Chapter 1. Preparation
Captain Michael Seals walked slowly down the corridor of Wing C in Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco. His mind filled with many thoughts. What would Admiral Parker and General Storm want from him? He did just complete a successful three-year mission aboard the USS Argo as Commanding Officer, his first run at the center chair. While on the Argo, he completed numerous surveillance operations, in conjunction with Starfleet Intelligence, keeping tabs on the Jem'Hadar along the wormhole. The missions were so covert that not even the Bajoran government and Captain Sisko aboard Deep Space Nine knew that operations were being carried out under their noses. If they did, it surely would have caused alarm among Bajoran citizens, afraid that any such actions would have caused the Dominion to attack Bajor. Captain Seals and his crew did very well and now he had no idea what Starfleet had in mind for him.
"Good morning, sir," a young Ensign said as he passed Captain Seals in the passageway.
"Good morning, Ensign," he replied as he nodded his head.
Past two more doors, he came to the office of Admiral Parker. The hatch swished open and Seals entered. The Staff Secretary stood at attention and greeted Captain Seals. "Good morning, sir. Admiral Parker and General Storm are expecting you. You can go right in."
"Thank you, Lieutenant," said Seals as he entered Admiral Parker's office.
Admiral Parker's office was adorned with many plaques and awards, along with flags adorning old ships and units he had served in. Parker had been a member of Starfleet since age seventeen and had served with honor and distinction. Parker was instrumental in many victories against the Cardassians in the border wars and was rewarded with command of Starfleet Intelligence. At forty-five years old, that was quite an accomplishment. He was not a very tall man, average in height and slim in build. Because he was a tactical and calculated thinker, he made a perfect fit for Starfleet Intelligence.
Seals walked in and stood at attention in front of Parker's desk. Admiral Parker stood up from where he was sitting with General Storm standing beside him, extending his hand toward Captain Seals. "Good to see you, Mike. How have you been?", he asked.
Seals returned the handshake firmly. "I've been well, Admiral. Thank you. General."
General Storm extended his hand to meet Seal's greeting, "Captain, glad you could make it. We have important things to discuss."
"I was wondering when we were going to get to the nitty-gritty, sir," Seals said as Parker motioned for him to sit down.
Seals sat and awaited the news ahead, wondering what he was getting himself into now. Parker had his elbows on the desk resting his chin by his clenched hands. He let out a sigh then spoke. "Mike, you did a hell of a job running around the wormhole without Sisko getting wind of you and for that I am very much impressed."
"Thank you, sir. My crew deserves a lot of credit, as do your Marines that were on board, too, General."
"Well, Mike," he continued, "We have to ask you to do another deed for Starfleet. This one just a bit more on the dangerous side."
Seals shifted in his chair, a small bead of sweat formed on his dark skinned forehead. "Sir, what do you need?"
General Storm walked from around the desk and sat in the chair next to Captain Seals. Looking at Seals, he said, "Captain, we are going to take the offensive in the situation with the Dominion. We cannot stand by while unopposed aggression is taken against helpless planets, races, and destruction of Starfleet civilian vessels. It's time Starfleet bit back."
"Mike, to put it bluntly, we want you to command a secret force to infiltrate the Gamma Quadrant and put some hurt on Dominion military facilities and installations. We hope this will put a halt to the many excursions that the Jem'hadar are making against Starfleet interests and other civilian populaces. We have been given the OK by the President himself, of course with reservations. General Storm and I have been planning this ever since the Odyssey was destroyed. That was our last Galaxy-class starship, other than the Enterprise, we had in our fleet. A damaging loss to our fleet superiority."
Seals straightened in his chair then asked, "Sir, are you saying that I'm going to be the man who gets to strike the first blow against the Jem'hadar?"
"Affirmative, Captain," responded Storm. "We wanted someone we could trust to lead this mission and we wanted someone with the resolve to take the attack to the enemy. We'll give you some fangs to bite with."
A gleam lit up in Seals eye, "Sir, am I going to get a Defiant-class vessel?"
Parker shook his head then said, "No, I'm sorry but that class of ship just didn't work out right. The only one in service is the Defiant and that is at DS9. No, we had something else in mind. I've been working very closely with the design engineers at the Mars shipyards and we've got something I think will fit your mission a little better."
"Sir, when do I get to see her?" asked Seals with excitement in his voice.
"In good time, Mike. In good time," responded Parker, "but first you need to choose an Executive Officer for your mission along with your Command Staff. Choose wisely because before they can come aboard your ship, they have to be cleared first."
"Oh, I'm sure that won't be a problem, sir. I've got just the people in mind that will fit the specs of this mission perfectly. General, I want Lt. Colonel Smith to be my Number One. He was the Unit Commandant of the Marine detachment on the Argo and he knows what it takes to lead a combat team. His discipline and combat experience will be invaluable to my success."
Parker turned to Storm, "Is he a good man, General?"
"Lt. Colonel Smith is a fine marine with great integrity and military leadership. He will complement Captain Seals in his efforts. A great combination of naval operations and ground force competence."
"OK, I'm fine with that. General, make sure you get Lt. Colonel Smith up to speed. I've got a ship to show Captain Seals," said Parker as he stood up from his chair.
General Storm stood up, came to attention, and saluted Admiral Parker. He then shook Captain Seals hand. "Captain, do us proud. You will get your mission debriefing tomorrow aboard your ship. Lt. Colonel Smith will do the honors. A lot is riding on your reputation, Captain. Your success may save millions of lives."
Captain Seals shook back, "I won't let you gentleman down. Or Starfleet. You can count on me."
General Storm picked up his black beret. His tall muscular frame glided out of the office and into the outer office.
"Well are you ready to see her?" asked Parker.
"Yes, sir. I can't wait."
"Follow me. We will take a shuttle up to the space dock and you will get to see the instrument of justice for Starfleet."
The two officers made their way out of Parker's office and took a small shuttle up to the large space dock where Captain Seals would get to see the second ship under his command. As the shuttle entered the space dock, Captain Seals saw a Nebula-class starship in dock. He wondered if that was the ship he would get until the shuttle made a quick turn and, hidden behind some transport ships, lay an Intrepid-class starship, "NCC-74661, USS Gryphon" emblazoned on the bow.
"Is that mine? An Intrepid-class cruiser?" asked Seals.
Parker put his hand on Captain Seals shoulder and said, "Mike, this is not just any Intrepid-class cruiser. This is a modified ship, an Intrepid-class heavy cruiser. The only one of its kind and the first Intrepid ship made after the Voyager. But now that they're lost, yours is the only one. Take good care of her; she should take care of you. I have made a lot of modifications to this ship but, the rest of Starfleet knows it as a normal Intrepid ship."
Seals turned his head toward Parker. "What's new?"
"We've installed experimental regenerating ablative armor, special Echo class shields that can withstand twice the amount of pounding that the Defiant's shields can take. Multiple Gatling phasers with random harmonics to ensure that the Jem'Hadar can't come up with a defense in time. Quantum, photon, and experimental particle torpedoes. And a cloaking device allowing you to fire ship weapons while cloaked. Also, the new shields allow for beaming in and out. That way, your Marines can board ships and stations. Your Marine complement will consist of seventy-five men or so. Along with your Starfleet Security teams, you should have plenty of ground forces. You determine leaders. She's the best the fleet has. Take good care of her."
Captain Seals was in awe. Why was he the one getting such a fine vessel? Why
was he picked to lead a crew deep into the heart of the most deadly enemy
outside of the Borg? Whatever the reasons, his inner drive spurred him to take
advantage of this situation and get some well-deserved retribution for
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Gryphon Story, © 1997 by William D. Smith, is reproduced from
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