“At 0817 this morning, a communications relay picked up a priority one communiqué from the
STAR TREK: THIRD CUTTER SQUADRON
Silverfin – On The Sidelines
Cyclops. Whilst on a routine security sweep in close proximity to the Galen System they encountered a Talarian fleet, on a direct course for Galen three. All contact was lost with the
Cyclops following this transmission. We must surmise that the ship was lost and that the Talarians are going on the offensive once again,”
Rear Admiral T’Rona, Commander of the Third Cutter Squadron, stated over the conference comlink—every other cutter CO under her command was hearing the breaking news together.
Susanna Leijten, of the Albacore-Class U.S.S. Silverfin
, felt a cold shiver run down her spine. It had been twenty years since the Talarian Border Wars, since then things between the Republic and the Federation had been quiet. There were momentary periods of tension between the two, but since the peace agreement no shots had been fired. Now, they were not only invading, but they had destroyed a Border Service cutter.
“How long until they strike?”
Captain Yolix of the Bonito
“They will reach our outlying colonies within fifteen minutes.”
gasped Captain Lowe of the T’Vor
“I have spoken with Starfleet. Due to the scale of this strike force, the Third Squadron alone cannot repel them, so elements of the Sixth Fleet—under the command of Vice Admiral Bruce Coburn—are being dispatched. They will not arrive for at least four hours. In the meantime, we are to do all we can to protect evacuation operations and gather as much data on the Talarian forces as possible—”
“We’re not going to fight back?”
Harrison Richards interrupted. The Peregrine
’s CO had once served onboard the Silverfin
, though before Leijten joined the ship in 2370, however, before he’d left he’d scratched his name into the underside of the Conn console, as a way of making his own personal mark on the ship.
“Combat should be avoided if at all possible; with the loss of the
Cyclops we have been weakened. If you are in a tactical engagement, utilise delaying tactics and withdraw. I know that the Border Service does not run away, but until reinforcements arrive we are in a very compromised position and losing another cutter will only worsen the situation.”
Richards agreed, though a little reluctant.
“Thank you for your understanding, Captain,”
said T’Rona, a hint of appreciation in her voice. She was a fifty-four year Border Service veteran, so she knew exactly what they were all going through, the only difference was that she didn’t show it. “Captain Verj, I would recommend that the
Obion returns to Freedom. Your services may be called upon to tow damaged ships in for repairs once we retaliate.”
“We’re currently assisting a freighter with engine problems,”
the Tellarite woman reported, “but once we’re done we’ll return to the station.”
“Good. Commander Ilahn, the
H’krii will get as close to the Galen System as possible and monitor from there. Maintain radio silence and run passive scans so as to ensure minimal profile.”
“Consider it done.”
“The remaining cutters will pair up; the
Bonito and the
Cam Rahn Bay, the
Peregrine and the
T’Vor. Monitor and report back, assist where needed. Once the fleet arrives, you will all be assigned to different tactical wings so as to spread out our expertise and knowledge of the region. Until then, use that expertise to ensure your survival.
“Captain Leijten, please stay on the link, I will leave the rest of you to attend to your assignments,”
T’Rona finished up.
It didn’t take long for the six other Commanding Officers to sign off and see to their assigned duties. Leijten was eager to get to work as well, they had a lot that needed to be done and she wanted to ensure they were ready.
“Captain, what is the most recent estimate?”
“The report I had on my desk this morning said that everything would be done in two weeks, assuming that all the parts were available. I’m just about to go and speak with Lieutenant th’Shaan and see if we can get that timetable sped up.”
“Understood. Keep me apprised. T’Rona out.”
As soon as the Border Service delta appeared, Leijten was on her feet and heading for the exit of her ready room. Given the nature of the situation she would need to address the ship and let everyone know what was going on, but before that she needed to speak with Elak th’Shaan, her Chief Engineer. The Silverfin
was docked at Star Station Freedom, undergoing an extensive diagnostic, overhaul and refit of several key systems—some of which they’d been putting off for three months due to their workload. It was all work that needed to be done to ensure the ship remained fighting fit, but having just docked the day before it had come at a very bad time.
She crossed the Bridge quickly, giving Lieutenant Commander Ling-Na a slight nod as she headed straight to the turbolift and disappeared below decks. Leijten couldn’t help but feel anxious about the invasion. The Dominion War was only fourteen months behind them, tensions in the former Cardassian Union were high, nothing had been heard from the Breen since the end of the war which made many worried, the alliance between the Federation, Klingons and Romulans was tentative at best—and they needed to work together so as to rebuild the Alpha Quadrant and ensure some manner of stability. The last thing then needed was another conflict—the state of the Third Squadron was not uncommon, every fleet, task force and squadron in Starfleet was undermanned for the amount of work it needed to do.
Luckily the turbolift made it from the Bridge to deck seven without any stops. Stepping out, it was only a few meters to the Engine Room which was bustling with activity. In the middle of the two-level high room the warp core stood, but instead of the numerous blue rings pulsing with energy, it was dark and quiet, whilst the two conduits which fed the nacelles that ran across the deck had been raised up and had at least three technicians going over each one in painstaking detail. The amount of diagnostic and analysis equipment in the room had quadrupled as they got to work, firstly on the entire warp assembly (injectors, core, conduits and coils), before moving out to the environmental systems, structural integrity generators, phaser pre-fire chambers, shield grid and computer central processor.
On the upper lever she spotted the two blue men she needed to speak with, huddled together looking over an assortment of PADDs, whilst junior officers and technicians peppered them with questions and queries. She climbed the ladder and when at the top her XO, Commander Amorin, was the first to notice her.
“Captain?” the towering Benzenite asked, his scowl masked by the goggles and breather mask he needed to wear in standard M-Class environments.
The rest all turned and looked at her, the rookies among them visibly stiffened in posture.
Fixing them with a look she politely asked, “Can you leave us for a moment?”
Obediently they scarpered, leaving just the three senior officers on the balcony. She obviously had Amorin and th’Shaan’s full attention, as once they were alone neither of them prompted her or badgered her with questions.
Looking at both of them seriously, she cut to the chase. “The Talarians have invaded. They’ve already destroyed the Cyclops
and will be at our outlying colonies any minute now. We have
to get out there, ASAP.”
Amorin and th’Shaan shared a look, before turning back to her. “I was just about to comm you, Captain,” th’Shaan began and by the tone of his voice, she knew she wouldn’t like what was coming. “The station’s maintenance teams have just completed a level one structural diagnostic of the warp coils in both nacelles. They’ve discovered that fifteen percent of them are suffering from micro-fractures, due to their age and the constant abuse they’ve taken over the years.”
“What does this mean for dry-dock time?”
“Another week,” Amorin added, “at best.”
“Damn,” she hissed.
“I’ll have all my people on double or triple shifts and call in as many techs as Freedom can spare for now,” th’Shaan quickly assured her. “But it’s a lot of delicate work that has to be done right or the new coils won’t last a light-year.”
Neither man padded their estimates or hyped up what needed to be done (th’Shaan had learned from Amorin who’d been his predecessor), so she knew that the work that needed to be done was vital and that it would take time to do right. She also knew that the best way to get results was to leave them to focus on the work and not badger them.
“What else do you need?”
“The new tech here and ready when we are and as many man-hours as possible,” th’Shaan told her.
She gave the Andorian a nod. “I’ll speak to Quartermaster Gornak and Commander Weir right now and make sure that you’ll have what you need. Anything else that will get us out there faster then comm me.”
“Of course,” stated Amorin with a slight nod.
The two men headed for the ladders and slid down to the lower level, a new purpose and urgency to their movements. Leijten had faith in the two of them to get the Silverfin
put back together and ready for launch as soon as the laws of physics permitted. She left the engine room through the deck six exit and made her way to the turbolift once again. She had one more duty to attend to, before seeing to the work she needed to.
The drive section was bustling with activity, as the assortment of the ships engineers and the stations techs worked on the overhaul. They were professional, but not in any particular rush. Somehow scuttlebutt about the invasion hadn’t to spread yet—more often than not, they heard about events by way of gossip and hearsay before and official announcement was ever made.
She stepped off onto the Bridge, which was just as she’d left it; Ling-Na in the central seat, Lieutenant Commander Kolanis Daezan at Operations on her right as she entered, Lieutenant Harriet Llewellyn-Smyth down at the Conn, whilst Lieutenant Mulligan sat at the Engineering console monitoring the works. As she looked around, she noticed Daezan look over at her, his usually smooth brown was furled as he no doubt picked up on the strong emotions that radiated from her.
Leijten moved to the middle of the deck and Ling-Na was immediately on her feet, ready to surrender her command of the Bridge. Leijten made no move to take her seat but glanced over at Ops.
“Commander, address intercraft.”
“Aye sir,” he replied, dropping the ‘skipper’ he usually addressed her as.
As the boatswain’s whistle sounded, she took a deep breath. “All hands, this is the Captain. At just after oh-eight-hundred hours this morning, the U.S.S. Cyclops
was destroyed by a wave of Talarian ships entering Federation territory. By now, they will have reached several outer rim colonies. Effective immediately, the Squadron is at red alert. In a few hours, reinforcements from the Sixth Fleet will arrive and we will begin to bolster defences and co-ordinate our response to this act of blatant aggression.
has a lot of work to get through before we can be ready to play our part, but I know that we can handle it and whatever else comes our way. Let’s get to it. Leijten out.”
For a moment there was stunned silence on the Bridge as all four officers looked at her. Before she could say anything however, Ling-Na was on the move towards Tactical.
En route she announced, “I’ll begin monitoring all transmissions and get on top of the weapons retrofit.”
On the other side of the deck, Daezan turned to Mulligan. “I can monitor things from here if you want to get below.”
The Assistant Chief Engineer nodded as she stood up. “Thank you Commander.”
Within a matter of moments the three remaining officers manning their station were busy with helping on the refit work, or monitoring the situation that was unfolding along the border. She knew that down below the rest of the crew would be getting to work as well.
Heading for her ready room, she had to hassle the Squadron’s maintenance officer and quartermaster to ensure that the Silverfin
had access to what was needed.
* * * * *