Untitled Book

By MC Spangler

 
             

ACCIPITER XO‑01

Beta Quadrant Sector Alpha 4.3126

(Near the Romulan Neutral Zone)

22790606 0123 hrs

 

The ship rocked hard to port and dropped a half meter leaving the crew flailing in the air for a brief moment of zero gravity till the Gravity unit had a chance to reboot and establish itself.  In that time, several of the 16 crew members aboard her suffered breaks of bones and sprains from falls or simply colliding with items on the ship.

On the bridge, there was utter turmoil.  Most of the command systems were down or marginally operating.

The Tactical and navigation station, responsible for the integrity and movement of the entire ship, were inoperative, showering a new effect of sparks and smoke each time the ship took another near fragmentation hit, both officers having been moved to the rear bridge deck to await assistance from the medical officer Lt. Dick Hickory who was presently racing from the bridge to engineering and back to treat the wounded.

The defense station was working to some extent though only marginally operational and the main imaging viewer had been out for some time which was probably the most frustrating part of all the damage since visualization of the combat scene outside the ship had been rendered unavailable with its loss. The weapons, strategic center and helm were the only stations still unaffected.  For the moment, they could fight.

As for engineering, one of the two pylon transfer tubes used for getting to and from the engineering section was open to space and unusable having taken a hit by the unexpected attack before the shields could be raised. The other was still functioning but who knew for how long?   Shields were still functioning as well, albeit at 65%, and the illegal and undisclosed, cloaking system, the backbone of the defensive stature of the ship, was unbelievably, untouched despite the heavy barrage of fire recently delivered. The warp core, the heart of the maneuvering system, was offline completely due to a massive power surge delivered early in the ambush and would take hours to bring back online much less warm up for operation.  Crew members were racing all over the engineering bay, maintaining operation of what ever equipment they could, but the future didn't look good for the USS Accipiter.

Back on the bridge, LtCmdr. Mark Allows was not seated in his command chair.  He was, in fact, at the Weapons station, having recently been abandoned when Lt. Dickens suddenly lost half of her hand and most of her right shoulder after part of the adjoining station bulkhead blew away in a sudden explosion.

"Chang"!! Allows shouted above the din of noise and confusion. "Have you got helm control yet"?!!

"No Sir! Lt. Chang Linn, his helm and navigation officer shouted back. “Not yet!  Engineering says another couple minutes!"

"We aren't going to get another couple minutes!" Allows replied in frustration. "That last charge was only 60 meters off our starboard Nacelle.   The next volley that damned bastard makes is gonna sit the charge right on our hull, cloak or no cloak!!

Dallas!!” He called out to the comm system.

"Still here Sir!" Lt. Frank Dallas, his 1st Engineering officer shouted back from Engineering.

"Frank. If you don't restore any kinda of power to my helm in about 30 seconds, you won't be!!” Allows responded with not a little sarcasm.  "Where's my warp drive!!!"

Even though the attackers couldn't actually see the vessel they were firing at, they didn't have to.  They apparently knew approximately where the Accipiter was and all that was left after immobilizing her was to lay down enough charges in the general area till they got a good, substantial hit.

"We're working on it as fast as we can sir.  We have impulse power coming on line now though.”

"Chang!!"  Allows barked out breaking the connection suddenly.  "Get us the hell out of here!!"

"Impulse on line sir!  Where to?" Chang responded.

"Anywhere but here!  232 mark 280 Now!!"

Chang’s fingers flew over the control surface and the Accipiter lumbered slowly to port and down and began to invisibly glide away at impulse speed just as the unknown attackers reached out with another salvo of timed charges to the spot where the Accipiter had been just a few seconds ago.

That last shot would have detonated within 10 meters of the hull most assuredly causing a breach had the impulse engines not come on line but despite the missed shot, the Accipiter rocked hard from the fragmentation shock and Lt. Vorshwin, the ship’s strategic officer, was thrown nearly half way across the bridge in the ensuing blast that at last crippled the ship.

"I've lost impulse power Sir!  We're adrift now".  Chang shouted.

"Bridge, I've lost the impulse engines." Dallas voice shouted through the comm system. "That last charge took out the Impulse Amplification Crystal and it’ll be days before I can get the warp engines up again!"

"How long till you can restore impulse power?" Allows responded.

"I don't know that I...." His voice trailed off. After a moment he continued "Sir, we've got a problem back here...."

"Dallas!  What's going on back there?!!"

His concentration was broken when the defense officer, Lt. Mica Borguson suddenly turned to face him and called out hysterically.

"Intruder on board sir!!   Sir. We've got an intruder on board!!"

Allows face dropped nearly to his chest and his heart sank at the realization of the horror of the situation.

"Where?"  He asked calmly, almost quietly.

"Engineering." She stated, still facing him.

Allows sat in the seat of the weapons control center, not moving, thinking, as was everyone else on the bridge, that it would be only a few moments more until the illustrious career of these fine Star Fleet officers came to a sudden end.  After the intruder materialized on board, he, she or it, as the case may be, set into motion a chain of events that would only end in the death of everyone on board the vessel. What had happened?  he kept thinking.  Who were they and how had they known the Accipiter would drop from warp for bearing checks on the new navigation system right here, how had they known the she would be without armament and in fact ordered not to fight, thereby making themselves vulnerable; but most importantly he thought as the veil of drowsiness caused by the poison began to take over his body, Did they know about the Interphase Generator and if so, all was possibly lost now for Star Fleet!  How had they knowwwwnnnn....

The ship drifted through space for another two more standard hours before automatically adjusting its motion to full stop, turning its belly 63 degrees starboard, 14 degrees up, starting a short range RF beacon and deploying the memory core targeted for the nearest Star Fleet facility.  There was not a soul on board at this point.  Not one uniform, not one shoe not one body.  The virus released after the toxin was responsible for that.  Vicious as it was, it was equally efficient as well, leaving nothing behind but metallic items and the ship itself. Oddly though, the bridge and engineering section had not been affected at all excepting the people and all the items carried with them anyway.

The process once started took all of 23 seconds.  The next event was the most surprising, or rather would have been were there anyone there to witness it.  Everything on the bridge and everything in engineering that had survived the virus, simply faded and disappeared leaving nothing behind but an empty, cavernous room where the bridge used to be and another empty, room short of the warp core itself and two consoles with no controls or access on them where all of engineering had been only seconds before.  The last event of the dying ship occurred when the lighting dimmed to absolute darkness and the temperature began plummeting.  Then nothing more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEGINNINGS

 

*********

 

 

 

 

STAR STATION MINSK

Tactical Fleet/Special Operations HQ

22790606 0132 hrs

 

 

The darkness in the room would have been nearly complete but for the two banks of cubular 3 Dimensional Sector Monitor Maps, otherwise known as D’SeMM’s, running along the two opposing walls of the 100meter long by 25 meter wide room. Seated before each of the D’SeMM’s was a single operator wearing a headphone and boom mike, conversing in any number of languages to various others in distant locations all over the know regions of Alpha Quadrant.  In the center of the room, on a raised dais, seated in a large chair with broad arm rests housing a myriad of controls was a single male Andorian. His blue skin and large antenna extending from the top of his otherwise humanoid head wore the same type of communication gear as the D’SeMM operators. The difference between him and the others on the floor would be difficult to tell were it not for the 3 gold pips on his standard black uniform with the red trim of command lacing the collar.  At first glance Commander Quincy O’Donnell might have seemed to be asleep as he sat motionless, eyes closed, occasionally moving his fingers deftly across the control pads mounted in the arms of his seat but in reality, he couldn’t be any more awake. His head set was linked in with each of the 200 stations on the floor and as he switched from monitor to monitor he took in each and every detail being transmitted into TacFleet Command & Control Center by the numerous Federation and non-Federation vessels in the Beta-4-south quadrant of Federation space.

Roaming up and down the two lines of maps were 14 other TacFleet C&C officers wearing similar headsets and the black & red uniform with two gold and one black pips signifying the rank of Lt. Commander.  Occasionally these officers would linger over any of the numerous maps they were in charge of and assist the operator as he or she conversed with their distant vessel. It was very seldom that Commander O’Donnell was actually requested to join in the transmission so it was a bit of a surprise when his panel lit up indicating station 21, in the Fleet One South sector that bordered the extreme southern end of Romulan space and the Neutral Zone.  That alone would not have caused any alarms but that he was being requested meant that what ever the problem was, it was not only considered beyond the scope of the Lieutenant on duty at that map, but equally beyond the scope of the Commander sitting in on it as well.  ‘What is it about that area that rings a bell.’ He thought, just before he tapped the panel that opened his connection to map station 21.

“O’Donnell.” He stated quietly but succinctly into the mike after tapping the control.

“Sir, I have an automated distress beacon emanating from TacFleet One South, Sector 21".  Commander Plith Duropt stated in the standard, non-emotional flat subdued tones that were required of all conversation in this room. “The beacon is registered to the USS Accipiter and carries an additional note to contact Spec Ops if notified.”

‘That’s it’, O’Donnell thought, ‘The Accipiter.’

Earlier in his shift he’d been informed by Colonel Malcolm Dints of Special Operations, some times referred to as “Black Bag Ops”, that SpecOps would be performing some type of maneuver in that area involving a vessel identified as the Accipiter. He’d met Colonel Dints once or twice at various official functions and personally didn’t care for the man.  He found him to be a brown nosing, garrulous; egotistical bore who threw the weight of SpecOps around like it was platinum. Dints had informed him that the Accipiter was running under classified status and he wasn’t at liberty to discuss it with O’Donnell, as if O’Donnell really cared what SpecOps was doing anyway.

Colonel Dints had then informed him that in the event of any type of communication form the Accipiter, he was to notify the Colonel right away or, if not available, notify the Special Ops Administration Officer to locate him and not say anything to anyone else.

“Computer. Locate Colonel Dints please.”

“The Colonel is currently unavailable.” The computer responded.

“Where is the Colonel?”

“The Colonel is in the facility. Exact whereabouts have been requested as unavailable.” The computer responded.

“By whom.” He asked again.

“By the Colonel.” The computer responded.

Now that the Accipiter had popped up and Dints was not available, he had a decision to make. Notify the Special Ops Admin. Officer as he’d been ordered to do and personally didn’t want to do or follow standard C&C procedure when faced with a problem he felt he either had insufficient ability or experience to handle and notify TF/SO Vice Admiral Decker.

He calmly stabbed the communication button that connected him with Vice Admiral Decker and waited as the screen flashed a series of dull red cubes indicating it was attempting to contact the Admiral. After what seemed an eternity the pudgy face of Vice Admiral Franklin, Fillius Decker, in his personal quarters, came on rubbing his eyes in the manor anyone who’d just been awakened from sleep would do.

“Admiral.  I’m terribly sorry to wake you at this hour but we have a situation here.”

The admirals’ eyes cleared a bit at that information. “What would that be Don”. He responded using the shortened version of O’Donnell’s last name rather than his rank, an indication of his favor.

“If you’ll recall a briefing was called by one Colonel M. Dints 43 hours ago. At such briefing, attended by myself, the Col and two of my senior officers, Col Dints informed us that the SpecOps vessel USS Accipiter would be performing clandestine operations sometime in the next 48 hours and I was instructed by Colonel. M. Dints to contact Colonel. M. Dints in the event of any contact what so ever from said vessel.

Sir. Said vessel has just popped its ADB.” He stated flatly but not without adding just enough emotion to convey his loathing of the Colonel.

Admiral Decker frowned at that and after a moment said. “Don. What exactly do you know about the Accipiter?

“Only that it is conducting test maneuvers in the Beta Quadrant and nothing more than what I’ve told you so far.”

“Why am I hearing this from you and not the S.O., agent in charge, speaking of which, where is he?” He asked, referring to Special Operations agent Dints.

“I’m not sure sir.”

“You’re not sure?  What does that mean?” The Admiral asked.

“Sir. I attempted to contact the Colonel as instructed by the Col, and was informed that he is unavailable.”  O’Donnell said.

“By who?”  Admiral Decker asked.

“By the Colonel himself sir. By way of the computer” O’Donnell responded.

Decker thought about that a few moments then looked at the clock beside his bed.

“Wait 5 minutes and then try him in the officers quarters. Use the security code Juliet twenty tango. That should give me enough time to get there myself.”

“Aye sir.” O’Donnell responded, and the screen went blank again. Then he punched the appropriate commands on his consol and spoke. “Lt. Duropt. Please hop up the holotank in the secure situation room and transfer all the material there.”

“Aye sir.” Duropt responded.

O’Donnell then tapped another control and quietly waited for the communication link to open again.  When the link completed, the face of a very young, very handsome female lieutenant in Marine attire currently charged with the TF/SO security answered.

“Duty Officer Pvt. Dillard. How can I assist you sir.” The face that answered him barked out crisply when she realized it was a ranking officer on the other side.

“Pvt. Dillard. I need you to find Commander Nokia and have her report to me on the double.”

“Aye sir.” She responded and O’Donnell cut the comm line.

He then sat back quietly and pondered the situation for a few moments more before tapping a few more times on the console and entered in a series of coded numbers and the screen before him lit up with the sleepy face of Colonel Dints in the darkened officers wardroom. ‘And the Admiral wins a cigar’ O’Donnell thought restraining the smile he wanted so badly to display. He would have thought the Colonel would have been on call while this important task was being run by his ship rather than hiding in the officers wardroom sleeping but that was just one more thing that Dints did that irritated him.

“What is it Commander?” It was obvious Dints was annoyed when he realized he’d been found despite his attempt to isolate himself.

“Sorry to wake you sir, but we just received an ADB from the Accipiter and you instructed us to call if we had any contact from her.”

Dint’s eyes shot wide open at the mention of the Accipiter and any grogginess he might have suffered before was completely forgotten.

“When!” He demanded.

“Approximately seven minuets ago sir.” O’Donnell responded after glancing briefly at the chronometer on the screen.

“Why wasn’t I notified immediately!”? He barked.

“Sir. You made yourself unavailable for contact. Were it not for a miss entry in my comm connection request that hailed the officers ward room rather than your office, I might still be looking for you.” O’Donnell lied in a level, flat tone he actually had to work at this time.

Dint’s face didn’t relax a bit at the realization he had been backed into a corner he’d created but his tone eased up a bit.

“I’ll be right there Captain. Oh, and Captain. Contact no one else of this. That’s an order, do you understand?”

“Aye sir.” O’Donnell responded noting absently as the screen darkened that even though he’d contacted the Admiral, he had actually done that before he’d been ordered not to.

By the time Nokias’ Vulcan form materialized silently beside him, Commander Duropt had already left the floor of the C&C Center for the situation room.

“Sir.” Nokia stated signifying both greeting and her question of orders.

“Commander,” O’Donnell started as he rose from the chair. “I will be in the situation room for a while. You have the command.” He finished, as he strode from the dais toward the back of the C&C room where the situation room was located.

As he approached the room he could just make out Commander Duropt through the glass wall, standing at parade rest in the corner of the dimly lit room.  The door opened and he passed through and approached the only source of light in the room, the holotank that was located on a raised, square table in the center of the room.  About 4 times larger than the holo-maps in the main room, this holo-map had a console mounted on each of the 4 sides sloped slightly down from the table surface allowing easy access by any of four operators standing around it, to any and all past and current information being digested on a minute by minute basis in the main room outside.

The map itself currently depicted a cube about 2 meters in size, with a faint continuous yellow grid running around and through it. Currently set to display the Beta Quadrant, it showed only the major stars and planets of the known system, when set in Alpha; those of the Alpha Quadrant were displayed and so on through the Gamma and Delta quadrant.  At the moment, Duropt had called it to level Beta-4, magnifying the Beta Quadrant 4 times displaying the South, Sector 21 area and it showed not only the major Stars and planets in the Beta Quadrant but also included the minor planets, Federation, Romulan and Kilngon Star Stations, Star Bases and Outposts and depicted the areas under each culture’s control in a fog of red for federation, gray for Romulan and green for Klingon. The Neutral Zone bordering the Romulan gray area was depicted in a much brighter fog of yellow.

The Neutral Zone, established in 2160 with the Treaty of Cheron when hostilities between the Romulans and Federation over what they each considered, free space, were halted by mutual agreement after four years of bloody and costly carnage. This demilitarized zone had been established as an area of space where neither Federation nor Romulan would intrude for both had agreed that the violation of the DMZ would be considered an act of war. The agreement had been mutual on both sides but the Romulans stood by an aggressive interpretation and anyone who entered the Neutral Zone was immediately attacked and destroyed or captured without warning. The Federation, on the other hand, took a more political approach preferring to establish contact and determine the intent of the transgressor before reverting to any aggressive measures. Since that time there had been no official violations to the cease-fire but there were numerous occurrences where various Federation and non-Federation vessels accidentally and sometimes purposely passed into or through the area. On some of those occasions, Federation rescue assistance was requested. On others, assistance just simply wasn’t possible or no assistance was requested at all as was the case when illicit operations took place. Occasionally the Romulans would pass into or through the Neutral Zone as well but again, the Federation chose to approach these transgressions on a cautionary basis rather than as an act of war as the Romulans approached it.  That was what had started the idea of the Tactical Fleet, Perimeter Guard, and the Akyazi, Arbiter and Akula class vessels.  All very small, a crew compliment of 100 at most, very fast, heavily armed and defended and quietly, sporting the latest cloaking capability. Since those days though, the older class ships had been replaced by the newer Akula class that carried a crew complement of 500 allowing more Marines and fighter vessels as opposed to the crew of 70 and no shuttle bays at all on the earlier class vessels. When all this was added up they made a strong policing, rescue and intelligence gathering force against transgressors, non-aggressive aggressive and sometimes aggressive forces.

As O’Donnell approached the map he noted the flashing red dot located just inside the Neutral Zone fog in the area of free space and immediately disabled the label identifying it as the Accipiter, ADB. Upon approaching the map he noted the display terminal on the left side of the console had a briefing still showing on it indicating the tracking signal sent from the Accepters ADB.  O’Donnell was just about to ask for Duropts opinion when Duropt suddenly snapped to attention and barked out,

“Admiral on the deck!” as the Admiral walked in accompanied by a Brigadier General from the United Federation Marines Division dressed in the Lavender dress uniform of Special Operations.

“At ease gentlemen.” Admiral Decker quickly spoke even before O’Donnell had had the opportunity to snap to attention.

O’Donnell turned and watched quietly as the Admiral and the General walked into the room and to the far side of the holotank away from the door.

“Morning sirs.” O’Donnell said.

“Good morning Don.” The Admiral replied.

“I don’t see the Colonel here.” The General stated. “Has he been notified yet?” He asked.

“The Colonel was unavailable for communication until just recently. He should be here momentarily” O’Donnell responded, knowing there would be certain trouble for him when he finally arrived.

“Admiral, if you don’t mind sir.”  Brigadier General Scott Anderson cleared and then turned to look at Captain O’Donnell. “Bring me up to speed Captain.”

“Aye, sir.” O’Donnell started. “At 0135 hours this date we received the ADB signal of the USS Accipiter in the Beta Quadrant Sector Alpha 4.3126, here sir.”  He indicated by pointing to the red dot.

“For the last approximately 15 minutes”. He continued while simultaneously tapping on the consol to produce a dotted progress line displaying the origination point and vector of the ADB. “The ADB has been in motion to it’s current position shown here.

The ADB’s tactical data burst transmission message is shown on the tac console before you Sir, but in brief, it states that at 0121 hours this date, the Accipiter, after dropping from warp speed to acquire navigational bearing confirmation, the reason requiring this is still unclear sir, was jumped by at least 3 Romulan Birds of prey and two Romulan D’Deridex vessels. One of which was on site, the other according to Star Fleet Intelligence, was sitting less than one light year away and arrived quickly.  There was a skirmish in which the Accipiter made attempts to escape but was not successful.

“Why, in the name of God, was the Accipiter near the Neutral Zone let alone in the Beta Quadrant?” The General Asked with obvious concern.

“We have no information on that other than the briefing and this development sir.” O’Donnell responded.

The confusion on the Generals face was very obvious as he continued.

“You were briefed on this action?”

“I was briefed by Colonel Dints, once in the officers lounge that the event would take place and again in the Officers briefing room. No information as to where or why was given sir.”

“So you have no idea then why the Accipiter is in the Beta Quadrant Captain?”

“No sir. None.” O’Donnell replied.

“And you have no idea of its mission?”

“No sir. None.” O’Donnell replied.

“But you know of its name and its existence?

“Yes Sir. I do Sir.”

There was a pause as the General thought about that for a moment.

“What’s the status of the Accipiter?”  General Anderson asked.

“We have, at this time, no idea of what the status of the ship is but we also have no reason to believe that the Accipiter was not destroyed.” O’Donnell replied.

As he was finishing his sentence, Colonel Dints rushed into the room and noted vaguely, the three forms on the far side, and the Captain, in front of him, mentioning the Accipiter.

“Captain!  I thought I told you not to speak to anyone about this!” He said staring angrily at O’Donnell who remained silent and simply stared at Dints.

After a moment Dints realized something was up and he turned and squinted a bit to determine exactly who was in the room with him. Upon finally noting that the vague form standing closest to him across the table was in fact Brigadier General Anderson and further to his now obvious horror that the second figure was Vice Admiral Decker.

“My apologies sirs!”  he stammered.  “I had informed the Captain here not to disturb you in this matter till I’d had a chance to sort it all out myself.

The anger on the Generals face was now so obvious that it disturbed even O’Donnell who had remained absolutely still while Dints dug his hole. When he finally spoke it was in a tone so quiet, O’Donnell wasn’t sure he heard him.

“Dints. Do you know why the Accipiter is in the Beta Quadrant?” The General asked.

“Sir! This is classified material. Are you sure you want to discuss this here?” He asked somewhat timidly.

Whatever control the General was trying to maintain was gradually slipping away.

“Dints. In your limited military career, have you become familiar with the levels of rank and what they mean when asked a direct question from a commissioned officer at least one rank above you?”

“Yes sir, but...”

“And are you further aware,” the General interrupted, his voice rising slightly in force.  “That as your commanding officer, I have a security clearance at least as great as yours?”

“Yes sir.” Dints responded, keeping to himself anything else he might have said.

“And furthermore Colonel,” the General almost spit out his rank. “Are you aware that I have the authority to determine who has authorization to know what I want them to know, leaving behind the fact that there is an Admiral present who even outranks me?”

The fear in Colonel Dints face was now very obvious and sweat had begun to appear on his o forehead.

“Yes sir.” He responded.

“Then it might be a good idea to answer my fucking question, might it not.” He finished; the force of tone so heavy in his voice that O’Donnell was sure Dints would pass water any minute now.

“Per your request sir, I dispatched her there for the test run.”

“Dints. And I think I’ll refrain from using your rank from this point further since it is as of this moment under serious doubt, I don’t remember actually instructing you to test a secret device that could turn the tides of Federation defense, and involving illegal Romulan technology, in the Romulans neighborhood let alone their back yard.  Where’d you get the instructions from regarding the site?”

“Well sir,” Dints stammered again. Then looked around the room at the others there and continued.  “You asked me to schedule a recon of the Romulan sector and set the test and I determined both could be done at the same time and use only one vessel to do it.”

The General stared in disbelief at Dints for a few moments before replying.

“Computer. Security.” General Anderson finally spoke calmly after a long pause.

Security, Lt. Harris.”

“Lieutenant, this is Brigadier General Anderson. Send a team to the C&C Center.”

“Aye sir, on the double.”

“Dints.” The General started a note of sadness in his voice. “The reconnaissance run was intended to make sure the Romulans were not near the test site. Who have you spoken to regarding this project?”

“No one sir. Only my secretary naturally since he must carry out my orders”

“Did you brief the Captain here, on the mission itself?”

“Only to the extent that it was being run and I was to be notified immediately if any communication was received from the Accipiter.”

“And why were you not present here during that period?”

Colonel Dints turned and looked at O’Donnell a moment before looking back at the General.

“I was detained sir.”  He lamely responded.

“Colonel Dints.”  The General began, his anger barely controlled. “I have just accepted your resignation. You will proceed from here, directly to your quarters where you will remain under house arrest until I determine what to do with you.”

At that point Commander Duropt, who had remained silent, spoke.

“Security has arrived sir.”

Commander, please escort Mr. Dints from the room and see that he’s linked up with security.” Admiral Decker ordered.

“Aye, aye sir.” Duropt responded and walked around the table toward Dints and the door. “If you’ll precede me sir.” He asked and both he and Dints left the room.

“Admiral,” the General started. “Do you wish my resignation?”

“I don’t see that that would make anything any better Scott.  What’s more,” he added as an after thought, “I’d strongly recommend the Secretary (of the Federation) refuse it as well. What needs to be done here is to determine what the situation is exactly, what condition the Accipiter is in at the moment and if we indeed, still own her. I need you for that.”

“Thank you sir.”  The General stated.      “Don. What do we have in the area that can do this?” Admiral Decker asked.

“Sir. O’Donnell responded after briefly looking at the holo-map. “At the moment the closest immediately available TAC asset we have is 48 hours out at top warp.”

“Fourty eight hours?” the General repeated incredulously. Why the fuck was there nothing closer for this mission.” He stated to no one in particular.

“48 hours is at least 47 hours too long.” He then said to Duropt. “What’s the story on this Star Base I see here sporting our personnel?” Decker asked referring to the bright orange flashing dot that indicated TacFleet personnel were present.

“That’s Star Base 210.” He stated. “That’s got to be within 11 hours from the Accipiter right?”

O’Donnell tapped a few times on the console and then after consulting the screen, responded.

“The Donovan Sir. A Miranda Class vessel, Registry numbers NCC-1865. It’s about 11 hours, 32 minuets top warp actual transit time, sir. The trouble though, is that she currently has no captain. Her standing Captain, Stanley M. Sydney has taken ill and been transferred to a hospital facility on Star Base Sir.”

“I remember hearing about that now. Bastions disease if I remember correctly. Tough break for him.” Admiral Decker replied.

“There is however.” O’Donnell continued, “a Commander there with 10 years Starfleet experience, 6200 hours First Officer infield experience aboard the USS Argos and Tactical Fleet training. That officer and a small contingent of crew are currently awaiting vessel transfer to Outpost Principale, Rear Admiral MC Spanner would be the commanding officer there, and new vessel assignment to the USS Carthage. Once there, the Commander is assuming the executive officers position.

What’s the current status on the Donovan?” Decker asked.

O’Donnell tapped the display a few more times.

“The Donovan is listed as mission ready. However, her new Captain has not yet been assigned.” He responded. “It doesn’t specify why but I can get that information in just a few moments.”

“Not necessary. Spanner’s apparently not in a rush to get the Donovan out.”

The Admiral looked over at the General a moment.

“Well Scott, he may not be seasoned as a Captain but he’s more than qualified to run an Akula class vessel. Do you want to look at him or take the 48 hour rout?”

Admiral. If you feel he’s qualified to command, at this point I have no problems with him.” The General responded.

The Admiral turned back to O’Donnell and asked. “What’s the skinny on this guy Don?”

“Sir. First. The Commander is a female Human. Lt. Commander Rachel Garrett, high academy marks and referrals, previous command qualifications, first officer aboard the USS Argos, a Perimeter Action vessel where she has toured for over 10 years. Again Sir. High referrals. She’s scheduled to be posted aboard the USS Carthage at the request of Captain Vance Haden. Would you like stats on him Sir?”

“No Don.” The Admiral replied. “Continue with Garrett please.”

“Aye Sir. Commander Garrett is widowed, Ven Kaldarren. late son Star Base 210 Commanding Officer Rear Admiral M Kaldarren.  Commander Garrett has numerous awards and commendations in both tactical planning and actual implementation. Would you like details sir?” O’Donnell finished up.

“I don’t think that will be necessary Don. Can we get access to Donovan?”

Again, O’Donnell tapped on the console and read the results on the screen.

“As I said Sir. The Donovan is currently listed as mission ready with a full compliment of crew including First Officer. Her only problem is of course, she’s missing a Captain.”

“Who’s the XO.” The Admiral asked.

“Commander Warren Boregard, 3 years as XO under Captain Sydney, numerous awards and accommodations but an OA of a book & rule follower.” He said referring to the “Over All” personal notations in the Commanders file entered by his commanders regarding their personal impressions of him.

“Seems to me,” General Anderson said as he turned to face the Admiral. “That we can temporarily promote the XO to Captain and install Garrett temporarily as XO for this mission. How does that sound to you Sir?”

Decker raised his hand to his chin and tapped his index finger on his lower lip a moment in thought then responded.

“That would appear as a normal rank and position ascension to outsiders. If that meets your deeds, we can do it that way Scott. Don. Who’s the C.O. of that Star Base?” He then asked looking back toward O’Donnell.

“The C.O. would be 3rd Fleet Vice Admiral, Eugene Buckman.”

“Fine. I’ll make the arrangements then with 3rd Fleet and have them off as soon as I can get to my office. Don. Would you be so kind as to transfer that data to Foggett.” He stated, referring to his aid, as he turned to walk out of the room.

“Aye. Sir.” O’Donnell replied.

“Thank you Admiral.” General Anderson replied and followed the Admiral out of the briefing room.

O’Donnell tapped a few times on the console clearing the display and sending the data on to Captain Cory Foggett, the Admirals Aid De Camp, but before logging out of the security program he’d had to access to get the information on Lt. Commander Garrett, he tapped in an obscure code and then a new series of commands that took only six seconds to complete and sent them on to an unknown destination before shutting down the holomap and returning to the main C&C room.

He thought about this new development for only a few moments as he relieved Commander Nokia and resumed his seat, before his thoughts were lost again as he reviewed the list of events that had transpired since he’d left and the myriad of information took over all his concentration.