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Part of USS Constellation: Nothing Comes From Being Right and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

From Being – 2

USS Constellation, Bridge
March 2401
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“We’ve lost all deflector shields, captain,” Security Chief Ache reported.  The Osnullus officer briefly ducked behind her bridge console when an electro-plasma conduit in the overhead exploded, showering sparks on where she had been standing.  Despite that bother, Ache never took her hands off her holographic tactical controls.

“Two shield generators on the secondary hull have been completely destroyed,” Ache continued.  “Backup generators are non-responsive.”

Unphased by the rocking of the deck, Ensign Cellar Door’s anti-gravity boots allowed him a perfect hover above his flight controls.  Neither the sense of calm in his voice, nor the relative stillness of his exocomp body, were reflected in his wild piloting of Constellation through the multi-pronged attack of the Dominion battle group.  Through the viewscreen, one beetle-shaped Jem’Hadar fighter continually replaced another as Cellar Door dodged them and many of their phased polaron strikes.

“Structural integrity field is holding,” Cellar Door said in a reassuring tone.

Nova, on the other hand, was plainly speaking from her heart.  Her adjustments to the operations console were input frantically.  She wasn’t as adept as Ache at holding her attention when the bridge rocked from side to side with every strike from the Jem’Hadar attack.

“Hull breaches on deck three,” Nova said.  “And four.  And five!  Emergency forcefields have engaged.”

Seated at the forward science station, Lieutenant Nune couldn’t hide the distress in his own voice when he said, “Reports coming in of twelve casualties and, uh, two crew members unaccounted for.”

“Captain!” Ache interjected stridently.  “I recommend immediate retreat.”

Nova was quick to plead, “No-no-no, we can’t do that.”

Taking it all in, Taes rose from her command chair and took a step forward.  She vaguely heard Ache say something like, “incoming,” and a torpedo exploded in an expanding flare of light, not far beyond the transparent viewscreen.  Taes’ boot slipped and she fell to her knees, banging down the steps of the command platform.  She braced her palms on the deck, narrowly preventing her fall from resulting in her smacking her face into the deck.

“I don’t take recommendations blindly, commander,” Taes said, even before she got herself back up on her feet.  “Tactical report!”

While aiming and firing the ship’s phaser turrets, Ache said, “Two Jem’Hadar fighters are retreating from our position to– they’re– they’re headed for the Kholara Observatory.”

Sweeping an index finger at their view of the observatory through the viewscreen, Taes ordered, “Mister Door, take us within ten-thousand kilometres of the observatory.  Maintain evasive patterns; full impulse.”

There was an odd inflection in Ache’s voice when she spoke up, a hesitancy Taes wasn’t accustomed to hearing.  All six of her eyes landed on Taes for a full three seconds before Ache returned to multi-tasking with the tactical controls.

“Respectfully,” Ache said, “May I remind you, we cannot establish a transporter lock while our subspace transceivers are shut down.”

Incensed at being questioned over basic starship operations, Taes insisted, “We can buy them time!  Your orders are to destroy those fighters, commander.”

There was no hesitation.  “Quantum torpedo spread, aye,” Ache said.

Ache may have been subtly keeping watch over Taes’ responses, but Taes could see Nova shooting blatant glares in Ache’s direction.

“We’re going to bring the away team home,” Nova said.  “Right, captain?  I’m signalling shuttle bay one to prepare for emergency landing procedures.  Opening bay doors now.”

Taes stepped closer to the viewscreen, watching Constellation’s phasers deftly lashing out at the Jem’Hadar fighters.  Coming to stand behind Nune’s chair, he glanced back at her.  Despite Taes’ somewhat empathic abilities and Nune’s Betazoid telepathy, her own nervous system was too overstimulated to sense what Nune was feeling.

“We’re all alone out here,” Nune said gently.  “Bravo Fleet is spread thin across the Deneb Sector.  Fleet Intelligence confirmed our suspicions this morning: this isn’t the entirety of the lost fleet.  There are thousands more Jem’Hadar ships… somewhere.”

To Nune’s right, Cellar Door shouted out, “Look!  One of the fighters is veering off.  Cowards!  Ache took our their engines, but good.”

Her voice a hard matter-of-fact, Ache reported what was blinking on her tactical scanners.  “The observatory has raised its shields and its defence platform is cycling online.  Captain, the observatory is targeting us!

“If we don’t locate the origin point of the lost fleet, the Dominion could unleash it upon us,” Nune said softly.  “And we’ll never find it if we’re–“

Taes whispered back, “Twelve casualties.  Two unaccounted.”

She didn’t know if Nune heard her over Ache announcing, “Captain, we can’t take much more of this assault.”

“Mister Door, set course for the Yelika system; maximum warp,” Taes said.  Turning back to the captain’s chair, Taes murmured to herself, “They have the runabout.”

Since taking command of starships, Taes had been prone to declare a whimsical, ‘Let’s find out,’ as the punctuation to her orders to set a course and go to warp.  It didn’t always make literal sense in every situation and there had been many a day she had twisted her orders into an awkward shape to deliver the ‘Let’s find out.’  Now and then, the crew seemed to chuckle even louder when she phrased the setup like a particularly befuddled Pakled.  But she wasn’t captaining a simple science ship anymore.

So, Taes said, “Engage.”

Comments

  • The stakes keep getting more and more. I like the back-and-forth with the characters on the bridge - there's a lot of emotion coursing through all of them in this story. This battle is hard and isn't letting up - but they keep fighting and finding ways to go on. The ship is taking a pounding, but so is the crew emotionally and psychologically. I really loved that last paragraph where she references her catchphrase and how it's been used...but now it wouldn't fit so she has to accept what kind of a ship she is running and the situation they've found themselves in. Just the right amount of tension here and some solid character moments to revel in. Looking forward to the next one!

    May 22, 2023
  • I don't know why, but Ache is really irritating me. I feel like she's too cautious to serve with these daredevils that we know and love. But, behind that caution is a great Starfleet officer, just trying to do her best for the crew as you raise the stakes yet again. Leaving behind the away team to complete their mission is the nightmare scenario for any commander, but Taes makes the decision with relative ease; she knows the stakes better than anyone, so it is the right call. Some great character work and interchanges, and we see you letting each of them have their moment which is important in a crew like this. We've talked so many times about getting character mixes correct, and I think yours is damn near perfect. Can't wait to see what happens in the next story.

    May 23, 2023
  • I really, really enjoyed the emotive description of this combat over the nuts-and-bolts that way to much writing would have taken. I felt more in touch with these characters, what was going through their hearts and minds instead of what the ship was doing and how well. It gave an emotion pressure as to how the fight was going by how everyone was reacting. Taes' order to abandon the field, to take her people and ship and save as many as she could there and then was a hit. One I have no doubt is going to weigh with her for awhile.

    May 24, 2023
  • Gosh, I loved this. The details of the fight are irrelevant; Constellation is outgunned and outmanned, and the crew know it. So this is a delight as we move through everyone's feelings, everyone's responses to this unwinnable situation and the desperation. Ache is the necessary voice of reason when the odds are stacked THAT desperately against them, Nova is the voice of hope, and Nune is a bit of both - there is a bigger picture here to stop the Lost Fleet, but that higher duty doesn't make them less SCREWED if they stick around. You can taste Taes's impulses and thoughts as she wrestles with a decision that honestly feels inevitable, but it's a delight getting there. As a story, the particulars of the fight doesn't matter - the feelings do. Perfect.

    May 28, 2023