Chapter 4: Shakedown
The Gryphon streaked through space cruising at a safe speed of warp nine, emergency speed on most Starfleet vessels but safe for the newest invention of the fleet. The Command Staff and Department Heads met in the Ready Room for their debriefing and mission assignments. Captain Seals stood by a map on the view screen and had his laser pointer in hand.
"All right, officers, this is the skinny. As you know, we have been given the unenviable task of slamming it to the Dominion, with this ship as the strong arm of the fleet. I handpicked all of you to serve aboard and I expect only the finest," he said as he paced to his left.
"You are responsible for the lives of the crew members under your departments and I am responsible for you and them, so I don't want any unnecessary casualties or incidents. I am confident in your abilities or you wouldn't be sitting in those chairs right now; you are some of Starfleet's finest. I am proud to be your Captain. With you and me working as a team, we will deal a fatal blow to our enemy at hand."
Seals walked over to the view screen again, pointing the laser pointer at the wormhole projected on the map. "Our first mission is to dock at Deep Space Nine where we will have a one day liberty before departing for the Gamma Quadrant. Captain Sisko thinks that we are going on some type of survey mission and won't suspect anything; Starfleet Intelligence has seen to that.
"Department Heads, you are responsible for your crews' conduct on board the station. I don't want them starting any fights or losing all their money on Dabo girls and booze. You got that, Urban and Colonel?"
Colonel Smith adjusted in his seat and punched Urban on the arm and laughed, "Yes, sir. Don't worry about my Marines. We can take care of ourselves,"
Seals smiled a little. "I know. That's what I'm afraid of. Keep a tight leash on your people and maintain confidentiality. Too much liquor and someone might talk."
The officers murmured a bit but settled down.
"Now, after leaving Deep Space Nine, we will enter the wormhole and attack target Alpha Omega Six, which is a suspected Dominion weapons compound, light infantry forces, and small corvette-class fighters. We cloak in, take care of business, and move on to our next target. Any questions?" asked Seals.
"Sir, what role will security forces play in this mission?" asked Urban.
"Colonel," said Seals as he pointed to his first officer for an explanation.
Smith stood up. "OK, here's the sit rep. We have seventy-five combat-ready Marines on board. Their main mission is simply to kill, period. These men and women will be going in hard and fast and taking names along the way. Your job is to make sure that the ship is properly protected while the Marines are downstairs dancing with the enemy. Thus rule one and two apply very much, because it will be my ass down there leading those teams. So I am depending very much on your expertise as a starship security expert to make sure nothing happens to the Captain, the crew, and most of all this ship we will call home."
Urban nodded and Smith continued, "Now, were gonna be taking on a lot of ships in ship-to-ship combat and that is where you come in, Engineering. Marchant, you have to make sure there is power when needed and make sure that the transporters are on-line so we can beam people in and out quickly. Because if me or any of my men are stranded on some rock because the transporters are off line, there is going to be major hell to pay. Got it?"
Marchant looked at the Colonel intently then said, "Don't worry, Sir. This ship will be like a well-oiled machine with all pistons banging, if you catch my drift."
Smith smiled as he rested his hands on the table. "I like the way you think, Marchant. Good. Now Medical, your job is plain and simple: you make sure you fix my boys who take a beating. I know this is no cake walk and those are some of the toughest hombres around, but those Jem'Hadar are some tough monkeys and if my men are wounded, it's up to you to fix 'em so they can fight again."
Warren swivelled in his chair and said, "Sick bay is ready for anything, Colonel, but I hope we don't have to use it for your men or anyone on this ship."
Smith sat down then nodded toward Seals. Seals sat down in his chair and folded his hands. He then said, "Look, the rest of you know your jobs. Commander Hovey, your detailed reports on the Dominion and Jem'Hadar are very valuable and once the teams look them over we will be tactically sound. Lt. Higdon has implemented the Minos computer system so the ship is improved over what it was. Commander Johnson is gonna fly this ship like no one else and Commander VanEseltine is gonna make sure that we have communications with each other on the ship and to our boys on the ground. If we all do our jobs this should run smooth as silk. Now, this ship is unlike any in Starfleet. It looks like an Intrepid-class ship, but it boasts a lot more goodies. Read your reports and you will find out the capabilities of our ship and know that we are in for one hell of a ride."
"Sir, why exactly are we taking the offensive?" asked Jag officer Fitzwater. Starfleet has never taken this posture before."
"Good question, Eric. The answer is summed up in one word: lives."
Fitzwater looked puzzled. "Lives?"
Seals nodded. "Yes, lives. Millions of lives are at stake. Millions have perished or fallen under Dominion control and we are gonna be the first prong of a multi-prong attack to seize control of power from the Dominion and return it to the rightful people who have been oppressed."
Fitzwater rubbed his chin. He understood the implications and was satisfied. Starfleet was taking the necessary initiative to stop the bleeding before it starts, but by causing some bleeding of its own to do so.
"Any other questions?" asked Seals.
The officers shook their heads and said no. "Good. Then return to your posts. We have to run a little shake down on this baby to see what she's got," said Seals as he stood up from his chair, followed by the rest of the crew.
"Dismissed," said Seals and the department heads filed out of the ready room.
"Bill, how do you think it went?" asked Seals.
Smith stood by his chair, leaned on the table, and said, "Well, Mike, I think they know what is expected of them but I feel like they are afraid more of not doing their job right than they are of fighting the Dominion."
Seals nodded in response. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I have a good feeling that they will do fine. I just hope the stuff doesn't hit the fan too soon because I don't think too many of these people have any combat experience like you or me."
Smith stood up straight and adjusted his camouflaged coat. "They'll be fine, Mike. Now, I'm gonna go up to the bridge and run some weapons tests and some readiness drills to see how much we have to work on. Not much longer till we get to see Sisko."
"I know. I never met the man but I'm interested in seeing his Science officer. I hear she's one hot tamale!" said Seals with a grin.
Smith chuckled a little. "Yeah. Well, I got my eyes set on a couple of Dabo girls. If what some of my fellow officers tell me is true, there's one there named Leeta who would be quite an interesting conversationalist, if you catch my drift."
Seals walked over, put his hand on Smith's shoulder, and said, "Liberty awaits, my jarhead friend. Enjoy it while we get it, because soon we'll be knee deep in Jem'Hadar and we won't have time to think about women or anything but self preservation."
Smith and Seals walked out of the ready room and onto the bridge.
Commander Johnson sat at the helm. She had dropped the Gryphon out of warp speed so they could run some weapons drills. "Sir, we are now at one-half impulse power," she said as she pushed some buttons on the helm.
"Very good. Petty Officer Post, launch drones. Arm them to fire phasers at one-half efficiency and load them with battle strategy Gamma One."
"Yes, sir. Drones launched," said Post as she enabled the combat drone system.
Two drones, emitting holographic images of Jem'Hadar warships appeared in view, flying off far enough to start the simulation.
"Sir, I'm picking up two vessels bearing Mark 66.1," said Urban.
"Identify," responded Seals.
"Sir, there are two Jem'Hadar Raiders closing in," replied Urban.
"On screen," said Seals.
The view screen lit up and showed two Jem'Hadar raiders closing in tight formation.
"Red alert!" yelled Smith as he tightened in his chair.
"Open hailing frequencies," ordered Seals.
"Sir, they are not responding," replied VanEseltine.
"All righty, then. Shields up. Power to phasers."
Urban pushed some buttons on his console then said, "Shields up. Weapons armed."
The first of the drones fired a long burst of phaser fire which hit the starboard shields. The ship rocked a bit but only a jostle.
"Commander Johnson, defensive pattern Echo Lima. Execute!" ordered Seals and the Gryphon tilted side ways avoiding the other phaser blast.
"Fire Gattling phasers on my mark . . . Mark!" yelled Seals and Urban fired.
The Gattling phasers came to life spitting fourth randomly harmonized beams in multiple bursts slamming into the holographic raider sending it tumbling. "Good shot, Chief. Now target the second ship."
The second ship evaded another blast from the Gattling phasers but caught a blast from another phaser bank, tearing through the port shields. The first ship regained its composure and came around for another run, phasers blasting away.
Smith was monitoring shield power and noticed the phasers were barely making a dent, these new shields were holding off quite a licking. "Sir, shield power is down to only 96%. Suggest increasing drone phaser power to peak levels," said Smith.
"Petty Officer Post, increase drone phaser power to full," said Seals.
"Sir, I put the drones on random increases and they are at full efficiency. The weapons are having very little effect on our shields."
"How many drones do we have on board?" asked Smith.
LtJg Anderson looked at her computer screen and said, "Sir, we still have six left in shuttle bay two."
"Good. Chief, target the two raiders with a quantum torpedo and plasma torpedo and fire at your discretion," said Seals.
Urban locked ships and fired. Two torpedoes, one blue and one green, shot forth out of the torpedo tubes and blew the two raiders to pieces. The hologram images disappeared and the drones, as small as they were, disintegrated under the immense blast of the torpedoes.
"Stand down Red Alert," said Smith.
The ship's standdown came into place and Seals stood up from his chair.
"Good job, people. The shakedown was pretty successful. We still have more to do but for now, we will go to Deep Space Nine for some well-deserved liberty. Commander Johnson, lock in coordinates and take us there, warp factor nine."
"Warp factor nine. Aye aye, sir. Coordinates locked and ready," acknowledged Johnson.
|• Honor Among Warriors: The
Gryphon Story, © 1997 by William D. Smith, is reproduced from
the April 1997 issue of Gryphon Trek
Gazette with permission.|
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