This story is dedicated to Mr. Jerry Pournelle who is one of my favorite authors. He is recently going through some health problems and I pray that he recovers both fully and quickly. May God give him His strength and His healing touch.
Disclaimer: Star Trek, Star Fleet Battles, the Star Fleet Technical Manual and Dune are the properties of their respective owners: Paramount Pictures, Amarillo Design Bureau, Franz Joseph Designs and the estate of Frank Herbert. No profit or remuneration is sought by the author. This story is solely intended for the enjoyment of the readers and is written under the Fair Use Doctrine. All characters not original to Star Trek or Dune are from the imagination of the author and are not meant to resemble real persons.
That all said, please enjoy the story.
"To Boldly Go"
Tuesday, September 15, 2263 – Mission Day 1
"...In recent years Star Fleet has commissioned many ships; cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and other support ships," Admiral Komack said to the thousand people in the audience, a microphone built into the podium amplifying his words. He stood on a stage at one end of the parade grounds between Star Fleet Headquarters and the Star Fleet Academy in the habitat section of Star Fleet Headquarters.
A thousand portable chairs were arrayed for the crew of a new ship and for the numerous guests. Additional chairs were on the stage for those officers participating in the commissioning ceremony. Behind the stage, mounted for the entire audience could see, was a flat video screen showing the events on the stage.
"Not often does Star Fleet commission a dedicated explorer. The last ship of his class was built eight years ago. Captain Garibaldi, please rise."
Captain Raymondo Garibaldi, an Italian native and recently promoted former first officer of the heavy cruiser Potemkin, rose to his feet from his chair on the stage. Another officer also rose from his chair and took hold of a blue pennant with a gold fringe hung from a short pole mounted next to him on the stage. The second officer, actually an admiral, walked to the other side of Admiral Komack from Garibaldi, the pennant fluttered slightly in the artificial breeze showing the audience the stylized arrow symbol of Star Fleet and some yellow colored letters.
"Captain Garibaldi," Komack announced. "It is my honor as Commander in Chief of Star Fleet to present to you the ensign for the USS Marco Polo. May she take you to unknown vistas and keep you safe." Admiral Komack then took the pennant from the other officer, Admiral Fitzpatrick, the Chief of Star Fleet Operations, and presented it to Captain Garibaldi. Garibaldi eagerly took the ensign. He then turned and faced the audience. A microphone on a stand had been set up for him.
"I want to thank the United Federation of Planets and Star Fleet, for the honor of allowing me to be the first commanding officer of the starship Marco Polo," Garibaldi said with a mild Milanese accent after grounding the base of the flag staff by his left foot. "It was my recent pleasure to take the Marco Polo through her shake down. Now, with the trust of Star Fleet, I will explore the unknown reaches of the galaxy and find new friends and resources to improve life within the Federation. I want to thank Admiral Komack for the trust he is showing me in giving me this command. I also want to thank Commodore Mendez for his hospitality as Base Commander of Star Fleet Headquarters. It was with his tireless help that my crew and I were able to get the Marco Polo ready for this day. I will expect my crew to report on board the Marco Polo by thirteen hundred hours."
Admiral Komack then spoke from the podium, "This concludes today's ceremonies; Commodore Mendez." Komack then stood back from the podium.
Mendez rose from his seat and addressed the audience from the podium. "Company...Attention!" At that command the Star Fleet members of the audience and those who were still sitting on the stage rose to their feet. "Dismissed," Mendez ordered. The audience slowly broke up, some heading towards Star Fleet Headquarters and others towards Star Fleet Academy.
While most of the audience began to make their way out of the parade ground section of the station, Captain Garibaldi waved and got the attention of an officer in a gold tunic that was sitting in the front row of the audience.
"Jeremy, can you take this and post it in the main conference room on the Polo," Garibaldi asked while holding out the ensign he had just received.
"Sure thing, Captain," the brown haired man replied while gently taking the flag. "I'll take this to the ship then I need to say goodbye to my family. I'll be on board by thirteen hundred." Commander Bolt then walked off towards the nearest turbo lift.
Captain Garibaldi then approached the other officers on the stage. "Admirals, Commodore, you are all welcome to join me for a drink in my quarters on the Polo before we depart."
"By all means Captain," Admiral Komack said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'll give you your survey orders there. But, you must already know that the Federation is laying a claim to several sectors of space core ward of the Federation and it will by your job to survey that space."
"I've heard the rumors, Admiral...Gentlemen," Garibaldi said as he motioned for Komack, Fitzpatrick, and Mendez to lead the way off the stage and towards a turbo-lift.
The turbo-lift from Star Fleet Headquarters took the party down to one of the six spherical docking bays attached to the main body of the station. The lift stopped at the central docking station within the bay. The four men stepped out of the lift and were rewarded with a view of the interior of the bay from the docking station's windows.
"You're getting a real beauty, Captain," Admiral Fitzpatrick commented while admiring the view.
"She's a good looking ship," Mendez added. "I always liked the hull plan of the heavy cruisers." The USS Marco Polo, a Galactic Survey Cruiser, was based on the same hull as the Constitution class heavy cruisers. She differed mainly in her more efficient internal arrangement and her enlarged shuttle bay. She was armed as a light cruiser with additional defensive weaponry. She has four special survey sensor suites in addition to its standard sensor/scanner suite for long range sensing and surveying. An expanded shuttle bay and additional transporters are installed on the ship to allow larger landing teams to deploy. Finally, she had an expanded cargo bay to enhance the independent operations capability of the ship.
"She performed perfectly on the shake down," Garibaldi said. "I don't anticipate any major technical problems on our first survey."
"Good, good," Fitzpatrick said. "Permission to go aboard," he then asked.
"Granted with pleasure," Garibaldi replied. The four officers made their way from the docking station across the pressurized gangway to the port hatch on the main hull of the Polo. There an honor guard from the ship's crew saluted the officers. Garibaldi, for the rest of the officers responded by returning the salute of the guard and again towards the bridge. A short while later they arrived in the captain's quarters on deck five. Garibaldi settled his guests into chairs in the office section of his quarters and retrieved a bottle of Sangiovese and four classes from a cabinet.
"Tradition demands a toast as we prepare to sail," Captain Garibaldi said after pouring the glasses full. "I have prepared a special quotation for this event:
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, are all with thee!" [1
"Hear, hear," the three flag officers replied. Then the four men sipped at their wine.
While Captain Garibaldi was toasting his new ship with his superiors, Commander Bolt was riding a turbo lift. He had just dropped off the Polo's new ensign in the ships briefing room and now he was heading towards the Temporary Officer's Quarters on the station. Upon his arrival at his quarters, he opened the door and saw his wife, Candice. Her wavy red hair flowed all around her shoulders as she sat at a computer checking the finances of the family's tree farm near the town of North Bend in the mountains east of the city of Seattle on Earth. The Bolt's had three children, two girls and a boy. They were on Earth at the family's small estate near their tree farm.
"I'm back," Jeremy announced as the door closed behind him. He walked directly towards her, bent down, and took a quick kiss from her pink lips.
"Hello, honey," she said with a smile after his kiss. "What took you so long?" She had attended the commissioning ceremony but lost him in the crowd as the ceremony broke up.
"I had to post the ship's ensign in the main briefing room. Uh, the captain wants to get underway by one." Jeremy then reached over to the computer and shut off the visual display.
Candice was about to object to her husband's actions then reconsidered. "We don't have too much time then," Candice said with a smile while rising from her chair. She then grabbed her husband's hand and quickly led him to the sleeping section of the small suite they shared on the station.
A couple of hours later, Captain Garibaldi was bent over his desk in his quarters. He closed the cover of his written survey orders and leaned back in his chair to stretch his tired back. So, we are indeed going core ward, he though. This should be an interesting cruise. At least we don't have to worry about the Romulans or Klingons. He then rose from his chair, adjusted his tunic and left his quarters.
This is it, my first command, he said to himself as he rode a turbo lift towards the bridge The lift arrived at the bridge and the doors slid open.
"Captain on the bridge," announced Commander Bolt as the captain exited the lift and stepped onto the bridge. Conversation on the bridge abruptly ended. Those crewmembers that were standing braced themselves at a position of attention. Those who were sitting also braced themselves but did not stand. They stopped what they were doing and looked straight ahead.
"As you were," Garibaldi replied while stepping down to his seat at the center of the bridge. The bridge crew went back to work and talking resumed but remained duty related. After sitting down he looked at the clock display at the base of the helm – navigation station before him. The time shown was 12:53 pm. Then he looked around the bridge. It looks like everyone is here, he thought.
"Ship's status, report," he ordered.
"Helm," Commander Bolt called out.
"Maneuvering and weapons, green," Lieutenant Mark Hansen, the ships helmsman reported. "All controls are responsive."
"Navigation," Bolt called next.
"Navigation, green," Lieutenant Brian DePaul reported. "Departure vectors are clear."
"Signals," he then called.
"Communications, green," Lieutenant Susan Palmer reported from behind the captain. "Dock Control reports they are ready for our departure.
Commander Bolt pressed an intercom button on the communications station. "Engineering, this is the Bridge. Report your status for departure."
In Main Engineering Lieutenant Commander Vincent Schwartz stood near his main systems monitoring station. At the commander's call he pressed his intercom button.
"Chief Engineer here, all systems are green," he reported with a thick German accent. "The Warp, Impulse, and Auxiliary power reactors are on hot standby. As soon as we clear the station we'll start them up."
The reactors could not be run from inside the docking bay because the radioactive, high temperature exhausts could not be vented with the bay doors shut, which they normally were to protect any crewmembers working in the interior of the bay from interstellar micrometeoroids and radiation.
"Very well, bridge out," Bolt replied. Then he looked over his shoulder towards the science station, "Sensor-scanner status."
"All sensors, scanners and survey instruments are green, signore," Commander Ricardo Giacconi, an Italian from Florence, replied.
Commander Bolt then stepped down to stand beside the captain's chair. "All ships systems and personnel report ready for departure, sir. The first watch is on duty and the second watch will replace them in two hours. We should be on warp drive by then and on course towards Star base Nine."
"Very well, Lieutenant Palmer, activate main viewer and inform Dock Control we are ready to depart. Ask them to release their tractor beam. Lieutenant Hansen; close all hatches, clear all moorings, and stand by on maneuvering thrusters."
Alarms sounded near all the ship's hatches that were open to the docking station. The honor guard at each station stepped into the ship and activated the control to close the hatch. Then everyone on the ship felt the tractor beam that had been holding the ship stationary in the docking bay release.
Captain Garibaldi watched the main view screen as the four petals of the main docking bay doors opened before the bow of the starship.
"Maneuvering thrusters ahead, Mr. Hansen," Garibaldi ordered.
"Aye, aye sir, thrusters ahead," Hansen replied while working the controls at the helm station. Slowly, the white starship moved forward and through the docking bay's doors. Moments later they were clear of the station. Garibaldi looked up towards his first officer.
Commander Bolt got back on the intercom to Engineering. "Engineering this is the bridge, we are clear of the station and are free to maneuver, start all reactors."
"Aye, Aye, Bridge." Commander Schwartz left his system monitoring room which was forward of the main engineering hall and joined the rest of his engineering staff. The starboard side of the Engine Room was covered by two large control panels. The forward controls were for the fusion reactors associated with Auxiliary Power and Impulse Drive systems. The aft controls were for the antimatter reactors for the warp drive.
Schwartz walked over to the Auxiliary Power station. "Activate the Auxiliary Power reactor," he ordered to the crewman station there.
The engineer reached for his controls and powered up the ships fusion reactor located on one side of the engine room in the ships saucer section. A gentle humming of power began to fill the ship as the reactor began generating power.
"Fusion reactor is at full power, sir."
Schwartz stepped over to the next station. "Activate Impulse reactors," Schwartz ordered.
Another member of the engineering crew activated controls at a different station in the engine room. Again, the humming of power filled the ship as another set of fusion reactors, one on the either side of the engine room started generating power. Schwartz then called the bridge. "Bridge, Impulse power is now online."
On the bridge Captain Garibaldi leaned slightly forward in his chair. "Set course for Star Base Nine," he ordered.
"Course is set, sir," DePaul replied after feeding the course into his navigation consol.
"Ahead one-half Impulse power," the captain ordered.
"Aye, sir, one-half Impulse," Hansen replied while activating the Impulse drive controls on his help station.
The humming of the Impulse drive increased as it began to push the starship through space. In moments the ship was traveling half the speed of light.
Then he turned to the larger Warp Reactor control station. "Bring the Warp reactor online," he ordered the crewman manning that station.
"Aye, aye, sir," the red shirted crewman replied while activating controls.
For a third time the hum of power began to fill the ship. Each sound had it own frequency which added to the base harmonic that gently vibrated throughout the entire ship.
"Warp power online," the engineer reported to Schwartz.
Schwartz then got back on the intercom. "Engineering to bridge; warp power is online, intermix is set for all warp speeds."
"Very well, bridge out," Palmer replied. "Engineering reports warp drive is online," she then reported to the bridge crew.
"Confirmed," Hansen said after checking his helm system status board.
"Increase speed to warp six," Garibaldi ordered.
"Aye, aye, sir, increasing speed to warp six," Hansen replied.
While the subtle humming of the engines increased Garibaldi thought to himself. I'm so lucky to have so many Enterprise veterans in my crew.
DePaul, Hansen, and Palmer had all served on Kirk's Enterprise. DePaul was Kirk's primary navigator for a year but he was demoted to third shift after Pavel Chekov was assigned to the ship. Hansen similarly was Kirk's primary helmsman for a year and was demoted after Hikaru Sulu was assigned to the Enterprise. Palmer served as the second in charge of Kirk's communication department under Nyota Uhura for three years. For all three, being posted to the Marco Polo was a long awaited step up in their careers.
Garibaldi watched as the view on the main view screen changed as the starship accelerated to warp speeds.
[1 Quote attributed to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; The Building of the Ship (l. 6-12)