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Part of Bravo Fleet Command: Task Force 17

Cast Out Into the Deep

Task Force 17 Operations, Deep Space 17
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A polite female voice drifted throughout the open areas of the base, “All USS Discovery personnel prepare for immediate departure from upper docking arm six. All USS Discovery personnel report aboard ship immediately.”  

Captain Erill’Yun Mek walked PADD in hand, studying the deployment records. The Discovery would be proceeding into the Typhon Expanse later that day. The course charted would take them out past the Lioh star, through roughly ten lightyears of open space before entering the clouded “pea soup” of subspace interference and sensor anomalies. Sector Typhon 252 for them would be the edge of space as conceptualised by those unfamiliar with the region. In the expanse, up was down, time stretched and undulated, and apparitions played tricks on even the most robust of starship computers.  

Mek turned a corner into the Task Force operations office. Situated in the base’s upper levels, directly below the communications spires, the wide room was lightly staffed that morning. Several command personnel observed starship traffic, updating positions on a huge translucent sector map display that formed a centrepiece. Set into a circular well, all manner of diagnostic panels, long range sensor readouts and system status monitors adorned the raised circumference on which it sat.  

A gold shirted officer looked towards Mek as, eyes sunken from the early start, the gruff old Captain approached with a growl, “Is Captain Kohl still here?” 

Even before she heard the growl, a hint of resigned desperation was more than evident behind that gold shirted officer’s eyes.  By the time she made eye-contact with Mek, an expression of relief crossed her face, as if she knew the Task Force Commander could sort anything out.  “Ah… yes, sir,” she said, nodding vigorously.  Leaning towards Mek, she put on a sotto voice to share, “USS Discovery is ready to depart.  All other personnel have already reported aboard.  Except for…”  Trailing off, she nodded in the direction of the sector map.

Mek finally lowered his PADD, his eyes first making contact with hers, then following her glance, “Ah,” he grumbled, “I might have known.” 

As was his wont, Captain Andreus Kohl was trying to do five things at once, but he had lost track of at least two of them.  In the midst of instructing a junior officer, Kohl asked, “But have you tried sorting it like this?”  To demonstrate the this in question, he used both of his hands to manipulate holographic controls.  His movements were awkward, because of the luggage he had strapped over his shoulder and a travel mug tucked under an armpit.  “Does that make sense?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at the officer until he saw a nod of understanding.

“I believe that’s your final boarding call, Captain,” Mek raised a hand to the ceiling along with his eyebrows, leaving the disembodied officer at the tannoy to speak for herself.  

“Captain, hullo,” Kohl brightly said, as soon as he met Mek’s eyes.  “You can tell me the truth,” he said, with far too much familiarity.  Although Kohl had served as Mek’s Task Force Executive Officer for only a couple of months, he had chosen to treat Mek as if he were an old friend, right from their first day of serving together.  To date, Kohl hadn’t been demoted, and so he kept at it.  “Are you trying to embarrass me in front of the Romulans, captain?”

“Mr. Kohl,” Mek couldn’t help but match the man’s airy tone, “the Free State research team’s already boarded. Only embarrassment here is if departure’s delayed due to the mission commander’s absence. Oh, and if they manage to scoop us on those spectral phase pulse readings,” his eyes narrowed, “using our own equipment. Right now I’d say only one of those things was likely, wouldn’t you?”

With his own nod of resignation, Kohl swiped a hand through the holographic interface to log himself out of the sector map.  He hiked the shoulder strap of his luggage higher on his shoulder and he took his travel mug in hand, readying himself to depart.  “That spectral phase pulse,” Kohl remarked, amid a shake of the head and a bemused smirk.  “The Romulan Free State has dispatched all manner of specialists –astrogeologists, zoologists, archaeologists– to join our task force across their deep space operations.  Three more Free State ships are en route with Deep Space 17 right now,”  Kohl sighed before continuing, “and Discovery’s inaugural mission is to investigate… a ghost ship.  They’re going to laugh.”

Mek considered Kohl’s words for a second, “If what they’re saying about the Typhon Expanse is true, they won’t be laughing long,” his mind wandered to some of the reports he’d read through since arriving at Deep Space 17, “wouldn’t be the strangest thing found in there by far…” Mek trailed off, collecting his thoughts, “Now then, Captain. Care for a site-to-site transport to make up for lost time?”

“Yes, please,” Kohl replied with a single nod.  He rolled his shoulders back and planted his feet to prepare for transport.  Waggling a finger at Mek, Kohl said, “Now don’t you forget about me while I’m out of sight…”

“Take care of yourself, Andreus,” Mek entered a few coordinates into the panel beside him. Blue vertical lines descended in a dazzling shimmer, “don’t lose sight of the stars.”