((OOC: So to make the timing work with Captain Rahman I'm going to retconn this a bit and say it happened just a bit before Aria took command of the Eagle. ))
(( Outside the Sol System ))
:: The ship Starfleet had assembled for them was not only ugly, but it was also huge. One hundred and twenty-two meters long, forty meters wide at its mostly circular width, and a fairly typical cockpit from what could have been any Type 9 shuttle welded to the front. Two nacelles along a plane with the main body and gave it a very squat and primitive haphazard look.
If Aria didn’t know it was one of the most advanced ships ever built she might have put out an advisory for the crew to avoid it at all costs. As it was she couldn’t stop grinning as they entered the very cramped cockpit and stowed their gear. For Aria, that meant a copious amount of coffee and a stack PADDs that included everything she and Rahman had written on the Warp XV Engine and everything the rest of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers had written putting together the ugly ship they had just boarded.
The virtual flotilla of support ships that had been checking the ship was pulling back to a safe distance.
Aria began strapping into the co-pilot’s seat, leaving the other for the senior officer of the day. ::
Rahman: You seem to have a spring in your step today. Some good coffee this morning?
Oddas: It is that Captain, but:: she paused as she brought the coolant status displays up:: the chance to be here to actually put the theory to test - to push faster than Warp 10?
:: She flashed the other officer a sideways smile, and gave a little shrug. There wasn’t much that could happen to make her miss being aboard. ::
Rahman: Ahem, you know *technically* the “new” warp 10 on the scale isn’t the same as the old warp 10...
:: But Roshanara returned a smirk. ::
Rahman: But “breaking warp 10” does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
:: There was a thud on the side of the ship as a support umbilical disconnected. The comm system chimed and she accepted the communication. ::
Flight Control: =/\= STS-17569-WV12, we are receiving telemetry, please check the intermix ratio. =/\=
:: Aria checked the display and the backup, the intermix ratios were out of range but were coming into normal. ::
Oddas: Flight Control, this is STS-1756 … :: sighing and looking at her co-pilot:: I can’t say that all day … :: turning her attention back to Flight Control:: Flight Control, this is the Nova Aster, the intermix ratios are with parameters and approaching ideal, confirm.
Rahman: “Nova Aster?”
Oddas: :: shrugging:: Let’s just say it was the name of the first vessel I ever,:: grinning slyly:: acquired back on Bajor.
:: Truthfully it was a small two-man shuttle Aria had stolen from a scrapheap. She had almost crashed the thing moments after she had procured it. She had crashed it not too long after, luckily it had been not terribly long after takeoff and it had only been several meters off the ground. It was one of the times she had told the Constables a fake name.
Aria was still reminiscing when Rahman spoke up. ::
Rahman: =/\= Control, confirm our new callsign, “Nova Aster.” All other systems nominal. =/\=
Flight Control: =/\= Nova Aster, this is Flight Control, we confirm your readings. Prepare for main power up in 4 minutes and thirty seconds. =/\=
:: Roshanara made the final adjustments to the ship’s systems as new monitoring displays began switching on, ready to record every last bit of data on their impending flight. ::
Rahman: All right, final systems checks are green. Let’s begin inputting our course for this morning.
:: The Bajoran woman leaned in to speak to her Senior Officer. ::
Oddas: Ready for this?
:: The captain chuckled before looking over at Oddas. ::
Rahman: This prototype certainly is. How about you, though?
Oddas: I’ve been ready since the tests back two years ago when you said we’d have to brow-beat Starfleet to get to this point.
:: Roshanara nodded, thinking over the past two years of additional laboratory tests, simulations, and smaller test runs with some of the project’s individual components. It had been quite the amount of work and overtime, and that didn’t include the seemingly hundreds of meetings that she and Oddas had been making to get this far. ::
Rahman: ::pulling up a map to oversee the test flight:: Well, there’s still a lot of work ahead, but…
:: She looked over and winked. ::
Rahman: I might have noticed one of the yard engineers trying to hide the confetti back in the lounge. We’ll have plenty to celebrate after today.
:: Aria verified the life support, such as it was, and nodded approvingly. ::
Oddas: I doubt we’re the only ones. :: letting her hand run along the hull :: They did good work.
:: The low hum of the prototype’s warp engine kicked in as the ship began feeding off of its own supply. Roshanara verified the power consumption levels before calling Flight Control. ::
Rahman: =/\= Control, OR Assembly Mark 1 is active. =/\=
:: She was still getting used to saying the engine’s full name “Oddas-Rahman Next Gen Warp Propulsion Assembly” and decided to stick to the shorthand over the comm. ::
:: Aria pulled up her own display of the Engine power distribution, out of curiosity, and a sense of pride - strictly speaking she didn’t need to monitor the thing. She pushed an imaginary hair back behind her ear and shook her head slightly. To see it go from theory, to design, to implementation..it made her skin prickle. ::
Flight Control: =/\= Understood, Nova Aster. You are clear for departure. Godspeed. =/\=
:: The Kriosian took a moment to admire the view as the Nova Aster moved forward out of the drydock facility. The silhouettes of other starships in the yard could be seen in the distance, starships that might all one day be refitted with the drive they were about to use. ::
Rahman: All right, Commander, I hope you haven’t forgotten how to pilot a starship after sitting in that command chair of yours this past year.
:: Aria considered insisting the Senior Officer take the honor, but on this rare occasion decided it would be ok to let some pride take over. Besides, before she could form a rational reply, her fingers were already moving to the helm controls. ::
Oddas: Thank you Captain, I think I remember which is forward.
:: Roshanara was more than happy to let Aria take the helm while she sat as the engineer for the 2-person “crew.” It was a return to her first love -- being a starship engineer -- that she hadn’t held since she was last chief engineer of the Garuda all those years ago. ::
Rahman: So to review: we’ll do an initial jump to warp 6, then accelerate up to warp 9, and then push through from there. All set?
:: Aria tapped the controls to tie navigation into her station along with the deflector and status of the structural integrity fields.
Oddas: ::nodding:: All set Captain, Engines are responding.
Rahman: Full warp coil charge in 10 seconds… 5… 4… 3… 2…
Oddas: oO And may the Prophets guide our path.Oo
:: The captain leaned back into her chair, getting ready for the jump. ::
Oddas: Aye Ma’am.
:: She pressed the final control flinging them from the virtual dead standstill of space into warp 6, normally cruising speed for Aria, now something of a test for the ship. Aria waited for any little sign the Nova Aster was going to fall apart. She grinned and gave the all clear sign to Rahman.::
((Seven minutes, 34 seconds into the test flight))
:: The prototype had performed flawlessly, but they had only gotten it up to Warp 9, which meant they were ready to push the envelope and get to the meat of the experiment. She glanced at the controls: her board was green. ::
Oddas: Ready to go when you are Captain.
:: Roshanara nodded as she opened the channel to flight control. ::
Rahman: =/\= Control, we’re all set to begin the deep subspace layer crossings. =/\=
Flight Control: =/\= Acknowledged. You may proceed with the next stage Nova Aster. =/\=
Rahman: ::looks over at Aria:: All right, just like we practiced in the simulations. Nice and steady. Increase speed to warp 10.
:: Aria pushed the power slider forward, her fingers moving along the touchscreen easily, in direct inverse proportion to the stress she imagined the engine behind her was channeling even more power to the warp nacelles, working to push the ship through the next layer of subspace. ::
Oddas: Warp 9.5 … 9.7 … 9.9 ….
:: In such a barebones craft like the Nova Aster, every little jostle could be felt as the ship moved faster and faster, the structural integrity field doing its best to keep up with the ever increasing demands to keep the hull from crumpling like aluminum foil. ::
:: Then it popped, the ship silently moved through the next layer without so much as a shake. Aria smiled wide, the OR Assembly Mark 1 was doing its job. ::
:: She looked over and gave Rahman a wide grin. It was working. The ship was moving like a dream. It was better than she had imagined. ::
Rahman: ::nodding as she looked over her console:: Transition to the tenth subspace layer is complete and holding steady.
::She shook her head in awe.::
Rahman: Look at these power efficiency curves…they’re even better than we’d anticipated: just a little bit more than warp 9.
:: This was the game changer. It meant that any ship that could at least reach warp 9 -- which was the vast majority of the current Federation fleet -- could be outfitted to hit speeds in excess of the old warp 9.6, which only a couple of decades ago had been the top emergency speed of Starfleet’s most advanced ship, the Galaxy class. ::
Rahman: Let’s record another minute of data before moving onto warp 11.
:: Aria nodded and waited for a moment for the other Captain to complete her work, and monitored several of the secondary systems. ::
Oddas: Roger sir.
:: She pressed the control panel again, displaying the power distribution next to the velocity indicator and the course controls. A slight adjustment brought the controls up to Warp 11, and the Nova Aster’s actual speed brought itself up to match the desired speed. It took approximately 30 seconds and in that time it came and went. ::
Oddas: Warp 11, moving to Warp 12…
:: Aria first felt it in her seat first as she pushed the Nova past Warp 11, towards Warp 12. At Warp 11.3 the ship began shaking a little, a rattle, the console under her hand seemed to be bouncing under the plasteel of her hand and she instinctively planted her feet trying to make sure she wasn’t going to fall out of the seat. ::
Oddas: What --
Rahman: There’s a differential forming between the nacelles. It’s preventing a complete transition to the twelth subspace layer.
:: Aria nodded, it made sense going at these speeds and it was one of the possibilities they had discussed going through as of yet unknown layers of subspace. They had been lucky so far, and she hoped they would continue to be lucky.
The ship began shaking more and Aria had to begin adjusting course to keep the ship inside the warp bubble. ::
Oddas: You can compensate, Captain?
Rahman: I’m working on it… hold her steady, Commander.
:: Aria’s finger’s danced over the keys, adjusting course minutely, trying to keep the ship on course as the shaking got more violent. An alarm sounded as the inertial dampeners began straining to keep them from accelerating against the back of the cockpit. ::
Oddas: oO Or tearing apart. Oo
Oddas: Just a little more, we’re at Warp :: she had to dart her eyes to the readout:: 11.8 … 11.9
:: The ship continued to rock as they approached the next threshold. On her console, Roshanara could see that both nacelles were now paired again. ::
Rahman: Realignment is complete! We should cross over in 3… 2… 1...
:: Out of the corner of her eye, Aria realized the Kriosian had her own handsful and for a split second she was taken aback, she hadn’t expected the reaction. ::
Oddas: Warp 12 … If you keep it up we can keep going, Warp 12.1, easily to Warp 13.
Rahman: Hold, commander. We need to collect more data.
Oddas: Warp 12.3, just a little more, I’m sure we can make it.
:: Aria was pushing it and she knew it, but she was hoping to keep going. They weren’t risking anyone else, there was no reason not to keep going, the ship was designed to keep moving and to keep going faster, rated for Warp 13 at least if Rahman would keep up. ::
Oddas: Warp 12.4 --
Rahman: The differential is forming again between nacelles. I’m calling it!
:: Another shudder went through the ship, and the inertial dampeners pressed them into the seats as if was going to suffocate her. Aria had a flash of her Wife, her Kids. As the dampeners released her she blew a breath out of her cheeks and slammed her fist on the console, shutting the engine down.::
Oddas::: under her breath:: frack!
:: Once she was certain they were no longer in danger, Roshanara spun her chair around to face Aria squarely. ::
Rahman: What the hell happened back there?
:: Aria focused on the console, reviewing the system status and deliberately avoiding her friend, colleague, and mentor. ::
Oddas: I’m sorry Captain.
:: When the commander didn’t respond, Roshanara tapped a few buttons on her console, shutting down the controls. Aria’s console powered down from underneath her fingertips, leaving only a black panel surface that reflected her face. ::
Rahman: Commander, I asked you a question.
:: Aria looked back toward the other woman, embarrassed. She had had worked long and hard to keep the hot-headedness Bajorans were known for at bay and now she had gone and put it on display for one of the people whose opinion mattered to her most. ::
Oddas: I just knew the ship could do it, and thought why not? Why prove just Warp 12 when we can go all the way?
:: Roshanara shook her head slowly. She could understand the hunger the younger woman felt, but she also knew first hand the cost that could come with it. ::
Rahman: I might expect such recklessness from a first-year cadet, but you’re a commanding officer, for God’s sake, Aria. You know better.
:: She wasn’t trying to yell, but the tiny confines of the cockpit seemed to make her voice echo off of every panel. ::
:: Aria subconsciously recoiled. The words stung. The worst part was Rahman was right, of course. What she had done was something she would have put one of her own officers on report for. ::
Oddas: I :: she paused :: I know, I .. just, :: she let out a frustrated sigh :: it was right there.
:: The captain reached over to hold onto the other woman’s arm. ::
Rahman: Look, I know how much you want this. How much we *both* want this.
:: She then let out a laugh glancing around the cockpit. ::
Rahman: But look at us now. Two years ago, this was all just equations on a PADD. Now, we just became the first two people to ever cross the twelfth subspace layer.
:: Roshanara leaned forward, folding her hands together in her lap. ::
Rahman: We’ll get there, but not by taking short cuts. Trust me, that’s the last thing you want. When I was working on the slipstream project nine years ago, I discovered something that should have called for a closer look. But there was a major milestone moment ahead, and I convinced myself that it’d be okay -- and because of that, someone close to me got hurt.
:: She paused for a moment, looking deep into Aria’s eyes. ::
Rahman: I don’t want you to ever have to experience that for yourself.
:: Aria considered, and thought about the family she had back making their way to her new assignment. ::
Oddas: I understand, I do. I’ll do better.
:: The Kriosian gave the Bajoran a small smile. ::
Rahman: I know you will. Now come on. Let’s head back to Control at warp 12 and finish collecting the data. From there, we’ll tackle this warp 13 “barrier.”
Oddas: :: gesturing at her darkened console:: As soon as you give the word, ma’am.
:: The captain spun back around to face the front of the cockpit and powered back up the ship’s control systems. ::
Rahman: All right, plot a course back and prepare to engage. Let’s see if we can jump right into warp 10 this time.
Oddas: :: tapping her controls :: Aye Captain, preparing for Warp 10.
:: After initiating the warp coil charge, Roshanara sat back in her chair, this time preparing to admire the view out the windows, even if just for a bit. They’d get to warp 13. She knew it. And then warp 14 and 15 at some point. If today had demonstrated anything, it’s that no barrier was a match for the imagination of two Starfleet engineers. ::
Commander Oddas Aria
USS Eagle, NCC-74659
ASDB Co-Facilitator / Training Team / Captains Council
Captain Roshanara Rahman
USS Veritas, NCC-95035
ASDB Co-Facilitator / Training Team / Captains Council