The bridge was quiet and subdued as Republic
departed from Jupiter Station. Not quiet with focus, but rather quiet with harsh self-reflection. Matt frowned. He hadn’t been surprised by the reports from the men returning from their liberty; indeed, he had expected precisely that attitude by the civilians and crew aboard the Star Fleet base. But, he decided against leaving the station early—and made certain that every man and woman aboard Republic
visited the station during their twenty-fours in orbit.
The turbolift doors whistled open and Matt saw three newcomers to the ship step uneasily upon the bridge, and the corner of his lips twitched. Now those are three very
unhappy people, he thought. The captain turned his attention back to the main viewer, and pressed a stud on his command chair. In response, a whistle sounded throughout the ship over the intercom systems.
“This is the captain speaking,” he broadcast. “You have all now seen, first-hand, exactly how our fellow Star Fleet personnel and civilians view Republic
and her crew. Ambassador Delena Mar, of Argellius II, has gone so far to propose to the Federation Council that this ship should be recalled to Spacedock and be decommissioned in disgrace. Ladies and gentlemen, that will not be happening. Over the past two weeks, I have pushed you to the breaking point—and you have survived. You have thrived, and you have improved your skills to the point where this ship is almost ready for deployment.”
“Many of you—most of you—had little to do with the events that have blackened our ship’s reputation, our own reputations. I have heard whispers about how this is unfair, and I have seen the shame and the guilt that you share with each other over our ship’s past. It is
unfair, and in a perfect universe, it would not be. We do not live in a perfect universe, ladies and gentlemen. We live in the real
“Did you like the stares and the snide remarks and the whispered comments behind you backs on Jupiter Station? Do you enjoy being tarred as the officers and men who abandoned a Federation Colony to their deaths? Do you feel pride at having the reputation only as a crew of screw-ups and misfits and beings that cannot be trusted a on a real
“You are probably asking yourselves, what is the Old Man going to do about this? How is he going to fix this? Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not.”
cannot fix Republic
cannot change the opinion of others; I
cannot make the universe perfect.”
“I have done what I can in trying to make you remember why you first joined Star Fleet. I have made you stand up straight and tall, and I have pushed you to your upmost limits to remind you that you can
do your job. I cannot do more. Only you can.”
“The time has come for each of you sapient beings to make your own
decision. Are you going to let those assholes from Jupiter Station and others who think like they do determine how high you
hold your own head? Are you going to live down
to their expectations, or live up
to your own worth? Are you going to let our ship be shuffled from one miserable assignment to the next, crawling on our bellies so that no one notices her name? Or will you
“I cannot do this for you. You have to choose, ladies and gentlemen. You can whine and cry and mope around in depression because you now know how the universe looks on Republic
and her crew. Or you can change how they look at us. It won’t be easy and it sure as Hell won’t happen overnight. But if you
want to remove the dishonor heaped upon you, if you
want to cleanse the shame of this ship’s actions at Omicron Cygnii II, if you
want to wipe away the stain on our reputations—I will back you. I will stand beside you. I will fight for you at the highest levels of Star Fleet and against station commanders that allow the crap you were coated with on Jupiter Station.”
“Yes, you are angry—and you have every right to be angry. I am angry
. And if you feel like you can’t handle that anger and that shame and the guilt that you feel, talk to Counselor Trincullo. That is what she is here for—to help you, to help me, to bring this ship back from the precipice of that yawning Abyss before us. Oh, it would be easier to go ahead and fall, to no longer care what anyone thinks about this ship, thinks about us. To become the caricatures which they imagine us to be.”
“I will not walk that path. And I do not want one single soul aboard Republic
who is willing to accept that for themselves. We are in this together now—all of us have been painted with the same broad brush. Whether we show the universe that we are better than that, ladies and gentlemen, that remains to be seen. I won’t promise we will convince everyone—there are people out there who will always assume the worst, who prefer the simple version of condemning this ship and her crew. There are people out there who will spit on you in twenty years, once they learn you served aboard Republic
, and nothing will change the opinions of those close-minded bigots. But there are also men and women of all races, across this United Federation of Planets who will give you and this ship a second chance—if you show them they are wrong!”
“It is up to you now. Your future is in your own hands. Stand by for warp drive test. Dahlgren out.”
Matt flicked the comm stud to the off position and he stared at the three men who still stood in front of the turbolift. “You are no doubt asking yourselves what the Hell did I do to deserve this? You didn’t do anything, gentlemen. I needed officers and crew with your skills, but you are now one of us. A member of this crew, so get over being upset about it. Lieutenant Grissom, report to Commander Malik in engineering. Crewman Zapata, Commander Shrak will show you to the computer interface here on the bridge—Republic
has been suffering faults in several systems, but the diagnostics and physical examination of the hardware has revealed nothing. We believe the problem is in the software of the computer cores—and I need a crack computer tech like you to get into the guts of the system, track down the problem, and fix
“Chief Bronson, it is my understanding that you are perhaps one of the best deflector techs in Star Fleet. I have an officer running Deflector Control, a nugget just out of the Academy. Can you get him and his section squared away?”
Bronson smiled thinly. “Yes, sir. I’ve worked with several young officers before and I think I can.”
“Good. Gentlemen, you may regard this assignment as the worst in the Fleet. Frankly, I don’t care. You are here because I need you and I need your experience. And now that you are part and parcel of this motley crew, I would suggest that you suck it up and bring this ship up to my standards. Yeoman Sinclair will direct you to your quarters and get you settled in, then report to your stations. Dismissed.”
“Captain, we have cleared the warp safety perimeter of Jupiter,” Isabella called out from the helm.
Matt didn’t look up from the log entry he was entering. “Thank you, Miss Montoya. Mister Shrak, set Yellow Alert and prepare for Warp speed.”
“Aye, aye, Sir. Setting Yellow Alert. All hands, this is the XO—prepare for warp speed,” he paused, and then looked up from his console. “Republic
is ready for warp test, Captain Dahlgren.”
“Very good, Mister Shrak. Miss Montoya, come to heading 177 Mark 42 on course for Alpha Centauri A and take us to Warp speed.”
“Aye, aye, Sir. Coming about to heading 177 Mark 42 on course for the Alpha Centauri system. Warp engines are coming on-line . . . now.”
Matt looked up at the view screen as Republic
shot forward warping space and time around her as she bypassed the physical realities of her universe.
“Holding steady at Warp Factor 1,” announced Commander Shrak.
“Increase speed to Warp 6, Miss Montoya—smartly, now.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” the helmsman answered as she began to slowly increase the power being fed into the nacelles from the warp core. Matt looked down at the repeater display mounted on the arm of his command chair, and slowly nodded as the numbers steadily climbed upward. He changed the display view and studied the warp field configurations for a moment, and then switched the display back. Shifting slightly in his seat, he toggled the intercom to engineering. “Mister Malik, how are we doing down there?”
“We are doing just fine, Sir. Stress on the warp-field in within established parameters, the core is operating at 42% of rated capacity, and the temperature of the warp coils are well below their tolerances
“Prepare to take the core to 100%, Mister Malik. Inform me immediately if the core temperature or coil temperature begins to spike.”
“Aye, aye, Sir
,” the engineer answered.
“Warp 9, Miss Montoya.”
“Accelerating to Warp Factor 9, aye, aye, Sir.”
Once again, the ship surged forward smoothly. Matt closed his eyes and concentrated on feeling the low-frequency thrum of the warp core through the ship’s structure. Every ship—even two of the same class—responded slightly differently to warp speeds. But Matt remembered well how Republic
had performed during his time aboard her as an Ensign and a junior Lieutenant. At last he opened his eyes and smiled, swiveling his chair to face Chan Shrak.
“We are holding steady at Warp 9, Captain Dahlgren,’ the Andorian said crisply. “Hull vibration is very low, sir.”
“She’s always had a smooth ride, Chan,” the Captain whispered. “Core temperature?”
“Within expected parameters, Sir.”
“Very well. Miss Montoya, hold us at this speed for five minutes and then take her to maximum.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
As the minutes ticked by, Matt stood and limped over to Shrak’s console. There was a slight rise in core temps, but the coils were still well within their limits. He clapped the XO on the shoulder and returned to his chair.
“Take us to maximum power, Miss Montoya,” he said quietly.
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
began accelerating past Warp 9, Matt began to feel a slight tremor through the ship’s hull. Yes, just like he remembered, he thought.
“Warp 9.1,” the helmsman called out as she focused on her instruments, “Warp 9.2 . . . 9.3 . . . 9.4 . . .” and the ship shuddered slightly, the bridge lights flickering.
Grace Biddle was bent over her own console. “Increasing power to main deflector dish, sir,” she spoke up, and the ride smoothed out once again.
“Captain,” Isabella said from her station, with a grin on her face. “We are now travelling at War 9.5, at 100% of the rated capacity of the warp core.”
“Hold us at this speed for now, Isabella.”
For one minute, then two, and three Republic pressed onward. Finally, Matt nodded, and he hit the comm stud to Engineering. “Mister Malik, your engines seem to be working.”
“That they are, Captain
,” the clearly happy Trill’s voice rang back through the intercom.
“And the core temp?”
“Climbing slowly, but still well below the point of shutdown, Sir. I believe we can maintain this speed for at least two hours without difficulty
“Excellent. Bring the core to 125% of rated power, if you please, Mister Malik.”
There was a distinct pause over the intercom. “Sir? Did I hear you correctly? You want me to increase the fuel feed to the Warp Core to 125% of the rated maximum capacity
“That is correct, Mister Malik.”
“I cannot recommend that course of action, Sir. Star Fleet Regulations prohibit exceeding 100% of power except in times of war
“I am aware of the regulations, Mister Malik and I will log your objections. Take us to 125% power on the core.”
“Aye, aye, Sir
,” the Trill answered slowly, and then Matt thumbed the intercom off again. “Miss Montoya, increase speed. Take her up until she won’t go any faster or I tell you otherwise.”
She stared at Matt, who nodded his head and cocked one eyebrow. Isabella blinked and she turned back to her console and began to slowly press the acceleration controls forward yet again. “Increasing warp power, aye, aye, Sir. Warp 9.6. . . 9.7 . . . 9.71 . . . 9.72 . . .”
“Warp core temperatures are climbing, Captain Dahlgren,” interjected Chan Shrak. "Warp coil temperatures are in the caution zone as well, and rising.”
“Understood. Miss Biddle, have the Main Deflector increase power to maximum—I don’t want us to hit a small rock at this velocity.”
“Main Deflector is now at full power, Sir.”
“. . . 9.73 . . . 9.74 . . . 9.75 . . .”
shuddered again and her ride was noticeably rougher.
“. . . 9.751. . . 9.752 . . . 9.753 . . . 9.754 . . . holding at 9.754, Sir!” Isabella called out.
“Steady as she goes, Miss Montoya,” Matt said as he activated a timer above the main viewer. “Maintain this speed.”
The ship lurched, and Chan had to grab hold of his console to avoid being knocked off his feet. “Temperatures still rising in core and coils, Captain Dahlgren. We are now past the caution zone and into recommended shutdown.”
“Understood, Mister Shrak. Continue as you are, people.”
The intercom beeped. “Bridge, Engineering! The engines can’t take this, Captain! We need to reduce power
“Steady, Mister Malik, these ships are tougher you think. Miss Tsien, give me a voice count on the time at this velocity, and continue every ten seconds.”
“One minute, thirteen seconds,” the science officer said. “twenty seconds . . . thirty seconds . . .”
“Core temperatures are now approaching auto-shutdown, Sir!” called out Shrak.
“Computer, override shutdown, authorization Dahlgren Alpha Two Two Three Seven Beta Delta Four.”
“Authorization code accepted. Auto shutdown sequence aborted,” the computer replied.
“forty seconds . . . fifty seconds . . . TWO MINUTES . . .”
“Miss Montoya, throttle down to Warp 7,” Matt said as he activated the engineering comm link again. “Mister Malik, reduce fuel feed and bring us back to nominal power conditions. Mister Shrak, how are the temperatures looking now?”
“Dropping, Captain, coils are back in caution and still dropping. Core temperature . . . core temperature is now within regulation limits.”
“Very well. Secure the ship from Yellow Alert. Miss Montoya, maintain Warp 7 until we arrive in the Alpha Centauri system and then bring us about on course for Earth—at Warp 9. Mister Shrak, I’ll be in my ready room. You have the conn.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” the XO answered. “I have the conn.”