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Part of Challenger: Hell Hath No Fury

NINE

Challenger NX-03, stationed on the outskirts of the Docana system
Monday, April 27th, 2155
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Captain’s, I mean Commodore’s star log April Twenty-Seventh, Twenty-One-Fifty-Five. What I’ve designated as Operation: Jericho has begun. I’m reminded of the biblical story that my grandmother used to share with my brothers, sister and I as youngsters about how Joshua marched his people around the city of Jericho to bring its massive walls down so they could enter it. Unlike Joshua, I don’t plan to march my people around the Docana asteroid belt in the hopes it will collapse. Yet the minefield wall that sits between us and them will come down. Like Joshua I am sending a team ahead of us to find out what it’s like behind the enemy lines, and hopefully find a way of bringing the minefield down. My heart is still set on being able to achieve a peaceful diplomatic agreement with the Malurians and Nausicaans; however, this may be difficult to reach. Sub Commander T’Plau has reminded me that both races are aggressive in nature. To top that all, earlier this morning I received a message from the Andorian Chancellor. She is resolved to ensure they pay for their aggression against the Andorian Empire. Can I blame her for feeling that way? I think not, however if we are not able to find a peaceful resolution then it may cause issues for the Coalition later. Finally, I’m pleased to say Challenger’s crew have responded with the dedication and loyalty I’ve come to expect of them since our launch. Once again, we find ourselves fighting and not exploring. Here’s hoping this will be our last battle for some time.”

The ventral access doors to launch bay one opened and Shuttlepod One dropped elegantly into the void of space, as it did its wings extended and its small aft engine came to life, pushing itself away from Challenger towards the Docana system.

“We’re clear.” Ensign Conrad stated from the head of the cockpit after checking his readings. 

“Lay in a course for Rahab.” Commander Stanton ordered from behind him as he adjusted his EVA suit. Rahab had been the name of the woman who had helped hide two of Joshua’s men prior to their assault on Jericho. The name seemed fitting and as a result, the captain had nicknamed the comet they would be using to help them into the Docana system with that designation. The chief engineer looked around the small craft at the team he was leading. All of them were seated, helmet-less, in their EVA suits ready to see what awaited them ahead in the Docana asteroid belt. T’Plau sat on his right operating the other support station behind Conrad while Ensign Hennessey remained still behind them on the cushioned benches.

“Sensors aren’t detecting any Malurian or Nausicaan vessels on our approach vector.” T’Plau said after a while. 

“Let’s hope they don’t see us.” Hennessey quietly said.

Stanton smiled at the ensign’s semi-prayer. “They shouldn’t, especially once we land on the Rahab comet then they won’t pick us up.”

“Until we start blowing up their mines!” Conrad added with a cheeky smile as he turned around in his chair to look at everyone else.

“In theory Ensign they won’t know it us if we are able to access their minefield’s network.” T’Plau said. “Even when we start to detonate them.”

“I hope you’re both right about this.” Hennessey said before taking out a data tablet from his pocket and switched it on.

“What are you reading?” Stanton asked, motioning his head towards the small computer device in the linguistics’ hands. 

“I’m brushing up on my Nausicaan and Malurian.” He answered back. “If you don’t mind, I would prefer to do it in private.”

Stanton raised his hands in surrender, not wanting to disturb the man as he connected his earphones into the data-tablet to listen to the languages. They would have at least six hours to travel to their destination.  The engineer looked over to the Vulcan tactical officer who had returned to immersing herself in her work while their cheeky pilot had returned to concentrating on getting them to where they were headed. Stanton sighed to himself; this was going to be a quiet journey he thought. He took one more glance over the shuttlepod’s systems. He had installed chemical engines to its underbelly to avoid the enemy ships detecting the ion wake of their main engine once they finished hitchhiking on the comet. His engineers had rigged up a power source powerful enough for the mine’s sensors to register them as a Nausicaan ship. He only hoped it all worked and didn’t come crashing down around them. 

Before they left Challenger, he had written a letter to Alex just in case they didn’t survive the mission. In it he had told him how sorry he was he had left him and that he hoped he understood that for the first time in his Starfleet career he was beginning to really enjoy the risks that the job brought. Michael considered that to sound a bit crazy but there was something since joining Challenger that had changed him. He felt more confident with himself, with his role on the ship and taking on the difficult tasks that being a chief engineer of one of the fastest Earth ships entailed. 

“Sub Commander,” Stanton said, disturbing the Vulcan woman beside him.

T’Plau, who remained sitting up straight in her chair, turned to look at the chief engineer. “Yes Commander?”

“Do you have a family?” He asked quietly.

She nodded. “I do.”

“Do you remain in touch with them?” 

She stopped her work and turned to look at them. “I often write to them when I have the opportunity. Do you have a point with your line of questioning Commander?”

He nodded in response. “Before you go off on a possible dangerous mission do you prepare a final goodbye to them in writing?”

She raised her left eyebrow in a typical Vulcan manner. “I do not.” She instantly returned to her work.

“You don’t?” Stanton quizzed, confused as to why she wouldn’t.

“Did you Commander?” Ensign Conrad asked from the helm.

Michael looked towards the pilot’s direction. “I did, well I only had time to prepare a message to my partner. Did you Jack?”

Conrad nodded his head. “Yeah, it’s saved and ready to go to my parents if anything happens to me.”

“I am quite curious to the reason why you both prepared such a message?” T’Plau interjected with; she resisted the temptation from looking up from her controls. “Do your loved ones not know you are on Challenger and the seriousness that it brings to the possibility of you being injured while in such a post?”

Stanton rested his hands on his lap. “Yeah they do Sub Commander but it’s about having that sense of comfort of knowing that you’ve got all of your affairs in order and said your final goodbyes. Do Vulcans not do that?”

“What you are summarising is linked to an emotional reaction. Vulcans do not write goodbye letters to their loved ones. We do not see the logic in wasting time, especially when the government would inform our families of our demise in the line of duty.”  T’Plau said coldly.

“Surely even Vulcan families would appreciate their loved ones saying a final goodbye and sharing with them their final thoughts?” Stanton countered back. “Surely that would help them be completely enlightened to understand what they were thinking before their last moments?” 

“Once again Commander I say to you that Vulcans would not see the logic in such thought process as it would be an ineffective use of our time.” T’Plau remarked, “However I can appreciate your last argument. To understand someone’s final thoughts in their last moments would be highly interesting to know.”

Stanton nodded with a smile; glad he was able to get their Vulcan exchange officer to see their logic on some level. “What would you say in yours if you were to write one?” He asked her.

She finally gave in and stopped working momentarily. “I have not given it any thought. What did you write in the letter you prepared for your partner?”

Smiling at what he wrote, Michael looked down at his console as he remembered the context of his letter to Alex. “I told Alex how much I loved him, how glad I was that we got back together and thanked him for our time together. I told him not to be afraid without me, that if he wanted to honour me then he should find someone else and know I would not feel betrayed if he did such a thing. I shared with him how much I loved my job and that I didn’t want him to blame anyone on the crew or in Starfleet for my death. I chose to do this. Finally, I told him that he had to find a new planet, moon or something spectacular to name after me once Discovery was launched and was exploring the galaxy.”

“Interesting,” T’Plau responded with. “Would you expect something similar in return from him if he died while in service?”

Stanton considered it for a second. “I would expect something similar, knowing Alex probably something mushier though!”

Conrad chuckled at that but T’Plau looked confused as she repeated his last word. “Mushier?”

“He would be more romantic with what he wrote.” Stanton explained.

“More emotional!” Conrad clarified when T’Plau still did not understand the engineer’s response.

T’Plau bowed her head, showing she now understood. “Now I hope you understand why Vulcans would not do such a thing.”

“Your loss Sub Commander.” Stanton said with a friendly smile and a shrug of his shoulders. 

“Sorry to interrupt,” Conrad said after a second. “I’ve got the comet Rahab on sensors.”

Stanton stood up and moved to be standing directly behind the pilot. He looked up to see the massive comet that they would ride on. It was as big as a football field and a huge trail behind it. “Take us down Ensign, nice and easy and without gaining a scratch!”

“Aye sir.” Conrad said, concentrating on the task before him. This would be something he had not done before, landing a small ship on a high moving celestial body. He prayed silently to himself and then pressed on the controls to begin their descent down onto the great big ball of rock and ice.

A beep came from T’Plau’s station. Stanton swivelled his entire body to look at her. “What is it?”

Sensors are detecting two ships in the comet’s trail. One is Malurian and the other is-” T’Plau paused as she verified her readings.

“And the other is?” Stanton repeated, hoping to finish the Vulcan’s sentence.

She looked away from the screen and towards the engineer. “Romulan.”

“What?!” Stanton exclaimed at the news. “How did we not notice them before?”

“It would seem we are not the only ones who detected the comet’s trail ability to mask energy signatures.” T’Plau responded. “Our sensors just picked up the subspace distortions being created from their warp engines within the trail.”

“Will they see us?” Ensign Hennessey inquired; he had something bad was happening and had pulled out his earphones to take in the events unfolding before them.

“Unlikely.” T’Plau responded as she worked her controls. “Unless Commander Stanton has installed a warp drive on the shuttlepod?”

Stanton grimaced at the thought of being caught by the enemy. “Either way I’m shutting down all power except minimum thrusters and sensors.” He quickly worked the controls at his station and the shuttlepod’s main power switched off and its emergency low level lighting filled the once brightly lit cockpit. “Jack, you’ll need to set us down with barely any engines.”

Conrad gave out a huge sigh at the challenge that now faced him. “No worry sir, our downward momentum is increasing from the gravity caused by the comet. I’ll just need thrusters to level our descent and ensure we don’t crash into the comet.”

“Yes, let’s not allow that to happen!” Hennessey worriedly said from the rear compartment.

“I would also recommend we alter our landing coordinates and find something that may help shelter us from detection.” T’Plau suggested.

“I’m open to ideas.” Stanton stated.

“Just point me in the right direction, Sub Commander.” Conrad added.

“I have found a small indentation that may be sufficient for our needs.” T’Plau said. “I’m transferring the coordinates to you now Ensign.”

“Got ‘em.” Conrad said.

“What do you think they’re up to?” Hennessey asked out aloud to anyone.

“God knows.” Stanton said as he looked out the small cabin window to his left to see if he could see the two hostile ships.

“And unfortunately we are unable to warn Challenger as it will give us away to them.” T’Plau commented on.

“Do you think the Romulans are supporting the Malurians and Nausicaans?” Conrad questioned as he attempted to fly them down. The shuttlepod started to rumble from their descent.

“You concentrate on getting us down in one-piece Ensign.” Stanton remarked.

“As I said earlier, the situation we find ourselves in that it makes more sense that a benefactor is paying for the Malurians and Nausicaans to be working together on this. It is unlikely either race would agree to a mutual alliance and forge conflict with the Andorian Empire.” T’Plau expressed. “With the tactics we’ve seen from the Romulans recently they are engaged in a stratagem that is attempting to tip the balance of power off in the region allowing them to become a superior force.”

“A superpower.” Stanton glumly said. 

“Indeed.” T’Plau responded back with. “With their drone incursions last year and their attacks using the Orions and Nausicaan against Coalition ships earlier this year, they are obviously using others to advance their cause for reasons that can only lead them to desire conquest.”

“And their attack against Coridan too.” Hennessey included. “They truly are out to get us all, aren’t they? What did we do wrong?”

“Who knows Ned?” Stanton said as he looked forward, feeling helpless that they couldn’t warn their crewmates of their findings. 

Shuttlepod One moved further and further to its destination, eventually it landed and they now waited as they piggy-backed on the large rock to their target. 


Sitting quietly behind his ready room’s desk, Burton rested his right leg over the other one with his foot lying on top of his left knee cap. Absent-mindedly he was drumming his fingers under the tablet he was reading and holding just above his lap. He had wanted to use the time that came with waiting to catch up on other business that didn’t involve him worrying about Stanton’s team. The door chime went off and he looked up. 

“Yeah come in.” He responded.

Commander Levesque entered after the door opened for her. She walked in with a tablet in her hands which held tightly to her chest. “Good news sir,” She started with.

“Oh?” Burton said as he placed his tablet on his desk.

“Well depends how you take it but just a moment ago Shuttlepod One entered the dark zone of Rahab and sensors didn’t detect a massive explosion which can only mean they’ve landed without incident.” Levesque shared with a smile.

“Let’s pray your optimism is well placed Commander.” Burton replied as he looked back at his work before looking back at her. “Is there anything else?” He asked, almost sounding anxious.

Levesque noticed his different mood and him referring to her as Commander instead of Nicole, something he normally did when it was just them two or just him, her and Stanton. She decided to ignore it and placed his reaction to the stress of the mission playing on his mind. “Yes sir.” She said holding out the tablet in her hands and passing it to him. “Something quite disturbing sir.” She said as he took the computer device from her. “T’Plau asked me if I would complete a sensor analysis she had started over the minefield, in particular when the Andorian task force entered it.”

Burton started to read through it. “The mines have tricobalt warheads?” He questioned as he read through them. 

Levesque nodded before she spoke. “T’Plau was running a comparative analysis too, using the sensor logs from the Andorians to help her. The boridium energy signatures and warhead yields are all similar to the last time a NX-class ship encountered a minefield.”

Enterprise?” Burton inquired.

She nodded. “Yeah, the yield was a quarter of a kiloton thermo-kinetic explosion.” She paused. “Sir those mines aren’t Malurian or Nausicaan in origin, they’re Romulan.”

Burton deflated at the mention of the aggressive race that seemed to be sticking its head up everywhere lately. “Are you sure?”

“One hundred percent certain sir, I’ve compared everything to the Enterprise’s logs from when they were hit by a mine three years ago.” Levesque said. 

Burton rose from his chair and groaned slightly as he looked out at the window from his office. This news changed everything. He leant against the windowsill with both hands as he considered their next move and thought of the implications they gave.

“Looks like T’Plau was right in the notion that the Malurians and Nausicaans hadn’t done all of this by themselves.” Levesque said, filling in the silence that had occurred between them as she stared at Burton, waiting for him to make a decision.

“Indeed.” Burton said as he continued to stare out of his window. Eventually he turned around to look at her. “Share your findings with the Andorians, they deserve to know.”

Levesque paused before saying anything back. “Lloyd, if the Romulans are involved then they’ve just signed their death warrants with the Andorians for mining the Docana system.”

“And once Andoria declares war we’ll be following them.” Burton added, realising what Levesque was thinking. “Okay hold off on showing that information to the Andorians. Does anyone else on the crew know?”

She shook her head. “No, just us two.”

“Keep it that way for now. We’ll deal with it once we’ve sorted out this mess.” He said waving his right hand towards the window, gesturing to the current crisis in the Docana system.

The intercom went off and was followed by the voice of Ensign Rachele Cortez, “Bridge to Commodore Burton.”

Burton groaned at hearing people still referring to him with that rank. Damn you President Littlejohn he thought before he tapped the communications console on his desk to reply. “Go ahead Ensign.”

Sorry to interrupt you Commodore but we’ve got something here you and Commander Levesque need to see.” The second armoury officer stated.

“We’re on our way, Burton out.” He said, closing the channel with his finger and motioning with his head for his first officer to follow him.

The two senior officers soon stepped on to the bridge from the captain’s ready room. “Report?” He asked looking around for Cortez who wasn’t at the armoury station but instead stood in the situation room. 

She turned around to see the two superior officers. Stood working with her was Ensign Angela Hathaway, their second helm officer. “Sir a minute ago Angela picked up a Malurian ship with two Nausicaan fighters escorting it and moving at sub-light speeds towards the Docana system.”

Burton moved forward into the small aft compartment of the bridge to see what she was saying, Levesque followed him too. “Do we know what their heading is?” He asked, peering over at the sensor readings before them.

Hathaway answered in her Scottish accent, “If they carry on with their course they’re heading straight for the colony; however, sir that’s not the worst of it.”

 Burton looked up at her and Levesque said the question he was going to ask. “What is it then Angela?” 

The younger woman looked at Levesque. “Ma’am if they carry on with their course, they’ll enter into a parallel course with the Rahab comet, they’ll most likely see Shuttlepod One, especially as it lifts off.”

“The news only gets better.” Burton mumbled as he leant on the edges of the table.  “We’re going to have to stop them.” He said solemnly to the three women, which they all knew what that meant. 

Levesque crossed her arms against her chest and closed her eyes in disbelief at their run of bad luck so far. She opened them and looked at Ensign Hathaway, who was the niece of the Starfleet Commander-in-Chief. “How long would it take for us to intercept them in time Angela?”

“If we move out soon then at full impulse, we can be within weapon’s range in half an hour ma’am.” She replied.

Levesque looked to Burton who just looked back at her. He nodded. “Angela lay in a course.”

“Aye sir.” Hathaway replied as she left their company to head to the helm.

“Sir obviously we’re no match against those three ships, we’ll need help from the Andorians.” Cortez stated as the three of them moved to the main part of the bridge to take their stations. “We can’t take them all either, many of them are still making repairs and were hoping to use the time for Commander Stanton’s party to reach the minefield to finish off.”

“Then we’ll just take those who are repaired and ready to go.” Burton said as he took his chair. He looked over to the communications station. “Ensign Larsen, inform all ships we’re moving out except for those who need to continue with repairs. Have Captains Ramirez and Proulx to remain with the rest of the damaged ships.”

“Aye sir.” The Swedish communications officer replied with.

Burton smoothed his uniform out as he gave out his next set of orders, “Tactical alert!” He looked at Levesque, both of them shared the same expression of anger of what they were about to deal with combined with what they both knew. This was it; they were on a war footing.


Shuttlepod One

“They have gone.” T’Plau announced after what seemed like forever. “Both ships are moving away from the comet, the Romulan ship has entered warp and the Malurians are re-entering the Docana system at sub-light speeds.”

Stanton who was sat on the floor playing a card game with Conrad paused what he was doing to listen to T’Plau’s broadcast of what seemed like good news. 

“Do you think they saw us?” Hennessey said, pulling the only earphone he had in. The communications officer had returned to learning the Malurian and Nausicaan languages with only one earphone in so he could listen to what his crewmates were saying.

“If they had then logically, they should have attacked us by now.” T’Plau answered. “I would summarise the comet was able to mask our presence and along with Commander Stanton’s quick thinking of shutting everything off they would not pick us up due to our size.”

“Let’s hope so.” Conrad mumbled as he looked at the cards he had in his hands. “Well done Commander with your quick thinking!”

Smiling at the compliment, Stanton looked at the pilot. “I’m not just a pretty face!”

Conrad and Hennessey both chuckled at the comment while T’Plau remained as straight-faced as she always did. “Indeed.” She added before returning her focus to her station.

“Do you think we could at least raise the temperature a bit in here?” Conrad asked after breathing heavily to make his breath turn into mist. 

“Only by a few degrees I’m afraid, Jack.” Stanton answered as he stood up and walked over to his station to adjust the environmental controls. As the compartment began to warm up all four officers felt the difference soon.

“Thank you Commander, that is more agreeable.” T’Plau pronounced, almost enjoying the change in temperature.

“I aim to please!” Stanton said with his boyish grin before sitting back down to return to his game with Conrad on the floor. As he did, he looked back up at T’Plau. “Would you like to join us Sub Commander?” He then looked to Hennessey, “You too Ned, come join us. We’ve got another two hours to kill before we need to launch. Take a break from whatever you’re working and enjoy yourself for a bit.”

Hennessey nodded in agreement and switched off his tablet, placed it on the bench where he had been sitting and made his way to sit on the floor with the two other men. T’Plau hesitated at first as she looked at the three men sitting below her. “What are you playing?”

“Go fish.” Conrad announced as he took in the playing cards and began shuffling them swiftly. “It’s a game of wit and intellect, are you prepared to take a chance and determine if the opposing player has the cards you’re looking for or will you end up taking on more variables then you want.”

“An interesting concept.” She stated with and moved slowly, in an almost feline fashion, to sit on the deck plate with them. “I accept, how do you play?”

“Well sit comfortably Sub Commander and we’ll show you.” Stanton said with a smile, pleased she had joined them in their game.


Challenger NX-03

The Sickbay doors parted from each other and Ro-fa Ben-Ami looked up from where she sat on the pedestal at her side desk to see who was entering. She smiled instantaneously as she saw her right-hand man, Ensign Stewart, coming in alongside Private Jenkins. The moment she caught his eye she noticed he quickly let go of Jenkins’ hand where he had his fingers intertwined with. Stewart was obviously doing his best to remain professional while they were on duty. She looked down at her work and suppressed her smile at how her deputy conducted himself. Young love she thought to herself. At that point she looked up at the small photo frame that sat on the side of her computer monitor. In it held a picture of her ex-husband, her and their daughter. The painful memory of losing her daughter Zivah, which caused her marriage to Avram to fall apart, still stung. Avram had died almost two years before their divorce; he had got himself caught in the reckless Terra Nova movement on the Orpheus Mining Colony on Luna. Putting those miserable memories to rest she looked back up at the two men entering sickbay.

“The recovery ward is all tidy.” Stewart said as he approached her.

Ben-Ami pushed her long black hair behind her right ear and sipped on the coffee she held in her left hand. “Thank you, Niall,” She returned and looked to the other man, “And the same to you Liam for helping out.”

The young MACO smiled at the compliment and looked at his boyfriend. “It’s all I can do to return the favour in allowing me to do my medical training with you and Ensign Stewart.”

Stewart blushed at this and looked at his boss. “Are we good to go off duty, unless there’s anything else you need done?”

The doctor shook her head. “No, Crewmember Kovách is about to come on duty and I plan to leave her the great job of re-stocking our inventory. You boys go off and enjoy your evening before we’re taken to tactical alert!” She said in a cruel but friendly manner before taking a sip of her coffee.

Stewart laughed at how Ben-Ami could be in giving our mundane and boring assignments to her medical staff. He had suffered from her cruelty on a few occasions since the ship’s launch. “Alright I’ll leave that lovely job to Melánia!” He said before turning on his toes, grabbing Jenkins hand intertwining their fingers like before. 

Beni-Ami smiled at the scene of the two of them walking out, hand-in-hand. She leant over to place her mug down on the side when the lighting and computer displays around them dimmed and changed colour indicating the ship was put on tactical alert.

“Spoke too soon!” She heard Jenkins say as the two men stopped before approaching the door. They both turned around to look at the Chief Medical Officer. Ben-Ami had already jumped off her seat and was reading what the bridge was ordering. “We’re moving in to stop Malurian and Nausicaan ships from entering the Docana system.”

Stewart deflated where he stood, disheartened that their evening had been spoiled and that he would have to return to duty. 

“Sorry boys, we’ve got to get to work! Niall, I need you to call in the team and begin prepping triage.” Ben-Ami said as she began bringing all of sickbay’s systems off from standby mode.

Jenkins looked to his boyfriend, “I best go report in to see where I’m needed.”

“Okay.” Stewart nodded glumly. 

Jenkins leant forward and kissed Stewart on the cheek, “I’ll see you later.” He said with a mischievous wink and turned around to open the door to leave them. 

Stewart watched for a second as Jenkins left him before making his way to get on with carrying out his orders from the doctor. He only hoped they wouldn’t be inundated with too many injuries this time.


The moment a tactical alert had been sounded the buzz and commotion in main engineering had increased. Lieutenant junior grade Sakura Masuko took in a deep breath from where she stood on the raised platform next to the warp reactor. This was the first time she would be in charge of engineering without Commander Stanton. She closed her eyes as she inhaled and then opened them and like a switch had been flicked inside her she automatically started to hand out orders. 

“Alright people,” She started as they all looked to her for direction. “You know what we have to do, follow our normal procedures for tactical alert and let’s make Commander Stanton proud of what we can achieve.” The engineers all nodded and quickly went back to their work. Masuko hoped that little prep rally would be enough to keep them all going without their Chief Engineer. She soon stepped off the stage and made her way over to one of the main command consoles to look up what was happening. As the acting department head, it was her responsibility to carry out such duties. She pulled up the message that had come from the tactical station on the bridge after the tactical alert had been sounded. She read Ensign Cortez’s message that the ship was moving in to stop a Malurian ship and its Nausicaan escorts from entering the system. 

“More fighting.” She mumbled to herself as she closed the message down. “Ensign Metaxas,” She called out to the ship’s third engineer who would be acting as her deputy in their current situation. 

The Greek engineer was on the upper level, he quickly responded by sliding down the stairwell’s banisters and jumping off onto the deck to be by her side almost instantly. “Yes ma’am.”

Masuko rolled her eyes at the younger officer’s antics. “You knew Commander Stanton would give you an ear-bashing if he saw you do that!”

He smirked at her in response.

“Theo,” She said using his abbreviated name, Theo was short for Theodoros. “We’re about to go into battle so I want you to make sure the hull plating has enough power and keep an eye on the targeting scanners.”

Metaxas gave her a jokey salute. “Understood, we don’t want Rachel to hit the wrong thing now!” He said before moving off to carry out her orders.

“Lieutenant,” Senior Chief Petty Officer Ghislaine Dubois called towards Masuko from the other side of the room in her thick French accent.

The Japanese engineer looked up from where she had yet to move from the command console towards the ship’s Chief of the Boat, who was now approaching her. “What is it Chief?”

“Major Yu has asked if we want extra hands to help out here.” Dubois stated as she came within reach of the acting chief engineer. “She’s got some MACOs on standby if we need them.”

Shaking her head as she moved away from where she stood to climb back up onto the stage to stand next to Challenger’s main source of propulsion. “Tell the Major thanks but no thanks, unless we need them to fight off any intruders or for damage control. I don’t want to be handing out extra assignments for the sake of doing it.”

Dubois smiled at Masuko’s reply. She had pretty much said the same thing that Commander Stanton had said time after time to the good Major. “Understood ma’am.” The older woman said before making her way to let the MACO leader know their answer.

Masuko returned her attention back to reading the main console’s readouts to ensure the warp drive’s intermix ratio was evenly balanced out. She had yet to get used to having some people, like Dubois, calling her ma’am especially if they were older then her. Dubois, who held the joint role of Chief of the Boat and Quartermaster, was an experienced engineer and enlisted officer. She had worked on more ships than anyone else on Challenger and for that impressive record Masuko admired the woman. Dubois had always shrugged it off saying that she may have served on most ships, but those assignments had never lasted more than a few months at a time. She had planned to remain on Challenger for at least a year. Masuko hoped they would survive at least a year, especially with the way things were going for them.