Part of USS Century: 2. First Contact Protocols

Arriving at the Edge of the Unknown

USS Century
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A little under two months had eclipsed for the crew of the USS Century after having wrapped up a spontaneous mission of intrigue near the Romulan border. In that time, the crew had whiled away the time pursuing the mundane tasks that never seemed to disappear no matter how much time was devoted to handling them. With the ship having no other mission than the other side of the Badlands, everyone from the ship’s commander on down hand ample time to address things that would get pushed aside in favor of dealing with a mission at hand. This meant that the only part of the ship that saw a great deal of action was in the section devoted to the Yeomen aboard, who found themselves inundated with administrative duties to fulfill in a volume not seen on the ship in well over a year. Compared to them, all of the other departments seemed to be on vacation for how little actual work they’d been called upon to do.

It wasn’t until the Century passed through the Badlands and began the comparatively short journey from the border of the stellar phenomenon to the starbase that would be their de-facto home port until such time as they were called elsewhere in the Federation that the crew returned to a much busier posture. While one couldn’t call a trip through the highly volatile region filled with plasma storms and gravitational anomalies easy, the combined efforts of all the departments made the trip seem that way to anyone who hadn’t been involved. Even those who witnessed it first hand had come away from the experience with a renewed sense of respect for how well the crew was able to operate cohesively.

And so it was that the USS Century found itself in the area known as the Thomar Expanse, potential enemies on all sides of her as she slipped through the vast emptiness of space toward her stop over destination, Deep Space 47. Such considerations flitted through the mind of the vessel’s commander, Captain Gar’rath, as he sat in the center chair of the Bridge. That wasn’t the first time he’d made such musings, over the past two months he’d contemplated the journey and what his crew may be facing prior to ever reaching ‘open’ space. As peaceful as the area might appear on official reports, one never could truly known what might be going on behind the veil of secrecy that surrounded each power that flanked the narrow corridor in which the ship was currently traversing.

“Approaching Deep Space 47, Captain,” a voice rippled in the periphery of the Gorn’s mind, the words blending with his thoughts in such a way that he hadn’t actually registered they had come from outside of them. A brief pause ensued, followed shortly by his Executive officer’s hand suddenly patting his bicep. The tactile sensation alerted him that he’d detached a bit farther from reality than he’d intended to, his head jerking away from the arm that had been holding him upright.

“Bring us out of warp and take up a holding position outside of docking range,” Gar’rath ordered, his mind still a bit of a jumble of dissonant thoughts.

“Everything alright?” Cmdr. Peters asked from her position nearby. The Captain turned to her, unsure how to respond to her question. He weighed the various responses that actually applied to her question before settling on admitting that he’d been lost in thought but that it wasn’t anything to worry about. His answer was greeted with an empathetic smile and a nod from the woman, her attention turning toward the man who was manning the helm.

“Lieutenant Connor, how are you enjoying bridge duty?” Abigail inquired of the man who’d spoken up a moment ago.

Connor had only recently been added to the rotation of Flight Control officers who manned the CONN station during the duty day. He’d been added to the list following his admirable performance on an away mission he’d been apart of that Cmdr. Peters had also joined. He smiled awkwardly at suddenly being called upon to give his opinion of the duty, he’d just been complaining to his roommate the day before about how stressful it was to be on the Bridge with all of the Senior Staff watching him, judging him, evaluating him. 

A nervous chuckle escaped his lips as he responded, “It’s certainly a unique experience…”

The uncertainty in his voice didn’t slip past the ship’s XO, her lips starting to float upward as she continued, “At least you can say you’ve flown a starship through the Badlands without getting a scratch on her. The last time I went through, I don’t think we made it an hour before hitting another plasma storm.”

Zac looked back over his shoulder, “Were you at the CONN at the time?”

“No, it was my first tour as an Executive Officer, I had to pull the pilot out of the chair after the fourth storm and show her how to avoid them,” Abby smirked as she replayed the memory in her head.

“Oh…” the man remarked sheepishly before turning his attention back to his console to adjust their course and speed. The view in the front of the compartment shifted, going from the streaking star field of warp travel to that of a static image of the stars relative to their place in space. The form of a Narendra-class space station hung imposingly in the center left of the screen, the ships around it looking much small against the much large man-made object.

Capt. Gar’rath swiveled about slightly to address the woman manning the Communications console, “Ensign Zinith, hail the station and inform them of our arrival. See if you can arrange for me to contact the area commander for an in-brief.”

“Aye sir,” the young woman nodded as she returned her attention to her console to carry out the request.

As the Gorn began to return to a forward facing direction, his eyes fell on Cmdr. Peters as she gave him a rather amused look. Gar’rath cocked his head to the side slightly as if to silently question the source of her odd facial expression.

“Do you think they’ll just return our hail, or ask you to board the station to meet them?” Abby inquired, her lips still playfully upturned.

“Either way will work. We aren’t going to be docking with the station as it stands, it would be just as easy for us to have a conversation via subspace,” the Captain shrugged off the question disinterestedly.

“You’re so detached from it,” the woman said with a laugh, “I suppose it doesn’t even really register with you since you see us everyday. But your people aren’t exactly an everyday sight to us. I was just curious to know what you thought about your odds of being asked to be seen in the flesh rather than on a screen.”

A low rumble issued from the Gorn’s chest, “I am not some spectacle…”

“I didn’t mean it in that way,” Abby assured him, “I’m just curious about your take on how curious folks are to see you out here where, realistically speaking, no Gorn has been before.”

“You just ripped that from the Enterprise, didn’t you?” Gar’rath narrowed his eyes at his XO.

Peters burst into laughter, “You caught me…”

The Captain was about to say something when Ens. Zinith spoke up from her station, “Incoming message from the station, sir.”

“What is it, Ensign,” Gar’rath turned his attention back to the Betazoid officer.

“We’ve been asked to maintain our position while they route your request up. According to the message, we should hear something either today or tomorrow at the latest,” the woman responded.

“Very well. Helm, ensure our orbit is stable and that we aren’t going to impede any incoming or outgoing station traffic,” the Gorn said as he swiveled about one more time, “XO, I’ll be in my Ready Room. If they contact us before the end of the shift, have it sent to me there.”

“Will do, Captain,” Abby nodded.

With his expectation set, the Captain pushed himself out of the center chair and headed down the platform to his Ready Room.