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Calling The Play

Posted on Tue Feb 5th, 2013 @ 3:24am by Lieutenant Commander David Burkeson & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Part of the Team

Sitting at his ready room terminal, Captain Stiles was just putting the final polish on his initial plan when the first of his COs signaled. With a few quick taps of his fingers, he positioned the plain but pleasant face of Commander Karen Garnet on the big wall display where he would coordinate the meeting. Commanding the USS Tolstoy, Currie class, she'd had a successful career in Intelligence which had led to her current command. An ill-shaped, ungainly design, the Currie class had never been particularly successful. Originally intended as a more compact version of the much better known Excelsior class, the oddly disbursed spaceframe had never met expectations for maneuverability and high speed endurance. It was a functional design however, if not a high performer and eventually had found a niche as basically a larger version of the venerable Oberth class. Though lacking in the enormous flexibility of the smaller Oberth and it's later Clarke class variants, it's modular, mission configurable forward hull had more cubic area of usable space than an entire Oberth, allowing it to accomplish nearly the same range of missions. Curries had served as cargo, passenger and troop transports and been configured for a wide range of specialized scientific missions.

It was in this capacity that Tolstoy had been deployed. Plodding along a circuitous patrol route about five light years deep into Federation space from the Neutral Zone, she appeared to be a simple tender for various sensor platforms, communications relays and other automated facilities. In reality, her hull contained sophisticated sensor and information processing systems designed to detect minute traces of the Romulan singularity drive. She had had some success in identifying vessels illegally penetrating the Zone and even Federation space, although the intruders were always challenged and/or pursued by other vessels in an attempt to protect her cover.

"A pleasure to see you, Karen." Stiles said, "It's been a while."

"Well Sir, we also serve who can't break warp seven." Garnet replied wearily, "It'll be a while before we can catch up, but we'll give you our best when we do."

"I've no doubt of that Karen." Stiles replied, "And I suspect that you and your ship will be a vital part of figuring out what happened out there."

"I hope so, Sir." Garrett said with a thin smile, "I think my Chief Engineer is going to need months, if not years of therapy to recover from the stress of running this ship so hot."

Next to appear was the new kid on the block...Burkeson commanding USS Steadfast, Defiant class. He was a strange creature for Starfleet, Stiles thought. Most of their comrades hated service on the little gunboats which, in addition to their myriad discomforts, seemed to fly in the face of Starfleet philosophy. A pure warship with almost no scientific capabilities and absolutely no diplomatic provisions, a Defiant was good for only one thing: fighting, Starfleet's last resort. A poor design pushed into production by the crisis of the Dominion War, even the better part of two decades since hadn't been able to significantly improve the design. Still, in good hands, they were potent weapons and even the most peaceful Starfleet officers recognized that such weapons were occasionally needed. And there was no doubt that Burkeson's were some of the best hands in the Fleet for that job.

"Welcome aboard, Commander." Stiles said, "Your reputation precedes you."

"Thank you for letting me play anyway, Captain." Burkeson said, eliciting a laugh.

"You are most welcome, Mr. Burkeson," Stiles chuckled. "I noted that you are listed in the station manifest as a Diplomatic Officer."

"Gunboat diplomacy specialist, Captain." Burkeson said, then added, "They don't give me much work."

"Well, I hope not to give you too much on this mission either but I am genuinely glad you and your ship are here."

"Thanks again, Sir...we're happy to be here."

The signal came in from the USS Honshu. She was a Nebula class and closest to the USS Garrett in power and performance. The Nebula were equally comfortable at the fore front of science or the front line of battle, and the Honshu had seen both. Currently she was kitted as a science vessel, with top of the line stellar cartography sensor panels. Her captain, Durian Barr, was a Betazoid of some high regard in scientific circles. His dark eyes appeared on the screen.

"Captains," he said with a slight nod of his head, "The Honshu stands ready. I have to tell you, the last fleet maneuver we were involved in nearly destroyed the ship. I am hoping this is not going to be the case today?"

"As am I, Captain Barr." Stiles replied gravely, "Your long range sensor capabilities will be most beneficial in this operation, as will your own scientific acumen. You've seen the data so far...any initial thoughts?"

Barr pulled a face, "Vague concepts but no testable hypothesis as yet. Even at this range we are getting some very odd emissions and...well, let me say there are a few sorts of radiation that are outside normal sensor scope. We happen to have been kitted to detect them for an experiment we were about to run."

Beyond The Border

All eyes were watching the advancement of the Federation ships, none more so than Riov Ustarl. Though her people were sitting on a knife edge following the recent blows to their livelihoods she hungered for revenge with lustful eyes, the unexplained loss of one of their scouting vessels could be the answer she was looking for.


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