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Part of USS Amundsen: The Little Things You Do Together and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

We Ride at Midnight

USS Amundsen
March, 2401
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Alex let out a soft sigh as he clasped the top of his teal uniform together. He had retired to his quarters hours ago after he spent most of the day in the astrometric lab trying to get the port sensor pallet calibrated. He’d been attempting to tackle it for last 3 weeks but every day there was new science crisis that needed solving; like when science lab 3 was reporting every DNA specimen as Tribble DNA or when the stellar cartography lab kept insisting that over 3 dozen transwarp conduits were appearing in the Andorian star system.  It would have been helpful if some of the previous science staff had been kept around to help with any quirks that where present before the Amundsen‘s refit but Starfleet quickly sent them all packing.

He glanced at the clock and resisted the urge to roll his eyes when he saw it was nearly 21:00. He had little idea why he was being summoned to the bridge, while in space dock, at this hour. Hell, Myers wasn’t even supposed to be on the ship for another 3 days. Still, he’d served with her for enough years now to know she wasn’t summoning him to her ready room for a bit of tea.

The doors to his quarters opened with a swish as he stepped into the hall. The lights were dimmed this time of evening and he softly padded along the carpeted floor on his way to the turbo lift. The Rhode Island class of starships lacked the metallic, sleeker, edge that the newer ships had but he couldn’t deny that this era of starship design evoked a sense of home and relaxation instead of duty and honor. Neither way of thinking was incorrect but he certainly wasn’t upset when he followed Myers to the Amundsen and found out the refit wasn’t going to alter the physical interior of the ship in any way.

He stepped inside the lift. “Bridge” With a quiet hum the lift took off. The ride would be short, the Amundsen only had 9 decks after all, and his quarters were on deck 3. Moments later he felt the lift slow and stop, the doors opening with a hiss, as he stepped out and into what was a very hectic bridge. He hadn’t spotted a single person in the corridor on his way to the lift; clearly it was because they were all up here.

He spotted the white hair of Clara Myers near the from CONN station. He approached her quickly. “Reporting as ordered ma’am, along with apparently 80 percent of the crew on the ship.” He said as he looked around at the 9 to 10 others on the bridge. “Do you make them get out of bed and get dressed too or are these all eager Ensigns who live to serve and sleep in the uniforms?

Clara resisted the urge to roll her eyes and remind the man that they were both on duty. Alex always did keep his causal attitude on even when dealing with a new crew and ship; it certainly could come off as….off-putting. She made a mental note to remind him of that later as she knew he’d be mortified if he knew anyone around him was uncomfortable with his presence or how he carried himself.

“Of course not, commander,” she put a heavy emphasis on the rank to drive the point home. “I had them hidden behind the wall in the conference room, ready to pop out at a moment’s notice.”

Alex’s face flushed slightly as he brushed a stand of hair off his forehead, a nervous habit he’d had since the day Clara met the man. “Of course ma’am, how could I be so foolish. How can I be of assistance?”

“Lieutenant Onari?”

A tall, rather young, Deltan women turned around. “Yes ma’am?”

“I’ll be on my ready room for a bit, briefing the Commander. Please call me If anything major occurs or any further orders from Fourth Fleet Command arrive.”

The Deltan nodded and turned back to her work.  

“Orders?” Alex said softly. “We’re weeks away from actually launching and months away from any sort of real service.”

He watched as Clara’s face shifted expressions to something darker. “Not anymore. Follow me.”

She walked towards her ready room, Alex right at her heals. As soon as the doors closed she made her away around the desk. “Computer, seal the room.”

He heard the heavy thump of the door lock moving into place.

“Room sealed.” Came the voice of the computer

Alex sat down on the other side of the desk. “Clara, what in the world is going on here?”

She seemed to ponder her words for a moment before giving up. “The Dominion has returned. They’ve invaded the Deneb sector and Fleet Admiral Ramar has ordered the Fourth Fleet to respond, us included. The ship is mostly ready; we’ll make do with what we have. Our mission is to check the status of three colonies in three star systems as they have gone dark. We gather information, help if we can, and move on.”

Alex was frozen in his seat. “The Dominion?” He was only a child when the war broke out and barely 11 when it ended. Both his parents were civilian doctors on Luna; he’d only heard vague stories on the FNN broadcasts. He still remembered the sheer terror he felt when he was rushed into a shelter at school with the Breen had attacked Earth; everyone convinced that the Breen fleet would come after the easy target that was Luna once they had been pushed way from Earth. Despite his lack of first hand experience with the Dominion, Starfleet Academy drilled in the horrors of the war to its cadets. Multiple phaser training simulations had Jem’Hadar firing at cadets. Numerous diplomatic, history, psychology and sociology courses dug deep into the horrors of the war. The only enemy that elicited more fear out of the people was the Borg and, honestly, it had been so long since they’d been last seen more and more people were starting to become rather ambivalent about them.

He turned to look at Clara. “How? Has the Bajor system been overrun? How could that happen without us knowing?”

Clara raised her had to cut him off. “It’s the Lost Fleet. No idea how they popped back up but it wasn’t though the Bajoran wormhole; the came rolling in from outside Federation space and swiftly attacked the Deneb sector with the help of the Breen. The border skirmish everyone keeps reporting on? It’s an invasion. No other word for it.”

Alex rubbed a hand over his face. “Why? Why would anyone in their right mind cover this up?”

Clara didn’t have much to offer as an answer. “That is the central question. Perhaps they are so worried about the optics of the enemy that damn near ended the Federation showing up right before Frontier Day that they think they can handle it quietly and out of the public view. I don’t know. What I do know is the Fourth Fleet is all that stands in their way right now. I saw the horrors of that war first hand. I saw the casualty lists flow in day after day.” Clara paused, trying to maintain her composure. “I watched my Captain get impaled by the blade of a Jem’Hadar six feet away from me; his blood spraying some poor Ensign who probably was discharged from service and still goes to therapy three times a week. Some nights….”

She trailed off before Alex reached out and placed a hand on her arm. “Clara. I understand.”

She continued on almost as if she didn’t hear him. “Some nights, on a really bad day, I wake up from that nightmare and I can still smell the metallic tang of blood. Sometimes it seems like I can almost taste it when I wake up and it’s everything I can do to keep my dinner in my stomach.” She turned to face him, a steely determination in her eyes. “I faced my demons long ago and like so many from the damned war I carry the scars with me every day. I turned that pain to purpose and do what I can to make this universe a better place. I will be damned if I am going to let those…things swoop in again and tear the quadrant apart. I will not have them scar a new generation of Starfleet officers like they scared mine. We will do out part and we will stand against them, no matter what Starfleet Command says.”

Alex gave her a soft smile and a squeeze on the arm. “Then let’s get to work.”

Clara nodded, returning the smile. “Let us.” She reached over to the other side of the desk, picking up a PADD and handing it to Alex. “You are the highest ranking officer on this ship at present time so I am making up Acting Executive Officer until we pick up Commander Demar from Starbase 72. Once he has assumed his role you will serve as Second Officer.”

Alex took the PADD, a questioning look on his face. “I won’t argue with you but I don’t really see how I would be the best choice for second officer.”

Clara opened her mouth then paused to choose her words. “I need someone I can trust. I have indications from Fourth Fleet Command that we can’t trust those outside the Fourth Fleet. I’ve know you for many years Alex and that means you are one of the few I know I can rely on.”

Alex gave her a quick nod, trying to absorb the large amount of information he’d gotten in such a short time. 

“Onari to Myers. Lieutenant Commander Boreheth has arrived on the Bridge and wishes to speak to you.”

“On my way, Myers out.” She stood, walking around the desk, and placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s a lot. I know. I have faith in you Alex. Now, get ready, for we ride at midnight.”