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Posted on 30 Jan 2024 @ 1:52pm by Commodore (Brevet) Harvey Geisler & Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Commander Theodore Marsh III & Lieutenant Commander Kennedy Monroe M.D. & Lieutenant Paisley (mUra) F'rar & Lieutenant Zayna Ryler & Lieutenant T’Mari Rael & Ensign Kendra Kyle

2,664 words; about a 13 minute read

Mission: Return to Razmena
Location: USS Black Hawk
Timeline: June 17, 2390 || 0200 hours

It may have taken the crew of the Conchos two days to reach Razmena, but it had taken just a few hours to return to the Black Hawk. This was accomplished in no small part during the Conchos' brief report to Captain Geisler in which he had ordered the runabout to accelerate to maximum warp in order to quickly return home. This order had been ominous, and the Captain hadn't allowed for an in-flight debriefing, leaving the away team to wonder what unfortunate event had transpired.

This also meant that the runabout arrived in the wee hours of the morning. The flight deck was eerily quiet upon arrival, save for the unlucky souls stuck with the graveyard shift. What made matters even more interesting was that the away team was ordered to report to the Flight Ops Briefing Room immediately upon arrival. Clearly there would be no rest for the weary.

When the away team arrived, Captain Geisler, complete with the ship's customary cover was already waiting for them inside, along with Commanders Walsh and Marsh, Lieutenant Ryler, Ensign Kyle (who would be at the helm later that day), and Ensign Karn (the de facto Tactical Chief in Commander Di Pasquale's absence).

When Harvey saw Joey, he couldn't help but put aside his rank for a moment. He approached her and embraced her. They may have only been apart for three days, but somehow it felt like it had been forever. "Welcome home, sweetheart" he said with a smile.

Joey took his face into her hands when he embraced her, then leaned in to kiss him. It didn't matter if there were others around or not. She missed him. "Thank you. It's definitely nice to be back."

Harvey was slightly taken aback by her abundant display of affection. Being the early morning, and the fact that they'd spent several days apart, he was just as affectionate as she. Still, he managed to contain himself after a few moments and pull back.

T'Mari walked into the room stifling a yawn as she did so, before offering a warm smile. "Captain, Commander" she walked over to the replicator to get herself a drink, then headed to a seat.

Kendra was trying to shake the sleep from her mind as she entered the room. She paused nodding at the superior officers present before awkwardly making herself across the room. She also move to the replicator following behind the Lieutenant she'd not yet met for her own drink. She nodded at them before she moved to the replicator and got herself ice cold water, and then moved to a seat of her own, not near anyone else. She looked around the room the feelings of regret and second thoughts filling her mind. It was strange being in this room since switching to flight control. Even if she was still technically on the group's roster it somehow felt very different.

Zero dark thirty Ensign Karn grunted as he made his way into the Flight Ops Briefing Room. The light seemed far too bright, but then again, it was hours before his normal shift. He spotted the young pilot at the replicator, then got a cup of Andorian iced tea before he took a seat at the table. He noted that the Chief of Security and the Executive Officer weren't present and wondered if something had gone wrong with their mission.

Kennedy entered the room and immediately headed to the replicator, only allowing herself to feel a slight bit of guilt for the caffeinated beverage she ordered. It was not ideal medical advice to consume caffeine this late in the day, or early, depending on one's perspective, but Monroe was tired and she wasn't about to turn down a little caffeine assistance if it could help her stay focused for whatever came next.

Terry sniffed the cup of coffee in his hand, took a sip, and set the tin cup down. Damned if it wasn't early. Or late, depending on your shift. But such was life in Starfleet.

Middle of the night was not Teddy's favorite time to be in a work meeting, not that it mattered. He was definitely tired, but it could have been much worse. At least he'd gotten a nap earlier. A decent amount of caffeine and a trip to the gym helped get the body going in times like these.

Harvey returned to the front of the room and started the briefing. "Apologies everyone not just for the late night briefing but also for the short notice. For our returning away team members, two things you need to know. The first, we're enroute to rendezvous with our sister ship, the Gaittithe. We'll be set to arrive around 0830. Second, the ship is operating at yellow alert as we have reason to believe that the Gaittithe has been compromised."

"Is there specific evidence of that Captain?" T'Mari looked at Harvey curiously.

"Compromised from within or out, Captain?" Karn asked.

The Captain would answer both questions with, "We do not have concrete evidence. If I did, we'd already be at battle stations and we'd be a little late picking up the Conchos. What we do know is that the team aboard the Kwando managed to obtain a job with the pirates, one that's happening at the Gaittithe's last known position. If I had to wager, Ensign, I would say compromised from the outside."

Joey was exhausted, but as long as there were fellow crewmen out there, she wouldn't be doing much sleeping. Of course, there had been many sleepless nights in the past with many more happening in the future. And now they were dealing with the possibility of a compromised ship? This had a bit of familiarity to it. She had questions, but for now, made her way to the replicator to get a cup of coffee. Wilkins, of course.

T’Mari sipped her drink, mulling things over. “Once we get there I’ll keep my senses alert. If anyone is hiding anything I should be able to tell you.”

"I'll make sure sick bay is prepared to handle any emergencies," Kennedy offered. It went without saying that she hoped it wouldn't be necessary.

Harvey continued, "For those that have been absent, we're still without a Chief Engineer, and we're also without our XO and Chief of Security. Mister Marsh is our temporary XO, and Ensign Karn here is representing Security. Those of you who've been with us for a while will recognize Commander Walsh, who has returned as our squadron commander."

The Captain moved over to the podium and activated the viewscreen. A set of Akira-class schematics appeared, labelled as the USS Gaittithe. "Our sister ship has a few more years on her than this bird, by about fifteen years or so. A lot of her interior is dated back to the Dominion War. No squadron, and her flight deck was converted to give the Gaittithe more internal storage and shuttles. Normally, she operates out of Starbase Unity, running cargo to and from major colonies and occasional runs to Gamma Command. She still has all her teeth, which makes her a force to be reckoned with. If she has been compromised, then either the pirate threat is larger than we thought, or something else more dire is afoot."

Or both, Joey thought to herself as she took a sip of her coffee.

Or both," Kendra unknowingly agreeing with the ship's intelligence officer.

Terry nodded throughout the introductory briefing to fight back the sleepiness. Pirates all over the place anymore. And now another ship had gone missing. He took a drink of his cooling coffee. Bet they're all working together, thought Terry.

The warnings Teddy had gotten from friends when he'd first received word of his transfer to the Black Hawk rushed back to him. If there was any truth to the stories, then things were likely to go south. And deadly.

"Joey," Harvey said, looking at his wife, "I want you to prepare a boarding party and be ready for anything. We have no idea what to expect. And you be prepared to know that Commanders Reynolds and Di Pasquale are operating undercover with a pirate team that's been dispatched to harvest the Gaittithe's cargo. Their cover will need to be maintained for now, and we'll determine when we'll need to reverse that."

She nodded her head once her orders were passed down. A boarding party? This would certainly be interesting, and the need to maintain cover for John, Camila and Shay? Joey could do that. It might be a bit tricky, but she had faith in herself and the crew. "I'm on it, Captain."

"Terry," Harvey shifted his attention to the squadron commander, "I believe we'll need the full squadron today. I'll leave the methods to you, but have a plan to me as quickly as possible."

"Aye, Captain," answered Terry. It'd take some shuffling and catching naps in the locker room for the ones coming on and off shift soon. But he could make it work. "I'll have a plan to you soon."

"Doctor, thank you for preparing sickbay. I'd like for you and Lieutenant T'Mari to be close by on the bridge, ready to spring however you're needed."

T'Mari looked at Kennedy and nodded, before looking back at Harvey. "Of course Captain."

Kennedy nodded in acknowledgement to Geisler, and then, feeling T'Mari's gaze on her, Monroe met the counselor's eyes with her own. As the two healers on board, they had the most in common professionally and Kennedy regretted they didn't know one another better yet despite having served side-by-side on the same away team. Still, stressful situations didn't leave much time for getting to know one another, and Kennedy recognized she wanted to remedy that soon.

"Teddy, Zayna, Kyle..." The Captain paused, looking at the three bridge officers. He couldn't help but yawn thanks to the early hour. "As soon as the Gaittithe is on long range sensors, let's see what we can get. Keep scans passive. I don't want anyone to know that we're coming until we get there."

"Aye, sir," Kendra responded, the wheels turning in her head. Perhaps with a little finesse, as they were about to arrive, she could keep the signature output a bit more to the minimum.

Marsh nodded in understanding. “Covert sensor sweeps. No problem.”

Karn kept silent as he hadn't been addressed, but his mind went over the countess drills and protocols that Commander Di Pasquale was constantly running Security through and all the variations and factors that she insisted each member of the department come up with and submit to her for approval. So far, he hadn't been subjected to retraining, which was why he mused that he was now the Acting Chief of Security.

Harvey sensed that he'd left someone out. His attention focused on the de facto tactical officer and stated, "And Mister Karn, those targeting sensors we just dialed in... We're going to need those. In fact, I could use a recommendation on when we upgrade to Red Alert. No matter what we detect, we will be at Red Alert when we arrive. And I want everyone at their best, not tired of waiting."

"Maximum sensor range is the optimal time to go to Red Alert, Captain, but only on verifiable targets. Out here, we can pretty much say that everyone that isn't Federation is a threat and likely target, barring some of the friendlier species we've encountered, but pirates come in every skin," Karn said. "So the sooner we detect them, the sooner we'll be ready."

The Captain considered the recommendation for a moment. "At present speed, we'll hit maximum range in less than an hour. 0300 is too early for Red Alert. We'll sound the alarm at the shift change. That way, our most rested will be at the ready."

Kendra's mind whirled with thoughts about things they could do to delay sensor pickup but realized they had no idea what they'd find, so what would they do to mask all those opportunities? There was considerably less thought about these things flying a fighter into an area because it would be much harder for them to be picked up, but also the mission was different. A new challenge? Her eyes rolled hard when the Captain said it was too early for Red Alert... it was too early for THIS at 0300, but she did appreciate that he took the time to think about the people who had no reason to be out of their racks so early. She sipped from her water and let her mind return to the previous whirling.

Having run through all his individual-specific orders, the Captain returned to a general stance. "Issue what instructions you need to your departments and try and get a couple hours of sleep. I'll head up to the bridge, and I'll remain there until after we've arrived. Any questions?"

T'Mari shook her head to say she had no questions. She would take up the suggestion of a couple of hours sleep though.

Paisley, for her part, was running quickly through the corridors. She had just arrived with the shuttle; her former ship managing to rendezvous with it on their way through this section of the Quadrant. A quick beam over and a few hours' shuttle ride wasn't enough time to do anything, but Paisley didn't mind. She could adapt to most situations pretty well. Finally, she arrived at the conference room, and smoothed out her tunic before entering.

"Sirs? Apologies for the interruption. Lt. Paisley F'rar, Chief Engineer, reporting for duty," she said. She smiled lightly, but took a quick seat. Luckily for the Carjoran, it wasn't the first time she'd been assigned to a new posting in the middle of the action, and she had a suspicion that it wouldn't be the last.

Harvey paid the lateness no mind, though he certainly was not going to take the time to go through the highlights of the briefing again. "Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. When we're done here, assess Engineering and join me in the Ready Room after."

"Yes, sir," she said, placing her PADD on the table, and jotting a quick note to meet him in the ready room.

Zayna had been sitting, listening, in silence. She had acknowledged with just a head nod when she was told what would need to happen once they got there, and knew she would be running on coffee and likely a bit of adrenaline during most of this. But, she needed to stay sharp, and she knew this.

Joey looked toward F'rar. A new face and a quick introduction. This was certainly an ideal way to get that done quick. Still, more formal introductions would need to be done at a later date.

Harvey nodded his head once and said, "All right. Let's get to it. Dismissed."

When they were dismissed, Paisley smiled at everyone, but didn't stay to chat. Instead, she hauled ass for Main Engineering, hoping her team was already in place. She had spent some time on the Shuttle ride studying the layout and schematics of the boat. She was ready.

Once they were dismissed, Ryler did just that. With everything that they had to do, she decided she'd not get any last bits of sleep and try to make sure the sensors were running at their peek efficiency and ranges before they arrived later that morning.

Joey took another sip of her coffee as she moved for the exit. There was much to be done, which meant no sleep for the time being.


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