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Prologue

Posted on Tue May 31st, 2022 @ 4:28pm by Commander Robert Hardwicke

Mission: Shakedown
Location: Bridge of the USS Independence
Timeline: Current

Commander Robert Hardwicke, Starfleet Academy Class of 2372, sat in the Captain’s Conn on the deserted bridge of the USS Independence, reading personnel reports regarding the starship’s new officers. While still in the maintenance docks, the bridge was not routinely manned and the majority of the consoles at the various stations were dark. Robert enjoyed the quiet solitude disturbed only by the white noise of ventilation and the electronic hum of the few systems that were active.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Robert did not like spending much time in the various offices that he had been assigned in recent years. They afforded privacy and a certain amount of prestige and privilege but he had always felt that they cut him off from the rest of the ship. He much preferred to be out amongst the ship’s crew, visiting sections of the ship that most commanding officers rarely saw and taking the pulse of the action. He anticipated using the Captain’s Ready Room and private mess but rarely.

The destruction of the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards in 2385 had put the Federation in a dire situation. Three years’ worth of new starship construction had gone up in the flames that consumed Mars and continued to rage. Star Fleet was having to get creative to make up the shortfall. Ships that were coming to the end of their service life were extended. Others were pulled out of mothballs. Scheduled refits were accelerated and their duration shortened. The Independence herself was being pushed out three months earlier than was standard. Within the week, Robert would lead his ship out on her shakedown cruise.

His ship. Robert smiled at the thought. It had taken every favor that he had accumulated over his fifteen years of service and more than a little skullduggery to secure the appointment. He was not the youngest starship captain ever but was certainly at least one standard deviation beneath the median age.

The opportunity was partly due to the ship herself. In the decade since the end of the Dominion War, military ships such as the Independence had fallen out of favor as the best and brightest were drawn to the Sovereign, Intrepid and Enterprise class starships in the Exploration Branch. Addition of science facilities and crews had done little to overcome the pallor that was cast upon the Achilles-class. Still, a ship is a ship and Robert intended to make the most of the command that he had worked so hard to obtain.

Robert’s thoughts were disturbed by canine whining. He looked down at the tri-color collie pup at his feet and smiled. The dog looked up at him expectantly. “Do you need to go do it?” The pup barked and wagged her tail. “Alright then,” Robert replied bending down to attach a leash to the dog’s collar. With the puppy heeling to his right foot, Robert walked over to the turbolift. He might eschew the dedicated facilities aboard ship but there were other privileges as Captain that he intended to take full advantage of.

 

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