Part of USS Ahwahnee: Best Left Unlearned and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

The Alendonian Dispatch

Alendon III
March 2401
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The Alendonian sky was an aurora borealis of rushing orange. Gaseous tongues of ionised hydrogen danced and flickered down towards a horizon of silhouetted, barren rock. With each celestial whiplash, charged particles streaked and scattered like shooting stars, induced by a powerful magnetic field emanating from the planet’s dense osmium core.  

Beneath the vast geodesic dome of Settlement 6, Lieutenant Commander Alex Lupulo reclined in magisterial fashion, his gangly limbs stretched out like clotheslines. The cocktail glass on the table next to him smoked with some unknown Denobulan syntheholic alchemy. He hadn’t cared too much about the ingredients. It was strong. Languidly, he looked up from his PADD, reached over and took a long swig, followed by a satisfied sigh, “What a sight.” 

“Speak for yourself,” came an unexpected response in a lightly mocking tone. 

Lupulo looked up, twisting his thin neck in its direction. The New Yorker’s eyes rolled immediately on making contact with a familiar pale face, “Oh, it’s you.” 

“Uh-uh, not just me. Look, I brought a friend,” Sreyler Theb, her own cocktail in hand, stepped aside to reveal a broad-shouldered Junior Lieutenant in a Science Officer’s uniform. A forelock of blonde hair swept down past blue eyes that winced with embarrassment.  

“Uhh, hello. Sir,” the Ensign offered a meek smile. 

The Efrosian raised an inquiring eyebrow towards Lupulo,“Have you guys even talked properly?” A pause stretched into an awkward silence as Lupulo glowered at them both, “Are you serious, Lup? It’s been over three years and you haven’t had an actual conversation?” 

Lupulo’s nostrils flared, “We’ve… Coordinated a few science lab upgrades.” 

Sreyler scoffed, “Lup, one of these days you’re going to have to actually start hanging out with people.” 

“Why?”  

“Because ten years from now you don’t want to be the same crusty old Chief of Operations with his head buried in,” she snatched the PADD, “Frontier Logistics Quarterly on the one bit of downtime we’ve had in months. Also, it’s professional to at least get to know the other department heads.” 

“You’re a department head.” 

“There are other departments, Lup!” Sreyler’s hands balled into fists in frustration, “I’m not the only one on the Ahwahnee who can answer obscure technical questions at weird times. Ed’s been helping me reconfigure the geodesic stabilisation fields on for these domes all week,” she gestured towards the Lieutenant who remained fixed to the spot. 

Lup sat up, “He knows his way around stabilisation fields?” 

“Ask. Him. Yourself.” Sreyler turned with a flick of ice-white plaited hair. Brushing past one of the thick giant ferns that peppered the relaxation zone, she made for her own recliners. 

“Tell me, Lieutenant Steldon,” an attempted smile formed itself on Lupulo’s face, “what kind of power distribution network are the domes running on? Fusion? Matter/antimatter? Or is the climate here stable enough for renewables?” 

Sreyler threw her head back on the cushion, shifting a little to make herself comfortable. Lupulo’s dull drone, combined with a full day up in dome scaffold, was more than enough to generate a wave of tiredness that crept up her body. She felt bad for Steldon. Then remembered that if not for him, she would be the target of Lupulo’s technical enquiries. Smiling, she gulped down the rest of the synthehol, turned on her side, and drifted off to sleep.  

 


 

It was the low tweet from her combadge that woke her. She could still hear Lupulo droning in the background, interspersed with a few polite replies from Steldon. As she rolled over to face them, she could hear their badges, “Hey – it’s for all of us. Must be something going on upstairs,” her eyes flicked up to where she imagined the Ahwahnee’s orbit path might be. Steldon and Lupulo fell silent, and all three of them reached for their badges simultaneously. 

“Captain Vordenna to all Ahwahnee personnel on Alendon III. We have received new orders from Fourth Fleet Command. We will be departing the system at 1800 hours. All senior staff report immediately to the briefing room.”  

Lupulo scowled as the comlink cut, “We still had days left…” 

“It’s gotta be huge if we’re leaving early like this. We still haven’t run the final safety diagnostics,” Steldon stood confused, with hands on hips. 

“Colony administration can handle it,” Sreyler said, no less perplexed, “But yeah… What in the ice could they possibly need the Ahwahnee for this urgently?” 

“I hate this already,” Lupulo moaned, “Whenever this happens. It never ends well.” 

“Hey you never know,” Sreyler put on a show of fake reasurrance, “Could be one of those cute emergencies. Tribble outbreak on Therron VI,” she mocked the serious tone of an FNN reporter, “Maybe a plague of Peranian cuddle bunnies? Theb to Ahwahnee, three to beam up.”  

Steldon chuckled. Lupulo groaned. Both utterances dissolved into an audible smear as they dematerialised into three tingling waves of energy. 

 


 

Felrak and Tursk were already seated at the conference table as the senior staff entered. First, Lieutenant Althaia Delfino, her station at the bridge making for only a short walk to her customary seat at the farther end. Dr. Lomal followed, engrossed in a PADD white coat flowing out from behind his long stride. Lieutenant Steldon was next, followed by Theb and Lupulo. The latter had still not shaken his expression of annoyance. A stony calmness fell over him, however, upon seeing a darkness in the eyes of both Captain and First Officer.  

“Now we’re all here,” Tursk cleared his throat, “We have grave news to report to you all.” A deathly silence filled the room. The four at the table who were not in the know glanced at each other furtively. Each silently reassured themself that they were not the only ones who had never seen the First Officer, dour at the best of times, speak with such apprehension, “This situation has been ongoing since February this year, but Fourth Fleet Command now considers it critical to the safety of the Federation for this to be dispersed throughout the entire fleet. In short, the Dominion have returned. We’ve received news that a Dominion fleet has overrun a large area of Federation space coreward of the Deneb sector.”   

Felrak, his elbows resting on the head of the table, lowered his eyes. Their darkness cut a strong contrast with the leaves and petals adorning the wall behind him. The closer the Argosian came to speaking, the more they seemed to wilt away, shying back from a coming storm. He had rehearsed the coming words but now, on the brink of their delivery, he felt them all too inadequate to convey the iron foreboding that lay, deep and with all the density of a quantum singularity in the pit of his stomach.  

“I had always hoped this day would never come,” Felrak found his voice. He spoke quietly. Nevertheless, the table hung on his every word, “The atrocities of the Dominion War are something I thought were behind us.  It’s small comfort that only Tursk and I are old enough to have been on active duty during those terrible years.” 

Theb, Lupulo and Lomal simultaneously felt their own stomach pits forming, although with a great deal more abstraction than those of Tursk and Felrak. Learning of the war from Academy classes and holoimages had given them some idea of the carnage. Lupulo cast his mind back to the devastated colonies, traumatised prisoners of war and smoking craters left behind by the Dominion’s last foray into the Alpha Quadrant. Cleaning up had been his first assignment, and it had been a sobering shock to the system after those heady days spent near graduation from the Academy.   

“But what about the armistice? The Treaty of Bajor?” Lupulo sputtered.  

A short, gruff laugh escaped Tursk, “I’m sure the Founders would consider such things quaint concepts for solids.” 

“So they’re just back without warning?” Sreyler added further incredulity to the mix, “We’ve got sensor relays pretty deep into the Gamma Quadrant, how were they not detected? How could they even make it through the Wormhole?” 

Felrak breathed in deeply, “The USS Caliburn has confirmed the Dominion fleet is not of a modern design. Ships appear to match exactly the same specifications as those encountered from 2373-75. Something has brought them here from the past.” 

“Great, we’ve got 25 years of tech development on them!” Lupulo leaned towards Felrak from across the table, “How are they so far into Federation space? 514 must be up there giving them hell.” 

“They’ve got help.” Tursk said, “Breen.” 

It was as if the air had been sucked out of the room. The emptiness where their stomachs had been now turned to lead. It was Dr. Lomal who broke the silence. The Bajoran’s deep voice calmly resonated throughout the greenified room, “Prophets help us.” 

“Indeed,” Felrak followed, “In fact, by assisting us in our previous confrontation with the Dominion, it appears the Prophets may have had a hand in all this.” 

Tursk took over, “That’s our best theory so far. From the Fourth Fleet’s intelligence reports, the Dominion fleet bears a striking resemblance to the one lost while transiting the Wormhole in 2374.” 

“I learned about this in Astrophysics,” Sreyler couldn’t help herself, “It’s the weirdest thing. Complete temporal and spatial displacement. Matter blinking out of existence. I mean, we’ve heard about things like Q slingshotting people across the universe, but a whole fleet disappeared… Honestly that Wormhole gives me the creeps. How can people even use it regularly?” 

“By being on the Emissary’s good side,” Dr. Lomal’s eyebrows crept their way up his shaved head as he smiled to himself.  

“The fleet may have blinked out of existence then,” Tursk had no time for mere musings, “But now it’s blinked back in. And as far as I know, we don’t have an Emissary of the Prophets to help us out this time.” 

Lomal frowned. Felrak jumped in quickly, “Emissary or no Emissary, the Fourth Fleet has received direct orders from Admiral Ramar to take a stand. We’ve also received word from Admiral Beckett that Starfleet Command itself may have been compromised. We are to trust no one outside the Fourth Fleet command structure. I cannot stress enough the importance of this message. Changelings have made their way to the heart of the Federation before, and we’ve come a long way in detecting them. If past experience is anything to go by, however, we cannot be too careful.”  

Althaia, silent up until now, took the opportunity to sum up what each non-veteran at the table was thinking, “How do we know Fourth Fleet Command isn’t full of changelings too?” A look of genuine puzzlement arranged itself across a usually indifferent face. 

Tursk grumbled, “Welcome to war with the Dominion. All we can do is use our best judgement. We’ve received orders through a chain of officers we know and trust.” 

“Those orders are to deploy a line of sensor buoys across Sectors 784, 5 and 6 near the Black Cluster,” Felrak continued seamlessly, “should the Dominion attempt to move deeper into Federation territory, we need an early warning system. It goes without saying that the fleet’s stretched thin. This should be enough to detect enemy warp signatures despite local magnetic interference from the Cluster.”  

Enemy. It had been a long time since Felrak had used that word. There weren’t many times it had rolled of his tongue as easily as this. Not since 2375, at least. His eyes lowered, palm still flat against the table. He could see the distorted reflection of his face in the glossy black surface. For him, 26 years was significant, but for them it was almost a quarter of a lifetime. Their smooth, unblemished appearances told stories of bravery and lives well lived; of surmounting incalculable odds. But did they know the brutality of the relentless foe that surged toward them, motivated no doubt by bloody demands of vengeance and tarnished honour? The foreboding in Tursk’s eyes showed he knew. The others? Felrak doubted it. They would have to learn the way he had learned. He’d had little use for such lessons on his home planet. The longer he travelled the stars, though, the more he lamented their violent inevitability. 

“Mr. Steldon, begin modifications of the sensor buoys to compensate for protostellar magnetic interference.” 

“Aye, sir.” 

“Lieutenant Delfino, lay in a course for Sector 784 and proceed at warp 8.” 

“Aye.” 

“Everyone else, begin preparations for hostile contact. Yellow alert.”  

Comments

  • I absolutely loved that opening paragraph, a really vivid description. The interplay between the two senior staff is a fun reminder that not all members of Starfleet are the charismatic individuals we see on screen, particularly when it comes to engineers. I'm interested to see how Felrak & Tursk will respond alongside this crew of non-war veterans and what their response to leading fresh blood into war will be. A really interesting start to the new story and I can't wait to see how it develops as they come into contact with the Dominion proper.

    May 20, 2023
  • What an opening! You have always had such a magical way with words, the way you manipulate them to make us picture what you see. When I say this next bit, I am deeply sincere: I hate poetry, but your writing is like a poem that I would make an exception for. I would imitate it, I would listen to it, and I would teach it. If I could. I continue to study your writing with great interest. And what a briefing, too! A range of characters is on display with some great interplay. I can't wait to see how each of them develops once they engage with reality for the first time. Fantastic work.

    May 20, 2023
  • Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Praise the Edo Guardian, because Ahwahnee has entered the Fleet Action! I may have quit the kit-bash club, but I'm still Felrak's number one fan. I'm loving the many dichotomies you're playing with here: Drinks and sass on the beautiful planet contrasted with the stark briefing aboard the starship. The somber tone of the Dominion War veterans versus the gossipy lightness of the younger department heads. Given your playfully descriptive prose, I can't even imagine what magic combustion is going to alight when you mix all these differences to combat the Dominion and the Breen!

    May 21, 2023
  • A wonderful description of how the planets sky looked. 'Maybe a plague of Peranian cuddle bunnies?' If only! You've certainly portrayed the varying moods and feelings of the crew some of which know all to well what the younger members may have to face in the near future.

    May 22, 2023