When I first started trawling the InnerTubes years ago, I come across various Star trek fan fiction sites and found that some were actually pretty good. The writing on quite a few of them was of pretty high quality, better than some of the authorized Paramount hacks.
Jay P. Hailey, in my opinion anyway, has a version of Star Trek that is very down home and unpresuming. The captain isn’t out to seek glory, in fact he feels overwhelmed at times. But of course since he’s the captain, he can’t show that. And that makes the character human.
The setting of the first story is shortly after the Federation got it’s ass handed to it by the Borg in the Battle of Wolf 359. Yes, the time frame is during the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so most of the references Hailey uses are during that time period. There is no Kirk, no Spock or any of the other Original Series members other than as references as historical figures (sorry UH).
Jay requested that I post his web site url: http://jayphailey.8m.com and his email address : firstname.lastname@example.org so he can get some feedback. I would like feedback on this also so I can determine if future stories by others are worth it. Hell, I just might go ahead and do it anyway! LOL! Seriously, any feedback is good, especially positive.
So here in it’s entirety is part one of Jay P. Hailey’s Star Trek Outwardly Mobile: The Holly-Hop Incident (This was actually written by Jay and a friend, Dennis Washburn)
Star Trek: Outwardly Mobile
The Holly Hop Incident Part 01
It was just another day in San Francisco, as far as I could see. I was wrong. I woke up at the usual time, ate my usual breakfast, and had my usual morning jog.
I only jogged and took my time at the firing range as matter of habit. I had long since resigned myself to being a desk jockey at Starfleet Command. I was nearly fifty years old and hadn’t had a promotion in five years.
Still, commander was a pretty good rank and working in San Francisco had its advantages. There was the night life. That and the distance from front line duty meant that it wasn’t an adventure, it was just a job, one that I could leave at the office.
As I got back to my apartment near Golden Gate Park, the message light was blinking on my terminal. It was Admiral Quinn, my boss.
Quinn was an odd duck. It had been twenty years or more since he had held a field command, but he still wandered around as though he had that kind of discretion. His official title was “Chief of Operations” but I happened to know that 95% of that work was handled by a staff of people like me, who put in their eight hour shift and then went home.
Admiral Quinn kept running around and poking his nose into odd places. He always had one or two special projects cooking.
The Klingons would have called him a “Thought Admiral” at one time, and viewed him with a mixture of respect and uncertainty. Generally, he was regarded around Starfleet Command as “eccentric” and “independent minded.”
He had the ear of all the top brass. The Federation President and the C-in-C both met with Admiral Quinn regularly.
He had rescued me from re-classifying old mission logs and had used me as his “George” for some time. “George” is old service slang. It’s the pick up officer. If you don’t know whose department it was in, or if no other department wanted it, then you assigned it to “George.”
The recording on my terminal was Admiral Quinn.
On my terminal Quinn looked as though he was already a couple of hours into his day. Perhaps he was.
“Commander Hailey, please come to my office first thing. Your other tasks have been reassigned. You’ll be picking up new orders from me.”
I sent a routine acknowledgment and got dressed. I went to the headquarters of Starfleet Command. The security scans held me up for a while. Security (A.K.A. “Redshirts,” a name they particularly hated) was still doing overtime at Starfleet Command. It had been six months since the Borg had come to Earth, and the body armored goons with their phaser rifles wouldn’t have done any good anyway, but we were still too gun shy to let them go just then.
Hell, I had even taken to carrying a phaser after that.
I’m told that the Counselor’s department had a high turn over rate that year.
I felt late as I approached Admiral Quinn’s office. I checked my watch. I was just on time, but when the Admiral cancels all your routine tasks and asks to see you first thing, you feel tardy no matter what.
“Jay, good morning.” The Admiral greeted me as I walked through his door.
His office was typically large and well equipped. There were hints of personality here and there, too. The office overlooked the Pacific, as well as showing all the contextual junk, that no doubt had personal significance to Admiral Quinn.
“Good morning, Sir.” I answered. Usually I meant it. Not today. Today I wanted to swallow the lump in my throat and say “What do you want, really?”
Quinn didn’t disappoint me. He almost never does.
“Here are your orders.” Quinn Handed me a PADD.
I read –
“You are promoted, as of stardate 44603.0 to the rank of Captain with all the privileges and responsibilities pertaining thereto.]
You are further ordered to report to, and take command of the starship USS Harrier NCC 45657. You will then undertake the mission to be outlined later.”
I looked carefully at the PADD. There were some other phrases, in the overblown, pretentious and acronym laden lingo that Starfleet so adores. The orders looked authentic.
Admiral Quinn grinned merrily ” I always enjoy that. It’s one of the few real pleasures that come with this job. The look on a new captain’s face when he gets the news. I must say, Captain, that skeptical disbelief is a new reaction to me.”
I simply couldn’t believe it. “There must be some mistake, Admiral. I’m not on the captains list.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, Jay. You always were on the list, albeit somewhere near the bottom.” His face darkened. “The `Borg Incident’ advanced that list quite a great deal.”
That I understood.
Quinn continued. “The Harrier is a test bed, not a front line command. It is, however a step up, for you.”
That I understood, too.
“What is the Harrier going to test, sir?” I had butterflies in my stomach. The USS Harrier. My ship!
“It’s going to test a new concept in faster-than-light drives.” Admiral Quinn sounded enthusiastic and impressed. As well he might be. A significant improvement in starship speeds was something of a holy grail among engineers. It would be an unparalleled strategic advantage.
“You’ll find out more, when you receive your orders. This mission has a level 9 classification.” The Admiral finished.
I was shocked. I had a conditional level nine due to my records work, but I didn’t know it counted for modern projects.
The rest of the day was a blur. I cleaned out my desk, and called up the records. The Harrier (My ship!) was currently completing a refit in Spacedock. Some of my co-workers came by to wish me luck. I briefed the new man, Sisko, on the details of the job. I left the Admiral’s office early. I wasn’t needed there. My new job was going to take some time to study up on. It was time I just didn’t have.
A few days later I was in a travel pod while my new Security chief, Lt. Commander Flagg briefed me on the details of my new ship. (My ship!)
It was love at first sight when I saw her for the first time. But, honestly, she was an ugly duckling. I suppose the design must have seemed really nice 90 years ago, when the Constellation class ships first flew. But now, it was small and old.
The records on the hull went back sixty-seven years. I read about her last tour of duty, fifteen years ago. Starfleet had spent a lot of effort to bring her up to spec. I was especially worried about her new warp core. It was a modern device in an old fashioned ship. It developed more power than her systems were designed to handle. We could program it with a limiter to avoid that problem, but it made me unhappy. It was a kludge and it offended my engineer’s sensibilities.
I had asked about it. As it turned out, the warp core had been intended for the USS Melbourne, which had been lost at Wolf 359. I didn’t ask anymore. Many us were dealing with hand-me-downs after that.
“… A number of position have yet to be filled, Flagg was saying. He was a short, wiry man with black hair in a fuzzy, bushy, cut. He seemed intense. He moved like an oiled spring. I didn’t really like him, but beggars can’t be choosers. I was already trying to be the Captain when I put a grin on my face and tried to mean it, when I said “Glad to have you aboard, Commander.” .
I don’t think he was fooled.
“I couldn’t help but notice that we have no Chief Engineer assigned, yet. ” I said. There was a whole shopping list of items. This was a big one for me. I had been a Chief Engineer, years before. I knew first hand how badly a ship depends on her Chief Engineer. We were only a few days shy of launch and still no Chief Engineer. On an experimental ship? It didn’t make sense.
“Starfleet has been having a problem finding someone with the proper clearances and … other attributes.”
I was confused a little. What attributes? An engineer with that high a clearance usually had better things to do than push an old ship around, but I thought this was important. I figured I would learn more in a little bit of I just waited.
“Is there a First Officer assigned, yet?” I asked, dreading the answer.
Flagg grinned faintly. I almost missed it. “Yes sir. Commander Li’ira. She’s a little green.”
I thought that this was pushing it for the Chief of Security. “Ahem… Li’ira. Is that her first name, or last?”
“It’s the only name she uses, Captain. She’s an Orion.” This was also a surprise. An Orion in Starfleet? In a command position? On an experimental ship?
“Ah… Hmmmm.” I said. Too much simply did not make sense here.
But my discomfort couldn’t last. We were about to dock. Flagg performed the usual fly by, checking out the exterior of the ship. It would be one of the few times I ever saw the USS Harrier from the outside. There was no hint on the surface of what made this ship an experimental model. All the bumps and protuberances were normal and functional for this ship. There were the sensor housings. Over there were the primary deflector emitters, with their complicated cooling manifolds.
I had spent as much time as possible learning the layout and systems of the USS Harrier. Fortunately there wasn’t that much that was different from the stock model.
One difference was the navigational deflector system. It was overpowered for that kind of starship by a huge margin.
There was no one to ask about that. The whole thing was so classified, that I couldn’t even speak to the Project Manager. I was just there to push the ship.
As we approached the docking port, I saw a scramble inside. The crew, (What there was of it) was rushing to receive the new Captain.
We received clearance to dock and the pod was made fast. My palms were sweaty. I didn’t even realize that I was nervous until my hands reminded me. Flagg went over to the hatch and said “Whenever you’re ready, Captain.”
My chest felt tight. My voice broke as I said “Go ahead.”
Flagg cycled the lock and the doors opened on the USS Harrier (My ship!). I stepped out of the pod and came to attention as I looked around. The first thing that caught my eye was the Orion, Li’ira. I was struck as I saw her by the Orion pheromones. I knew it, and knew what they were, and still I felt my cheeks flush as a rush of lust came over me. I took two deep breaths and looked again. She was tight. She was at attention, and you could have measured perfect angles between her and the deck. Every hair and every muscle was perfectly in place. Her face was very earnest and very young. She had the same intensity as Flagg. I put her at lieutenant, maybe even full grade. But there were three solid gold pips on her collar.
“Ten-HUT!!” She barked. And the rest of the crew came to attention. Most of them were young officers and ratings. It was a fairly fresh crew and probably inexperienced.
Lovely. I said “Permission to come aboard?”
“Permission granted, sir!” Li’ira barked.
I saluted the keel and came aboard. I inspected the fresh, young faces in my crew. Then I took a position roughly in front of them. I held up the PADD, and read the orders off it.
” … As of this stardate, I hereby take command of this vessel.” I finished.
“Computer, transfer command to Captain Jay P. Hailey, authorization, Li’ira – code delta gamma 1449.” Li’ira barked, again. Had she rehearsed this?
I almost hesitated. I could feel the entire weight of the ship, the crew, and their weird mission settling on my shoulders.
But I was committed. “Computer, identify Jay P. Hailey, Captain. ” The computer beeped, and I entered my code. I was officially tied to the USS Harrier. There was no turning back.
Almost as soon as the change of command was complete, Lt. Commander Flagg insisted that I needed a security briefing. I resisted at first. I wanted to tour the ship and get to know her. I hadn’t even seen the Engine Room, yet. Flagg was stubborn and I reluctantly agreed. We retired to the captain’s office. It was a generic little cubby hole with a wooden executive’s desk overfilling it.
“Allow me to present my authentic credentials.” Flagg said and handed me a strange PADD. It was a design favored by Starfleet Intelligence. I had to keep my thumb on a certain spot for the screen to stay on. If someone with different thumb print grabbed the PADD before the program was finished running, it would self destruct and call an alert.
It was an identification of Colonel John Flagg. It looked authentic. There wasn’t much back ground, but I wouldn’t have expected there to be.
I looked up and said something brilliant. Possibly “Oh.”
He said “I wanted to brief you, Captain, on the nature of your mission. This is all highly classified, and not to leave this room.”
He continued, ” The `Holly Hop’ drive may be the best strategic advance the UFP has ever seen. It is a device that transfers a ship between point A and point B with no time delay, and no passing through the intervening space. An `instant elsewhere’ drive.
“I am project security on this. I report to people higher up, but you don’t need to know who. I’m in charge of seeing that this mission goes through.”
I said “So you’re in command, here?”
Flagg responded too quickly. ” No, of course not! You’re the Starship Captain here. I am just here to make sure that the Federations’ enemies don’t get their hands on it, and that all goes smoothly.”
I said “Okay, fine. When do I get the technical stats on this device? I’ll need to know all the pertinent details.”
Flagg grinned a toothy grin ” I’ll see that all you need to know is available on your terminal.”
“Are there any other ringers in the crew?” I asked
“Li’ira. She’s my second. Her actual rank is major.”
“How well qualified is she to be a starship’s First Officer?”
“Very well. We have briefed her extensively and she has just passed all of her technical exams.”
I just looked at him for a moment. A little green? You bet. My head started to throb.
Just then I started really thinking of backing out. Obviously, this was some idiot’s pet project. It would doom my career. To get cold feet after I had already taken command would put me back behind that desk, until I retired.
But was career advancement worth my life?
I said “Okay, do I have discretion on choosing the rest of the crew?”
Flagg replied ” Of course. You’re the Captain.”
First I read the report on the “Holly Hop”. Charles Holly was a quack. His record, the public areas of it, was a litany of promising ideas that just didn’t work out, somehow. The math behind his new device was weird. I didn’t understand much of it. I wasn’t used to that. More importantly, there wasn’t enough of it. Not that his equations didn’t look authentic, as far as I could ead them, but there were no experimental findings confirming them. There was a report of five unmanned test runs. I was disturbed that each of the five had resulted in damage to the probe used to test the device.
I sought out Holly. He was in Engineering. In the middle of a fairly standard engineering deck, there was his strange device. I’d have missed it, if he hadn’t been in the middle of taking it apart. It looked extremely innocuous. It was just a little box added to one side of the “Pool Table” master systems monitor.
“Dr. Holly?” I interrupted.
“Yes, what?” Holly seemed surprised and then slightly annoyed. He was a typical mad scientist. He wore a rumpled sweater with big pockets. The pockets overflowed with tools and doo-dads. His hair was an unruly shock that threatened to fly away. His eyes were large and peered at me as though I were a bug.
“Well now that you’re here, you can hand me that.” He waved at a bag with a profusion of tools in it. I guessed he wanted a rescalable hydro-spanner and dug it out for him. He grabbed it and returned to his work.
“Sir, I had some questions about the theories that under lie this device.” I began.
“You don’t understand the math.” He said, knowingly.
“Well… yes.” I hated to admit it.
“May I ask your qualifications?” He looked at me with an arrogant air.
“I have a degree in higher math from Starfleet Academy, sir, as well as another in Warp Physics.” I was proud of my qualifications. I had worked hard for them.
“You are a piker. A dilettante. I don’t have the time to complete your neglected education. The question you have asked would require me to spend years explaining it to you with short words and simple diagrams. ” He hesitated for effect. “And I’m not certain you could understand it, even then.”
I figured Holly was really fun at parties.
“Okay,” I tried to rein in my irritation. “Let’s discuss observational evidence.”
Holly breathed a sigh of deep irritation. He made a performance out of stopping and slamming his tool down on the monitor.
“What about my evidence?” He growled.
“I’m sorry, the report was probably inaccurate. It said you had only test fired five times? And that each time the probe was damaged?”
“That’s correct. So?”
“Doesn’t that make you suspect that there might be a problem?”
“Oh Fiddle Faddle! Why don’t you read the report before you grill me on it next time!” He rounded on me and got right in my face “For your information, Each of the probes suffered a failure that was unrelated to my device.” He counted them off.
“Probe one suffered an engine failure following the test and fell into the sun.”
“Probe two activated it’s self destruct system. I suppose it felt unworthy.”
“Probe three suffered a navigation failure and crashed into a cargo ship.”
“Probe four suffered a clock failure and never reappeared.”
“Probe five had a power system failure and overloaded. All the details are in the report. Each of these problems can be solved by having a living crew aboard to fix them.” He turned away “If you don’t mind, Lieutenant, I have work to do.”
I was pretty sure that last was a dig. I hoped he wasn’t that dumb. In any event, talking to this man was going to be mostly useless. I had to try another tack.
Quinn said “I can’t help you, Jay. All I can say is that I trust you to do the best you can.”
“Thank you, Sir.” I said through an insincere smile. Well, so much for `who you know’. Admiral Quinn’s reply let me know several things. Whatever else this project was, it was a political hot potato.
Starfleet had a clever way of dealing with political hot potatoes. They assigned it to a flag officer and got out of the way. If things worked out well, they gave the officer a commendation and said they knew it was going to work all the time. If things didn’t work out well, then they blamed it on the flag officer and let him hang in the breeze for it.
I was that man, today.
I wasn’t worried about the project itself. I wasn’t worried about myself. I would either make it, or not. That was up to me.
What worried me, oddly, was the crew. I didn’t even know them. But they were my responsibility. I was afraid of killing a number of them by not covering every angle. It was not a comfortable position.
I needed back up. I couldn’t handle the situation by myself. I also didn’t trust Flagg as far as I could throw him.
So I went looking for people I could trust.
Arthur Hendricks was a thin black man with an easy smile. He was naturally friendly, and it was rather catchy. When I found him, he was cleaning a hydroponics bay on Spacedock.
I had met him a year earlier while investigating a project for Admiral Quinn. I had felt comfortable with Hendricks and had talked too much to him. Soon the entire station knew I was a ringer for Quinn, thanks to Hendricks. They had stopped talking to me. But they hadn’t stopped talking to Arthur. I found out all that I wanted to know from him.
He had this special ability to make friends. He was also talented in being in the right place at the right time. It was almost magical. Arthur Hendricks just knew things.
He was still an ensign. It was a safe bet that he was going to be one forever. Hendricks had no sense about who he talked to. Once too many times he had revealed his Commanding Officer’s closely held information. He was paying for it by cleaning the hydroponics tanks. He was working alone.
“Good afternoon, Snoopy.” Being a snoop was Arthur’s talent, it became his nickname. He took to it as a form of rebellion. He even collected the old comic strip and memorabilia from “Peanuts”.
“Hi, Captain Hailey.” Arthur turned and stood to face me. Did he read my new pips, or did he know already? No matter.
“Arthur, I have a proposition for you…”
Lieutenant Green looked up from the PADD and said, “Yeah, the math checks out, but I don’t understand it.”
I was confused “Come again?” I encouraged.
Green was an overweight man with a crown of fine blonde curls. He looked like some one’s little cherub who grew out, but never up. It was an accurate impression. Green was an engineering and mathematical prodigy.
I had met him during another project. He had been inventing away, but not reporting anything. I had quickly solved the problem by assigning him a yeoman who was also a monitor for Admiral Quinn. Green had been left essentially alone since then.
Green had joined Starfleet to seek out strange new machines and take them apart to find out why they worked. There was a little of this in all of us engineers, but for Green it was the end all and be all. It made him a loss as a line officer.
He said “The math is a lot of `how’ but not a lot of `why’. It implies a whole new branch of physics, but doesn’t explore it any.”
I said “How would you like to see this device, hands on?” Green’s eyes lit up. I would have to work harder to cover for him, but I needed information.
Dubonich crawled out of the inner workings of the reactor. It was one of about thirteen million small auxiliary reactors on Spacedock.
Ten years had been relatively kind to the old Chief.
“Chief, can you still adjust a mark seven duotronic phase inducer by ear?” I asked.
Ten years earlier, when I had been the chief engineer on the starship USS Akagi. He had performed that feat during a critical event. The rest of the engineering staff had never let him live it down.
“Reckon I can, Captain.” He answered.
“Would you like another space cruise on your record before you retire?”
Dubonich looked at me thoughtfully. He knew that all was not as it appeared. Being part of the huge Spacedock Engineering crew was a comfortable shore posting. He was one tour or less from retirement and he was doing a relatively easy job there. He seemed to come to a decision. “Reckon I do, Captain.”
“I know what you’re up to, Captain.” Flagg said. I could tell he enjoyed saying things like that.
“Oh?” I gave him a stare. We were in my ready room. My own personal tricorder had verified that the room was free of bugs, and my own personal phaser rested completely out of reach in the upper desk drawer.
I’d have to rethink that before the next confrontation came up with Flagg.
“It’s not wise, it’s not necessary, and it won’t work.” Flagg continued. “I am not your enemy.”
“Are you questioning my choice of crew members, Colonel?” It was all I could think of.
“Yes, Captain. At least here in private.” He seemed to think it was an important distinction. “Hendricks is unnecessary at all, and his record indicates he’s a danger to the mission. Green is not a good manager, at all. He doesn’t have to just fix things, he’s got to run the department.”
He continued “The only choice here that makes sense from an operational point of view is the collection of NCO’s you’ve put in engineering.”
“It all makes sense from my point of view.” I said. It was, at least, the truth.
I refused to budge. Colonel Flagg knew that to over ride me would be to name himself Captain. Evidently he didn’t think he had the pull for that, because he backed down. I don’t know who he was trying to please, but it was evident that the mission hung on Flagg keeping someone happy. He needed me.
“We’re on the same side here, Hailey. Think through the potential of this device and soon you’ll see the truth.” Flagg then turned and left.
I sat and thought a moment. All I could see were problems and I fervently wished that Charles Holly and his device had never come to be.
The door bell to my office rang. “Enter.” I said. Li’ira came in. She was still as tight and perfectly regulation as ever. She still produced that pheromone driven rush of lust.
I was finding it easier to deal with as time went on. I didn’t even have enough time to worry if that meant that I was getting old.
She handed me a PADD with a status report and went to parade rest. I scanned the PADD. Most of the preparations to leave Spacedock had been completed, but all the reports were too detailed and contained so much useless information, that I had to learn to read between the line to get the basics.
I signed off on her report, and handed it back. “Very good, Commander. It seems we’ll leave on schedule after all.”
“Sir! Yes, Sir!” She barked. It irritated me when she did that. Once already I had ordered her to loosen up, but she was so uncomfortable with it, that I soon relented. I guestimated that she needed a good drunk, preferably at the Mardi Gras, followed by a torrid affair with a jazz musician. I was amused both by the image of the young woman before me doing anything at all torrid, and by what the look on her face might be if I ordered her to do it. She barked again, and startled me out of my reverie.
“Permission to speak, Sir!”
“Granted.” I had to fight to keep from bellowing back.
“Sir, you have no Yeoman, Sir! With respect, will this impair your efficiency!?”
I blinked at her several times. What an excellent idea!
“Commander, you’re a genius!” And I rushed out of my office intent on my newest task.
I wonder how Li’ira got herself out of my office without being dismissed?
Soon my crew was as complete as it was going to get. I had dashed straight away to Starfleet academy and picked up a fourth year cadet named Yo. He was now taking a cadet cruise aboard the USS Harrier as the First Officer’s Yeoman. He was diligent, upright, prepared, industrious and clean. A regular boy scout. I assigned him as Li’ira’s yeoman. In that job his boy scout tendencies were put to good use. Li’ira began to loosen up a little now that she had a large fraction of the work load taken off her.
I had also requisitioned a computer expert of my acquaintance from Starfleet Command. He had a sideline in producing holodeck adventures. A friend of mine was an avid computer gamer and had dragged me into one of his holodeck adventures.
About the time my friend and I were trying to harmonize the ancient runes to open the mystic gates, and hating the man who had stuck us in this mess, I had an epiphany.
Most members of Starfleet Security were well trained grunts. They were very good at the application of force under orders from the ship’s officers.
But the reason for their reputation as grunts and “Redshirts” was that there was too much detail to ever hope to train them to deal with every contingency. But I had wanted these evil Holodeck exercises for another reason.
I felt that with the proper stimuli, the “Redshirts” under my command could learn to think creatively on their feet. They could learn to duck and to cheat, and to change the rules on their opponents.
I wanted a team of Redshirts that would cause enemy commanders and villains to tear their hair out in frustration.
So I contacted the author of these Holodeck Role Playing Games, and discovered that he was Ensign Gerald Bruce, a computer specialist at Starfleet Command. I drafted him, using my “Captain’s prerogative”. After assigning him to the position of Captain’s Yeoman. I told him of my plan and sent him to work on it.
Soon the time came for the USS Harrier to leave Spacedock. It had been two weeks of hair pulling and nail biting. The actual event I will never forget.
I arrived on the bridge at about 08:55 in the morning. Li’ira had stopped barking orders, and now stated them with exaggerated calm. I supposed that Colonel Flagg had given her more extensive briefings. She was in the center seat readying the USS Harrier to fly.
The bridge of the USS Harrier was old fashioned. It was suited more to a ship from thirty years ago, than a test bed of modern technology. It even had he old fashioned Nav/Helm console as a single unit near the front of the bridge.
But all the displays were letter perfect, and the patter on the bridge could have come out of any manual.
“Main Deuterium Feed”
“Power Generation, all modes”
“Power generation, all modes, shows green”
“Starfleet NavCom updated at zero-hundred hours, all checked”
“Main Sensor class three diagnostic”
“Check, Main Sensor nominal.”
“Time: T-Minus five minutes and counting”
“All Hands! All Hands! T-Minus five!”
Et cetera. I’m sure the technical jargon is boring to you, but to me it was the language of a smooth operation, ready to roll.
It was as though nothing were weird or spooky about the whole event so far, and I let myself go with it.
“Captain on the Bridge!” Snapped the officer of the bridge. The whole bridge stopped and stood up. I stood for a moment, acutely embarrassed. It helped to realize that the “Captain” was a role that the whole ship looked up to. It wasn’t me, it was the office. And I knew that I had to make it look good and give the kids in the crew their magic feather.
I looked around briefly and made sure that each of the bridge crew saw me looking at them. And then I let the grin spread across my face.
“Excellent.” I said. “As you were.” I really wanted to say “Coooool!” But it wouldn’t have seemed captainly. I think that most of them got it.
“Report, Commander?” I asked Li’ira. It was pro forma, but that made it important, even so.
“All systems up, and running to specifications. All departments report secure and ready for space, Captain.” Her eyes were straight ahead, and I could almost see the proper manual pages flashing across her mind.
“Very Good, Commander.” I made the proper reply, and then took my place at the center of the circus.
I remember that the next few minutes seemed to take forever, but I can’t specifically recall why. Two minutes later I said “Communications, give my compliments to Spacedock, and request departure clearance.”
Flagg responded “Aye, Sir.”
The clearance was given, and I said, “Commander, take us out.” Then I remembered, had she ever done this before?
But her technical training was without fault. The USS Harrier made a textbook departure and took off across Earth’s solar system at a leisurely one half
“Put us on the specified heading, and inform me when we reach the testing site, please, Commander.” I ordered. “You have the bridge.”
Then I got up and had to straighten that damned two piece uniform. We had recently switched from a form fitting jump suit that really left too little to the imagination, to a two piece version. The two piece was a little easier, but it led to something that was called “The Picard Maneuver” after the famous Starship Captain. The jacket of the uniform had a tendency to ride up on the tummy, and whenever one stood up, it needed to be pulled down and straightened to restore the trim.
I performed “The Picard maneuver” and went to the turbo lift. I figured one truly was a captain when they could keep their dignity through the trials of Starfleet uniforms. I wasn’t there, yet.
I went to the engineering room. Lt. Green and Charles Holly were up to their elbows in Holly’s strange device. I caught the eye of Chief Dubonich. He looked pointedly at Lt. Green and gave an eloquent shrug. All around the engineering room, things were busy.
The first launch of a ship just out of refit is a cranky business. But the old chiefs were running the fresh young engineers every which way around the compartment, and all seemed quite well in hand.
I approached the two men in the center of the action. Over the background noise of the engineering room, I heard them talking gibberish. I assumed it was mathematical notations on the operation of the device, but for all of me, it could have been Swahili.
“Lt. Green, report.” I ordered. The Chief Engineer of the USS Harrier looked at me in surprise, and then glanced around at his department.
“Uh,” He groped “Everything seems okay, Captain.”
“What is the meaning of this interruption!?” Charles Holly demanded. I supposed it had been awhile since he had met anyone with whom he could talk shop.
“Well, sir, I was wondering if the device would be ready for its test on time.” I tried to speak soothingly without letting Holly know I thought he was a mad quack. I shouldn’t have bothered. I could have told him that the ship was under attack for all the notice he took of me.
“Yes, yes, tell Starfleet that their precious drive will be ready on time.” And then he turned back to Green and launched into another spate of gobbledy gook. Green had the good grace to at least look embarrassed as he was swept away on a mathematical tide.
I went to Chief Dubonich and said “Chief, how’s she holding together?”
Dubonich looked at me, pointedly. His expression asked the question when to voice it would have been insubordinate. Did I know what I was doing? “She’s a good ship sir, all the new equipment is settling in, you know how it is.” Then he switched his gaze to Holly and Green “Figure they’ll blow us up with that thing, sir?”
“I wanted to speak to you about that. Do you think the isolation fields could hold it if his doo-hickey just plain explodes? ” I asked. I thought it was a good possibility. I had also measured the potential of the blast if Charles Holly’s’ device simply took the energy we fed it, and used it to explode. The fields in the engineering room should hold.
Dubonich looked at me. “Think it’ll break that way, Captain?”
“I want to cover every possibility, Chief.”
“Yes, sir, I think we can come through that, all right.”
I told myself I would then go to my office, and have a productive working day.
I didn’t. I spent the rest of the day making a nuisance out of myself.
I toured the USS Harrier, more or less at random, and poked my nose into nearly every compartment. It was difficult enough for the new crew to get into the routine of their new jobs, but that day, I made it worse. Nobody could turn around, it seemed, without me being there to offer my useless and interfering comments.
I suppose they were mostly smart enough to say “Yes, Sir!” And then do it the right way when I was out of sight again. But there wasn’t a department that I missed.
Ten hours later, I returned to the bridge. A satisfactory report awaited me there, and I retired for the evening. We were right on schedule and would arrive at the test site, near the edge of the solar system, the next morning.
I had given us a roundabout course to the test site to give the ship a chance to shake down. We weren’t really supposed to be going much of anywhere, but I preferred to have the ship a little more comfortable with itself when we finally tested the Holly Hop drive.
-To Be Continued-
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Trek. I claim original characters and situations in this story for me.