112: First Assignment

By Lt. Commander Dabin Reece
After Nothing Lasts Forever

The word had come down late last night, right after the ship’s official launch, that the Admiral had ordered Reece in for an 8:00 A.M. meeting with Zanh Liis and Salvek. There, they would receive their first mission assignment.

Dabin cracked his eyes open slowly, wondering why he hadn’t heard the alarm yet.


“Crap!” He yelled. February groaned and pulled the blankets tighter around herself as Dabin scrambled into his uniform. He made a half-hearted effort to smooth a few hairs into place and dashed out the door, leaving February to her sleep.

“Damn rush hour traffic.” Reece protested, as he jammed into a crowded turbolift that was carrying the day shift to their duty stations.

“Computer, time?” Dabin asked, frustrated as the lift made its way slowly up one deck at a time.

[The current time is 7:59]

The doors opened on deck 2, and the last few officers made their way in and out. Dabin stepped up right to the door as they reached the bridge.

“Move!” He demanded, as he pushed past the crew members waiting to board the lift and dashed towards the ready room. The doors opened, and Reece burst into the room, putting on the brakes and skidding to a stop right in front of Zanh Liis' desk.

“I told you he would be on time.” The Captain sipped her coffee casually, acting not the least bit surprised that Reece had almost plowed right through her.

“You know your crew well, Captain.” Vox replied.

“So, where we going, big guy?” Dabin asked, trying to act natural as he sat in a chair in front of Liis’ desk. Salvek sat beside him, and the Admiral chose to lean against the wall.

"Beta-626, lady and gentleman." Vox walked up behind Liis and spoke into her computer terminal.

“Computer display mission briefing for USS Serendipity, authorization Vox 451-epsilon.”

The computer chirped, and a fuzzy sensor readout of a large red star filled the screen.

“This is Beta-626. A star just a stone’s throw away from Vulcan, Andor, Nausicaa, and the Deltans. Right here, in our own little neighborhood. It is an unremarkable star, or it was. A yellow dwarf like our own sun, no planets of any kind. Beta-626 had a good five billion years left to its life. . .until about two weeks ago.”

Vox tapped a few button and brought up a graph.

“The rate of fusion in this star has increased exponentially in the last two weeks. It is currently about 2000 times normal and the star has swollen to 1000 times its normal size. If the rate of fusion continues to accelerate, Beta-626 will exhaust its supply of fuel and go supernova in less then one year.”

“I assume Starfleet does not have any indication of what is causing this phenomenon?” Salvek asked.

“No, they do not.” Vox turned off the computer. “What I do know is that the Federation council is on the verge of panic that something this drastic is taking place this deep inside the Federation.”

“They think this may be a weapon?” Liis offered.

“The Romulans have tried using trilithium to stop nuclear reactions inside a star and failed. Whatever Tolian Soren knew died with him on Veridian. If someone out there has taken the opposite approach of hyper-accelerating the nuclear reaction rather then stopping it, the Federation needs to know who and they need to know now. Beta-626 may be a test, and we are taking it as a warning to Earth that it happened so close to us.”

“This could just be a fluke.” Dabin pointed out. “Maybe it’s natural.”

“Have you ever seen anything like this, Mr. Reece?” Vox asked.

“I’ve seen a lot of things but never anything like this.” Reece admitted.

"Admiral, does the Federation have any clue as to who, if anyone, may have done this?" Salvek asked.

“Whatever we know has been uploaded into the Serendipity’s main computer along with the rest of the mission profile.”

“That does not answer the question.”

“How about, no? Does that answer the question?” Vox said.

“Yes. Indeed it does.”

Vox circled around the room towards the exit. “We can’t get any clear readings on long range sensors because of the massive gravitational and electromagnetic forces around the star. I’d advise you to navigate the area near the star with extreme caution. The star’s gravity is in constant flux. One moment you may be at a safe distance and the next the star expands and you find yourself caught in its pull. I’ve equipped your torpedo bay with six class one solar probes. Are there any more questions?”

The room was silent, as Liis waited to see if Salvek and Reece had any more questions. Vox seemed satisfied they understood the mission and was ready to let them get underway.

“Well then, good luck to you Captain.”

“Wait, Admiral, there is one question.” Zanh Liis stood up behind her desk, and leaned forward, setting her hands upon it.

“Of course, Captain.”

“Is it, Starfleet’s, intention to protect project Alchemy by keeping us limited to missions safely inside the protective fold of Federation space? Or are we going to get the chance to actually do some deep space exploration? I‘d hate to think the Serendipity is going to end up being a freighter carrying supplies back and forth between here and Vulcan.”

Reece looked at Salvek, and Salvek back at Reece. Each one of them arched their left eyebrow. They both knew her emphasis on the word Starfleet was meant to imply that she really wanted to say “your.”

Vox spoke calmly. “Just humor me, for this first mission, Captain Zanh.”

Liis nodded reluctantly and sat back down.

“Good luck to you and your crew Captain. I am due back at Command, and will be beaming back without delay."

"I'll accompany you to the transporter room." Liis announced. “Mr. Reece, you’ve got some reading to do. Salvek, assemble the senior staff.”

"I'll await your report with interest, Gentlemen." Vox concluded, and then the Captain and the Admiral were gone.

LT. CMDR Dabin Reece
Chief Science Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012