Opening Post to Sovereign’s Campaign Mission – Race Against Time
Sovereign was among many vessels of the Fourth Fleet, all that waited patiently for the Barzan Wormhole to open. There were other vessels of Task Force 93 that held stationary near the Sovereign but one of the more prominent ones was the Verity, the flagship of the task force. The news of what happened in the Delta Quadrant had caused quite a stir everywhere else. Many merchants and traders’ vessels have already gone through the Barzan Wormhole about thirty days before them, to try and earn a profit from this outbreak of dilithium. But one thing that was on Vakai’s mind was, how exactly did this happen? Why is it happening? And why is it affecting the telepaths?
Unfortunately, there is a significant change in the crew roster on board the Sovereign and the change could not have come at a better time. A Danube-class runabout had landed on the main hangar deck on the Sovereign just hours ago, the very same runabout that a few people boarded before it rose up off the hangar deck, backed out of the hangar, and then pulled a ninety-degree turn before it pulled away from the rest of the fleet. Where the runabout was going, only the new commanding officer knew.
The second officer and the helmsman stood there as they stared at the briefing room door that had closed after many officers had gone inside. Lexie Ward stood there with her arms folded across her chest as her right foot tapped away in anticipation. Or was it anxiety? She could not tell.
“Uh, Commander?” The Ferengi spoke up.
“What is it, Tagg?” Ward asked, her eyes not leaving the door.
“Is your foot okay?” Tagg asked as he had been staring at her tapping foot.
Ward sighed, unfolded her arms, and began to walk to her chair where she had chosen to sit down. “It’s fine.”
Tagg blinked, looked at the center chair, and then at her. “Are you okay?”
Ward frowned. “What do you mean by that, Lieutenant? I’m fine.”
Tagg chuckled nervously. “Well, I mean, you have the conn. That is what that one goatee guy said before he went in there with all those other officers.”
“Yes. And?” Ward was starting to get annoyed.
“Well. You’re there. And the conn chair is there.” He pointed at the center chair. “Or did I misread something at the academy?”
Ward blushed in embarrassment before she stood up and sat back down, in the correct chair this time. “It does not matter where I sit, honestly. But it is appropriate to sit here when you have the conn.”
Tagg chuckled again nervously. “Look. I don’t know what’s going on either. It’s very irregular for so many new officers to join us before this whole operation begins. As the pilot of this amazing ship,” He had not stopped saying that since he got on board. Clearly, he had a thing for large vessels with a lot of useful facilities and teeth. “So I absolutely would love to know what is going on and if it affects my position as the pilot in any way.”
Ward sighed as she was in agreement with the Ferengi as well. She was the Second Officer of the Sovereign and she was being left out of some very important business. Why? What could possibly be so important that she didn’t have the clearance to know about? Suddenly she heard not one but two doors open. She stood up and saw that both doors to the briefing room had opened to let two groups of people leave, they both hopped into separate turbolifts and were just that. Gone. She had recognized them too. Commander Ryker, Lieutenant Gomez, Lieutenant Gomo, Maya Egil, Koyda Daco, Gatia and Lieutenant Commander Sucil. There were some ensigns that had been left with Ryker and Gomez that she didn’t recognize but that was it.
The man with the captain rank and goatee stepped out and looked directly at her. “Lieutenant Commander Ward. Lieutenant Tagg.” He then turned his head to look at Bazial. “Lieutenant Bazial. Join us.” With that, he turned and returned to the briefing room.
All three that were called went to the door but Ward had stopped to allow Tagg and Bazial to go in first. Then she stepped in right behind them and saw a bunch of new faces. It was strange and unsettling at this time, but she had a feeling that she was about to get answers. Ward went around to her seat at the table and sat down. Her eyes then began to scan each and every new face that was at the table, some of them looked at her, and some of them were busy tapping away with one hand directly at the padd before them in the other hand. She then turned her head and looked at the man to her left that sat at the head of the table. He looked directly at her.
“I know you have questions, Commander. So let me start answering them. Captain Vakai is no longer the commanding officer of this ship. I am his replacement. He chose to resign his commission, as well as did Lieutenant Commander Sivol. They both had left the ship, with Lieutenant Commander Sucil, our former chief ship’s counselor. I don’t know where Commander Sucil plans to go, but I do know that Vakai and Sivol plan to join the Romulan Republic Intelligence Agency. That is all I know about the three.” He then smirked as he realized that he had forgotten to introduce himself. He looked at everyone and licked his dry lips. “I am Captain Henry Maxwell. For those who do not know me too well, I was the Task Force Commanding Officer of Task Force 93. I chose to resign. I had no executive officer and after five months, it had taken its toll on me. Plus, this is my ship.” He raised and outstretched his arm to gesture to the Sovereign.
“I had served on board the Sovereign since I graduated from the academy back in 72′. After sixteen years, I was promoted to Commander and given the position of First Officer under a great Captain. I remained on board as the First Officer for eleven more years. And then I was offered the position of executive officer of Task Force 93, where I served in such position for three months and then was elevated to commanding officer after Captain Gar’rath resigned. As much as I tried to appoint someone to be my Executive Officer, the fleet had difficulties finding a suitable placement. I remained in such position for five months until I chose to resign from that position.” Maxwell explained. He then took in a deep breath and smiled on the heavy exhale. “I am where I belong. I am home. Fleet felt that the best place for me was here, on the Sovereign, where I belong. Plus, Vakai had informed one of the staff members that he had planned on resigning and joining the Republic. So, that was mainly the key element as to why I was given command of the Sovereign. If he had chosen to stay, I would have likely been assigned elsewhere.”
Maxwell cleared his throat. “As the new commanding officer of this ship, I had the choice of staff. I chose to bring my staff from Verity. Now, at first, this did upset Commander Ryker for a moment, until I briefed him on his new job. I know I left you out, Commander Ward but that was not intentional. I have seen your record and I knew you would have zero issues with the change in the roster. Plus it made no sense for you to be here when I had no plans of removing you from your position. The meeting I had with everyone was to make sure everyone was clear on their new assignments. I want zero confusion.”
Ward nodded her head in acknowledgment. “I completely understand, sir.”
“Does that mean I get to keep my position, sir?” Tagg raised his voice in question.
Maxwell smiled at the Ferengi. “Of course, Lieutenant. Vakai and Ryker made a good choice. You’re a fine pilot and I am going to need you at your place. The same goes for you, Lieutenant Bazial. You’re also a fine officer and I could not find it in myself to replace you.”
Bazial cleared her throat, she had not expected such praise. “I appreciate the compliment, Captain.”
Maxwell smacked his hands together in a clap to make sure he had everyone’s attention. “So. Because some of you were not here in the previous meeting, I will happily introduce the new staff.” Maxwell gestured to his left. “This is Commander Arthur Graves. He will be our first officer. At first, I was considering him as a candidate to be my executive officer of Task Force 93 and had him conduct missions with a team to assist the independent colonies that are in the non-aligned region. But since things changed, he is now the executive officer of the Sovereign.” Maxwell then pointed to the man beside Graves. “This here is Lieutenant Zane Bates. He will be the Chief of Security and Tactical on board. He came from the Aquarius until I chose him to be my Chief of Security and Tactical on board the Verity when I became the task force commanding officer.”
Maxwell then gestured to the woman beside Bates. “That is Lieutenant Akira Rowe. I handpicked her from Columbia for the same reason, to be my Chief Operations Officer on the Verity. She is now in the very same position here on board Sovereign.” Maxwell continued on to the man beside Rowe. “That man there who has his eyes buried in his padd, is Lieutenant Alex Beck. He was the Chief Engineer on board the Altai and I requested him to be my Chief Engineer on the Verity, who is in the same position here as well. What are you doing, Mr. Beck?”
Beck lifted and turned his head to look at Maxwell and everyone else. The look on his face was like he had been caught red-handed, which disappeared when he remembered that he was just doing his work. “Analyzing the efficiency of Sovereign’s engines. They are good but they can be much better. Also, I placed a requisition order to Starbase 38 for one of the DOTs.”
Maxwell frowned. “Do we need one?”
“Well, they’re like the exo-comps but more efficient in my opinion. And if it wasn’t for the one that I requisitioned from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers Starship when it was helping the Altai refurbish and restore the listening outpost.” Beck cleared his throat. “Well, I would not have got the holographic system installed without the DOT.”
Maxwell nodded his head. “I’ve read about that system. It is impressive and when I had the chance, I made sure the schematics of such a system were submitted through proper channels so that your work would not go unrecognized. Hopefully it will be used for other facilities like that listening outpost.”
Beck smiled. “I appreciate that, sir, but it was not necessary. I didn’t do it for recognition or fame. I was just doing my job to improve the safety of my friends.” Beck then returned to staring at his padd and tapping away.
Maxwell raised his brows with a smirk then looked to Ward. He gestured to the woman beside her. “This lady here is Commander Olivia Bates. She is Zane’s sister, but also the Chief Medical Officer on board. I have no problems with family members serving on the same ship as long as they don’t cause problems.” Maxwell said as he looked between the two Bates’. Then he gestured to the woman next to Commander Bates. “This lady there is Lieutenant Commander Chelsea Pearson, the new Chief Ship’s Counselor.”
Maxwell waited for everyone to get a good look at each other, seeing Ward and Graves eyeing each other made Maxwell feel that those two will get along just fine. Or he was reading them incorrectly. Not sure. “All right.” Maxwell raised his voice to get their attention once more. “Now you must be wondering where former staff went. Well, I have not kicked them off the ship if that is what you were wondering.” He said as he looked at Ward.
“Sir?” Ward asked.
Maxwell smiled and pressed a button, the viewports began to tint just enough to where you cannot see anything through them. Then the lights dimmed a little as a holographic display appeared just above the middle of the table to reveal the Gradin Belt. “The Delta Exploration Initiative has reported a subspace pulse came from the Gradin Belt. A massive subspace pulse that was detected across fourteen sectors.” Maxwell paused for a moment to let that sink in. “What’s more, is that many planets, moons, and asteroids in those sectors, are suddenly sprouting large quantities of dilithium. This dilithium has an unusual side effect, one that I will not allow affecting the crew during such a critical mission. Graves.” Maxwell looked to his first officer.
Graves cleared his throat. “All Betazoid and Vulcan crew have been reassigned, Captain. Anyone else telepathic was also reassigned. We have a full crew complement with zero telepaths on board.”
Maxwell nodded his head. “Good.” He then looked back at everyone. “This new dilithium has a strange effect on telepaths. Within 10,000 km, they will first begin to hear voices, and the closer a starship gets to this new dilithium the symptoms get much worse. Paralysis by fear, voices get louder and more demanding, then they’ll become violent, and aggressive, and start attacking fellow crew members, whether it be minor punches and kicks to biting and scratching. Lastly, they will lose control completely and begin to sabotage ship systems and violently resist anyone who gets in their way. I will not have that happen on my ship.” Maxwell explained to them. He then pressed a button and the image changed to a bunch of logos of different factions or races.
“The Turei Alliance may allow us to use their Underspace for a quick traverse across the Delta Quadrant. And the Kinbori and Shivolian governments are allowing us to use the Markonian Outpost as a staging area. We have no facilities or bases established in the Gardin Belt, so once we are in there, we are essentially relying on each other in the Fourth Fleet.” Maxwell explained. “Here is where it gets difficult. No doubt, the Orion Syndicate have managed to slip ships through the Barzan Wormhole and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on as much dilithium as possible, regardless of how they affect any civilians. There is no doubt that there are colonies with innocents in the Gardin Belt that are being affected by this sudden growth of dilithium and will no doubt be harrassed by miners and with the Orion Syndicate, they’ll most likely try to enslave them and force them to mine the dilithium. We will not let that happen.”
Maxwell then pressed a button to bring up two icons. The Hirogen and the Devore. “The Hirogen have launched several hunting packs throughout the affected sectors around the Gardin Belt. Once we get in there to assist any colonies that are in need of our help, we will have to be careful when the Hirogen shows up. They might think the Sovereign is a warship and worthy prey. If they do, we will be forced to fend them off.” Maxwell explained then removed the Hirogen symbol, leaving the Devore symbol alone. “I’m sure plenty of you have read up on the Devore as of late, that is another reason why I had all telepaths removed from my ship. Not that it will matter. The Devore will likely request us to stop and try to inspect our ship for telepaths and if we come across a corrupt captain, they will try to attempt in accusing one of our crewmembers to be a telepath and try to arrest them.” Maxwell pressed a button, the holographic display disappeared, illumination slowly rose and the tint on the viewports disappeared.
“I want to make something absolutely very clear to everyone here.” Maxwell looked at each and every single officer at the table. “I will not allow the Devore to take a single crewmember off my ship. That is why the original staff are remaining on board.” Maxwell licked his lips as he felt that they were getting dry. “Commander Ryker will lead a Special Operations team under my direct command. The four ensigns that were once under Commander Graves’ command when I gave him assignments in the non-aligned territories are now under Commander Ryker’s command. Graves assures me that these ensigns will do the job but I made it clear to Ryker that I want them ready for anything. The same goes for Lieutenant Maya Egil. Her husband, Koyda, will be the executive officer of her Hazard Team. Lieutenants Ashley Gomez, Gomo, and Gatia will be part of that Hazard Team. Simply put, when shit hits the fan, both teams will sweep the ship, stun any Devore operators on board, and Bates.” Maxwell looked at the Lieutenant. “You will have explicit direct orders from me to eliminate the Devore vessel. That is only if the Devore attempts to take any crew member off of my ship. No one on board is a telepath and if they so much as lie and attempt to take any crew member, I will act in accordance to protect my crew. Are we clear?”
“Yes, sir!” Everyone announced in unison.
Maxwell took in a deep breath and exhaled heavily before he looked at Ward. “I know you’re a by-the-book kind of gal and I’m sure you have an issue with my orders to protect the crew.”
Ward blinked in surprise at his words. “Then you knew my former captain?”
Maxwell nodded. “And I read your file.”
Ward nodded right back. “Sir, any means to protect the crew is a valiant effort and a responsibility to anyone on the Command Staff. I assure you, I would do anything to protect the crew.”
Maxwell smiled. “I’m glad you understand, Commander.” Maxwell took in another deep breath and exhaled slowly as he looked down at the table. Then he looked up at everyone. “This ship will be an instrument for the fleet. We will save lives and we will eliminate anyone who threatens those lives. We can be an instrument for diplomacy or we can be a weapon. I would prefer that we settle things diplomatically, but we know the history with the Hirogen, Orions, and the Devore. Diplomacy will fall very short. So the only option is that this ship becomes a weapon.”
Maxwell looked to Tagg, Zane Bates, Akira Rowe, and Alex Beck. “You three. I need you all to increase the efficiency of our engines, weapons, and shields as well as maneuverability as best as possible. I know she’s a big boat, but we all have seen these improvements before. So make it happen.” All four acknowledged, rose up from their seats, and left the briefing room.
Maxwell then looked to Olivia Bates and Chelsea Pearson. “I want you two to prepare your staff for anything. Minor injuries to major ones. Anxiety to a total mental breakdown. A lot of crew joined Starfleet to do good, not to be thrust into combat or intrusively interrogated as the Devore do.” The two nodded in agreement, then rose up from their seats and left.
Maxwell looked to Bazial. “I want you to get as much information from Starbase 38 in regards to the Gardin Belt and the sectors around it. It’s mostly unexplored but any relevant data will be vital. Star charts, anomalies, nebulas, anything.”
“Yes, sir.” Said Bazial before she rose up and left.
Maxwell then looked to Graves and Ward. “Both the Hazard and Spec Ops team understand their orders. But I want you two to visit them and make sure they get everything that they need to get the job done. If we are stopped by the Devore,” Maxwell pressed a button and a holographic image of the Sovereign appeared above the table. Then he pressed another button and two different colored dots appeared with a key indicating which color belonged to who. Red for Hazard Team and Blue for Specs Ops.
“Hazard team will be deployed here,” The red dot blinked near main engineering. “They will be in a small compartment that will be modified to hide their biosignatures and comm badges. The same goes for the Spec Ops team,” A blue dot blinked near the bridge. “They will be hiding in a compartment here with the exact same setup. I already have someone setting up a modified crew roster that will have both teams non-existent on this ship. So when the Devore happens to stop us and inspect our logs, they will show that the roster was updated today, at this date. If they ask us about it, just notify them that those crew members were reassigned elsewhere before we came to the Delta Quadrant. Or you could be cute and tell them that we kicked those crew members off the ship because we didn’t much care for them. It doesn’t matter to me. I just do not want the Devore to know that those teams exist.”
“It is like I said before. If they try to claim that one of our crew members is telepathic when they are not, I want those teams in a position to retake vital areas of the ship. Bridge and main engineering. Then we can unload a full volley of quantum torpedoes right into the Devore warship. Once they lose their only means of home, hopefully, their troops on board our ship will stand down. If not, then your next assignments will be challenging. I need you both to find capable officers to be ready to step up to fight the Devore troops when things are put in motion. The code word will be ‘We Will Comply’. It will be a challenge because those officers cannot be armed or the Devore will suspect it. Their goal will be to tackle the Devore troops, get a hold of their weapons and eliminate the threat. At this time, I don’t know if their weapons have a stun capability but that will be on the Devore, not on us. Are we clear?” Maxwell asked.
Graves nodded his head. “Clear, Captain.”
“Thank you, Number One.” Maxwell said to Graves then looked at Ward. “Commander?”
Ward nodded her head as well. “Clear, Captain. And I think I knew a few ensigns for the job.”
Maxwell smiled. “I figured you would. Anyone you pick, let the officers that you select be aware of the dangers so that they have a choice to accept the job or decline. There will be no repercussions if they decline.”
“Understood.” Graves and Ward said in unison.
Maxwell’s smile grew. “Perfect. We have several more hours before the Barzan Wormhole opens up. So get to it. Dismissed.” Maxwell watched both Graves and Ward rise from their seats and leave the briefing room. This left Maxwell alone, to relax in his chair and look up at the ceiling with a big heavy sigh. “Back together again, Sovereign. Let’s show them what we can do.” He then rose up from his seat to stand before the wall of ship models that previously bore the name Sovereign. He took one last gaze at the familiar wall that he had seen so many times in the past before he strode his way onto the bridge where he took his place in the center seat that he had long awaited for.