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Runner-up: Orders and Consequences

Robert Falcon

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((Robert Falcon’s Ready Room; U.S.S. Yorktown – Earth Year 2385))

Captain Robert Falcon gave a long stare at the PADD he held, containing the results of Yorktown’s latest long-range scans. He did not want to believe them true, but knew he could do nothing else. Yorktown’s science officer, his eldest daughter Alice, knew exactly what she was looking at. This was not her first time encountering these beings, after all.

Nor was it Robert’s.

Alice’s report was kept very factual, nearly clinical in its objectivity.

At 0800 hours, long range sensors detected faint energy signatures with a close match to previously observed Fury patterns. Further analysis and additional scans have given us a 75% confidence of the presence of multiple Fury warships in the vicinity of the Hor’Chak system. While interspace weapons technology has not yet been detected, it cannot be ruled out.

Robert set down the PADD, leaning back in his chair. He was keeping news of this discovery as silent as he could until he figured out what to do about it. Many of his crew had fought against the Furies three years before. Those who had come to the ship the years following had all heard the stories, Robert was certain. He wasn’t sure if the news would be taken well that the enemy had somehow returned.

To be honest, Robert himself wasn’t taking it all that well…

Still, he knew what he had to do. While his orders did not permit him to talk to anyone else about it, they didn’t prevent him informing Starfleet. He tapped the comm controls. “Jiana, open a channel to Starfleet Command, priority one secure.”

A moment later, his XO/Helm Officer/Wife Jiana replied, “I’m on it. It’ll take a few minutes to establish the secure connection from here.”

A priority one call to Starfleet Command… He’d never thought he’d actually make one in his career.

The Furies, however… THAT was important enough.

Of all the things he had encountered in his career in Starfleet, none matched the level of fear they could inspire. He remembered the class everyone had to take back in the Academy, learning about their involvement with the peoples of the Alpha and Beta quadrants. More importantly, they learned of the two attempts made, at that point, to return, as well as the events which pushed them to a far part of the galaxy.

Robert had left that class with a bit more trepidation about what he might find when he ventured out to the unexplored regions of the galaxy.

Years later, the long lost starship Voyager made contact with Starfleet Command and reported a great many things. One of the reports Robert had been most excited to see was their encounter with the Furies, mostly due to its ending. For all intents and purposes, the Furies could be considered no longer a threat. Gone for good!

Others had not taken the news with quite the same optimism as he had… Admiral Kyle Colt, stationed in one of the further reaches of the Federation, felt that Starfleet should not rest on their laurels and had taken matters into his own hands. He’d led the ships under his command in an attempted coup against the Federation, with few people standing in his way. Robert’s ship, with him as Executive Officer in temporary command, was in the right place at the right time to see what Admiral Colt was planning and stop his attempt cold in its tracks.

However, Colt was able to remain several steps ahead of everyone. He’d always had a backup plan in case he was stopped. Though his ship was under the guns of what few ships Robert was able to draft into an impromptu defense, Colt was able to cloak and escape, leaving behind only a message for Robert that he could hear from Colt again one day.

“Robert, I have Starfleet Command over priority one secure.”

Shaken out of memory, Robert looked up and tapped the comm. “Thank you, Jiana.” He took a deep breath, turning his chair to face his desk terminal and activating it. For a moment, it showed the Starfleet symbol, the words Starfleet Command written above it, Priority One Secure Transmission written below.

Then, the image changed. A gray-haired human male with sharp blue eyes and an admiral’s insignia on his collar appeared at dead center. The room was dark, though Robert was not sure if it was simply night where the admiral was or if he had moved to a more secure room. “This is Admiral Vellan, Starfleet Command. Captain, what have you got for me?”

Robert straightened in his chair. “Admiral, we’ve picked up energy readings giving a strong possibility of Fury presence approximately 30 lightyears from the Federation border. We’re too far out to get a size or disposition of the force at this time. My intention is to close the gap and gather more intel to verify what we’re detected so far.”

Admiral Vellan blinked hard, mentally processing the report. “You wanna run that by me again, Captain?”

Robert did so, this time slowing down and giving the admiral all the details he had. Admiral Vellan nodded as Robert spoke, taking in all the information as it came. When Robert finally finished, Admiral Vellan spoke again. “I’m going to have to call for an Admiralty meeting to go over this. I need you to stand by and stay put, got it son?”

Robert nodded. “Got it, Admiral. We’ll be standing by on this channel. Yorktown out.”

The transmission ended, Robert leaning back in his chair and taking a deep breath to keep his calm. He’d expected that a problem of this magnitude would take a bit of time to get a response. He was a patient person by default… but in this case he really hoped Admiral Vellan got an answer to him quickly…

The door chime beeped, Robert looking up toward it. “Come,” he said.

The doors swished open, admitting one red-haired human. His wife looked to him, some concern on her features as her brilliant green eyes met Robert’s blues. Robert figured she had seen the transmission end, with Robert not immediately returning to the bridge. The doors swished shut behind her as she started over toward him. “What’s the word?”

“Stand by,” he replied with a bit of theatrical tone to suggest it was their current order. “Admiral Vellan has to talk it out with the other high pubahs so they can figure out how they’ll respond to it.”

Jiana grabbed one of the chairs opposing him, spinning it to sit on it backwards. “Well, at least he believed you that we saw what we saw.”

Robert shrugged. “Or decided to give be the benefit of the doubt. It could still bite me in the butt later on.” He gave a soft sigh. “I thought we were done with this…”

“Me, too,” Jiana said, reaching out to grab Robert’s hand atop the desk. “If nothing else,” she offered, “this time we know they’re coming ahead of time, instead of getting randomly ambushed by them.”

“True,” Robert admitted. He sighed, shaking his head. “But last time, we also didn’t get much Starfleet support… Can’t believe I’m admitting it, but I wish Colt were around…”

Colt had been true to his word. About three years ago, and two years after their previous encounter, a strange transmission had come in. Admiral Colt had come to recruit Robert for his real mission, stopping the Furies at the edge of the galaxy. Robert had been skeptical at first, but Colt gave sufficient evidence of their impending arrival, along with the tech he’d developed to allow a fleet of ships to burrow through the Galactic Barrier.

Robert, one of the few people to outthink Colt, was the one person Colt trusted to find the holes in his plan. Between the two of them, they managed to make a plan that worked.

Robert sighed once more. “I don’t see much chance of him coming around this time, though. He’s still a fugitive, after all.”

“True,” Jiana replied, “but Starfleet has to see the problem this time. It’s right in our backyard, plain as day.”

Robert turned to look out the viewport at the expanse of stars. “I know,” he said, seemingly distant. “Yet… why do I get the feeling they won’t?”

A long silence fell in the ready room, the pair passing the time with hands linked for mutual comfort. Finally, the intercom came alive. “Dad,” Alice’s voice spoke, “we’re getting a call back from Starfleet Command, priority one secure.”

“Thanks, Alice,” Robert responded. “Put it through in here.”

“Got it.”

Jiana pulled her hand back as Robert got situated back in his chair, giving his uniform a quick tug to remove a few stubborn wrinkles. He reached out to tap his terminal. Moments later, Admiral Vellan reappeared on his screen. His expression was… neutral. “Captain Falcon,” he started, “the Admiralty has decided that, for the time being, there will be no response to the alleged Fury presence.”

Robert’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Sir?”

“Furthermore,” he continued, “you are not to speak of the energy readings you detected with anyone. That goes for your entire crew. Do you understand, captain?”

He was silent for a moment as he attempted to process what he’d heard. “I… I understand what you’re saying, Admiral, but not the reason. Why aren’t we reacting to this?”

The admiral’s expression broke, betraying his own annoyance. “Most of the Admiralty want to ignore it, pretend you didn’t see what you thought you saw. The overall opinion was to wait until they show their hand, if they ever do, and muster forces at that time.” He shook his head. “I can’t say I agree with that opinion, but the head of Starfleet herself made the final call. Those are her marching orders. Do you understand, captain?”

Robert barely contained a sigh. “Yes, admiral, I do.”

The admiral looked at Robert for a moment longer. “I know it isn’t what you wanted to hear, son, but it’s what I’ve got. Get clear for now and be ready to fight another day. Command out.”

The admiral’s image was replaced by the logo once again, Robert slumping back in his chair and fighting to hurl the terminal across the room.

It wasn’t the terminal’s fault, after all. It was just the messenger.

Jiana was a bit more vocal about her frustrations. “Those… Those pig-headed morons! Do they have ANY idea what’s about to happen?”

Robert looked up at her, a tired expression on his features. “Maybe. Maybe they’re just scared stiff, or think that if we don’t move the Furies won’t see us, or figure we’re too tough for them to take down.” He shook his head. “And by the time they see that they’re wrong, it’ll be too late.”

“Will it?” Jiana asked. “What if we do something about it?”

He looked to his wife, eyebrows furrowed once again. “Ji, we’ve got our marching orders. Get our butts out of here and back on patrol.”

“Rob, you know how bad this could get,” she countered. “WE know how bad this could get.”

Robert’s eyes closed as he thought. “Do you really want to go through that again?” he quietly asked. “You know what we went through last time, and back then we had backup. Do you really want that again?”

((Bridge; U.S.S. Yorktown – Earth Year 2382))

The bridge rocked as another volley of enemy fire impacted the shields. Jiana held on to the command seat tightly. “Damage report!”

From the left side of the station before her, Jacen Tharen spoke up from tactical. “Shields down to 54% and recharging slowly. Port-engineering hull phaser array has been knocked out by the power feedback from the wedge.”

Another report came from the engineering station. “I’ve reports of power failures on decks 18 and 19, repair teams responding.”

Jiana swore under her breath. Yorktown’s refits were extensive, and she was a tough ship, but she hadn’t been designed with Furies in mind. Their jury-rigged shields, reformed into a wedge shape known to deflect the interspace-based fear inducing weapons the Furies favored, had wreaked havoc with their power systems.

“Where are our escorts?” Jiana asked, looking at the science station. She could see a flurry of dots, red and blue, dancing around the console’s readouts. Admiral Colt’s ships were providing as much cover as they could to allow Yorktown and her crew to do their jobs.

“Chasing down other ships,” came the reply. “One’s working back to us, the other’s a little occupied.”

It was an ambitious plan. The Furies had managed to use their artificial wormhole technology to get close to the Milky Way, getting their planet in orbit of a rogue star outside the galaxy. They planned to use the tech again to move back into the Alpha Quadrant, now that they were close enough to get an actual target to jump toward. Robert and three of their grown children, James, Alice, and Rebecca, had gone to the surface to try and sabotage the system… and send the Fury’s planet into the rogue star.

It was very risky, as the team could well still be on the planet when it fell. It was also drastic, as it was highly likely none of the Furies would be able to escape.

Jiana had little sympathy. They could have taken the hint by now that they weren’t welcome in the Alpha Quadrant anymore.

“Status of ERRS dishes?” she asked.

“Dorsal dish is aimed at the strongest interspace source. Ventral’s at the ground team.”

They had found that Yorktown’s new sensor technology, when properly configured, could disrupt the Fury interspace weapon. One of their dishes covered the fleet as best as they could. The other gave the ground team a safe haven to work from. As an added benefit, Yorktown could hear their comm chatter. Robert’s voice came over the intercom. “Rogue, we’re at the base of a large structure. Believe it to be their command center. Door is heavily reinforced. Think you can provide a key?”

A moment later, another voice came over the intercom. “I think a spread of micro-torpedoes will do the trick,” Kaitlyn, their fourth grown child, replied from Robert’s shuttle.

“That should do nicely, thanks.”

James’s impassive voice came next. “We sure this is going to work?”

“Don’t you remember anything from the stories I told you as a kid,” Robert replied. “The plucky group of heroes is always the enemy’s greatest weakness.”

((Robert Falcon’s Ready Room; U.S.S. Yorktown – Earth Year 2385))

They had survived that day. Yorktown beamed the team to safety while Rogue fled from the Fury planet as it plunged into the forming artificial wormhole. It popped back into normal space only a few light-seconds from the surface of the star and was quickly destroyed by tidal forces, falling into the fire. What few Fury ships remained fled, leaving Yorktown and Colt’s remaining fleet to burrow their way back through the Galactic Barrier.

Starfleet had scarcely believed it, but in the end simply ordered them to remain silent. None liked it, but all accepted the order.

Of course, all had been certain that the battles were done, and that the Furies were defeated.

Robert looked back to his wife, his expression sober. “You realize what might happen if we do this, right? Starfleet might decide to court-martial us for disobeying orders, if we even survive long enough for them to do it. We’ve got only whatever supplies we can muster and no allies.”

Jiana looked back, reaching out to take his hands in hers. “I never said it would be easy. Or smart. The easy, smart thing to do would be follow our orders, get out of here, and wait to see if Starfleet does something about this later… when it might be too late. What’s the RIGHT thing to do?”

The right thing… Robert sighed. “To gather up whatever resources we can, get out there, and take the Furies down before they can threaten our home.”

His wife nodded, squeezing his hands. “Now, whatever you want to do, I’ll support you. You say no and the worst comes, I won’t even say ‘I told you so’. Just tell me, Rob, what do YOU want to do?”

That’s what it really came down it, wasn’t it? What did he want to do about it?

His orders were clear. Turn around, get back to his patrol, and forget he ever saw anything. However, if the Furies were given time to build up and attack, to make this war happen on their terms, it became more likely that it would be more than Starfleet could handle.

He hadn’t built Yorktown for this… He hadn’t put this crew together for this... He hadn’t meant for HIS FAMILY to do this…

His family… There was a good chance that any who went would not return. Was he willing to sacrifice them all for this mission? Could he even make that kind of call for them?

Would they ever forgive him if he never let them have the choice to join on a hopeless mission? Could he forgive himself if anything happened to them?

They had been a team for a long time, forged in their years as a family on the Freedom and tested during their last battle with the Furies. Of anyone Robert knew who might be able to stop these… Demons… He knew that he and his family stood the best chance.

And if they couldn’t do it… who could?

Robert met his wife’s eyes. “I want to stop them. Here and now. Take the fight to the Furies, and stop them at the door.”

Jiana nodded, giving his hands one last squeeze before releasing them. “I’ll make some calls, see what kind of resources I can drum up.”

“I’ll figure out how to tell everyone,” Robert replied. “Whatever happens from here, they need to hear about this from me.”

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