Closing up a panel in his ready room, the newly minted commanding officer of the Devastator braced himself on his chair before pulling himself up. “Computer, hot apple cider.” He said out loud, staring at the replicator behind his desk. The familiar chime of the computer working chirped and soon after a white mug emblazoned with the starfleet delta materialized. Visual steam could be seen reflecting against the light. With eager anticipation, Scotto reached for the beverage and brought it to his nose. Smells right. He thought.
Taking the first sip, at last the familiar taste he expected hit his tongue. The captain spent the last few minutes fighting with the replicator to get the taste right for his favorite hot beverage. The old girl was nowhere near reaching the limit of her usefulness, but, she wasn’t exactly up to snuff. Several years of acting like a starbase in orbit of Raeya III had treated her like an overworked science station on an Oberth-class starship. And, to top it all off, there wasn’t exactly time to get things in order before she was shipped off on this important mission.
Settling down at his desk, Captain Scotto reviewed, for another time, their mission parameters and replayed a portion of Admiral Beckett’s message.
‘Make no mistake: Starfleet is alone in responding to this threat. The Klingon Empire will not help us bring their rogue citizens to heel. Unprovoked, the Hunters are here to indulge their hunger for battle and hatred of the Federation, while sacking our worlds and people for resources. Our local task group is outmatched by the strength and numbers of their ships, and so it falls to us, Bravo Fleet, to defend our borders.’
Scotto had never met the man, even in his time working at Intel HQ. However, he had heard stories – not particularly good or bad – but, he sounded like someone who one wouldn’t want to double cross.
The Devastator was headed to the Meronia Cluster as directed by Captain Dex and Task Force 93 Command. She was escorting several Federation mercy ships to provide relief to the stricken colonies suffering from both ecological issues and intervention from the Hunters. The ships were adequately protected by the Dev, but the captain still would’ve preferred that they weren’t drawn into combat – not yet at least. This was basically a second shakedown cruise after sitting like an old car in garage.
Taking a long drag from his cider, Scotto swiped down the display and turned to look out the window. As the stars zoomed by he felt that usual pain in his neck. Feeling a sharp shooting pain again, Captain Scotto placed his cup of cider down hard on his desk and shuffled through a drawer looking for the familiar hypospray.
Placing it to his neck, the instant relief made the captain relax slightly back into his chair. However, his moment of bliss was soon interrupted by the dreaded chime from the bridge. “Captain Scotto to the bridge.” He heard. Scotto’s eyes sparked open and he stood up without a second thought. He ran two hands through his hair before pulling down on his tunic and stepping out onto the familiar bridge of a sovereign-class starship.
“Report.” He commanded.
His hand-picked Andorian first officer, Commander Sera Zh’rhaohross, stood up from the center seat and stepped aside before placing her hands behind her back in attention. “Sir, the Sagittarius has picked up some unusual readings several hundred kilometers ahead, they think it could be a cloaked vessel.” She said with a hint of concern in her voice. “I’ve pulled up the data sent on an encoded channel, per your orders.”
Scotto, still somewhat unfamiliar with most of the bridge crew slowly walked towards the center of the bridge and reviewed the telemetry that was on the viewscreen. “Can we verify their readings?” He asked.
“Not yet, sir. We will be within range in approximately five minutes.” The science officer replied from behind.
Captain Scotto had ordered that the runabout Sagittarius be sent out in front of the convoy to scout anything along their route. “Go to red alert and inform the mercy ships. Drop us out of warp when we reach the Sagittarius’s last position. Order the mercy ships to stay within our weapons range.”
Scotto took his seat and soon was handed a PADD to review the data more closely. Sera also took her seat and turned to him. “Could be nothing.” She said. Charles looked up from the PADD and said, “You would say that. Don’t try to manage my mood, Commander.” He gave her the usual look before returning to the data on the PADD. “Could definitely be a cloaked ship. We’re close enough to the Meronia Cluster that perhaps they are trying to cut us off at the pass.” Scotto said.
After what seemed like an eternity, the Dev arrived at the designated coordinates. Dropping out of warp, they encountered a debris field.
“Shit.” Said the captain.