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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 76
06-02-2011, 08:59 PM
“There she is now,” Tora pointed off to the right as the eyes of the other two followed her hand.

Jarek was aware of his mouth falling slightly open but didn’t care. The ship coasted into a berth almost directly in front of their viewport.

“I had them move her over so you could give her the once over,” Tora was grinning broadly now, noting her captain’s response. “Hope-class, modified. She’ll do Warp 9.7 or better once Marissa gets a hold of her.”

He’d been told that he’d likely get a Research vessel for his next tour of duty and had resigned himself to the image of one of the “golf-ball ships”. Their spherical primary hulls, reminiscent of the Daedalus-class cruisers from Starfleet’s early years, were ungainly but practical, allowing much more space for laboratory and medical facilities; they had broad engineering sections with sizable shuttle bays and nacelles perched above. That was what he had expected but not this.

The ship before him was no “golf-ball”. It was graceful, its lines fluid. The primary hull was ovoid and the deflector dish made up the lower third of it. The top third was a huge sensor array; a glittering jewel of polished surfaces and crystal facets. The engineering section seemed to swoop out from the primary hull like the flourish of an artist’s brush and the nacelles were sleek, its pylons almost like wings, spreading effortlessly from the ship’s dorsal ridge.

“The U.S.S. Archimedes, Captain, NX-281970.”

“NX?” Jarek asked almost absently. “She’s a prototype?”

“Well, she was. You’re not the first one to kick the tires, but she’s definitely low-mileage,” Jarek was snapped out of his reverie by his XO’s decidedly Terran turn of phrase. He forgot sometimes that she had been raised on Earth just like him when her parents, two of them at least, had relocated there just before her birth. “And she’s not just a pretty face. Top of the line tetryon weaponry, quantum torpedoes, a sensor suite that can count the hairs on a Ferengi Blood Flea from orbit, all the comforts of home and aesthetic style to boot!”

Armstrong raised an eyebrow and regarded his XO, “I realize you are just doing your job, excellently as usual, but there’s something you’re not telling me about this ship. What makes her so special to you?”

Tora cheeks flushed bluer, “She Andorian, sir. Designed by Echis th’Garas.”

Jarek whistled quietly, “I’ve seen some of his fluidic sculptures and the monastery he built on Bajor. I didn’t know he was a shipwright as well.”

“He isn’t,” Tora was positively bursting with enthusiasm. Jarek had never seen her like this. The words tumbled forth, “This was a one-time deal. A lark, really, to see if it could be done. Some people say it was a wager with the Admiral in charge of the Utopia Planitia shipyards, but who knows?” She let out a breath, almost as if she had been holding it the whole time.

“It’s one thing to design a ship, “ piped up Karisa, “but to actually build it “on a lark” as you put it? That’s a little much. And why name it for an ancient Terran mathematician and engineer if it was designed by an Andorian?”

“Echis has major pull with the politicians back on Andoria. Made it clear it would be insulting not to build it, a ‘crime against art’. Made such a stink of it, it practically turned into a diplomatic incident. I think the name was a face-saving move by Starfleet Command. But here she is. And she’s all ours!” Tora caught herself and looked at Captain Armstrong abashed, “All yours I mean, Captain. Excuse my enthusiasm.”

Jarek smiled indulgently at his XO. “’Ours’ is fine, Commander. After all, she’ll be our home for the next 3-5 years.”

Tora looked up mischieviously, like a child on Christmas Eve caught peeking at the presents, “I’ve arranged a tour, if you like. I can show you all the best points. It’ll make getting settled in all the easier.”

“As long as we’re done before 19:00 hours. We still owe the Avalon a proper send-off. You’re making me feel positively unfaithful to the old girl!” Jarek chuckled as he and Karisa followed Tora out of the lounge towards the turbolift to the shuttle bay.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Tora had spoken softly, but Admiral Armstrong had to keep himself from jumping slightly as he was roused from his musings.

They were in a turbolift whose outward face was transparent aluminum allowing passengers to look out into the drydock’s many moorings. It moved slow enough so you could enjoy the view if that was your wont. “Keep your money,” he chuckled as he tapped his temple, “The mind. It’s the first thing to go, don’t you know?”

Tora smiled, she knew what he’d been thinking about; she knew him so well. “There she is,” she said pointing out of the turbolift. “The Adamant. Tactical escort retrofitted with every bell and whistle Starfleet has to offer. Enough heavy phaser cannons to punch a hole though a Vo’Quv; torpedo bays with variable launch modules, quantum, transphasic, chroniton, you name it, she’ll shoot it; the fastest warp drive you can pack into the hull; Uzaveh’s own shield emitters; she’ll turn on a strip of latinum and give you 18 slips in change; and all with multiple redundancy and every little party favor Marissa could pull out of the Borg bag of dirty little tricks.

“Oh, and,” she tapped her combadge but said nothing. As he looked on, the image of the Adamant wavered and faded completely from view. A moment later, it wavered back in, “a cloaking device; she won’t fire cloaked but then where’s the fun in that?. There are more than a few Romulans who’d like a look under the hood of our baby here. Thank you, Chief Lassiter.”

“No problem, Commander,” Chief Engineer Commander Marissa Lassiter’s voice sounded small and tinny coming from Tora’s combadge. Armstrong had to smile at Tora’s use of Terran colloquialisms. He knew she did it to raise his spirits.

The U.S.S. Adamant was a relic of another time, a time he wished had not come again. It had served with distinction in the Dominion Wars, mostly as a down-and-dirty scrapper. She was a brawler then and she was a much the same now, only now she was tougher, faster, and sneakier. Heaven help anyone who got on her bad side. She even looked mean. Her Vigilant-style pylons jutted forward like horns or tusks; her Gallant-class nacelles were hugged close to the hull, their Bussard collectors throbbing a baleful red; her hull was a dingy grey with dark red markings, like dried blood on a predator’s muzzle. She looked like what she was, a weapon.

They were going behind enemy lines. The best of his crew from the Resolute plus a few hand-picked specialists were even now shuttling over and getting settled in. Hit-and-run, strike and fade away, this was a mission of war. He sighed. Was this why he had joined Starfleet?

He suddenly reached down and took Tora’s hand without looking at her and gave it a squeeze. She squeezed his hand back and their hands parted. “I hate this war,” he said simply. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tora’s head nod ever-so-slightly. The rest of the turbolift ride was spent in companionable silence.