Episode 0: Maiden Voyage
Location: USS Defiant/Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: MD 8, Morning
The alert klaxon echoed through the room, cutting through the concentration that had dominated Charlotte Reynolds' mind. Holed up in her ready room, she'd been trying to review every report possible on the Carinae Traverse, this wild region of space that she now found herself in. Defiant wasn't ready for launch just yet, but she wanted to be fully prepared by the time it was.
But as the large yellow alert lights lit up the starship housing outside her viewport, she found that the materials in the reports were now far from the center of her attention. Something was wrong.
It took barely a moment for the comm panel on her desk to light up, signifying an incoming communique. The name confirmed her suspicions. Commodore Khethiwe. Charlotte didn't hesitate to answer. "Reynolds here."
The Commodore's calm voice held a hint of gravity to it. "Captain Reynolds. A situation has arisen. Please gather your command crew and meet with the other flag officers in the Command Tower."
The order made sense, but it sent her mind racing. In this part of space, there weren't a lot of resources to pull from. Gathering the flag officers wasn't a great sign. "Affirmative, ma'am. We're on our way."
Her hand instinctively flipped to an internal channel the second the line disconnected. Niamh's name flashed on the screen. "Number One, grab Rawlins and meet me in the transporter room. We have a situation."
"Of course, Captain" Niamh replied from the bridge before rising from the Captain's chair, "Lieutenant Rawlins, you're with me. Lieutenant Tavin you have the conn" the First Officer ordered before making her way for the exit.
Dante stood, motioning for the appropriate relief officer to take his seat, and then joined Niamh on her way to the turbolift. He'd overheard the Captain's orders, and he had a strangely bad feeling about it.
The trio materialized onto the transporter pad within the station's large central tower, which housed all the Commodore's staff, all those responsible for coordinating the station and surrounding space. Defiant's transporter array was still integrated with the station's making site to site transport possible, though turbolifts generally sufficed due to the reduced power drain.
However, in this case, expedience was king. As soon as they arrived, the Tellarite transporter chief waved them to step off the platform and spoke into his headset. "Defiant Crew present. Traveler Crew, you're up in 10 seconds." He tapped the comm headset to close the loop. "Come on, don't just stand there. Move those legs."
"Sorry," Charlotte said, a bit taken aback by the total of 10 seconds they'd had to orient themselves. She hustled off the platform and began leading the other two toward the Commodore's briefing room. None of them had had time to change out of Defiant uniforms and into Arcadia gear. The Commodore would just have to deal with a few brightly clad people in the room. In the moments before their arrival, Charlotte decided to bring herself up to speed with the crew situation. "O'Donoghue, where are we at with the roster?"
"We have a skeleton crew, ma'am. Most of Arcadia's crew has departed and some of our own are still underway Captain," Niamh replied, confirming with the file on her tablet, "In terms of leadership, ourselves aside, we have Lieutenant Isley, Chief Science Officer. Lieutenant Junior Grade Lindsay, Chief Medical Officer. Ensign Sh'shaarqir, Chief Comms. and nobody for Security or Diplomacy," the Irishwoman explained, feeling a tad breathless given they were in motion. "Enough to operate the ship, but it'll be a struggle at best" she suggested.
"Well, we're not due for launch for a while anyway. Hopefully, that doesn't come up," the captain said with a shrug.
The door in front of them opened onto a chaotic scene. The room itself was orderly of course. It was what was displayed on the screens that brought the chaos. An orbital station around a protostar was displayed. But in addition to the chaotic debris field around the developing solar body, there was also the clear disarray of the station's structure. A garbled comms message played over the speakers. "This is...Helios Station 5...desperate need of aid....lost...grav buoy and systems failing....help us!"
Dante stared at the images on the screen, and his heart started to beat faster at the thought of the horror that was awaiting those people if something couldn't be done to halt the decay of the station's orbit. Their systems failures would be a small drop in the bucket compared to what awaited them once the structure fell close enough to the protostar's surface. "I think this is a much bigger situation than we anticipated..." he said, just loud enough for Charlotte and Niamh to hear him. His eyes never left the screen, and his voice had a vague, faraway quality to it, making it very obvious his entire mental capacity was focused on what he was seeing and hearing.
Niamh was stoic, her gaze analytical as she read over the numbers being displayed alongside the recording, this was bad. "Definitely, they're likely not going to make those repairs without assistance, It'll be taking everything they have to try and slow their descent," Niamh suggested before throwing a worried look Charlotte's way.
It took Reynolds a moment to fully grasp that she was the second highest ranking officer in the room. The rank stripes on her sleeve were barely a few weeks old and she hadn't quite gotten used to them. So when she realized that numerous eyes had turned to her, not just her crews, she knew she'd need to seem to have some answers.
The Commodore made eye contact with her, even as the crew of the Traveler shuffled in behind them. "Captain Reynolds, I was briefing the rest of the ship commanders. Our station Helios 5 has suffered a catastrophic equipment failure and have lost their orbital placement."
"So I he-" Charlotte began, but a voice to her side interrupted.
"Shouldn't have been there in the first place honestly. A station like that can't truly be safe without a good deal of back up support. Now they need someone else to come in and save them," the gruff voice said. Commander Andre Park, the commander of the Traveller had stationed himself parallel to the Defiant crew, but couldn't look less empathetic. "They should have known the risks."
Charlotte knew him from her academy days. He'd actually been a year ahead of her, but they'd been in several of the same courses. By her estimation at the time, he was far from the pinnacle of Starfleet. Their overlap was due more to his own underperformance than any overachieving on her part. He was an Admiral's child, much like herself. But he'd attempted to coast off those credentials, interested more in his own accolades than the idea of service.. She'd preferred to break out from that mold. The two had not gotten along, to say the least. "The Helios station model has been in use for years without incident. Whatever happened, this is well outside their usual situation."
Park practically snorted at the comment. "Traveller will bail them out. It will be a nice change up from our usual supply run duty. We can be there in about a week. I'll get the crew ready now." Without waiting for the Commodore's go ahead, he turned as if to leave.
"With all due respect, the Helios 5 crew doesn't have time for that. Traveller is a Realta-class. Her speed tops out a Warp 6. By the time you arrive, there will barely be enough of the station left to retrieve their corpses," Reynolds said, feeling her next comment forming even as the words left her mouth.
"Well, I'm sorry my ship isn't fancy enough for your taste, Captain," Park bit out. "But at least it's ready to launch. Everyone is still too busy shining Defiant's consoles."
"Enough." The Commodore's voice cut through the squabbling. It was quiet, but it carried enough gravitas that everyone knew enough not to keep talking. "Captain, Commander Park is correct. Defiant is still being worked on and you barely have a fraction of your crew. Is your timetable really that different?"
Charlotte shot a glance toward her First Officer. She knew this would be a tall ask. Defiant was still having some of her internal systems finished and they were a good week or so away from having anything resembling a full complement. She'd know based on Niamh's look if a launch was even possible, let alone in a timely enough fashion.
"Defiant is one of the most advanced ships in the fleet, she's more than capable of fulfilling her role with a skeleton crew," Niamh said with absolute certainty, throwing a sly smirk at Parks First, Lt Cmdr T'avi. "That said, there are plenty of officers aboard Arcadia that are familiar enough with the ship systems if you can spare them we could use them to improve our odds" the Irishwoman suggested, throwing a look at her new Captain that she hoped conveyed her confidence in the Defiant. Her request had been motivated by the unavoidable urge to ensure that Park didn't get this assignment. Without Defiant the station was doomed.
Niamh's reply was pitch perfect. Charlotte turned back to the Commodore. "With some borrowed crew, we could have Defiant ready for launch in less than 24 hours. At Warp 8, we can be at Helios 5 just over 72 hours from now. And if Lt. Rawlins is comfortable, we can shave a few hours off at 8.5."
Dante nodded, his face a mask of stoic calm, and confidence. "I'm comfortable, if you're comfortable, Captain," he said in reply.
Charlotte looked back at Khethiwe. "Commodore?"
The woman only needed a second to think. "Captain Reynolds, prep your ship. You will be Plan A. Commander Park, since your ship is already ready, I want you to ship out at once. Should Defiant fail for some reason, you will be Helios 5's last hope."
Park opened his mouth to protest, but clearly thought better of it. "Aye, sir."
Charlotte simply nodded. "We'll be ready in 24 hours, ma'am."
Khethiwe rested her hands on the table in finality. "Very well. Dismissed."
Charlotte turned toward the door, making sure her officers were in tow. "Alright you two, we need to wrangle up a few hundred people and get a ship ready for launch in less than 24 hours. Put out a call to the crew. Defiant heads out at 0900."
Niamh's hands danced across her tablet for a moment, "Of course, Captain" she confirmed before looking towards Rawlins, "I've sent you an updated manifest with the temporary crew included," she turned back to Charlotte, "We'll work on getting these together, ma'am".
Dante nodded, not wanting to interrupt the woman's train of thought, and made a mental note to get familiarized with the crew information, especially in regards to his own department.
The turbolift doors shut behind them, and the small compartment rocketed off toward the vessel.