Location: USS Independence
“All docking clamps have been removed,” the voice of the Space Traffic Controller announced over the ship’s communication system, “Independence, you are cleared to depart space dock.”
At last, Robert thought, after months of preparation he was able to take out the ship, his ship, to enforce the Federation’s will. “Acknowledged, Jupiter Station, we will proceed from space dock to the planetary injection point.”
“Affirmative. Fair Winds and a Following Sea. Jupiter Station, out.”
“Helm, ahead one-quarter thrusters,” Robert commanded. Thrusters were a bit of a misnomer. The ship relied on tractor/repulsor beams for precise maneuvering in tight quarters unlike previous generations of starships that used reaction mass thrusters but the old name stuck in light of its ubiquity.
Activating the thrusters Kasm 'pushed' the station away from the Independence, once the ship was at approximately 1000m from the station he checked local traffic making sure that there was nothing in his way or that he would be crossing paths with any other vessel, he brought the ship about and began a slow acceleration out system.
Though the holodeck was able to recreate any experience in such a way that it was basically impossible to know that it was not real, there was something about piloting a starship in the vacuum of space, the freedom it implied, the shear power of the warp engines subtly thrumming through the deck plates. Just like his flight in the Pandoran's first successful warp capable ship, every time he stood his station he felt the same thrill and had to restrain the desire to push the ship to its absolute limits just to be the first to break yet another record with his people.
The ship continued to gain momentum as it moved away from the station moving to the impulse line ten kilometers away. Thruster weren't sufficient to escape Jupiter's gravity well but for safety reasons they couldn't use impulse engines until they reached the line. As the ship neared the line, Robert turned on his ship's communicator, "Captain to Engineering. Prepare for impulse engagement."
Kudo stood at the main engineering station, allowing one of his subordinates to occupy the station while he hovered. Alpha shift was the cream of the crop, the top shift for those trying to get their career to go somewhere. And, it was the shift where all department heads were on duty and active unless otherwise specified. In his opinion it didn't matter which shift you pulled. Alpha, Beta, Gamma; didn't matter. What mattered was what was in one's heart while seeing to their duties. Too many Starfleet personnel took their posts, and their government, for granted.
"All power systems nominal, Captain," announced Kudo. "When you need it, you'll have it."
The officer sitting at the Engineering console was Lieutenant JG Kehlani. For the past eight months Ken had had the Klingon re-up her engineering qualifications. Kehlani was certified with both the Klingons and Starfleet so Kudo was making sure all her certs stayed current. And, she was one hell of an engineer, with she and Billi both aiding Ken during the refit. That was two officers he knew he could count on for damage control procedures. A holographic monitor floated up and over to the side of the console showing any, and all, Starfleet Intel data coming across in coded streams. Kehlani did her own job and saw to Engineering.
Ken leaned down and spoke quietly, not whispering. Whispers carried much further than people thought. "Good job, Bekk." He gave a grin when her face turned his way with a show of pseudo-irritation.
"Bekk?" Kehlani sarcastically moved her eyes from screen to screen in a sort-of eye rolling moment, showing she had caught the barb and went along with it. "Anticipation of an ass kicking is worse than the ass-kicking itself, Lieutenant." Her face remained cynical but pleasant.
"We have crossed the Impulse Line, Captain," the Navigator called from the console to the left of Lieutenant Kasm.
"Roger, Tactical" Robert acknowledged smiling at the honorific, "Helm, lay in a course for the Planetary Injection Point and bring us up to one-quarter impulse."
The Helmsman's paws moved across the station's touch controls without saying a word. Robert feel the gentle pressure of acceleration as the impulse engaged as he leaned over to his First Officer and said, "You might want to remind our Chief Flight Officer that the protocol is to acknowledge orders."
"Aye, sir," Chuck replied. Touche, he thought. They're your broken toys and I'm the repairman.
Accelerating to 1/16th the speed of light, it would be less than a minute until the ship reached Jupiter's Planetary Injection Point. Robert ordered, "Navigator, plot a course to take us outsystem in preparation for leeward intersystem warp."
"Plotting course outside, aye." With all of the navigational aids deployed in the Sol System it was a simple task and within seconds the Navigator continued, "Course plotted, Captain."
"Helm, lay in the course subsequent to arrival at the Planetary Injection Point," Robert directed to the Chief Flight Officer.
The bridge was quiet except for the background drone of the the environmental systems and the occasional chirp of the electronic for a half a minute before the Navigator announced, "We have cleared the Planetary Injection Point, Captain."
"Roger," Robert acknowledged, "Helm, lay in course and engage. Maintain one-quarter impulse." Beyond the Planetary Injection Point, it was permissible to engage warp engines and continuing at impulse would extend the time to clear the outer Kuiper Asteroid Belt from minutes to over a day. There were, however, a long list of sub-light maneuvering and engine stress tests that needed to be performed as part of the post-refit shakedown cruise to work out any bugs overlooked by the dock crews.
Satisfied that all was in order, Robert turned to the Tactical Officer and said, "Mr. Lance, you have the conn. Coordinate with Engineering for required sub-light testing. I will be inspecting the Science Labs with Commander Gillespie. Keep me informed of the progress of testing." And with his orders given, Robert stood and departed the Bridge.
Commander Robert Hardwicke
Commander Charles Gillespie
Chief Science Officer
Lieutenant Ken Kudo
Chief Engineering Officer