USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A: Earth Orbit
Tigranian and the rest of his staff leaned over the table in the officer's mess. The captain had sent for T'les once she had gotten things moving on the Pershing. He knew that Lieutenant Mendez could handle Lady Blackjack's main engineering section. Scharr would need his assistant's help getting this old beauty up and running.
The Vulcan engineer had brought over an armful of old-fashioned paper star charts and Constitution class schematics at Tigranian's request. Until the Big E's computers were fully operational, they would need help planning their operations. Any electronic terminal or modern PADD would be rendered useless as soon as they made contact with the Cardassian fleet's Cataclysm system. They had unceremoniously pushed aside a museum display about the famous "Gorkon Dinner Disaster" of 2293 that had taken place in this room and laid out the fifty large sheets of paper across the table for everyone to see.
"Alright," Tigranian said using a mechanical pencil as a pointer, "The only way we are going to make this work is divide and conquer. We ain't got the time or the people to make it perfect, so we have to settle for good enough. What does it take to make a starship run? Let's start with hardware."
"I've got my best damage assessment team over from the Pershing checking the EPS and ODN lines one by one. They look pretty solid, but the last thing I want to do is put active plasma or volts into the conduits only to have a blowout," Scharr said. "The warp core and the impulse engines…" he paused. "Well, they're there. But I won't know what we need to fix until I do a full manual diagnostic."
"You got the time for that, Tren?" Annabeth asked concerned.
"Do I have a choice, Ma'am?" he asked as his antenna curled with annoyance.
"Good point," she conceded.
"I'm taking the impulse drives," he said. "T'les is going to take the matter/anti-matter feed lines and dilithium matrix. We'll get it done."
"Alright," Tigranian said. "Eyes, ears, and brain?"
"The sensors are still intact," Laria said. "I'm going to check them out once we get the main power grid kicking. We know the main computer works, but I'll have to do a full checkout to make sure none of the base files have been corrupted."
"That's a lot of systems, L," Tigranian asked nervously. "Sure you don't need any help?"
"I built a computer like this in junior high, Sir," Laria said raising her eyebrows. "I've got it."
"Ok then," Tigranian said. "Speaking of life support? How about sick bay?"
"I'm not bringing on board any medical supplies that need power to function," Alex said. "I'm pretty good with dermabond, needle, and thread, but I would advise anyone that doesn't want to get operated on by hundred year old surgical lasers to try not to get hurt."
"Noted, Doc," Tigranian said as the others groaned. "Phil, can you drive this thing?"
"Constitution class used a manual uplink between the bridge's main helm station and the gyro-node to the maneuvering thrusters and impulse outputs." He held his fingers together almost touching. "It's about this far above a stick and a rudder cable, but that also means it's simple and reliable. Once we learn how to talk to each other, we'll starting dancing the waltz like old times."
"Just don't take too long to make your introductions, Phil," Tigranian said. The helmsman nodded. "How about fuel, X-O? We arrange for a tender to link up with us?"
"That's the problem, Sir," Annabeth said nervously.
"Problem?" Tigranian replied nervously.
"This old girl can't take the new hyper-enriched deuterium," Scharr clarified. "We put modern fuel in the fusion reactors and they'll make a really good impression of a star going supernova."
"What's the solution?" Tigranian asked trying to remain calm.
"I've got Spacedock's Class III point scavenging every kilo of the older blend they can find," Annabeth said, "but it looks like we only got 1000 metric tons deuterium/anti-deuterium mix available."
"Let me guess," Tigranian said. "They don't keep it on hand because no one uses it anymore…"
"On the nose, Dan," Annabeth said.
"It'll have to do," Tigranian said steepling his fingers. "It should be fine as long as we stay local and limit ourselves to less than Warp 5. What about ordnance?" he said turning to Katie.
"That's the good news, Sir," she said with a smirk. "Greenland Reserve Depot has a full combat load of the old Mark VI pho-torps still in the original factory transit cases. Those are the big sons-a-bitches with the 50 isoton variable yield warhead penetrators."
"You mean the ones that could supposedly blow an old Klingon D7 in half?" Tigranian said incredulously.
"The very same," Katie answered. "Not very accurate, but they pack a real punch at close range."
"How close do we have to get to use those things?" Phil asked nervously.
"With the targeting scanners on this thing, you don't wanna know, Babe," Katie said with quick inhale of air.
"No one said this was going to be easy, folks," Tigranian said.
"That might be the understatement of the year, Sir," Annabeth said. "But I like a challenge."
Tigranian chuckled. She had no idea how apt her statement would become very shortly.
The doors to the room opened, and a frantic looking woman barged in wearing a civilian dress and an unfamiliar ID badge.
The group looked up at their guest with a series of confused looks.
"Can we help you?" Tigranian said to break the awkward silence.
"Which one of you is Captain Daniel Tigranian?" she asked nearly out of breath.
"Maybe he's the man wearing the captain's uniform?" Scharr said like he was talking to an idiot.
"Tren," Tigranian muttered trying to keep his chief engineer under control.
"I'm sorry!" she said very perturbed. "I'm a 23rd century historian. I can tell you what every single button on the monster maroons mean, but these modern things you wear all look like pajamas to me!"
Tigranian rubbed his eyes.
"You must be Doctor Whitecamp," he replied. "Admiral Murphy told me that we might be seeing you soon."
"Yes," she said throwing her shoulders back. "I came up from San Francisco as soon as I heard you were taking my ship."
"Your ship?" Annabeth said skeptically.
"Yes, my ship," Doctor Whitecamp replied. "I've been with this Enterprise since I was a graduate student. I did my dissertation on the Constitution-Refit program, and I've worked at this museum in every position from assistant education coordinator all the way to curator! So, yes, it is my ship!"
"Did you understand anything of what she just said?" Katie asked confused.
"Katie…" Tigranian said trying to defuse things. "It's obvious she has the same loyalty to this vessel as we do to ours. However, Doctor, I'm afraid that this is still a starship of the United Federation of Planets and she's needed again."
"What possible use could this vessel be to you all?" she said desperately. "You've got at least a dozen modern ships in this sector but the Enterprise is the last of her kind. It's the most significant space-going artifact that this country has that's not behind glass. If you damage her, that's it, and a part of our shared heritage will be irretrievably lost."
The historian was desperately trying to make her case, but it was obvious she, like the rest of the general public, had no idea of the potential catastrophe facing the planet. The Pershing's senior officers exchanged loaded looks. Tigranian decided that she deserved to know and didn't mince words.
"Doctor," he said after taking a deep breath. "At this moment, a fleet of Cardassian State warships is moving at high warp speed directly towards this planet. Their intention is to lay waste to everything and everyone in this system. They have already proven this by destroying three starships and severely damaging three others. At least six hundred Starfleet crewman are lost.
Yes, there are modern starships in this sector, but the Cardassians have a new weapon that renders them completely helpless before they can get close enough to fire. After analyzing all the options, we believe that the Enterprise, with its older hardware, is immune to this new weapon. Therefore, it is the only ship in the Federation that has a chance to stop them."
Whitecamp stared back at him in stunned silence.
"Doctor Whitecamp," Laria said stepping forward. "We all understand what this ship means to the people of the Federation. We all felt it as we came aboard.
What this vessel and her crew did is the stuff of legends, but right now, this country needs this legend again. We can't promise that we'll bring her back like she is now, but we can promise that we'll live up to this ship's history."
Whitecamp held back tears.
"I knew it had to be something dire if you were pulling the Big E out of mothballs," she finally said. "At least let us help."
"Help?" Katie said skeptically.
"Yes, help," Whitecamp responded. "My staff and volunteers have been keeping this ship in top shape for decades. How many of you are experts in 23rd century maintenance practices?"
"We are shorthanded, Dan," Annabeth muttered quietly.
"You can help with getting her running again, Doctor," Tigranian said, "but I'm afraid I can't allow any civilians to stay aboard once we head into action. It's not right to put you in harm's way. You don't have the training or the experience."
"What about our veteran volunteers?" Whitecamp said. "They are all Starfleet retired and understand the risks."
Tigranian looked to his first officer. She nodded.
"If they've worn the uniform, we'll take them along," he said acquiescing.
"Who did you have in mind?" Annabeth asked.
"I'll get them up here as soon as I can. Let me make a few subspace calls."
Half an hour later, and the officers had solidified their course of action. It would be tight, but they would be able to meet the Cardassians before they could hit the Oort Cloud. With any luck, the Enterprise could knock out the Cataclysm ships fast enough to allow the Pershing, Shran, and Sulu to finish the job.
They all checked out the bridge of the ship for one final conditions check before putting their plan into action. The stations were perfectly preserved as if the ship came out of service the day prior. Various plastic signs and text panels told the biographies and positions of each of the titans who had once served here: Spock, Sulu, Chekov, Scott, Uhuru, and in the very center, surrounded by a velvet rope, was the grey upholstered captain's chair.
"Do you think this is gonna work?" Alex said putting everyone else's fears into words.
"It's going to have to," Tigranian replied.
"That's what I hate about these old ships," Annabeth muttered. "There's no first officer's chair. Guess, the pregnant lady is just going to have to stand…"
"I can run down the auditorium and dig up a folding chair, Ma'am," Scharr said sarcastically. "Maybe tac weld it to the deck plates so you don't go flying as soon as we take a disruptor hit?"
"Screw you, Tren," Annabeth said. Tigranian smirked. "I guess I'll just take the communications station with Katie at Tactical. I'm not too good to answer the space phone."
The doors to the starboard turbolift parted and Whitecamp burst out onto the bridge.
"I have our veterans with me," she said.
"Let's meet them," Tigranian agreed.
"Bill!" she shouted back into the turbolift. "Now, you have to speak up, they're a little old."
Two ancient men and a woman with a combined age of well over three hundred fifty hobbled out of the turbolift. Each of them wore old maroon work coveralls and "Starfleet Retired" blue baseball caps. Their leader up front was leaning on a cane.
Alex and Annabeth exchanged worried glances. Tigranian rubbed his eyes.
"Master Chief Petty Officer Retired William Quinn," the man with the cane said with a nod. "Engineer's Mate '89-'21." His baseball cap had "USS Potemkin NCC-1657" across its brow in gold letters.
"Chief Petty Officer First Class Retired Arthur Bustamonte," the second geriatric said smiling broadly through his wrinkled face. "Gunner's Mate "91-'19. You can call me 'Buster." His hat read "USS Lexington NCC-1709."
"Senior Chief Petty Officer First Class Retired Leslie Dunwood," the old woman said. "Machinist Mate '88-'14." Her hat read "USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A," meaning she had actually spent time on the Big E.
"Doctor Whitecamp," Tigranian said raising his hand. He couldn't let this charade continue. "Chief Dunwood, Gentlemen," he said trying to be as polite as possible. "I don't know if you understand this, but we're going into combat. This is going to be a very dangerous and austere environment. Though I incredibly appreciate your past service, I can't take you out of spacedock based on your…" he paused looking for the most tactful way of explaining.
"Your advanced conditions," Alex said putting on her best bedside manner.
"Captain Tigranian, these people have forgotten more about Constitution class ships then we could ever know," Whitecamp said defending her volunteers.
"And they've probably forgotten a lot more than that too…" Scharr muttered as he rolled his eyes.
Suddenly, Quinn banged his cane on the metal deck.
"Alright, listen up you pampered, officer twerps," he said dropping his chin. "I don't know what the hell 'conditions' you're talking about, but we grew up in the real Starfleet. Not the pathetic, nursery school version you got going today where you talk about your feelings and take sonic showers every day.
I'm talking about the days when we ate synthesized food made from reclaimed shit, bathed once a week in yesterday's filtered piss, and lived in bunks so tight you could wipe your nose with your buddy's f*cking foot." He stared right at Tigranian. "Conditions, my ass, Sir," he used the word 'Sir' in the traditional way a senior NCO belittled a commissioned officer. Quinn rolled up his sleeve and barred his skinny, wrinkled arm. Still visible in faded ink, was a huge tattoo of an eagle clutching a Starfleet Operations Delta insignia in its talons. "What the hell do you know about combat? I was holding warp cores together with spit and bailing wire during 'Red Alerts' while staring down a Romulan's pissed off asshole forty years before you were a tickle in your daddy's nutsack."
Tigranian's froze in the face of this old man's vulgar verbal assault.
"And you," Quinn said pointing his cane straight at Scharr. "You blue-skinned, mop-haired Andorian limp dick, I've beat my fair share of alien ass in this life, but if you wanna start something, I'll come outta retirement just to wipe that 'holier-than-thou' smart-assed grin off your face."
"Ok, I like him," Scharr said pointing at Quinn. "I really like him."
"And if you think I'm mean, just wait until you talk to 'ole Chief Woody here," Quinn added.
"When I came in," Dunwood said angrily crossing her arms over her chest. "Those sexist assholes made me wear a f*cking skirt so short every eighteen year old peeping tom fresh off reading his daddy's dirty magazines could see my Neutral Zone, and I still scared the piss out of new trainees so much I had to keep a mop at my duty station to make them clean up the yellow stream trickling down their legs. Scotty used to call me 'the power drill' cause I used to bore straight through people without stopping," she said.
"I thought you said your nickname was 'annihilator,' Woody?" Quinn asked confused.
"That was just because of all the dick I slayed off duty. Had to pass the time somehow on those long five year missions."
"Don't worry," Buster said still grinning. "I'm the nice one."
"23rd century Starfleet appears to have been far more vulgar than history books suggest," T'les said quite impressed with their new companions.
"What do you say, Number One?" Tigranian asked leaning on the helm.
She shook her head and laughed.
"Welcome aboard," Quinn muttered shaking his head. "she says 'Welcome Aboard' like they had a choice. Everybody knows NCOs run a ship. Officers just push buttons while we prevent them from killing anybody…"
The turbolift doors opened again and Murphy stepped out holding a PADD.
"Admiral on the bridge!" Tigranian shouted.
"As you were," he said. "Just got this from Starfleet Command." He began to read.
"Attention to Orders:"
The Starfleet personnel, including the retirees, snapped to attention.
"I hereby place United Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-A in temporary commission for emergency service of the United Federation of Planets. Captain Annabeth M. Geist, Commanding.
SIGNED BY MY HAND IN THE CITY OF PARIS, STARDATE 53390.8
MIN ZIFE, PRESIDENT
MAY SHE AND ALL WHO SAIL IN HER BE BLESSED"
Annabeth nearly doubled over.
"I'm in command?" she said flabbergasted. "But, Dan, I thought you?"
Murphy held up a hand.
"Dan already has a ship, Annabeth," Murphy said.
"I'll head back to Lady Blackjack," Tigranian added. "Gleeto, Moran, and Mendez can handle the ship with me while you take our prime team for Big E. We'll sail out with the task force and stay alongside for as long as we can."
"What are your orders, Captain?" Alex said smiling at her wife.
"Lieutenant Stone," Annabeth said with a smile to her acting first officer. "Let's man our ship and bring her to life."
"Aye, Ma'am!" she shouted back. Katie immediately started parceling out tasks. Everyone else spun into action and Murphy headed back to the transporter room in the visitor center. He would wait down in "G and G" for the Sulu to arrive before taking his place in overall command.
Scharr, T'les, and Quinn headed for the engine room. Katie and Buster went towards the torpedo magazines. Phil went to run a diagnostic in thruster control while Laria and Chief Woody went to the computer core.
"Is our new C-O pregnant or just fat?" Woody whispered to Laria. The Bajoran blushed as they disappeared into the turbolift. They were gone before Annabeth could respond.
Soon, it was only Tigranian and Annabeth left on the bridge. She looked over to the captain's chair. Her hands unclasped the velvet ropes from their stands. She stepped towards the sacred artifact.
"This is James T. Kirk's chair," she muttered, almost afraid to utter it too loudly.
"No, Captain Geist," Tigranian said calmly shaking his head. "It's yours."
Slowly, Annabeth lowered herself down into the seat and placed her hands on the armrests.
"If there's nothing else, Dan," she said proudly, "You might want to get back to your ship. We've got work to do."