Episode II: Part I - Stargazer Receives new Mission Orders
Stardate: Nov. 26, 2096
For weeks Stargazer and three accompanying Starships maintained concentric orbits around the outer edge of the Earth’s Solar System, each battlecruiser linked in ninety degree arcs. It was a routine early morning, the bridge crew leisurely focusing on their duties as Captain Foxwell slowly swiveled his command chair away from the main viewing screen. Science Officer Beta was now the object of his attention, bringing the chair to a stop after aligning it with her station on the bridge.
“Beta, please join me in my ready room,” Foxwell requested. “Xuriya, you have the conn.”
“Aye, Captain,” Xuriya replied.
Beta turned in acknowledgment, rendering an impassive glance as she stood, quietly following the Captain into the small briefing chamber.
“Please take a seat,” Foxwell motioned with his hand, Beta sitting opposite the captain at the oval shaped table, just large enough to accommodate the Stargazer’s department heads. Foxwell reached toward the overhead and pulled down one of two movable monitors, adjusting the angle to make it ready for viewing. “We’ve received new orders from Galactic Fleet,” he continued. “I want to disclose and obtain your opinion regarding this new mission before breaking the news to the senior officers.”
“Understood, Captain,” Beta replied, her explorative curiosity aroused.
Foxwell pressed the play button and moved the screen in the direction of his First Officer, then walked around the table, pulling out a seat next to Beta as the video began. “Captain Foxwell, priority one secure message from Admiral Perry of Galactic Fleet Command now streaming directly to your personal channel,” the computer generated voice stated, a uniformed figure appearing on screen.
“Greetings Captain. On behalf of galactic fleet command we extend our thanks to you and the crew of the Stargazer for your time in orbit around our solar system. This was a necessary precaution to guard against any further intrusion or malevolent actions by the Vorcians in response to their failed invasion just over two months ago,” he continued. “Galactic Fleet is announcing new mission orders. At 1400 hours today, your time, SS Constellation will rendezvous and dock with the the Stargazer for the purpose of transferring a team of Geologists and Mining Engineers. The Stargazer will leave orbit no later than 1600 hours and set a course for Luyten b, a confirmed exoplanet in our galaxy. The purpose of this new mission is to confirm the presence of, and subsequent logistical extraction of rilidium ore, which is theorized to be abundant on the planet. You will assist and work with the arriving Geologists and Engineers to successfully complete the mission. This particular group of professionals are experts regarding rilidium ore, its properties, usage, and dangers. Galactic Fleet Command has placed the highest priority on nothing less than the successful outcome of this mission. It is classified, “TOP PRIORITY.” SS Constellation will assume your present orbit and continue the mission you were previously assigned.”
The admiral appeared to relax, grinning as he finished his message. “Captain Foxwell -- as always, I have the utmost confidence in your leadership and ability to successfully complete this mission. I wish you and your crew, ‘Fair Winds and Following Seas.’” End of message.
“Interesting,” Beta responded as she turned and gazed at Foxwell. “Rilidium is a radioactive chemical element used in Starship reactor coil circuitry to facilitate fusion of deuterium-tritium atoms for release of energy by the light speed drive assembly. It can be dangerous if not properly handled.
“That’s why I want you, O’Donovan, Xuriya, Warwick, and Doctor Rivera back here at 1300 hours for a briefing," Foxwell replied. "Access the data base and research what information we have regarding Luyten b, to include its location and distance, time required to get there, atmosphere and environmental conditions, etc… As Science Officer, you will be responsible for coordination of your department as well as engineering in order to facilitate and provide whatever assistance and support the Geologists and Mining Officials require."
“Acknowledged, Captain. I will complete the research and schedule the meeting with our senior officers for 1300 hours. Just to confirm, will you be in attendance at this meeting?”
Captain Foxwell responded with a nod as they both walked out of the ready room and back onto the bridge.
Locked in a circular orbit around the Earth’s solar system, it was obvious the crew’s level of boredom was increasing; not that they didn’t understand and appreciate the importance of the current mission, but a new journey to a terrestrial, earth-like planet theorized by Galactic Fleet Astronomers and Geologists to be rich in rilidium ore would be right up their 'new mission' alley.
A geological mission and assistive survey of this magnitude and importance would serve not only as much needed relief from the boredom of a continuous, no frills circular orbit, but a welcome reminder of the Stargazer’s ‘primary’ mission: the discovery and exploration of celestial bodies and other life forms.
Privately the Captain was pleased, even thankful at this unexpected, but welcome turn of events.
1300 hours - Captain’s Ready Room:
“All department heads present,” Beta announced, the Stargazer’s senior officers taking their seats in the Captain’s ready room.
Captain Foxwell briefly glanced around around the oval table, a collective feeling of anticipation enveloping the small room as he began the meeting. “I’ve called you here because we’ve received new mission orders from Galactic Fleet. Please observe the screen in front of you.” Foxwell pressed the restart button on a small control panel, repeating the video message he and Beta had previously viewed.
The viewing concluded with the senior officers looking pleased, even excited about the new assignment. Captain Foxwell switched off the monitors, then rose from his chair. “As you have just seen, we have been ordered to embark a team of Geologists and Mining Engineers, break orbit and proceed to planet Luyten b. I have asked Beta to research and bring us all up to speed regarding this known exoplanet, to include our involvement regarding our soon to be guests,” his initial comments accompanied by a quick glance at his First Officer, his signal that she now had the floor.
Beta stood and continued the briefing; her neutronic brain allowed her to proceed without files or notes, all information committed to memory after initially consulting the Stargazer’s data base. “As the video message stated,” she began, “we have new mission orders to planet Luyten b. Discovered in June 2017, Luyten b is considered a Super-Earth, approximately 3 times the mass of planet Earth, and receives only 6% more starlight than our home planet, making it one of the best candidates for habitability. Luyten b is a confirmed exoplanet located in the Constellation of Canis Minor in the Milky Way Galaxy, orbiting within the habitable zone of the nearby Red Dwarf Luyten’s Star. It is one of the most earth-like planets ever found, and currently is the fourth-closest potentially habitable exoplanet known at a distance of 12.2 light-years. Our current estimated time of arrival is one day, three hours forty-seven minutes at light factor 2.0.
The senior officers looked around the Captain's ready room, smiling and exchanging glances.
"As a reminder," Beta continued, "all of you are aware of the dangers of mishandling rilidium, even non-processed rilidium ore. That will be discussed further with our guests in due time. Upon arrival and confirmation of Class M Status, the Science and Engineering Departments will render all requested and available assistance to our Galactic Fleet Geologists and Engineers."
Captain Foxwell moved toward the table, resuming the meeting:
“The Geologists and Engineers will be assigned quarters upon arrival, along with sufficient time to securely stow their equipment and personal effects. Beta will make arrangements for assignment of quarters for our guests. Chief Engineer O’Donovan will lead the entire group on a familiarization tour of the Stargazer in order to familiarize our guests with the starship and its basic control functions, safety features, and location of critical departments such as sickbay, triage, and emergency evacuation stations. I have made arrangements for a formal dinner in the wardroom for our guests and senior officers at 1800 hours. I expect all of you to be there - attire will be the Class A uniform. Any questions?”
There were none as the department heads grinned, shook their heads and looked around, all seemingly pleased about the new mission.
“It is now 1345 hours. Report back to your departments, brief your subordinates regarding this meeting, and make preparations to dock with the Constellation at 1400 hours.” Captain Foxwell hailed the bridge through the comm panel. “Navigator, what’s the status on arrival of the Constellation?”
“Arrival scheduled for 1400 hours is confirmed, Captain. They are approaching our port side on a parallel course at one quarter impulse power. Distance is 20,000 kilometers. They are preparing to disengage impulse engines and activate thrusters for final approach; docking crews are standing by.”
“On our way,” Foxwell replied, glancing at his First Officer as she accompanied him to the turbo elevator. Captain Foxwell and Science Officer Beta returned to the bridge and remained there until docking was completed. “Beta, you and Doctor Rivera will accompany me to the docking port on C deck. Xuriya, you have the conn,” Foxwell directed.
“Aye, Captain,” Xuriya replied.
Captain Foxwell, his First Officer, and Doctor Rivera greeted the new passengers as the Galactic Fleet Geologists and Engineers began their transfer through the pressurized airlocks between the two connected Starships. The mooring crews were busy observing numerous pressure guages, monitors, and docking clamps for any possible sign of trouble or failure. The transfer of personnel and equipment proceeded smoothly, Engineers and Geologists carrying equipment and personal belongings as they boarded the Stargazer. Security Officers confirmed the passenger manifest with photo IDs attached to the working uniform of every person boarding.
“All Galactic Fleet Civilians are safely aboard and accounted for,” Chief Security Officer Warwick reported.
It was at that moment Captain Foxwell locked eyes with her, the last member of the exploration and surveillance team to report aboard.
Click to read Episode II Part II "Star Voyagers: "JOURNEY TO PARADISE""