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Part of USS Apollo: Ready for Launch and USS Arcturus: Return to Farpoint

11. Guidance is Internal

USS Apollo
Stardate 2401.3
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Just before it was time to depart, Captain Gaudain emerged from his ready room and entered the bridge. Stanton and the rest of the bridge officers were already at their stations while Commander Rhodes oversaw their final systems checks from his seat at the science station. The bosun’s whistle sounded, and all eyes fell to him for a moment before they returned to their work. Gaudain stepped over to Rhodes first.

“How are things looking, Number One?” Gaudain asked.

“We’re green across the board, sir. Apollo is ready for departure on your orders,” Rhodes replied. He flicked a requisition order up on the screen. “Starfleet was also remarkably quick about approving your requisition for a Waverider-type shuttle.”

Gaudain chuckled. “Sometimes waiting for forgiveness is the way to go,” he said with a shrug.

The captain moved to the center of the bridge, stepping up onto the dais with his new seat. He sat down and ran his fingertips along the wood grain of the armrests, admiring the sense of design and detail that had gone into the new ship, with the same material adorning the helm console and railings around the bridge. The entire bridge module resembled the ones found aboard Constitution-class ships, with the central command area ringed by consoles. The room was open to a circular corridor that provided access to the ready room, conference room, turbolift, head, and a small armory. It wasn’t the design in vogue across the fleet, but Gaudain had requested it as a way of living out his fantasies of being on the frontier in the 2270s. He liked the arrangement that had him at the center but all of his officers within easy access for consultation—he would follow their advice, but at the end of the day, command decisions belonged to him.

“Ops, retract the blast door,” the captain ordered.

“Sure thing, sir,” Lieutenant Tasev replied.

The lieutenant was the most easy-going and positive Andorian that Gaudain had ever met, quick with a laugh and difficult to irritate. From the operations station on the port side opposite science, Tasev pressed the control to retract the sheet of ablative armor that backed the forward viewport. Simultaneously, the thick wall of aluminum became fully transparent to provide a ‘real’ view of the space in front of the ship.

“Mr. Knight, get me the control tower.”

“Y-yes, sir,” Knight replied, seeming startled by the order. The young ensign had warmed up to his role on the bridge, and Gaudain had ensured he didn’t lose his status by their move to a bigger ship, but he still had a lot of growth to do. “Channel open.”

“Tower, this is Apollo. Requesting departure clearance.”

“Clearance granted, Apollo. Allow ten seconds for port gates and then proceed ahead on vector gamma out of Avalon’s control zone,” the control tower responded.

“Lieutenant Stanton, clear all moorings and set thrusters to station-keeping,” Gaudain ordered. He could see the massive doors to the spacedock opening ahead of them. The sight made him smile, as this was now the beginning of their new adventure together. “Take us out. Aft thrusters.”

Slowly but surely, Apollo moved forward out of her berth and through the cavernous spacedock. It emerged into the light of the Avalon system after just a few moments, appearing like a tiny speck compared to the massive station. Up above from the main spacedock, an Odyssey-class ship was on her own journey out of port, meaning any wandering eyes were surely not on the more modest Apollo. Gaudain couldn’t be happier, though.

“Plot a course for Deep Space 17—,” he started, but Knight spoke up.

“Sir, incoming transmission from Fourth Fleet Command,” he reported. “We’re being redirected to Farpoint Station. There is a combined Breen-Dominion offensive underway in the Deneb Sector.”

Gaudain’s blood ran cold; the last time he was in the Deneb Sector, the previous Apollo had needed 2 months in spacedock. The last time he faced off against the Dominion, he’d lost everything. He allowed himself to breathe through that moment of anxiety, knowing that it was his duty to put a stop to whatever was going on out there. He looked at the back of Lieutenant Stanton’s head, wondering what feelings the young man had about going toe-to-toe with the race that had killed his father. There wasn’t time for that, though.

“Stanton, lay in a course for Farpoint. Maximum warp.”

“Course laid in,” Stanton replied without hesitation.

“So much for the easy shakedown cruise,” Gaudain said, settling back into his seat. “Hit it.”