A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

Ghost Ship

The observer was coming. No one knew who it would be, or what mission they would bring, but the whole crew knew the observer was coming.

Well overdue for its semiannual checkout cruise, the Potemkin held her station a few million kilometers from Starbase 22, awaiting the arrival of the Starfleet observer overseeing the cruise. Details of the mission were carefully guarded to ensure the crew's response would be as natural as possible. There was nothing on the sensors, and the ship waited.

In sickbay, Doctor Arnet brought his assistants, Ceja and Slyythis, into his office. He had made a decision, and had a change to announce: effective immediately, Ceja (who had recently completed her medical exams) was being promoted to Assistant Chief Medical Officer. Arnet explained to Slyythis that this was not meant as a commentary on his medical skills; rather, Ceja had seniority due to time served. Meanwhile, on deck 10, Commander Tora received a visit from another medical officer, Lieutenant J.G. Gestrall. The lieutenant had requested a transfer to engineering, and Tora welcomed him.

Suddenly, as the bridge crew watched, a runabout appeared, traveling at high warp. As it dropped to sublight, Admiral Warp descended to the hangar deck to greet it. It transmitted an authorization code identifying the occupant as a representative of Starfleet Command but offering no other information. Chief Petty Officer T'Par cleared the vessel for landing and it entered the bay.

Shortly after the runabout's arrival, Warp contacted the bridge, ordering a red alert. A thud was heard, and moments later Vice Admiral Sorin reported a medical emergency. Sorin, a perennial thorn in the Potemkin's side, was apparently the ship's observer, and her captain was now incapacitated. The freshly-arrived admiral coordinated an emergency transport to sickbay and then travelled to the bridge. Captain Bom had just implemented the ordered red alert, interrupting a conversation in engineering between Tora and Gestrall in the process.

Admiral Sorin brought grave news. A rogue faction vying for control of the Romulan Empire had sent a squadron of warbirds into Federation space to sow disorder while they seized control. The Potemkin was ordered to Starbase 22 at maximum warp, and traversed the distance while Sorin recounted the story of Warp's collapse. He had begun mumbling, referencing "Huang Ho" before he fell to the ground. A distress call came in from Starbase 22 reporting two warbirds decloaking with weapons armed. A fierce battle seemed imminent.

In sickbay, Doctor Arnet and his medical team received Warp and quickly began to examine his condition. He was clearly unconscious, with an elevated heart rate. Slyythis suspected a recurrence of earlier trouble in the admiral's medulla oblongata, something he himself had treated. Doctor Ceja got to work while Slyythis informed the bridge about Warp's condition.

The Potemkin dropped out of warp just in time to receive two additional distress signals, one from the Nebula-class De Anza, and another from a Federation freighter named (interestingly) the Navarre. The warbirds came into view as they came around the starbase, firing disruptors. Bom immediately ordered Commander Fuller to fire, and he unleashed a phaser barrage and a volley of photon torpedoes against the attacking ships. Rumbling shook down the Potemkin's spaceframe as disruptor blasts began to pelt her shields.

On deck four, Warp came to for a few moments, muttering about bedpans and a cane-carrying Arnet. Ceja worked to reduce the pressure on his brain, assisted by Slyythis. The admiral's incoherent comments were silenced by a round of sedatives, and the medical team continued its work amidst the shakes and shudders of the deckplates.

The battle pressed on with escalated intensity. Fuller ordered the Potemkin's fighters, the Donnar and Loge, to launch. Hails from Bom went unanswered by the warbirds, but Lieutenant J.G. Aklar made headway in identifying them: he identified their components as coming from Unroth Shipyards, and soon matched their markings to those of the Onias Sector Defense Fleet, once commanded by Admiral Servos of Potemkin lore. Through cooperation between the bridge and engineering crews, the deflector was powered up to perform a tachyon sweep for additional Romulan vessels.

A sudden transmission surprised the crew of the bridge. The lead warbird transmitted a simple, chilling message: "The Varo Legion is the future of the Romulan Star Empire. See now our great works." With that, both warbirds dove towards the starbase. One, still warp-capable, engaged its warp drive and rammed the base at superluminal speed. The Potemkin fled on Bom's orders, just avoiding the blast. Subspace shockwaves soon knocked it out of warp and sent it tumbling at high sublight speeds. Damage reports flooded in, including a plasma leak that prevented safe warp travel.

Around the ship, the crew was tossed and tumbled about. In sickbay, the admiral (who had been coming to) was thrown against his restraints in several directions. Engineering crews busily trying to reinforce the shields were hit hard, as was the bridge crew.

As the Potemkin's damage crews hurried to work, reports came in describing warbirds above Dunharrow. A distress signal followed, but the Potemkin couldn't respond. Further complicating things, Admiral Sorin, fairly passive up to now, asserted himself strongly with orders to return to Starbase 22 and leave Dunharrow to other ships. Bom and the rest of the bridge crew disagreed vehemently, but ultimately acquiesced to the order despite the danger posted by a gravitic anomaly detected by Aklar. The ship encountered severe buffeting and dropped from warp. There was nothing left of Starbase 22, Sorin's former command.

Captain Bom now asserted himself against Sorin, proving his earlier points by showing the utter destruction before the ship. He gave orders to find quarters and allow Sorin to rest, but the admiral refused, opting instead to stay on the bridge. The ship set out for Dunharrow amidst reports that all surface settlements had been decimated.

Soon, strange things began occurring around the ship. The buffeting did not resume at warp speed; consoles displayed conflicting readings, sometimes showing Starbase 22 and Dunharrow in a pre-attack state. Admiral Sorin observed this and spoke a few words. All of the lights and consoles returned to normal. He revealed that the events the crew had witnessed (and participated in) were simply a simulation. Then, he contacted sickbay and summoned Warp to the bridge. The ship's commanding officer, it turned out, was actually quite conscious, and had been reminiscing with Arnet for some minutes as the exercise drew to a close. Both were involved with the plot.

Captain Bom was not amused. Upon Warp's arrival, Bom began to protest loudly to Sorin. Though his commanding officer tried to intervene, Bom ultimately threatened to quit -- and then followed through, throwing his badge down and storming off the bridge. Admiral Warp said a few supportive words to the crew, ordered them to a debriefing a few hours later, and then set off in pursuit of his first officer. In the turbolift, he reflected on this simulation's similarity to his first mission, and spoke aloud to the otherwise-empty car: "Godspeed, Christiaan Back. I hope I've done you proud."

This week marked Admiral Warp's decennial anniversary as CO of the Potemkin! Also, congratulations are in order to Doctor Ceja on her promotion to ACMO, and on Mister Gestrall on his transfer to engineering.

Related Entries

Servos, Admiral Aliens
Sorin, Admiral Starfleet Officers
Dunharrow III Federation Worlds
Dunharrow System Federation Space
Unroth System Romulan Space
De Anza, U.S.S. Federation Ships
Navarre (freighter) Federation Ships
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