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

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

USS Amundsen
March 2401
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-San Francisco Fleet Yards-

The few remaining worker bees gracefully swept themselves away from the bow of the ship and she began to awaken after a very long slumber.  Below the ship’s bow, the deflector dish glowed a soft blue, steadily growing brighter as the warp core sent power flooding through the ship. The Rhode Island class’ nacelles, sitting a dull grey for months now, showed signs of coming to life while her bussard collectors already glowed a fiery red. 

“Warp core at 98% of predicted norms. Pressure in the dilithium chamber is registering normal, warp core reaction chamber is steady at 2,000 kilopascals. Magnetic interlocks are showing normal as well. I’d say we are ready.”

Broheth looked over at Valstrom. “Excellent! Thank you, Ensign.” He turned to Lisert “Alright lieutenant, open up the interlocks and bring the plasma injectors online.”

The Bajoran man nodded and tapped away at the console in front of the warp core. A light click was heard as the interlocks released and the floors hummed as drive plasma began to flow from the core. “All systems normal. Warp coils are coming online, nacelles are showing stable power levels. The ship-wide EPS system also responds normally; we no longer draw power from the space dock.”

Broheth grinned, clapping Lieutenant Anderson on the back. “Excellent work everyone! From my understanding the Captain will take us to high warp almost immediately so until we reach Starbase 72 everyone is on rotating 4 hours duty shifts keeping an eye on every inch of this ship.”


-Bridge-

Clara sat in the captain’s chair, monitoring the steady stream of status reports that were flowing in. CPO Westland had reported moments ago that all the yard personnel had disembarked, which meant the large contingent of officers running around the bridge all belonged to the Amundsen. The last several hours had been a flurry of problems, both with the ship getting ready to depart weeks early, and personnel trying to get back in time. They had the bare minimum amount of staff to run the ship until they arrived and Starbase 72; Clara could only hope they ran into few issues along the way.

“Broheth to Bridge.”

Clara looked up from the PADD in her hand. “This is the bridge. Are my engines warmed up and ready to go?”

“Aye, ma’am. The warp nacelles are online, impulse fusion generators are online, the ship is running on its own power and we’re showing green on critical systems. I would caution that most of these systems haven’t been stress tested yet and while we have most of the supplies needed to carry out emergency repairs, we have our limits. I would avoid a firefight if we can.”

“No worries Commander; I have no intention of taking the ship into a combat situation unless absolutely necessary. All I’ll need is for you to keep those warp engines humming just in case we need to run away from trouble.”

“I’ll work that engineering magic ma’am, don’t you worry about that. Broheth out.”

Clara turned to Conklin, currently at the science station. “How are we doing in the other departments?”

“All supplies, or at least what we could get on in time, are loaded and stored. We could only get a dozen photon torpedoes onboard but security is reporting a fully stocked armory. Sickbay says they have everything they need. Anything else will need to be loaded onto the ship at Starbase 72. All departments are reporting systems are running at full capacity however very few have been tested in any way.”

Clara nodded. “I’ll take it.” She tapped a few buttons on the armrest, the comm alert whistle sounding throughout the ship. “All hands, this is the captain. Prepare for immediate departure.” She turned to the Ensign sitting at the comm station. “Have we received our pre-departure clearance?”

The Trill turned towards Clara. “Aye ma’am, roughly 20 minutes ago.”

“Mr. Tyris, ensure all airlocks are sealed, clear all tractor moorings, and engage all exterior lights.”

Tyris tapped a few commands into his console and was greeted with a soft chirp after a few moments. “Done, ma’am. We’re good to go.”

Carla turned back towards the Ensign as comms. “Signal dock control for departure.”

She nodded and opened a channel to dock control, tapping on the request into her console. A few moments later a confused look crossed her face. “They are denying us permission to depart. They’re stating that our orders to depart are subject to verification.”

A look of confusion crossed Clara’s face. “Verification? Put dock control on screen; I didn’t just get everyone out of bed just to be told no.”

Clara stood, tugging at her uniform top, as a red-shirted Ensign appeared on the screen. “May I help you?” He was curt, almost hostile sounding. 

“This is Captain Myers of the Amundsen and I am being told that my departure clearance is being denied; I would like an explanation.” She would typically take a more amicable tone but he had already started the conversation hot; plus she was hoping to lay on a little of the ‘my 4 pips outweigh your 1 pip, so sit down and listen’ strategy.

The Ensign’s tone did not change. “Your orders are being verified. Starfleet Command has not given you permission to depart; you will not leave until that is done.”

The 4 pip strategy had failed, clearly. “I am not concerned with Starfleet Command’s whims or desires; we have direct orders from Admiral Ramar and I fully intend to follow them. If you disagree then you’re welcome to contact him personally, though I don’t imagine he’d be all too thrilled with the conversation. If he doesn’t answer, you’re welcome to try Fleet Captain Vehl. Hell, you can wake Admiral Janeway up for all I care and complain to her. I don’t care; lives are at risk and we’re leaving.”

An air of tension settled on the Bridge. Expect for Conklin and Westland none of those present on the bridge had ever served with her. It wasn’t every day that you watched your new Captain spar with a junior officer.

The Ensign leaned forward. “Your orders are not verified; Starfleet Command is in the business of making sure its ships are crew aren’t being sent on fools’ errands. You will power your ship down and remain in the dock.” The Ensign jammed a finger on the panel on his desk and the line went dead.

Clara turned towards Conklin. “Tell me I’m not the only one that thought the was bizarre.”

Conklin shrugged. There was little he could offer in the way of an explanation; he was a science officer and anytime he talked with Starfleet Sciences it was always mind-numbingly boring. “He seemed to be acting a little above his station but it wouldn’t be the first time an Ensign went on a power trip. It all strikes me as quite odd.”

The Lieutenant at ops cleared his throat. “Ma’am? Should I reestablish the tractor moorings and tell engineering to shut done the warp core?”

Clara let out a soft sigh. She had her orders, that much was clear, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong and a warning kept running through her head. ‘Trust only the Fourth Fleet’. Never once had she contemplated going against any sort of order she’d been given. It went against everything she had ever been taught, been told. At this exact moment, though, her gut was telling her something else. Decades of experience were telling her something else. It was telling her to run.

She made her choice.

“Negative, Lieutenant.” She turned and sat back down in her chair. “Mr. Lamtree, do we have a clear path through space traffic to reach the minimum distance to safely warp out the system.”

The blonde-haired man at the helm turned to face her, a quizzical look on his face. “Aye, ma’am. This time of night is pretty quiet.”

“What I am about to ask of you is, seemingly, in direct violation of our orders from Starfleet Command. Earlier today Fourth Fleet Command issued emergency orders related to what is going on in the Deneb Sector.” She paused, trying to find a way to break the news in a more calm, less panic-inducing way, but it didn’t come to mind. “The Dominion has invaded the Debeb Sector.”

A low murmur spread through the Bridge; the helmsman speaking first. “How? Deneb is a large distance away from the Bajor system.”

“I don’t have those answers” Clara replied. “I know FNN and Starfleet Command have been insisting that this is nothing more than a minor Breen incursion and we have the situation under control but that is so far from the truth. Multiple colonies, and multiple systems, have fallen to the Dominion and the Breen. As a rapid response vessel, our orders are to investigate three colonies that have gone dark, help if we can, and report the data back to Forth Fleet Command so that can determine what resources to place in the area. These people need our help and Starfleet Command seemingly doesn’t care; I can’t tell you why. I can tell you that as Starfleet officers it is our duty to respond to this incursion and help those people. I will not stand idly by and watch as they are slaughtered by the Jem’Hadar or taken as slaves by the Breen. Whatever reason Starfleet Command has for delaying us is inconsequential to me and I will take full responsibility for ordering our departure but we’re leaving, even if I’m the one flying this ship to SB-72 myself.”

She could see the gears turning in the heads of each one of them. While she didn’t know the details of every single person on the bridge she knew that she was likely the only one who had ever dealt with the Dominion firsthand, seen the atrocities they could commit. She would do whatever was necessary to keep war from arriving on the doorstep of the Alpaha Quadrant again.

The officer at ops spoke first. “We remain unmoored to the station and all systems go for departure, ma’am”

The helm officer turned around, his hands tapping at the console. “Thrusters ready for departure at your command Captain. Impulse and warp speed both show green.”

She felt some of the tension drain from her as the other officers on the bridge quickly resumed their duty. “Excellent. Lieutenant Lamtree, take us out, thrusters ahead full.”

“Aye man, thrusters ahead full.”

The Rhode Island class ship rumbled to life, her rear thrusters firing in the silence of space as she slowly crept forward. To the casual observer, it was nothing out of the ordinary, minus the unusual hour. On the bridge, everything went as normal as Clara watched the screen next to her chair show the ship slowly moving out of the dock with no issues. The silence was interrupted by a shrill chirp from the tactical station.

“Captain, the USS Shenandoah is on an intercept course.”

“Lamtree, can we accelerate to impulse yet?” Carla knew her Rhode Island class vessel could outpace the Shenandoah if they could get to impulse quickly.

“Negative ma’am, we’re barely clear of docking spines, and the Shenandoah will intercept us and block our path before I can get us into position to safely accelerate.”

“Damn it.” She muttered to herself. “All stop and place them on screen” Disobeying an order from dock control was one thing but she wasn’t about to do anything that could harm another ship or her crew.

The blonde man nodded and tapped a few keys. “Answering all stop.” The blank wall that held the holographic viewscreen shimmered before activating and showing the large Excelsior II class ship quickly sliding in front of the Amundsen and blocking her path. 

“Hail them.” It took a few moments before the CO of the Shenandoah appeared on screen. He looked to be mid 40’s and, like everyone else right now, looked rather perturbed to be awake at this time of night. Considering his age, the class of ship he commanded, and the fact the ship was assigned one of the easiest patrol assignments in the fleet, he hadn’t had that fourth pip on his collar long. 

“This is Captain Reston of the USS Shenandoah. You are in violation of your orders from Starfleet Command. Return to dock. Immediately.”

“Please to meet you, Captain Reston. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

The man looked as if he was about to roll her eyes at her. “I don’t think you have much of a choice Captain.”

Clara smiled, standing up. “You are correct Captain Reston, I don’t have much choice. The one with a choice here is you.”

He let out a sigh, his Vulcan XO eyeing Clara with a quizzical look. “Captain, neither one of us has time for this at this godforsaken hour.”

“Captain, I respect the orders you’ve been given but you and I both know that this is highly unusual. My orders are only being questioned because they are coming from Forth Fleet Command and there is some ridiculous turf war going on.” Clara turned and walked over to her command chair, tapping a few commands into the console next to it. “My orders are to assist 3 colonies in the Deneb Sector that have been attacked by the Dominion and Breen. 1,321 lives across those three colonies. 1,321 lives that may be dying or are being enslaved as we speak. We’re both Starfleet officers; you know just as well as I do that sitting here and doing nothing is not an option.”

Renton shifted in his chair, clearly becoming uncomfortable. “You know just as well as I do that the only issue in the Deneb Sector is a small Breen incursion that is well under control. I ask you again, return to the dock. Make this easy Captain, on both of us.”

Clara paused. Renton was plainly uncomfortable, if not a little nervous. She wasn’t sure why though. A cold feeling started to spread in her stomach; what if he was acting that way because he was under orders to stop their departure by force if necessary? Clara chastised herself silently. There was no way that Starfleet would order one ship to fire on another; she couldn’t let any paranoia that crept up get the best of her.

“Captain, a moment ago I transmitted my orders to your ships. Look at them for yourself and tell me I’m wrong. People are suffering. Federation citizens are suffering. I won’t be able to answer all the questions as to why command is ignoring this but you have to recognize things have been odd for months now. Some of the orders I’ve seen don’t make sense. You know, I know, a lot of captains know it. I don’t ask you to do this lightly; Starfleet may have changed these last few years but we hold tight that spark of what it was before. We have a duty.”

Renton rubbed his palm across his forehead. “Stand by.”

The screen changed back to the inky view of space, the port side of the Shenandoah taking up most of the screen. Clara let out a sigh as she planted herself in her command chair, Alex walked over from the Science station and sat next to her in the XO’s chair. “Did you really send over all our orders? Was that wise considering what was in there?”

Clara inhaled sharply. “I didn’t send him everything; just the reader’s digest version. It should be enough to spook him without giving away the whole goat for free.”

Alex eyed her, bemused. “Goat?”

Clara shrugged, a small smile on her face. “It’s an expression Commander. Not the best but it’s after midnight so take what you can get.”

Alex let out a soft snort. “Aye, Aye ma’am.”

Minutes ticked by, seemingly an eternity, as the anxious feeling in Clara’s stomach grew.

“What are we going to do if they won’t relent?” Queried Alex soft enough that nobody else would hear.

“We back ourselves up into the dock and I wake up every Admiral I can find in San Francisco for a group call with Fourth Fleet Command.” She crossed her legs, a nervous habit she’d had for years. “I’m not about to escalate this beyond how far it’s already gone.”

Alex gave a soft hum of approval as he relaxed into the chair. The minutes continued to tick by before the near silence on the bridge was interrupted by a shrill beep. 

“Captain, the Shenandoah is moving.”

Clara looked up to see the Shenandoah slowly accelerate, veering starboard and upward.

Lamtree was the next to speak up. “They are getting out of the way Captain. I’ll have a clear path in 13 seconds if they continue on their present course.”

Clara let out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding and leaned forward. “Thank you Captain.” she said softly. “Mr Lamtree, the moment the way is clear, punch it.”

He nodded, hands flying across the console. “Aye, ma’am, punching it.”

The Rhode Island Class vessel sprinted forward under the full power of her thrusters. Less than a minute later her impulse engines began to glow a deep red as she accelerated to near full impulse.

Alex leaned over. “Is this the point where I pretend to be a good acting XO and remind you that you are breaking the speed limit around Earth?”

“I’m sure they can add it to the list of infractions I have committed today.”

Alex leaned back towards his chair, a bemused smile on his face. “Good point.”

“We have have reached the edge of the impulse zone Captain, warp drive available on your command.” Reported Lamtree.

“Plot a corse to Starbase 72 and engage at warp 9.”

“Aye, ma’am. Taking up to warp.”

The entire bridge crew was looking forward at this point, ready to be on their way. As Lamtree’s fingers tapped in a quick set of instructions a bright light burst forth on the view screen as the ship slipped into subspace, the black of space replaced by streaks of blue. “We have achieved Warp 9 ma’am. Warp systems appear stable.”

“Excellent, I won’t argue with that.” Clara turned to the ops officer. “Any sign of issues cropping up anywhere?”

The man nodded. “A few here and there but nothing impacting vessel operation in a significant wait. We’ll tackle them before we reach 72.”

Clara nodded. At this point a great deal of the tension that most everyone had felt had finally started to melt away but it didn’t take a Betazoid to realize everyone was still on edge. She wanted to do more, give them some sort of information to reassure them, but right now she couldn’t risk bringing them to much in the loop. There were still a few people on the ship whose final destination was SB 72 and she couldn’t bring herself to trust them, not after what just happened.

“Commander Conklin, you have the Bridge. I’ll be in my Ready Room.”

“Aye ma’am.”

Clara stood, giving her stiff limbs a small stretch and walked towards the Ready Room. She told herself that she should try and get some rest but she knew rest would not come, even if she tried; it was hard to shake the feeling the worst was yet to come.