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USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
September 12th 2371 – 1300 FST
“Flight deck reports both Valkyries recovered Sir. Ensign Dixon may have fractured ribs but otherwise no other injuries.”
Dan sighed as he stood from the centre seat. “Thank you Commander, you have the bridge. I’ll need to contact Starfleet.” Kat nodded as he headed towards the ready room. “Lay in a course back to Zethander and arrange an encrypted channel to Command please.”
As Dan entered his ready room, he sat in the chair with a great weight settling on his shoulders. Locking the door, he tried to spot the flaw in his orders that could have prevented any of this, but found nothing. His introspection was cut short as the desk monitor lit up with the encrypted logo which quickly switched to the face of Admiral Bryan.
Dan quickly and succinctly updated the Admiral on the closing events in the Zethander mission and waited for a response. It wasn’t what he’d expected.
“Captain.” Bryan’s face was sombre as he spoke. “We have a great deal to discuss and I’m afraid none of it is good.”
USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
September 12th 2371 – 1317 FST
By the time Dan returned to the bridge, Angel
was back in orbit over Zethander. His expression was distant and drawn and he didn’t even look at Kat as he took his place in the centre seat.
For a moment he did nothing except take a deep breath.
Finally exhaling, he opened an intraship channel on the arm console and spoke in a monotone that Kat had never heard from him in all their years of service.
“All hands, this is the Captain.” He paused, then shaking his head almost imperceptibly, continued. “By order of Starfleet Command as of this stardate, command of the USS Angel
is temporarily transferred to Commander Katerina Gray. I expect her to be accorded the respect and trust that you have shown me during our recent mission. That is all.”
Standing once more he turned to face Kat. “Commander, if you would join me in the ready room with Commander DeSalle?”
Without waiting for a response, he strode from the bridge.
The shocked silence seemed to stretch for an eternity before Kat looked over to DeSalle whose shrug spoke volumes.
USS ANGEL – CAPTAIN’S READY ROOM
September 12th 2371 – 1320 FST
When the door closed behind Kat she looked at Dan with disbelief.
“What the hell is...” Dan held up his hand to silence her. He turned first to DeSalle.
“Commander you have orders to place me under close arrest at this time. I will be restricted to my quarters until such time as transportation becomes available to deliver me under escort to Deep Space 9. At no time will I be allowed contact, either in person or via electronic means, with any other person. Is that understood?”
Clearly DeSalle didn’t understand. “Sir? Are my orders in writing?”
“They will be when you return to security. Is this a problem?”
DeSalle, a quiet spoken and intense man at the best of times, lowered his voice even more. “To be honest Sir, yes.”
Fishlock pinned him with that look.
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that son." When he pointed his fingers, it might as well have been a fully charged phaser. "Make sure I don't have to pretend again."
DeSalle reluctantly drew himself up. “Yes Sir.”
Turning to Kat, his expression was unreadable. “Commander Gray, you are hereby authorised under Starfleet Order 113, Change of Captaincy, to access files pertaining to field promotion and command change of a Starfleet vessel. These files will be available to you immediately.”
For a moment, his impenetrable expression almost cracked, but with an effort he reined it in. Removing his commbadge he placed it carefully on the desk.
“The command of the USS Angel
is yours Captain. Further orders will arrive from Starfleet shortly, but for the time being you are to continue with the humanitarian mission on Zethander. Do you have any questions?”
Kat wanted to say “thousands” but instead shook her head. “No Sir, not at this time.”
“Commander DeSalle?” Dan headed for the door and stopped briefly next to Kat. She was sure there were tears in his eyes as he squeezed her arm. As he left, she was certain there were tears in her own.
USS ANGEL – PHOENIX LOUNGE
ZETHANDER – GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT
September 12th 2371 – 1930 FST
Kat looked around the totally revamped crew lounge. Under any other circumstances, it would have been a cause for celebration and a grand opening but with the shocking events of Dan’s departure Kat had decided that should be postponed. Both Guinan and Melista had agreed.
“It’s unbelievable what you’ve done with the place ladies. Thank you.”
Guinan smiled. “Well with the place shaking around so much in the past 24 hours, we were lucky it was just a few glasses that got broken.”
The crew lounge had been transformed from its dull and drab previous incarnation into something else again. Rechristened the Phoenix Lounge, its centre piece was a large model of Zefram Cochrane’s Phoenix
spaceship suspended from the ceiling. Around the walls were prints of the historic man and his flight as well as mementoes such as framed letters, a small scale replica of the famous Zefram Cochrane statue and a remarkably realistic reproduction of the Phoenix
Across the open space of the dance floor Kat saw a brightly coloured box standing close to the small circular stage. Intrigued, she strolled over followed by the mother and daughter team.
“It’s as close a reproduction of old Zef’s juke box as we could find,” grinned Melista. “Give it a try.” She pointed at the plastic manual buttons at the top of the brightly coloured panel.
Tentatively, Kat pressed three random buttons. Deep within the juke box, something whirred, there was a slight hiss from the speakers and then with a sound like Armageddon a blast of rock and roll filled the lounge.
Guinan winced and leaned around behind to turn down the volume allowing Kat to uncover her ears. “Don’t worry; we’ll be fitting it with a full library of music. That just happens to be the only track on there at the moment.”
“Apparently one of Zefram Cochrane’s favourites according to a close source,” Melista grinned.
Kat faced Guinan and Melista. “Seriously you guys have worked wonders. Dan would be so pleased.”
“Will be pleased,” corrected Guinan. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life Kat, never take anything at face value. Things aren’t always necessarily what they seem.” She smiled as she hugged Kat and whispered, “He’ll be back.”
USS ANGEL – FLIGHT DECK BAY ONE
ZETHANDER – GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT
September 12th 2371 – 2135 FST
MCPO Spider Tarrant shook his head in disgust. In the darkened environment of Bay One, he’d been working tirelessly on the USS Hildr
in an attempt to unlock the computer system but to no avail.
He’d restored mainline power to the fighter and in all other respects the ship was operational but the computer simply wouldn’t reset. He’d tried an onboard reboot which had failed to initialise. He’d tried it again from Angel
’s mainframe and the result was the same.
If that wasn’t bad enough, strange things were happening in the cockpit. The most recent had been an almost musical repetition of beeps.
Ok this is getting spooky now
he thought, then slowly began to smile.
“Oh Dingbat, you pesky little devil.” He cast his mind back several years to there last meeting with Ganyol and remembered how he’d set Dingbat up to believe a particular yacht was haunted. It seemed Dingbat hadn’t forgotten and their recent meeting with Ganyol seemed the perfect excuse to repay the prank.
“Alright my haunted little Hildr
, we’ll call it quits for tonight while I search out my erstwhile partner.”
Shaking his head, he slipped from the cockpit and shut the overhead hatch. Wiping a small smear of lubricant from the fuselage he grinned. “Don’t worry girl, we’ll get the exorcist in first thing tomorrow.”
As the bay door slid shut behind him for the night, four small blue lights flashed in rapid sequence in the cockpit before they too finally dimmed into darkness.