Part of USS Atlantis: What Price for Peace and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

What Price for Peace – 16

USS Atlantis
March 2401
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Captain’s Log, Stardate 78221.5

Atlantis is a day out from our rendezvous with the ships Captain Hor’keth and Commander Grel have both promised to assemble at short notice. If both men keep to their word, we won’t see them until we arrive. Still no word or idea on when Captain Kaltene will make herself available, but Tholians do have a reputation for the mysterious. I’ll call it a pleasant surprise when she does show up.

While I’ve instituted a communications blackout for outgoing messages, the bridge crew have been monitoring communications across the Deneb Sector while we’re in transit. No one has challenged us or Papakura, which I find somewhat suspicious. No doubt something I can thank Admiral Beckett for later. But what we’re hearing out there is just madness.

I think I’m in the same camp as Captain Sayil – I do not like this cloak-and-dagger bullshit.

 


 

“Why are we changing course?” the captain asked as she stepped out of her ready room.

“We picked up a distress call,” Gabrielle answered as she rose from the captain’s chair. She wanted to clear it for its rightful owner as quickly as she could. And from what she just heard, was glad for the captain’s quick return to the bridge. It had been only a few seconds between Ensign Tabaaha executing the course change and the captain’s reappearance anyway.

She knew what the captain’s orders had been, and knew the situation Atlantis racing towards, but she couldn’t just ignore a distress call. Especially not one of their own. She hadn’t even considered handing it up the chain. Order the course change, and deal with her superiors afterwards.

“Let’s hear it,” the captain asked and Ensign Williams nodded his head once, tapped at his controls and the message replayed for all to hear.

“Mayday, mayday, mayday! This is the USS Duntroon to any nearby vessels! We’re under attack by three Jem’Hadar raiders. We’ve lost wardrive and impulse –“ The message simply stopped.

“That’s all there is ma’am,” Williams said. “There’s no repeat and I’m only reading their transponder at this point. I’d guess their comm system is completely offline.”

“At present speed, we’re five minutes out,” Tabaaha supplied. “Redlining it ma’am we’ll be there in two.”

“Do it,” the captain ordered, then looked back at her. “Would you do the honours, Commander?”

She took a moment, gulped, and then drew in a breath. “Red alert! All hands to battle stations. Senior staff to the bridge!” She knew she didn’t sound nearly as confident as Commander Gantzmann had the other day. Hell, she was pretty sure she sounded very unconfident. But she’d been practising her commanding tone.

The captain just winked at her, then held out a hand. “I have the conn.”

“You have the conn,” she replied, handing over the keys. Then with a glance around, confirming no one else had just appeared, realised she was the next most senior officer on the bridge for now. “Um, I should –“

“Sit down,” Captain Theodoras suggested as she sat herself down, indicating Commander MacIntyre’s seat. “Calling your first red alert is…a thing.” The captain stumbled for words. “Catch yourself up, you’ve got a minute or so before Mac will want his seat.”

 


 

“Lieutenant! Lieutenant!” The screaming was coming from somewhere nearby. Or was it far away? It was mixed in with the shrill whine of alerts, the groaning of the ship’s hull, and the ringing in his ear.

“What?” he croaked out, coughed once, twice, clearing his throat. It was all coming back. The bridge of the Duntroon had been rendered into an abattoir by the pummelling of their pursuers. Shields had failed, then the engines. Then the Jem’Hadar ships had started to play with them, taking them apart piece by piece.

All he could see looking around the small bridge was death. He and only one other had survived when the bridge had been hit, their own consoles giving them cover and purchase against first the shock, then the vacuum before forcefields had snapped to life.

“There’s another couple of ships coming in. I can’t tell what though.” The other voice barked out. Ensign Carol Rankin, that was the young woman’s name. It had taken way too long to remember that. Better late than never, and just before more Dominion ships arrived to finish them off.

Through the massive rent in the front of the bridge, through the forcefield that offered no sort of magnification, or ability to show views other than straight ahead, he saw the double flash of two ships rapidly decelerating from warp speed. The streaks as they finished decelerating, resolving before the Duntroon far, far too close for comfort.

And not close enough at the same time.

One of the ships, a Sovereign-class cruiser, practically appeared right on top of the Duntroon, its gleaming hull alight with all of its running and spotlights on full display. It wasn’t the hundreds or thousands of kilometres away that he’d have thought it should have been. Or even tens of kilometres. Or a kilometre. It was close enough that he could read the words ‘United Federation of Planets Starship Atlantis’ along the ship’s flank as it glided right over his broken ship. Those letters were the height of an average person, yet he could make them out clearly. With his unaided eye.

The helmsman aboard that ship was either a genius or criminally insane.

And it was perhaps the single most beautiful thing in the universe right now to behold.

He caught the flaring of the ship’s shields as it weathered an attack by the fighters that had been picking at his ship. Then averted his eyes as he saw the ship’s phaser strips start to glow, her reply coming forthwith as orange spears of light lanced out across the void at now unseen attackers.

The Sagan-class ship that had arrived with Atlantis was almost an afterthought as it came up alongside Duntroon, spotlights popping into life and searching over the ship. The way it acted, cruising to a stop, searching over his ship, told him that Atlantis must have had the situation in hand.

Three attack ships against a cruiser designed to fight the Borg – it wasn’t a fair fight. It was about time Starfleet was the one dishing out the unfair fights.

“Comms?” he asked into the smoke, trying to remember where Rankin was.

“Gone completely,” she confirmed. He’d confirmed that for his captain not but a few minutes before. Before the bridge had been hit. Before he went from a mere science officer to commander of the Duntroon, or what was left of her.

He sighed, looking out the hole in the bridge, then around the bridge, eyes settling on Rankin. She looked as bad as he felt. Maybe worse. But the young woman was still at her post at Tactical, despite the ship having been crippled to the point they couldn’t even hurl insults.

Then he took in a deep breath. Someone had to give the order. “Abandon ship,” he said, “all hands to –“

His vision blurred, filling with bright blue light. For a moment he couldn’t move, couldn’t sense anything but light and sound, which quickly resolved itself into the clean, pristine and very full transporter room of another ship. Medical staff were waiting, as well as anyone they could rope into helping. “-escape pods,” he finished, though it had tapered off as those waiting rushed onto the padd, clearing everyone off as quickly as they could.

“You’re safe now,” one of them reassured him.

“Sickbay is this way,” another directed.

“Can you walk?” someone asked him, then handed him a corpsman as he nodded in the affirmative.

He was just out the door when he finally grabbed his guide’s arm. “Lieutenant John Cobb, I need to speak with your captain,” he said. “Now,” he followed up, this time as an order.

“Let’s get you to sickbay first sir,” the other man insisted, about his own age. But at his follow-up glare, the man amended this statement. “And I’ll call the captain down personally.”

 


 

“Two destroyed Jem’Hadar fighters, no damage to Atlantis. The third is still on sensors and running at full speed towards the Breen border,” Mac reported. “Ra’s finishing the engineering assessment on the Duntroon, but it’s not going to be good.”

Tikva had stood herself by the window looking out of her Ready Room and onto the wreckage of the USS Duntroon, hanging limply between Atlantis and Papakura. The little Saber-class ship was an absolute wreck. And all it brought to mind was her own previous experience commanding such a ship. A crew was small enough that everyone knew everyone pretty damn well. It always felt like you cross the ship in any direction in just a few steps.

Simpler times. Times before her own losses in combat even.

Duntroon’s starboard nacelle had been sheared right off the hull. The impulse engine assembly had been blasted so badly it was difficult to tell the port side engines had even been an impulse exhaust. The starboard assembly was just gone, exploding fusion reactors had consumed it, the ship saved only by emergency forcefields directing the brunt of the fireball when it would have happened.

There were at least three through-and-through breaches in the ship’s hull and she could make out the silhouettes of EV-suited personnel on what was left of the ship’s bridge. Of a crew of 95, Papakura had only rescued twenty survivors. They hadn’t even located all of the dead.

They likely never would.

“She’s a write-off,” she finally said, giving the ship one last look before turning her back on it. “We can’t spend time getting her back in operation and dragging her back to Deneb would take too long anyway.” She sighed. “Tell Captain Sayil he can stay and do a proper recovery of the dead aboard Duntroon, but then he needs to scuttle her and catch up. Papakura is faster than us, she’ll be able to make the rendezvous.”

“What about those they don’t recover?” he asked.

“Drop a buoy for a recovery team. But we’re not leaving a ship that could still have valuable technology or information aboard it for the Dominion to pick over. They can sift through an expanding plasma cloud if they want.”

“Lieutenant Cobb isn’t going to be happy.” Mac set his padd down with his report on her desk, saw the look on her face. “Cobb, the young science officer who’s the ranking survivor.”

“Oh, him. Well, I’m not happy either. Pass along my apologies to him, but Sayil has to scuttle that ship. I want us back at warp in five minutes.”

“Aye Cap,” Mac replied, stopping himself just before the door to the bridge opened. “Hey Cap, you and Gantzmann free for dinner tonight?”

“Why?” she asked.

“We’re going into this war tomorrow. Blake figures we could all do with a nice meal the night before to get our minds off of it.”

“I,” she started, stopped for a moment, then nodded her head. She’d been about to say no, but changed her mind. “Captain’s Mess?”

“Port Royal,” he replied. “Be seen by the crew, lift morale, convey our invincibility.”

“Lift spirits,” she added.

“Oh, I think we’ll be lifting some spirits for sure,” he said, then stepped that one more step, the door opening for him. “Nineteen hundred. Casual.”

Comments

  • So much to like about this story - the balancing of the fight with Starfleet finally able to tip the unfair tables back at the Dominion, even for a second. My favorite line was, "The helmsman aboard that ship was either a genius or criminally insane." The arrival scene was fun to read (to be honest, the entire thing was a blast to read) because it put me right inside the eyes and mind of a survivor seeing his savior ride to his rescue up close and personal - that feeling of relief for both character and reader is palpable. You want them to survive, and you want there to be a fist-pumping moment. The writing pays dividends there and so much more. Love it!

    June 8, 2023
  • There's always something so powerful about an officer's baby steps in the command track, and Gabrielle's first red alert was one of them! I appreciated that balance of Tikva's encouraging but still practical development style with her senior staff. I also have such nostalgia now for when I read the passing of the CONN keys! The contrast from such a heartwarming scene to the grizzly abattoir of the Duntroon's bridge was so effectively rendered. You put the narration deeply deeply into the perspective of the haggard bridge crew and that very much conveyed their injured and desperate mindset. And THEN you hit me with a moment of 4K widescreen awe with the arrival of Atlantis; I could picture it so beautifully from the way the way you described it.

    June 15, 2023
  • I love Gabrielle so much. She's an understated presence among some of the more colourful figures of Atlantis's cast, and I appreciate her gently racking up XP in the background. But it's Atlantis off to the rescue, and you paint the picture of desperation and salvation on the bridge of the Duntroon so well. These guys have come such a long way from a scrappy bunch on an Argonaut all those years ago; now they really are the Big Damn Heroes, and not just of the Deneb Sector.

    June 16, 2023