Posted on Wed Mar 2nd, 2022 @ 3:49am by Captain Nimeeh Vixil
Mission: Federation News Network Coverage
Niamh watched the screen as the communication link tried to make a connection. She had made several of these calls so far, and so far they had not gotten any easier. So far each Commanding Officer had responded exactly as she had expected. Stoic and determined, yet the concern of the future was evident in every set of eyes.
Finally, the Federation insignia flickered and disappeared from view, being replaced with the face of one Captain Michelle Bartlett, a face familiar to Niamh given that the Chief of Fleet Operations had just spent the better part of several hours reviewing Captain Bartlett's file in-depth.
Folding her hands neatly on the edge of the desk, Niamh offered a smile as a greeting. "Captain Bartlett, I apologise for this intrusion, I trust I haven't pulled you away from anything important?"
"Oh, settling in, rearranging furniture... The usual first day stuff." Michelle replied. "I hope I'm not already in trouble." she said with a slight grin. "Though I can think of some officers who might be." she said, thinking about that meeting still.
Niamh shook her head slightly. "No, but I do need to bring you up to speed on a...." she drew in a sharp breath. "A situation that has arisen, I'm afraid it is going to impact your ship and crew."
Michelle paused a moment, hiding her concern as best she could. If a Vice Admiral was reaching out at this point, it couldn't be good. "I see." she said. "What exactly is this situation? Are we being deployed somewhere?"
A carefully manicured hand drummed momentarily on the desk. "This is difficult, and I apologise Captain, but I'm going to cut straight to the chase. Right now, we can't deploy you anywhere. The Graviton Catapult has been destroyed. I'm sorry Captain Bartlett, we have no way to bring you or your people home." She lapsed into silence, allowing a few moments for the other woman to absorb what had just been said. No doubt there would be questions.
Michelle blinked a moment. Multiple thoughts rushing through her head. Destroyed? How? By whom? Was the Federation at war? Was this a first day joke?
"The catapult I took 3 days ago?" she asked. "I guess we're getting all the surprises out of the way on my first day, aren't we then? What happened?"
Niamh hesitated again. Clearly this was something that was weighing heavily on her. "The USS Tyche went through the catapult not terribly long after you," she said softly. "We aren't sure if there was a malfunction with the targeting array or if the catapult misfired or what happened. The Tyche never arrived at her destination. The ship, along with her Captain and crew have been declared lost. Almost 800 lives." Another pause. "The risk of it happening again is too great. We can't allow it's use to continue."
Michelle nodded. "Agreed." she said. "That was too great a loss 800 lives ago. There's no point risking further. Of course... I'll have to break the bad news to my crew and they've already had quite a fill of that. So we're... rather stuck here indefinitely, then?"
"We are doing everything we can to get you the help you need. There is another way to access the Delta Quadrant. The Dalacari have a travel method known as The Pathstone Project. Captain Laurens will be travelling to the Delta Quadrant via Pathstone to negotiate with the Dalacari for Federation access. We're hedging our bets either way, in the instance that the negotiations fail. Captain Drell and the USS Vesta are heading up a small fleet of QSD equipped spirit class vessels and heading in your direction. They will be bringing supplies, but even operating the QSD at maximum ability we estimate it will take them a solid six months to reach you." Niamh paused. "I'm sorry Captain Bartlett, I wish I had better news to give you."
"It's not your fault, Admiral." Michelle replied. "I wish you had better news as well. As I'm sure you can understand, morale here is a little bit... in the toilet. This won't help that but if there is any way we can assist at all, then my ship is at your disposal."
"Thank you, Captain. As I'm sure you understand our communication is going to be limited, but I'll try and get messages to you as often as possible and keep you up to date of the situation. If anything changes I will let you know." Niamh paused a moment. "Good luck Captain, and God speed."
"You as well. I hope to hear from you soon, ma'am." Michelle said. "Our fingers are crossed for your success."
With a nod, Niamh reached out and tapped the button, closing the communication with the Wellington, unable to shake the heavy feeling as she turned back to the PaDD on her desk. There were still so many more calls to be made.
Vice Admiral Niamh Devane
Chief of Fleet Operations
Captain Michelle Bartlett