Mission Day 59
USS Atlantis – Main Bridge
“Morning all,” Tikva announced rather loudly as she stepped through the door from the rampway leading up from Deck 2. No one flinched at least, but respectful head nods came her way. She’d had to actually order Gantzmann to stop announcing her arrival, but this morning she wasn’t greeted by her fair haired pseudo-valkyrie but the green and purple tinted chitin of Lieutenant Ch’tkk’va.
In absolute years the Xindi-Insectoid was astoundingly young to even be on a starship, but amongst their own kind was old enough to serve, even possibly command if their path had been like Tikva’s – dedicated to getting a center seat as quickly as possible. But instead of serving on a Xindi vessel, Ch’tkk’va had opted to join Starfleet. Oh, to have been in the course planner’s office that day, trying to accommodate the accelerated nature of their learning.
No, Ch’tkk’va was a Security and Tactical officer through and through.
Ah! Mandibles! Compound eyes!
He’s one of your best. Breathe. Deep breath. Respect for them.
Giant. Frigging. Bug.
Highly intelligent sentient being who demolished everyone in the talent contest last month. And you had that deep philosophical discussion with remember. Just sip your coffee and let Rational Tikva beat up on Primate-Brain Tikva for a bit.
As she did her customary tour of the bridge first thing, she stopped at Science and looked the young man who was sitting there over. Stanislaw? Stanford? Stan? The crew wasn’t that big, how could she not recall his name? He nodded as she offered a smile and resolved to look over the manifest once more.
As she had done several times in regards to the man.
His name just refused to stick in her memory. Much like that Engineering officer who was permanently on Delta shift that Velan was always complaining about. Gary? Gavin? Wasn’t Gertrude was it?
“Well Lieutenant,” she started, stepping up behind him to look over his shoulder at the data on screen, “What’s the overnight developments down there on Tarela?”
“They sent us a message ma’am, but the Commander said it could wait till morning seeing as we’re unlikely to respond.”
“Sent us a message?”
“Well, broadcast it omnidirectionally at least ma’am. The United Republics started and then the Monarchy of Krem did about an hour later. Both have been sent to your office.”
She nodded and noted that two of the probes were on system escape trajectories already and that two of the ship’s shuttles were chasing after them. “So, six more probes? All the close in ones I’m guessing?”
“Yes ma’am. Their orbits are stable so they can station keep rather easily. We’ll have to pull them out before the end of the week though as the batteries will start winding down.” He pulled up the probe stats, showing fuel and battery levels, all within the green for now.
“Good good. And the lander?”
“Trudger 01 has confirmed landing and all systems green for orbital return. They’re about an hour out from undertaking an excursion. Apparently, they’re doing some construction prep work. We also caught another rocket launch from the surface during the night. Monstrous thing too,” the man said, bringing up the visual of a rocket launching from the night side of the planet, smack in the middle of a vast dark patch, far removed from the lights of civilization.
“Was that sea launched?” Tikva asked as she looked at the scans of the rocket.
It was a true beast of a machine for the average technological capability the planet had presented to date. It was just a few meters short of half the length of Atlantis herself, two stages and had lofted a grand total of four hundred and twelve metric tons onto a Trans-Telrin trajectory.
“Good spotting ma’am. Certainly was. We were looking over their continents for a launch facility and this thing was floating out in the ocean. I’ve spent most of the shift checking sensor records of the area and can’t see it. Can see a rather large fleet of ships in the area, but no rocket. Must have been underwater.”
“Right…keep digging and let me know will you Stanley,” she said, smiling as her subconscious had just handed her a name, then realising it might not have been right.
“Will do ma’am,” the man, Stanley, answered without a beat. So, the name was right? Excellent.
Next she wrapped around the back of the bridge and Ch’tkk’va who was busy manning the Security console. “Anything new?” she asked with the calm and control of a starship Captain perfectly in command of themselves, their ship and the situation.
A series of clicks and chirps started before the Universal Translator took over. “No new contacts on short- or long-range scanners. A message from Starfleet Command arrived via the relays. Apparently there has been a command restructure and we are now part of a new hive unit,” they said not even turning away from monitoring all of the displays at their command.
Then again, Tikva recalled, they had an excellent field of vision. She was likely nowhere near the edge of Ch’tkk’va’s vision.
“My apologies, task force. They are different words. The translator is…precise in its translations, failing in nuance. I will endeavour not to make the same mistake again Captain.”
“Lieutenant, that little mistake has given me more insight into the Xindi-Insectoid mindset. It was no mistake; it was a way of thinking. Perhaps something to discuss next time we share a meal?”
Ch’tkk’va at that did turn their head, primary collectors turning to face her and she drew in a slight breath to manage herself, knowing full well they probably picked up on it. “I would appreciate that Captain. Your particular mindset is…interesting as well.”
“Excellent. I’ll sort out a time later then perhaps. Oh, and I hear Mac has new playing cards so you can’t see through them anymore.” She smiled as mandibles flex on their face, the equivalent of a predatory smile. “I didn’t tell him by the way, your secret was safe with me.”
Then her footfalls carried her over to Operations. Lieutenant Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr eschewed the use of any furniture on the Bridge, but that mainly came down to the fact that their silicon-based physiology put them at an extreme weight difference likely to crush standard seats. In the conference room everyone left the one single red chair free for Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr. “No change ma’am,” they said, voice rumbling from deep within their form and spilling out.
There was a certain reassuring quality to Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr’s voice. That solid, strong, fundamental aspect that was confident in its own existence. Or, at least that’s how Tikva heard it. The voice of a Titan who, having read their service record, refused to break.
Just like her.
“Excellent. Keep me appraised.”
“Will do ma’am.”
She didn’t do a cursory visit at the helm though, so much as a stop and review all the displays, check the readings and quietly reach over Ensign Carmichael’s shoulder to tap at a screen to get the young man’s attention to the notification present. As she did so she heard the gentle chuckle rumbling away inside Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr at her actions.
“Oh, sorry ma’am,” the young Carmichael said as he rapidly opened the notification, processed it and made a slightly adjustment to the Atlantis’ course, lofting the ship slightly higher in it’s orbit of the barren magenta world below.
“Keep an eye on that Carmichael. If you hadn’t corrected it, we’d have fallen out of orbit in say a year or so.” When she saw the confused look on the Ensign’s face, she smiled slightly. “I’m joking. You’re doing fine. I know your experience is mostly with small craft, but T’Val and I think you’re up for the task of getting some big ship helm experience.”
“Well ma’am, if the saviour of the Trafalgar thinks I’m up for it, I’ll take the praise.”
I was no damn hero, just lucky and skilled.
Mostly lucky…you didn’t bleed out.
“Less hero worship, more eyes on your controls.” As Carmichael snapped upwards in his seat a bit and returned his eyes to his console, she looked to Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr. “I blame you you know.”
“Rain upon a mountain,” they responded.
Shaking her head she headed for her ready room, intent on watching these two broadcasts from the planet and seeing just how much trouble she was in via these people’s own testament their being present. She was just about to the door, it sliding open when Ch’tkk’va spoke.
“New contact from the planet. On screen.”
The main viewer was showing a feed from one of the probes in the planetary orbit, its camera focused just past the terminator on the day side. It must have just been past dawn where the camera was pointing but she could see what got Ch’tkk’va’s attention.
Another rocket, much like the scan that Stanley had shown her was rising from the middle of the ocean. She could see it just punching through the cloud deck, the plume from its exhaust indicating the immense power behind this machine. Half the length of Atlantis, wider than a Danube-class runabout was long and defying the universal law of gravity in the single most primitive and defiant method possible.
“Anyone on that thing?” she asked quietly after watching the main viewer in rapt attention for nearly a minute, much like most of the bridge crew.
“Three life signs. Same location as the previous launch. Timed for I’m guessing a brief stint in orbit and then a burn to Telrin within a few hours,” Stanley said from the Science console after having turned to check his readings.
Then the engine plume stopped, explosive bolts rippled halfway along the rocket’s length and ullage motors separated the two halves as they rode momentum upwards. Then with much violence the top half accelerated once more, the bottom half having drifted out of the exhaust plume and starting its slow descent back to the waters below.
“Anything major, let me know. And Stanley, get me the best scans of that thing you can. I want enough to recreate it in the holodeck if possible,” Tikva said as she turned and crossed finally into her ready room.