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Part of USS Sovereign: Behind the Scenes

We just got the damn thing!

Starbase 93 Space Traffic
October 2400
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A Type-14 Shuttlecraft lifted off the main shuttle bay hangar deck on the Luna-class starship and slowly departed through the forcefield. Once clear, the craft’s speed began to pick up as it banked hard to starboard-ventral to dive under the canopy of the drydock and be free in open space. Inside the craft were two personnel, the pilot and the passenger. The passenger was a Junior Lieutenant who had been reassigned to Starbase 93 to be one of the station’s new junior doctors in one of the smaller medical facilities. The pilot was an Ensign whose job was to get her to the starbase safe and sound.

Unfortunately, it seemed that the Junior Lieutenant had gotten herself a little distracted by her handsome pilot, who decided to stand behind him and run her hands over his chest. “They did not tell me I would have a young, strapping man be my chauffeur.”

Ensign Ethan Ryozo smiled at the attention that the Lieutenant was giving him. He cleared his throat before he answered, “I’m much more than just a chauffeur, ma’am.”

“Oh really? Are you one of those amazing pilots too?” She asked.

Ethan grinned, increased the shuttle’s speed higher than regulations allowed, and began to bank to the left and to the right to avoid other small crafts with incredible precision. He did this just to show off his ‘amazing pilot’ skills that she mentioned before leveling the shuttle out. He then looked up at her from his seat with a smile. “Something like that?”

She smiled as she began to lean down. Then, just before their lips touched, there was a sudden jolt to the craft. The Lieutenant was thrown to the floor, and her body was pressed against the side by the g-forces. “Oh my god!” She cried.

Warning alarms immediately brought Ethan’s attention to his instruments; one display told him that he had collided with a vessel, the other said to him that he had lost a port engine, and another told him that they were in an uncontrolled spin, which led to the inertia dampeners struggling to compensate. The computer then brought up another display to say to him that the direction of their spin had them on a collision course with a docked starship. But he was not going to have it.

As he grunted to keep himself from being thrown out of his seat, where he had not seen fit to fasten the seat’s harness because he had never expected something like this to happen. He grunted again as he strained to enter the commands he needed to regain control of the craft. He knew what he had to do; at the cost of burning them out, he shunted power over the limits the thrusters could handle and adjusted the ratio and the seconds he needed before firing them. The maneuver had stopped the shuttle’s spin, but it did not reduce the speed or the direction the craft was still on. With half of his thrusters burnt out, he quickly drew back the excess power and used what thrusters he had to avoid the starship in drydock altogether.

Ethan punched the comms button and selected Starbase 93’s Flight Control Center. “This is Ensign Ryozo of Shuttlecraft Nineteen. We have suffered damage from a collision, lost our port engine, and my reverse thrusters are gone. Requesting an emergency landing!” He then hit a button on his console that engaged the seat’s harness, which strapped him into his chair. He turned in his seat to find the Lieutenant just in arms reach, so he grabbed her arm, pulled her up to him, and pushed her back into the co-pilot seat. “Strap yourself in!”

“Shuttle Nineteen, you’re coming in too fast! We can’t get a tractor lock, and the net in the hangar won’t be enough!”

Ethan pulled up a master display of the shuttle and enabled the damage overlay, which told him what he had and didn’t have. “Control, I’m going for Hangar Three, then I’m going to swing the shuttle around and use the starboard engine to slow me down, but the damage has caused it to malfunction, and I will only be able to get a short burst before it goes out.”

“Then it better be enough, Ensign!”

“Are we going to die?” The lieutenant asked.

“Not if I can help it!” Ethan growled in frustration, more at himself for being an idiot. He cannot worry about it now, though; he had to keep his focus on the situation. Ethan knew he needed to time it just right, so he had to put all his attention on his job. When the shuttle was close enough, he fired the port forward thrusters that turned the shuttle around in a complete one-eighty. He then fired the starboard forward thrusters to halt the rotation. He also had a display with the rear sensor to show him the distance he was to the hangar. So when he felt that gut feeling that he was on point, he fired the starboard engine, which lasted only for a couple of seconds, which reduced his speed just enough that when the shuttle crashed and landed on the hangar deck, the emergency net that came up to catch it was able to bring it to a halt.

Ethan panted heavily as he slumped into his seat before looking over at the Lieutenant. “Welcome to Starbase 93.”

 


 

“What in the hell were you doing out there, Ensign?!” Maxwell shouted over his desk as he glared heavily at Ethan. “I have reports here that say you flew the shuttlecraft above the regulated speed, nearly collided with several smaller crafts, and then for whatever reason, did not see the merchant ship heading right towards you that you collided and tore off the port engine.”

Next to Ethan was the lieutenant who he had ferried to the station. “It was my fault, sir.”

Maxwell’s eyes which had started to burn holes in Ethan’s skull were now directed to the junior lieutenant. “Get the hell out of my office until I call you back in here. Now Lieutenant!” Maxwell barked and watched her speed walk right out through his office door. Once the door closed, he took a deep breath and sighed loudly and heavily.

Maxwell then smacked the padd down loudly onto his desk. “I cannot believe this. We just got that damn shuttlecraft, Ensign. That one specifically! It was one of a dozen brand-new Type-14 shuttlecrafts delivered to us hot off the manufacturing line. And what do you do with it? You break the goddamn thing.”

“Sir, if-” Ethan tried to speak but was immediately shot down.

“Did I give you permission to speak, Ensign?” Maxwell asked.

Ethan felt like he was back at the academy as a freshman, unsure whether to answer or not.

“It was a question, Ensign, directed at you. I expect an answer!” Maxwell barked.

“Yes, sir! No, sir. I did not get permission, sir.” Ethan answered.

Maxwell ran a hand through his hair as he turned around to look out of the viewport toward the ships in drydocks. One, in particular, was the Verity, as she was being prepared for an upcoming situation. “I am just about to leave, tomorrow for that matter, to Starbase 38 on a critical assignment for a critical situation in the Delta Quadrant.” Maxwell then turned to look at Ethan. “I expect to leave Starbase 93 in good, capable hands. In good, capable officers. Then you pull some stunt and nearly got yourself and that junior lieutenant killed.”

“With all due respect, sir. She admitted that it was her fault,” said Ethan.

Maxwell shook his head. “Again, speaking without permission. You think you’re here to give me excuses, Ensign?”

“Well, I-” Ethan was then cut off again.

“That was a rhetorical question!” Maxwell raised his voice in frustration. “Jesus. I don’t know what we are going to do with you.” Maxwell picked up the padd and held it up. “I have your records here from the academy back on Earth. You were doing just fine up until that incident in your last year. That race that you participated in. That was your first black mark on your record. I figured that, maybe, you had learned your lesson. But apparently, you did not.” Maxwell then set the padd back down and made his way around his desk to stand before Ethan.

Maxwell stared at him and let out a sigh. “You’re an excellent pilot. Your record shows it, and your scores at the academy show it. But, unfortunately, those talents come with the typical ‘I got to show off the ladies’ attitude.”

Ethan frowned. “But sir, I-”

Maxwell snapped his finger and pointed at him. “Shut up. This is the last time I tell you to stop speaking without permission.”

“Then permission to speak, sir!” Ethan kept his voice from rising.

Maxwell stared at him for a moment. “All right then. Speak.”

“I admit I was distracted, and I know it was a stupid, dumb thing to allow to happen. As a pilot, I should never, ever allow anything to distract me while I am flying. So yes, I showed off a little bit, I allowed my typical human weakness to fall for an attractive woman, but I should not have allowed her to distract me. I know that.” Ethan explained. “But I saved the shuttle and our lives as well as anyone else who could have been hurt in my mess.”

Maxwell nodded his head. “That you did. You violated some regulations and exceeded the safety limits of the craft to regain control, to stop it from spinning like a top. That shuttle will be out of commission for weeks while the maintenance team works on replacing every burnt-out thruster and relay that you fried. But in the end, you did save lives.” Maxwell said quietly, only to raise his voice. “From something that should have never happened in the first place!”

“Yes, sir,” said Ethan.

“I’m glad you understand the error. But that does not resolve you from receiving a reprimand on your permanent record.” Maxwell then walked around, so the desk was between him and the ensign. “I am also reassigning you.”

Ethan frowned. “Sir?”

Maxwell smirked. “As I said, you’re a fine pilot, but you have a problem. I discussed it with the outpost commander, and I think this place will help in disciplining you for your actions.”

Ethan’s frown deepened. “May I ask where, sir?”

Maxwell’s smirk turned into a grin. “You’re being reassigned to a border outpost, Ensign. A premade facility is in the process of further development, so you will have many responsibilities there. Think of this as your last chance, Ensign Ryozo. Because if you screw this up…you’re out of Starfleet. Understood?”

Ethan straightened himself in his position of attention. “Understood, sir!”

“You better. Now get out of my sight.” Maxwell ordered, and as Ethan turned around and made his way for the door, Maxwell raised his voice. “Lieutenant! Get in here, now!”

Ethan was not sure what would happen to that young doctor, but he felt that she might just get a slap on the wrist. Or worse. That was not his concern, though, at the moment. Instead, his genuine concern was that he needed to pack his things, read his reassignment orders, and be ready to depart for the outpost. He just wished he knew what this outpost was.