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In the Blink of an Eye

Posted on Fri Apr 23rd, 2021 @ 8:15pm by Captain Abigail Laurens & Commander Ichiko Gail
Edited on on Fri Apr 23rd, 2021 @ 8:16pm

Mission: Pathstone to History
Location: Cestus III - Eleventh Fleet Headquarters
Timeline: Backpost - Prior to Launch

 

ON: [[Admiral Devane's Office, Eleventh Fleet Headquarters, Mission day 01, 0855 hours]]

In the blink of an eye, somethings happen by chance - and when you least expect it - sets you on a course that you never planned, into a future that you never imagined.

Starfleet Headquarters on Cestus III was no where near as grandios as Earth, yet still, it was an imposing structure, mainly because of the security. Those inside were tantamount to the ongoing operation of Eleventh Fleet, and were guarded as such.

One of those individuals Vice Admiral Niamh Devane, a fiery red head who headed up Eleventh Fleet's operations department, sat in her office, surrounded by the memories of a long career in Starfleet.

Where normally she would be sitting at her desk, handling the day to day ongoings of the fleet, today Niamh found herself standing in front of the window, looking out over the gardens beyond, contemplating.

Finally, it was the interruption of the annunciator that brought her back to reality. Turning back toward her door, she drew a deep breath before she spoke. "Enter," she called calmly.

The door hissed open and a man dressed in command red entered. Despite appearing younger than some might expect, he carried himself as one much more mature. He moved steadily into the room and took up position across the desk from Devane. "Captain Aviram Drell, reporting as ordered, admiral."

"Captain Drell?" Niamh parroted, a hint of uncertainty on her face as she cast a discerning glance over the individual standing in front of her.

Before anything else could be said, Abigail stepped through the doors, her uniform definitely not as well groomed as Drell, but she was there. "She cast a glance over the Admiral and then turned her gaze toward Drell, offering a nod before she turned back to the Admiral again. "Captain Abigail Laurens Ma'am, you requested my presence?"

Niam's eyes moved between the two commanding officers. "Please, take a seat. My yeoman will be in in a moment to take orders for your refreshments. I suggest you oblige, you're going to need it."

The suggestion elicited a raised eyebrow from Drell, but he chose not to say anything. In all honesty, he had been equally surprised to receive the summons ordering him to Cestus III, and he was just as curious as to the nature of whatever might have precipitated that action. That said, there was still too little information to be going off of at this point. He knew that it would be better to let things play out than to rush ahead or make rash assumptions.

As the El-Aurian lowered himself into a chair, he turned his attention momentarily to the woman next to him. He recognized her name, of course, and could tell just by looking at her that she was exhausted. And who could really blame her? Word was that she had recently lost her command (or scuttled it, to be more accurate). As if such a traumatic experience wasn't enough for one to be dealing with, there was also the paperwork, the administrative reviews, and the reporting to admiralty that followed.

Drell had seen it before and his heart went out to her.

Abigail slid into a seat, remaining somewhat silent, finally only speaking up as the yeoman came to her chair side. "Coffee, three shots, no milk, six sugars." She drew in a deep breath, offering a small smile toward Drell. "Sorry," she offered quietly. "It's been a long week."

With a smile toward the yeoman, Niamh ordered a tall sparkling water with raspberries and lemon before she turned back toward the two commanding officers. "Anything else?" she asked enquiringly.

"Just tea, thank you," Drell said.

With a nod the yeoman disappeared silently, leaving Niamh looking toward the two Commanding Officers. "I'm sure you're wondering why you've been summoned here like this..." she drew a breath, steepling her hands and resting them on the table. "I'm going to cut straight straight to the point. We have a problem. We need you both to help," she said simply.

Abigail glanced from Niamh to Drell and then back to Niamh. "I'm sorry? You need us to help?" she asked, clearly confused.

Drell could think of several reasons why the admiralty might need the services of two starship captains, but to voice any of them at this point would have merely been speculation. Whatever the problem was that Devane was referring to, he could sense that it had her on edge, and most likely the rest of the fleet leadership as well. "What is the nature of this problem, admiral?"

Niahm paused for a moment, drumming her fingers against the table before she stopped, splaying her hands flat against the cool surface and looking across at them.

"Ten days ago the USS Tyche was lost, presumable through an accident of the graviton catapult. We don't know for sure precisely what happened, but a ship with the better part of a thousand lives aboard is now gone." She paused as the yeoman entered, handing them their drinks and placing two plates of finger foods on the table, one sweet and one savory.

Waiting until the yeoman had departed, Niamh looked back toward the two. "We have several ships deployed to the Delta Quadrant, several ships who are now effectively cut off from any and all support they may have expected." She picked up the glass, took a sip and set it down again. "They are alone, completely alone." She paused for a moment, giving her words a moment to sink in.

At the news of the graviton catapult and the loss of life Abigail gasped audibly. For a moment, all thoughts of everything that had happened were gone from her mind. "Admiral," she said quietly, uncertainly. "How can we help?"

"A rescue mission." Drell was not too familiar with the details of the Delta Quadrant mission, seeing as how he had never been read into it before now, but it made sense that Starfleet would want to do everything possible to bring their people home. Otherwise, they could be looking at a disaster in more ways than one. "To go that far in any reasonable amount of time, however, would require...quantum slipstream."

Abigail listened to Drell's statement, her confusion growing. "Admiral, with all due respect, right now I don't even have a ship to offer in way of support," she said quietly. "I'm not sure what I have to offer."

Niamh paused for a moment, looking first toward Drell. "Captain Drell, the USS Vesta is already QSD equipped. My intent would be to assign you to immediately set course for the Delta Quadrant. I would like for you to lead a small convoy of QSD equipped Spirit-class vessels. You will all be carrying minimum crew, and maximum supplies for ships as needed."

Niamh watched Drell for a moment after she finished speaking, waiting for a response.

The El-Aurian nodded to show that he understood. There were still questions that needed to be answered and details to be clarified, of course, but he knew those would come. What mattered most right now was that the basic premise was sound. And, as the longest serving slipstream-capable explorer in Starfleet, there was no question the Vesta was the right choice. Both the ship and its crew had proven themselves multiple times over.

"Captain Drell, your path I fear will be the one of most resistance. You have no tools at your disposal, no shortcuts... and I will be assigning a complement of six Spirit-class vessels to accompany you. You will all carry minimal crew and maximum supplies in order to help our people in the Delta Quadrant until needed. I will be honest Captain, the journey will not be easy. At this stage, Starfleet Engineering expects that, even if you run your QSD at every opportunity, it will take a solid six months or more to reach your rendezvous point in the Delta Quadrant."

Drell’s expression did not change much, though he appeared to ponder the admiral’s words. His concern was not so much for the ship. True, they had never attempted to make repeated use of the slipstream drive over such a long period of time like this, but it was what the Vesta was theoretically designed for. Drell was fairly confident they could make the logistics work.

Where he was more concerned was in regards to the crew and their well-being. Almost everyone who signed up for Starfleet had some understanding of what they were getting themselves into. And that would have been even more true for those assigned to a deep space explorer like the Vesta. At some level, they knew they were stepping out into the unknown and taking on certain risks.

That said, Drell recognized this situation could end up being different. There were added psychological factors involved, both in terms of what they were being asked to do and in what it would take for them to do it, that had to be considered.

"I will have my people get started right away."

Niamh nodded slightly. "Very well. I will arrange for supplies to be delivered to the Vesta at your earliest convenience. The rest of the convoy has been briefed and is ready for departure when you are. I understand you and your crew may appreciate some time to see families before you depart, but we would like you underway at your earliest convenience."

"Of course, admiral."

Abigail glanced between Drell and Devane, now even more confused over what was going on.

"Captain Laurens," Niamh steepled her fingers, her hands resting against the desk. "Are you familiar with a Daishirei Rakamu Haruki?" she asked.

Abigail shook her head. "No, Ma'am, though the rank sounds Ts'Usugi? I believe I've heard my first officer use that rank previously?"

Niam nodded. "You would be correct. We received a report from Daishirei Haruki after your involvement with the abandoned Ts'usugi ship in the Charybdis Sector. He spoke very highly of you, of your respect toward their culture and their ways." She paused. "We are hoping that this may give us an advantage. The Dalacari have a device that allows near immediate travel between the Alpha Quadrant and the Delta Quadrant."

"The Pathstone Project," Abigail replied quietly with a slight nod of her head. "I'm familiar with it."

"Our intelligence has indicated that the Ts'usugi and the Dalacari have close ties, so we're hoping that the regard that the Ts'usugi have for you may garner some favour, both in gaining access to the Pathstone Project to take your ship to the Delta Quadrant, and then once there, negotiating for ongoing Federation access."

Abigail's confusion didn't clear. "Ma'am, the Astraea was destroyed and Admiral Jameson made it quite clear that I would not be given another command at this stage. My crew are waiting reassignment." She sighed softly.

"That was then, Captain Laurens, this is now." She picked up a PaDD and handed it across to Abigail. "You are being given command of the USS-Astraea-A, effective immediately. An Odyssey-class ship. She has also been equipped with a QSD. Once you get to the Delta Quadrant, if the negotiations with the Dalacari fail then upon the arrival of the Vesta, your orders will be to retrieve all Federation property and personnel and begin the journey home. Anything that cannot be returned home is to be destroyed."

Silence fell over the room. If any of them had been at all unclear as to the seriousness of the situation before, that was no longer the case now. The stakes were high. Drell knew they would have to be prepared, both logistically and otherwise, should the eventuality the admiral just described come to pass.

Niamh looked between the two of them. "Do either of you have any questions?" she asked calmly.

"Do they know we're coming," Drell asked.

"At this stage, No." Niamh paused, turning her attention to Drell. "Once we knew the Tyche was gone we determined to put a plan in place before we started contacting Commanding Officers and telling them. If there's nothing else, I'll let you both be. I'm sure you could do with some time to process everything you've just had unloaded on you. If you need anything, my door is always open."



OFF

Vice Admiral Niamh Devane
Chief of Fleet Operations
Eleventh Fleet

Captain Aviram Drell
Commanding Officer
USS Vesta NX-94200

Captain Abigail Laurens
Commanding Officer
USS Astraea NCC-59870-A

 

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