New Orders: Saratoga
The Saratoga has completed its deep space survey of the Scarlet Expanse. She's now coming back within range of Starfleet's subspace arrays, but she's still a lot deeper than most ships in the Fleet have traveled. My Old girl keeps making me proud and so does her crew. There'll be no more talk of 'glorified shuttlepods' after this!
James T. Kirk.
Kirk smiled as he completed his log. No, there would definitely be no more talk of shuttlepods. Over the past two years Starfleet had been stepping up deep space exploration big time. Ships were being sent ever deeper into space and he'd been determined to be one of them.
Many had thought he was crazy.
"A Delphis class ship is intended for short term research missions."
"The longest they're supposed to be out is six months."
"You're the smallest class in the Fleet."
"What are you going to do if you run into hostiles? You'd be an easy target!"
'If you want to go in to deep space, Kirk, then transfer to a bigger ship!"
But he had been adamant that the Saratoga could do it.
"Our class is well designed; she's sturdy, maneuverable and has the finest sensors in the Fleet. There's no reason why we shouldn't we go into deep space. We're a science vessel after all and what's science if not exploration? New things are being discovered out there all the time and someone needs to study them. The further explorer vessels go out, the further research vessels will need to go out."
"If we manage our fuel carefully we can last for a year without needing to resupply. And when we do refuel,we don't need to come back to Earth, we can restock at any depot or Starbase."
"We're not much smaller than the Enterprise NX and look how far she went. In her day she was The explorer. Ever since then, though and especially since Nero we've become fixated on the idea that bigger means better and smaller means less. But that's simply not true."
"A Delphis class may be small, but it's well armed and can handle itself in a pinch. I would think that we proved that during the War Games at Starbase 3. Ask the USS Triumph how 'easy a target' the Saratoga is."
In the end he'd been given his chance. In mid 2260 the Saratoga had set out on an extended research surveyof the outermost edges of Federation space. He planned to circumnavigate the entire Federation, performing surveys and studies on both known worlds and on the new ones that other ships were discovering in droves.Every six months they docked at a Starbase to refuel. At the end of each year they docked for a lengthy periodto give crew members a chance to visit their homes.
Kirk calculated that by following their current route they should complete the entire survey in five years.A Five Year Mission. It was a matter of personal pride to him that the Saratoga had set out on her mission a whole year before the U.S.S. Valiant had set out on Starfleet's first Five Year Mission into uncharted space,further than any ship had ever gone. The higher ups had briefly considered sending the Enterprise, but instead the former Flagship had been consigned to a five year patrol of the Federation's borders.
Five years in unexplored space. There was a time when he would have done anything to have such a mission.But perhaps he'd become more mature, because he'd come to find great satisfaction in exploring the wonders closer to home. And as one of his crew had pointed out, 'For some people five years in unexplored space is be five years without seeing their families."
For five years the Valiant would be far out of reach of the furthest subspace relays. For five years her crew would have no contact with anyone back home, either to ask for help or simply to talk to a loved one.That was something that wouldn't have mattered much to him once. But many things had changed.
And family was something that he had definitely learned the value of.
His love of exploration had by no means lessened though, and he was grateful that other ships were going ever further out because they were discovering countless new worlds and phenomena for the Saratoga to study. For the past two months they'd been doing just that- charting the Scarlet Expanse, an incredible nebular region that the Valiant had discovered. This had taken them deeper than most of the Fleet had previously gone, to the very fringes of known space and for the past few weeks they had been out of range of subspace relays.
But now it was time to head back. Their next destination was an M class planet in the Keelor System.The recently launched USS Leonidas had flown past it during her maiden voyage. They hadn't sent alanding party but their scans had detected tantalizing life signs. Sounded right up the Saratoga's alley.
He looked at his Bridge crew. "Well guys, we've been out on the fringes of known space for two months now. What do you say we head back toward more familiar territory? I know a lot of you are looking forwardto calling home again."
He looked at his Chief Helmsman and Navigator. "Arex, set a course for the Tivo Sector. Akari, warp seven."
"Captain," M'Ress called suddenly from her post. "Captain, I'm receiving a priority message from Starfleet. It's Admiral Pike."
Kirk nodded to the Caitian. "Onscreen."
The viewscreen shimmered and then the familiar image of Admiral Pike appeared. "…Saratoga…Come in!"
Kirk smiled his old mentor. "Admiral Pike. You're lucky you caught us, we only just got back in range. It's good to see you."
Pike smiled. "Same here, Captain." His face grew serious. "But unfortunately this isn't a social call.You're to travel to the Campor System immediately. Remote sensors have detected an unusual anomalythat seems to bear similarities to the one encountered by the USS Kelvin."
Kirk nodded. "We're on our way. I think we're all up to some last minute deep space exploration."
Pike's face became more grave. "Jim, be careful. The Saratoga may have the heart of a Flagship, but she's still one of the smallest ships in the Fleet and from what we've been able to tell that anomaly's huge and appears to be very unpredictable. Starfleet had reservations about asking you to examine it, but you're the closest shipwe have. You're to proceed with caution."
Kirk nodded. "We'll watch ourselves, Admiral. Don't worry."
After the message ended he once again turned to his Helmsman. "Akari, set a course about half a light year from the Campor System, then drop us out of warp. We'll proceed from there on impulse."