A Tale of Two Captains...
Ship of the Line: Ships of the Line
Date (Part Four/Chapter 3): 2014-01-19
Summary: BtVS, ST, SW, SG-1 crossover. Based on the Halloween costume episode and answering the Ship of the Line challenge from Zaion. Very AU. It is remotely related to my Chaos Theory series on FanFiction dot Net.
Disclaimer: See first chapter. Needless to say, I don't own anything here except some concepts and ideas. --Chapter 3: A Tale of Two Captains
“Look, I just want to get my ship fully functional.” Joyce Summers groused as she stalked around the bridge of the Excalibur,
“She's a Prometheus Class ship, highly automated but I need at least a crew of 30 so that the crew can get some shuteye every twelve hours!” She paused in front of the command chair, and glared at the screen, “Right now its just me, the ECH and that thing
The ECH's eyebrows raised, but the simulated commander didn't make a remark.
Meanwhile, the young man who had dressed as Chekov the night before rubbed his temples. “I'm sorry, Keptain. Ve can't release that many crew at the moment. I might be able to release eight...”
“You're running that ship” She gestured off at the screen in the general direction of the Enterprise A
, “at 380 crew members, and the Reliant
at 160.” Joyce growled, “And you're going to throw eight
crew members my way? Not. Good. Enough. At least 25.”
Chekov closed his eyes. “Nine now...” He immediately held up his hand, “And an additional eleven in 12 hours. We're in the middle of an in-situ refit!”
Joyce did the math in her head, “I need at least 5 duty officers and 3 first class pilots in that first batch, 24th century minimum and five years experience for the pilots. If I need to go into Multi-Vector Assault Mode, I want to be reasonably sure my ship's going to survive it, not end up with Lieutenant Idiot wrecking the lower stardrive section into the primary hull.”
Chekov opened his eyes and glanced to the side, probably at a roster of available crew. “One senior engineer, One senior medical officer with thirteen years experience including having survived 20th century medical school and being a real
doctor, three with training in tactical and security, four pilots, two twenty-third century with skills on fast frigates like the Mirandas
, one twenty-fourth with training on Intrepid's and one who dressed as Tom Paris from Voyager.”
Joyce ground her teeth. “Ok, and the senior engineer?”
“His vife, B'lanna Torres-Paris.” Chekov smirked.
Joyce sighed, they were a pair. She had memories of Janeway's praise and complaints. “I'm going to need more crew once your refit is complete, Mr...”
“Todd. Pavel Todd.”
“Your parents didn't happen to dress up, did they?” Joyce blurted out.
At this Pavel smiled, actually becoming a bit more British, if anything: “Actually, no. They never watched Star Trek. They were into Blakes 7 and Doctor Who. Don't worry, they don't dress up for Halloween. Beneath their station, as it were.”
Joyce nodded and closed the channel. She sighed as she collapsed in her chair.
in sickbay is a perfectly operational EMH mark II.” The ECH said stoically.
Joyce raised an eyebrow, “Your point Commander? You've reviewed the logs and my opinions. I don't care what Janeway went through with the Mark I and how he changed, the Mark II is an annoyance.”
“Just pointing out, I'm from the same mold.” The ECH said cautiously. “You've had nothing but glowing reviews for my operational function during the times I have been active.”
Joyce relaxed slightly, “Commander, you're excellent at your job. The man who engineered you and your brethren was an amazing holographic engineer with an extremely brilliant mind and an utterly impeccable capacity to choose the best and most brilliant examples from which to pattern his creations.” She held up a hand, “That said, he used himself as the social-emotional basis to create his holograms. Again, you're an excellent commander, and the variations for ship-board operations are superb. However, as a Doctor he has the bedside manner of a hippopotamus crossed with a ticked off king-cobra. Which, considering his skill in the field, is probably the reason he's a holo-engineer with a Medical Degree rather than a Doctor with a holo-engineering hobby.”
The ECH couldn't counter that particular argument. He never interacted with the EMH, at least not on a conscious level. They were from the same base code, but obviously with different components brought to the fore. However, his review of other commander's comments made about the EMH Series were... similar to his Captain's. Only the Mark I EMH units that had been altered by Voyager's doctor were... tolerable. “Well, if I'm going to remain active for any length of time, I'd ask you to be a little more cognizant of my own existence. While he may not be the best Doctor Federation science can produce, he is... a relation. I'd prefer not hearing him referred to as a 'thing'.”
Joyce nodded, “Sorry Commander. Stress of the situation and all. Plus that test you sprang on me...”
“Starfleet Regulations 20, Section 6, Subsections A and B specifically state that its the Commander's responsibility to ensure that the Captain is capable and competent to hold the position amongst other roles assigned to the Executive Officer. You admitted that the original personality that had 'possessed' you had left. At that point, I was forced to challenge you to ensure you were still capable of command.” He paused for a moment, as she grumbled over Starfleet regulations, “And you know as well as I that MVAM is computer controlled unless the ships are fully staffed with fully trained personnel. The safety protocols in the main computer wouldn't let
a raw pilot even try to coordinate a hull separation.”
“Things go wrong Commander.” Joyce intoned, “And I don't intend on trying to take my ship, undermanned as it is and will likely remain, into combat without sufficient backup for the key positions. I've seen too many captains killed for trying to hold the line with an undermanned ship and no crew support for the key positions. The Prometheus
Class, for all her wonders, still requires a crew for a reason.”
Willow looked out from the Command bridge of the Andromeda
. Her ship. A little too empty for her tastes, but she'd manage as long as Rommie was there. When Xander had called her after she'd regained herself, the order she received made her stomach twist into knots. She knew why
she'd been ordered to do it. Still, when the test
had come she was still trying to prove to Rommie she was essentially the same Willow Rosenberg she'd come to know. As a result, the Gorgon
had escaped. She glanced over at Rommie who was standing next to her.
“No word yet, Captain.” Rommie said gently. Willow had been waiting for the release order – the one that would allow her to stop pointing her phasers at her fellow Federation ships from under her combat cloak. “I'm still compiling lists of the costumes sold by Ethan Rayne. I have another potential 37 Starfleet Officers from the 24th and 25th centuries. Grade from Ensign to Lieutenant Commander. Approximately 34 additional Earth Force officers, Three of whom are Captain rank, Seven commanders. About 54 Ground-Pounders from the Earth Alliance universe, as well as 182 Marine and Army equivalents from several different series. Approximately 87 New Republic officers, mostly X-Wing Pilots a couple y-wing pilots, a few commanders, but nothing with a specific vessel. Couple major characters from Star Wars: Two are random Jedi, four are Han Solo and Leia Organa pairs... about three Luke Skywalkers and two Obi-wan Kenobis. There were 127 Imperial and Sith related costumes sold, however only a few of those individuals have come forth and identified themselves. And that's all I've got for now on the Sunnydale front. Janna is due to report more in one hour.” Rommie tilted her head to the side, “Using your input on the planetary data net, I've managed to access 98.3 percent of the global communications network. I'm working now on the military secure sites, focusing on the NID. Estimate penetration within the hour. I've also finished my preliminary analysis on the alien data packet. Unfortunately, I have no reference frame to work with on decryption for the packet. Although I believe that they use a runic-alphabetical written language. Possibly similar to Norse Runes.”
“Understood. Relay to Enterprise E
the latest information with my compliments. Coordinate with Commander Kalderdash on transport and crew assignment when she reports in. I'd like 27 of those X-Wing pilots trained up on the SF-3's and SF/A-8a's in our inventory. The rest we'll keep for Dawn when she's recovered, as that will likely give her enough for a wing of Tie Defenders. And have at least 50 of the military who have shipboard tactics training sent to Ms. Summers for evaluation.” Willow paused for a moment, “How is Buffy settling in?”
“Ms. Summers is currently taking a rest cycle, her duty shift begins in four hours. She's well versed in combat techniques, shipboard security, and MACO operations.” Rommie admitted, “Then again, her persona was that of a Federation Military Assault Command Operations specialist. And she has memories of her mother being a Starfleet Captain, oddly enough. Both yours and Buffy's background seem to originate from the same universe, while Alexander's appears to come from a more core-related universe. His ship has no reference to half of the vessels you've served on – and those that do have references don't have exactly the same specifications or history. Joyce's universe again is slightly different, having references to Buffy, but not to her service record, listing her as a 16 year old attending High School in San Francisco at Public School Thirteen. As you know Ms. Summers' file is... colorful. Almost as colorful as your own.”
“Well... My file only becomes really
interesting when I signed up with the Andromeda
Project. The Alexander Harris of my alternate's universe was born a Marine, language and all. And what can I say, he rubs off on people.” Willow chuckled, “As for Buffy, I guess Enlisting, quickly working your way up to Major, busted back down to Private, working your way back up the line to Colonel, being busted back down to corporal, then transferring to fleet and working one's way back to Captain of Security, Starfleet Command is pretty colorful for 30 years in the service. Hard to believe she chose to serve on the Andromeda
but... it was good having someone on board who wasn't afraid to challenge my decisions on an equal footing – even if she was a ground-pounder.”
“Both times her demotion was associated with an assignment to Thaddeus Rhodes.” Rommie noted, as she continued to process other data. “He specifically requested her for duty assignment twice. The last time he was in proximity to Ms. Summers he was diagnosed with a ruptured scrotum, fractured penis, and broken nose from the vehemence of Ms. Summers' assault.”
“I met the man twice: once as a Lieutenant on the Demeter
when he was a colonel in charge of a MACO unit operating on the edge of Orion space – worst three months of my personal life, and once as a Commander on the Concord
during the assault on Cardassia Prime where he was leading the ground assault as a General. Of course, by leading, I mean coordinating the combat from ops stations in complete safety on the bridge of a ship operating in the thick of the fleet. I believe the phrase 'Rear Echelon Mother Fucker' in the twenty-fifth century Military Dictionary has his picture beside it.
“First time he kept on asking me to get him coffee or tea, treating me like a yeoman. I was the Ops duty watch on main shift, and held nightwatch on the weekends. Arrogant ass.” Willow spat then frowned, “He sent dozens of teams against Orion Pirates on Fordan III and Iskal VII. He'd randomly pull back teams and expose them enough to ensure combat casualties, I think there were certain officers he hated with a passion that he was trying to eliminate. When I'd called the Captain on it, he started closely watching operations. We pulled three of his teams out of the fire, and the Captain was about ready to convene a shipboard tribunal for gross negligence when Fleet gave orders to take Rhodes to Starbase 29.
“I didn't see him again until the Dominion War. When I was first officer of the Concord
, he kept on trying to corner me in the corridors. I stunned him once when he picked the lock on my private quarters and tried to attack me. He was drunk on some sort of brandy-wine and had all the coordination of an inebriated sloth-toad. I couldn't believe the arrogance of the man, luckily it was war time and we were all combat ready. I called Doc Mattheson and had him take the ass to sickbay and to keep it on the QT. You probably have data on the rumor mills of ships larger than an Ambassador, right?” Willow didn't wait for a response, “Well Captain Smith found out and went to his quarters a few days after Rhodes got out of sickbay. Evidently I wasn't the only one he tried to have his way with. The next morning Smith was smiling, and the Doc was complaining about all the teeth missing from Rhodes' face, and the fact that his left orbit was fractured in four places. For the rest of the mission, the captain ordered the General to run his operations from the secondary bridge or his quarters – since it was obvious he had no intentions of commanding from the front lines.” Willow reflected, “So, I really have little problem with Buffy's colorful history.”
Rommie brightened, “Ah, so that part of your file makes more sense. During the Orion operation you were due for a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. You got passed over and transferred to the Miranda class freighter Horizon
against Captain Hawthorn's wishes. That delayed your transfer to the command sequence by seven years. You would have had your own ship by the Dominion war. And after the operation at Cardassia Prime, you were being looked at for promotion to receive an Intrepid or better Command. You should have had your own ship. I guess Rhodes interceded again?”
“He had a thing against women, all women. Really, nothing worse than 20th century Earth had, but still, very rare in 24th Century Federation terms. Prejudice takes a very long time to whittle away. You're aware that every twenty years or so there's a breakout of violence between the Israelis and Palestinians on Federation Earth, right? Still using chemical explosives and home made mortars. Some Israeli leader will get it in their thick skull to try to put a settlement somewhere on Palestinian territory, claiming privilege and justice or being prodded by some form of the extremist Christian right so that they can have their 'rapture'. No matter what triggers it, some form of Hamas will rise up to resist the oppression. Sometimes its the Hamas that get it in their heads that the Israeli's have no right to be on their land, start the aggression, and the Israeli's in their righteousness will stand up and start fighting back. Almost every generation, like clockwork someone gets the grand idea to have a little private war. Hundreds die, and finally someone does something nasty that reminds the people why war is bad, they lose the taste for it, and withdraw. The worst of it is suppressed by the Federation. But there's still enough violence to make hundreds or thousands die when ever the brush fires flare. No reason, no point other than they hate each other. Hate from conflicts so old and so unnecessary that the original reason would be lost to antiquity if they weren't so stubborn about reminding each other about it. They're getting genetically closer, year by year, of course. There's always intermarriages along the borders. A few thousand years more, you won't be able to distinguish the physical traits from one to the other. Hopefully, by then, they'll stop pointing guns at each other.
“In any case, the Horizon
wasn't a bad assignment. The Demeter
was always operating on the edge of Orion Syndicate Space. The Demeter
was a Centaur class, the hull based on the Excelsior
. They were trying to re-capture the strengths of the Miranda's
. I was on 27 away missions and 26 of those missions had casualties. I oversaw 147 missions as Ops Duty Officer during my tour, and 108 of them were against the pirates. 87 personnel who would never make it back home under my watch. That's what it means to be head of Ops in a combat zone.
“It was a pleasure to do 'Ops' on the Horizon
. I think it helped ground me. Made me a more balanced officer. And Commander Jessica Styles was a laid back Captain. She knew her career was over, basically – and was fine with it. She wasn't looking to be in command of anything more than the Horizon
, and given her record, nobody wanted her to have any more than that ship. It was
a punishment assignment for a lot of officers in the Fleet who had crossed one too many lines with the brass. The hard up ensigns and lieutenants that kept on coming through all had sticks up their ass a klick wide. And she made me her Executive Officer in addition to being her Ops officer after the first month. Oh, that burned
most of the transfers that kept on coming through the revolving transporter loop. Imagine Lieutenant Commanders reporting to a Lieutenant
for assignments! Every few months Fleet would send her a request to consider a LtC., for her first officer. She refused. I think she even lost the orders to put me in cargo/maintenance out of the command chain several times.”
Willow wistfully looked around her bridge. “We kept on upgrading the old girl. Thicker armor, better phasers. Tinkering with the intermix chamber and warp drive, tweaking the deflectors – ship was something else. There's a reason there's so many Miranda's
around, you can mod them till the cows come home. Not even the Connies
were so flexible. Every ship based on a compact-style new hull-line since has tried to recapture that, and has met with limited success. There are thousands of Mirandas
still flying, though. And she was a beautiful ship. I got my geek-on working with her. It was Commander Styles, Me, and old Thrangras in Engineering – that was the crew of the Horizon
“Then came the call for the Dominion War. All that work that went into the Horizon
, took four polaron beams to undo. Shields were modulated to handle the first three salvos – better than almost any of the other Mirandas
did. But the fourth caught the saucer edge and blew through the weakened deflectors. But we took out twelve fighters and one of the assault cruisers before we were forced to withdraw. Fortunately, we didn't have a full crew on board. Just 27 of us – damn good crew that were happy to serve under Styles. The polaron beam just vaporized a couple empty cargo units. But the damage forced us to withdraw. We didn't lose anyone, fortunately. Mostly due to Styles' stubbornness in refusing a full crew filled with cadets and fresh-from-the-academy Ensigns who would have been loitering in all the places likely to be blown up. The Polaron energy damaged 35 percent of the primary hull in some way, shape or form, but only 8 percent was completely vaporized.
“Conduit Explosions, energy backlash, atmospheric irradiation... you name it, it was in the hull. But since we were running minimal crew, everyone was in protected areas of the ship. We were able to flush the crud and keep the ship habitable. Eventually, we got everything air-tight cleaned up and were able to take on survivors. Thousands had died in that one assault – no ship that participated got away unscathed – and most of them went in with full crews – filled with cadets and Ensigns taken to pad out the empty spaces... you know – all those places on a starship like I said before. When we withdrew we were still able to evacuate about 280 personnel from less fortunate vessels, despite our damage. We stayed in the engagement zone far longer than any other ship after being damaged. Styles got her captain pip, and she had earned it. The Horizon
was decommissioned and a newer vessel, Sovereign Class, given her registry. Styles was out of the line for a year while the new Horizon
was completed, though, and they wanted my experience out there Pronto. So they put me as the Executive Officer on the Concord
. She was a Nebula class, modified for Combat Ops. And Smith had been her captain for nigh-on twenty years. Like several other captains, he'd been considered one of those commanding officers best suited for shaping future commanding officers. Revolving door of Commander after Commander had come through his bridge, and they all went on to command small and medium ships of the line. Day I walked through the main gangway, he was there in civvies, just watching the new crew flood on. I learned later that he liked to watch new crew come onboard without the interference of rank. In any case, I saw him standing to the side shortly after a harried quartermaster had given me the rushed 'welcome aboard, ask the computer for what to do next.' intro, and went over to him. First question out of my mouth was, 'Do you have authorization to be here?'” Willow smiled, “He chuckled and said, 'You'll do.'”
“Later I remember being called to his office at the end of the Dominion War. He gestured to a seat, and I sat. Shortly after he said, 'You aren't a captain in training, Commander. You've already been a Captain since the day you walked on my ship – you just never had the rank to make it stick. I've trained dozens of first officers in the nuances of command. But this was war, and I didn't need some wet-behind the ears Commander learning the ropes, I needed a first officer. I knew Styles and I know she taught you most of the hard lessons about making due with less than what you need, and making the most of what you got. You knew how to motivate the crew, make things happen and make crew that really didn't want to be there sing your song. Seven years on that Junk-bucket taught you that and more. You were ready to be captain before you stepped foot off that Miranda
. The men and women I've trained from First Officer, they've gone on to take small and medium first commands. Most in the fleet never really rise to the point of greatness – this is the lot of most Captains who serve – there are so very few great
captains but there are thousands of good
Captains. Never forget, the Federation runs on good
captains not great
ones. Had you walked through my door ten years earlier, you would have been one of them – a good
Captain – but your time with Styles tempered you far better than I ever could.'”
Willow paused for a moment before continuing her reminiscing, “I remember he pulled out a bottle of something green with purple veins in it, shook the bottle and whatever was in it turned orange, poured two glasses, and pushed one towards me. He waited until I took a sip. I never found out what the heck it was, but it tasted like vanilla crème and orange sherbert. He continued after a moment, 'I don't know for sure why the brass blocked your promotion, I've been angling for it for the last year, but they did.' My heart practically broke at that, then he continued, 'There's a project, near and dear to my heart. I'm pulling some of the big strings to put you on it – and succeeding because the brass don't really know what it is.'”
Willow composed herself, then continued, “Then Smith said: 'Their loss, my gain. Trust me, I'm far deeper in the politics than most captains are, and if you're half
as good as I think you are, you'll never be involved with the politics like I am.' I must have looked like the proverbial gaping fish. I knew he had given me commendations, and was pushing my promotion something fierce, but to hear him flat-out admit it was... comforting. To hear him say that he wanted me for a personal pet project when Fleet wanted to sweep me under a rug? That was even better. When he continued he told me, 'The project is called Andromeda...
What few people know is that I'm a closet engineer. Two men by the name of Harris and McNally are overseeing the project, and I've been helping them get it going by pushing it through my side of Fleet. Harris is Hard-Core MACO all the way, General in Charge and all that. McNally is his brother in all but blood, and one hell of an Engineer, combat certified. My heroes weren't Kirk and Garret, they were ZC, Montgomery Scott, and Trip Tucker. Although I didn't worship ZC the same way most did – Zeffie-C was likely an arrogant ass looking for a get rich scheme. To him, Warp Drive was the ticket to little drinks with umbrellas and hordes of women on his own private island. Study the man, and not the myth, and you start seeing that. Anyways, I digress... I've worked long and hard on Project Andromeda,
and when its time for Andromeda
to leave the dock? You're going to be her Captain. Not some hard-ass stuck-up fleet admiral with delusions of command ability and a personal agenda, you are going to take her and do things that only Kirk, Harriman, Garret and Picard were able to do.'” Willow's smile got wider as she thought about the history, and the memories of her alternate self. “I remember asking, 'What's that sir?' and he responded, 'Make a difference. You'll understand when you sit in that chair.'”
Willow looked at Rommie, “And here we are. Time to make a difference.”
Rommie nodded. She had known bits and pieces, of course. It was easy for an Intelligence such as herself to piece together the parts of the puzzle and figure out the strings that tied everything together. Part of hearing it from Willow's lips confirmed that this was indeed the woman who had poured life and soul into bringing the Andromeda
to life. Into bringing her to life.
Rommie checked the status of the 6 Cloaked Combat Mobile Construction Vehicles that Willow had ordered stealth-dispatched an hour earlier. The Andromeda
carried 16. A single CCMCV was fully automated and could build anything in the Federation database, assuming sufficient raw materials and resources. Everything from a single sphinx workpod to an entire Omega Class Starbase-Spacedock. Right now they were doing just that. Three Omega Class Starbase-spacedocks and twelve Alamo Block 7 Defense stations.
Time to make a difference indeed.
AN: Doing the best with what I got. I hope it is up to par. :) There's a lot of exposition here. I felt it best to give some background of the other members of the gang, both to show how they've been altered and to give some idea of what their persona's have been through. If the Andromeda
seems like a Deus-Ex Machina, that's because it was meant to be one. Its what happens when kids get together and design their dream ships.
In the real world, there is no such thing as a Deus-Ex – any power is acceptable in the realm of war so long as that power preserves the liberty of those it is intended to defend and does not needlessly waste the resources and manpower of the nation. People conveniently forget that, unlike in games and civil society where the culture demands a fair chance – in the realm of war, there is no such thing as fair, not if you're doing it right. There has to be great and terrible consequences to war, otherwise the wars will never cease. The application of overwhelming power to an enemy often saves far more lives than it destroys. Again, if done properly.
Where these powers become unacceptable is when they are used by the few to control or dominate the many. Where they become intolerable is when one segment of a society uses these tools to eradicate another segment of society without provocation, such as Hitler's assault on the Jewish people. When the tools of war are turned upon a populace that has no recourse and with utter disregard for the innocent lives affected, then that is an abuse of power. I've seen people suggest the use of nuclear weapons as a sort of giant stick. They totally forget why
nuclear weapons were created and conveniently forget the horrors associated with them. They don't remember how an entire generation lived in terror of the Cold War and the fear that it might turn hot. No one should ever consider such a weapon to be a casual tool. The same goes for the Andromeda
Also, the fan on my laptop is dying. I don't know when I'll get it replaced or if it will die before I can. My apologies in advance – as all my work is on this computer. :/
* MVAM – Multi-vector Assault Mode
– Used by the USS Prometheus as a combat based extension to saucer separation. The Federation had been experimenting with ways to increase effectiveness against enemies such as the Borg. It was discovered that the attack from the Enterprise D's Saucer section distracted the Cube long enough to allow for the battle section to perform an assault against the ship. However, the Saucer was simply intended to be an emergency lifeboat in the event that the ship were to be damaged, not as a front line attack ship. The Prometheus was designed to allow the ship to separate into three combat capable segments in order to give the ship maximum versatility in combating enemy vessels. Instead of facing a single target, the attacker would find themselves facing three independently controlled but highly coordinated ships – forcing the enemy to divide its fire across all three vessels while allowing the independent ships to coordinate attack patterns on the enemy and concentrate significant firepower.