USS Luna, Standard date May 22, 2411; Captain's Quarters, Deck 2
"Ah, frak." Arachnidus wasn't having the best of days, and thinking about the coming weeks filled him with a sense of begrudging excitement. The Luna was in it's sixth week of it's final mission, for the nearly 25 year old ship was about to be retired. This meant only one thing for the old Luna class deep space explorer- it was time to come home. It had been a rough few months, and they'd taken their toll. Each crisis brought the ship closer and closer back to Sol, as more and more hazards threatened the Federation. The Borg invasion of 2410, the Dominion dreadnought assault later that year, the ongoing hostilities with the Klingon Empire.
All of them had detracted from the original reason Arachnidus joined up with Starfleet; to get out there and explore. In the literally thousands of years since the first spaceborne civilization in the Milky Way took flight, the citizens of the galaxy had only explored maybe 1/100th of it in any sort of detail. There were still thousands of light years left untraversed by any known species, many billions if not trillions of beings left to meet. It would be quite some time before that number got any lower, and Arachnidus wanted to be part of that. All the more reason his mood was bittersweet.
In the nearly three years since he'd taken command of the Luna, and the 7 he'd served on the ship, counting his command, they'd made twelve first contacts with space faring life, discovered almost four hundred new alien species, and covered about 25,000 light years, mostly in the outer reaches of the Beta quadrant. But, next week, that'd all be a distant memory as the crew transferred to a new ship and the Luna was shipped off to the Starfleet museum and fleet yards in orbit of Pluto. The crew was due to transfer to the new ship of the line for the Deep Space explorers- the USS Normandy. A Vesta class.
The design was almost as old as the Luna class to which the Captain's current command was eponymous with, yet the Vesta was decades ahead of it's time at the point of conception. A slip stream drive, next gen armor plating and shields, amazingly(and disturbingly) powerful weapons systems and a full astrometrics and biological suite unmatched by any current ship in the fleet. Even the Luna class or the other modular ships in the fleet with their sensor pods and astrometrics labs reverse engineered from the one installed on Voyager during it's jaunt around the Delta quadrant some 30 odd years ago couldn't hold a candle to the multiband scanners on the Vesta series.
Even with all of these advancements and the promise of getting back to what he really wanted to do with his life, Arachnidus couldn't help but feel a little more than sad about leaving his ship behind. He'd spent the last 11 years of his life, two thirds of his entire Starfleet career, aboard it. From his 21st birthday to now, he'd lived in these quarters, woke up every day to these friends and ate the same boring meals from these replicators. Even though the latter two would be more than present on the Normandy, it didn't make the captain feel any better. As he arose from his desk, where he'd intended to write up a final report to Starfleet Command(a somber note in itself), Arachnidus began to reminisce on the most important day of his life. The day he ascended to the rank and role of captain. As he sat down on his bed, his neck craned towards the oblivion of space and the beautiful backdrop provided by the nearby Azure Nebula, it all came back to him.
USS Luna, Standard Date: February 4th, 2409
Current location: P4X-97G, approximately 4,000ly from Sol System; Gum Nebula
"Captain, the shields are buckling! Power to weapons is dropping steadily!" Lieutenant Parker barked. Arachnidus stood on the bridge of the Luna, frankly a little terrified, even as XO. He tried to hide his fear, but it didn't work out too well- decorum be damned. In the seven years he'd been on the ship prior, they'd been attacked dozens of times. But never had it been this bad. As his best friend and subordinate Mark Parker yelled to Captain Thule over the dulled sounds of impacts on the shields and weapons fire from the ship they were desperately trying to save, Arachnidus looked out the viewscreen. The semi-flat holographic display showed, in the highest resolution possible, the possible harbinger of their doom. A Dominion battleship; something he'd only ever seen in text books, and never expected to see in his career.
The Luna had found it in this uncharted system several hours ago, and the command staff agreed that it was likely a remnant of the Dominion War. It was common knowledge that the Dominion had gotten dangerously close to the core worlds of the Federation by the close of the war, and the Alpha Quadrant bred Jem'hadar were a fair bit more rebellious than their subservient Gamma Quadrant brethren. When the order to surrender was issued, many of them disregarded it and retreated to the various nebulae and stellar clusters off the Federation-Klingon-Romulan triborder and remained hidden. Most, after a few weeks emerged and surrendered after their Ketracel White supplies ran out. Some, like the ones now threatening the Luna, did not.
Flares of purple energy radiated out of the Dominion ship's hull and Captain Thule's confident glare was momentarily defeated by the issuing of an order.
"All hands, brace for impact. Lieutenant Malketh'ar, lock down all bulkheads and divert power to SIF and shields."
The order was delivered just in time to save most of the ship. The bridge crew was not so lucky. One of the polaron torpedoes; a weapon that could easily penetrate Federation standard shields(luckily for the Luna, multiphasic shields were now the new default after the war) had landed right above the hull, on the dorsal side of the saucer, only about ten metres from the bridge which stood at the top of the ship. In space, an explosion was not nearly as powerful as it was in atmosphere, but the massive release of energy from the matter-antimatter detonation was enough- on Earth, it would have been powerful enough to turn most of the North American continent to glass and create a crater big enough to fit a portion of the Indian Ocean. Thanks to the weakened shields and ablative plating on the Luna's hull, most of the blast's energy was directed to space, but enough of it made it to the hull to cause serious damage. The bridge shuddered and fissures opened on the port bulkheads. The roaring sound of decompression drowned out the screams of the bridge crew as they tried to seal the breach and survive long enough for the damage control systems to kick in. After five seconds, which, to Arachnidus, seemed like hours, the emergency forcefield system activated and sealed the three foot long gash in the wall, through which space(and the silver hull of the Luna) was visible.
As the damage control team on the bridge rushed to seal the temporarily covered breach with thick square plates of titanium plating, which would have to do for the time being despite being significantly weaker than most modern ship hulls, Commander Arachnidus 'Vadam looked around the devastated bridge. His best friend, Lt. Parker, had a nasty looking cut along his forehead. Ensign Lawson, a beautiful human female, probably of Australian descent, looked disheveled, soot and burns pockmarking her tactical red uniform. Lt. Malketh'ar Shapek-Uknur, a Choblik male, was the only senior officer that didn't look like he was on the verge of death. His synthetic body parts, notably his arms and tail manipulator, looked a little worn compared to before the battle, but he seemed to be in decent condition as he quickly worked on coordinating damage control. Beyond them and the DC team, not all was well.
To his horror, as he walked back to his chair, he saw his captain sitting there, limp, blood streaming from his neck, chest and his head. On the floor was a bloodied piece of hull plating. Still in a daze, the Commander looked up to the ceiling and saw a hole where there was once a solid bulkhead. He saw the soothing backdrop of the gum nebula, the black void and stars inside it, and the purple-insect-like shape of the Dominion ship preparing to fire. They had maybe twelve seconds before the Luna became a piece of scrap metal. The battle was lost, and they were in no condition to keep firing. The commander ran to the conn and looked to his beautiful friend and, now, second officer, Ensign Lawson, who sat at the chair, and looked at the console. The warp core was still functional and the nacelles were in tact. The engines were spooled up. They could safely reach warp 4 under these circumstances. The now-captain looked up to his crew and was surprised to see faces and nods of approval. He slammed his palm down on the capacitive console and on the screen, the Dominion ship and all the space around it began to blue-shift as the Luna jumped to warp. After a few seconds of disturbing quiet, Lt. Parker issued a report.
"Arachnidus...Captain- we're clear of the battlefield." His bloodied, somber face punctuated the awkward and painful atmosphere. The entire bridge crew and the three NCOs working on making sure the hull didn't peel away around most of the senior staff and the bodies of the former captain and tactical officer were all thinking the same thing, and looked at Arachnidus, even if just for a split second. He was now the captain. Looking around his bridge and at his fellow officers, he pressed his commbadge and spoke.
"This is Commander 'Vadam to all personnel. Captain Thule is dead, I'm sure one of many beloved friends and comrades we've lost today. We're barely holding together right now, and we've still got that ship on our tails. I am assuming command of the ship and I am going to get us out of this. All stations, forward casualty and damage reports to the bridge. Let's finish this. Captain out."