Fludicus finally turned to his chief medical officer, Dr Armaat, “I trust that the medical staff is ready for casualties?”
“Always are,” replied Dr Armaat, “The Emergency Medical Holograms are ready and the nurses are on alert for any casualties that may arise.”
Fludicus took one final look at his senior crew, “All right then, seems like we are ready to sail into the unknown. Whatever awaits beyond the veil, we know who to expect. Let me remind you again: this is a classified mission. You are not to disclose any information until... further notice.”
The others nodded in unison.
“You have your orders,” Fludicus said, “You know what's at stake. We move out at at once. Dismissed.”
The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony (Chap 6)
The orange hue of the Badlands lit up the region of space surrounding it. Meanwhile, several ships patrolled along its outer edges of the region, keeping an ever vigil over the area.
The Excelsior-class USS Malinche was on patrol along one of those sectors of space. First assigned to the Demilitarised Zone in this part of the Federation and then to hunt the Marquis, the ship has been the face of the Federation's presence for over the last 35 years. Recently, the rise of the True Way has it assigned to counterinsurgency missions once again, this time enforcing the embargo of shipping through or near the Badlands.
The USS Starlight Pony dropped out of warp. The USS Malinche, having noticed the arrival, turned to greet the newcomer.
On the bridge of the Starlight Pony, the turbolift opened as the bridge crew kept the their focus on their tasks assigned. One however, closest to the turbolift took a moment to look up and snapped at attention as Fludicus walked out, “Officer on Deck,” cried the officer.
The others barely had time to pay respect to Fludicus when he simply raised his hand, “Carry on, we got a job to do.”
Fludicus approached Mirra, who was on the Captain's Chair, “Status Report.”
“We just arrived,” Mirra replied, getting out of the seat, “and here's the welcoming committee.”
The USS Malinche filled the bridge viewscreen. Fludicus regarded the view for a moment before turning to Mirra.
“Look around the ship and make sure all stations are ready for our Badlands mission,” Fludicus said, “Let's make it count.”
“Mirra nodded, and the proceeded to the turbolift to carry out her charges. Fludicus meanwhile turned to the viewscreen.
“Helm,” Fludicus ordered, “Maintain position,”
“Aye sir,” Gepba acknowledged.”
Just then one of the ensigns cried out, “We're being hailed Commander.”
“Open a channel,” Fludicus replied.
The viewscreen then switched to that of a female human with a crew haircut, “Commander Mesi Achebe, USS Malinche. Please state your business.”
“Commander Fludico Meso Sudundus. USS Starlight Pony,” Fludicus replied, “I am here on a Starfleet special assignment.”
“I would like to remind you that the Badlands are off-limits to all ships, including Starfleet vessels. Sorry,” Commande Achebe informed her counterpart.
“I am here on orders from Starfleet Intelligence. Classified mission,” explained Fludicus.
“I'm sorry, sir. Captain Kurland's orders, no one gets into the Badlands.”
“My orders come from the very top of Starfleet Intelligence,” Fludicus clarified, “I could report this if I am not allowed to proceed with my mission.”
“Does Captain Kurland know about this?”
“He had arranged my ship's refit,”Fludicus replied, “You can contact him for further details.”
Commander Achebe turned to her right and then said something to someone off-screen. She then turned back to Fludicus, “Please stand by Commander.”
The viewscreen changed to that of the USS Malinche floating in space with the Badlands in the background. All Fludicus could do now is to wait.
Meanwhile aboard the USS Malinche...
“Ensign, get me a channel to Deep Space Nine,” Commander Achebe commanded.
“Channel open,” the ensign said a moment later, “They ask who you want to speak to.”
A few moments later, Captain Kurland was seen on the viewscreen with the Ops of Deep Space Nine in the background.
“This is Kurland,” the captain began, “Commander, how can I help you?”
“Captain,” Commander Achebe replied, “We have a Starfleet vessel requesting to go into the the Badlands. I believe that we have a total embargo in place for the Badlands, is that correct?”
“That is correct,” Kurland replied, “Just to ask, who is asking to pass into the Badlands?”
“Commander Fludico Meso Sudundus, USS Starlight Pony.”
“Captain Kurland thought deeply, and then said carefully, “hmm... Ah yes. Starfleet Intelligence briefed me on this ship. Please let them though.”
“Sir?” Commander Achebe asked, puzzled.
“Fludicus and his ship are on a mission greenlit from the very top,” Kurland replied, “I have no say in blocking this mission.”
“Who would order a ship to go into a dangerous sector filled with rebels?”
“Admiral Chakotay. Starfleet Intelligence.”
Commander Achebe was beginning to register the significance of the individual when Kurland raised his hand to cut her off, “Believe me, I was informed by the Admiral that this is a highly-classified, need-to-know matter. It is a matter of vital security. Our orders are to let them through.”
“Yes Captain,” Commander Achebe acknowledged the orders given by Kurland, who then dismissed her. She was at a loss for words as she saw the USS Starlight Pony floating in space on the viewscreen.
“Hail the Starlight Pony,” Commander Achebe finally ordered.
“Channel's open,” the ensign replied. The commander then ordered the link to be put onscreen.
Fludicus was lazily sitting on the Captain's Chair when the USS Malinche called back. It was a few moments after that Commander Achebe went onto the viewscreen of the bridge.
“Commander,” Commander Achebe said, going straight to the point, “I am here to inform you that Captain Kurland has cleared you to proceed.”
“Thank you,” Fludicus replied.
“All I can say now is... good luck and happy hunting. Achebe out.”
The viewscreen went back to the USS Malinche and the Badlands in the background. Fludicus took in a breath and let out a sigh of relief. One less trouble to deal with.
“Helm,” Fludicus said, “proceed into the Badlands, one third impulse. Stand by to slow down on my order.”
“Aye commander...” Gepba responded, “So that you know, once we are in the Badlands, we would have limited communications and sensors due to the region's anomalies.”
“Acknowledged,” Fludicus replied, “proceed as planned,” he then tapped his combadge, “Mirra, report status.”
Mirra reply came almost immediately, “All systems green sir. I have just checked Engineering.”
“Report back to the bridge and set up the watch in the Badlands.”
“Yes, Commander. One moment please.”
“Make it quick,” Fludicus finished. He knew that Thron and Mirra would be chatting together for a little longer.
That would not hurt one bit.