5: State of the Union
Willard watched as the acting senior staff filtered in and sat down. While he wasn't overly comfortable with a Romulan being involved but he trusted MacLeod's judgement and understood that it was required given to their current situation.
"Alright let's get started." He turned to MacLeod, "First, as of this date, I'm issuing a field promotion to Lieutenant Commander MacLeod to the rank of full Commander. Once my time is up, it is pre-set that his security clearance will be changed to Alpha-three, allowing him access to the data needed to fully captain a federation starship."
MacLeod didn't look too happy at the news, but accepted that it had to be done.
"As for the way you have all handled things, I can only say that I am grateful to have such a brave and courageous crew." He turned to look at D'Mora. "I'm sure Captain Mirok would say the same if he was here." D'Mora smiled slightly, sad at having to think about the memory of her now dead commander and other ship-mates. "Now, how are the repairs proceeding?"
"The warp drive is on-line, however we will only be capable of warp two-point-five for now. Without a complete overhaul I do not believe we can risk going any faster."
Willard nodded. "Well done Lieutenant, your people have done an excellent job." Varik nodded in gratitude. "What about the local space?"
"The nearby systems are lacking in any real signs of habitation." Stated Ku, who had taken over the duties of the operations manager at MacLeod's request. "The remaining science staff have come up with an initial analysis of the 'jump-gate', as they've taken to calling it. The report has been forwarded to both you and Commander MacLeod for future reviewing."
"Ok, defensive capabilities?"
MacLeod grunted as Havaris started to speak; "Shields are fried; we'll be lucky to get them back online without at least a six month overhaul, in a dry-dock. As it is, we can't repair them to any real degree."
"What about the S.I.F.'s?" asked a worried Ku.
"The integrity fields are on a different system which, while damaged, is working within acceptable parameters." Stated Varik, since it was more an engineering question than a security one.
"Ok, shields are out." Confirmed Willard. "What about armour and weapons?"
"Phasers came back online with the warp core. We're basically out of torpedoes, maybe a dozen photons, and a handful of trans-spatials, but that's it for now. Given time we can siphon off anti-matter from our reserves to replace the losses, but until we know how long we're going to be stuck here, I'm recommending against that."
Willard looked at MacLeod and they shared a brief look, "Very well. But once we're under way, siphon off enough antimatter to take us back to fifty photons, just in case."
"Aye sir. As for the armour, we should be able to fully deploy it right now, but given to the damage to our outer hull, my team suggests we'll only have about fifty to sixty percent effectiveness."
"How soon could it be brought up to full power?" asked D'Mora.
Havaris shook his head, "Without a dry-dock, I'd estimate a year plus. And even then, only to maybe eighty, eighty-five percent at best."
"So we really need to find a repair dock…." Willard left the sentence hanging to see what these junior officers who had been thrust into a situation that even he had no idea how to deal with.
"The asteroid field." Everyone looked at Ku who started to sink into her seat until she looked at MacLeod and he nodded for her to continue. "Well, the asteroid fields contain significant amounts of Dilithium and other key elements, and several look small enough for us to, in theory, be able to mine out and convert into a small base."
D'Mora smiled at the young ensign, "Crafty, the asteroids were once used by the Empire for mining in our early days, and by hollowing a medium sized one we gain a hidden base. And as the asteroid field is far enough from the planets, we are unlikely to be detected by any passing ships."
"Indeed." Stated Varik, trying to not look at the Romulan sitting across from him. "If we are to be stranded here for a significant amount of time, it would allow us to time to rebuild the ship, and if we are here for a large amount of time, even consider building a few smaller starships."
"Are you sure that's wise?" asked Drake, who, until now had been silent. "We have barely enough crew to man the Vanguard and you're talking about building more ships!"
"Actually ensign, an Akira-class needs only a minimum of one hundred and seventy-five to run at an acceptable level of efficiency. Given that, including our 'guests', we have two hundred and sixty-two crew members, we could field one or two smaller class ships, say a Nova or Defiant class, and suffer acceptable losses in crew efficiency while expanding our defensive capabilities."
"Well, that's something that you'll have to consider at a later date." Stated Willard, trying to keep the conversation on track. "For now we'll scan the asteroid fields to find suitable candidates for initial mining and, possible, future adaption into a repair dock. For now, we need to discuss the local ships and establish rules of contact."
"Will the Prime Directive still be in effect?" asked Havaris.
Willard looked at MacLeod, "I cannot say if it should or shouldn't be applied, as I feel that it will need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis by Commander MacLeod and the rest of you. I will however state that it should be used, as it was in Kirk's time, as a guideline."
Willard watched as the others all looked at MacLeod, and he withered under their gaze. Willard knew he needed to talk to MacLeod, he knew how un-ready and un-willing his new XO was for this. He just hopped that he had the time to try and prepare the young officer for the burden he would have to carry.
"Now, let's have an overview of the locals."
Everyone turned to Havaris and Drake. Havaris spoke first, as the images of the initial ships that had been detected appeared on the viewscreen.
"Most ships, while equal to or larger than the Vanguard, are primitive. Energy readings from the biggest compare to the old NX -class, but with weapons comparable to even older classes."
"So not a threat then?"
Havaris shook his head, "Theoretically if they caught us with our shields and armour down, and were able to carry out a first strike, ten to one. If we have our shields up…. Target practice at best, a waste of time at worst. Though, we have to assume that their military ships rate a lot higher up, but without a scan of such ships, we can only make educated guesses."
"And the spider?" Ku tried not to shiver as the image appeared on the screen.
"Energy readings comparable to a Constitution-class, but we believe that was a low level shot since we would not use a full powered phaser shot in the same situation.
"So upper range…"
"Comparable to our phasers at best."
"Not good. So what else do we know about that ship?" Asked D'Mora. Havaris turned to Drake, to allow the ensign to take over the briefing.
"Not much as the Jindo only used passive sensors, as per your orders. What we do know is the ship is bio-organic in nature and is seemingly alive as we only detected one, maybe two, life-forms inside."
"Similar but different. Unfortunately, we did determine two things that are worrying."
"Only two?" muttered Ku.
"One, the ships appears to be thousands, if not tens of thousands of years old. I say appear, as the readings were inconclusive. However, if the readings were correct, then the second life-sign was human."
There was a few gasps as the senior staff as they imaged a human piloting that ship. Everyone stared at the screen in shock and disbelief.
"Brilliant." Muttered D'Mora. "No Vulcans, nor Romulans, nor Klingons but you Humans are here. Just bloody brilliant."
"Yellow Alert, yellow alert. Captain to the bridge."
Everyone stood up and filed out of the briefing-room, worried at the sounding of the alarm, and hoping it wasn't the black-spider ship.