U.S.S. Charon – NCC 80111-A
[ SUB-PLOT LOG ]
“Houston We Have A Problem…”
Delta shift – otherwise known as the graveyard shift. Federation starships never sleep, but the crew can set their chronometers to the changing of shifts and of senior officers. Enjoyed and despised alike, Delta is a quiet shift where junior officers are allowed to oversee routine ship operations and duties while the senior staff slumbers. That is all except one particular officer with a bad case of insomnia and too much on his mind.
== Deck 2 - Personal Quarters ==
Pulling on a Starfleet jacket, Ambassador Ian Lamont was reminded of his former days as third officer aboard the USS Lexington. She was magnificent starship with the elegance of Starfleet’s golden era. An Excelsior class, she was a workhorse of the fleet with decades of honorable service. Despite her age she never failed to impress be it at diplomatic functions or in front of her enemies. Far larger than the Charon, she had a certain grand majesty. Such majesty was lost for a time as she was called into battle during the Second Dominion War. Her character changed from a proud lady of the fleet to a ruthless killer to be feared on the field of battle. Lamont hated walking the ship during that period of his life. The ship’s character was drained away and replaced with something dark and malevolent. The vibrant voices of life aboard the Lexington faded into hushed conversations and quiet whispers.
He was promoted during the crisis and placed into command. As each day or the war drew to a close his hatred for conflict intensified. Death, suffering, useless waste, devastation, and the horrors of war took their toll upon him as his ship was transformed from an instrument of peace and exploration into a blunt weapon of warfare. Promoted to commander during the closing days of the conflict, Lamont had been close to forsaking his commission unable to lead men and women to their deaths. As the war drew to a conclusion with the Dominion once again vanquished, Lamont decided to aid the efforts of peace in the diplomatic corps and leave his military service behind in the bloody past.
It had been years since he had worn his Starfleet uniform. Wearing the symbol of the military only reminded him of his past, the war, and the part he had played in the carnage that had played out years earlier. Yet, his ostentatious ambassadorial attire no longer seemed to fit him or his personality. He was changing aboard this starship. Into what he could not say, but it was slowly altering him from what he was into something else. Despite the stigma he held toward his old military uniform it somehow seemed familiar. His flashy trappings of a diplomat no longer suited him except when required.
Grabbing his coffee he headed toward the bridge. He was having trouble sleeping again. Perhaps he should see the doctor? With so much on his mind it was no wonder he was having difficulty resting. Universal politics were in shambles. War with the Romulan Empire over recent events near Vulcan loomed like a dark storm on the horizon. The Charon was being sent directly into the lion’s den to help shore up relations and worse he had been tasked with patching a horrifically fractured peace which was on the brink of crumbling.
He couldn’t bear to witness another war. The last one and its horrors still haunted him. He had to do everything in his power to prevent another needless conflict.
He entered an empty turbolift. “Bridge”, he muttered as he took a sip of his coffee.
== Main Bridge, USS Charon ==
Lamont stepped onto the bridge for no specific reason. He wanted an update on the Charon’s journey to Romulus. It had become something of a ritual the past few days when he couldn’t sleep. He could have asked the computer for status updates, but sitting on the bridge during the late shift brought back mixed memories from his past. Some dark, some joyful – his memories and his previous military service helped focus him on the mission ahead.
With the captain and first officer gone, Lamont could simply watch operations and reflect on his younger days aboard the Lexington’s own bridge as third officer. His late night visits to the bridge were relaxing helping him to take his mind off the troubles of the present.
Rounding the corner, Lamont was surprised to see a junior officer in command tonight. Savant was usually at the conn though he guessed even artificial intelligence required time off on occasion. She was probably off running complex simulations or something else Lamont could never hope to understand. The young lieutenant upon seeing the ambassador quickly sprang to attention.
Lamont chuckled. “At ease Lieutenant…?”
“Hawke sir. Lt. Garrett Hawke. What can I do for you sir?”
“Not much”, Lamont answered sipping his coffee. “What’s our ETA to Romulus?”
“At present course and speed, seven days, fourteen hours.”
“Ah. Mind if I have a seat?”
Hawke gave the ambassador an odd look. “Sir, aren’t you Ian Lamont? The diplomatic advisor?”
“If I may be so bold sir, why are you wearing a Starfleet uniform? I’ve…”
“I am sure you have heard stories. Put yourself at ease lieutenant. I am not here to cause trouble. For what it’s worth I was once in your shoes. Fresh out of the academy with big goals and dreams I too once ran the bridge during the Delta shift. Quite enjoyed it actually. As for the uniform, its mine. I transferred to the diplomatic corps years ago, but after pulling a few strings I was allowed to retain my status and rank as a commander in the fleet. I often get to play liaison between diplomats and Starfleet brass as a condition of keeping my rank out of mothballs.”
“Oh. I had no idea sir. Is there something I can do for you?”
“May I have a seat”, Lamont asked. “I find it relaxing to just sit back and watch at times. Reminds me of my own days as a young lieutenant.”
The lieutenant was still unsure about the ambassador’s motives but conceded. He offered Lamont a seat before retaking his own.
“You said you served before Ambassador? Or is it commander?”
“How about Ian”, Lamont replied. “I am not here in an official capacity lieutenant. Please carry on. I do not desire to interfere.”
The lieutenant appeared nervous addressing a superior in the familiar, but relented not wanting to offend or upset the ambassador whose temper was legendary.
“You said you served Ian?”
“Yes. It was several years ago. I was posted to the USS Lexington about a year before the outbreak of the second Dominion War. They quickly started handing out battlefield promotions when the fighting intensified and losses mounted. As a result, I made commander fairly quickly, perhaps far sooner than I should have. War is a chaotic business. I realized after it was over I wanted to help build and restore the peace after a horrific and tragic war. Joining the diplomatic corps seemed like the right thing to do as the war ended. There was so much work to be done then repairing relationships ravaged by the harsh effects of conflict and the Lexington had lost her former charm stained by the spilled blood of war. But I digress. I’m sure you don’t want to hear me ramble on about the past.”
“Commander? Do you think war with the Romulans will come?”
Ian stiffened at the question. “I..I do not know Lieutenant. It is my hope and my mission to prevent such a fate.. You and your generation need not see another bloody war. The wounds from the last one have finally healed, but the scars will persists for many decades to come. I am confident relations with the Romulans can be repaired. The Federation and Romulan Empires have a history of mistrust, but the peace has been maintained for centuries. I am confident current difficulties can be peacefully resolved.”
“I hope you are right sir. I don’t understand why the Charon is being sent to Romulus. I know the Captain’s past has something to do with our mission, but why send an exploration vessel? Why not send a ship of the line? Surely a heavy cruiser or battleship sends a stronger message?”
“Politics and diplomacy is a delicate game lieutenant. Sending a warship would signify strength, but could also further fan the flames of tension. Big guns are intimidating. The Federation wants to display an olive branch of sorts while we conduct our mission. Charon is a nice balance of research, speed, and power. Our arrival should be subtle. Sending in a warship makes too strong a statement. We are looking to avoid a fight, not start one. Someone upstairs thinks we’re perfect for the job. Who are we to argue?” Lamont had a several choice words for more than a few people upstairs, but those were his fights not the lieutenant’s.
“I suppose I have a lot to learn about such matters. Still, the Romulans started this entire mess over Vulcan, why pander to them now?”
“Pander is a strong word lieutenant. Think of it less in terms of black and white. Diplomacy is almost entirely grey. There is seldom a right or wrong answer and outcomes can appear in many different shades. It’s a complex web of rules, etiquette, niceties, politics, misdirection, wit, charisma, guile, intuition, and skill. A single word, gesture, or action at the wrong moment can ruin days or months of painstaking work. People are as unstable as a star and to me just as interesting. You can never quite predict if you’ll see a solar flare, shining brilliance, or even witness a supernova. All you can do is observe, make calculated assumptions based upon experience and intuition, and work toward a desired goal or mission objective. Its rather like poker only infinitely complex with astronomical stakes.
As for our current situation, a diplomat must balance both politics with cultural and ideological differences and attempt to translate between two opposing sides. Militarily there are those who want to strike now on both sides. That would precipitate a costly war. Still others want to simply pacify the Romulans and forget about Vulcan with the assurance such a thing cannot happen again. Some might call that weakness or cowardice. My job is to find a middle ground avoiding war, but also voicing our concerns to the Romulans. Obtaining concessions to satisfy the hawks in Starfleet will be difficult without provoking the Romulans into war. Like I said, it’s a delicate and complex game.”
“I do not envy you sir. That sounds like an impossible task given what I know of the situation.”
Lamont took a sip of his coffee. “You have no idea lieutenant”, he quietly mused. “You have no idea.”
“Lieutenant…sensors are detecting a sudden fluctuation in our warp field.”
Lamont’s eyes snapped to the OPS station from behind the rim of his coffee cup.
“What sort of fluctuations”, Hawke asked with an unusual calmness.
“I am detecting random fluctuations aft. Engineering notified us earlier of some routine maintenance, but it did not include propulsion.”
“Do the fluctuations appear hazardous?”
“Not at this time.”
“Contact engineering and report the issue. Have them investigate immediately. Until then let’s play it safe. Helm, reduce speed to warp two. We’ll have to make it up once engineering identifies and resolves the problem.”
Hawke glanced over at the ambassador who seemed content to remain out of the way sipping a cup of coffee. It didn’t take a psychologist to see that the ambassador was however intrigued by ongoing events.
“Lt. Finch, please contact the XO and inform her of the issue. Helm, let’s go ahead and run…” Hawke was interrupted mid sentence by the junior ops officer.
“Massive fluctuations now detected in our warp field! Sir, the field is destabilizing!”
Hawke stood up from him chair. “All engines, full stop! Get engineering on the line. Finch, belay calling the XO. Go ahead and wake the captain. She needs to know about this. Someone in engineering is going to get a boot up their…
Suddenly the Charon lurched forward. Lamont’s cup of coffee splashed across his face and uniform as Lt. Hawke was tossed from his feet backwards into the command chair. The viewscreen exploded into a kaleidoscope of blinding light and color. Time and space seemed to slow and voices were deep and distorted as an ear splitting whine filled the bridge.
“The warp field imbalance has created a localized temporal distortion! We are experiencing fluctuating time dilation and compression effects as a result!”
“All engines emergency stop”, Hawke yelled over the ear piercing whine his voice several octaves deeper.
“No effect”, the helm officer replied in slow motion. “She’s not answering to helm commands.”
“Go to manual control!”
The bridge appeared to be running in slow motion. No doubt the rest of the ship was also affected.
Ian felt plastered to his chair drenched in coffee as distorted time and space warped reality around him. Voices were distorted. Sounds were garbled as if a part of some nightmarish dream. Movement appeared impaired. Some officers and crewmen appeared to be in two places at once only to have their past or future selves reappear and then disappear.
Lamont managed to get to the end of a brief thought cursing Starfleet for sending them out so quickly. With the damage the Charon had sustained over Vulcan their time in dry dock had been painfully brief.
Hawke turned toward Lamont his eyes seeking reassurance and advice from a superior officer.
“I believe sounding general quarters is in order Lt. Hawke”, Lamont commented his voice distorted by the fluctuations in time.
“Go to Red Alert”, the young lieutenant shouted from his chair. He was clearly shaken, but holding up well under the stress given the circumstances.
While the helm appeared unresponsive the ship’s klaxons appeared to be in working order blaring their trademark whine that slowed and raced with various waves of distorted time passing through the Charon.
<< And with that…TAG EVERYONE! Let’s see some logs from various departments! Unstable warp fields and twisted reality make for some potentially good logging! I’m up for some JLs and if anyone can’t think of something to log about with the ship afflicted with bumps, jolts, and various bizarre time and space issues then email me! >>
Ambassador Ian Lamont
Diplomatic Advisor, USS Charon
Lieutenant Garrett Hawke (NPC)
Delta Shift Officer in Command