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Departure: The Bridge

Posted on Saturday October 12th, 2019 @ 12:59am by Captain Franklin Johnson & Major Phoebe Graydon & Lieutenant Commander Freya Mannerheim & Lieutenant Commander Karn Karn & Lieutenant J'Loni Mo'Bri Daughter House L'Keth & Lieutenant Nealey Brinsley & Lieutenant Hibiki Zh'kallas & Lieutenant Commander Canaan Serine & Lieutenant JG Sydney Allen & Commodore Gregory Paladin & Lieutenant Commander Neteri "Ikran" Shannon & Ensign Samantha Evans, Trainee
Edited on on Saturday October 12th, 2019 @ 4:40pm

Mission: Shakedown Cruise
Location: USS Poseidon; Bridge
Timeline: Day 000 - 0550 Hours


Today was the day that the Poseidon would fly into the reaches of space once again. Following the successful conclusion of the warp core test - and the interesting detours that it had taken - the Chief Engineer on board the starbase had given the Miranda-class a clean bill of health. The crew was given a days rest following this, and now they were to be prepared early in the ship's morning for the first shakedown cruise of the old destroyer in over a year. Anticipation had welled inside Commander Franklin Johnson, who stood on the empty bridge overlooking the hums and tunes of instruments as the old girl signaled her capacity for life. He rubbed his hand along the handrail behind the Captain's chair, looking forward toward the viewscreen into the space dock beyond.

It was a surreal moment for the young commanding officer, the hair on the back of his neck rising as the tingling sensation that destiny had finally be fulfilled, at least in part, by him standing on here at this very moment. While one hand firmly gripped the handrailing, his other tucked itself behind his back as his hand had curled into a fist; nervousness apparent. His eyes wandered about the bridge to calm his nerves.

To the right of the viewscreen and along the circular structured wall of the bridge were various stations, starting with auxiliary systems, mission ops, and sciences. Behind the Captain's Chair and to the right of the science station after the door to the Foyer was the Master Situation Station, fully interlaced with readouts from across the ship. To the right of that and after the door to the turbolift was the Tactical Station. His eyes stopped there, only briefly observing the overlay there before settling his eyes on the dedication plaque, situated on the side of the corner leading to the doors to the security lobby; a shower, head, and various storage lockers situated there. He slowly released his grip on the handrail and walked over, his steps soft on the newly refurbished red carpeting.

The plaque itself was similar to those of modern ships - any starfleet ship - that had or did exist. While the colorations varied depending on both era and class of ship, the majority, much like the Poseidon herself, had a golden plaque carefully mounted into the side of the wall of the entrance-way. It appeared to Franklin that someone had recently, and very carefully, cleaned the surface of it. The shine that reflected off of it from the bridge's lighting was neither offense nor blinding, merely illuminating to the text engraved permanently on its surface.

"USS Poseidon," Franklin read aloud the huge and embolden letters at the top of the plaque, foremost of the lettering etched into the golden surface. His eyes trailed over the subsequent information, each detailed carefully catered to the Poseidon's particular placement in this small universe of Starfleet vessels. The rest of the words flowed through his mind as he read them silently.

Starfleet Registry NCC-42635 - Miranda-class Starship - Recommissioned on Stardate 70702.09 - Keel Laid in Proxima Yards, Proxima Centauri on September 14th of 2318 - United Federation of Planets - Pegasus Fleet, Task Force Eleven

Below the details of the ships recommission date and her formal original date of construction were the names of various admirals and captains to her name, both original and new, with the additions of a few he recognized. There were five rows, each titled with a specific department of Starfleet with individuals who were either personally responsible or indirectly contributing to the Poseidon's success. Unlike most ships, however, the Poseidon was old, and her history was older. Her plaque had been redone for her recristioning ceremony not too long ago, and instead of the traditional names of Starfleet Command and other various departments, this plaque was special.

Starting from the left, the categories were listed as "Pegasus Fleet Admiralty", "Pegasus Fleet Operations", Pegasus Fleet Engineering Corps", "Starfleet Academy Operations", and the traditional last category, "Yard Engineers".

Franklin took note to a few names he recognized, a few admirals from Pegasus Fleet in particular. The two that caught his attention were under different categories. Commodore Gregory Paladin's name was permanently etched under the category for Starfleet Academy Operations, and Lieutenant Commander William Anderson was listed under Yard Engineers with a few other names that Franklin unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting. The Commodore's seemed of particular import, perhaps mainly because at one time this had been his ship. Now, it seemed, his name would forever be attached to it. A fitting tribute, especially considering the history of Paladin's that sat in the very same Captain's Chair that Franklin would be soon.

Eyes flowing downward, he rested his sight on the final engraving on the plaque. Usually dedication plaques had a quote to symbolize the ship. Some ships in Starfleet would skip this tradition, simply having a formal plaque with basic information. Others would be as unique as the one Poseidon had. In any case, those that did sport a quote, usually did so as a means to pay tribute to the namesake of the ship. The Poseidon's was no different.

"To some this may look like a sunset. But it’s a new dawn." - Chris Austin Hadfield

His breath caught at the quote. Franklin wasn't particularly familiar with old earth, but something about the name sprung a memory from the Academy. If he was correct, Chris Hadfield had been an Astronaut, perhaps to some specific country prior to World War Three; Canada, if what he recalled was correct. He made a mental note to research it later, but the very reason his breath caught was not at the revelation of the individual, but the words themselves. How appropriate they were, and how fitting, for such an old and fine ship still in service. It was a moment of respect, especially for the individual or individuals who had chosen the quote for this newest stage in the Poseidon's service with Starfleet.

"A new dawn," Franklin murmured silently, standing as he moved away from the plaque with a last, lingering glance before looking left.

He observed the Communications Station, Environmental Systems station, Propulsion, and Engineering. Beside engineering, the viewscreen, finishing his rotational view of the bridge. His eyes then lingered on the center. Much like the old USS Miranda, particularly after her refit, the center of the bridge held a half-platform that was lower than the main floor, complete with two sets of stairs, whereupon it ended at the Navigation and Helm consoles that faced the viewscreen and where behind was the Captain's Chair. It was an eloquent, nostalgic, and efficient design for a starship bridge.

"Computer, what is the present time?" Franklin asked the ship. He started to trace his hand again along the handrail, which seemed to surround the sub-platform area except along its four entrances.

"The time is Oh-Five-Fifty Hours," the computer replied, a soft and mature feminine synthesized voice answering.

"Thank you, computer," Franklin said, to which the computer replied with a, "You're welcome", much to Franklin's surprise and appreciation. A smile lingered on his lips as he finished his walk to his Captain's Chair, admiring the newly refurbished surface and texture. Here, he'd wait for the first bridge officer to arrive.

The turbolift doors opened up and Karn walked in and greeted the Captain warmly as he walked behind his station.

"Ah, Mon Capetian! Wonderful day to take her out no?"

"Mister Karn!" Franklin greeted, rather excitedly as he turned to face his Chief of Security. "Very pleased to see you. I do agree, a wonderful day."

Nealey arrived a minute or so later in a world of her own. She walked out onto the bridge and made her way over to her station - grateful for the fact whilst she was on the Poseidon she would be sitting down at her station.

"Lieutenant Brinsley," Franklin greeted, "glad to have you here this morning."

Nealey smiled. "Thank you Commander. It's good to be here"

Phoebe was next out of the turbolift, having just completed a quick inspection of each deck on her way up. "Morning Captain." She said, walking around the bridge, and standing next to the CO. "All decks are ready for departure when we are." She said, passing over her report from the lower decks that she had visited.

The Commander took it. "Thank you Number One," he said, happily. "Good morning to you!"

The smile maintained itself as he observed the datapad, casually walking the distance to his command chair as he sat and read over the information. It was the usual readiness checks, status reports of what had gone on outside of his notice, small minor requests that needed his approval, transfers of supplies to different parts of the ship, all random stuff. His mind kept focus on the datapad for a time as he read over the majority of the information.

After the Captain moved away to his seat, Phoebe followed suit, taking up her seat around the edge of the bridge.

Canaan leaned against one of the cab's panels as the lift made its short ascent to the bridge. His mind filled with flashes of memory from last night with a sort of dazed look of contentment. The very thought of Paladin's gentle tenderness and loving nature wrapped him in a calm he wasn't quite ready to let go of yet this morning. He could tell that focusing on anything in his sleep-deprived, sedated state would be a challenge. If it weren't for the Poseidon's imminent launch, he'd have protested, but this was exciting enough to keep him engaged.

J'Loni emerged from the turbolift and proceeded to her station just to the left of the command chair. Tapping her command codes in, her console buzzed to life. Hands moving skillfully over the controls she smiled as each section came back in the green. "Engineering is in the green impulse and warp are at your disposal, Commander." she said calmly.

The lift slowed, and Canaan righted himself before sipping from the coffee cup. Clearing his throat, the Lieutenant took a deep breath and smiled. When the doors parted, revealing a bridge already a hub of activity in advance of their departure. Stepping off the turbolift, the science officer navigated the short distance between it and his station. He nodded casually to several of his counterparts, yet avoided the Commander's gaze.

Slipping into the chair, Canaan logged into the science station, whose LCARs display loaded his preferred layout. He signaled each division, verifying all were prepared to leave the dock. Accessing the astrometric lab remotely, Canaan loaded the live sensor feed to the primary display, signaling Ensign Evans to retune pallets three, seven, and ten. With the calibrations completed, Canaan directed the feed to the CONN. Canaan looked towards the forward station, finding it empty, their newly minted Lieutenant Chief Flight Control Officer not yet arrived.

That, however, was about to change as the turbolift doors opened once again to reveal what could only be described as a mess. Freya's long brown hair was sticking up in all directions, her glasses were everything but straight, and she was hastily trying to pull on her uniform jacket, without even having zipped up the red tunic underneath. It was plain to see that she had only just gotten up.

"Sorry everyone," she panted, as she finally managed to get her other arm into the jacket. "Really sorry. Alarm didn't go off. Or I didn't hear it. Or forgot to set it." She shook her head. "Whatever, I am here now." She turned to the commander. "Lieutenant Freya Svanirsdottir reporting for duty, sir." She slumped into her seat and signed into her own console, immediately dimming the display as was her habit. "Could someone get me a triple shot raktajino please? I think I need one."

Karn was not fully aware of Federation policy but he had been fairly certain that arriving late on the bridge was in bad form. As his station was all set, he walked away from his station.

"Ah, that Klingon coffee. I can get it pilot type person who is very very late. I will have one too."

He walked towards the replicator and asked for two raktojinos with a please and thank you before heading back to the helm.

Freya took the coffee and immediately too a large sip. "Much obliged, Lieutenant. The name is Freya, by the way." She turned to her console to see that everything had booted up, straightened her glasses, and zipped up her tunic, leaving only her jacket open. "Right then." She turned to the commander. "Ready to take this baby out on your command, sir."

Franklin briefly observed his Chief of Security leave to the foyer and come back, all without asking his Commanding Officer for a drink. Appearing late for work was one thing, but not offering the Commander a Coffee? For shame. He'd remember that - though even in his mind he knew it was a jest of a thought. He smirked openly as he watched Karn deliver the goods, and the resulting satisfaction.

"Very good Lieutenant," Franklin remarked, trying to appear professional as he sat up in his Captain's Chair. He pressed a few buttons on the armrest pad as he handed off the datapad from earlier to a passing yeoman. He heaved a great sigh, nodding to everyone present superficially as he gazed around.

"Lieutenant Karn," he began to order, "prepare the ship for departure and secure all decks and ports. Lieutenant Freya, hold position until approved."

Freya nodded, took another sip of her coffee, and tapped a few commands on her console. "Sir. Thrusters and impulse engines primed and ready for your command."

Canaan relayed the star charts for this system with Svanirsdotter. Charts were constantly updated based on new scientific discoveries made by Federations starships; it wasn't uncommon for a specific chart to change at a moments notice. Thankfully, their uplink to the Daystrom Institute was instantaneous, so updates were usually syndicated in real time. He also opened a message alert to the Chief Flight Control Officer, "Your hair is pretty wild, Frey."

With a few quick taps, Freya aligned the navigational systems with the star charts she had received before reading the message. She brushed over her hair with her hand and glared in Canaan's direction, smirking as she typed her response. "You don't look too fresh yourself, long night?"

Canaan could feel the heat beaming from either cheek, both a blush of deep red. He stayed facing his station, no longer wanting to make eye contact with Svanirsdotter lest it attracts the attention of the other bridge officers.

"Fair point." He replied briefly, closing the text channel.

A comm alert sounded throughout the ship as Karn tapped a console, = /\ = All hands, this is the bridge. All hands for departure stations. Security teams secure airlocks, decks and report when ready. = /\ =

The Captain's head turned to his First Officer, Phoebe Graydon. "Number One, are we missing anyone on the bridge?"

Phoebe did a once over of the bridge. "Negative sir, I believe everyone is here that needs to be here." She answered.

"Thank you, Number One," Franklin replied to his First Officer following her report.

"Captain, all decks report ready," relayed Karn.

"Thank you Mister Karn," Franklin said with a nod to his Chief of Security. Confident that all relevant hands were ready, he tapped his combadge to reply to the communique from the lower decks.

= /\ = Lieutenant Allen, this is the Commander. Make sure to forward a full report to the Chief Operations Officer. Also do a favor for me and recheck our stores for any discrepancies. Commander Johnson, out. = /\ =

Finishing the brief communique, the Commander returned his attention forward. Soon after, the Quartermaster responded. =^= Lieutenant Allen to the Bridge; all secure down below. Awaiting further orders. =^=

All J'Loni was waiting for was the order to disengage the umbilical and go to internal power. The warp drive was already ready to go as were the impulse engines.

Taking a final look around the bridge, the Commander pressed a switch on his armchair console, sitting back as he took in a deep breath and began to speak over the shipwide channel.

= /\ = Attention all crew, this is your Captain speaking. We are the verge of moving out of drydock. On my order, the Poseidon and all souls on board will depart on her first real mission in well over a year. This ship has a long history, a proud service life, and we on this ship constitute its latest dedication to Starfleet service. Let's all work together as we take this first, important step.

All hands to stations. = /\ =

He pressed the button again to end the shipwide, looking to Lieutenant J'Loni first for bridge orders.

"Lieutenant, set power to internal. There's no going back now. Only forward."

J'Loni switched the ship to internal power easily, "Ship is now on internal power.'' She stated.

"Very good," Franklin replied, looking to the helm next. "Lieutenant Freya, take my ship out of drydock. No scratches, dents, or dings. I want her looking pretty for pictures."

As he finished his orders to the helm, the turbolift doors opened revealing Commodore Gregory Paladin as he walked on the bridge. There was a brief glance and exchange of nods between the Commander and Commodore, but overall Gregory stayed behind the Captain's Chair as he held onto the handrail with both hands and observed the forward view screen with anticipation.

"Understood, sir." Freya replied, "Thrusters online, taking her out nice and steady."

Freya's hand was shivering slightly, but steady as she accessed helm control and fired up the thrusters. Slowly and gracefully, the Poseidon finally began to move as the Lieutenant gently nudged the controls to get their journey underway.

J'Loni was watching her console intently as she felt the ship move forward. Another mission another voyage into the unknown.

The Commander let out a satisfied sigh, a breath he hadn't realized he was holding in. His tension released as he saw the sides of the docking area part, disappear, and the ship smoothly progress forward. It was a beautiful sight.

"The old girl still has life in her," commented Gregory from behind him. Franklin nodded, glancing back briefly. "Guess you took care of her enough, eh, Commodore?"

The elder Commodore chuckled in response.

"Good job Lieutenant Freya," Franklin complimented, an ease in his tone. "Keep her steady, almost out of the dock doors."

With one hand, Freya pushed her glasses up, while keeping the ship steady. Her hands were sweaty, and she was still nervous, but so far, everything was going smoothly. She breathed a sigh of relief as the sensors confirmed that they had cleared the dock. "And that's us out, Captain." She closed her eyes and threw her head back. "That was tense, that." Suddenly, she burst out laughing, before turning to the command chair. "Right then. Your orders, sir?"

Franklin smiled at the outburst. Truth be told he was a bit tense too. He sat up straighter, leaning a bit forward as he rested one elbow on his knee and one hand on the chair rest. Examining the viewscreen, he pointed with the arm resting on his knee forward.

"Let's take her out for a shakedown," he said. "Full impulse. Mr. Karn, alert all nearby shuttlecraft of our intentions, let's establish an exclusion bubble so we can properly give the Lieutenant some room. Lieutenant Brinsley, communicate with Starbase 99 that we're undergoing a brief impulse shakedown. Coordinate with Mr. Karn on the safe exclusion zone."

Karn walked over to the operations stations with a PADD in hand and spoke quickly with Brinsley. After some confirming, Karn his comm badge.

= /\ = Starbase 99 Traffic Control, this is USS Poseidon requesting standard exclusion zone at these coordinates for impulse shakedown. = /\ =

Nealey waited patiently for a few seconds before receiving a response confirming the ship was permitted to depart and commence her shakedown.

"We're good to go Commander!" Nealey replied.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” replied the Commander happily. “Proceed.”

Following responding to Lieutenant Nealy, the prior orders and Karn's completion of them, Franklin turned his attention to his Chief Engineer briefly.

"Lieutenant J'Loni, I want you to closely monitor all systems and report any irregularities. If something is going to go wrong, I want it to go wrong now and near a Starbase."

"Understood Captain, you will know at the first twitch!" J’Loni said with a smile.

"Understood, sir," Freya said as the Commander turned his attention back to her, she having entered the relevant commands and fired up the impulse engines. "Headed anywhere in particular, or shall I just take her for a spin around the block?"

The Commander thought a moment as he collected himself, then smiled. He chuckled after a moment, "I like that phrasing, Lieutenant. Spin around the block, please. Once we're verified on our zone, let her loose."

"Yes, sir!" Freya quickly programmed a flight path that would take the ship on a quick tour of the area and that would take about fifteen minutes to complete at full impulse. "Course laid in. Quick quarter-hour shakedown run sound good, sir? Ready to engage full impulse at your command."

The Commander tucked his uniform down, sitting back as he crossed his leg. Both hands resting on the armrest, he rose one, then pointed forward with a confident grin. He had been waiting his entire career for this moment, regardless if it was entering warp or full impulse. Years of waiting, eagerness, and looking up to the Greats coalesced inside him to inspire his next words. They would define him from this moment forward, his trademark to start a new adventure, to propel the ship into new skies.

"Let's kick it," he ordered, smirking as he said the words that would undoubtedly be his trademark phrase in command.

This was the moment Freya had been looking forward to. In fact, she had programmed the LCARS interface to generate a big red button to punch when the command was given - and punch the button she did. "Here she goes!" she shouted, as the Poseidon's impulse engines came to life and the ship accelerated smoothly to its maximum sub-warp speed.

After a few moments, Freya nodded in satisfaction. "Navigation systems are holding steady, speed and course deviations within normal tolerances. Seems all those damn hours calibrating the sensors did the trick!"

Canaan nodded in response to Freya's statement, although the gesture went mostly unseen with attention diverted elsewhere. "Ships sensors calibrated for optimal long and short-range resolution. Key performance indicators report efficiency ratings exceeding 103%. If it's out there, we'll see it." To emphasis the point, Canaan shared current sensor data with the relevant departments. "Astrometrics is reporting some of the clearest data streams recorded." He concluded softly, directing his gaze to the forward viewscreen.

Like the rest, he experienced a similar surge of excitement as the newest crew of the minted Poseidon embarked on their first mission together. Both ship and crew untested as one, cohesive unit, but that was the intention of a shakedown cruise. Now came the endless drills, a thought that Canaan snickered to himself.

Risking it, he cast a subtle glance over a shoulder to Paladin. The Commodore stood directly behind the command chair, easily resting against the metal support rail. Canaan knew Paladin's relaxed posture, on the surface, hid a tense undercurrent. Paladin's eyes were squarely fixed on the starfield beyond, affixed to what lay ahead.

"Thank you, Lieutenant Serine," Franklin said as he kept his own eyes forward. Behind him, the Commodore sensed someone paying attention to him.

In a flash, Gregory's eyes flicked from the viewscreen to Canaan's. Briefly, he winked, a short and almost invisible smile playing that expression. The tension returned, his eyes returning forward. That was the extent of what he could allow himself to give Canaan in this moment, especially on duty.

J'Loni finally breathed as her console remained green and all systems were functioning within norms.

Then came a message from the Flight Deck for the Commander. =^=This is Lt Pavan to the bridge. We're all tucked in down here and ready to go. =^=

Hearing the communique from Lieutenant Jonas Pavan, the Commander took the liberty to reply. He pressed the appropriate button on his armchair console to initiate communication.

= /\ = Lieutenant Pavan, this is Commander Johnson. Thank you for your report. Have your fighters on standby but hold off on any quick launch procedures. Once we're done with our impulse shakedown, I'm going to give you fighter jockeys a chance to stretch your wings. Franklin, out. = /\ =

As if on cue, there was a chime from the navigation console, indicating that the programmed destination had been reached, and the autopilot disengaged the impulse engines. Freya quickly checked over the sensors, before turning once again to the command chair. "Sir, we have completed the impulse shakedown. All systems are within tolerances, everything seems to be running smoothly." She turned to J'Loni. "I'm not getting any efficiency readings, someone check the uplink please."

"Blast!" J'Loni growled as her hands flew over her console expertly rerouting the settings for helm efficiency readings from her engines. Quickly the problem was fixed, "Lt. Freya, you should be getting those efficiency readings now" she said swiftly. Silently she murmured, "No more screw ups please or by the hand of Kahless someone will lose their head.”

Freya turned back to her station, to see the efficiency readings come in. "That seems to have done the trick!" she responded, before turning back to the commander. "Ord-?" Until this point, she had been so focussed on her work that she had completely missed Commodore Paladin's arrival. When she finally noticed him, she froze for a second, before catching herself.

"Orders, Commander?" She finally asked, her voice a little unsteady.

Franklin was about to speak, until he noticed Freya's unsteady voice. It caught him off guard and he caught her glance towards the Commodore. When he turned back to look at Gregory, the Commodore's expression was perplexed. He had since stood upright, hands behind his back, and held a stern yet questioning expression. The two Commanding Officer's shared an expression, one that told that neither knew what was happening. They had both, however, caught what had transpired.

Franklin looked back to Lieutenant Freya, "Is...everything okay, Lieutenant?" Then, reaching on a thought, he added, "Is the Commodore a problem?"

The Lieutenant vehemently shook her head. "No, sir, of course not, sir." She forced herself to smile. "Everything is fine. Your orders?"

Svanirsdottir's unusual reaction to the presence of Commodore Gregory Paladin didn't go unnoticed by the other bridge officers, several turning at Commander Johnson's question. Intrigued, Canaan was one such officer glancing from Freya to Gregory. Surely the Pilot would have known of the Commodores presence for the relaunch of his prior command and current post as Mission Advisor. It was expected, after all. "What's that all about?" He wondered curiously to himself, gaze lingering on Gregory for an extra heartbeat while the Commander and Commodore exchanged befuddled looks.

For his part, Commodore Paladin merely stood and observed Freya. In truth, he wasn't all aware what the Lieutenant's problem was, but he knew from prior brief encounters that she had something on him. Being Starfleet Command meant that he was privy to some information, but he didn't have the full picture. He had brushed off the first situation rather nicely and the Lieutenant and him had gotten along amicably - at a distance. Now it appeared that the problem was real, and that she thought him enough of a threat to act the way she did.

He slowly returned to bracing himself on the railing, eyes trained intently on Freya in a mixture of confusion and professional dissatisfaction. They bore into her briefly, before blinking and staring forward. It was a polite gesture of the Commodore once again brushing the situation off. He didn't speak, merely looked forward, a frown on his face now.

Commander Johnson noticed the brief exchange, and the subsequent reaction of the Commodore. He was red-faced, almost near chastising his Lieutenant publically, but the knowledge that nothing really wrong had been said and that no protocol had been breached secured his professionalism. He grit his teeth while looking away, took a deep breath, then stared at the Lieutenant with a new expression of calm.

"Lieutenant Freya, after the fighter craft exercises have concluded, you will meet the Commodore and I in my ready room," he said, his face and expression stern. "Is that clear?"

Before she could reply, he managed to look about the bridge. "Let's prepare for fighter exercises. Keep the ship steady and notify Mr. Pavan he has a greenlight for exercises. Mr. Karn, please set up dummy sensor target for the fighters when you're able."

As he finished, his eyes drifted back to Freya. Colder than before, but still having the professional amount of care behind them. She had definitely left a bad impression.

Without a word, Freya swiveled her chair back facing her console. When she was certain that the Commander and Commodore could not see her face and the fact that she was fighting to hold back tears, she took off her glasses to wipe her eyes and the glasses themselves. “Don't blow this,” she told herself as images flashed before her inner eye. “You are Terran. You do not show weakness. Especially not to him. Even if it's the version of him from this universe. Not after what he did to you.” She replaced her glasses and made a decision. "With all due respect, Commander," she said, slowly turning back to face him. "I believe this is a personal matter between me and the Commodore." She looked Paladin straight in the eye as she continued. "And frankly, I am not sure if you have the necessary clearance."

Karn, who had begun to set up some dummy targets, felt martial instincts flare up with the tension in the room rising and discreetly moved a hand on his phaser just in case.

The Commodore's eyes flicked back to Freya's, meeting with equal intensity. His expression seemed to sour a note as he realized this wasn't going away, despite the CO's orders. He instead opted to allow the Commander to handle this. He maintained his posture on the railing, for the moment.

The Commander, for his part, was surprised by how composed he was. His voice was quiet, smooth, organized - yet stern.

"Lieutenant Freya, you are out of line," he said coldly, professionally. "I informed you when we'd address this situation. If you'd be so kind as to handle your emotions until after the Poseidon has her due moments, or perhaps you'd like to be relieved to calm down?"

Freya shook her head. "I would advise that I am in fact perfectly calm. However," she added, "it is of course your prerogative as Commanding Officer to relieve me from my station if you disagree. Otherwise, I would like to get back to my job please. Sir." The last word was uttered as an afterthought.

The amount of disrespect that came from Freya, especially considering the earlier command concessions with her taking out the Poseidon during her shakedown, had dramatically altered the dynamic between Franklin's perception of her and - in his mind - her standing on the ship. Franklin stood from his seat, his eyes boring into Freya. He kept himself calm, did his best to, his breathing only slightly intense. Despite his desire to gaze around the bridge to judge reactions, he refused it. Her complete lack of respect for the chain of command and her obvious disrespect for the Commodore, however unintentional or mistaken, had escalated to full-blown insubordination; not insubordination because of something she was thought to have done, but rather her response and refusal to acknowledge a commanding officers words.

It bore ill on the shakedown to have a situation like this take place. Something not lost to the Commander’s mind. Still, this situation needed addressing, and he had the perfect replacement in mind considering circumstances.

"Lieutenant Freya, get off my bridge," he said, firmly. "I will speak to you privately after we enter warp. Commodore Paladin will relieve your station until such time as you address your personal situation."

=/\= "Karn to Zh'kallas, please report to the bridge to escort Lieutenant Freya to her quarters." =/\= Karn was pleased that Zh'kallas appeared almost a second later with two other security officers flanking her.

Behind the Commander, Gregory stood. He didn't like the fact that Franklin had ousted a very prominent and important part of the crew at this critical juncture, and he had kept quiet during this ordeal to refrain from interference. He had seen several positive ways this could have gone better. Still, the Commander had spoken, and while normally he'd refuse such an honor, he understood the implications behind it. His eyes bore some sympathy as he watched Freya, expectantly now. As if to apologize in some unspoken manner. They seemed to drift between Franklin and her.

Freya stood. "As you command, sir," she said. Then, looking directly at Paladin, she stood at attention, clenched her right fist and tapped it against her left shoulder before extending the arm out parallel to the ground - the salute of a Terran officer. Without another word, she walked off towards the turbolift.

Both Franklin and the Commodore watched her salute, yet only one knew the significance. Gregory breathed in realizing the extent of the situation now, connecting the dots. His eyes widened briefly before squinting, eyeing her as she departed, almost as if preparing for a fight. His jaw moved, a clench of teeth, and he looked at Franklin sternly.

"I do not normally break rank, Commander, but if you'd so politely take me to your ready room for a brief moment," the Commodore requested. He was more angry at the Commander than anything.

Franklin, seeing this, turned towards Karn. "Lieutenant Karn, proceed as planned. I'll be in my ready room."

"Yes Captain." Was the reply.

As he turned towards the door to the floyer, he looked at Phoebe. "Number one, you have the bridge."

“Sir.” She replied simply, moving from her seat at the outer ring of the bridge, towards the Captain's chair. She followed them with her eyes as they left, slightly confused at the whole outburst, and also the fact that the Commodore and Captain were now having a private discussion.

Franklin and Gregory passed into the foyer, the doors closing behind them.

The tension in the ready room was palpable. Gregory had not stopped in the Foyer, he had simply headed straight into the ready room. Franklin followed behind. The two Commanding Officers stood face to face after Gregory did an about face upon the Commander's entrance. When the Commodore noted the doors closed behind Franklin, his expression became stern.

"Look Commander," Gregory began, "I am not going to tell you how to run your ship, but I will tell you when you screw up. You did just there by sending your helmsman off the bridge. That situation could have easily been resolved had you not stroked your ego. I get as a CO that we have instances where our authority is challenged, but in those instances we must demonstrate patience. In the beginning I was rather impressed with how you handled that, but that all slipped under the rug when you rushed your Senior Officer off the bridge. They may have demonstrated insubordination once, but not multiple times, on multiple occasions, which may have interfered with actual bridge work."

By this time Franklin's eyes were wide, a look of surprised shock on his face. He acted as if to reply, but Gregory held him off by raising his finger to quiet the Commander.

"I am not finished, Commander," Gregory continued. "I have for some time known about Freya and myself, and I have dealt with it under my own authority, in my own time. I do not need nor do I require your assistance in dealing with that. The gesture was appreciated and noted, but you severely screwed up any chance I had of mending whatever was wrong between us. I do not appreciate you doing that and I fully expect you to find a way to fix this. That is the only order I will give you as your superior, and I expect it to be undertaken. Is that clear?"

"Perfectly sir," Franklin said, swallowing slightly. A red to his cheeks, eyes slightly stern - still wide with the level of chastisement he received, but now more stern. "I will work on my performance to better my command ability. It will not happen again."

There was a moment of silence between the two, then Gregory sighed, turning around as he gazed out the viewport to space. The stars were still, just as they should be. Gregory crossed his arms, gazing back as he turned his head so only half his face could be seen. One eye clearly looking back at the Commander.

"I am here to guide you, Franklin," Gregory said, a softer tone. "I am very proud of how far you've come, and I understand as a newly minted Commander, mistakes happen. When they happen, I want to nip them in the bud - fully. You will command this ship your way, it's not my place to dictate how you do that. It is my place to stop you and correct you when you get out of line."

Franklin nodded, looking down briefly as if he had just been chastised by his own father. In a way, it felt like it. "Understood, sir," he replied as he looked back to the Commodore. "If I may ask, what would your recommendation be?"

Gregory turned fully around, facing the junior Commanding Officer. He looked him up and down, then sighed. "Own it," he replied. "You're a CO now. You own your orders, even if they're one-hundred percent wrong. My recommendation is that when we both walk back out there, we appear as if we had a nice chat. You're in command here, not me. You made that call, not me. Whether you take my words as corrections or passing advice, that's your decision. I only gave a order concerning myself, and that is the only thing I expect you to follow."

"Thank you sir, yes sir," Franklin replied, adjusting his uniform as he cleared his throat.

Gregory nodded, then motioned toward the door. "We should probably get back, Commander. After you."

A near impenetrable silence engulfed the bridge in the wake of Freya's removal from the bridge, and the Commander and Commodore’s hasty departure. The command center was rife with tension, so much so that Canaan couldn't suppress the cold shiver that ran the length of his spine. It was the way Freya had looked at Gregory, her steely glare malcontent. And what was with that gesture?! He'd never seen anything like it before, most certainly not in Starfleet. Canaan didn't know much about Freya or her past, but he well enough knew something like that wasn't a custom of any species within the Federation. This momentous occasion, once filled with an excitement for the future, was replaced with uncertainty.

"Not even one hour out of dock and we have our first personnel hurdle... This doesn't bode well." The remark wasn't intended to be flippant or disrespectful, yet served to break the tension as he glanced from Karn to Graydon to Mo'Bri.

"That does not look good for any officer to do what Lt. Freya did. Regardless of whatever history is between two officers, the bridge is not the place to challenge orders. I mean, yes she was nervous, and a little scared but still for what happened was not good on our shakedown cruise.” J'Loni said shaking her head.

"Nonsense, on my planet if there's not at least one good fist fight before we leave port it's bad luck! We are adventurers! Explorers! Fighters! Lovers! Our blood is supposed to run hot! Is this not so?"

“That’s enough please people. Let’s not speculate on things that we may, or may not know the situation behind.” She ordered, looking around at the assembled crew. “Whatever has happened, will be dealt with, by the people who need to deal with them.”

Karn's communicator clicked on demanding attention.

"Speaking of hot bloods, those must be the fighter jocks.” =/\= This is Karn, go ahead. =/\=

=/\= This is Shadow Hunter. Two birds waiting to fly for target practice. =/\=

Phoebe nodded towards Karn. “Let them know we have received their request, and that we will confirm once the CO has returned to the bridge.” She looked back across to the Captain's Ready Room door, hoping they would return shortly.

After their discussion in the Captain's Ready Room, the doors to the Foyer opened revealing first Franklin, then Gregory. The Commander was stern faced, the Commodore equally so. Franklin nodded to his First Officer before returning to his seat. Before he sat, he gestured towards Gregory, then the Helms station.

"If it pleases the Commodore, I'd invite him to take the ship's helm," Franklin said, smiling.

Gregory nodded, walking the step down and taking his seat at Helm. He seemed to feel the controls down briefly, a wave of nostalgia hanging over him. It almost seemed the prior conversation wasn't worth the effort, but it had been necessary. He took a deep breath, then exhaled in confidence. A few brief finger presses on the screen and buttons, then turning back to the Commander.

"Ship is stable, Commander. Holding position," the Commodore Reported.

"Thank you Commodore," Franklin said, sitting. He turned his head towards Karn. "Any word on our fighters?"

"Ready to launch at your command Captain. I have two dozen targets ready to go."

Nodding, he cleared his throat and tapped his comm-badge. =/\= This is Commander Franklin to all fighters: you are free to begin your sequence run. =/\=

Whatever tension may have existed disappeared as the bridge crew focused on monitoring the ships various systems, as well as watching the starfighter wing launch into a dizzying array of orchestrated maneuvers. The sensors registered each starfighter, displaying a unique patch that represented its pilot. On the main view screen, Canaan loaded a widget that indicated which starfighters were in play, their pilots' codename, and patch. Directly below that, was another widget that showed the starfighter's formation in relation to the Poseidon. Canaan calibrated the dorsal and ventral sensor plates for higher sensitivity.

Canaan resisted the urge to open a text message bubble to Gregory, knowing the Commodore needed to focus on this moment instead of what occurred between him, Freya, and Johnson minutes before. It did little to quell his concern, though. What did Freya have against Gregory? This weird confrontation made no sense.

The bridge was silent as all watched in unison, through their respective duties, as the three fighters were launched from the rear of the Miranda-class and arched to move fore. They cleanly flew above the weapons pod, doing a flyby of the bridge before heading out. To Franklin, it was one of the most beautiful sights he could see and one that filled him with confidence in the upcoming mission.

As the bridge was struck by the impressiveness of the fighter launch, Gregory was the first to notice something was wrong. The second fighter was demonstrating some awkward positioning and it appeared to be trailed by some type of plasma. What overall could have easily been a mistake of the eye turned very real when that same fighter detonated in a cloud of debris. The Commodore watched as Franklin shot up from his chair.

"What the hell was that?!" the Commander nearly shouted, confusion apparent. "Are we under attack, this close to Starbase?!"

=/\= Bridge, this is Shadow Hunter. There has been a training accident. Lt. Jonas Pavan has been killed. Requesting permission to land immediately. =/\=

The words of the remaining fighter pilot, whom he assumed to be Lieutenant Neteri Shannon, felt cold to him, almost a shock. Her voice had that tremble as he requested a return to the ship. Franklin, pointing at Karn, quickly turning his pointing gesture to the screen.

"I want her back on this ship, now! Go to yellow alert, but don't raise shields until we have our fighter back!" Franklin sat back in his chair, hitting the arm rest with the palm of his hand in frustration. "I need answers, people! Let's find out what happened to our fighter. Send out a communication to any ship nearby if their sensors picked up anything."

"Understood; Sensors show no incoming weapons fire or hostiles in the area.", relayed Karn as he tapped through his console.

=/\= "Shuttlebay One - prepare for emergency landing. Bridge to Shadow Hunter; return to Shuttlebay One immediately. Transferring you to the flight deck officer. Security Teams two and three report to Shuttlebay One and secure it. Security team four, report to transporter room and lock it down." =/\=

Karn turned back to the captain, "Sir, permission to clear and secure Cargo Bay Two for the investigation."

It was an abrupt and uncharacteristically blunt request from the Lurian. It was clear that when things got hot Karn cut kept his loquaciousness to a minimum. There would be time for words later.

"Granted," replied Franklin. "Commodore, place us in a stationary position a few lengths away from the wreckage. I want a full investigation before we depart."

"Yes, Captain," replied the Commodore, as he did so his fingers flying over the console. The viewscreen visibly shifted as the ship drifted back from the wreckage to a safe distance, then sat still.

"Done, sir," Gregory said. "If you'd permit me, sir, I need to contact command."

"Absolutely Commodore," Franklin replied with a nod, "Dismissed. Lieutenant Karn, you are in charge of this investigation. I want us to be sure we are not victims of sabotage."

The Commander stood, looking to his First Officer. "Phoebe, take the conn. I'll be in my ready room."

Phoebe nodded without comment, still being in shock from what had just happened. Had it been an accident? Sabotage? Who knew. All she knew was that one of the pilots was likely dead, and they were now a fighter short.

He would turn, heading towards his ready room as Commodore Paladin headed to the turbolift. There was palpable tension following both.

Canaan's heart broke for Pavan. They'd been less than a day out of spacedock and already experienced one of the most difficult scenarios any crew would face together — the death of one of their own. Now wasn't the time to grieve. Commander Johnson needed answers, and he was relying on every member of his crew to hold it together as ardent professionals for that singular purpose. Not because they had, but because they would.

The Lieutenant blinked away a tear as he began accessing the visual data from all sensor plates directed toward the fighters. The wing hadn't been in maneuvers long enough to establish an optical uplink to the bridge. Lieutenant Karn would need to manually download that data from each starfighter and parse it in realtime against what was collected by the Poseidon.

"Ms. Evans," Canaan spoke out quietly after opening a channel to the primary work station in astrometrics. "Please prepare to send me all relevant data from the moment five minutes before the wing launched to five minutes post-explosion. Understood?"

The pause on the other end of the channel persisted long enough that Canaan needed to verify it was open. It was. "Ms. Evans... Samantha..." Canaan said barely above a whisper, "Lieutenant Pavan was a wing commander and accepted the risks assigned to his post. We owe it to his legacy and his family to get them the answers they deserve to understand why he's no longer with us. Please help me to accomplish this, and then we'll grieve his loss together."

=^= "Y-yes, sir." =^= Was her weak reply, =^= "I'm on it. Standby." =^=

Within seconds, data started to stream in vertically across an adjacent display.

"Thank you, Ms. Evans. Bridge out."

Now it was time to scrutinize every line of code to ensure Karn had everything he needed for the investigation.


“Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.”

– Martin Luther


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Comments (1)

By Lieutenant Commander Canaan Serine on Saturday October 12th, 2019 @ 1:26am

This is one epic, beautifully written JP!! :D