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StoriesBait and Switch → Chapter 2: Reporting as Ordered

Chapter 2: Reporting as Ordered


Bait and Switch




2 October 2013


December 2409 Earth Standard


Nebula Surveys are Boring. Film at Eleven.


Arrivals and Departures


“Fire missiles! Dump everything!” Thirty-two nuclear-tipped Krait missiles erupt from my flight of four fighters, against an enormous Turusch warship constructed from a 900-kilometer dwarf planet. “Now hard one-eighty, and zorch it!”

A beam from the leviathan barely brushes my wingman, knocking him out of position in his tight turn around his fighter’s drive singularity. “I’m hit! I’m hit!” His ship breaks up under the stress and his icon vanishes from my sensor boards. Then the rest of us are through the turn and hauling fifty thousand gravities away from the leviathan. The timer on my screen counts down to impact and—

“Bridge to Captain Kanril.”

“Frak. Computer, pause program.” The behemoth and the array of detonations freeze in place on my screen. “Kanril.”

“We’re two minutes out from Deep Space 9.”

“Frak. All right, I’ll be there shortly. Computer, save and end program.” The SG-92 cockpit fades out of existence, which leads to me landing hard on my ass when my seat vanishes. “OW! FRAK!”

I pick myself up and walk to the arch, and the door slides open. I walk to the turbolift across the corridor and say, “Bridge.”

A few seconds later, the door slides open. The viewscreen is still showing the streaming stars of warp. I know intellectually it’s just particles of the interstellar medium interacting with the warp field but that doesn’t make it not pretty. Tess moves in alongside me as I walk to my chair. “Skipper, the sign-up sheets for shore leave are in.”

“How big of a bill can we expect from DS9 security?”

Tess snorts. “Naturally, most of the ship’s enlisted and about half the officers want to go ashore. 758 crew in all. Usual procedures are in place: Anyone scheduled to be on duty has to be back on the ship and sober half an hour ahead.” She pauses, and then we’re talking as friends instead of captain and first officer. “Have you ever been to DS9 before, Eleya?”

I nod. “I was stationed there for six months about a year before we met. They called me the assistant liaison to the Bajoran Militia but mostly I was a glorified clerk.”

“Right, and of course you were born on Bajor.”

“A planet’s a big place. I never got up to DS9 until after I enlisted in the Militia.”

Tess cocks her head and nods. “Point. Changing the subject, what’s this holonovel you’ve been playing?”

“Oh. It’s based on this 21st century Earth book series called Star Carrier. I’m playing a fighter pilot.”

“So, it’s historical, then?”

“No, science fiction. It’s—”

“Skipper,” the conn officer interrupts, “we’re beginning deceleration. Now at warp 8 and dropping. ETA thirty seconds.”

“Tell me about it later, El,” Tess says, and then she’s the consummate professional again.

The streaming stars redshift and the Bajor drops back to sublight speed. We’re 400 kilometers out, and Deep Space 9 is an almost invisible speck hanging silently on a starfield marred only by the faint purple Denorios belt. “Communications, contact flight control.”

The Vulcan at Communications this shift nods. “Deep Space 9 traffic control, this is USS Bajor NCC-97238, requesting docking clearance, over.”

A staticky voice on the other end responds. “USS Bajor, you are cleared for initial approach. Transmitting vector and speed.”

“Transmission received, Deep Space 9. Relaying to conn.” JG Park takes over at the conn, firing up the impulse engines to one-half and the ship smoothly accelerates towards the station.

After a moment the traffic controller radios again. “USS Bajor, hold at ten klicks. All berths your size are currently occupied but we have a departure in five minutes.”

“Roger, Deep Space 9.”

The familiar brown three-spoked ring of DS9 grows larger on the viewscreen. As Park throttles back and applies reverse thrust to bring the ship to a halt I can begin to make out some of the ships present. While technically Federation-controlled, the station has been informally considered neutral territory since before the Dominion War, so I’m not surprised to see a few KDF ships, in this case a pair of the Klingons’ ubiquitous B’rel-class birds and a Kamarag-class battlecruiser on one of the dorsal docking pylons. I also see an Orion Corsair-class on a ventral pylon, and bite back the slur that leaps to my lips. From our side there’s two Nebula-class science ships on the other two ventral pylons, a Freedom-class scout and the USS Defiant on the ring, and—

“Wow,” Biri blurts out from behind me. “Is that an Odyssey-class on dorsal two?”

Master Chief Pete Wiggin, the on-duty sensor officer, checks. “Yes, ma’am, USS Valentine, sister ship to the Odyssey-A and the Enterprise-F.” The bright white of the giant cruiser’s smoothly curved hull glints under from the station’s floodlights.

The last big ship on the station is far more functional in design, a boxy Type 105 superfreighter, and it’s this ship that is blocking our way. From here I can see the nacelles glowing as the ship’s engines warm up. Then the umbilicals detach and the docking tube retracts. Its starboard thrusters briefly fire to shove it away from the pylon, then the aft thrusters fire more strongly to push it clear of the station. The impulse engines kick in and it accelerates away. The traffic controller clears us to approach, comms confirms, and the Bajor maneuvers closer.

“Beginning final approach, Skipper,” JG Park says, programming the autopilot. You don’t want any mistakes when docking a 4.5 megaton cruiser, especially in tight quarters already occupied by two ships of similar size and mass. Luckily computers are good at this kind of thing. The ship yaws to port to line up with the pylon and accelerates again, then cuts power, drifting forward on inertia. The station passes underneath the viewscreen’s camera angle, but having seen this from the other side I can picture it. The ship is maneuvering to place the big crew airlock on the port side four decks above Main Engineering, behind the top of the deflector dish, against the docking tube. The forward thrusters fire and smoothly stop the ship’s forward motion, then the side thrusters fire, first the port side to push us against the station, then starboard to stop us. Park reports, “Docking clamps extending. Docking clamps secure.” Now the umbilicals extend, connecting us to station power and fuel stores so we can take on antimatter, deuterium, and replicator mass. Finally, the docking tube mates with the airlock. “Docking procedure completed.”

I press the intercom key on the arm of my chair. “All hands, this is the captain speaking. We are now docked at Deep Space 9. Any crew signed up for shore leave may now begin proceeding to Airlock 24-Sierra-Foxtrot to disembark. As usual if you are scheduled for duty you must be aboard and sober 30 minutes before your shift. Kanril out.” I let go of the button and stand, straightening the hem of my jacket. “Tess, you have the bridge. I’ve got an admiral to meet.”

“I have the bridge. I’ll call his office and let him know you’re coming.”

I nod and walk to the turbolift. “Deck 13 tram station.” The turbolift car drops a dozen decks in a second, then I catch a tram with thirty-odd crewmen aft to the stardrive. With disembarkation in full swing the turbolifts to Engineering are packed. There must be fifty people crammed in here, not counting four of Korekh’s security people keeping things orderly, and the confusion from everyone scrambling to attention at my arrival doesn’t help matters. It takes five minutes to get a turbolift, then I get to the airlock and it’s an even bigger madhouse with crew from all over the ship lined up. I decide “screw this,” pull rank, and cut the line. Rank hath its privileges, as they say. Don’t know who says “hath,” though.

Dockside, a Starfleet security CPO sees me and salutes; I return it. “Welcome aboard Deep Space 9, Captain. Anything I can help you with?”

“Yes, I’m looking for Admiral Marconi’s office.”

“Suite 204A on the Promenade, sir.”

“Thank you, Chief.”

I walk towards the turbolift as crewmen begin to file out of the airlock but then my combadge chirps. “Bridge to Captain Kanril.” Tess’s voice.

I slap the badge. “Eleya here. Go ahead.”

“I spoke with Admiral Marconi’s adjutant and he’s out of his office right now. You should be able to find him on the upper level of the Promenade at around 80 degrees.”

“Thanks, Tess. Eleya out.”

A turbolift ride and a few minutes’ walk later I’m on the Promenade and my senses are assaulted by the cacophany of a thousand or more voices, smells of food from a hundred planets, and colors of people from all over the quadrant. It’s nothing like the relative quiet of a Federation starship and I’m quite thoroughly disoriented for a moment. I shake it off and get my bearings. I’m at 120 degrees from station “north” which puts Marconi one deck up and about fifty meters counterclockwise. I walk to yet another turbolift across the way and emerge on the upper floor and keep walking.

Admiral Marconi is wearing a long yellow and gold jacket. He looks to be in his mid-fifties, tall, stocky, with a bit of a paunch and three long-healed claw marks on the right side of his jaw. He’s reading a report on hardcopy as I walk up and sipping from a chrome hip flask in his other hand. I snap to attention and salute but he doesn’t seem to notice I’m there. After a moment he swears, crumples the report and angrily throws it over the railing where it bounces off the helmeted head of a Breen crewman standing at a kiosk across the way. “Damn them,” he says again, and then finally notices me. “And you are?” He takes in my uniform, rank insignia, and combadge and puts it together. “Right, Captain Kanril Eleya.”

“Reporting as ordered, sir.”

“At ease. Welcome to Beta Ursae Fleet Area. You’re probably wonder what that was about,” and he flicks a thumb at the report. He stops, looks like he’s gathering his thoughts, then speaks again. “Let me get you up to speed. How much do you know about the state of things in the region?”

I raise an eyebrow, then point at the ridges on the bridge of my nose. “Sir, I grew up in Kendra Province, I served in the Militia for four years, and I was stationed here for six months as assistant liaison officer to the Militia. I’d say I’ve got a passing familiarity with the place, sir. As far as current events, I keep myself apprised of the basics.”

He presses a hand to his eyes. “Right, now your file’s coming back to me. Sorry, I’ve been up for nearly 18 hours.” He lets the hand fall to his side and leans against the railing, looking out the viewport where the Defiant is visible. I follow his look, and from this angle I can see a gaping wound in the starboard bow, and I recognize the blast signature as being from a Cardie phaser, probably a Galor-class destroyer. I can also see tiny specks of light from welding torches.

Marconi speaks again. “Things are pretty rough for us right now. The True Way bombed a temple on New Bajor two days ago. They’re still pulling bodies out of the rubble but the death toll’s already topped a hundred. I’ve got a rogue Cardie legate running around playing warlord—you can see the mess he made of the Defiant when we caught up to him at Draylon last week—and we’ve got multiple reports of Jem’Hadar raiding shipping in the Malon System. And of course the Klingons are … being Klingons.” He takes a swig from the hip flask and offers it to me; I wave it away. He shrugs and continues. “Really makes me wish the Militia still had ships; we wouldn’t be stretched so thin. As it is my people have been running double and even triple shifts for weeks trying to keep up with it all.”

He straightens, caps the flask and pockets it, and turns back to me. “Well, can’t change the past. And since Starfleet Command has seen fit to scrounge me up some more ships maybe we can get a handle on it all. I’m giving you the Defiant’s patrol route until she’s back in action. The Kagoshima and John Paul Jones should be here later in the week and—what are you looking at me like that for?”

“Nothing, sir. Just, that’s really weird: those were my first two commands.”

His head rocks forward. “That is strange. And my memory must be going because that would’ve been in your file. Probably just coincidence, or maybe they think you’ll be able to coordinate better with people you know.”

“I doubt that, sir. The Kagoshima’s gone through two captains since I was reassigned and JPJ’s Commander Col’holth and I don’t get along.”

“Mmf. Well, maybe they’re just playing some kind of weird joke on you. Anyway, they’ll be here later this week, and we’ll work out a new route for the Bajor once the Defiant’s repaired. Tomorrow you’re heading to the Malon System, and maybe you’ll get lucky and can do something about those Jems I mentioned. I’ll have the formal orders sent over later. Take some shore leave, but I want you underway by oh-nine-hundred. Dismissed.” I salute, and he returns it and goes back to leaning against the railing.

I walk around to the turbolift and slap my combadge. “Kanril to Bajor, come in please.”

“Read you, Captain,” Biri says.

“We’ve got our orders. Nothing fancy, show the flag and look scary to pirates. Departure time is oh-nine-hundred tomorrow morning.”

“Got it; I’ll let Tess know. She had to go handle something in Gunnery One. Bajor out.”

I step into the turbolift and go back down to the first level to get something to eat. Maybe that Hathoni restaurant that makes those delicious jumja sticks with kava fruit sauce is still open.

Author's Notes

The Star Carrier holonovel Eleya's playing at the start of the chapter is based on the Star Carrier novels by William H. Keith, Jr. (writing as Ian Douglas), consisting of Earth Strike, Center of Gravity, Deep Space, and Singularity. Rights to that book series belong to HarperVoyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers LLC, and no disrespect to copyright is intended by my borrowing part of Earth Strike. I used them as the basis for Eleya's holonovel because:

  • I wanted to do something different from the usual fare of Star Trek holonovel adaptations.
  • I enjoy the series in its own right and feel it needs more love.
  • I thought the idea of harder science fiction than Star Trek being considered science fiction by Star Trek was hilarious.

Main Series
Chapter Title Published
1 Nebula Surveys are Boring. Film at Eleven. 29 September 2013
2 Reporting as Ordered 2 October 2013
3 Arrivals and Departures 3 October 2013
4 Civil Defense Patrol Is Boring, Too 6 October 2013
5 No, It's Not, Either 7 October 2013
6 Asymptotic to Death 17 October 2013
7 A Nightmarish Rage 20 November 2013
8 A Captain's Hardest Job 27 January 2014
9 The Cardassian and the Trill 2 February 2014
10 Par for the Course
Side Stories
Red Fire, Red Planet 24 March 2014
"An Anomalous Nightmare" 12 May 2014
Legacy of ch'Rihan 10 June 2014
Reality Is Fluid 15 June 2014
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