Star Trek: Pandora
PREADATORS OF THE VOID
MISSION POST #3: LAY BEFORE THE MAST
Captain Maddox entered Transporter Room One at 0800 the following morning. His uniform was immaculate, the four silver pip rank insignia gleaming in the bright lights of the transporter room.
Maddox scanned the room; his expression was severe and commanding. The room was quiet, with only the hum of the transporter console and the low chatter of two transporter technicians filling the air.
Maddox had arrived five minutes early in anticipation of Captain Timothy J. Vadney, the newly anointed Deputy Commander of Border Operations Fourth Fleet and Task Force Eight Six, who would soon be aboard to brief him on his first assignment as Commanding Officer of the Pandora. The two captains had a long and complicated history, marked by years of conflict and resentment. Maddox knew he had to put his feelings aside for the mission.
The two transporter technicians, Petty Officer Kim and Petty Officer Patel, immediately stood at attention as Maddox approached them.
“At ease,” Maddox said curtly, walking behind the operator console.
Petty Officer Kim spoke up, “Everything is in order, sir. All transporter systems are functioning normally and are ready for the arrival of Captain Vadney.” The transporter operators relaxed slightly, but their eyes remained fixed on Maddox.
Maddox’s eyes scanned the pattern buffer diagnostic results and related system monitors, checking for potential issues that might delay the transport. He had little patience for mistakes or incompetence, and he knew that the success of their mission depended on the efficiency and accuracy of even routine operations.
“So they are.” Maddox nodded toward the technicians as he walked down from behind the operator’s console to a point a few steps away from the transporter platform.
“Signal from Starbase 86, Captain. Captain Vadney is ready to come aboard.” Petty Officer Kim called out from the operator’s console.
“Energize.” Maddox ordered, his eyes fixed on the transporter platform.
Vadney materialized on the platform carrying a PADD as the blue transporter beam dissipated, his expression stern and professional. Captain Vadney is a tall, well-built man with short brown hair and piercing blue eyes. He has a chiseled jawline, high cheekbones, and a prominent brow. His physique is athletic, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. He is known for his confident posture and commanding presence, making him stand out.
“Captain Vadney, welcome aboard the Pandora.” Maddox stepped forward to greet him, his voice cold and formal.
Vadney returned the greeting, his tone equally formal. “Captain Maddox, it’s good to see you again.”
Maddox gave the transporter operators a firm nod to secure the console and leave the transporter room before returning to Vadney.
“Is it? ” Maddox snorted, his expression menacing.
“We don’t have to like each other, Maddox. We just need to work together.” Vadney sighed.
Maddox glared at him, his tone biting. “I’m well aware of that, Deputy. Let’s just get this over with.”
Maddox led the way out of the transporter room without further comment toward the nearest turbolift, his strides long and purposeful. Vadney followed close behind, his expression serious and his gaze fixed firmly on the back of Maddox’s head. The tension thickened with each step.
The corridor was filled with the hum of ODN interfaces and the chatter of the crew, stopping deferentially for the two senior officers as they passed.
They soon arrived at the turbolift and stepped inside. “Bridge,” Maddox commanded, and the lift hummed to life, carrying them up through the ship’s turbolift network.
“You know, Maddox,” Vadney said, breaking their uncomfortable silence. “I’m still unsure why they gave you command of the Pandora.”
“Computer, halt turbolift.” Maddox stiffened.
Vadney shrugged his broad shoulders, his tone casual. “Given your worldviews and predilection for reckless behavior, Starfleet should have given the Pandora to someone more…agreeable.”
Maddox spun around to face Vadney, his eyes blazing with anger. “You have no right to speak to me that way, Vadney. You may be my superior, but that doesn’t give you the right to belittle me or question my abilities.”
Vadney held up his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. “I’m not trying to belittle you, Maddox.”
“I am more than capable of handling whatever you are about to throw at me, Vadney. I don’t need your approval or your god damned condescension.” Maddox narrowed his eyes, his voice low and menacing.
Vadney sighed, his frustration apparent. “Look, Maddox. At best, we have a complicated history, and I’m not trying to make things worse. I want to ensure we’re all on the same page for this mission.”
Maddox grunted, his expression still hostile. “Fine. Just stick to the briefing, Vadney. I don’t have time for your lectures. Computer, resume turbolift.” Maddox returned his gaze toward the turbolift door.
Maddox and Vadney strode onto the bridge as the turbolift doors slid open, their gazes sweeping across the bridge. Maddox led the way, his expression neutral as he nodded toward Commander Callahan and headed towards his ready room. Vadney followed close behind, his eyes carefully neutral. The poisoned silence lingered between them, but they pushed it aside for good order and discipline.
As they approached the door to Maddox’s ready room, Maddox keyed in the code to unlock it. The door slid open, and he gestured for Vadney to enter.
“Please, take a seat,” Maddox said, gesturing to the chairs in front of his desk. Maddox took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He knew he had to put aside his feelings toward Vadney and focus on the mission. But the thought of working alongside his new deputy commander made his blood boil.
Vadney sat at the desk; his expression serious as he prepared to give his briefing.
“Your mission, Captain, codenamed Operation Lifeline, is to escort a humanitarian convoy from Starbase 86 to Trinexia III. Trinexia III urgently needs humanitarian assistance. The planet has been plagued by natural disasters, including severe storms, floods, and landslides, which have caused extensive damage to its infrastructure and the livelihoods of its population. The planetary government can barely get food and other on-hand resources to their people in a timely manner. The situation has been exacerbated by attacks from pirates in the region, who have been raiding the planet’s resources.
Maddox furrowed his brow, considering the implications of what Vadney was saying. “So, we should expect to face off against the Orion Syndicate and possibly residual House of Mokai forces?”
“Perhaps even from friendly factions in and around The Triangle. We need to be prepared for anything.” Vadney’s expression darkened slightly.
Maddox nodded, his mind racing with the possibilities. “What is the makeup of the convoy?”
“Three cargo ships and a support freighter. Specifics are on this PADD” Vadney passed the PADD to Maddox.
Maddox felt a flicker of irritation at how Vadney spoke to him, but he pushed it aside.
“Very well,” he said, his tone clipped. “What kind of support can we expect from the Fourth Fleet?”
Vadney leaned back in his seat, his expression neutral. “We’ll be providing whatever support we can along your transit route. But the ultimate responsibility for the convoy’s safety rests on your shoulders, Captain Maddox.”
Maddox felt his blood boil at Vadney’s dismissive tone but kept his voice level. “Understood, Captain Vadney. We’ll do whatever it takes to complete the mission successfully.”
Vadney nodded, his expression equally serious. “Good. I expect nothing less.”
“The convoy will arrive at Starbase Eighty-Six in four days. Once the convoy arrives, the convoy will layover at Starbase 86 for another four days for replenishment, routine maintenance, and final outfitting.” Vadney said while standing.
“Good hunting, Maddox.” An edge of civility crept into his voice as he extended a hand to Maddox.
“Thank you, Deputy.” Maddox rose reluctantly and shook Vadney’s hand.
“I’ll show myself out.” Vadney returned his hand to his side and strode out of the ready room.
Maddox stood silently at his desk for a handful of heartbeats, thoughtfully considering the PADD containing the mission briefing with his right thumb and forefinger before placing it back on his desk and walking toward the viewports.
Captain Maddox stood silently in front of the large viewport in his ready room, gazing out into the inky blackness of space. The stars twinkled in the darkness, a peaceful sight that belied the dangers ahead.
Maddox couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of facing off against the pirate factions that lurked in the Triangle. He knew that the Pandora was a mighty ship, and he relished the opportunity to put its weapons, defenses, and his own tactical and strategic prowess to the test.
Maddox had led numerous missions before, but the prospect of pirate contact always made him cautious. Pandora was a mighty ship but could only do so much against a well-armed pirate force singlehandedly.
He closed his eyes momentarily, centering himself and clearing his mind. When he opened them again, he felt a sense of calm settle over him.
“Maddox to Callahan, I want a conference with all department heads in the executive conference room in two hours. Maddox ordered.
“Aye, Captain.” Callahan said.
“Maddox, out.” The computer closed the channel.
Maddox walked back over to his desk and picked up the mission briefing. He knew that the next few days would be critical in preparing the crew for the mission ahead and was determined to do whatever it took to ensure the success of the convoy escort mission.