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

What Price for Peace – 3

USS Atlantis
March 2401
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“This has got to be one of the silliest plans I’ve ever heard,” Tikva said as she finished listening to Velan and Merktin’s plan. The morning briefing, evening for some at the table, was being held in the Captain’s Mess, devoid of all others save for herself, the two engineers and Mac to her right.

“I love it,” she reassured them, waving a fork-speared sausage at both of them.

“High praise,” responded Merktin, grumbling around a fork full of salad.

“I could call it half-baked insanity only a first-year engineering cadet would consider as sensible if you want?” she posited. “But my Tellarite insult game is miserable. I have people I respect to dish out the insults for me.”

I could do it! Let me at it boss!

No!

No!

No!

Ah…no fun, the lot of you.

That got a smile out of Merktin, who had the grace to clear her mouth before speaking. “It’s about forcing the other side to rigorously defend their position and ideas.”

“Man, I’d love to see a Tellarite academic defence,” Velan said. “A lot more clever wit and insults than a Klingon one I’d bet.”

“When they say you have to defend your thesis, the Klingons mean it,” Merktin chipped in. “You, a trusty weapon and the review board coming at you from all angles.”

“Surely not,” Mac muttered. “Dammit, now I have to know. Thanks for that Merktin.”

“Just helping broaden your horizons. And add to your pub quiz knowledge. We need a pub quiz by the way.”

“Oh no, no no no,” Tikva said, shaking her head, hanging it in shame. “No pub quizzes. Or at least not ones I’ll be participating in.” Then she looked up with a smile. “This crazy plan of yours got a name?”

“Plasma outgassing causing energetic turbulence and systemic annular disruption of warp fields.” Velan waited for a second, enjoying the look of confusion on his commander’s faces, the exchanged look between her and Mac, then illuminated them to the mystery. 

“Pocketsand.”


“It’s a tortured backronym,” Mac confessed as the turbolift started to wind down on the short journey to the bridge.

“It’s not even that. But I’ll let them get away with it. I can see the report now. ‘As the pursuer closed on us we threw pocket sand at them and continued on our way, knowing they couldn’t make up the distance.’” Both of them had a wee chuckle at that, carrying over as they stepped out onto the bridge.

The senior officers of each department had all arrived on the bridge for this encounter, save Velan who was returning to Engineering, some were at the end of their days, and others like her just starting. As she approached her seat Lin rose, passing her the keys to the ship silently before making her way around the arch to Tactical, taking station next to Ch’tkk’va.

“Time?” she asked.

“Five minutes until intercept by Bogey Yankee” Rrr’s deep tone was perfect for conveying the depth and weight of what was about to happen. 

The tactical display showed the circumstance before them. Bogey Yankee cutting nearly perpendicular to their current course and Bogey Zulu coming in at a slight tangent, having cut the corner on Atlantis’ course as she ran the B-T Corridor. Speed however was on the larger ship’s side and if Yankee didn’t slow them there was no way that Zulu could catch them at all.

“Well then, let’s get ourselves ready, shall we?” she asked, looking to Mac who nodded in agreement, not that there was any chance of an argument. “Computer, all hands.”

The boatswain whistle sounded in all compartments throughout the ship, designed to grab everyone’s attention either through just being obtrusive or by training. “All hands, this is the captain. Red alert, man your battlestations.”

As the comm line closed out, the bridge went silent, eyes either on the consoles and readouts, or on the tactical display on the main viewer, zooming in slowly as Yankee closed on Atlantis. Minutes crept by, the timer ticking down.

“All right T’Val, adjust course fifteen degrees to starboard. Let them fall in behind us.”

Come closer little fly. We won’t hurt you.

Much.

Ideally not at all. But I think we can sleep pretty well if these bastards literally fly apart from this stunt.

“Aye ma’am,” the Vulcan helmswoman said as she turned Atlantis and slowed the ship just slightly, enough to let Yankee continue approaching at the crawl they wanted. “We’re on course now and the Breen ship is directly astern.”

She smiled, then tapped at the button on her chair’s built-in console that connected her directly to Engineering. “Commander Velan, stand by.”

“Engineering is ready ma’am,” came the upbeat Efrosian’s voice.

“Rrr, give me an open line to the Breen ship.”

Her ops officer tapped a few keys on their console as she stood, bringing herself to her full and terrible imposing height, or lack thereof. “Breen vessel, cease your pursuit immediately or we will be forced to take action to deter you. Respond.”

A few seconds passed and nothing. The track still showed them closing on the course now aimed into the Tzenkethi Coalition. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she spoke and signalled to Rrr to close the line. “Right Velan, do your magic.”

“And for my next trick,” came Velan’s voice over the bridge speakers, “I present…pocket sand!”

There was no immediate indication that anything was happening at all. No ominous whines, no clunks or thuds that reverberated through the ship. Just a few extra chirps at various consoles around the bridge, a few of them rather angry sounding. And then the tactical plot updated as Yankee’s speed value immediately plummeted from multiple thousands of times the speed of light to zero. And then the trace completely disappeared as sensors lost track of the ship.

“Report,” she ordered, settling back into her seat.

“Lost track of Yankee,” Rrr said.

“Confirmed, no sign of them,” Lin added from behind her.

“I’ve got what looks like a debris field on my scopes,” Camargo added, bringing her results up on the viewscreen in a popup window. “Spread out across the better part of ten million kilometres. Looks like they broke up as their warp field collapsed.”

Tikva couldn’t help herself as she snorted in amusement and smug satisfaction. They’d just destroyed a Breen ship without firing a shot. Bogey Zulu was so far away they’d have no idea what happened as the plasma would barely have registered on even Atlantis’ sensors, let alone Breen ones. Or so she hoped.

“Bigger ship likely would have been fine. Honestly, we’d have been fine despite Velan’s trying to scare me earlier today,” Mac said. “Fragile little pocket rocket they sent after us.”

“Yeah,” she said in response. “T’Val, bring us back on course, get us out of the Corridor now. Stand down red alert. Heck, stand down yellow alert.”

As the lights returned to normal, Mac got to his feet, suppressing a yawn. “Right, excitement done. Permission to get some shut-eye?”

“Granted. And that means the rest of you folks.” They knew who they were, already starting the process of finalising handing over to relief officers who’d been on the bridge the whole time. T’Val briefing Petrov, Rrr exchanging a quick joke with Michaels as she settled into the seat at Ops, Camargo catching the last piece of information from her offsider who quickly made their way to the turbolift with the others, held for them by Mac.

“Gabs, scan the debris cloud with everything we have for as long as you can. Would love to know what was after us, or at least more than it was fast and fell apart when we sneezed at it.” The young woman in blue simply nodded and turned back to her console. “Michaels, hail Starbase Bravo, Admiral Beckett’s office and inform them we’ll be crossing into Ferengi space in twenty-five minutes and if they’d like to send along his prepared briefing packet it would be appreciated.”

“Aye ma’am,” Michaels said and then almost immediately Tikva could taste the lemony taste she associated with confusion from the young ops officer. “Uh ma’am, there’s a message from Admiral Beckett already.”

“What?”

What? Not possible. Without priority channels, it would take a few hours to send a message that far that fast.

He’s somewhere on the ship!

Shut up you.

“I just sent the message and then a reply from his office immediately appeared.” Michaels tapped at her console, then turned away from it to face her. “My message never sent and the Admiral’s response was never received. It just appeared ma’am.”

Gods damn stupid spies.

Bet he planted the data in his call to us with a trigger. Clever.

I don’t like people playing with my ship’s computers.

“Put it through to my ready room. I’ll unlock it and read it there.”


Trust only the Fourth Fleet.

It was the opening and closing statement to Admiral Beckett’s briefing packet that she’d read twice over after locking herself in her ready room. Then had to turn on the news feeds to hear what had been outlined before her as either lies or intentional misdirection. If she’d been back on station in the Thomar Expanse news of Breen aggression would have been alarming, but only that. The admiral was painting a far more morose and depressing picture.

“Computer, access the Ferengi news feeds. Something with a market analysis.”

A chirp, a moment as the computer processed her request, and then a news channel popped up on her computer terminal. What would have been shocking a few decades ago was presented to her – a clothed Ferengi woman talking about the market. Of course, the clothing was barely there, further confirmation that the age-old adage that ‘sex sells’ still thrived within the Alliance. Compared to where they had been a quarter century ago, it was progress.

Of a sort.

“- continue to rise in the markets as Federation refugees from colonies within the Deneb sector continue to flee deeper into the Federation and across into the Alliance as they seek transport elsewhere. Remember traders, rules 9 and 34! There’s plenty to be made on emergency supplies and disaster relief equipment. Whichever analyst told Gelin Manufacturing to bet big two weeks ago is due a hefty bonus this year. If his boss doesn’t take all the credit that is!” The young woman laughed, but the Ferengi sense of humour fell flat with Tikva.

“But in all seriousness folks, whoever these attackers are, once they finish with the paltry defenders of Deneb, they might turn to the Alliance next. And that means you need protection, for you and your business! So why not get the best! Galen Armaments and Mercenary Supplies is your home of –“

“Off,” she said to the computer, cutting the ad-read off before it got too far. They hadn’t said anything about the attackers but had given her plenty to think about. Fleeing refugees, those lucky enough to get out of the way of the Jem’Hadar if Admiral Beckett had been right, corporate greed making good on those in desperate situations and preparations within the Alliance to begin fortifying in the face of an expected attack.

And yet FNN was insisting it was a minor skirmish on the border. Deneb Broadcasting Corporation was citing ‘limited engagement with Breen raiders’ and nothing more. Whole worlds hadn’t even been mentioned.

This stinks to high heaven.

And then some.

And then Beckett wants us playing diplomat to find reinforcements because Command has apparently disappeared up its own backside.

Or to get him some ships and allies for some powerplay of his own.

What if Beckett is the compromised one and we’re being pulled along?

Geez, thanks for that Paranoid-Tikva, real helpful.

She rubbed her eyes, hours of reading and rereading wearing at her. She needed a break, to walk the ship and let her brain process everything.

She needed to brief her staff.

With a sigh she unlocked the door and summoned Fightmaster, her yeoman appearing in her office with the haste of a well-timed torpedo but with the style and calm of a Vulcan diplomat order a glass of water.

“Stirling, I need a few things from you.”

“Of course, ma’am,” he said, hands clasped behind his back.

“Organise a staff briefing in the Captain’s Mess for five hours from now. Should give those sleeping time enough to wake up and see they have a meeting. Might as well feed everyone for what’s about to come down.”

He nodded, clearly setting things on a mental list. She could just about hear the machinery of his brain whirring away.

“Then I want you to find out everything you can about Vice Admiral Alexander Beckett, Captain Hor’keth, son of Tela’bur of the House of Lorkoth, and Commanders Grel and Scali of the Romulan Republic and Free State respectively.” Before he could respond she held a hand up, to give a slight cause before setting the worse condition on that scavenger hunt that she could. “And without reaching out to anyone else in Starfleet.”

“Ma’am?”

“A test of your information-gathering capabilities Mr Fightmaster. Four random individuals, no obvious connections, no using Starfleet resources. I want whatever you have on my desk in four hours.”

“Aye ma’am,” he responded, then departed once she dismissed him.

That was mean.

Beckett might be right though. We can’t let anyone know what he’s asked us to do.

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe we need to tell someone.

Let’s find out who these people we’re about to meet are. And brief the staff and see what they think.

But first an impromptu inspection of multiple departments and workspaces?

Starting with…astrometrics!

Comments

  • This is just a fun read from start to finish. This a nice slice-of-life post, and then we get the message from the fourth fleet, and the seriousness of what's happening starts to settle in. I am interested to see what happens next!

    May 11, 2023
  • "One of the silliest plans I've heard... I love it." So very Tikva. Plus the technobabble in this case helping to both make characters seem smart AND slightly obfuscating the full reveal of how this is going to play out. Liking the continued designation of the other ships - I, too, just designate them like that so you don't have to write 'the other ship,' 'the other OTHER ship,' when you've got these unidentified baddies out there. Really loving this sequence with the corridor; you've done an excellent job of the tension and long-distance exchanges and potshots, nobody really breaching territory and needing to focus on their primary duty, while of course wanting to shake their tail. It's very Trek. Ahh, Beckett, you magnificent bastard, planting a data package aboard to communicate the next step. He's becoming a parody of himself this FA with all of his dramatic secrecy, huh? Tikva assessing the situation by looking at Ferengi market assessments is GENIUS, by the way. I am looking forward to seeing how paranoia attacks her as much as anyone else.

    May 11, 2023
  • So we move from a Mac chapter to a Tikva chapter and I certainly feel that she is holding back her true genius level from her crew. It's almost something she does in private and uses her somewhat 'mad' thoughts to convey it. Everything she does or say makes sense, even if what she is thinking to herself would make a counsellor consider twice if she was 'with it'. Also, the whole destroying of the pursuing Breen ship without firing a single weapon, love it! That was clever!!! However, I wonder if the Atlantis is truly out of harm's way from Breen ships? I mean a Sovereign-class ship speeding along so close to their space, are they really going to leave it to one attempt? I hope not!

    May 14, 2023
  • I’ve loved all the focus on Mac lately, reading him growing as a leader in his own right, and there’s also something so comforting about when we get a return of Tikva’s perspective. It’s like a warm blanket when we so fully understand how she’s thinking and feeling about a mission. Her questioning of who to trust is terribly apt. It would be impossible to know for sure in her shoes. I see all the gorgeous economy you’ve praised in my writing recently. That briefing was perfectly paced, providing a Tikva stand up show as much of exposition, and then so smoothly rolling into the execution of the plan. You told us everything we needed to know right when we needed it. Victory to Atlantis!

    May 14, 2023
  • All that lovely treknobabble just for the pathetic Breen ship to fall to pieces. Obviously, their engineers leave a lot to be desired. A Tikva masterclass of a post, and I really enjoy the 'paranoid' side of her. It honestly says what we are thinking. Like MJ, I highly doubt this is the last we have seen of the Breen, but as the focus turns on the Ferengi, I really appreciate the shift in tone. Oh, and I'm going to steal your method of naming your target ships. Simple, effective.

    May 14, 2023