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DL | XO | LCDR Stacker | "View to A Problem"

Posted on Sat Sep 7th, 2019 @ 5:20pm by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker

Mission: Dust Stirring
Location: Central Operations | Deck 1 | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241909.07

There were few benefits that accompanied a recall to Operations at zero three-twenty, station time. In fact, by the time he exited the turbolift car James could only list a single positive item: the commute was swifter. That one little item was offset by many, many negative things in turn. Restful sleep. Sanity. His fiancé in proximity. Peace and quiet.

It was the last item that had caused the lines to deepen on his face, and the once-in-good-humor look to turn to something more negative. There had been a troubling rise in noise as the turbolift passed through the Promenade decks. It had caused an unpleasant reminder of an incident from his early marine days, when a very-green then-Private James K. Stacker had been part of a task force sent to secure a Federation consulate on Viery. The city had been determined to tear itself apart.

Although the disturbance reported over the comms was likely not as bad, the fact of its very existence had led to a turn in his thoughts - from the afterglow that had suffused him from his quarters, to grimmer. A world that was dirty-grey and soot covered like that city on Viery. As these thoughts occluded his formerly upbeat frame of mind, hands silently clasped behind his back as he considered what little he knew. He stayed like that, pondering and thinking with narrowed eyes, for the decks between the Promenade and Operations.

When the car doors did swoosh open, they revealed a Command Deck whose predictable and well-familiar night routine had been disrupted. Voices were raised. Not to the level of shouting, no. But they were raised enough to be noticeable. He even suspected some were coming from the lower level. At-a-glance he saw someone leaning over the catwalk railing, conversing with someone below.

Almost every station appeared manned and online, he saw as he threaded his way down the catwalk and towards the command station. Even the auxiliary stations along the far wall, on the second level, were online and in use, meaning that personnel off watch had been called in. In some cases, he saw two people at a station or more often one individual at the station and another with a PADD nearby. He threaded around a knot of bodies at the end of the catwalk and headed for the center dais. The one where all key departments were represented, with a raised command chair, in an elevated location in the center of the room. Where all could see it.

They saw him coming. One look at his demeanor and the bodies parted. Was it him, or was the ambient noise level in the room subsiding? Under other circumstances he would have been amused, but now, as he finally reached the already-vacated chair and settled his bones into it, he found himself uncaring. The collective watchfulness and silence was broken with a single word. “Report.”

A spinning wireframe holograph of the starbase sprang into being to the side, from the emitter mounted between the security and strategic operations stations. The lieutenant in the security seat was quick on the draw. Probably primed for this, James thought with a glance to one side, at a senior chief who was studiously refraining from comment. His attention was quickly drawn back to the lightshow, which even now highlighted the belt-like Promenade that girded the waist of the station.

“Sir, approximately fifteen minutes ago a security alert was declared for the Promenade due to civil unrest. Security has confirmed a riot in progress on multiple levels, with damage and casualties reported.”

“Zero three-hundred. The bars would’ve been letting out,” a voice murmured. Heads nodded all around. It had become well-known, sector-wide, that some establishments on the station stayed open past the typical midnight closing time found on other facilities. Such a thing only served to improve Cold Station Theta’s rough-around-the-edges appearance. It was an item that continuously annoyed James. Starbases were supposed to be beacons of civilization and prosperity.

The lieutenant waited for a moment, then kept going. “The CO is on the Promenade directing the response efforts. We’ve confirmed this is a multi-species riot.”

An unpleasant sound ran through the officers out on the platform: a sentiment James shared. Riots that involved one or two species were more easily controlled. When multiple species were involved, it became more complicated. A phaser set on stun for one being might have lethal consequences on another. The same applied to almost everything in the inventory, whether it be riot foam (not to be sprayed on gills or rebreather apparatus) or electrified batons (not to be used on delicate mechanical components or species with sensitive nervous systems).

There came an interruption, consisting of an alarm on a control panel. The simple interruption caused heads to turn, as was all-too-often the case. Most species were predictable like that. James waited as the officer acknowledged and quickly read what appeared before them. “Sir, the CO has reported a fatality in the riot. He’s ordered a lockdown on inbound and outbound shipping.”

James swiveled the chair away from the security station, towards the starscape beyond the windows instead. His eyes were just going out of focus in thought when motion and lights caused them to refocus and broke his slide towards pure thought and concentration. Two containers at least. Maybe four. Single transport. His brow furrowed briefly as he dug for a name and then smoothed as one was unearthed. The Empire Darwin. Forty-one days out of Vulcan with four containers: two liquid, one reefer, and one bulk cargo.

The smaller lights flitting around her showed evidence of the swarm of tugs that typically accompanied these dockings. From experience he knew this was a sign that docking control had designated a berth for the tug: the containers would be another matter entirely. They lacked warp engines and had only low-thrust impulse engines and thrusters for use in docking and long-term orbital use. The good news would be that they had onboard power plants of their own.

“Let’s get that ship docked,” he said with a nod to the tug, ignoring how the heads all turned to follow his line of sight. “Put the docks into security lockdown afterwards. Tell Flight Ops to keep the containers in the roadsteads.” Ignoring the nods of heads, he turned the chair back to the waiting officers. “Standard lockdown protocol. Set all automated beacons and send out messages to all scheduled shipping. Cold Station Theta is closed to inbound traffic until further notice. Sound yellow alert.”

As the light bars in the walls began to pulse in Central Operations, informing one and all of the change in alert posture, he settled back in the chair and tented his hands before his face. His eyes once again found the inbound tug, the containers, and the cluster of flitting lights. Watching as they continued to close the distance to the supposed safe port at the end of the journey.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lt. Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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