking around the bridge at his senior officers before turning back to the viewscreen. “You’re serious?” he asked.

“I know humans are a remarkably clever inferior species. You surely must have understood what I said, Commander. This is your last warning.”

He’d always thought the idea of conceited Star Navy officers so far divorced from reality that insulting everyone they met was a fiction of bad holonovels, but here he was talking with one. This man was nothing like any romulan he’d met. A proud people, even somewhat arrogant, but this man was something different. He was either truly deluded or playing a part and he wasn’t sure which was worse.

He shook his head slowly a couple of times. “Daloon has declared independence from the Star Empire, or what’s left of it, and requested Federation protection and assistance while deciding their own fate. I’d have thought the Star Navy to have bigger concerns, like the rest of the Velorum Sector hmm?”

“All of the Star Empire will heel to the authority of Rator,” the man hissed, going from relaxed to angry in a snap as he flung himself forward in his chair, hands gripping the arms intensely. “Especially this wretched little world. Is a pathetic ball of farmers really worth dying for Starfleet?”

“Target the Implacable,” Mac said idly, a confirmation from his own and the romulan’s tactical officer coming almost at the same time. “I’m not afraid of you Commander, or your ship, or your Star Empire. So how about this for an alternative – leave the Daloon system immediately.”

“You wouldn’t dare fire on my ship.”

“You can test that assertion at your own leisure,” he said smiling. “You have ten seconds before I get proactive with my orders to defend this world.”

“We will return and you will pay for this insult.” With that the channel went dead, the warbird veering away on the viewscreen before departing at warp speed.

“Bring some friends and make this a fair fight,” Mac said to the now empty viewscreen. With a single clap of his hands he turned to the rest of the bridge. “That went well I think.”

“That ship was old,” Gabrielle said from her station, pouring over scans she’d taken. “Like really old.”

“It’s a D’deridex, of course it’s old,” Rrr offered. “Someone must be reaching into mothball fleets at this point.”

“Still a decent ship,” the young man at tactical, one of the new blood, offered. “And built to take a beating.”

“Well if they’re bringing old ships out of mothballs and throwing them around, then guess we best be prepared for this Koteb to return, and with friends. Velan, Rrr, think that’s motivation enough to get started on refurbishing the defence platforms?”

Comments

  • Well now, this was an entertaining read. We've got a well-drawn antagonist, an engineering flop that needs a miracle worker, and a new character who's competing with Thadiun Okona for the unhinged character name prize! The languid threat of Commander Koteb has quickly drawn me in. He offers such a counter-point to the magistrate of Daloon and I have so many questions about his slouch and his older warbird. Moreover, why is a podunk town like Daloon so important to him?? And daaaaaaaamn, Mac isn't messing around. I can see why Tikva chose him all those years ago. As for Stirling Fightmaster, come on, that's got to be one of those names you assemble based on a childhood pet and the street one grew up on, right? He's gotta be hiding some secrets too, I'd wager. Gotta see more of him in future chapters.

    June 15, 2022
  • I enjoyed reading this, had me sitting on my toes wondering what was going to happen. While Mac was talking with the others about the defense platforms and how that would even be possible with how outdated they were. Then the sudden klaxon going off made them race back to the bridge to find that a very old D'deridex-class ship was sitting just outside of weapons range. The arrogant Commander thinking he could be all big and bad, thinking that Starfleet would run away with their tails between their legs was sorely mistaken when Mac gave him an option to leave or get fired upon. I can't wait to see what happens next when they return.

    June 18, 2022