Part of USS Shepard: Arsenal of Democracy and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Chapter 2

Starbase 23
0 likes 738 views

“So all you and your fleet have to do is stay in formation, be sure not to get ahead of any of your escorts, and we should all get there in one piece,” Zelenko said to Captain Fletcher, the commanding officer of the Merchant Marine and civilian convoy that would be taking the supplies to the Romulan Republic. The Shepard had arrived at Starbase 23 two days ago, and Zelenko had already met with the two commanders of the Ushaan and Rapier, the Shepard’s fellow escorts, to clear up the mission profile.

“Seems like a simple enough little adventure,” nodded Fletcher, turning to look out the window of the Starbase’s promenade as the collection of transport vessels assembled itself. “I have to tell you, Commander, I never thought I’d be delivering anything beyond the Romulan Neutral Zone, much less what some of our cargo is.

“That’s certainly understandable,” Zelenko nodded in kind, her mind immediately drifting to the collection of defensive weapons spread through many of the vessels. That cargo in particular was still classified; only Starfleet Merchant Marine ships were given clearance to carry them, and the civilian contractor ships weren’t even aware of their presence.

“Well, if there’s nothing else, I’ll head back to the Ranek and finish preparations,” Fletcher said after a brief pause, turning his gaze back to Zelenko. “Departure’s scheduled in about two hours, so I better make sure everything’s in tip-top shape.”

“Understood, Sir,” Zelenko said with a pointed nod as the two shook hands. “Best of luck with your preparations.”

“Likewise. Our lads will feel a hell of a lot more secure heading out there with a fancy new ship like the Shepard watching our backs.”

“I’m glad to hear it. I’ll see you on Virinat.”

“Drinks’ll be on me,” the scruffy old spacer said with a wry smile, then strode off to return to his ship. “Always wanted to try genuine Romulan-made ale.”

 

 

Tallera tapped away at her tactical console, ensuring that the workstation presents and gesture shortcuts she’d grown to prefer were saved as the computer ran a weapons calibration diagnostic.

The turbolift door swished open behind her, and Tallera turned to see Vic Travers step onto the bridge.

“What’re you doing here?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Console calibrations,” she said, motioning to her workstation. “What are you doing here?”

“I replicated a new cushion for my bridge seat,” Vic said, holding up a pillow-like object that he’d been carrying under his arm. “Better lumbar support. But you’re off duty, why didn’t you do calibrations when…” Vic shot Tallera a smirk. “You waited to do this on off-duty hours so you could work alone, didn’t you?”

“Guilty as charged.”

“What a whimsically Byronic individual you are, Tallera,” he said, shaking his head as he walked over to the science console and began installing his new backrest. 

“I try.” Tallera smiled as she continued working.

After a moment of fiddling with his seat, Vic plopped himself down next at the helm console next to Tallera, looking out the viewscreen at the array of ships they’d be guarding assembling around the Starbase. Most were Wallenberg-class tugs carrying cargo pods, but there were a few non-Federation designs as well as outdated Starfleet ships that had been converted into transports. There were quite a few Ferengi-designed Tuffli-classes, freighters based on a licensed Cardassian military transport. The SS Ranek, the convoy’s flagship, was even an old Ambassador, a classic, storied Starfleet class that had only recently been retired from active service.

“I’m guessing you’re pretty excited to take a trip to the Republic, huh?” Vic asked as Tallera typed away.

“Definitely,” she nodded, looking up from her console and reclining in her seat, eyes following Vic’s gaze out at the little fleet they’d be protecting. “Especially with the mission we’re on. Back home, Stafleet equipment is like latinum to us.”

“Is it better than your Empire-made stuff?”

“Well, it’s newer. We haven’t really designed stuff since the Star Empire collapsed, so it’s hard to find any tech that isn’t at least like 15 years old. We keep it up pretty well, and it’s certainly made us get really good at field repairs and jury-rigging, but some new replicators, guns and the like will be really appreciated.”

“That makes sense,” Vic nodded. “This world we’re going to… Virinat, right? You ever been there?”

“No. I think it’s mostly farmland.”

He shot her an inquisitive glance. “You guys still farm?”

“Well, like I said, our replicators are all at least 15 years old, and some of them are way older,” Tallera shrugged. “We learned pretty quickly that it’s good to have old-fashioned, dirt-grown food as a backup.”

“Hmm.” Vic chewed on his cheek and nodded, seemingly a bit unsure where to take the conversation. 

“Sorry for being a bit of a downer,” Tallera said after a moment, rather surprised that she was able to leave the famously loquacious science officer at a loss for words.

“No, no, that’s fine,” Vic replied with a conciliatory wave of his hand. “Hey, it’s the truth, right? No need to sugarcoat it to make us Feds feel better.” He looked back out at the fleet before them. “If anything, that just makes me appreciate what we’re doing here more.”

 

2 hours later

 

Commander Zelenko strode purposefully onto the bridge, her six bridge officers ready and waiting at their stations. 

“Commander on deck!” S’Geras announced, and all turned their gaze to her.

“S’Geras,” she said, walking over to her command chair and taking a seat. “Are all ship operations in the green?”

“Aye, sir, we’ve just run through final departure checklists. All systems are go.”

“That includes long-distance scanners set to ID tachyon and plasma emissions, correct?”

Tallera’s nostrils flared a tad at that statement. Scanning for tachyon and plasma traces meant they were looking for the telltale signs of cloaked Free State or Klingon ships, the two most hated foes of the Republic. Klingon vessels always emitted a small but telltale amount of plasma exhaust, even under cloak, which had become the standard method of tracking them in recent years as sensors had improved. Romulan-made cloaks were a little harder to pierce, but all cloaked ships still emitted trace amounts of tachyons – only the incredibly advanced and expensive Scimitar-class dreadnought warbirds could hide such emissions, and if they ran into one of those, it wouldn’t matter if the Shepard’s sensors could see it or not. They’d be dead either way.

“Yes Sir,” Vic spoke up from the science console, looking particularly comfortable with his new backrest. “If anyone tries to sneak up on us, we’ll be ready.”

“Excellent,” Zelenko replied, then tapped a button on the arm of her command chair opening comms to the escorts. “Ushaan and Rapier, this is Shepard. We are all ready to go on our end, are you two in position with sensors, FTL, and weapons ready?”

Ushaan here, reporting green.”

Rapier here, same for us. Ready to head out on your command, Shepard.”

“Acknowledged,” Zelenko replied, then switched comms to the Ranek. “ComConvoy, this is ComEscort. Our ships are ready and in position, have all transport vessels checked in?”

“Aye, ComEscort,” Captain Fletcher’s voice spoke over the comms. “Give the word, and we’ll make way for the Romulan Republic.”

“Aye, Sir,” Zelenko nodded, then switched comms to the entire fleet. “All ships in transport flotilla RN-775, depart at warp 6 on my mark. 3… 2… 1… mark.

In unison, all 25 vessels of RN-775 let out a sharp whine and launched themselves to warp, leaving Starbase 23 and the safety of Federation space behind. 

Comments

  • I liked the small talk Vic and Tallera had between each other, and him learning different things about how the Republic is doing. Gave him insight into things, when he heard that the planet they were heading to is mainly a farming community which seemed to surprise him a bit, but understood how old the replicators were and had a backup in case they were ever going out entirely. Now that they are on their way, I am curious as to what the classified cargo some of the convoys are carrying is. I can't wait to find out what happens next in this story!

    November 6, 2022
  • As always, I'm appreciative of a story that spotlights Tallera. I was eating up all those little details about daily life in the Romulan Republic. It's one thing to read about the republic in the wiki, and you're doing a compelling job of bringing all of the context and implications to life with Teller's lived experiences. Her visceral reaction to the mention of cloaking devices was a good reminder too of her very different perspectives on Klingons and the Free State -- who are otherwise on ostensibly good terms with the Federation. However, "whimsically Byronic" was the greatest insight I could have asked for. I'm so curious to follow along as the Shepard runs their paces with this ragtag fleet of transport ships!

    November 8, 2022