13 The Interstellar Coffee Delivery Service
USS Perseus First Officer's log, stardate 55867.92. Commander Thomas E. Paris, reporting.
Astrometrics. Reporting ready.
Security. Still running level three diagnostics on EHS rapid-response situational feedback system decks seven through nine. All operations systems ready. Ship security sweeps on schedule, no conditions or codes.
Sickbay. Inventory of weekly exo-immunology antiviral upgrades delayed due to HQ departmental delay. Scheduled upgrade at 03:44 tomorrow morning. EMH evaluated, functional, and actually pleasant. Just in case.
Main Engineering: Acting Chief Engineer reports all systems ready. Ship's systems all reporting ready. Weapons, shields, impulse, gravity plating, life support, auxiliary and backup systems ready. Warp drive ready. Quantum drive ready. Chronophasic emitters standing by. TPS at 99.4 percent efficiency.
Transporter room four: Transtator assembly replacement complete, all systems ready. All transporter rooms reporting systems green.
“Salazar to Commander Paris. Sir, the emergency isofield containment lattices in cargo bay three were misaligned a few centimeters.”
“Is there currently any cargo in the bay, Ensign?”
“Schedule repair and report back to your duty station.”
“Aye sir. Salazar out.”
Tricore systems all green.
MVAM structural readings within parameters.
Secondary and Tertiary cruiser systems locked down.
Computer core fully operational.
The sound of applause. Christening ceremony must be starting.
“Ensign Rhinn to Commander Paris.”
“Go ahead, Christine.”
“I need your authorization for a power transfer to the secondary cruiser emergency grid theta-six for a maintenance sweep.”
“Granted. Run a level-three diagnostic on the auxiliary bypass system while you're at it. Confirm it with Lieutenant Meklan. Save him a trip down there.”
“Aye sir, Rhinn out.”
Admiral Janeway hadn't much cared for the way he stormed her office. But what else was he supposed to do? He walked a very fine line of insubordination – she hadn't ordered his court martial but he nearly gave her another reason to toss him into the brig.
All stations manned. Damage control teams standing by. Emergency protocols standing by.
More applause, vociferous this time. Must be the champagne bottle breaking.
Ensign Hardison's laceration repaired, reported for duty.
A few scorched and melted bulkheads, exposed ballistic fragmentation. Structure sound as a pound, as they say. All damaged systems and conduits repaired. ODN circuits and relays green. Bioneural systems green. Backup inventory at maximum and double-checked.
Sublieutenant Vexa and Chief Grifahni had been exonerated as well. He personally invited the Chief aboard to witness the Perseus Trial firsthand. Grif had earned an observation from the bridge.
“Transporter room three to Commander Paris.”
“Requesting permission to bring aboard detail ten, sir. ”
“Authorized. Is that the last of the work details Mendez?”
“Yes sir, they're beaming aboard now. Five crewmen, sir. That's the last of them. All crew accounted for and on board.”
“Good work, Lieutenant. Your double shift is officially over. Why don't you go join the party in the observatory.”
“Aye sir, thank you. When is your double shift over Sir?”
“Just in a couple more shifts, Lieutenant. Have one on me.”
“That I will, sir. And Tom? Congratulations.”
“Congratulations to you, too, Helena.”
“I'm sure they'll be back aboard before you know it.”
“Let's hope so.”
He had watched the last shuttle departing for Earth over the lunar cityscape, through the clear domed wall of Vice Admiral Janeway's temporary chambers in the Lunar Justice Complex. He had missed his transport window and was due back on duty in six hours. He'd thought he could do B'Elanna more good from this office, than at her bedside. Yet for all his appeals and efforts, he had accomplished nothing. B'Elanna would face a court martial – when she got back on her feet. The evidence against her was just too compelling for Janeway to be able to dismiss. The admiral's support was little consolation. And her ire had barely gotten through to him. He'd left just short of forfeiting his command. That would have done neither B'Elanna nor Miral any good either.
Shuttlebay secure. Star Flyer and shuttles inspected and authorized.
ESH systems green. Holoemitter grid at 100% effectiveness in both interior and exterior placements.
Docking reporting ready. All crews accounted for, moorings retracted, pod and shuttle traffic clear.
Nobody wandering around with samurai swords. No Borg nanoprobes. No Cardassian timebombs.
The turbolift door opened to the bridge and Commander Paris stepped through. “All decks and departments report ready, Captain.”
Captain Tuvok turned to his first officer, the bridge staff stood, and – applauded him
. Even on the split screen – with Admiral Janeway, Captain Chakotay, and the bridge crew of Voyager on the left side, and on the right, Admiral Valxaen, Captain Picard, and Admiral Owen Paris, his beaming father, in front of the crowd at Space Station Janus; the Perseus crew crowding the space-efficient bridge: Lieutenant Commander Shuzor Bessek, Lieutenant Commander Yurel Tiroj, Doctor Corbin Salvatore, Lieutenant Nikhila Munich, Sublieutenant Vexa, Ensign Ujio Shir, Chief Grifahni Jace, and others – all applauding Tom Paris as he made his nonplussed way to the front of the bridge.
“Commander Thomas Eugene Paris,” Tuvok became serious. “Attention.”
Tom stood at attention.
“For acts of remarkable leadership, meritorious conduct and personal bravery, by order of Starfleet Command, it is my privilege to award you the Starfleet Christopher Pike Medal of Valor.”
A wave of emotions filled Tom, speechless. Captain Tuvok held up the bright medal by its ribbon and placed it over his head.
“We all owe you and your team a debt of gratitude for saving not only the lives of the crew, but also ship and surroundings. Your quick action has not only protected the lives of your crew and numerous other personnel, but has contributed immeasurably to the future of Starfleet and preserved the possibility for the future of quantum slipstream galactic travel. Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets owe you a deepest debt of gratitude.”
Tom looked around at the group surrounding him with admiration and honor. “Thank you, Sir.”
Tuvok continued. “Not only are you ranked with those few pioneers of warp travel, having earned your title of 'fastest man alive' – you are also now recognized for your heroism under duress with one of the highest commendations of Starfleet. If I were human, I would without a doubt envy you this honor. You may now stand at ease, Commander.”
Tom turned to the crew. “The congratulations go to the crew of the Perseus. I share this honor with each and every one of you. In particular I share it with Sublieutenant Vexa and Chief Master-At-Arms Grifahni Jace, without whom, some of us wouldn't be standing here today. Thank you. Thank you all. I...I'll try to live up to your honor. Thank you Admirals. Captain. Look at this, Dad!”
“I'm proud of you, son!” Admiral Paris' eyes glistened.
“And now, Commander Paris,” Tuvok continued, “to show my personal appreciation – would you do the honors of giving the command sequence to get us underway to Alpha Centauri.”
Tom wondered if he heard right. “- It'd be my pleasure
, Captain Tuvok.”
“Just a minute, son.” Admiral Paris motioned to an aid. “I have something for you to deliver. Admiral Janeway, you take your coffee black, do you not?”
Admiral Paris set a Starfleet thermos on the podium. Suddenly it was beamed to a stand on the Perseus bridge.
“Ethiopian gebena-brewed Yirgacheffe. The galaxy's first interstellar coffee delivery service. Get it to her hot, young man.”
“Will do, Sir.” Tom turned to the crew. “Stations.” Captain Tuvok sat in the command chair, and Tom stood by his right side.
“Quantum vectors, Mr Shir.”
Ensign Ujio Shir activates the helm.
“Impulse and warp engines are standing by, Sirs.
He reviews the bridge crew. Everything's running smoothly.
“Ahead full impulse. Activate chronophasic field emitters.”
He orders Starfleet's first quantum-drive equipped starship to set a course for slipstream velocity, and helps to usher in a new era for human and Federation space travel. A quantum leap in humanity's power over the stars.
“Confirm phase sequences.”
really fast this time, bearing one of Starfleet's highest honors.
“Full power to quantum drive.”
Just one quick jump to Alpha Centauri, four light years away, take some readings, one quick jump back, and he would have a few days' leave while the crew checked out the ship. To be, at long last, by her side.
“Quantum slipstream opening, sir. Matrix is stable. Deflector at maximum.”
An immense bluish-purple rent in space opens before them, a vortex of stunningly beautiful violence.
Sublieutenant Vexa speaks:
“Readings coming in from Alpha Centauri, Sir. Quantum slipstream exit point is localized and stabilized.” She turns to her commander.
“It's exactly where it's supposed to be, Sir!”
The bridge crew applauds. Tom's heart is pounding.
Tom gets the nod from Captain Tuvok. He's as calm, collected, and in control as if in meditation.
“Quantum velocity, Mr Shir.”
Tom steps forward and looks to the horizon. “Let's see what this baby can do, Ujio.”
“Aye aye, sir!”