Part of USS Atlantis: What Price for Peace and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

What Price for Peace – 1

USS Atlantis, Deep Space 47
March 2401
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There was no argument anymore amongst those privileged enough to call the Atlantis their posting – the ship’s primary social gathering point was Port Royal. Not ‘the Port Royal’, just Port Royal. And no amount of argument from the captain about ruining her Mediterranean naming scheme would change it. At least the pirate theme had never taken off outside of the chalkboard placard occasionally posted outside the two entrances with its declarations of whatever social event was scheduled next, or limited drinks were on offer.

As the door swished open to the packed space, music blaring over the sound system and singing from three people on the temporary stage, Tikva realised she wasn’t going to get in easily. There was no talent contest or requirement for people to take the stage, just an open mic night that had started up a while back and had become increasingly popular. Rank however hath its privileges and one was not above using them as she smiled, then announced – “Make a hole!”

And with that the seas parted and one could walk freely from the stoic, professional corridors outside and through a crowd now parting on its own to the booth that she knew contained Charles MacIntyre and Blake Pisani, both on one side and Adelinde Gantzmann on the other. And more importantly a blue-green cocktail with a frilly umbrella still sitting there waiting for her, even if some of it had somehow mysteriously disappeared.

“It’s lovely,” Lin whispered in her ear before a cold tinged kiss on her cheek after she slipped into the booth.

“Who did I miss?” she asked, having to raise her voice a touch for Mac and Blake to hear her over the rock song that was getting a mass accompaniment by the crowd.

“Kelly and Rosa,” Blake answered. “And T’Val.”

“T’Val? By herself?”

“I forgot the name but it made me cry,” Blake answered. “This is all recorded for later as well. You’ll love it.”

“What did the Commodore want?” Mac cut in, wanting to discuss why she’d been called away after all. At least it hadn’t been some dire emergency, that would have gotten both of them after all.

“DS47 engineers have finished the major works and cleared us for departure in the morning. And Nobel has finally dealt with the privateer who was blowing up the subspace repeaters throughout the Expanse. Was being given support by the Tzenkethi.” She’d barely sipped her cocktail as the current song came to an end and attention turned back to the stage.

After all, important announcements were to be made.

“Another awesome performance from the Franklins folks! Seriously, who put three awesome singers with the last name Franklin on the same shift?” It was tonight’s master of ceremonies, Lieutenant Samantha Michaels, who pointed at an individual in the crowd and summoned forth a spotlight on her target. For their part, Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr had the good grace to look stunned for a moment, then hold a hand to their chest in a ‘who me?’ manner, then nodded sagely as an admission of guilt.

“I don’t know about you folks, but I can’t wait to have them back on stage! Our next act is one we haven’t seen before but I’ve heard a few things around. Give it up folks for our very own W’a’le’ki and Stirling Fightmaster!” The response was pretty excited at the announcement of W’a’le’ki’s name but had muted a mere moment later at Fightmaster’s.

“He can sing?” Tikva and Blake both blurted out at almost the same time.

“We’re about to find out if he can,” Lin clarified before taking hold of Tikva’s wrist and directing the drink she held towards her, stealing another sip through the straw. “Seriously good.”

“Mine,” she snapped back the drink, then took a large sip to demonstrate her possession.

“Honestly children,” Blake said. “If you don’t behave we’ll have to send you to your room. Now be quiet, I want to see if this man of mystery of ours can actually sing.”

There was a brief moment of relative quiet as both W’a’le’ki and Stirling took the stage, grabbed a mic each, she whispered something in his ear which made the normally stoic yeoman blush slightly and then the music started. And by start it was barely a single note before Stirling broke into his part of the duet.

“Now,” he dragged out the first word, a register deeper than normal, “I’ve…had the time of my life. No, I never felt like this before. Yes I swear, it’s the truth. And I owe it all to you.”

“’Cause I’ve had the time of my life. And I owe it all to you,” W’a’le’ki came in strong as the music picked up and the crowd got into it.

“No way,” Tikva declared as Stirling and W’a’le’ki launched into the dance-rock duet. “Obscure classical songs is my schtick!”

Sometime later, a slightly drunk Tikva and Lin stepped out of the turbolift only a few decks higher than they had been, silent discussion had about which quarters they were going to head for, then settled on Tivka’s own thanks to the computer having routed them to that side of deck five. Rank cometh first after all. “So that happened,” she announced to her Amazonian lover and the empty corridor.

“What happened?” Lin asked.

“Stirling and W’a’le’ki!” she replied as if it had been obvious what she was talking about from the beginning. “Time of My Life? Honestly, you can’t sing that in front of the crew and not expect them to get the bloody message!”

“That W’a’le’ki asked Stirling out on a date just before they started singing?” Lin asked. “I read lips; you know that.”

“You’re kidding right?” she challenged as the door to her quarters admitted them, closing behind them in quick order. “You aren’t kidding. Oh, that’s so funny!”

“Less funny, more cute,” Lin corrected before turning her around, gently cupping her face and kissing her passionately, bringing it to a drawn-out conclusion before resting their foreheads together. “Shower or –“

“Captain Theodoras,” came the announcement from her commbadge, Ensign Taru’s voice muffled somewhat by the device pressed between the two women. “There’s a priority call for you from Admiral Beckett. It’s live ma’am.”

“From Bravo to here, live?” Lin asked. “Someone’s in trouble.”

“Or something.” She pushed away from Lin, sighing as she did so. “Cupboard, anti-intoxicants please.” And with that watched Lin head towards the bedroom. She then marched towards the desk her quarters were furnished with, checked her tunic wasn’t sporting any stains, took two deep breaths and then sat down, tapping at her computer to bring up the secure subspace comm lines, a passcode and then came face to face with a man she’d not so much as said a single word to in her entire career up until now.

“Vice Admiral Beckett, a pleasure sir,” she said, feeling a certain clarity as an element of adrenaline fought the alcohol in her system. “How can the Atlantis be of assistance?”

“I have a priority task for you captain, and your ship.” The man was direct, eyes hinting at intelligence behind them, and more behind that. “I need you at Handl Dryf as soon as possible. All speed restrictions are rescinded for this. Further information will be relayed to you upon your vessel entering Ferengi territory.”

She blinked once, then twice, then thought carefully, making sure she was thinking. “Handl Dryf is on the far side of the Alliance from us right now sir, if my memory serves me right. We’d have to cross the Badlands, skirt around the Coalition and break through the Ionite Nebula.” Not that the last was a major concern. The Ionite was after all a large nebula, diffuse and spread across lightyears to the point it was just a pretty feature in the sky for nearby worlds, but almost next to nothing for a starship.

“I am giving you permission captain to run the B-T Corridor. You’re also cleared to maintain speed across the Ferengi Alliance as well. Appropriate permissions have been attained,” he countered. No further explanation, just that simple permission. “I hope that helps to convey the weight of this situation?”

“Not entirely sir, but I suspect the further information will illuminate our purpose when we receive it.” She accepted the small white pill that Lin handed her with a glass of water and quickly apologised to the admiral as she took the pill, claiming it was for a headache, which wasn’t going to be too far from the truth soon enough. “I can have the Atlantis underway within the hour. We should be clear of the B-T Corridor within twelve hours.” Again, she was doing astrogation in her head, hoping she wasn’t that far off.

“Very well captain. Contact my office when you’re in the Alliance and I’ll have the appropriate packets sent to you. You can brief your staff afterwards. Beckett out.”

Silence enveloped the quarters as the screen went black, then blue as the Starfleet emblem popped up and started to rotate on the screen.

“So…” Lin said, dragging out the word, “Guess we’re interrupted again?”

She took a deep breath in, counted to two, exhaled, and repeated before she slammed her palms onto the tabletop, then forced her way to her feet. “Mac wasn’t drinking, was he?”

“No, he’s sober all right. He’s on duty remember?”

“Theodoras to MacIntyre,” she ordered of the ship’s electronic minion after tapping at her commbadge.

“Yes cap?” he asked, voice emanating from ‘somewhere’ after a mere moment. “What’s up?”

“General recall of all staff right now. They’ve got fifteen minutes to be back on the boat or they’re getting left behind. Call station ops and tell them we’ve got orders to push off yesterday and get their people off my ship and clear us for immediate departure. Anyone still onboard is coming with us.”

“Where’s the fire?” he asked and over the open comm line she could hear voices in the background starting to make the calls and orders necessary to carry out her orders.

“Handl Dryf in the Ferengi Alliance. Tell Engineering I want max speed on the engines as soon as we’re past the outer marker. We’re running the B-T Corridor and not slowing down until we reach the Ferengi border.”

“Uh, can I have you confirm that last part for me captain?”

“We’ve got orders to be at Handl Dryf right now. Command has cleared us to run the Breen-Tzenkethi Corridor like we stole something.” She looked to Lin, looking for support and got it with that smile she had fallen for. “I’m going to get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“We got a soundtrack for this stunt?” Mac asked, clearly joking.

“Danger Zone, look it up. Theodoras out.” She then reached out and took Lin’s hand. “Problem solved, yes?”

“You’ll be wanting some proper sleep then.”

“I’m too worked up to just go to bed now. Anti-intoxicant and adrenaline are both going to keep me going for a while yet. So, your choice, holodeck for some sparring, or bed for some –“

She was rudely interrupted, emitting a rather undignified squeal as Lin stood up, picked her up, thrown over a shoulder and carried her bodily into the bedroom. “Put me down!”

“Yes ma’am,” came the response as she was dropped onto the bed. “Now, where do I start?”


“Highly irregular.”

T’Val’s response to Mac’s orders was exactly what he expected from the ship’s chief helmswoman when he had emerged on the bridge at his summons, but she didn’t push back or protest. He’d couched his statement well enough to deal with that at least. “Get the latest details that station ops has as to the state of the B-T Corridor and then lay in a course for it. We’re running it at max speed on orders from someone with a big enough hat.”

“And T’Val,” he continued after her declaration, “I mean it when I say running it at full speed. If you want some rest before we get there go ahead and get a relief officer up here. I want the best at the controls when we hit the corridor and anyone else can fly us in a straight line.”

“I shall have Lieutenant Shven up here once we’re at warp,” she confirmed.

With that done, he turned to Rrr who simply nodded, already at work making sure all wayward souls were aboard and all extras were ushered off the ship before departure. They’d all heard the captain after all. But he wanted to add to it. “Hail Chief Gloppo in station security and ask them if it’s possible to get press gangs to round up our wayward souls. And Ch’tkk’va,” he turned to the Xindi-Insectoid at the back of the bridge, “kindly escort any 47ers off the ship.”

“I already have a team assisting the few remaining engineers to evacuate the ship. They were all working with Lieutenant Maxwell in Engineering so should be off the ship within ten minutes.”

“Excellent. Rrr, get me station ops please.” There was a moment as the Gaen operations officer tapped away, then the whistle indicating an open channel. “Atlantis to 47 Ops, requesting permission for immediate departure.”

Atlantis, you aren’t scheduled for departure until tomorrow,” came the professional and bland voice from the other side.

“Hence the immediate departure request, 47. We’ve got orders to be somewhere yesterday.”

There was a pause, then the voice came back. “Roger that Atlantis. We’re going to need about thirty minutes to finalise departure preparations on our side. Is that soon enough?”

He was tempted to just tell them to blow all the umbilicals and push off straight away, but they needed a bit of time to get their people back aboard anyway. Thirty minutes was still pretty fast for dockhands who thought they didn’t need to get a ship ready to leave until tomorrow. “Sooner would be better 47, but we’ll take it.”

“Understood Atlantis. We’ll try and get you away as fast as possible. 47 out.”

“Right then,” he said to the bridge at large, “any bets on who has lit this particular fire and why?”

As for any answers to Mac’s open question, none were present for the foreseeable future. If things had gotten to a point where some admiral was pushing Atlantis through the B-T Corridor at speed, then he understood why Tikva wanted a night’s sleep before hitting the problem fresh. The hours between departing Deep Space 47 and arriving at the Thomar Expanse end of the Breen-Tzenkethi Corridor had felt like a week and he knew as soon as he could he’d want to sleep as well.

It wasn’t that he was being taxed in his capabilities, but the stress of knowing that in a few short hours, anything could happen that could spiral wildly out of control and it was he and the captain who would wear it, not an admiral who’d likely already covered his backside six-ways to Sunday. Stress that knowing if things went wrong they’d have to work like demons just to get to the court-martial, let alone survive.

Normally a journey of a few days at a reasonable speed, by pushing the limits of their engines to a point where even Velan had raised his displeasure, they’d made the journey in a matter of hours. They’d already started a timer on the bridge to forced engine shutoff and burned through a sixth of that time already. And they’d be doubling their time at speed while crossing the gap, running the gauntlet between the Breen and Tzenkethi borders in order to break through to the Ferengi Alliance.

“How’s it looking out there Rrr?” he asked, pacing the bridge. Something he knew he’d been doing for an hour now.

“All quiet on the starboard front,” Rrr said, meaning the Tzenkethi border. “But there’s a fair few ugly-looking Breen ships on long-range sensors.”

“Disposition?”

“All well inside their border, but a few of them are moving towards the border with a bit of haste. If something is about to go down in the Expanse, DS47 is going to look a lot like a tempting target without us around.”

“I’m sure the Fleet Captain and the Commodore have their own plans. And they’ve been making friends with the Cardassians who hold no love for the Breen. They’ll be fine. Especially once Nobel gets on station.” He smiled, then forced himself to stop pacing. “Where’s T’Val?” he asked, noticing the Shven still at the helm.

“She’s on her way up right now,” the young Andorian answered. “Running early too.”

Sure enough only a minute later and T’Val was taking over the controls of the ship. “Six hours, forty-five minutes to clear the Breen-Tzenkethi Corridor, Commander,” she answered when he asked for an update. “Assuming no interference in our flight path.”

“Let’s keep it that way then. Rrr, eyes on long-range sensors. Ch’tkk’va, let’s roll the ship to yellow alert. T’Val, take us in and don’t spare the horses.” He turned and sat himself down in the captain’s chair. “Might as well set a record while we’re at it. What’s the speed record for the B-T Corridor?”

“There isn’t one,” Ch’tkk’va said from behind him. “No one has been mentally incapacitated enough to do it before.”

“Well that’s Atlantis for you,” he answered. “Let’s do this, and try not to blow up the engines while we’re at it. And what was that song the captain?”

“Danger Zone,” Rrr answered. “Computer, play the song Danger Zone, Earth musical library.”

Comments

  • This was absolutely a great start to the next tale of the Atlantis crew! I love just how settled the crew are with each other now. There’s almost a nice community feel with them all enjoying each other’s company (and especially wit). Breaking out Dirty Dancing must be a first time for any Bravo Fleet story - but will we ever see that magical lift and routine take place in Port Royal? I hope so! I certainly love the emphasis on danger for the crew and ship, not just with their upcoming mission but the journey to it. Will they arrive in one piece or will someone think they are a tempting target?

    May 8, 2023
  • Absolutely delightful opening orienting ourselves with the characters, the ship, and where they're all at. And Fightmaster singing songs from Dirty Dancing? Pitch perfect. And Lin's right, Fightmaster and W'a'le'ki together is CUTE. I approve thoroughly of Beckett having excellent/terrible timing; I'm sure he'd approve too, to know he mildly inconvenienced a captain's day. The amount of work it's taking to get Atlantis underway does a really good job of conveying just how urgent the situation is - this surely wouldn't be done were it not absolutely necessary. Time to set a new record and blaze some Kenny Loggins!

    May 8, 2023
  • This is quite possibly the best start to an FA mission I have read so far. You've got all the sense of urgency everyone else has, without so much as a mention of anything to do with the Dominion, the strikes in Deneb or anything in between. Like, will they even make it to their destination intact? Given the likely secrecy around the Atlantis' location, who would actually know if she went 'missing' along the B-T Corridor? A perfect opportunity for the Breen to strike from a different front and still aid their Deneb operations. I'm glad Mac is at the helm, nothing will get past him. On a completely different note; Dirty Dancing. You old romantic, you! And then, to top it off, Danger Zone? Perfect, absolutely perfect.

    May 8, 2023
  • The effort you've put into fleshing out the ensemble is really paying off! The relationships between the characters feel even more layered than before. As I'm sure the entire audience has voted for, Fightmaster being asked on a date publicly before performing a power ballad is a performance for the ages. Right up there with Ode to Spot. I could perfectly imagine this little pantomime and it made me giggle: "Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr had the good grace to look stunned for a moment, then hold a hand to their chest in a ‘who me?’ manner, then nodded sagely as an admission of guilt." But then it all got terribly serious as it came to the Atlantis to break all speed records for the sake of mystery orders. What are the orders??

    May 9, 2023
  • Love this start to the mission! Great detail on the bar scene, with lots of delicious little details. And I do not know much about Fightmaster yet, but I can glean some clues from the reactions of the other characters and that part was soooo cute! Then the tension of getting the ship ready to leave as quickly as possible really drove home how urgent things are, and the fact they don’t have the whole story yet… awesome! Going to be so much tension onboard before they get where they’re going!

    May 29, 2023