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Part of USS Sovereign: Echoes of the Past

ONE: NEW ORDERS

The Triangle
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The stars twinkled outside the Captain’s Cabin on deck two as the USS Sovereign cruised through deep space at full impulse power following their latest confrontation with pirates in The Triangle.

The break in action afforded Captain Maddox a rare moment to collect his thoughts. With a generous crystal tumbler of Macallan 25-year-old scotch in hand, he perused through the latest reports from Starfleet Command with his piercing hazel eyes.

Just as he was about to dig into the intricacies of a diplomatic missive, his door chime rang. “Enter,” he commanded.

The main cabin door slid open to reveal Commander Xavier Callahan, his executive officer. His usually confident demeanor seemed slightly frazzled. “Captain,” he began, holding out a PADD, “we have just received new orders from Border Operations Fourth Fleet. We are being diverted to Starbase Eighty-Six.”

Maddox set down his glass and took the PADD from his executive officer, scanning the details. “This seems highly unusual, diverting us in the middle of an action.”

Commander Callahan paced the room, his eyes fixed on a point beyond the cabin’s walls. “That’s not all, sir. The orders suggest that we’re not just on a reconnaissance mission. There is… an envoy on Starbase Eighty-Six waiting for us.”

Captain Maddox frowned, his grip tightening on the PADD. “An envoy? From where?”

Xavier took a deep breath. “Unknown, Captain. But from the classified nature of these orders and the limited intel we have been given, they’re not from any of the major powers we’re familiar with.”

Maddox leaned forward, a hint of intrigue crossing his steely features. “Could it be a new civilization reaching out?”

“It’s possible,” Xavier replied. “But the orders also mention increased patrol activity from both the Klingons and the Romulans near the Triangle. They’re just as curious—or concerned—as we are.”

Maddox stood up, moving to the large window providing a panoramic view of the stars. “Starbase Eighty-Six is essentially a neutral ground, a crossroads. If there’s an envoy from an unknown civilization, it means they’ve chosen to make contact there for a reason.”

“Or,” Xavier added with a hint of unease, “they’ve been brought there for reasons unknown to us.”

Maddox turned back to face him, determination in his eyes. “We need to be prepared for any scenario, Commander. Diplomacy might be our preferred course of action, but we should be ready to show strength if needed.”

Xavier nodded, his gaze piercing. “Yes, Captain. We’ll approach this situation with all necessary precautions in place. But with Starbase Eighty-Six being a hub for many civilizations in the region, any aggressive move on our part might be seen as a provocation by multiple entities.”

Maddox sighed while passing the PADD back to Callahan. “I understand that, Commander. We will tread lightly. We have faced unknowns before, and we shall face them now with the same resolve.”

Xavier glanced at the PADD again. “There is another matter, sir. The orders specifically mention that only you are to meet with the envoy. No other officers or crew are allowed.”

Maddox raised an eyebrow. “A private audience? That’s peculiar. Anything else I should know?”

Commander Callahan hesitated, choosing his words carefully. “There is a note, Captain, encrypted with a code I’ve never seen before. It’s addressed to you.”

Maddox extended his right hand, and Callahan passed the PADD back to him. With a series of gestures, the captain accessed the encrypted note. As he read it, his eyes widened slightly, a reaction that didn’t go unnoticed by Callahan.

“Is everything alright, sir?” he inquired, his voice laced with concern.

Maddox seemed deep in thought for a moment, then locked the PADD and placed it on his desk. “It’s a name, Callahan. A name from my past. Someone I never expected to hear from again.”

Callahan waited, not pushing him further.

“We have our orders,” he finally said, his voice firm but with a hint of mystery. Instruct the Officer of the Deck to change course for Starbase Eighty-Six and increase speed to Warp 9. Also, make sure security is on high alert. If this envoy is who I think it is, our new mission just became far more complicated.”

The weight of the situation settled on both officers as they considered the implications. The Sovereign was headed into a rendezvous with the unknown, and for Captain Maddox, it seemed to be a collision course with his past.

Commander Callahan straightened his posture, his professional facade returning. “Understood, Captain. I’ll ensure everything is in order. We should be at Starbase Eighty-Six within four days at Warp 9.”

Captain Maddox nodded, “Very well, Commander. And Xavier,” he added softly, his guard momentarily down, “be ready for anything. We do not know what awaits us.”

Callahan gave him a reassuring smile, “Always am, sir.” With a crisp salute, he left the captain’s cabin.

The Sovereign surged forward, the stars becoming streaks of light as the ship entered warp speed. The crew members went about their duties, aware of the sudden course change but unaware of the full scope of the mission.

Within hours of the course adjustment, rumors swirled through the ship. Whispers in the lounges, questions in the turbolifts, hushed conversations in crew quarters. The crew of the Sovereign was accustomed to facing the unknown, but this situation felt different.

As the days passed, the ship’s communal areas filled with crew members discussing the recent developments. Theories and speculation ran rampant. Some believed they were on a first contact mission with an advanced civilization, while others whispered that Starfleet was brokering a new alliance with an unknown power to counterbalance the rising threats in the quadrant.

In the ship’s main officer lounge, Lieutenant Junior Grade Jaya, a young and eager science officer, was amid a heated debate with Ensign Dren, an older, more seasoned tactical officer. “Think about it,” Jaya insisted, “The Azure Nebula and the Triangle? It’s the perfect backdrop for a first contact scenario!”

Dren scoffed, swirling the contents of his drink. “You’re being naive. The Triangle is a hotbed of criminal activity. This could be a trap. And Captain Maddox’s reaction? There’s more at play here.”

Across the room, Commander Doctor Sandra Hackett listened to the various theories, occasionally offering her own insights. The ship’s counselor, Lieutenant Kim, approached her. “Tense atmosphere,” he observed.

“Uncertainty breeds anxiety. But it’s also a testament to the trust the crew has in Captain Maddox. The ship’s company is waiting to see how he’ll handle the situation.” Sandra said.

Kim sipped his tea thoughtfully. “And what about you? Any personal theories?”

Sandra smirked. “I have learned long ago not to jump to conclusions. But this mission will test us in ways we can’t yet imagine.”

Deep in the bowels of the ship, in Engineering, Chief Engineer Arjun Patel and his team were busy recalibrating the ship’s systems for maximum efficiency. The hum of the warp core echoed through the vast chamber, a reassuring lullaby for the engineers. “I want all systems checked and double-checked. If this mission turns south, I want Sovereign to be ready.” Patel ordered.

His new Assistant Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Rao, a thin woman with sharp features who joined the Sovereign following the Battle of Farpoint, looked up from her console. “Chief, we’ve been detecting anomalies with the ship’s sensors. Minor glitches, but they’ve been increasing in frequency.”

Patel frowned, “Keep an eye on it. I don’t want any surprises.”  

Back in the Captain’s Cabin on deck two, Captain Maddox sat deep in contemplation, occasionally glancing at the encrypted message. The name echoed in his mind, bringing forth memories he had long buried. Maddox replayed the decrypted message in his mind. Memories of an old mission, an uncharted planet, and an encounter that had changed him forever came flooding back. He had made a promise back then—a promise he had hoped he would never have to keep.

While Captain Maddox grappled with the shadow of his past, the Sovereign continued its journey through the dark expanse of space, each star a silent witness to the ship’s unspoken tensions. The captain’s contemplative silence echoed through the crew, their spirits equally hushed, anticipating the inevitable convergence of destiny and duty.The encryptions and codes seemed to dance before his eyes, but Maddox’s mind was adrift on the sea of memory. The name on the message had dredged up memories of a mission long sealed in the classified archives of Starfleet, a chapter of his life Maddox had believed conclusively closed. But the cosmos was vast and whimsical, often turning the pages of the past with an unexpected gust of stellar wind.

Decades ago, on a remote and unnamed planet, Maddox had encountered a being of extraordinary wisdom and power. This entity, whose name now reappeared in the encrypted message, had shared with him insights about the fabric of the universe and the delicate balance of forces governing it.

The entity had also warned him of a pivotal moment in the future, a celestial event of great significance that would require intervention to prevent catastrophe. Maddox had promised to heed the call if it ever came, though the years had gradually eroded the sharp edges of this commitment, leaving behind a faded echo in the recesses of his mind.Now, with the distant hum of the Sovereign as a backdrop, the echo resurfaced, growing louder and more insistent. The celestial event was nearing, and the universe waited for no one.

As the ship drew closer to Starbase Eighty-Six, Captain Maddox steeled himself for the impending rendezvous. The message was clear: the time had come to fulfill a promise made under the starlit canvas of a bygone era.

“Bridge to Captain Maddox.” The chime of the ship’s primary media circuit interrupted his thoughts.

“Go ahead, XO.” Maddox ordered.

“We are twenty minutes out from the Starbase’s outer markers.” Callahan reported.

“Acknowledged, Commander. I will be on the bridge in approximately fifteen minutes. Maddox, out.” Maddox closed the comm channel as he straightened his uniform.

Ten minutes later, Captain Maddox left his cabin. The ship’s atmosphere was dense with anticipation, the air vibrating with the invisible energy of a crew tuned to the silent frequency of uncertainty.

The captain made his way to the bridge, his steps measured, echoing through the silent corridors of the vessel. Each step synchronized with the pulsing heart of the ship, the warp core’s gentle thrum harmonizing with the cadence of duty and destiny.

“Captain on the Bridge!” all eyes subtly turned towards him, flickers of questions dancing in the depths of irises, immediately veiled by the mask of discipline and respect. Commander Callahan stood beside the captain’s chair, radiating composed alertness.

“We are six minutes from the starbase’s outer markers, Captain,” Callahan reported, his voice steady, yet Maddox could sense the undercurrent of curiosity threading through his tone.

“Acknowledged, Commander,” replied Maddox, his gaze fixed on the star-studded canvas unfolding before them on the main viewscreen. “Stand ready to drop out of warp.” Maddox ordered as he sat in his chair just forward of the Master Situation Display.

“Aye, Captain.” Lieutenant Junior Grade Grace Kim, Sovereign’s Navigator, responded from the helm.

The minutes ticked by, each feeling like an eternity as they closed in on the starbase. The crew worked efficiently, every officer and crewmember acutely aware of their responsibilities, but the weight of the unknown hung thick in the air.

As the ship prepared to drop out of warp, a soft hum reverberated through the vessel. The stars, which had been elongated lines of light, began to take their familiar shape, signifying the end of their warp journey. As the ship settled into normal space near the Starbase’s outer markers, the massive structure of Starbase Eighty-Six loomed ahead, its lights sparkling like a jewel against the vast backdrop of space.

“Open a channel to starbase operations.” Maddox ordered as he leaned back in his chair.

“Channel open, sir.” came the timely response.

“Starbase operations, this is Sovereign Actual: Requesting permission to close and assume parking orbit.”

A few seconds passed before a crisp voice responded from the other end. “Sovereign Actual, this is Starbase Eighty-Six Operations. Permission granted. You are cleared to approach and assume a parking orbit in Sector 3, Position 4.”

“Understood, Starbase. Sovereign Actual out,” Maddox acknowledged. He turned to his navigator, “Take us in, Navigator.”

“Aye, Captain. Time to parking orbit is seventeen point three minutes at one-quarter impulse,” Kim replied, expertly adjusting the ship’s speed and trajectory.

The massive starbase grew more prominent as the Sovereign approached, revealing intricate designs and the myriad ships from various civilizations docked or hovering nearby. Starbase Eighty-Six was a crossroads for the region, where countless species and vessels converged for trade, diplomacy, or other undisclosed reasons. The closer they got, the clearer it became just how bustling and vibrant the hub truly was against the backdrop of the Azure Nebula.

As the Sovereign settled into its designated position, the crew was set into a flurry of activity as her main deflector and warp nacelles were powered down. Systems were checked, reports were finalized, and preparations were made for the captain’s impending meeting.

Commander Callahan approached the captain’s side just forward of the Captain’s Chair. “Sir, I’ve organized a security detail for your departure. Even though you’re the only one meeting with the envoy, Starfleet protocols demand a security presence for such high-profile meetings.”

Maddox nodded, “Very well, Commander. Make sure they’re discreet. We don’t want to appear confrontational.”

Xavier replied, “Aye, sir. They know how to maintain a low profile.”

Maddox took a deep breath, trying to steady his racing thoughts. The name in the encrypted message had not left his mind since he first read it. What could this being, from a past mission he had tried so hard to forget, want with him now? And why here, in such a public and multifaceted hub?

“Captain,” Xavier’s voice, edged with concern, broke through his thoughts, “Is there anything you can share with me before you go? Anything that might help in case… well, in case things don’t go as planned?”

He hesitated momentarily, weighing the pros and cons of revealing too much. Finally, he met Callahan’s gaze, “The envoy is likely someone I encountered almost fifteen ago on a classified mission when I commanded the Sizemore. They provided me with information crucial to averting a major interstellar incident. In return, I made a promise I had hoped I would never have to keep. If things go south, I added some details in a secure file on my personal PADD. Access it if necessary.”

Commander Callahan looked taken aback by the gravity of his words but nodded, “Understood, Captain. We’ll have your back out here.”

Maddox gave a rare slight smile, appreciating the unwavering loyalty of his crew. “Thank you, Commander. Have Transporter Room One on standby. I shall head over to the starbase in ten minutes.”

“Aye, sir.” Callahan acknowledged.

As Captain Maddox prepared to beam over to the starbase, the weight of the past and the uncertainty of the present pressed heavily on him. But Sovereign and his crew were a testament to Starfleet’s ideals – exploration, diplomacy, and the pursuit of knowledge. And so, with the stars as his witness, he would face this enigmatic chapter from his past, whatever it may bring. 

Comments

  • A wonderful post of mystery and this post turns up a lot of questions, who is this entity, what was the message about and why the secrecy? The crew is on the edge of their seat, and so am I. Well done! Looking forward to more :D

    October 11, 2023