Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 10 : A Blast from the Past

A Blast from the Past – 8

USS Atlantis
September 4, 2400
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It was late into the ship’s Delta shift and as it was Adelinde Gantzmann was starting to feel it. She and Commander MacIntyre had been pulling double shifts the last two days with the slowly growing collection of threats hanging around the Atlantis. Compound that with not having slept well the last few nights and it was all adding up to an officer who was looking forward to bed. So, when a series of chirps and alarms went off behind her at Tactical, followed by more at Operations, she had to excuse herself for not being immediately on the ball.

“Tholian ships have left orbit over T-162Af and are heading our way,” Ensign Nishi reported from behind her, the young man’s voice carrying just an edge of concern on it to her ear. She recognised that tone, the concern of an officer who might suddenly be forced into being responsible for the ship’s weapons when he was barely a year out of the Academy.

Unfounded concerns if his proficiency numbers were to be believed.

“We’re being hailed as well,” Ensign Taru added from Ops. “By the Tholians,” the woman added quickly.

“Interesting,” Adelinde found herself saying without really thinking. It was a spacer, to buy her time to think. Or more importantly get her brain back into gear while appearing to be thinking, maintaining her mystique of professional calm. She took a moment more, set the padd in hand down on the vacant XO’s seat and rose to her feet. “Ensign Nishi, sound yellow alert. Ensign Taru, put the Tholians on please.”

The image on the viewscreen was exactly what she had expected from reading what they had on hand about Tholian interactions. The colours and image signal were non-standard, delivering a unique palette of information that no doubt made sense to a Tholian, but not so much to humanoids. It took a few moments for the computer to catch on and adjust the image to present the Tholian commander to her much as she’d likely see them if looking at them physically.

A short series of squeals, chirps and clicks proceeded a voice, not provided by Atlantis’ translators. “I am Commander Kaltene of the Tholian Assembly. You are attempting to recover dangerous technology that we have been sent to recover and safeguard.” More noise as whatever translation the Tholians were doing was catching up. “Recover your personnel from the surface of the planet and vacate the system immediately.”

Adelinde waited a moment to make sure no more bravado was coming her way. And to hope against hope that the turbolift door would part and Mac would spill out to let this potential problem wash all over him. A count of three dispelled that hope. “I am Commander Adelinde Gantzmann of the USS Atlantis. We’re in the middle of recovering Starfleet property and we’ll depart once we have it aboard ship. There is nothing for the Assembly here.”

“Starfleet property is dangerous technology,” Kaltene said after more noise over the channel. “Where is Captain Theodoras? We would speak with your commander, not a mere officer.”

“Captain Theodoras is unavailable right now and I am in command of this ship at this time,” Adelinde replied.

There was a pause, the Tholian looked like they were looking off-screen and the channel muted for nearly half a minute. “You are an unknown. You will surrender the component of the Great Destroyer and vacate the system immediately.”

“I don’t think so,” Adelinde said, taking a step forward. “That is Starfleet salvage and we’ll be recovering it. Only then will we vacate the system.”

“You are merely one ship against our three,” the Tholian threatened. “We will destroy your ship if required to seize the device.”

Atlantis is the most advanced ship of her class to date,” Adelinde said. “And one of the single heaviest hitters in Starfleet, if not the single heaviest hitter. I would advise heavily against testing the mettle of this ship and crew.”

More silence, nearly a minute as the Tholian stared her down. “You have six hours to vacate the system.” And with that, the channel went dead.

“Ma’am,” Taru spoke up. “The ground team needs eight hours more before we’re ready to tractor the Paperweight off the surface. We’ll then need an hour to secure it properly before we can even think of going to warp.”

“And if we attempt to free the Paperweight early to begin recovery now, we can fully expect them to attack us during the lift.” Adelinde only voiced the hypothetical so the ensigns wouldn’t have to. She looked around and there was only one lieutenant junior grade among them at the moment. Delta shift really needed a rebalancing of experience. “Status of the Breen cruiser?”

“Uh,” Taru uttered, spinning back to her console to query the readouts. “Oh, uh, it’s sped up ma’am. It’ll be here in just over six hours.”

“And now we know why the Tholians gave us a six-hour timeline.” She sighed, offered a slight smile to the ensign, and then returned to the centre seat. “Maintain yellow alert, Mr Nishi. Keep an eye on the Tholians and if they close to double our weapons range, sound red alert immediately. Understood?”

“Aye ma’am,” Nishi replied.

Only a few minutes later and she was in the ready room with Mac. His arrival on the bridge had been followed by both of them wordlessly diverting to the private command space to discuss what had just happened, though Mac had taken advantage of the replicator to make both of them a cup of coffee.

“Don’t fault you one bit,” he said upon her concluding her summary. “Pretty much what I’d have told them as well. Heck, even the captain would have I bet.” He sipped at his cup, staring out the window to the planet below. “Tholians think they can lift the Paperweight and warp out of here before the Breen show up? What are they going to do, tow it at warp between them?”

“Not a bad idea,” she replied. “Towing it at warp that is. Means we wouldn’t have to secure it before flight.”

“We’d barely make warp seven,” he said. “Spoke about it with Velan yesterday. We need top speed I think.”

“The Tholians towing the Paperweight wouldn’t break warp seven either, so the Breen could and would chase them down. They must have a plan of their own.” She mulled it over for a moment. “Grab it and then hide like they were before we spotted them?”

“Bad idea. The Breen will scour the system and the minute they make a break for it that cruiser will run them down. No, the Tholians have some other idea. Just wish I knew what it was.” Then he drained his cup of coffee and set it down. “Let’s call the Breen, see what they want. If we know what they want, maybe we can play both the Tholians and Breen off against each other.”

“And us in the middle,” she commented as they exited back to the bridge.

“Exciting, isn’t it?” Mac teased as he walked to the centre of the bridge. “Ensign Taru, hail the Breen cruiser.” The young officer took only a moment to action the order, the chimes of the bridge letting all know the channel was open. “Unidentified Breen cruiser, this is Commander MacIntyre of the USS Atlantis. Might we inquire as to your course and destination?” he asked, trying to sound as friendly as possible.

There was silence, no response at all. Taking a seat in the XO seat, Adelinde pulled up the comms system. “There’s an open line,” she said just above a whisper for Mac.

“Unidentified Breen cruiser, I repeat, this is Commander MacIntyre of the Federation starship Atlantis. Please state course and destination as it appears you are on an intercept with us.” Mac went from friendly to formal, ensuring the pronunciation of each word was precise.

Just before he was about to repeat himself once more, a purely synthetic voice responded. “Federation starship Atlantis, you are trespassing on a Breen cultural site. Abandon all those on the surface and leave immediately or you will be fired upon. They and all artefacts are property of the Breen Confederacy now.” And then the channel was closed.

“Friendly,” Mac quipped as he turned to face Adelinde. “The Tholians just want the Paperweight, the Breen want us to abandon our people and leave.”

“Or die,” she added. “It was implied, let’s be honest.”

“You know, when the captain gets back, she’s going to be so annoyed we got her ship all scratched up,” Mac said with a smile. “Anyone got any good ideas?” he asked, making sure to look at all the ensigns on the bridge. If they were here, it was for a reason after all and they needed to learn even ensigns could speak up and provide advice when asked.

“I have an idea, sir,” Taru spoke up, which got everyone’s attention. For a moment the young woman looked like she might back down, but then continued with her idea. “We could destroy the Paperweight. The Tholians said they were here to safeguard it, in other words, keep it away from folks. The Breen likely don’t know what we’ve got, they’re just responding to us and now the Tholians. So, we deny the Breen anything, satisfy the Tholians’ concerns and go home empty-handed.”

“Has a certain simplicity to it, Commander,” Adelinde said with a nod to the ensign. “Then we high-tail it out of here. We may wish to check with the Tholians that this is acceptable to them first though. Wouldn’t want to have to fight them before we can leave.”

“Why do I feel like I’m making an enemy today?” Mac asked of the bridge in general. “If no one objects, I’m going to have some breakfast before I talk with the Tholians. Which might result in them attacking us to stop us from firing on the Paperweight, so…” he dragged on as he looked straight at Adelinde.

“I’ll begin the evacuation of the recovery teams,” Adelinde said. “Get everyone back aboard who isn’t vital so if we manage to provoke the Tholians we’ll only have a few teams to beam out before they can bring weapons to range.”

“And some numbers on what we’ll need to crack the Paperweight as well. I don’t want to just vaporise what’s left of the Aitu and leave it sitting in a crater for someone to pick up and run off with.” Mac nodded, the plan settled, then headed for the turbolift once more. “You have the conn Guns, I’ll be back in thirty minutes.”

Comments

  • It's nice to see the Atlantis back in the action and talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Tholians to one side and Breen on the other, that's a toughie! However, I'm liking the idea of the Breen and Tholian being played against one another, let's just hope they don't spot that little motion and team up against the Atlantis. I need to know more about the Paperweight and what significance it has for the Tholians! Can't wait to read more!

    December 23, 2022