The Matriarch (Sandoval Family)

Chapter 1
ORIGINS

-Wolf-359 December 31, 2366-

“I am Locutus of Borg, resistance is futile…” The silhouette of Jean-Luc Picard was backlit with a hue of green. Picard’s stoic face was broken by metallic implants of the Borg.

“Cut that off! Helm bring us around 036 mark 51.” Captain Malcolm Ryder shouted. Despite the chill of the ship’s ventilation system beads of sweat had formed on his forehead.

Ryder never looked away from his readout on the armrest of the command chair as he ran his hand through his Marine styled white hair. With the concentration of a Buddhist monk he tapped commands into the console, “Bring all weapons to bear.”

“Weapons locked and ready captain,” the young male tactical officer replied. There was an odd look upon his face… a mix of fear and excitement; a mark only seen in some youth.

Ryder’s XO, Lt. Commander Rebecca Sandoval sat to her captain’s right. She could not help but admire the calmness that Ryder displayed. Rebecca took a deep breath and stood up and took a position next the tactical officer.

“The Borg Cube has sustained minimal damage… the Saratoga is sustaining heavy damage. The Townsend and four others have been destroyed,” Rebecca reported. This allowed the tactical officer to concentrate on the weapons.

“Becca, is there anything we can do for the Saratoga?” Ryder asked.

Rebecca entered a series of quick commands, “Warp core is critical. They are evacuating. We’d have to drop shields to beam them out…”

“Helm evasive maneuvers Kirk epsilon four. Roll to starboard, and pitch negative thirty-degrees along the Y-axis. Nothing we can do then.”

The ship rolled and dipped towards the underside of the Borg vessel as phaser fire lanced out of the much smaller Federation starship.

The ship shuddered and the lights flickered as a Borg energy weapon slammed into the ship. “Shields are holding but, down to sixty-three percent,” Rebecca announced as she frantically ran though the systems reports.

Ryder swallowed and took a moment to think, “138 mark 04. Rout emergency to the shields. Cut power to all non-tactical systems including life-support. If we don’t stop these bastards now the ability to breath will be the least of our problems!”

Rebecca stared wide eyed at the screen, “I have confirmation; the Melbourne, and Beleraphon have both been destroyed, and the Cortez is venting drive plasma…” She swallowed, and by the glances from those around her she knew that she would not need to proclaim her destruction.

For the first time in her career Rebecca felt the icy grip of death descend upon her. She had been in battle before, but she had never seen such carnage and even during the Tzenkathy War. This time it was different. They were fighting an unstoppable force… Their single-minded, and emotionless drive to conquer was unsettling.

“Shields down forty-eight percent. Aft torpedo launchers are off-line. Repair crews are moving into position. Engineering says they should be working in at least ten minutes.” Rebecca reported. She took a second to glance at the tactical officer to her left and the excited smirk was gone, replaced with wild eyes and his fingers frantically danced over the panel.

“There is no need to be frantic, Ken.” She patted him on the shoulder and gave him a solemn grin. “We are already dead. This is a battle we cannot win. Put your faith in Christ, and what we do here will echo in eternity. Fear is natural, but will not help you.”

What the hell am I talking about? She thought. How is speaking in clichés going to help? She shook away tears at the verge of pooling under her eyelids. I’ll see you soon mom. Christ, forgive me of my sins… and deliver us from evil...

The ship shuddered; the squeal of tearing metal filled the bridge sent chills down Rebecca’s spine. Uncontrollably, she held her breath when the roar of escaping atmosphere filled the bridge. The computer bleeped and electronic buzz as the emergency forcefields came to life to protect the crew from the vacuum of space.

“Ventral shields are inoperative, main power is holding at twenty-three percent. Torpedo launchers are completely destroyed and will require a starbase. Hull breeches on all decks, and emergency forcefields are in place on all but deck 8. Deck 8 has been exposed to space, and there is no response from sickbay. Casualties are coming in from all decks and forty-eight were on deck 8 before the breech.” Her fingers danced over the control panel the fear long gone replaced with the mission at hand. “Phasers are still fully operational as are dorsal shields.” Rebecca stopped and looked at Ryder with her soft green eyes.

“Becca?”

“We need to get the non-essential personnel off the ship. There is no need for all of us to perish. But, there is still more fight left in the ship.”

Ryder took a moment to consider the recommendation and nodded, “Your right. While there is still fight in this old lady we should see this through… which, likely will result in our deaths.” He nodded, “Get them out of here, volunteers only.”

Rebecca keyed the evacuation alarm and made the announcement, “Crew, we are evacuating the ship… Those of you who wish to carry on the fight may chose to stay and show the Borg what Starfleet is made of. Bridge out.”

With no emotion on her face as she closed the comm. Breathing deeply she took a moment to glance around to see who was leaving… One junior science officer ducked away, and a tear of pride welled up in her eyes.

Next to her she heard Ken take a deep breath overcoming his fear, and she squeezed his shoulder. Of all of them, Ken, she expected him to be the first to leave. He was young and inexperienced in the tribulations of war.

“Bring us about 071 mark 1 roll us one-hundred and eight degrees. Keep our belly to the beast! Fire at will!” Ryder shouted at the top of his lungs.

Months ago Ken decided that the ship needed a battle hymn and had modified a Klingon battle song to fit. The rest of the senior staff politely smiled and learned it, but for some reason now it didn’t seem so silly. Ken’s deep baritone filled to walls and the remaining bridge officers joined in pounding on their consoles with their hands in unison awkwardly singing in the Klingon tongue.

Koi keh-less pook load.
Koi Pook beh poo
Yoch bow math bow je shuv wee
Say moach chyu may ew
Mah shoov, mah nong, ej ma choch chew
Nee beh yin mahj ach wov, coo!

Bath ma cheth bejj, ej yo keej dahk
Vaav, poo ma de, muv pa rech, ma shoov tach
Koo ma mev, ko ma shoov tach, ma ov

The Miranda class U.S.S. George Washington rolled and swung around the Borg cube. Angry orange beams of phaser fire lanced out slicing away at the cube. Small explosions erupted along the surface. The small ship was dealing damage to her foe and for once the Borg actually took note of the George Washington.

Rebecca felt like her stomach had sunk to her feet as she was launched forward over the tactical terminal as showers of sparks filled the air. She landed several feet away from the help slamming her head with a sickening thud and cracking of bone. The carpet tore into the skin of her face leaving it bloody and raw.

Acrid smoke filled the air thick enough to give the command center. Rebecca lay face first on the deck trying to make the spinning of her head to calm. Through the rumbling of a dying starship she tried to force her mind to focus. The pushed herself upright sitting crossed legged on the littered deck. Her head swam and vision blurred, but she managed not to lose the contents of her stomach.

Her right hand the brushed her hair from her face had come loose and tugged at her open wounds where it had come in contact with the flowing blood that was already starting to coagulate. Out of the corner of her eyes she could see flames starting to run up the walls licking at the partially flammable walls.

She willed herself to her feet and survey the carnage. The ceiling had come crashing down upon the center seat. A heavy beam bisected Captain Ryder. He was still breathing but, it was shallow and labored.

She kneeled next to him. She did not need a medical tricorder to see that he was dying. She grasped his hand and his blue eyes opened through the pain. “You know what to do.”

Rebecca nodded fighting back the tears. She watched him slip away. She struggled to her feet. “All hands this is the bridge. Abandon ship. I repeat abandon ship.” She shuffled to the helm and made a grim mental note. The Bolian helmswoman lay sprawled and burned on the deck.

Her fingers tapped over the console as she piloted the crippled ship. It was sluggish under commands, but with some effort she managed to pitch and roll around wreckage.

“Phasers are still operational Captain.” Ken’s voice broke her from her concentration.

“I am not the captain. I thought I ordered you off the ship Mr. Larson.”

“You did, piss on that. If you are not going, I’m not going. We are in this together… you and I. Because we are already dead.”

“Very well let’s keep the Borg off of us long enough for everyone to get off the ship.”

“Should I fire?”

“Yes damn it, fire! I will not go down without a fight.”

Ken snarled a yes, ma’am. “You know, calling you captain feels right.”

“Really? How so?” Rebecca asked as she rounded the wreckage of the Tolstoy narrowly avoiding the Borg weapon.

Ken shrugged, “You have a way about you. You inspire those you lead and make them want to crawl over broken glass for you.”

“I… we had a good teacher.”

“Indeed.” There was a pause as Ken worked the console, “Minimal damage to the Borg cube. Thirty six of the ships in the fleet have been either destroyed or disabled. Systems are failing through-out the ship. The evacuation is at seventy-two percent.”

“Just a little bit longer…” Rebecca’s fingers danced over the helm trying everything she could to hold the ship together. It felt a little like bailing the water out of a boat with a teaspoon. Every time she routed power to thrusters, structural integrity would dip bellow minimal levels, and vise versa. The list of sources to draw power from was growing smaller and smaller. “Ken, I have to take phasers.”

The tactical officer nodded, “The phaser emitters are done for anyway.” There was a pause. “Weapons off-line, structural integrity at eighteen percent, but I’m having trouble boosting power to the aft thrusters.”

“Got it. Had to rout it through several sub-systems, but I’m getting overload warnings across the board.” Rebecca replied. Anticipating the Borg attack she rolled to the left and dipped under the burned hulk of a Freedom class ship to be met by a Borg energy beam.

The helm exploded in a shower of sparks and shrapnel. She looked away and shielded her face with her arm. The plasma burned her arms and hands and the components from the device dug into her flesh.

Another blast tossed her from the chair as beams, conduits and all matter of debris from the ceiling collapsed upon the helm where she had been seated only moments before. Dragging herself upright on the deck she could feel the heat of the flames All the consoles and the emergency lighting winked out sending the bridge into darkness. A sole red light blinked at the back bathing the chaos in an angry glow fading to nothingness and then back.

“Ken?”

Silence…

“Ken are you okay?”

The silence told her all that she needed to know. He was either dead, dying, or in a few minutes dead.

“Warning warp core breech eminent.” The flat voice of the computer echoed off the walls.

“God have mercy on us all…” The ship groaned as the hull plates buckled, and tore free from their welds. Rebecca let the pain wash over her and she hardly gave the familiar tingle of a transporter beam as it whisked her way from the ship moments before an anti-matter explosion ripped the George Washington apart.

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  • OrlaithOrlaith Member

    Chapter 2:
    Recruited


    Gunnison, Colorado, Earth: June 28, 2374

    The sun sent slivers of light through the dark grey clouds that were now breaking up over West Elk Mountain range; a result of volcanic and Precambrian uplift towering over the Gunnison valley over 12,000 feet. Below in a bowl of green nestled the small college town of Gunnison. The golden lines of Tomichi Creek and the Gunnison River snaked their way from opposite stretches of the valley meeting in the middle and continuing west to the barely discernible glean of Blue Mesa Reservoir.

    The sun was starting to set in the late spring and the air felt chilly from the recent rains… and snow as the high peaks had been recapped in a fresh layer of snow. It was here facing the west Rebecca sat her left foot hooked behind the back leg of the tri-legged stool as she dabbed various gradients of oil pigments upon the canvas.

    The crunch of gravel drew Rebecca’s attention but, she made no motion to give the intruder any indication that she had heard him. The steps were heavy and uncertain and the breathing was heavy… A male.

    “Not used to high altitude are we? In fact I’m sure you’ve never been anywhere that was not paved or padded decking,” Rebecca replied without looking away from the canvas.

    “Astute,” the intruder replied.

    Still Rebecca did not look away from the painting, “You must be an aide to Admiral Whatley.”
    There was a moment of silence before the voice spoke again, “They did not tell me you were Betazoid.”

    Rebecca sighed setting the palette down and stood up to face the intruder. “No, I am not.” She regarded the heavyset human who was in his early forties. His white cheeks were flushed with exhaustion. The thinning dirty blonde hair matted against his skull. “Anyone from around here would know how to walk this terrain and by the way you stumbled up this hill I’d bet I could count the times you’ve been climbing any kind of mountain on one hand. The labored breathing suggests living at sea level or on board a pressure controlled starship or starbase. And, lastly,” she concluded with a grin, “Admiral Whatley has been asking for over a week to get me to re-join Starfleet.”

    He chuckled, his round cheeks turned up in amusement, “Still amazing powers of deduction.”

    Rebecca turned to start packing her things. Snapping the lid to her color palette, she slid it into her leather bag that contained a jumble of brushes, paints, and rags. “It’s just logical since your boss’s office has been hounding me for a week, and no one else would have the resources to find me here.”

    “Nice painting.”

    “It’s horrid,” Rebecca replied waving the compliment away. “Art is just not my calling.”

    “Perhaps you should reconsider your chosen profession?”

    Rebecca laughed as she slung the now folded stool over her shoulder, “Like what? Starfleet?”

     

    ”That’s why I’m here,” he replied with a grin stepping forward with an extended hand, “Commander Jacob Turner.”

    Rebecca shook his hand and then gathered up her easel careful not to smear the drying paint. “I’m sorry Commander I’m not interested. Starfleet tried promoting me after Wolf-359 to stay but, I saw too much death that day and I no longer want to see any more. I’ve done my part for King and Country.”

    Turner nodded, “I know Commander. Wolf-359 sent far too many officers to resign.”

    “You know nothing,” Rebecca snapped. “And what part of not interested do you people not understand? Starfleet has taken everything I have loved. First my mother, then my fiancé and family, and now my mentor and many friends including Jennifer Sisko. How much more do I need to give to the Federation? Will you not be satisfied until I lie in a torpedo casing with the flag of the Federation draped over me? Maybe you would prefer my vaporization. No burden of a body, and all you have to send my father is a stock letter saved on some hard drive.”

    “I-“

    “No,” Rebecca interrupted. “You are not sorry. And, don’t pretend to know what I have gone through. Now go.”

    Turner sighed and handed Rebecca a PADD that he had been carrying. Rebecca nearly batted it away from his grip, but accepted after a few tense moments. “Commander Rebecca Sandoval. That is your recall paperwork. Admiral Whatley wanted me to get you to volunteer, but obviously your mind has been made up. You are to report to the U.S.S. Denver tomorrow as her executive officer. Starfleet needs officers of your caliber.”

    “I won’t,” Rebecca replied coldly.

    “Then you will never see this beauty,” Turner replied his arms outstretched indicating the land around him. “Failure to report will result in your arrest.” He tapped his combadge. “Commander Turner to San Francisco Transport Station one to beam up.”

    There was an acknowledgement on the other end, and before the transporter swept him up there was sorrow in his voice, “My brother died at Wolf-359, and my wife was killed on the Odyssey at the hands of the Dominion. I may not have lost as much as you but, I still know how it feels.”

    Turner vanished in the a transporter beam leaving Rebecca standing in shock.  Sighing she finished packing up her things, and started down the hill towards her house.

     

    The house was made of logs and river rock.  Someone told her that it was rustic, she wanted to build it with her own hands, and rustic wasn’t the goal.  Walking into the yard her boxer Odysseus barked his greeting and was practically wiggling out of his skin.

     

    Rebecca patted him on the head and a wet pink tongue came out to lick her hand, and she laughed.  “It’s good to see you too Ody.”  She climbed the steps to the front porch and pushed the front door open, and Ody pushed his way inside the house.  “Ody!”

     

    “Hey mama,” one of the twins said without looking up from her tablet.

     

    “Hey,” Rebecca said as she started to stack up her art supplies near the door, “What are you doing?”

     

    “Nothing, just watching videos.”

     

    “Where’s your sister?”

     

    “Upstairs I think.”

     

    “Hey,” Milo greeted poking his head around the corner, “Did Commander Thomas find you?”

     

    “Turner, his name is Turner, and yes he found me, and thanks for that.  I was avoiding them.”

     

    “Starfleet? Why?”

     

    “They want me to return to active duty, which they forced my hand.”  She dug around in her bags and handed him the PADD Turner gave her.  “I’ve been recalled.”

     

    Milo didn’t take the PADD and wiped his graying mustache with a thumb and forefinger. “Sorry about that.”

     

    Rebecca sighed, “It’s okay, well, it’s not okay, but you didn’t do anything wrong.  They would have found me eventually.”  She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a peck on the cheek.  “All sins forgiven.”

     

    “Is that more of that Catholic nonsense?”

     

    “Nope, not this time,” she said with a grin.  “Just not mad.”

     

    “Then I reckon I married me one hell of a woman. Oh, I heard from Ethan.”

     

    “Oh?” Rebecca asked as she followed Milo into the kitchen. 

     

    “It seems he and Trinity are expecting.”

     

    “Well, that’s something isn’t it?  What’s for dinner?”

     

    “Oh,nothing special.  I got pork chops on the grill and I replicated mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.”

     

    “Good enough for me. It is a week day.”

     

    “Yes, it is.  So, when do you have to report?”

     

    Rebecca slid onto one of the bar stools and sighed, “USS Denver, day after tomorrow afternoon.  They have been ordered back on the front line.  It looks like we’ll be under Admiral Ross’ command.”

     

    Milo sighed and placed both palms on the counter that separated them.  “Still, I don’t like this, but the Dominion has to be stopped.”

     

    “Yeah,” she agreed.  “I was just hoping it didn’t involve me.  What do you say we all go down to Santa Fe.  I should see my dad before I ship out.”

     

    Milo nodded,  “Yeah, sounds like an idea. I need to get down there and get his horses shod.  My dad always took care of my mom’s horses. I figured I would be the same for me.  I didn’t figure I’d be caring for my father-in-law’s.”

     

    Rebecca laughed, “Love me, love my dad. Girls! Come and eat!”


  • OrlaithOrlaith Member

    Chapter 3:

    Farewells

    Santa Fe, New Mexico, Earth: June 29, 2374

     

    The sun was just breaking above the horizon revealing an angry red sky over the New Mexico desert. A small adobe structure nestled amongst cedar and pinion upon one of the rolling hills. To the west still cloaked in shadow stood the impressive form of Mount Aspen. To the south, below the rolling hills the lights of Santa Fe started to fade as the night gave way to the day.

    “Here,” An old man stated handing Rebecca a white porcelain mug of coffee. They stood in the open threshold watching the sunrise. “You’ll need this.”

    “Thanks dad,” Rebecca said with a slight smile. Jonathan Sandoval stood four inches above his daughter’s 5’11". He was lean and he sported stubble from nearly a week’s worth of growth, and his graying hair was unkempt.

    There was silence as the two stood at the threshold of Rebecca’s childhood home sipping their coffee. She had beamed there from her home to tell her father the news. They had spent the whole night talking and crying and now there were no more tears.

    “I still cannot believe they drafted you,” the elder Sandoval stated breaking the silence that had fallen upon them.

    “It’s not a draft dad. I can resign but at times of war they can still call me up. And the Dominion has a lot of people scared.”

    “Yeah, I’m one of them.”

    Rebecca shrugged.

    “Becca, I love you. I cannot tell you how proud of you I am. You worked hard to get into the academy early and graduate early. But, I lost your mother, and your decision to join Starfleet tugged at my emotions.”

    “Dad I have little choice.”

    “I know you don’t. You told them no and they said yes anyway.”

    Rebecca nodded. “It… I was never much of an artist any way. You know that.”

    “Oh Becca, you are better than you give yourself credit for.”

    Rebecca smiled, “That’s the father not the artist speaking.


    Again silence fell on the two a pair of doves flew over the house and a soft breeze whistled through the thick needles of the pinions. Rebecca inhaled deeply the scents of her childhood home.

    Johnathan Sandoval ducked into the home and Rebecca could hear some rummaging from within, and after several moments he returned in his hand was a simple isolinear chip. The early morning sunlight glinted upon its shiny surface. He handed it to his daughter and placed a hand on her shoulder.

    "What's this?"

    Johnathan gave her a grim smile. There was a touch of sadness in his eyes as if he was reluctant to part with the chip. "It's... When the time comes you will know. Take it."

    Surprised by her father's actions she nodded and then carefully tucked it away into a pocket of her trousers so as not to lose it. "I'll take care of it."

    The elder Sandoval smiled, "I know you will. I’ll take care of Milo too.  He’s not used to this Starfleet thing.”

     

    “That’s why I was drawn to him.  It was nice to be with someone who didn’t put Starfleet ahead of me.”

     

    “Like the girl’s father?”

     

    “Yes! Just like that!” She said with emotion that even surprised herself.  Commander David Callahan had died in shuttle accident before Aimee and Livvy had been born.  In the Sol System no less! 

     

    Her father wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and kissed the top of her head like the old days, and Rebecca melted into his.

     

    After several minutes like that Jonathan squeezed her shoulder,  “Think this calls for pancakes.”

     

    Rebecca smiled weakly, and nodded, “I’d like that. I know the girls will.”

    “Then it’s settled.  You sit down, drink your coffee and I’ll go make breakfast.

     

    Rebecca dropped heavly into the bench outside the adobe and stucco building and cradling her black coffee she watched the sun rise.  With the sun in full display and her cup empty she went into the house.

     

    At the hall she swung right instead of left and went to the end of the hall to her childhood bedroom, now converted into a guest bed.  She slowly creaked the ancient door open and peeked in.

     

    Milo was laying on his back in the spread eagle position softly snoring with Aimee sleeping in the crook of his right arm, and Livvy slept in a chiral position to her sister’s.

     

    Smiling she padded back down the hall and went into the kitchen.  She slid onto one the barstools and leaned on the counter watching her father cook.  She grew up on real food as a kid.  Even non-replicated meat found its way into he household.  Now, Jonathan was just as happy to replicate the ingredients and make the meal himself.

     

    “Smells good.”

     

    “The bacon? Yeah, I got a couple pounds from the Garcia’s last month.  They butchered a pair of their old sows.  The replicator just can’t do it justice.  I think it’s the smoking that it can’t just get right.”

     

    “Same way with barbecue,” Milo said still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.  “Mornin’,”  Milo greeted as he bent down to kiss Rebecca.

     

    “Ewww morning breath!  Go brush your teeth if you’re going to kiss me.”

     

    “Why, it looks like breakfast is almost ready?”  He was pulling down a coffee cup from the cupboard and filling it from the nearby pot.

     

    “Because it’s disgusting!”

     

    “Where’s your sense of adventure?” Milo teased as he poured liberal amounts of cream and sugar into his coffee and sat down next to his wife.

     

    “My sense of adventure is just fine, just don’t be kissing me with it.”

     

    Milo chucked and Rebecca saw her father simply shaking his head.

     

    “You need Maggie and Thoreau shod?”

     

    Jonathan turned with a plate of pancakes and placed them on the counter in front of his daughter and son-in-law.  “Nah, I’m not riding them right now, and the pasture is too dry to turn them loose.  Just pull the old shoes off and trim them if you would.”

     

    Milo nodded, “I think I can manage that."

     

    “I appreciate that. You’ve been a lot of help around her.  I just don’t get around like I used to.”

     

    “As Becca is found of saying, ‘Love me, love my father’.”

     

    Jonathan laughed and Rebecca slapped her husband on the shoulder as the girls ran into the kitchen. 

     

    “What’s for breakfast?” Aimee asked.

     

    “Can I have orange juice?” Livvy added.

     

    “Pancakes, and yes,” Rebecca said as she helped them into their chairs. She went to the cupboard and passed out the plates, and helped the girls cut their pancakes and filled their glasses with orange juice.

     

    After breakfast the whole family stood clustered together outside.  Her father bent down and picked up his daughter's duffel and slid it on her shoulder. "There, now be safe my little Sunshine."

    Rebecca kissed her father on the cheek.  She kneeled and wrapped her arms around both her of daughters.  “Going to miss you two soo much!”

     

    “We’ll miss you too mama!”

     

    She kissed them both on the foreheads and wiped tears from their faces before standing and wrapping her arms around Milo’s neck, and kissed him.

     

    “I thought you were grossed out from my morning breath.”

     

    “It’s breakfast breath now,” she joked.  “I have it too.”

     

    Milo chucked and hugged his wife.  “Call me when you get settled.”

     

    “I will,” Rebecca replied and kissed him again.  She adjusted her duffle on her shoulder and started down the gravel drive. The family remained where they stood until Rebecca vanished around the corner.

     

     


     Chapter 4:

    The Denver

    Spacedock, Earth Orbit: July 18, 2374




    There was a buzz of activity unlike she had ever experienced on a starbase before. It was a tense awkward feel and who could blame them? It had only been a week since the fall of Betazoid to the Dominion, and there had been far too few victories in this war.

    She worked her way through the tense crowds and made her way to the turbolift. Alone in the care she voiced her destination and with a whirr the lift ascended upward. Moments later the doors hissed open. Adjusting the strap of her duffel she stepped out into a narrower corridor. And, unlike the previous deck only Starfleet personnel were allowed there creating a slightly “Business Only” atmosphere.

    The interior curve of the corridor were large picture windows giving views of the starships docked within. The exterior wall was lined with doors to offices of station personnel. Directory information hung from the ceiling giving visitors directions to various locations and points of interests.

    Rebecca skirted right from the lift and made her way along the docking ring. Arriving at port 23A she paused to look out the massive window to appreciate the beauty of her new home. The Denver was a newly constructed Galaxy class. The massive oblong saucer stretched overhead and the secondary hull disappeared below her feet.
    Her reflection stretched across the polished surface. Adjusting her uniform her fingers stoped at the rank pips on her collar. In coming back to the fleet Admiral Whatley had reinstated the promotion that they had offered her following Wolf-359 making her a full commander. Somehow she felt guilty accepting it, like she had not earned it.

    Taking a deep breath she entered the gangway and followed the narrow collapsible corridor to its terminus at the airlock of the ship. Two security officers stood at the entrance with their hands behind their backs.

    As she approached they sidestepped blocking her entrance. A young ensign with her blonde hair pulled back so tightly that Rebecca was certain that her scalp was screaming in protest. “Commander,” she replied as she produced a retinal scanner while her partner’s right hand fell to the handle of his phaser resting in his belt.

    Rebecca only nodded and leaned in for the scan. There was a mechanical bleep as the device processed the information then displayed an abbreviated service record on the tiny screen. The ensign smiled. “Welcome to the Denver Commander. Captain Reynolds has instructed us to inform you to meet him at his ready room as soon as you arrive.

    Rebecca smiled. “Thank you Ensign. If you need anything don’t be afraid to come to me.”

    She nodded and stepped aside and Rebecca ducked through the airlock and into the USS Denver. She felt slightly queasy as she transitioned from the gravity of the starbase to that of the ship. By design the airlock was close to the turbolift and she was soon speed upward and side to side as she made her way to the bridge.

    Deposited on the top most deck of the Denver, Rebecca stepped out onto the bridge. Only the helm and operations was manned while in spacedock and the two officers that were stationed there had their consoles pushed aside and their chairs facing each other in conversation.

    “Gentlemen manning a station that is pushed away from you defeats the purpose of you being stationed here.”

    The two looked up at her in mid-sentence before muttering a yes ma’am. Rebecca only grinned. “At least pretend that you are working. I’d hate to have Captain Reynolds have me discipline you on my first day.”

    The two muttered their apologies and thank-yous as Rebecca winked at them and headed for the ready room door.

     

    Captain Malcolm Reynolds was sitting at his desk with piles of PADDs all around him, “Yes? What can I do for you?” He didn’t even look up when she entered.

     

    Rebecca snapped to attention with a soft click of her boot heels, “Commander Rebecca Sandoval reporting for duty sir.”

    “Sandoval?” He replied looking up, “Oh yeah, my new first officer.”  He dug around in his endless piles of PADDs and drew out the one he was looking for.  “It says here you haven’t been in Starfleet for nearly six years.”

     

    “Yes sir.  After Wolf 359 my heart just wasn’t in it, and loosing my fiancé was the final straw, but I went through a condensed refresher course, and I maintained my qualifications working as a civilian at the San Francisco Fleet Yards.”

     

    Reynolds sighed, “If I had any other options you wouldn’t be here. I want my crew to want to be here.”

     

    “Permission to speak freely sir?”

     

    “Granted,” Reynolds replied.

     

    “Sir, you don’t know me so I will forgive your reticence.  I may even share the sentiment if I were in your shoes, but I do not do half-measures.  If I am here I will give you everything I have.  This may not be an ideal situation I find myself in, but the Dominion is here and Starfleet needs officers.  We don’t clone replacements, so it’s up to people like myself to keep the war going. The next step is outright conscription, and I think we both agree that would be less than ideal.”

     

    “You are almost Vulcan in your logic Commander.  And I think I do know you.  I’ve studied your record.  You were a rising star in the fleet.  On a trajectory to be the youngest captain ever.  You ware awarded medals for valor at Wolf 359 and the Tzenkathy War. Captain Sisko speaks highly of you having served with you on the Saratoga.  You just keep up what you have established before your little hiccup and you’ll be an XO that I’d be proud to call Number One.  Go get settled into your quarters Commander.  You’ll have a long day ahead of you tomorrow.”

     

    “Yes sir. Understood sir.”

     

    “Dismissed.”

     

     

    Rebecca gave Captain Reynolds are curt nod, made an about face and walked out of the ready room.

     

    “I didn’t hear any shouting,” the Lieutenant at the helm joked.

     

    “That’s because I prefer to do my disciplining when errant officers are least suspecting it.  I hear scrubbing the plasma conduits are a rather unpleasant job, and being woken up at 0100 to do it is especially miserable.  No coffee provided.”  She said it with a grin and neither officer took her seriously.

     

    “Does cruel and unusual punishment mean anything to you ma’am?” the ensign at operations asked.

     

    “No, what does it mean,” she teased.  “I’ll catch you two later, but please at least look like you are doing your jobs.  I would hate for the captain to come out to that and have me actually have to discipline you. I hate doing that.”

     

    “Yes, ma’am,” They said in unison.

     

    “See you two tomorrow.”  She turned and walked into the turbolift and pulled out her PADD containing her quarter’s assignment. “Deck 8,” she announced to the computer and the car whirred to life.

     

    She entered her quarters and sighed looking around. It was standard Starfleet furnishings.  She supposed she would have plenty of time to make the space her own. 

     

    She let her duffle fall to the floor with a heavy thump and she went over to the comm. terminal and sat down.  Pressing a series of buttons she sat back in her chair and spoke into the device.

     

    “Hey guys I miss you.  I just got onto my new ship. It’s the Galaxy class USS Denver.  Yeah would have figured.  I bet the Admiral did that as a sense of irony.  Anyway I met Captain Reynolds.  Seems like a no nonsense kind of commander, but I think he’s fair.  I think I’ll like him.  Anyway, I’m going to unpack and take a quick nap.  I just want to let you guys know I’m thinking about you.  Love you tons, and have a good day.” She stopped the recording, saved it to the computer and scheduled it to be delivered to Milo with the next batches of transmissions.

     

     

    Chapter 5:

    Nothing Looks Right

    June 29, 2374, Utopia Planitia, Mars…




    The tiny office was cramped by most standards. Along the walls hung paper blue-print drawings of several ships haphazardly hung. Along the back wall the Martian sun cast and eerie red glow through the expansive picture window of transparent aluminum.

    Like the rest of the office the desk was a mess of clutter; piled high with stacks of PADDs containing reports from the ship yards to the Advanced Starship Design Bureau (ASDB). In amongst the chaos sat a graying man in his late seventies. In this reclining position, if one were to give this officer a casual glance, one would think he was relaxing the afternoon away. The only thing in his hand was an oversized PADD propped up on his oversized belly. Only indications that he was even alive were the irritated grunts and growls as he studied the screen.

    Leaning forward he dropped the PADD on the desk containing the latest blueprints from the ASDB. Sighing the man pushed the offensive data away and reached into his desk and removed a small crystal bottle with an ornate stopper and poured some of the yellow-brown contents into a glass. He inhaled the scents before taking it in one big gulp and pouring another glass this time to sip.

    The officer returned to the design looking at it again with a fresh perspective. It had that integrated look that all Starfleet vessels were taking on with a saucer similar in shape to that of the Galaxy class. It was ugly and with the saucer being reset into the secondary hull that separation lines were not only ugly but complicated. It was essentially the same design that he had rejected many times before.


    Pushing everything aside sending piles of PADDs toppling and several to the floor he withdrew a pad of paper and a yellow wooden pencil. His fingers etched dark black lines of graphite into the white paper with an artist’s skill. After an hour the details of a ship begin to emerge from the paper. With a round secondary hull and graceful neck connecting to a round saucer it looked in many ways similar to the Constitution class. Satisfied with the result the officer finished off the final details and scanned it into the computer. He quickly typed out a message:

    Admiral Walter:

    The new designs are not only lacking in imagination but for all practical purposes do not lend well to desired function of the vessel in question. It is still missing the required warp drive in the saucer and I question whether or not the current design will be able to accommodate that request. I have, after all spent all bloody day trying to make sense of the mess that has been presented to me. In short, this design has and always has been a dismal failure. I have included a scan of a design of my own that should get your engineers at the ASDB a fresh starting place. This should be a direction that the Erebus class should take.

    -Rear Admiral (lower half)
    Montgomery “Scotty” Scott

     


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