submitted by Molly


3rd July, 2416

The 26th Fleet's Task Force Avalon recently undertook a mission, the mission location classified and their objectives unknown. While much was a mystery to an outside observer, the objectives of the starbase personnel who remained behind was clear to anyone.

There's a flurry of activity, crews reporting to ships and those same ships warping out to wherever they were ordered to go. All requests for information were met with either a distracted “It's classified” or being passed by as the grim-faced ship commanders looked to the mission ahead. Once the ships leave the base goes quiet as tension builds - we enter the calm before the storm.

Officers move quickly, making whatever preparations they can. Voices are hushed, orders are calm but the air is heavy, sound almost muffled by the weight of waiting. Little can be seen of Engineering by those not in uniform but those personnel moving through the base are clearly preparing for the worst. In the station's medical bays doctors make preparations calmly, setting out instruments and preparing their support staff for what this mission may bring them. Civilians standing nearby get drafted, given medical equipment to take down to a cargo bay being converted into a triage center. It is one of two bays being converted. Clearly they expect they will need them both.

There is a small area of brightness amid the looming darkness. The base's children have been gathered, along with those moved from the ships heading to some unknown fate. Those caring for them work to keep the children distracted from the grim atmosphere elsewhere. Games are played, art projects carefully crafted, stories are read by Embassy staff - both Romulan and Federation. Everyone knows something is going on but are trying to keep the children calm and distracted.

Finally, the wait is over as the base's comms spring to life, like the first lightening strike of a storm. “ALL HANDS, INCOMING VESSELS WITH HEAVY DAMAGE. MASS CASUALTIES INBOUND.” The halls are a swarm of officers running to position. An entire group in armored EV suits cross the promenade at a dead run, cutting through to whatever transporter is available. The injured come in the same way, being helped by whoever is around to do so. Bloody tracks soon cover the floor, all leading to one of the medical bays or to the triage centers set up in cargo bays. In the medical bay the doctors who earlier calmly issued directions now bark orders like a ship captain, keeping staff moving at a brutal but orderly pace.

In the base's main social area, a bar simply called Torg's, ship commanders and fleet leaders come together. Despite an apparent victory many heads are held low. The bar is busy dispensing shots of liquid amnesia to those needing to forget the events of the day, at least for a little while. More than one head is bent over a PADD, solemnly starting the long process of writing letters to families.

From what little can be overheard, the mission was a success despite the apparent heavy cost. Even though tomorrow will come and those who were lost will still be gone, the rest of the fleet will carry on because that is what they are here to do. They mourn the losses but there are still the living to protect.

Taliesin D'Shai is a Senior Reporter for the Federation News Network. His extensive field experience over the past fourteen years with FNN has made him one of the leading names in front-line reporting.