NCC-60597/03 (Shuttle Ptolemy)
Spaceport Two, Antares Ship Yards
Captain Krystine Leone stepped in from the shuttle’s passenger compartment. It was one of the type-seven shuttlecraft in use by Starfleet; with its curvaceous exterior, it reminded her of a reverse-colored panda bear. She ran a hand across the line of the console in front of her and tapped in a few commands to check on the shuttle’s status. The yardmaster promised her a pilot, but she had yet to see him or her arrive, yet.
The Ptolemy was to be one of forty-seven auxiliary craft assigned to her ship, and just being inside it made her feel giddy at the prospect of assuming command of a Nebula-class starship. The shuttle felt like an extension of her impending status as the newest starship captain in the United Federation of Planets.
She stood from her seat and rechecked her stowed gear in the shuttle’s storage area underneath the portside bench seat in the rear compartment. Satisfied, she turned to go back to the cockpit when she heard the familiar click of uniform boots on the shuttle’s deck. Her eyes looked down at the shuttle’s chronometer, counting away the seconds upon the corner display of the console.
The clicking stopped, just behind her. She turned her head, ready to introduce herself to the pilot, when she realized that she did not have to.
“Wilson,” she smiled.
Lieutenant Wilson Nieves returned the smile, the skin around his brown eyes wrinkling as he did so. “Congratulations on your promotion, Captain.”
“Thank you. How are you?”
He settled into the pilot’s seat and activated the console. “I’m doing fine, sir.”
“Last time I saw you, you were high-tailing it off Potemkin. I heard you went home.”
“I spent a few weeks on leave,” he nodded. “But then I heard they promoted you and were giving you a ship. So, I decided to cut my leave short so I could at least see you off.”
She winced, inwardly. He applied to be her new chief tactical and security officer, but he lost to a more qualified officer by the name of Daniel Hunter. “I’m sorry you didn’t get the berth, Wilson. I really am.”
Nieves waved her off with a shake of his head. “No, it’s all right, sir. You went with the right man. Danny’s going to make you proud.” He turned his head, after signaling for launch clearance. “And besides, you’ve got Commander Elannis, too. So, you’re definitely in good hands.”
Leone grinned. Ariel Elannis, Wilson, and she had all served together on the Excelsior-class starship USS Potemkin, under the command of Captain T’Cirya. When T’Cirya received her promotion to rear admiral, the crew dispersed to different ships in the fleet, as Potemkin’s new captain began to assemble his new senior staff. “I know she’s already here.”
“She’s been here for weeks. She and your chief engineer have been making use of the time during the final stages of the refit,” he informed her. “Control, this is Ptolemy. Engaging thrusters for launch.”
The shuttlecraft shuddered slightly as the primary thrusters lifted it off of the deck and pass the energy barrier holding the atmosphere inside. They slipped into space from the launch bay.
“Petra Bartlet. I haven’t had much of a chance to meet everyone… except Commander Kincaid.”
“Your new first officer?”
“I didn’t see him on board.”
“He’s still at Starbase Three-One-Zero, waiting for us to pick him up. Actually, most of the crew are there.”
Nieves asked, “Because of the warp tests, right?”
She nodded. Farragut‘s refit included an upgrade to the warp’s core and field coils. It required a warp test to tune the coils to the new core and that would fall to Lieutenant Bartlet and her entire division. In order to accomplish this, they’ll need to take the ship out away from any stellar body and engage the engines. “We’ll only have a hundred forty-seven in crew, plus the civilian engineers who’ll observe and consult. You know, the new core was originally intended for Sutherland.”
“You say that with such pride, sir.”
“Are you making fun of me, Lieutenant?”
Nieves smirked, but forced a dispassionate expression onto his face. “No, sir, Captain, sir!”
Unable keep a straight face for very long, both dissolved into laughter. Leone placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled. “I’m glad you were able to make it to the ceremony.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, sir.” Under his command, the shuttle banked around the marker beacon for Yard Thirty-Nine-Alpha, where Farragut was dry-docked. The bow of the shuttle swung into view and he knew it would be a special moment. “There she is, sir.”
Leone looked away from him and out to the scene before them. Cradled within the span of the drydock facility was NCC-60597. From their vantage, she could see underneath the Nebula-class heavy cruiser’s saucer, which was an exact duplicate of the saucer one would find on a Galaxy-class starship. She breathed, “Oh, my god…”
He expected her response. “Beautiful?”
“She looks… cold.”
Nieves looked at the ship again. None of its lights were on, including the warp nacelles or the navigational deflector. “They’re keeping her on internal power, right now. They already did the power system tests-”
“Two days ago,” she interrupted him. “I’ve been keeping up with the reports.”
He grinned. “Yes, sir.”
“Can you take us under the saucer and then over?”
The shuttle dived below the ‘waterline’ of the saucer section and the large block numbers of the ship’s naval construction contract number were as big as her eyes. Pride surged within her as she reached out with her hand to touch the viewport plexiglass, as though her fingers might pass through so she could touch the hull with her bare hand. When her fingers hit the glass, she pulled them back quickly and gave Wilson a sheepish grin.
The underside slowly crawled by the shuttle. They continued on and she noticed a big divot at the very bottom. “Hey, where’s my gig?”
Wilson looked at the docking port for the missing captain’s yacht and shook his head. “I don’t know, sir. Probably being delivered later?”
She frowned. “Damn. I wanted to take a look at her.”
“Did you have a name picked out?”
“No. I was hoping I would be inspired, later.”
“Would you like me to find out for you?”
Leone shook her head. “No, I’m sure I’ll find out once I’m aboard.”
“Aye, sir.” When they reached the navigational deflector, he announced, “I’m bringing her about, now.” They moved along the port side of the saucer and floated up and over the lip.
The upper half looked more impressive than the bottom. Ptolemy approached the ship’s bridge module and she looked closely at the viewports. “There’s my ready room,” she grinned uncontrollably.
The shuttle’s speakers crackled to life. A woman with a contralto voice called to them, “This is Farragut Control to inbound shuttle. Please identify yourself. You are entering the approach and landing for our main shuttlebay.”
He tapped at his console and spoke, “Control, this is Shuttle Three, Ptolemy, on approach. We are inbound from Antares Central.”
“Your landing code, please.”
“Code Six-Farragut.” The code announced to control that a ranked captain was on board, and additionally, that captain was their new commanding officer. “Request landing clearance at your convenience.”
A different voice replied; a deep male baritone. “Code Six-Farragut acknowledged. Welcome, Captain Leone. Commander Tennyson sends his respects.”
Leone spoke up. “This is Captain Leone. Thank you, Commander.”
“Ptolemy, you are cleared to land. Approach vector alpha.”
Wilson nodded. “Approach vector alpha, confirmed. On final approach, now.”
The cavernous main shuttlebay looked more like a fully-fledged planetside spaceport than its name implied. Shuttles and pods of varying sizes moved within the bay and out, while other shuttles approached and landed on one of the four light strips available for them to do so. Ptolemy approached on the port-side strip and then guided to a waiting compartment where a staff of flight deck personnel burst forth to tend to the shuttle.
Leone smiled. “Smooth landing. Thanks for taking me over, Wilson.”
“Anytime, sir,” replied Nieves with a smile of his own. “I’ll take care of post-flight. Why don’t you look around and get familiar with your new digs?”
Even if he hadn’t mentioned it, she would’ve done so. “I will. See you later?”
“I’ll be here for the ceremony, so definitely, sir.”
“Excellent.” She didn’t wait another moment, instead gathering her gear and making for the exit.
“Captain Leone, I presume?” asked the stocky dark-skinned man in the gold Commander’s uniform.
“You presume correctly, Commander Tennyson.”
He smiled and extended his hand. “Commander Robert Tennyson, sir. A pleasure to meet you.”
“I feel like I know you, already, Commander,” she replied, accepting the firm and warm handshake. Since Farragut arrived at the Antares Ship Yards for its five-year refit nearly eight months ago, Commander Tennyson assumed engineering command of the ship. “I’ve read every one of your reports going back to the beginning of the refit.”
“Then you have me at a disadvantage, sir,” he said as they ended the handshake. “But I do know that congratulations are in order, Captain.”
“Thank you. Do you prefer Robert or Bob?”
Leone smiled and asked, “Rob, where are you bunking me?”
“Deck eight, section alpha one.”
“Nice. Are they ready?”
Tennyson grinned. “In anticipation of your arrival today.”
“Then, lead on.”
“Aye, sir.” He barked, “Yeoman, get the Captain’s gear and follow us, please.”
A yeoman third class moved quickly and offered to carry her duffel and garment bag. She relinquished both to the young enlisted petty officer and followed behind the broad back of Rob Tennyson.
Saleb finished installing the device and tucked the isolinear connection behind the bulk of the control computer. He began entering in commands on the scanner, satisfied with the response and looked up.
Leaning over the rail, Belkis shot an expectant look at him. “Well?”
“Are you sure?”
Saleb looked back down at his scanner. “I think so.”
“Look, I’ve only done this once before.”
“Lords, help me…”
“Do you want to come down here and do it?”
Belkis raised both hands in dismissal. “No, no.” He sighed. “When we activate it, what’s going to happen?”
“One of two things, I guess. Either, it’ll work and we’ll have succeeded…”
“Or it’ll destroy the navigational deflector and possibly the entire bottom half of the ship.”
Saleb ran a few more calculations and then snapped his head back up. “No, wait.”
Belkis perked up. “Yes?”
“I was wrong.”
He let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, good.”
“Both could happen. We could succeed and then blow up.”
Belkis placed his hand over his face and closed his eyes. “I should’ve stayed home.”