There was complete silence in the ready room from the collective of senior staff members as each of them assimilated the briefing they just received. It was difficult to fathom how the Dominion had overrun the Deneb sector, or how the Breen suddenly Just jumped back into bed with them. But what was particularly unsavory was Starfleet Command’s position on the crisis.
“If this is what Command is calling a border skirmish, I wonder what they actually consider an invasion force.” Lt Garcia chipped in.
“The real criminals are the FNN reporters. I mean, aren’t they supposed to report the news objectively? This horse crap has ‘cover up’ written all over it!” Harris added.
Wallace stood up from his chair and almost bumped his head on the slope of the bulkhead as he did. Like every other compartment on this vessel; his ready room was little more than a cupboard with some comparatively large windows. He turned his back on his colleagues, who were using any flat surface in the small office as a chair and he gazed out across the bow of his ship.
“Okay people, Show of hands…who here actually has real combat experience,” he said, whipping his head back around to tally the results of his poll.
There was a brief period of procrastination as everyone avoided being the first to raise their hand, but in the end, only two hands went up – Harris and Chief Catterick.
“Fine let’s get real…” Wallace sat back down, “Thyanis is not a combat vessel by any stretch of the imagination. She can defend herself but ultimately any engagements are going to be a case of return fire and jump to warp…maybe even find someplace to play hide and seek.
You’ve only just met your XO, but we served together on the Tomcat and I can vouch for ’em…we had a few tough scrapes let me tell you but somehow, and it pains me to say it…he always trapped his bird on the deck safe and sound.”
“True, but I have to admit, I closed my eyes for the scary part.” Harris butted in with his dark humor. Nobody laughed.
“The point is, yes it’s a warzone. But our orders are just to potentially evacuate some scientists. That’s all…we ain’t looking for a fight, but if the fight comes our way…we do what we have to to stay alive and high tail it out of there…live to fight another day.” Wallace said firmly, trying to reassure his crew as he simultaneously played the role of mother; serving of fresh round of coffee to everyone from the large silver pot on his desk.
“I think it’s important to remember that some of us didn’t sign up to fight a war, we all knew it could probably happen but when it’s all said and done, Starfleet wasn’t founded to be a military power.” Dr Xan proposed as she gracefully accepted her re-fill.
“You’re right, and let’s face it, no one ever conceived a conflict on the scale of the first Dominion war…until it happened.” Harris seconded the doctor’s proposal.
“Valid point, I don’t know anybody who joined to ‘kick ass’, and this isn’t a conscripted service. We are all here by choice but I also have to consider that I can’t just drop everyone off at the nearest starbase just because there’s a war on…” Wallace acknowledged as he took a sip of his coffee. “And if I’m honest, you don’t sign up to be a pacifist either. We all had to go through basic weapons training and tactical scenarios in training; it’s not our primary mission but it is a part of wearing the uniform,” he said.
“I’m just concerned about how some of the crew are going to cope with their first sortie, especially the younger enlisted,” Xan expressed her concerns. She was not a counselor by any means but as Chief Medical Officer she took her responsibility to crew welfare with the utmost seriousness.
“Now you’re certainly raising a concern every Commanding Officer shares, but the truth is there is no solution to the problem, the crew will have to learn to cope but we; as senior officers need to be able to support them and lead them by example,” Wallace explained with conviction.
“On a Larger ship, you might get away with calling yourselves the Junior officers. But on Thyanis You don’t have that luxury, we are all going to have to pull through this together as a team. And hopefully, this is just a mission to ring the doorbell and wake up some professor who forgot to set his alarm.” With that, Wallace reached behind his desk and retrieved a collection of PADDS, and began handing them out to the crew. Wallace was mindful that this briefing was dragging on and he needed to move the conversation along so they could all get back to their duties.
“Now from an engineering standpoint, I put together as much information on the Regula class station I could find, and also a little background history on Oppenheimer Station itself,” Wallace presented.
“Oppenheimer? As in the nuclear bomb guy? Well, that’s reassuring, next you’ll be saying the chief scientist is called Doctor Frankenstein or something.” Harris flippantly added to the conversation.
“Apparently the name is a joke or something but yeah, as in J. Robert Oppenheimer, destroyer of worlds etcetera. And no monsters as far as I’m aware, but it is anchored inside a dense particle cloud at the L5 Lagrange point around the primary star.” Wallace said, concealing the fact that the name also sent chills down his spine.
“What’s a Lagrange point?” Chief Catteral asked.
Wallace could see that Xan was itching to answer, after-all her previous host was an expert in astrophysics. He turned to her and gave a subtle nod in her direction as if he was granting her permission to geek out.
“A Lagrange point is a phenomenon of orbital mechanics, where the gravitational forces acting between a parent object and an orbiting planet for instance, create regions of stability where the gravitational forces acting on a third- smaller object are at equilibrium.” Xan took a moment to sip her coffee, while she enjoyed the subject matter, she knew that this concept was going to require a bit of explaining to laymen.
Harris then interjected, “In theory, the third object, for example, a starship can anchor at a Lagrange point and maintain a stable orbit indefinitely, without needing its own propulsion.” As an experienced pilot, Harris was intimately familiar with all the nuances and intricacies of orbital mechanics; the truth was, however, he was secretly intimidated by Xan’s knowledge, yet he yearned to be acknowledged by her and felt the overwhelming urge to show her that he wasn’t just some ‘Stick Jockey’ who knew how to pilot a starship.
Xan sent an overt scowl in Commander Tan’s direction ‘How dare he steal my thunder’ she thought to herself when she noticed that Tan was gearing up to make another statement on her behalf. Just as he opened his mouth, and took a breath to speak, she took back control, “That’s a Very overly simplified explanation Commander, but yes you are technically correct” Xan was overwhelmed by a pit in her stomach after speaking over the XO like that. Though she had every right to do so, she instantly had mild regrets that she might have come off as rude or desperate to Impress the room; she sincerely hoped however that she did not offend the Commander and on a personal level she did find his attempt to get involved in explaining then subject oddly surprising for a fighter pilot turned XO.
“The trouble with Lagrange points, however, is that they are rarely a perfect equilibrium, and trying to anchor something as big as a station there can add a number of variables to destabilize the effect.” Xan closed her statement, satisfied she had explained the topic with enough detail for the common audience.
“But the station is stable Doctor, In fact, records show it was actually left abandoned for over seven years between 2374 and 2381.” Wallace respectfully added, having registered the exchange between her and his first officer.
“Then it’s quite possible that this particular example could be entirely unique, especially if you say it’s surrounded by a particle cloud-” Xan paused suddenly and performed some brief mental arithmetic before finalising her statement, “Actually it’s a mathematical impossibility over that length of time. The variables grow exponentially with every single particle in that cloud, and over time; that should have been enough to push the balance of the station out of equilibrium!” She couldn’t quite contain her excitement and she suddenly couldn’t wait to find out more about the station and why it managed to survive so long.
“If we get time Doctor, ill be sure to ask for the whistle-stop tour, but right now we have more pressing matters to attend to, Everyone I want a full report on your department’s preparedness for this mission. Doctor that means Medical for you, as we don’t know if we will be receiving casualties.” Wallace exerted just a little of his authority to steer his team back onto the mission at hand, while he also was curious about the station’s past, he needed his crew to prioritise the mission at hand.
“LT Garcia, if you could run a tactical work-up on the Jem-Hedar fighters and also the smaller Breen vessels if we have an encounter we should be prepared,” Wallace instructed.
“What about the larger ships?” Garcia asked.
Wallace nodded silently for a moment and conceded the point.“If we encounter any of them we’re in big trouble, but your right see if you can come up with something to give us a tactical advantage just in case.”
There were various other assignments on the agenda which Wallace handed out to his crew, and also made it clear that he would be working in engineering for the majority of the voyage; trying to squeeze every bit of capability out of his little ship.
The senior crew over the course of the next few minutes and their Commanding Officer’s direction, became laser-focused on the tasks before them. It would be days before they reached their destination and every second could mean the difference between having the upper hand and forsaking the security of the mission.