Matt shook his head as he grimaced at the manner in which emergency supplies had just been piled
into the locker located within Deflector Control. “Mister Roberts,” he said softly as he backed out of the cramped compartment. “Would say that this is a satisfactory
means of storing vital equipment?”
The ensign opened his mouth, and then he closed it, and then he opened it again, and closed it. But no sound emerged.
“I am waiting, Mister Roberts.”
“Very good, Mister Roberts,” Matt whispered as he leaned close to the very young man. “I would suggest then, that you take charge of the personnel Star Fleet has given you the responsibility of, Mister Roberts, and that you get this compartment squared away!”
The ensign flinched, and he nodded vigorously. “Yes, SIR! I will do it immediately, sir!”
Matt sighed. “No, Mister Roberts, you
will not. You
these crewmen, who will repack these supplies and equipment, regulation fashion and within the next twenty minutes. After that, you will see Mister Pok and you will draw cleaning supplies from him. And following that, your crewmen will clean Deflector Control until it is utterly spotless, a task which I do not expect to take more than two hours to accomplish. The grime and grease on these consoles is unconscionable, Mister. And there is dust inside
the primary and secondary and
tertiary isolinar chip arrays that control the Main Deflector.”
“But . . . but we’ve only had seven hours to prepare for this inspection, Sir!” the Ensign protested, leaving unsaid that he had only boarded ship seven hours ago.
Matt took a step backwards and glared harshly at the men and women assigned to Deflector Control. “Is that true? All of this would have been cleaned and restored to good order if you had only been given an adequate amount of time to do so? Come, now, ladies and gentlemen, you are free to answer.”
Utter silence rang through the compartment, and Matt nodded, even as Chan Shrak tried hard to keep from laughing at his side.
“Mister Roberts. Perhaps this is the first occasion in which you have had contact with the real universe instead of the manicured grounds of the Academy. Life is not fair. The universe does not care whether or not you have been on the job for seven minutes or seven hours or seven decades. And quite frankly, neither do I. This station is under your
command, and it is your
responsibility to ensure that it is up to my
standards, Mister Roberts. The blame is not only for you, but also includes these men and women,” Matt continued as he waved a hand at the crewmen standing at attention, “who have failed for what appears to be weeks
, if not months
, to carry out their assigned tasks. If any of them are insubordinate or fail to follow your orders, Mister Roberts, then you are to report it immediately to Lt. Commander Biddle, the head of your department. If she fails to properly motivate these crewmen, Mister Roberts, you will then report it to Commander Shrak here. And if I ever enter this compartment, and find it this slovenly and criminally ill-prepared, I swear by all that is Holy I will have your entire section dishonorably discharged from the Star Fleet!”
“Two hours, Mister Roberts, and I expect for this compartment to be sterile enough for Doctor Talbot to perform emergency surgery on the deck. Is that understood, Mister Roberts?”
“Sir! Yes, sir!”
“Carry on then,” Matt ordered as he turned and left the control room, Shrak beside him. As the doors slid shut, Chan Shrak chuckled.
“You are on the verge of giving yourself a stroke, Captain Dahlgren. Perhaps you missed your calling in life; although I cannot recall the last time I saw an advertisement for the employment of a Spanish Inquisitor.”
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yes. So far, I have not had to do anything except appear to be slightly
more sane than you. It is quite refreshing to be thought of as the more restrained and subtle personage.”
“What’s next on the list?”
“Security and the Small-Arms Locker. How’s the leg after covering most of the length of the ship’s corridors for the past seven hours?”
“Perhaps you need to see Doctor Talbot—he might have something for the pain.”
“Well, that is
a pity. I’ve always yearned to command a crew of pink-skins.”
The two rounded a corridor and spotted the sealed door to the Security Office, an armed Marine standing at parade rest on guard duty outside. Spotting the Captain and Exec, he snapped to attention, and whispered quietly into his com-badge.
“As you were,” Matt said, and the burly crewman relaxed slightly. “Corporal . . . Thiesman? Correct?”
“What do you think of our merry little ship, Corporal?”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“It is lax. Before our team boarded, there were no guards posted in engineering, the bridge, or on the small-arms locker. As per your orders, we relieved the crewmen previously assigned to Security and instituted a proper ship-board security watch. The storage condition of the small arms was . . . well, it was disorganized and the weapons were not properly cleaned and maintained before being placed in storage. The security logs are incomplete. The brig and our quarters are so filthy that a pigsty looks clean. And the crew’s attitude is . . . unhelpful. Sir.”
“Which is why I asked Admiral Parker for Star Fleet Marines to handle Security, Corporal. We’ll get her ship-shape and Bristol-fashion right quick, Corp.”
“Aye, aye, Sir. That we will.”
Matt and Chan walked into the Security office, where they found a dozen Marines scrubbing every surface, and four more working with disassembled phasers. One of the Marines bellowed, “Officer on Deck!” and immediately all of them stood at attention. Lieutenant Erwin Beck emerged from his private office and nodded. “Skipper, we’ve got a problem.”
“As you were,” Matt said as he followed the Marine officer into his office. The slender man sighed and ran his hand through his thinning hair as he sat and brought up the arms logs. “We’re short eleven hand phasers. According to the armory logs, we should have two hundred hand phasers, all Type I and Type II, stored in the small-arms locker, the shuttles, and a dozen security-locked local access points placed strategically throughout Republic
. But an actual hand count only accounted for one hundred and eighty-nine.”
“Any trace of them in the security logs, Lieutenant?” asked Chan.
“No sir. But the logs are incomplete and improperly filled out. I don’t have a record of any phasers being assigned to the away teams Republic
beamed down to Omicron Cygnii II. That could account for them, but since they weren’t logged out . . .” the Marine shrugged. And Matt nodded in agreement.
“Then officially they never left the ship. We haven’t discovered any stray phasers, either Lieutenant, and we have gone through all of the crew quarters and most of the ship’s compartments on this inspection. For now, go ahead and log them as missing and I will get Admiral Parker to sign off on them.”
The Marine looked pained. “I have never had a weapon for which I was responsible go missing, Skipper. How could they have let things slide so much?”
“That’s what we are here for, Erwin. To clean up another crew’s mess. Other than that snafu, how does Security look?”
“I’ll get it under control—and by the end of the day, Sir. Nothing for you to worry about. But, I do have some concerns over the state of our issued arms—all of the hand phasers aboard Republic
are the Type I and Type II models dating back to the late '50s, none of the more modern and powerful units. In addition, there isn't a single Type III phaser rifle, not even an antique, aboard ship.” The Marine chuckled. “But we do have two photon mortars and four dozen shells.”
Matt blinked. “Weren’t those retired twenty years ago?”
“Write this all up and send a copy to my yeoman, Erwin. Collect all hand phasers from the storage sites and shuttles and we’ll replace them with newer models from Spacedock before we depart on our shakedown cruise. As for the mortars . . . turn them in,” Matt said reluctantly. “I don’t trust twenty-year old photon grenades, Lieutenant. I’ll make certain that Spacedock sends us some rifles as well.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
Matt and Chan walked—well Matt limped—to the nearest turbolift, with Chan Shrak shaking his head. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, Captain Dahlgren. Has Admiral Parker give us a launch date yet?”
“Not yet, Chan. But I want this crew pushed—and pushed hard
. You keep on top of the officers, and make certain
they stay on the crew. Act like we have only a day or two before shakedown, act like a madman if you have to, but I want this ship ready for space—I want the crew
ready for space—in 72 hours.”
“We will get it done, Captain Dahlgren.”
Matt gave his XO an exhausted smile and clapped him on the shoulder. “I know you will, old friend.”
“Medical is on the way to the bridge, you know, pink-skin.”
The Captain snorted. “Talbot would order me to bed with a hefty dose of sleeping pills and pain meds. I’ve got paperwork waiting in my ready room. See you on the bridge?”
“Yes, sir, after I finish checking on Engineering. Commander Malik wanted to speak with me about some of his concerns—although considering the usual chaotic nature of the Trill homeworld, why should he find this ship so very different.”
The turbolift arrived and Matt stepped in. “Let me know if it is anything serious, Chan. I’ll be in my ready room.”
“Bridge,” he ordered the computer as the doors whistled shut.
Lt. Commander Amanda Tsien was still giddy about having been appointed as a command-level Department Head! In the modern Star Fleet, there simply weren’t
any command-level Science officers anymore. Not outside of dedicated science research vessels such as the Mediterranean
-, or Oberth
-class ships. There hadn’t been for decades. But the Captain wanted that position, and so it came to pass that she was now the officer directly in charge of all Republic
s various science teams and labs. She made a couple of annotations in the mid-watch log, and then sat back again. He was strange, the Captain. So many of ideas were anachronistic and outdated—like the notion that Republic
would maintain around the clock standard watches even though she was berthed in Spacedock! Other ships just had a station-keeping watch, but the Captain had mandated otherwise.
She shivered and swore she could just make out the fog of her breath. She looked up from the Captain’s chair set in the very center of the large and expansive bridge and gazed longingly at the environmental controls. But the Captain had locked out all non-authorized access. She shivered against the chill, and shook her head, remembering earlier this evening (last night!) when she asked him why the ship was so bloody cold!
“Amanda, the chill is good for the crew. Most Star Fleet ships maintain a temperature of 25-degrees centigrade in all compartments—we are not most Star Fleet ships. Republic
will maintain a temperature of 20-degrees centigrade in all compartments except personnel quarters. It will help the crew maintain focus and stay awake on long boring duty shifts—such as your watch. Good night, Lieutenant Commander.”
Bloody martinet! She knew—intellectually, at least—that it wasn’t really cold. But it certainly felt that way. When she had been dragged out of her advanced course at the Academy she hadn’t expected . . . well, to be truthful, she hadn’t exactly known what
to expect. She had never before been assigned to a ship as old as the Republic
, and she certainly would not have been surprised to find hammocks and an oak deck. She shook her head, well, maybe not quite
that antiquated. But, despite the ship's age, something about the layout of the bridge and the vessel just felt
right. And her current seat—the Captain’s seat—did provide a sense of power and authority that the modern benches lacked.
Her quarters were smaller and more spartan than younger ships, but she had discovered that everything worked—and that the more compact space had required little effort on her part to decorate to her tastes. She chuckled to herself, and then forced the chuckle away as two crewmen half turned to look at her. Her last tour aboard the Nebula
she had spent two weeks
finding exactly the appropriate décor for the three rooms she had been assigned.
Still, despite the tyrant of a Captain and the sudden change in assignment, Amanda was inordinately pleased with herself. She finished the changes to the log and entered it in the ship’s database, looking up at the clock over the main viewer. 0302 hours, and all is well on the good ship Republic
The turbo-lift doors swished open and Amanda looked up in surprise as the Captain and Commander Shrak stepped onto the bridge. She stood in puzzlement.
“I have the conn,” the Captain said.
“The Captain has the conn,” she answered firmly, stepping aside as he seated himself.
“Lieutenant Commander Tsien, please take over the tactical console,” Matt asked as he pulled up the ship’s log and read over what she had entered. She noted that he promptly entered the change of watch on the log as she crossed over the bridge behind him and took up station at tactical.
“Sound General Quarters and set Red Alert throughout the ship.”
She jerked; her jaw dropped. What the . . . we are in Spacedock
The Captain rotated his chair and smiled at her. “Amanda. Sound General Quarters and set Red Alert throughout the ship.”
She glanced across at Commander Shrak and saw that he was holding an antique stop watch in his hand, and he nodded affirmatively at her.
“Aye, aye, Sir. Sounding General Quarters and setting Red Alert throughout the ship,” she said quietly as the klaxons began to wail. Commander Shrak pushed a button and started keeping track of the elapsed time.
“Very well,” the Captain said as he rotated the chair back to its forward position. "Inform me the exact moment that all compartments report manned and ready for action.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” Amanda answered.
Officers began to jog onto the bridge, from the ramps at the rear that led down to Deck 2 and the two turbolifts both. Most looked sleepy, exhausted, and utterly bewildered at what possible event could send them to Red Alert while berthed in Spacedock.
One by one, the compartments on the ship’s Master Systems Display changed color, and finally, she was able to report. “Captain, all compartments report manned and ready for action.”
Commander Shrak hit another button on the stop-watch and shook his head. “Four minutes and twenty-seven seconds, Captain Dahlgren.”
The Captain frowned and hit a stud on the side of his chair. “All hands, this is the Captain speaking. Four minutes and twenty-seven seconds is an utterly unacceptable time for this vessel to button up for combat operations. You will
do better. Lieutenant Commander Tsien, cancel Red Alert, please.”
She did so.
“This has been a drill. I am not at all pleased with your response time. A proper response time for a Korolev
-class starship is seventy-one seconds by the book, ladies and gentlemen. You just took nearly four times longer. That is unacceptable on its face, and a disgrace to your status as Star Fleet officers and crew. Since we are now all awake, and time is a very finite resource, all off-duty personnel will report to Cargo Bay 1 for today’s work assignments. Among them will be further drills on how to respond to the sounding of Red Alert. Third watch remain at your stations. All other personnel, report to Command Shrak in Cargo Bay 1. That will be all.”
The Captain stood. “Lieutenant Commander Tsien, you have the conn.” He said as he limped over the turbolift.
“Aye, aye, Sir,” she whispered as the doors closed. Oh dear God, she thought. What have I gotten myself into?