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Gamma's Demon Ship

Posted on 11 Oct 2022 @ 12:48pm by Admiral Zachary O'Connell & Commander B'Elora Helsing

2,332 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: 2390

Chief Petty Officer Bejan Vehn, an unjoined Trill, stood at the window of one of the yard's observation rooms. He had a PADD in hand, one of the many scattered across the table behind him. "A Century-class...a brand new Century-class...and she's already back in the docks." He watched as a workbee flew by and headed for the ship's port nacelle. "What the hell do these people get into to do such damage to a brand new ship." He'd been reading over the various damage reports, but had yet to get to the actual mission reports. He sighed and scrolled through the report from the ship's fighter squadron. "Damn, they even messed up the Gryphons..."

The observation room doors parted, allowing Warrant Officer M'Kae to enter the room. M'Kae, a feisty yet serious Caitian, wasted no time crossing the room to find Vehn. "Are you kidding me?" she snarled. "What the hell is Starfleet thinking keeping Geisler in the captain's chair? All he does is beat the shit out of starships!"

Vehn turned around and tossed the PADD on the table and laughed. "Yeah, he does. But apparently he knows someone who knows someone. Or Starfleet is in more dire need of Captain's than they let on. But like this one here," he picked up one of the other PADDs, "the ship was fractured between several different temporal zones all at once. I can't imagine the stress that put on the hull, bulkheads, and internal framework as it all broke into another timeline."

M'Kae's jaw dropped open, exposing her sharp teeth and petite jawline. "Temporal zones? Multiple timelines?"

"Yep," he said, waving the PADD. "It says four different timelines, or timezones. Let's see...." He went back to the PADD and found the After Action Report. "They determined one was the present day, one was five years later, then fifty years later, and then seventy years later. I'm surprised the ship wasn't ripped into four pieces and scattered through time and space with all hands lost."

"It might as well have been," M'Kae snapped back, completely dumbfounded by the report. "Because how the hell are we supposed to repair something that's been warped by temporal mechanics. Just from what you're saying, it seems like every law of physics was broken, and then broken again."

Vehn shrugged. "Hopefully someone around here decided to take some side classes in temporal mechanics. Otherwise, we're screwed." He picked up a nearby PADD. "Here, take a look at this one. Temporal warping of the ship is just the beginning. It's almost like Geisler was torturing his ship and crew."

M'Kae accepted the padd and scrolled through the device's contents. She blinked several times as a growl grew in her throat. "How? How is this man not court martialed? It takes years to build a twenty-plus deck starship and apparently a lot of creativity to warp and destroy."

The Trill sat down at the table and shook his head. "I think we're going to have to go through these reports and sort them into specialties before we even begin to repair this ship. So much done to it over such a short time and no real stardock repair stops. I'm going to hate pulling the band-aids off this thing."

"Sir?" M'Kae asked, her tone still tainted by disbelief and frustration. "Normally, I hate thinking about other possibilities, but I think we need to consider a painful truth here. I don't think repairing the Black Hawk is a good use of our resources."

"Think about it," she added quickly. "We're the only repair yard out here at the Gamma Quadrant. Our supply lines are still thin. It took us nine months to repair this ship the last time she'd been so damaged. We had to turn away a handful of Starfleet's best, not to mention Bajoran, Karemma, and Ferengi traders. Fixing the Black Hawk is a waste of time."

He leaned back and sighed deeply. Vehn was quiet and contemplative for several seconds. "It is a painful truth, that's for sure. And the practical points you make are extremely valid. It's just...the Century is such a new ship and I had high hopes for this one. Top of her class in the Gamma Quadrant and all." He paused. "But they had to go and put Geisler on this one."

The Trill Chief Petty Officer spun around in the chair and looked out the viewport again and shook his head. "Waste of time." One couldn't be too sure whether Bejan was talking about fixing the Black Hawk or Harvey Geisler. "Okay, lets get this as official and absolute as possible. Starfleet Command will probably not take too kindly us decommissioning such a new class of starship."

M'Kae considered those words for a minute. "Do you think we need to bring the brass -- I mean, Admiral O'Connell into this? He feels the pinch just as much as we do, I'm sure, and he's not going to take kindly to this."

"I would much rather have the Admiral in this from the beginning, yes" said Vehn. He took a deep breath and tried to relax from all of the frustrating reports he'd been going over. "Having this recommendation come across his desk out of the clear blue sky is not something I want happening. But we need to make sure we have everything precise."

The Caitian sighed. To her that meant actually getting the Black Hawk into a drydock and performing a complete structural and systems analysis. "You realize getting a precise recommendation, down to the complete requisition request is going to take a minimum of three weeks, right? I can speed that up if we can borrow some personnel from other projects."

"I know," he said, with a tired air to his voice, "at least that long." He scanned the table for a PADD to make some notes on. "I can check which projects are ahead of schedule and request some lateral transfers to the Black Hawk project. Maybe try to get a Temporal Mechanics specialist over here, too. I have a feeling that temporal warping will be one of the topics that'll 'seal the deal' as humans say."

“Seal the deal?” M’Kae asked, unfamiliar with the expression. “Whatever locks it in I suppose. When is this demon ship supposed to arrive? Is she coming on her own power, or is she being towed?”

He tapped out some commands on the PADD. "It looks like the demon ship is scheduled to be, no, that is an old date." Vehn sighed. "...When it started the return voyage under it's own power. Three quarters of the way through and some stops in between, they apparently lost propulsion. Then systems started randomly shutting down. The new projected date is still several weeks out. By tow." He looked at the Caitian. "Looks like we'll have plenty of time to make those transfers and go over the details of the mission reports."

The Caitian snarled. "I'm never one to jump the gun, but do you think there's any chance we can get an inspection team over to the Black Hawk? It would give us an early chance to inspect the temporal damage for ourselves and maybe, just maybe, we can skip some time in drydock. Or, do you think that that's too much to ask?"

"I think we should at least try. It's not too much to ask at all in my opinion, considering everything that's involved," said the Trill. "Besides, I'd expect they'd be happy to comply so they can get this whole sordid mess over with as soon as possible." He paused for a second, thinking. "Good thing there's a tow ship with working systems. I'd hate to send an engineering-laden runabout to sit in the shuttlebay of their fritzing ship."

"Who needs to sign off on that? And, more importantly, who do you want to send over to the barge of the damned?" Only as soon as the words left M'Kae's mouth did she realize that she could have accidentally volunteered herself. Quickly, she added, "I can think of a few specialists that I can free up pretty quickly."

Behn chuckled at the Caitain's quick verbal reflexes. "Then free them up. I need you here to help coordinate between the team and yard engineers. As for signing off on the inspection team, the Director of Repair and Maintenance for the Yard will need that PADD. Getting them there will be the hardest part. I'll have to check with the Chief Traffic Controller and Operations to see if there's a ship going anywhere near the barge. That's what I'm hoping for...I'd rather not have to go up to Starbase Command and ask for a ship to specifically take an inspection team directly to them."

"The team, though, definitely needs at least six specialists in temporal mechanics...that's a damn big ship to go over. And if we're looking at decommission, we need multiple specialists in Life Support, Structural Integrity and Hull, and Warp Drive systems. If it can't sustain life and hold itself together, it'll be useless in space. And we already know it can't carry itself on it's own power. We need to know what's causing the problems and how deep and involved the source goes in those systems."

Another grunt came from the Caitian, followed quickly by a sigh. "Why don't we just attach a warp sled to a drydock and warp it on out there around the demon ship?" She, of course, was being sarcastic, which he was lucky that it wasn't anything more than that. "That's thirty people minimum to start with. Twenty will be easy to come up with, and as for temporal mechanics... I have no idea if there's even that many specialists in the entire quadrant. I'll have to see if STAT has one handy. If not, we'll have to see if GC's fledgling science team does."

She walked over to a nearby console and called up the ship deployment records. "Looks like the Monterey, Cali-class, is departing tomorrow morning to rendezvous with the tow. Most of the crew has orders to leave the ship pending an investigation. The Pinnacle and Freedom are being dispatched as well to help offload more. Maybe we can hitch a ride?"

The Trill tossed the PADD on the table. "If twenty is all we can get, then that's what we'll have to deal with. I still want to aim for the thirty." He walked near to the station that M'Kae was at. "Let's do it, then. I'll push it through. Even if we have to split our team among all three ships, we'll get them there. Presuming their departure schedules are different. investigation? I hadn't heard about that yet. Kinda feel sorry for the crew now, being ordered to leave the ship."

"Such is life in the understaffed Gamma Quadrant." M'Kae made a few notes at the console she was standing at. "The demon ship was one of a few that had at least 90 percent staff. Most ships in the quadrant have 70 or 80 percent. Hell, you know as well as I do that our own yard strength is around 82 percent. If a ship is going to sit in dock for several weeks or months, they're not going to let nearly 800 people just sit around."

"Yeah," he said, walking back over to the table. "Most of them will be going to other places for sure. I'd better put in for some of the engineers soon if we want to boost the yard strength. Shouldn't be too hard to persuade the Director to sign off on that." He picked up a PADD and made a note so as not to forget that. He looked back out the window at the Yard. "Ugh, demon ship...need to make some room for you. And reassure the staff that you're not cursed or possessed or any other damn oddity that they've run into."

M'Kae chuckled. "Or... Or, we get enough people scared of the thing that we get it shipped off to the Alpha Quadrant that much sooner. Hell, even five years after the Mars attack, Starfleet's still hurting for capital ships. Is there anyone you know back there that might put in a bid to reclaim the girl?"

"Oh that thought never crossed my mind!" he exclaimed. He laughed and then continued. "It would be nice to have that hellish ship out of here faster, that's for certain. I don't know anyone personally, no. But I have a joined cousin who's a Master Chief at a Starbase back there. Her previous host was an officer on some decommissioned ship. She might be able to put in a word. See if anyone is willing to take her. Unless of course her reputation has preceded her..."

“Won’t hurt to try,” M’Kae supposed before heaving a sigh. “Regardless, there’s a lot we will need to do. I’ll start rearranging the duty roster and lock in transportation. Is there anything else we need to hit right now?”

Vehn took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Duty roster...transportation...I think, generally, that'll cover it." He sat back down at the table full of PADD's and shook his head. "What a shame."

"The real shame is they'll probably give Geisler another ship," M'Kae mumbled. "Probably won't even be a court martial. Starfleet's hurting too damn bad everywhere to sacrifice yet another captain." She shook her head and sighed. "Well, if there's nothing more, I'll get to work."

"I have no doubt about that," the Trill. He looked at the work ahead of him and shook his head. "No, nothing more. We both should get to work. Thanks."

The Caitian provided a simple nod before turning and leaving. As she left, her mind continued to swim in the ever-growing mental list of benchmarks to pass in order to finally be rid of this demon ship.


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