Star Trek Hunter
Episode 22: Sacrifice
Scene 11: Buzz Conference
Commander Kenneth Dolphin tried very hard not to stare at the new captain of the U.S.S. Intrepid. He had been looking forward to and dreading the moment he would see Captain Red again. She had cut her long hair short - it now sported a wild curly, spiky appearance. She was the kind of woman who was aggressively beautiful regardless of her hairstyle, but this one seemed to capture her fiery, temperamental nature.
The small conference room on the U.S.S. Milky Way was called the Buzz Aldrin Room and a select group currently occupied it. Along with Commander Dolphin and Captain Red were Captain Sagittarius Hunter of the U.S.S. Prowler, Captain Elaine Nichols of the U.S.S. Pierre, Captain Suparman Saldana Budi of the U.S.S. Milky Way and Rear Admiral Serge Mykel Chekov.
Chekov was the first to speak: “Commandant Barrett th’Zoarhi has tasked us with developing effective countermeasures to a potential takeover of the Weythan colony by romulan forces. That would be reasonably easy to do if we had another 15 or so Milky Way class starships, but at the moment there are only five under construction and they will not be ready for another few months. What we do have is not enough Escort class, fewer still of the Intrepid class and a whole lot of Prowler class starships. But these are scattered on missions throughout the federation. We can’t just let them sit anywhere. Ideas?”
Chekov looked around the room, not bothering to hide the impatience in his face.
“And we have nearly 2,000 long range interceptors,” said Captain Red.
“Pissants!” Chekov exploded.
“As my father used to say,” said Dolphin, “Enough pissants will eat an elephant.”
“What is this cornpone wisdom?” scoffed Chekov. “I thought you were from Rhode Island, not the Appalachians.”
“Actually, I think Captain Hunter is from West Virginia,” said Dolphin testily.
“Harper’s Ferry, the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail…” Captain Sagittarius Hunter started.
“I don’t care whether you’re from the south end of a northbound mule…” Chekov groused.
“Interceptors have a vital role to play if we want to keep the romulans from taking over Weythan,” said Dolphin. “It would be a good idea to station about 400 pilots there and keep at least 100 interceptors in low-energy orbit. Keep them manned at all times.”
“In space, the romulans have a huge advantage – those big honking ships,” Dolphin continued. “But the real fight for control of the colony won’t be in space. It will be on the ground. The romulans have some landing craft, some mining craft and even some in-atmosphere fighters, but nothing that can operate effectively in atmosphere that has a warp engine. Star Fleet interceptors are not as brawny as what the andorians have been building, or the orions. But what they lack in shields and firepower, they more than make up for in speed, maneuverability and most importantly, inertial dampening, meaning our pilots can pull stunts that no one else can match. And there is a squadron of pilots who are very motivated not to give another inch of vulcan ground to the romulans…”
“The vulcans,” said Red.
“Don’t think for a second that vulcans don’t have emotions that you can appeal to,” Dolphin continued. “I’m living proof they do. I’ve had more than a half-dozen of them rooting around in my brain – spent nearly two whole weeks enmeshed in a mind-meld with one. Those vulcan interceptor pilots that Admiral Senvol betrayed – they may look cool on the surface, but deep down I’d wager they are itching for some serious payback.”
“Okay, blondie,” said Chekov. “I’m listening. What else do you have for me?”
“A little over a year ago,” said Dolphin, “I was in a meeting with Commandant th’Zoarhi, Council Leaders Ushi Irons and Chelna Yaalleiysei and Councilmember Emory Ivonovic. The Commandant originally asked for an initial build of 88 Prowler class starships, which, with the Hunter and the Prowler would have given us 90 of them. As it was, they only approved an initial build of 44.”
“Useless,” said Chekov. “Those little pissants don’t have enough power in their phasers to even tickle a romulan warbird. And how did you get into a meeting with that crowd? What are you doing, dropping names?”
“At the time, I was Emory’s lawyer,” said Dolphin. “And remember, the U.S.S. Hunter has gone up against those warbirds and survived. But that’s not my point. At that meeting, Ushi asked the Commandant what the Council’s blind spot was and she said it was speed…”
“You’re just dropping names now,” said Chekov, impatiently. “Don’t tell me you’re on a first name basis with both Councilmember Ivonovic and Council Leader Irons, Commander…” Chekov emphasized Dolphin’s rank.
It was Dolphin’s turn to look exasperated, then he let it go and just shrugged, made an amused noise. “Well, my captain is Ushi’s mother. He and I argued a bit last week and I’ve heard he only bothers to argue with people he likes. He just left us to go to Pern with Dewayne – Ambassador Guth. I think they were going fishing.”
Chekov snorted. “I keep forgetting who you rub shoulders with, Goldilocks. Okay, so what was so important about this meeting?”
“It was what the Commandant said – the secret is speed. Captain Hunter, have your tests of the Alstars solution worked?”
“Call me Sage,” said Captain Hunter. “The tests were successful and we have now gotten the entire Prowler class into recursive warp – safely if the readings are to be believed.”
“Just make sure if you have any math geniuses onboard that they aren’t studying the progenitors’ math proofs and you should be safe,” said Dolphin. “Here’s the point,” he added quickly, catching Chekov’s impatience. “Even though we only have 46 Prowler class ships…”
“I thought you said they only approved an initial build of 44,” said Captain Suparman Saldana Budi.
“That plus the Hunter and the Prowler,” Dolphin rejoined. “We have 46. But that speed is a force multiplier. If the romulans come from two different directions, we can deal with one fleet, then pivot to another.”
“With the weaponry you carry, you might as well be throwing rocks at them,” said Chekov.
“Actually, that’s precisely what we’re going to do,” said Dolphin. “I asked Geoff Alstars to provide a new calculation for a Prowler class to enter recursive warp while dragging an asteroid weighing four kilotons. This will be tricky, as you will have to fly stick at warp speed to get close enough to drop the rock just as you come out of warp, passing within 500 meters.”
“You’re seriously going to throw rocks at them???” asked Captain Elaine Nichols.
“Rocks,” Dolphin confirmed. “At warp 13.75. E equals MC to the 13th power… We hit them hard. We hit them fast. We leave the Intrepid and Escort class ships to mop up the debris while the Prowler class ships regroup and hit the second wave.”
“Okay you fearful little name dropper,” said Chekov with a wicked cat-caught-the-mouse grin, “Tell me how you are on first name basis with Sir Geoffrey Alstars.”
Dolphin shrugged. “He works in my engine room…”
- * -
A few hours later, Dolphin was in Red’s quarters.
“Okay, flyboy, tell me why you got so weird in that meeting. Who were you trying to impress, Chekov or me?” Red was dressed provocatively - tight leathers and lace. “It’s a good thing I like you already.”
“Chekov doesn’t bother me,” said Dolphin. “You, on the other hand… well… I was recently reminded that lingering stares are more creepy than romantic…”
“You’ve been talking with Holly Nash,” said Red. She watched Dolphin’s face closely. Then: “And you screwed her!”
“How many telepaths are there in Star Fleet? Are you part betazoid or something?” Dolphin asked.
Captain Red laughed. “It doesn’t take a telepath to read that face. That and I was recently at Starbase 11. Holly’s an old friend. Now, the word that gets you out of trouble is ‘blue’. Make certain you don’t say it… You’re the only person who has ever taken a whip to my ass and I have been plotting delicious payback for some time…”
Dolphin rolled his eyes. “It was your shoulder… and it was only one pop…”
Red was straightening a length of silk rope. “The word is ‘blue’. See if you can avoid using it…”