Captain McMillan’s log, first entry.
It’s been several years since the Dominion War ended, but at times like these, it all comes back to me. To lose a colleague, a friend… to not know exactly what happened to her… it wasn’t easy in wartime, to live with the uncertainty, but at least back then I couldn’t afford to worry about what might have happened, since there was always another Dominion patrol to avoid. Now though… I find myself laying in my bunk, unable to sleep, thinking about what happened to Slade.
I’m not sure these thoughts are supposed to be in an official Starfleet log… what am I saying, of course they’re not. But it’s clear when Starfleet sent us here, that they’re not interested what happens here, as long as we get the job done. They proved that when they gave us these old ships.
Well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Several years ago, Solaris Station was constructed in a far away region, near the infamous Briar Patch. It grew and it expanded, and people slowly began to find their way there. Traders, travelers, scientists… but recently, also smugglers, pirates and others with bad intentions.
Solaris asked Starfleet for protection, but of course Starfleet didn’t have any ships to spare. They did, however, have three capable captains. Dominion War veterans. War heroes, whatever they called us. We were ordered to report to Starfleet Command, where we met with Admiral Daporté. I remember she had a mysterious smile on her face when the three of us walked in.
It’s no secret that we’ve not always been friends with Starfleet Command. We got the job done, but we did it in our own ways. Sometimes that meant threading the fine line between what was allowed and what wasn’t, and sometimes that meant breaking through just about every rule in the rulebook. Slade was exceptionally good at that…
But I digress. Harry Sørensen, Demeter Slade and myself were standing in San Fransisco, in front of Admiral Daporté’s desk… and she just smiled. “I have an assignment for the three of you,” she said, leaning back. The way she spoke… it still gives me chills. “We’re sending you to a remote area near the Briar Patch. Solaris Station, ever heard of it?”
None of us had. But that didn’t matter: we were eager to get underway again, for we’d been stuck planet-side long enough.
“Your mission: to protect Solaris Station and the surrounding area of space against whatever threats may be out there,” Deporté clarified, before she added one phrase that surprised all three of us: “…by any means necessary.”
Harry, Demeter and I just looked at each other, before glancing back at Daporté. Since I’m considered to be the most diplomatic of the three, I decided to ask the question that was on all our lips: “When you say ‘by any means necessary’…”
I didn’t even have a chance to finish the sentence. The mysterious smile only grew on Daporté’s face as she answered the question. “I mean what I said. By any means necessary. Starfleet believes that in the coming years, Solaris *might* become a valuable trading outpost, and we don’t want anything happen to it. That’s where you come in.” At our surprised faces, she leaned forward. “You’ve made a career out of getting the job done, though more often than not, you did that by breaking Starfleet’s rules and regulations. Well, now you’ve got a chance to do it your own way, without us holding you back… as long as you keep Solaris safe.”
Harry’s enthusiasm kept him from keeping his mouth shut. “You can count on us, Admiral.”
Daporté leaned back in her chair again, and put her hands together. “I hope so, Captain. For now, I suggest you get underway. It’s a long trip to Solaris. Your ships are located in spacedock.” When she said this, the smile turned into an almost vicious grin. “Good luck.”
Where I’d been elated before, when I saw the smile I found myself fearing what was ahead. As it turns out, I had every reason.
“What the hell is this?” Slade shouted the moment we saw which ships Starfleet Command had chosen to assign to us. Harry and I were similarly displeased. Instead of the mighty Galaxy class ships, the sleek Intrepid class ships or the state-of-the-art Sovereign class ships, we were given something more… archaic. Far more archaic.
Before us, in spacedock, lay three ships. From the looks of them, they were very, very old. These were a Hunter class attack vessel, and two Artemis class frigates. Not only were they *much* smaller than a starship, they were also nearly two hundred years old. Back then, these ships had been experiments: filled with the latest technology in response to the Xindi attack. Now though, they were just obsolete.
Starfleet had found them in a storage facility somewhere, collecting dust. Instead of scrapping them though, they knew that right now, Starfleet needed every ship it could get their hands on, even if it was old.
Of course, we returned to Admiral Daporté almost immediately to protest. We complained, we went over her head, we even threatened to blackmail her, but she wouldn’t budge. Instead, the angrier we became, the more engineers she assigned away from our ships. In the end, we had no other choice but to accept the inevitable, and get to work on updating those buckets of bolts that were now our ships.
Months passed, and the most incredible thing happened. I found myself actually starting to enjoy working on my vessel. The more I cleaned it up and upgraded its components, the more familiar it became. I started seeing upsides to being assigned to this ship: it had quite some firepower, it could run circles around most starships… and then of course, there was the shape: removed from all the defective components, dust and cobwebs, this ship was beautiful. It wasn’t long before I named her: USS Odyssey.
It came as no surprise to me that my colleagues had similar experiences. Sørensen named his ship the USS Franklin, while Slade grudgingly gave the name USS Nexus to her ship.
About three months later, we were ready to go underway. With no crew other than ourselves, we started our warpengines, and set a course for Solaris. It took several weeks, but the time was well spent getting to know our ships better. It was strange: I found myself connecting to the Odyssey in ways I hadn’t ever connected with other ships I commanded.
When we arrived at Solaris, we docked, and immediately set to work on getting to know the Station’s crew. After all, since we didn’t have a crew of our own, we figured the Solaris crewmembers would occasionally jump in. Travelers and adventure seekers were fair game too, as far as we were concerned. It didn’t matter that they weren’t in Starfleet: Admiral Daporté told us to do this our way… well, we would!
It took us several weeks more to get our ships ready for our actual mission: to protect Solaris Station. Slade got the Nexus up and running first, so she went ahead and patrol the out edges of the sector.
Hours later – I was in the engine room, re-aligning the matter / energy converters to create a bigger boost to the warpdrive – I got a call from Harry. When I met up with him, he was as white as a sheet. “She’s gone,” he merely said, showing me the readings on a PADD. “Slade, the Nexus… there’s no sign of them. She’s just… disappeared.”
Naturally, we took our ships out immediately. It didn’t matter that they weren’t ready for combat yet: we *had* to find Slade. We spent hours out there… days. Ultimately, we had to return to Solaris, as the engines of both the Odyssey and Franklin were overheating. As we headed back, I vowed that we would one day find Slade… and find out what happened to her.
So… that’s it, really. It’s been two weeks ago since Slade’s disappearance. The Odyssey is still having difficulties with her engines, so I haven’t been able to take her out yet, but I did join Sørensen on the Franklin’s maiden voyage. We thought we’d found a trace of the Nexus, but… as it turns out, it was an old space probe, that’d gotten semi-sentient, or something like that. Very interesting, but my mind wasn’t really into it.
Hopefully I’ll get the Odyssey up and running soon. Then, we’ll have two ships out there, protecting Solaris Station… and searching for the Nexus. Because, mark my words, we’ll find her.
Captain RoBobby McMillan, USS Odyssey,