2389; A Perplexing Space Odyssey
Episode 7: Into The Fire
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: MD146, 0955 Hours
With the Nogura having successfully departed Starbase 72, Captain Colby Drayton and his senior staff had monitored ships systems for over six hours and, once everyone was satisfied that the ship was running as efficiently as possible, he had ordered a temporary change to shift patterns for the day. It seemed only fair given the fact he had worked them to the bone after the explosion a few days earlier. The investigation had been arduous but needed and had thrown up some intriguing evidence. Subsequent talks with Admiral O’Connell had seen the ships previous mission reassigned and now, they had a welcome change of pace headed their way – exploration. True exploration. Granted, it was in an unknown region, and granted it would be under the ever watchful gaze of a new alliance known as the Alrakis Pact, but the ship would still be able to explore the area as she carried out other missions of vital importance over the coming weeks.
With all that in mind, the Captain had decreed that gamma shift would remain on duty for an additional two hours, moving Alpha shift to ten-hundred hours instead of the usual oh-eight-hundred hours; an opportunity to try and regain those lost hours of sleep. Satisfied with the arrangement in place, he himself had turned in a little after oh-two-hundred. He was out for the count the minute his head hit the pillow; no sleeping pills were needed this night.
Despite the disturbed night's sleep, he had looked bright and cheery upon reporting to the bridge, via a stop at the mess hall for a Raktajino and some toast of course - a late breakfast to set the Terran Captain up for the day. He had decided that he would go for the waistcoat uniform variant today as he reported for his shift. He hoped that things would be a little more relaxed than of late.
The new Starfleet uniforms established under the Azulas regime had taken some getting used to, a significant departure from recent years, heralding back to the mid-sixties with a touch of the more modern uniforms that had been in use since the seventies. Now that he was in command, the Captain had disposed of the new design and returned the crew to wearing the more traditional ones that had been in use for nearly twenty years. It had not escaped the crew’s attention that this was nothing more than an attempt to ‘reboot’ after the disastrous times of the former command staff, but it was welcome, nonetheless. A chance to return to what they knew and embark on their first proper mission since the end of the Azulas-era. The change had been made all the more awkward by the Commodore's continued presence aboard the ship, but that didn't seem to bother him as much as it did her.
As for their new mission, the Captain was looking forward to finding out more about the Alrakis Pact, not to mention the other mysteries that lurked in the darkness of their new area of operations. Many light-years to the south-west of Sol, an isolated, desolate region exists, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by large swathes of Federation, K’Zinti and Talarian territory. A lawless territory filled with many worlds all light-years apart, all free to come and go as they please. The area was known by many names, but to Starfleet it was known as ‘The Wastelands’. No fancy fleets had been assigned there, no new installations built nearby and only a handful of populated Federation colonies lay on the periphery of Federation space. Starfleet and the Federation had no reason, no desire, no need to go there - until now. Beyond the edge of explored space, the people of the Wastelands, isolated and full of resentment towards the rest of the galaxy, try their best to thrive under sometimes perilous conditions. But now Starfleet had become embroiled in a race against the clock to make inroads into the area before the Alrakis Pact could claim new members. An area once lacking any strategic value had suddenly been thrust into the middle of a bitter feud...
A feud that the Nogura crew would be in the middle of, but not on their own as it would soon transpire.
He hadn't even made it across the bridge to his command chair after exiting the turbo lift before he was accosted by Lieutenant Okan, the temporary Operations Officer for Gamma Shift, who had been the first to report for duty – as was characteristic for the ever punctual Cardassian. Okan would remain aboard until the ship met up with one of its new colleagues down in the Wastelands and would transfer to the Adriatic, having been replaced by Commander Proht a few days earlier.
"Captain," she called, turning in her seat to glance across at the ships commanding officer. "We've received a holo-transmission request from the Starship Odyssey. They're in the immediate vicinity, travelling at warp six."
Colby collapsed into the command chair and let out a sigh as he got comfortable. 'It's too early in the morning for strange new people…' he pondered internally. "Let's have it," he spoke eventually, but only after two sips of his coffee.
Akaria nodded and tapped at her controls, the holo-communications platform at the front of the bridge activating seamlessly as the figure of a slightly older woman with black hair appeared inside the platform.
"Ahhh, you must be Captain Drayton? Greetings! My name is Captain Eren Utaazi, commander of the Odyssey," the older, Terran-looking woman smiled happily and nodded in the direction of her seemingly younger counterpart. "I know you were supposed to meet the Adriatic in the Iadora system but there has been a slight change of plans. Starfleet has ordered the Odyssey to rendezvous with yourselves, the Adriatic and the Roehampton just outside of the Penthara System, at Starbase Two-Fourteen. I'm transmitting to you the change of orders now," she concluded, appearing to sit in a chair of her own and allowing the conversation to swap sides.
Drayton shifted forwards slightly, his hands gripping the arms of the command chair as he listened to the words of the holographic woman. "I didn't realise Starfleet was sending anyone else out that way. I was under the impression the area was considered a wastela...”
"The threat of the Alrakis Pact is significant, wherever they go. Whatever the reason for this alliance, two of their ships were destroyed by an unknown presence in the unclaimed territories of the Wastelands less than two weeks ago. Whoever the aggressors were, one of their ships then bested two of our newer, most up to date vessels in a skirmish last week. From out of the blue, without warning, before simply disappearing into the night... like ghosts!" Utaazi interrupted, her demeanour changing as she spoke. "So, naturally, they are going to send more than one Sovereign class starship and an ageing wreck of an Excelsior to this new region."
Drayton raised an eyebrow as he glanced across at the Ops Officer, who returned his quizzical expression, before continuing about her business. "We can be at Penthara in the next eight to ten hours, Captain. We'll have to utilise our slipstream drive, but we'll be there,” Colby confirmed, letting the new face know that he wouldn't be pushed around, even if he was only the commander of a ‘single Sovereign Class starship’. Nogura was joining the party from much further afield than the rest of this new Task Group and would need to utilise her new propulsion system to get there quickly - there was obviously something in the works that he didn't want to be late for.
"The closer to eight, the better," Utaazi exclaimed. Then, as quickly as it had switched the first time, her demeanour changed again, and she was once again the chirpy soul who had first contacted them. "See you at Penthara, Captain. Odyssey out."
And just like that, she disappeared and the hologrid was deactivated, leaving Colby somewhat perplexed at the interaction that had taken place.
"A single Sovereign… ageing wreck of an Excelsior..." muttered Okan to the Captain's forward-left position, frustrated at the mention of her new assignment in such a way, "it'd be alright if she was commanding a Prometheus or something, but we could run rings around that little Intrepid of hers every day of the week and twice on Saturdays," The Cardassian glanced back at her Captain, only to see him shooting her a look that sparked a sudden feeling that she had slightly overstepped the mark in her rant, "sorry sir," she offered her profuse apologies and got back to work.
Drayton shook his head slowly, and let out a smirk at the young woman's indiscretion, but his thoughts soon turned back to what appeared to be an adjustment to their orders. The Nogura would now report to the Penthara system and begin a new journey with a few more new friends in tow.
"Lieutenant Okan," he called out as he rose from his chair and pulled down his vest jacket, "note down the adjustment to our orders in the ships log. Call the senior staff to duty stations and then we'll make for the Penthara system, at best possible speed. Have Commander Millarini bring the Slipstream Drive online, inform Lieutenant Franklin of our change of plans and have him ensure all new security protocols are in place for when we reach Penthara," he turned on his heels, not waiting for a response from the Cardassian before heading for his ready room. "Oh, and have Commander's Neprem and Hunt report to me as soon as they come on duty. Knowing our luck, our new friend Captain Utaazi will want to stretch her legs on something a bit more sophisticated than her tiny Intrepid."
Akaria Okan watched with an enormous grin on her face as Drayton disappeared into his ready room and then got to work carrying out her orders.
Inside the ready room, there was research to be done. About the Odyssey, the Roehampton, the Adriatic, and about this perplexing woman called Eren Utaazi…