Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Star Trek: Outreach
And So It Begins…
Office of the First Minister, Cardassia Prime
Stardate: 52992.7 (December 29th, 2375)
Natima Lang stood by the large oval window that looked out over the Capital. There wasn’t a building that hadn’t suffered some kind of damage, whilst a pile of rubble was all that remained of others. Who knew how many bodies were still buried in their former homes or reduced to the dust that blew through the deserted streets. Since the end of the war, the people of Cardassia Prime had become scared and withdrawn. Their industry had been decimated, the economy was non-existent, the pride and self-worth that had once been a defining trait of her people had been crushed.
But they had only themselves to blame. When Gul Dukat had invited the Dominion to Cardassia, there had been little resistance, the people only seeing the strength and power they would attain and not the price they would have to pay. The Dissident Movement had tried to make the people aware of the dangers such a union would bring, but their warnings had fallen on deaf ears…well almost. The Vorta had heard them. They sent the Jem’Hadar to silence their protests, under the guise of planetary security. Lang had watched as comrade and friend Rekelen Zoratt had been gunned down by three Dominion soldiers. But she hadn’t been the only one, six others from the Movement had died that day and the rest had barely been able to get into hiding.
For two and a half years, she had lived on the run, trying to gather support for the Movement and watching as Cardassia was dragged into the bloodiest war the Alpha Quadrant had seen. It was only with the revolt of Legate Damar that they had begun to be heard and taken seriously, with many of the Movement (herself included) taking up arms to help free their world.
But now they were free of the Dominion, their legacy would be felt for generations to come, and she doubted that Cardassia would ever fully recover. Which was why her latest, and perhaps most controversial, proposal was so important if they were to survive and rebuild—she was just glad that the other ministers had listened and agreed with her.
The intercom on her desk chirped. She moved over to it and tapped a control. “Yes?”
“First Minister, the comlink you requested has gone through,” her aide informed her.
“Thank you. Please transfer the connection to my terminal. Lang out.”
She sat down in her high-backed chair, took a steadying breathe and then activated her screen. The Cardassian emblem appeared briefly, before being replaced by the dark, lined face of a human female, with short salt-and-pepper hair and intense dark eyes, which seemed more than a little surprised to see Lang.
“First Minister Lang, I had not known it was you that was contacting me,” Fleet Admiral Thema Shanthi stated. “My apologies for keeping you waiting.”
“That is quite alright, Fleet Admiral. I can imagine you are very busy right now, and the delay allowed some time for reflection.”
“What can I do for you, First Minister?” Shanthi asked, getting to the point. Lang had only spoken with the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet a couple times over the last few weeks, since she was sworn into office, but Lang had come to like her direct approach—it was needed in this day and age.
“Fleet Admiral, firstly I would like to thank you for all that Starfleet and the Federation is doing for my people—it is much more than we deserve. However, I feel that there is more that could be done to get relief aid and supplies directly to where they are needed.”
“As you know, our fleet was all but destroyed during the war. What ships we have left are damaged and operating with skeleton crews, in short they are not up for the task of redistributing the aid that is sorely needed across our space. I am offering Starfleet to have free and unrestricted access to our space, so as to help my people recover from this atrocity.”
Shanthi’s eyebrows shot upwards in a look of stunned disbelief. Following the end of the War, the old Cardassian Union had been divided up between the Allied Forces of the Federation, Klingon and Romulan Empires, as well as the newly formed Cardassian Republic, with each species responsible for supply support and aid where needed, ensuring security and that the articles of the surrender and treaty were upheld. Whilst the Klingons and Romulans were doing little to help, the Federation was giving more than Lang had ever dreamed—but it still wasn’t enough. Lang’s offer of unlimited access essentially gave the Federation responsibility for half of the former Union.
“That is some offer, First Minister. Has the parliament approved such a decision?”
“Grudgingly,” she admitted. The other ministers hadn’t liked the proposal, but she had been able to secure a fifty-five percent approval—not the greatest of margins but a majority nonetheless.
“I will need to discuss this with the Command and Federation Councils,” Shanthi informed her, clasping her hands before her and leaning forward. “I will have an answer for you within twenty-four hours.”
“I understand, Fleet Admiral, thank you. I will await your response.”
“I will endeavour to do all I can, First Minister. Shanthi out.”
The Cardassian emblem reappeared. She deactivated her console again and then sat back. The future of her people was now in the hands of others. Natima Lang could only hope that they would make the right choice.
* * * * *
Relief Management Centre, Starfleet Operations
Sydney, Australia, Earth
Stardate: 52998.6 (December 31st, 2375)
With a little more than twelve hours until 2376 began, there were still mountains of PADDs that needed to be sorted, approved, queried and filed. But then again, it was no different from any other day of the last month. Rear Admiral (lower half) Alisana J’Nae was progressing through the stacks, one datapad at a time, in between meetings, subspace conferences, briefings and all the other interruptions that made a long task that much longer. She doubted that she would be out to celebrate at midnight, most likely she would still be in her office. But when she’d been offered the role as Deputy Chief of Relief Operations, she knew that it would be a lot of hard, thankless work—however it was five times harder than anything she could have imagined.
She reached for the teacup on her desk, not taking her eyes from the latest refugee statistics. She lifted the cup to her lips and it was only when she tried to take a sip did she look into the cup, to find it empty. Setting it back in the saucer and laying the PADD next to it, she stood up and stretched the kinks and knots out of her back, groaning as the stiffness that had taken root in her spine was eased. She picked up the cup and saucer, moved to the replicator and ordered a fresh cup of spice root tea with a twist of lemon. As the cup dematerialised and was replaced with a new one, she closed her eyes and rotated her head, neck and shoulders, trying to relax a little. Spending hours sitting still, doing paperwork wasn’t good for her; it was one of the biggest changes she’d had to make since entering the admiralty ten months ago.
With her new cup of tea, she returned to her desk. She avoided looking out her window at Sydney harbour and the Opera House, as it was a view she had found to be intoxicating, one she could easily get lost in if she wasn’t careful. Tonight it would be light up with fireworks as the streets were filled with revellers, celebrating the end of the war as much as the beginning of the New Year.
She had just sat down when the door chimed.
“Enter,” she called, expecting to see one of the facilities admin officers bringing in a new stack of PADDS. So when the doors opened to reveal Admiral Mrrkol, the Director of Starfleet Operations, she was susprised to say the least. Instinctively she rose from behind her desk as the tower Caitian walked into her office.
“Good day, Rear Admiral J’Nae,” he purred.
“And to you, Admiral Mrrkol,” she greeted him, gesturing to one of the empty seat opposite her. “Please have a seat. Can I get you anything?”
Mrrkol shook her head. “No, thank you.” He looked at all the PADDs on her desk with a hint of sympathy as he sat. “How’re things going?”
“Slowly, sir,” she admitted, “but I like a challenge.”
His ears twitched and a vague smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “So I read in your personnel file. You’ve impressed all your former CO’s with your hard work and devotion to duty, which you’ve continued since your promotion. Vice Admiral Perai has told me several times that you’re the best deputy she could have asked for.”
“I just knuckle down and focus on the job at hand—we Centaurians may be a peaceful people, but we’re used to hard work.”
“And you are a credit to you people, Rear Admiral, which is part of the reason I’m here. You’re also organised and meticulous, whilst your background in diplomacy has made you a highly effective liaison between Starfleet and the civilian relief organisations and charities. You know all about the relief work that’s going on and the logistics required to make it run as smoothly as possible.
“It’s because of all that that we have a new assignment for you,” Mrrkol told her.
“Starfleet Command has developed a new programme for our work with in the former Cardassian Union, they’re calling it Project Outreach, and it needs someone on site to take charge. Are you interested?”
* * * * *
S.C.E. Prep Room, U.S.S. Tahv
Stardate: 53042.1 (January 16th, 2376)
Ever since it had been announced on New Year’s Day, the entire fleet had been abuzz with chatter and speculation on Project Outreach. There were those who were obviously against the idea of contributing more Starfleet resources to helping the Cardassians, angry and bitter about family and friends lost, or believing that they deserved whatever they got for selling their souls to the devil. Throughout all the outrage and expletives, Lieutenant Aki Yamada remained quiet. She hadn’t spent any time on the front, but instead had been heavily involved in R&D, helping design and test new weaponry and shielding. Of course she had lost friends—who hadn’t—but she had always just focused on what needed doing and grieved in her own time, this mission would be just the same.
The Miranda-Class U.S.S. Tahv (named for the inventor of warp drive on Tellar) was one of the few ships assigned to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, but unlike the newer, smaller Sabre-Class ships, it was intended for more long-term assignments. Her new mission was to go to the Trivas System and secure Empok Nor, an old Cardassian Station abandoned three years ago, they were then to disarm any booby traps and then start work on bring the base online, as it was to act as the new headquarters for Starfleet operations in the region.
Commander Leland T. Lynch, the S.C.E. Commander onboard, had laid out their mission in the briefing the day before. Four six-man teams would beam in, as they couldn’t risk any of the docking ports in case they’d been rigged with explosives, then split into two smaller groups. The eight teams would then begin locating and disarming and threats they found, starting at the docking ring and working their way in towards the central core. Each smaller team would consist of two engineers and a security guard, all would be armed and caution was the key, this job had to be done right, no matter how long it took.
Yamada had been placed in command of beam-in team three, so after they split up the second group would report in to her and then she would relay their full progress to Lynch. She’d led teams before, both in the field and also on research projects, but this was the first time she was beaming into a situation where they expected danger. She looked at the other S.C.E. personnel on her team: Ensign th’Vahlan was a wizard with sensors, Senior Chief Baxter was a solid all-rounder, Chief Rehein was a structural expert, Petty Officer Wells was excellent with power systems, and lastly Crewman T’Sei was a tactical specialist. They were all checking through their toolkits, as well as the phaser and tricorders on their belts and the SIMs beacons on their wrists. As per orders, they would all be carrying phaser rifles as well—much to Yamada’s dismay. Though given the recent history of the base, the Cardassian soldiers doped with psychotropic drugs, a cult led by Gul Dukat, not to mention the vagrants, raiders and other undesirables that had made use of the base over the last couple of years, she could understand the need for precautions.
She was just finishing up her last checks when two men (one older human-looking and a youthful Tellarite) approached, both with an armful of type-three phaser rifles. She straightened up as they stopped in front of her team.
“Master Chief Andal Ibari and Crewman Rgek lorin Chabor, we’ll be your security escort,” the older male stated. He was handsome, his hair greying at the temples and his cropped beard highlighted with silver, and going by his onyx pupils she assumed Betazoid.
“Lieutenant Aki Yamada,” she said with a nod, then introduced the rest of the team.
As they began distributing the weapons, Ibari asked, “What’s the team division?”
“Rehein and T’Sei are with me, whilst Ensign th’Vahlan will supervise Baxter and Wells.”
He nodded. “Chabor will accompany you, Ensign; I’ll be with you, Lieutenant.”
“Sounds good to me, Master Chief.”
“Bridge to prep. We’re on approach to Empok Nor. Report to transporter rooms one through four.”
“Understood Captain,” Lynch responded. He looked at the four teams. “Let’s get moving.”
Yamada led her people into transporter room three and stepped up onto the dais. For the first part of the mission, they would be on a double shift, after which the next teams would take over, and so on until they were satisfied that the facility had no more surprises hidden for them. It was only then that the Tahv would dock and the bulk of the S.C.E. team would get to work on repairing, upgrading and restoring systems. Lynch had told them they had been given a month to get as much done as possible, after that then the stations complement would begin arriving and they would have to work around others, so they would focus was on main systems: power, environmental, weapons and computers. They had a lot of double and triple shifts ahead of them, but the more they could get done whilst alone on the station the better, minor systems could be dealt with when needed.
Once her people were in place, she levelled her rifle and activated her SIMs beacon, ready to face whatever they might face. She looked around at her team and noticed that a few were showing the same nerves she was doing well to hide. Her eyes then locked with Ibari and he gave her a small encouraging smile.
“Standby,” the transporter chief announced.
She faced forward once again, flexed her grip on the rifle and waited.
After a few moments, the Bolian at the controls stated, “Energising.”
It took only eight seconds for them to dematerialise from the Tahv and rematerialize on Empok Nor. As soon as she solidified, Yamada had expected to hear klaxons and alerts or an explosion that took out the entire station. The eerie stillness was worse.
The team swept the area with their lights and weapons, but nothing jumped out at them. The corridor was cluttered with crates and containers stacked up, a thick layer of dust was on every surface and the deck was littered with rubbish. There was no movement or sound. Yamada quickly looked down all three paths at the intersection they had been beamed into, the passages to her left and right curved around the rest of the docking ring, whilst the one before her was a connecting bridge to the habitat ring. She looked over her shoulder and noticed a set of double doors, which should be a turbolift shaft that would give them access to the upper and lower pylons.
“So far so good,” Ibari announced, his soft voice echoing down each corridor.
Had she been anywhere else, she may have smiled, but as it was there was something about the desolate station that seemed to suck all the joy out of her. She shuddered before straightening up.
“Let’s get to it. We need to get those doors opened and start sweeping the pylons.”
* * * * *
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Fascinating... I like it! More, please? :bolian:
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Conference Room 12, Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
Stardate: 53047.5 (January 18th, 2376)
The long table of the conference room was covered with PADDs and holoimagers, most active though only a few of which Thanasirta sh’Ranni was actually looking at. All of them displayed information on the Intrepid-Class U.S.S. Renown which, in a week, would become her new command. Her last ship, the Exeter, had been lost during the Battle of Cardassia. Fortunately their casualties had been light and after the battle the crew had been recovered by rescue ships. After some healing onboard a medical ship bound for Earth, she had returned to duty, but with the chaos that existed after the war there was no clear place for her to go, no ships in need of new Captain’s, so she had been assigned to Utopia Planitia, where she would oversee starship construction—assured that one would be earmarked as her next ship.
The Renown was a fine ship, cutting edge technology, fast and with an impressive array of sensors and weaponry, sh’Ranni knew that she would enjoy serving onboard—though it would be odd to just have a crew of around one hundred and forty, compared to the seven hundred-odd that had been onboard the Exeter. She knew that the old Ambassador-Class ship would always have a special place in her heart, being the first ship she had commanded, but she would take the lessons she had learned there and apply them to the Renown.
“Captain sh’Ranni, you have an incoming communiqué from Starfleet Operations on channel Alpha-three.”
“I’ll take it down here, thank you.”
She rose from her chair and moved to the large viewscreen that dominated one of the bulkheads. Activating it, it took only a couple of seconds for the images of a woman to appear. She was very attractive, face angular but appealing, a curve to her full lips, golden blonde hair tied up in an immaculate manner, and bright blue eyes that almost glowed—as an Andorian, sh’Ranni could appreciate beauty, regardless of gender, what did surprise her though were the Rear Admiral pips on the collar of someone who looked younger than herself.
“Captain sh’Ranni I presume?” the admiral asked.
“Thanasirta sh’Ranni, sir. How may I assist you?”
“I am Rear Admiral Alisana J’Nae, Commander of Project Outreach.”
Sh’Ranni was surprised. Everyone had heard of Project Outreach, hardly a day went past when she didn’t hear at least six separate opinions on Starfleet’s newest assignment. She had been so caught up in preparing for the Renown she hadn’t been able to keep track of all the latest news threads or developments, so she hadn’t heard who had been assigned to the project—that it had been given to only a lower half rear admiral was somewhat unusual.
On the monitor, J’Nae smiled. “I see you’ve heard of it.”
“I’d be surprised if someone hadn’t, sir.”
“That is true. It has been decided that rather than command the Outreach Task Force from here, it would be more effective to lead from the front—that way any problems or issues that arise can be dealt with immediately and, given the nature of this particular beast, there are likely to be many things that will arise to cause trouble.”
“Agreed. The situation out there is somewhat unstable, what with their military all but gone, their economy and infrastructure destroyed, millions of refugees needing resettled, raiders and pirates at work, and a government that appears to have little in the way of any real power. It’s a hard job you’ve undertaken, sir.”
“That is an understatement, Captain,” J’Nae replied with a serious smile. “A couple of days ago, a team from the S.C.E. arrived at Empok Nor to begin disarming any security systems left behind, then bringing the base online and made operational. From there the task force will be commanded, all supplies will be routed, defence will be co-ordinated and whatever other aid and assistant we can provide will be given. Due to the amount of work that needs doing regarding the task force, I won’t be able to supervise the station as well, which means I am in need of someone as base commander. I would like that someone to be you, Captain sh’Ranni.”
“Me?” she asked, shocked. “Admiral, I’ve already been given a new assignment, the Renown. I’ll be taking command in a week. Surely there must be other candidates for the post.”
J’Nae nodded. “There are. A long list of them in fact, but of that list there are those that are too inexperienced, promoted up too rapidly these last two years, some who are waiting for the stop/loss order to be rescinded so they can step down, others have been left too hot-headed after years of conflict, and then there are those who would just point-blank refuse to take it.”
“How do you know I’m not one of the latter, sir?”
“I’ve been reading up on you, Captain. You’ve never shied away from hard assignments or tough decisions, you’re as much a humanitarian as you are a soldier—just four months ago, after an engagement with a Cardassian ship you recovered the crew before their warp core breached. Add to that six years commanding the Exeter and the five before that as First Officer on DS2, you have the necessary experience. I need to have someone commanding the station that I know can handle it, who will make judgement calls and decisions themselves, take action and stand by their choices. I can assure you, that although I will be based on the station I won’t interfere with the goings on—unless they have a direct correlation with task force operations.
“So what do you say?”
Sh’Ranni would be lying is she said it wasn’t tempting. A posting such as this was something she could get her teeth into, could make a lasting impression and really do some good from. As part of Project Outreach, she could make a considerable difference, whilst aboard the Renown all she’d really be able to do was deliver a couple cargo holds worth of supplies. J’Nae was right, she’d never been someone who backed down from tough missions—and this would be one of the toughest going.
She would miss serving on a starship, but the assignment wouldn’t be forever. Besides, Commander Ghall was more than ready for a command of his own, and a small ship like the Renown would be a fine choice for him. Pausing for a moment, sh’Ranni chuckled to herself. It sounds like I’ve already decided without realising.
She looked J’Nae straight in the eye. “When do we leave?”
* * * * *
Transporter Pad, Starfleet Operations
Sydney, Australia, Earth
Stardate: 53055.8 (January 21st, 2376)
The tingle of the transporter beam released Chief Petty Officer Aku Nkova and he found himself in the atrium of Starfleet Operations, which looked out onto the majestic harbour of Sydney. Several sailboats were gracefully moving across the water, whilst a few hoverskies darted back and forth. He had never been to the city before, but this wasn’t to be a social visit, he had worked that needed to be seen to.
Stepping of the dais, he headed over to the nearest directory and searched for the name he wanted. As he stood in the open space, which was mostly glass and support beams, he noticed several people looking at him from the corner of his eye—not surprising as there weren’t many Rylak in Starfleet. Like the Orions, his people were known more as pirates, thugs and criminals, with connections to many underworld organisations or other disreputable groups. He was only of only seven of his people in Starfleet service, so the odds were against most seeing a Rylak in uniform.
When he stopped the name he wanted, he made a mental note of the floor, section and office and then headed for the stairs. Bypassing the escalator, he climbed the stairs beside them three at a time. His swift and effortless progress brought him to the attention of those travelling slowly beside him, who paused in mid conversation or looked up from the PADDs they were working on. He paid them little attention as he was used to the looks, he still got them at the Academy, despite being there for over five months—since the Breen attack on Earth—where he taught hand-to-hand combat to all the wet behind the ears cadets.
His journey to the third floor was quick. Though he was tall and broad with muscle, he was fast on his feet and nimble, allowing him to pass through crowds with ease—though in most instances when they saw him approach they parted before him. He rounded a corner and saw a set of double doors ahead, on which was clearly written: Relief Management Centre. He had arrived.
The doors parted for him and he stepped through into a large room, filled with computer terminals and operators, many wearing headsets and working from multiple monitors as they spoke to people over the comlinks. There was a general din in the room that made it hard to hear anything in particular, it was only when one of the logistics specialist lost their cool and raised their voice to whichever bull-headed individual they were trying to work with—which, Nkova noted, happened relatively frequently. It was a tough job these people had, trying to organise shipments of supplies and services to dozens of worlds and outposts affected by the war. There was a reason he had stuck with Security, at least he could take out his frustrations on the people that annoyed him.
Everyone was too busy to notice him, even if he was built like a tank, with cobalt skin and two long headtails hanging down his back. He noticed a sign which showed where the private offices were located and headed down the correct corridor. He passed a couple of meeting rooms and a few other offices, before he got to the one he wanted. Tapping the enunciator, he didn’t have to wait long.
Complying, he stepped through the opening doors and approached the desk. His sharp eyes quickly assessed the room, noting that all personal effects had been removed, leaving behind only the standard furniture and fittings, whilst a couple of containers were set beside the desk, one full the other about halfway. There was a briefcase on the desktop, with various PADDs and holoimagers secured inside, with a small stack next to it waiting to go in. The woman he had come to see had her back to the door, but he could tell it was her; the same lithe build, the same golden hair though a little longer than the last time he’d seen her, the same elegant grace with which she moved. She didn’t look back at him, as she was busy taking down a few pictures, plaques, citation and medal displays, so he stopped in front of her desk and stood at parade rest.
It was around thirty seconds after he’d stopped that she finally looked back. The look on her stunning face was priceless, somewhere between shock, disbelief and joy. Alisana J’Nae came down off the stepladder before she fell off, a wide smile quickly spreading.
“Aku,” she began but gave up going any further. “Wow, ok. You have me speechless.”
“My job here is done,” he stated, then made a move to turn away and leave.
She laughed, a beautiful musical sound. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m assigned to Starfleet Academy, an instructor in self-defence and weaponry.”
“Why didn’t you get in touch?” J’Nae asked, perching herself on the desk.
“Firstly there was a war on, then there was all this,” he said, gesturing to the ops centre behind him. “Never seemed like an appropriate time to catch up.”
“So instead, you turn up on my doorstep a week before I leave for a new assignment.”
“I heard you got Project Outreach. Are congratulations in order?”
She nodded, her bright blue eyes looking onto his. “I wanted this job, there’s a lot of good I can do out there.”
He took a step closer to her. “But it’s dangerous in Cardassian territory. Just yesterday there were attacks on the relief outpost on Septimus three and the UFP Embassy on Cardassia Prime, two Federation officials and four Starfleeters were killed! Is it worth that kind of risk?”
J’Nae chuckled and looked down at the floor for a moment, shaking her head. Her reaction had him perplexed and a little annoyed, she didn’t seem to be taking the threats to her safety seriously. When she looked back at him, he saw in her eyes the same mix determination and trepidation he’d seen the first time they’d met.
“Who would have thought, Aku, when we first met twenty-seven years ago, that you’d be here, now, in a Starfleet uniform lecturing me about the dangers of the job?”
“I would have thought that especially after our first meeting, you’d be more careful.”
He and J’Nae had met almost three decades earlier, back when she was a fresh-faced ensign, the administrative officer to Vice Admiral Yanok chim Donnar, and he had been what many people thought of his race as, a thug, part of a mercenary ship who had been hired to abduct the admiral—exactly why he had never been told until after they had him. J’Nae had gotten in the way, trying to keep him safe and so they had taken her too—many of his shipmates commenting on what they could do to her. He was new to the ship and life, his headtails had barely finished growing out and didn’t know any better—his father was a merc so he was expected to follow him into the life as well, but the whole thing made him uneasy. That feeling only got worse when he’d heard the others gloating over how they would enjoy carving up the pig and violating the girl.
When it had been his turn to watch over them, Donnar was hurt bad and slipping in and out of consciousness, so it had been J’Nae who had asked for his help, talked to him, telling him that things could be different, if he would just help her, she would make sure that everyone knew he had helped them. She had been so honest and earnest, her words so heartfelt that he couldn’t help but listen. Somehow she had picked up on his inexperience and distress over what they had done (and would do) and appealed to that. Against everything he had known, everything he had been led to believe, he had opened their cell and helped them escape onboard one of the assault shuttles.
His former companions had been on them instantly, but they were able to call for help and take shelter in an asteroid field until a Starfleet ship arrived. The starship seized the raider and rescued the shuttle, at which point he was arrested for the part he had played. Had it not been for the reports of Donnar and J’Nae he would have faced the same sentence as the others, but instead he had just had six months in a minimum security penal colony, upon his release he found a communiqué awaiting him with a letter from Vice Admiral Donnar supporting his entry into Starfleet.
J’Nae stood up and faced him. She was a few centimetres shorter and at least thirty kilos lighter, but no less intimidating than himself. “It’s because of things like out first meeting that I have to do this. I can do more good out there than I can sitting here.
“Besides,” she continued, “I won’t be on Cardassia, I’ll be based out of what was Empok Nor. Much safer.”
“If you think sitting on top of a Cardassian-designed fusion reactor is safe.”
“I have every faith in the S.C.E. teams to get it ready and if you’re so worried about my safety, then why don’t you come with me?”
That stopped him short. “What?”
“Starfleet Security has voiced the same concerns following what happened yesterday. They don’t want a member of the admiralty out there without an armed escort, so if I need to have one, I’d like it to be you.”
“You’ve come all the way from San Francisco to look out for my wellbeing. I’d be willing to bet that you would go through every layer of hell to keep me safe from anything and everything—even myself.”
The corner of his lips tugged upwards, the closest he really got to a smile. “You’re not wrong there,” he admitted. He would do whatever was necessary to keep her safe, she had saved his life all those years ago, then given him purpose and direction (even though it had been Donnar’s signature on the letter of recommendation, he knew she had been the one who had written it), the least he could do was to keep others from doing her harm.
He gave her a single nod which made her smile once again.
J’Nae moved back to the desk and tapped an interface. “J’Nae to Hannigan.”
“Hannigan here. Go ahead, Admiral.”
“Lieutenant, can you get Chief Petty Officer Aku Nkova added to the Project Outreach roster and comm list, then make sure that whatever travel arrangements we have he is added to them.”
“Of course sir. What shall I add the Chief’s duties as?”
“Personal security escort.”
“Understood. I’ll get him added right now.”
“Thank you, Chloe,” she said before closing the link. She looked back at him. “I’ll clear your reassignment with the Academy. You’d better get packed and ready.”
He snapped to attention. “Aye sir.”
* * * * *
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Drafting Room, Berth Gamma-17
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, Mars
Stardate: 53056.2 (January 21st, 2376)
Three days ago, Captain sh’Ranni had announced to the crew that she wouldn’t be assuming command of the Renown, but instead was being reassigned to Project Outreach. The following day had seen Commander Ghall promoted to Captain and lined up to replace her. Jordan Kelly, like many onboard, was sorry to see her go. He had served under her aboard the Exeter and signed on to the Renown with several others on the crew, where she had appointed him Second Officer. He had led missions before, even commanded the Exeter on occasion, but this was his first official dalliance into Command. It was yet to be determined who would become the new First Officer on the Renown, but he had thrown his hat into the ring in the off chance that he might get the job.
Until the decision was made, he continued as normal. So he sat in the Drafting Room, running through simulations and diagnostics on the ships tactical and defensive systems, as well as hull stress tests. There were a few others present, a mix of the ship’s crew and construction team, all eager to ensure that the Renown launched on time and ready.
From where he sat, he had a crew line of sight of the exit, as he never liked sitting with his back to a door, so when they panels parted he was the first to see sh’Ranni enter. As soon as she did, her eyes locked onto him and she headed towards him with purpose. A few others in the room noticed her and greeted her, which she replied to addressing each officer by name. She then came to a stop in front of his console.
“Good afternoon, Captain.”
“Jordan, I knew I’d find you in here.”
“I’m nothing if not a creature of habit. What can I do for you?”
“You can come with me,” she told him simply.
“Seriously?” he asked, not quite believing what he’d heard—even for Thanasirta sh’Ranni that was upfront.
“Given the situation out there, I’m going to need the best damn tactical officer I know. If we get into a shooting match, I want to make sure we’ll come out of it.”
He flashed her a rare smile. “I’m in.”
“Good. We’ll be departing on the twenty-eighth, twelve hundred hours from Spacedock One.”
“I’ll be ready; I can assure you of that, Captain.”
“I know you will, Jordan. I’ll go and talk to your CO—I have a little pull with him,” she said with a wink. With that she turned and left as quickly as she’d arrived. A few in the drafting room, looked at him then chatted amongst themselves, but he paid them little attention, he had the opportunity he’d been looking for. Onboard the Renown, he could have wound up anywhere, but now he would be going into Cardassian territory. He would be able to monitor all their sensors and communications, looking for that one signal amid millions, that slim strand of hope he’d carried for months.
* * * * *
Stardate: 53063.9 (January 24th, 2376)
With only a few days until they were due to depart, J’Nae had yet to be told exactly how she and her staff would be getting from Earth to Empok Nor, only that there were arrangements being made. So far her immediate staff stood at four: Commander Tokell as her Chief of Staff, he was current a liaison officer with the section, so he knew many of the organisations and people involved, whilst his diplomatic and organised manner made him the perfect choice; Lieutenant Commander Winona Tregakt was a logistics officer in the section as well, she would be assuming the more senior role of Logistics Manager, giving her greater authority over the convoys and ships in the region, so as to ensure they were where they needed to be; Lieutenant JG Chloe Hannigan would serve as her Administrations Officer, keeping all the paperwork, calendars and meetings organised, just as she had done for J’Nae on Earth; then lastly there was Nkova as her bodyguard, a role she didn’t like the idea of but understood the need for, but at least she had been able to get someone she wanted in post before Starfleet Security assigned one to her. There were still a few outstanding posts, such as Maintenance Officer and Quartermaster, that had yet to be filled—but she was sure she would find suitable candidates once she got to the station and saw in person what was needed. She had been told by Starfleet Intelligence that they had an appropriate liaison ready, though all they would tell her about the person was they were called Commander Gray—which was as useful as she’d come to expect from Intel.
She was entering the Spaceport on the outskirts of Sydney with Tokell beside her, even though she had good posture the ramrod straight Vulcan always made her feel as though she were slouching, so she endeavoured to stand a little straighter whenever with him. She wasn’t exactly sure why she was there; Tregakt had merely told them that she had just learned of a new asset that J’Nae should see first-hand. Though she didn’t usually like surprises, she had been stuck in her off for days, trying to get everything ready for the transfer to the station, so she was suffering from a mild case of cabin fever and agreed to the field trip.
They had been told to go to landing pad four, which was one of the larger bays of the Spaceport (it could hold around six runabouts nose-to-tail). When they turned into the corridor that led to pad four, she noticed Tregakt standing in front of the doors, hands clasped behind her back and a wide smile on her face. It was something J’Nae liked about the Human/Ktarian officer, the harder and tougher things got, the happier she seemed to be.
“Admiral, Commander, good morning.”
“You’ve peaked my curiosity, Commander. So what have you got to show me?”
Tregakt gestured to the doors. “Right through here, sir.”
Willing to give her a little leeway, J’Nae stepped towards the doors, which opened automatically and entered. Each pad was the same design (just different sizes), a doughnut shape building which housed waiting rooms, galleries, cargo holds, and maintenance bays, all around the landing area. Pad four was just the same, but resting peacefully on the ground was an Aerie-Class ship. Normally associated with the Federation Science Council or civilian organisations for long-range research or survey work, they were a common enough sight. This ship however had Starfleet pennants on its angular hull and nacelles, with the registry number NCC-80190 clearly visible.
“A Starfleet ship?” Tokell stated, his tone as close to surprise as it ever got.
“Yup,” Tregakt stated.
“Border Service?” J’Nae asked. She knew the Border Service had a few Aerie-Class ships on the go as patrol scouts, though was confused why one would be in Sydney and why she was being shown it.
“Nope.” J’Nae could hear the smile in the Logistics Manager’s voice. “According to Starfleet Command, this ship has been assigned to Project Outreach to act as the,” she brought a PADD out from behind her back and continued, “‘personal transport ship for Rear Admiral Alisana J’Nae’.”
J’Nae looked from Tregakt to Tokell, then back to the ship. “Well it was nice of them to tell me about it.”
“I think it was to be a surprise for you, sir. Though it does answer the question of how Starfleet was going to get us out there.
“According to the specs they sent through, all the science labs have been removed, in favour of accommodation and meeting rooms, though maintains her wide array of sensor arrays and palettes. She has the same engine performance and armament as the Border Service ships.”
“What about her crew?”
“Well since it’s a transport for occasional use, the crew will be integrated into the normal roster on the station—they’ll only take up their posts onboard when the ship departs. From what they sent through, it looks to be a standard three shift rotation with a minimum of two crew per shift, though has enough space for up to six crewmembers, in addition to those who are being transported.”
J’Nae placed her hands on her hips as she looked up at the little ship and nodded to herself. Though not a grand vessel, it would suit her needs and would save one of the relief task force being redirected from important work just to ferry her around.
“What is the ship called?” Tokell asked.
“Well, seeing as how Aerie-Class ships are usually named after birds and given that the Admiral is from Alpha Centauri, they chose to call the ship the Chok’obo.”
J’Nae looked back at her with a smile. Chok’obo’s were native of her homeworld; they were large flightless domesticated birds, slightly larger and more muscular than ostriches, with bright plumage. They had been used for riding and as beasts of burden for centuries on Alpha Centauri (just like horses on Earth), held in great reverence for the role they played and the work they did. Seeing what work the ship would be doing in the weeks and months to come, it was a more than fitting name.
“Tokell, ensure all system status checks are completed and inform the rest. We’ll need to be ready for our departure date.”
* * * * *
Ready Room, U.S.S. Mercury
Docking Port 34, Spacedock One
Stardate: 53070.4 (January 26th, 2376)
The small office on the starboard side of the Bridge was sparsely furnished, a small desk three chairs and some shelving, with nothing in the way of personal effects, as it had been since the death of Captain T’Pai. Commander Dulahn had served as Acting Captain since that day six months ago, since experienced command-level officers were in short supply and, as such a small ship, the Sabre-Class Mercury wasn’t seen as a high priority. He would fulfil the roll for as long as required, but for now he continued to feel a pretender to the throne every time he sat in the command chair on the Bridge, or used the ready room.
He had needed a private space as he had been told to expect a communiqué regarding the Mercury’s next assignment. He used the time he had to look over the newest assignees, which included a new Acting XO at ops and a conn officer, as well as, surprisingly, a science officer. There were several others coming onboard as well, either replacing those who had been transferred or filling posts vacant since the war, which boosted the crew complement back up to forty. Whatever their new posting was to be, it was obviously something important to require them up to almost full strength again—all they needed was a new Captain and the ship would be complete.
Before he could dwell on that fact any longer her terminal chirped with an incoming signal. He set down the PADD with the new duty roster on it and tapped the link. The Starfleet delta appeared for a brief moment before the furred face of a Caitian Admiral appeared, though he was not just any Caitian; it was Rrymalthrin Mrrkol, the Chief of Starfleet Operations.
“Good evening, Admiral.”
“And to you, Commander. How are things going onboard the Mercury?”
“Our new personnel have reported aboard and getting settled. Though, given all the new people we’ve gotten, I had expected a new Captain to be assigned as well.”
“I was discussing that matter with Personnel. We believe that you more than meet the requirements for command of the Mercury, so for the foreseeable future she’s all yours, Commander.”
Dulahn had to sit back at that. He had been First Officer for only a couple of years, which of course had seen him take the lead on many assignments and missions, but he would never have called himself ready for such a position. Had Starfleet not been suffering such shortfalls in personnel, he doubted he would be given such an opportunity.
“I will do all I can to ensure that your faith in me has not been misplaced, sir.”
“You have my every confidence, Commander.
“Now, you’re no doubt wondering as to where you’re being posted.”
“It has caused some debate onboard.”
Mrrkol gave the Caitian approximation of a smile. “I don’t doubt it. In two days, we have a small convoy heading out to the Trivas System. They are a key part to Project Outreach and will be in need of an escort, which is where you come in. The Mercury will accompany the three ships out to what was Empok Nor, once they you will take up guard duties of the station, which will allow the U.S.S. Tahv to stand down from tactical status and focus on their repair and refit work.
“When the station goes online, the Mercury will be taking up a permanent position with the Project task force. You will be on patrol and reconnaissance operations in the Trivas Sector, you’re main objective will be to ensure the safety of the station, until she can get her fully upgraded weapons array installed, which—using DS9 as an example—could take up to a year, though we hope using what they learned previously will take the S.C.E. less than that.”
“Will we be taking part in any of the relief work?”
“If necessary, though it may be more aiding refugee ships in the region or providing cover to convoys. The safety of the station comes first though, without it our position in the Cardassian frontier becomes more difficult if we only have Deep Space 9 to work from.”
“I understand, Admiral. We’ll be on guard.”
“Just what I wanted to hear. Rear Admiral J’Nae, the Project Commander will be in the convoy. She will contact you shortly with the specifics.”
“Acknowledged. I will have all systems checked and inform the crew, we’ll be ready for departure.”
“Good. I will let J’Nae know. Good luck to you, Commander. Mrrkol out.”
The screen reverted to the delta until he deactivated it. Of all the orders they could have received, he never would have suspected they would be part of the relief fleet going into Cardassia. He had expected to be on border patrol somewhere or acting as a courier, but as guard ship for a station, he would be responsible for defending hundreds of lives. He was now a legitimised pretender to the throne and white knight rolled into one. He was in for a very interesting time ahead.
* * * * *
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Enjoying the story so far! Question though: how do you keep all of your characters and stories straight? You seem to have quite a few balls in the air...
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
The desktop of my laptop is littered in folders for this, that and the next. The folder for Project Outreach is getting pretty big, as there is quite a lot that will be going on with it, including the perspectives/missions of several ships and characters who interact with one another. I've already got a couple of big plot ideas that will run throughout 2376 before coming to a head, though you'll have to see what happens with that.
Got two more posts to make, each with three installments, to get written before this introductory piece is finished.
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Some do reference little things in others, but I'm not doing a Treklit thing and having all of them so intricated and dependant on other stories in order to make sense.
I honestly can't remember the last time I did any story writing with a pen and piece of paper, as that would just mean having to type it all out. I do sometimes print off stories then read them much later on with a red pen in hand and correct any mistakes or alter things to fit in with changes that I make later.
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Office of Legate Parn, Cardassian Defence Fleet Headquarters
Lakat City, Cardassia Prime
Stardate: 53072.9 (January 27th, 2376)
Illang Parn sat at his desk looking over the latest orders that had come through from the Provisional Government. It had to be the tenth time he had read them, but each time he did he still couldn’t believe what he was reading. This new democratic government they had would be the ruin of Cardassia, of that he was sure. He—and many other military officers—had objected to the idea the First Minister devised, about giving Starfleet freedom to roam over the Cardassian controlled sectors, supposedly to provide aid. That wasn’t what his people needed; they needed to stand on their own, to restore Cardassia through hard work and loyalty, not begging for scraps off the Federation table.
Now, after re-reading Lang’s latest orders, he was convinced the woman was insane. It was bad enough to give Empok Nor to Starfleet, but now…he could barely bring himself to even think it, let alone say it—which would make his next meeting awkward.
He flexed his shoulders and stretched out his bulk of body, trying to make himself as comfortable as possible for what was to come. He tapped the signal on his terminal, which would alert his aide that he was ready. A moment later the enunciator sounded, even though he knew who it was and that she had been waiting for ten minutes already, he always liked his meetings to go the same way, so that he always had control.
“Enter,” he called.
The doors parted and a Cardassian woman, in full military uniform, entered. Her stride was purposeful, her posture commanding, her face set hard and chin lifted slightly, giving her an air of arrogance—in short, she was the model Cardassian soldier. She moved straight to his desk and stopped, body stiff and eyes locked above his head.
Parn only had one seat in his office, all those that came to see him needed to stand. He’d discovered long ago, that if forced to stand for long periods many people cut to the chase quicker, or agreed with what he wanted.
“Gahn,” he said by way of greeting to Gahn Kreiva Jarak.
“Legate,” she replied formally, with a slight nod of her head. He noted that her features were quite striking, especially her large grey eyes, which seemed to take in everything around her, her face framed by the short cut of her hair—despite the contemporary fashion among many women to have it long. Had he been thirty years younger, he would have been more than a little interested in pursuing her, but as it was, he didn’t have the energy or virility he once used to.
“You’ve heard of the First Minister’s proposal to Starfleet.” It wasn’t a question. She gave another slight nod. “There are currently engineering teams at work on Empok Nor, readying the station to act as their base of operation whilst they are here—however long that might be.”
“The Zeldral was on patrol in the region when their ship first arrived,” she stated. “We monitored their progress over the first two days. They were timid and cautious.”
He scoffed. “How they’ll be able to help dozens of worlds when they can’t even get a base operational is beyond me, but it has been decreed that we must afford them every opportunity to help. However, the First Minister has decided that this must be a joint venture.”
“We are already rebuilding on Cardassia and several other worlds, what more can we do with our resources at present?”
“This is more than simple materials, Gahn. The First Minister wants Cardassians involved in every part of the operation, which means attaching a contingent of officers to Empok Nor. We have decided that we want you to lead up that group.”
“Me?!” Jarak balked, her finely crafted veneer finally cracking. “Legate, I must protest!”
He held up his hand and fixed her with a piercing stare, which forced her to quieten down, though did nothing to diminish her anger and resentment. Good, he mused, we’ll need that.
“I argued with this whole idea, but was told that it is going ahead in spite of the objections of the military. So we must at least try and ensure that we get the right people in place onboard, or else before you know it we’ll all be wearing their uniforms.”
“Surely there must be others, Legate. I am in an important position on the Zeldral, I had hoped that this meeting was to inform me that I would be receiving a command of my own. But now you tell me I must go and work on the same facility as dozens of Starfleeters? It turns my stomach.”
“There are other candidates, Gahn, but seeing your reaction here tells me that you are exactly who we need in place. Whoever was to be assigned would need to show those Starfleet people, that we are not to be pushed around or coddled. We have our pride and will not simple bend to their will. Something tells me, that you will do that far more effectively than most, which is just what we need onboard.
“Though,” he continued after a moment’s pause, “if it is a command of your own you want, I’m sure that could be arranged as we finish off new ships. But that won’t be for around a year.”
She placed her hands on her hips, her eyes narrowed. “So if I serve with them for a year, you will guarantee me my own ship, is that what you’re saying, Legate.”
“If you serve onboard Empok Nor and report back to me on all their activities and operations, then I will ensure that the first new ship completed will be yours—along with your promotion to Gul.”
Jarak looked to mull it over, but he knew he had her—she just didn’t want to appear too desperate for the opportunity he was offering. He doubted that the Starfleet crew would be onboard for as long as a year, but she didn’t need to know that—not until the time was right. Parn sat back, hands resting comfortably on his belly as he watched her.
She took longer than he’d expected her too, but after a few minutes she looked him straight in the eye. “When do we depart?”
“You will need to be on the station in two weeks. Until then, you’d best ready yourself for what is ahead.”
She gave a curt bow, before turning on her heel and strutting out of his office. Once the doors closed behind her he smiled. There was a brief moment of stillness before his terminal chirped and he activated it. A figure in shadow appeared, only their eyes were visible, but they were enough; cold and hard, they made even Parn uneasy.
“Will she do as we want?” the distorted voice asked.
Parn looked back at the door. “She’s a patriot. She will do what is right for Cardassia, which is right for us.” He looked back at the screen again. “If she doesn’t then it won’t be too hard to remove her—which may work just as well for destabilising the Outreach Project.”
“Agreed. We will have Proxy in place onboard as well, to monitor her and the others.”
“Excellent. I will begin drafting in the other assignees as well.”
“We will continue to monitor.” With that the channel closed.
* * * * *
Rear Admiral J’Nae’s Quarters, U.S.S. Chok’obo
Sydney Spaceport, Australia, Earth
Stardate: 53075.1 (January 28th, 2376)
J’Nae found her cabin onboard the Chok’obo was surprising comfortable, though she suspected (correctly) that not all the others were quite as nice. It had a separate bedroom and private bathroom, as well as a small living space with a desk from which she could work—all she really needed for short trips. She and her staff had arrived earlier that morning, stowed their belongings, gotten to know the ship a little better and made themselves comfortable. For this, their maiden voyage, there was a crew of twelve as well as J’Nae and five who were accompanying her, however the ship felt far from cramped.
On her monitor was the latest news from Cardassia. They were assigning a small contingent of forty-six officers and non-coms to the station, to work alongside the Starfleet crew. It was a proposal J’Nae was unsure on, as there was a lot of bad blood between both, which would lead to a great deal of friction and conflict. The Cardassians had pointed out that Starfleet had a similar arrangement on DS9, which J’Nae couldn’t argue with—but Starfleet and the Bajorans hadn’t spent decades mistrusting or battling one another.
“Bridge to J’Nae,” came the voice of Tokell.
“All pre-flight systems checks are complete. We are ready to depart.”
She smiled. “On my way.”
Leaving her stateroom behind, she strolled through the corridor, headed forward. It didn’t surprise her that she didn’t meet anyone, those not on shift were either sleeping or making use of the crew lounge, the compact gym, or carrying out some out-of-hours tasks they needed to get done. With her staff onboard, she had split them between the shifts as well, with Tokell, Tregakt and Gray all taking watch on the Bridge. Her new Intelligence Officer was proving to be just as mysterious and unforthcoming as she’d expected from officers in that particular discipline. She hadn’t been able to discern if there was anything more to his name, other than Gray—or if that was even a real name or an alias he used for security purposes.
Entering the Bridge, she found the simple layout to be practical and efficient. The viewscreen at the front as usual and a MSD filling the aft bulkhead, there were two banks on consoles on either side (tactical/communications to port, operations/engineering to starboard), whilst the horseshoe-shaped Conn was situated just before the viewscreen, then in the middle, on a raised step, was a command chair. Tokell had vacated it before she’d entered and now stood to the right side. She slipped into it and got comfortable, finding the seat reassuringly familiar.
Also on the Bridge were: Lieutenant Sanuye at the conn, Chief Nkova at tactical along with the usual operator Petty Officer Anders, whilst at ops was Petty Officer Zhey. Unfortunately there hadn’t been time to get to know the crew, having just met them all a few hours ago, but it would take them the better part of a fortnight to get there, so she would no doubt get to know them well before they arrived.
“Has our departure been cleared?”
“Yes sir,” Nkova told her not looking away from his console.
“Very good. Lieutenant, power the atmospheric thrusters and take us up, slow and steady.”
“Aye Admiral,” the conn officer replied then began manipulating the controls. A low hum reverberated through the hull as the ship slowly rose up off the landing pad, then above the spaceport. With a nudge of the RCS thrusters, the Chok’obo swept over the city before starting to climb into the atmosphere. It didn’t take them long to reach orbit then approach Spacedock One, where they would be meeting with the rest of their little convoy.
“Incoming signal from the Mercury, sir,” announced Anders .
“Put them through.”
The viewscreen switched from a view of the immense orbital base to that of a Naduri male, his expression serene whilst the cranial bone carving showed that he was Mak’a continent on their homeworld (Nadura had three large landmasses, though united they were all proud of their own history and accomplishments, so each carved the exposed bone plate at the backs of their skulls to show which continent they were from—Mak’a, Da’dae and Krad’ak). She of course had read up on the profiles of those that would be accompanying them, so knew the Commander to be Dulahn.
“Zoh af’ae Dulahn mowea,” she greeted him in the traditional manner of one from his homeland. The greeting seemed to surprise him, though he quickly recovered and gave her a slight bow.
“You honour me, Admiral.”
“I’m merely showing my appreciation for the escort, Commander. Besides, I rarely get to practice my Naduri,” she admitted with a smile. “What’s our status?”
“The Cochrane and Hellespont are both secure and awaiting clearance to depart the station.”
“Understood. We’ll be moving out in alpha formation, full impulse until we clear the system then going to warp five.”
It didn’t take long for the other two ships to depart Spacedock and join them. As they move into position, J’Nae couldn’t help but smile to herself. She wasn’t sure if just four ships could be classed as a convoy, especially since none of them were over two hundred meters in length. It was an odd collection, with the Chok’obo at the front, the Mercury taking up the rear, the Oberth-Class U.S.S. Cochrane to starboard carrying the new crewmembers for the station, and lastly the Mediterranean-Class supply ship Hellespont to port which was filled with new equipment and hardware (as well as two Danube-Class runabouts). Aside from the Cochrane all the ships would have their part to play in the Project, all of which would be needed to ensure it was a success. Once she arrived on the station, the pressure would be on to get things going and justify the resources that the Federation and Starfleet had committed to the mission. She would be responsible for twenty starships, a station and almost four and a half thousand officers and crew onboard them.
“Admiral,” Anders’ voice brought her back to the here and now, “all ships have signalled they are ready to proceed.”
“Thank you Mr Anders. Lieutenant Sanuye,” she sat a little straighter as she ordered, “take us out.”
* * * * *
Lower Pylon One, Empok Nor
Stardate: 53104.9 (February 8th, 2376)
Captain sh’Ranni had known that the station would be chaotic when they arrived, after all the S.C.E. team had only been at work for two weeks, but stepping into the docking bay airlock of the pylon she was stunned to see barrels, crates and containers of various shapes and sizes stacked up in the corridor, each showing signs that aside from dust being disturbed on the surface, none had been touched. If it’s like this here, what’s it like in the rest of the station? she asked herself.
The Cochrane had been carrying sixty-nine of her new crewmembers, mostly security guards, several operational and logistical staff, and a few administrative personnel. She had taken some time to chat with them on the journey to the station, whilst reading up on the daily updates they were sent. From the looks of things they had taken three days just to check the station out completely and disarm forty-three separate booby-traps, including one hooked up to the main reactor. They had since progressed carefully, bringing systems online one at a time and running full diagnostics, so as to watch out for any more surprises. It had been a long slog and they still weren’t finished—it was not a job she envied, but now she would have her own hard work to do in amongst theirs.
Stepping through the airlock she found a petite lieutenant waiting for them, her large almond shaped eyes were tired, but her jet black hair was neat though her uniform was a little messy and had the sleeves rolled up. Sh’Ranni led the way out onto the station, with Kelly right behind her.
“Captain sh’Ranni, welcome to the Outreach station, I’ve been asked to show you up to Ops.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant?”
“Yamada, sir, Senior Diagnostics Officer with the S.C.E.”
She gave a nod and then looked back at all the clutter. Yamada saw her and must’ve picked up on her not so stellar first impression of the facility.
“We’ve been focusing on the primary systems, whilst our security teams are continuing to run sweeps on the base, to make sure that we’ve got anything that could be potentially dangerous. There hasn’t been time to get any of this cleared away. Our QM is currently checking out all the containers, looking to see if there is anything of use that’s been left behind.”
“Well now the reinforcements have arrived, we can make a start on shifting some of this,” sh’Ranni noted.
“If you’ll follow me, please,” said Yamada.
She led sh’Ranni and Kelly into the turbolift and ordered it to Ops. The carriage complied, though not without a few groans and the occasional grinding of metal. Sh’Ranni was surprised at just how run down the station was. From what she recalled on the history of the base it had only been abandoned in 2372, but by the looks of things, before that it hadn’t been well looked after. She took the time to mentally go through what she’d read up on from the reports, when she suddenly realised something.
“Lieutenant, there wouldn’t happen to be another Yamada onboard would there?”
The young engineer gave her a quizzical look and shook her head. “No sir, I’m the only one.”
“So you’re the one who discovered that explosive on the reactor.”
Yamada blushed slightly and looked away for a moment. “I was merely doing my job, sir.”
“And doing it exceptionally well, Lieutenant. As I read, if you hadn’t insisted on a full visual inspection of the core, then it never would have been found and would have blown the instant the reactor was fired up.”
“It’s in the nature of diagnosticians to be thorough, Captain. Any of the others would have caught it.”
Sh’Ranni was about to say more on the matter, but could see that the young lieutenant didn’t like the attention—to her it was just what was expected of her, but sh’Ranni had to wonder how many others would do a full check on a reactor this size themselves. It took a special kind of person to make a call like that and then follow through, especially with time being so tight that delays would cause havoc further down the line.
She couldn’t help but eye up the younger woman in a new light. I do still need someone as Chief Engineer, she mused.
The lift juddered then started to slow. The computer chirped. “Power drop detected in turbolift shaft nine, diverting to nearest exit. Disembark and use alternative route.”
Yamada muttered something under her breath then tapped her combadge. “Yamada to Qetzak. Shaft nine is acting up again, we need to run a check on the full system.”
“Understood Lieutenant, I’ll get started on it. You’re not stuck are you?”
The lift stopped and the doors opened into a corridor. “Negative, but we’ve not even made it to the Promenade. Get started, I’ll join you shortly. Yamada out.” She led them out into the hallway, took a second to orientate herself then gestured for them to come with her. “We’ve been having intermittent power failures throughout the entire turbolift network. Cardassian protocols don’t have a redundant backup, so they either take you to the nearest available exit or stop. We’ve had a few people trapped, though only for a few minutes.”
“This place must be half a nightmare and half a dream for engineers.”
“You could say that, though there are days when most of us are cursing this place and whoever designed it.”
Yamada led them through the darkened corridors; the lighting level was defiantly lower than she was used to, but its source was also far more covered with grills and panels than in Starfleet ships. It made the whole place feel like a haunted house than a space station. They passed through an airlock and then stepped onto what was meant to be the main commercial zone for the station. The Promenade was deserted. If anything, sh’Ranni found it to be more unsettling than the corridors. Onboard the Exeter, she had stopped over at DS9 on three separate occasions. Their Promenade was bustling with life and activity, with people eating, shopping, talking, laughing. To step into an identical location that was just so still was unnatural.
Fortunately they didn’t hang about. Yamada took them straight into another turbolift and ordered it upwards once again.
“I’m surprised there wasn’t any tumbleweed,” commented Kelly after the doors had closed.
“With nothing on it, most of the crew are avoiding the Promenade. I have heard that some traders have already been asking about the shops and stores.”
“Makes sense,” admitted Kelly. “The right kinds of businesses would flourish out here, it just takes a few budding entrepreneurs to make a start and others will follow.”
When they arrived in Ops (sh’Ranni doubted she would ever get used to the open turbolift), they found J’Nae and her staff already present, along with a couple others from the S.C.E. crew all gathered around the table in the middle of the Operations Centre.
“Sorry we’re late, turbolift problems,” sh’Ranni explained.
“That’s quite alright,” said J’Nae. “Captain sh’Ranni, Commander Kelly, this is Commander Lynch and Lieutenant Commander Ga-Horahvan, S.C.E. They were just explaining the current situation to us.” She looked back at the two men. “Please continue.”
“Thank you, Admiral,” Lynch said with a respectful nod. “As I was saying, due to the salvage operations of DS9, as well as the scavenging of countless others, there are systems and sections we simply can’t restore until we get replacements. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of those mission components they can’t be replicated whole, they have to be constructed. But we don’t have the replicator patterns to even begin. We will need to contact the Cardassians and ask for replacement parts, but if they’ll have any to hand is another matter.”
“Can’t they just be replaced with Starfleet tech?” Kelly asked.
Lynch shook his head. “If it were that easy then the likes of Deep Space 9 would never have needed to run a salvage mission here. Cardassian technology is very intricate, for us to adapt or even build something new to fit, would be too time consuming—time we simply don’t have.”
J’Nae looked over at a Human/Ktarian woman in a gold uniform. “Nona, get a full list from the Commander about what parts are needed, then link in with a Cardassian supply depot, see if they have anything we’re looking for.”
“I’ve got a few contacts within the Cardassian supply network; I should be able to get what we need.”
“Good.” She looked back at the table, on which was shown the latest status reports. “Captain, this is you’re station now. My people will help out any way they can—we all have developed some good links within Cardassia, so make the most of them.”
Sh’Ranni stepped forward. “Believe me, I will, Admiral.” She looked at Lynch. “Commander, I have every confidence in your people. I’ll leave you to prioritise what systems to work on first, though expect daily reports on the work.”
“Of course, Captain. We’ll work around the missing sections as much as possible, though we will have to get them prepped as well for when we do get the parts.”
“At your discretion, Commander. Though I would like a liaison between your teams and myself,” she informed him. Before he could make any suggestions, she looked up at the woman who had tried to make herself as unnoticeable as possible for the meeting. “I’d like that to be Lieutenant Yamada.”
Lynch looked over at Yamada and then back to sh’Ranni. He noticed the set look on her face and guessed (correctly) that he’d never change her mind, so he conceded. “I’ll make sure she’s available to you, sir.”
“Good. Can I ask who is heading up Security right now?”
“That would be Master Chief Ibari,” interjected Ga-Horahvan. “He’s been on the station since day one and hasn’t left.”
“Thank you. We need to start getting this place organised, which will mean clearing away all those containers and general debris. I’ll have some of security reassigned to assist with that, once the quartermaster has gone through everything—for all we know, one of those crates could hold some of the parts we need.
“I’m sure at times like these; a Captain should give a stirring and motivational speech. All I can think of is, let’s get to it.”
* * * * *
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Operations Centre, Empok Nor
Stardate: 53110.3 (February 10th, 2376)
It had been two days since their arrival on Empok Nor (or the Outreach station as many of the S.C.E. crew called it), but even in that shirt time they had come far. In the past, Kelly never failed to be impressed with Starfleet’s dedicated engineering division, and the team onboard were doing their discipline justice. They were problem solvers, every one of them. The stations weapons were non-existent, not one phaser pre-fire chamber or torpedo launch initiator remained, which meant the station was defenceless. She had her shields, but even two weak blasts form a Romulan science ship and they would collapse. As the Chief Tactical Officer, he had taken on the responsibility of getting the weapons restored (after all there was no point in him manning a console that would do nothing if he pressed the buttons).
Before he’d arrived, the team had run a thorough diagnostic on the weapon systems and tactical array, so they knew just how bad it was, but they’d been focused on getting the reactors, computers and environmental systems working first. Their armament had been next on the list. He had told the tactical systems specialist what he’d wanted, after which they had gone away for a couple hours and come back with five different options to restore the disabled hardware. Not wanting to limit their options, he had got for a three pronged approach, using the methods that would have the greatest chance of success in the least amount of time.
After less than two days, they had gotten the shields up to fifty-one percent and managed to gather together enough components to begin manufacturing the missing parts for two new phaser banks and one torpedo launcher. It was a start, a better one that he’d expected given their lack of supplies. So as his small team of techs saw to the work in the defence sails, he was in Ops, running a full check on the tactical console, which involved being buried half under it inspecting each isolinear rod and circuit path. It was long and laborious work, but it needed doing and he liked to make sure that he knew the ins and outs of his systems.
“You’re going to need to recalibrate your targeting sensors,” a man told him.
Kelly looked down the length of his body, but couldn’t see anything but a pair of boots standing beside his station. Annoyed that someone would be nit-picking with the station in its present condition, he slid out from under the terminal and looked up to find a tall and handsome Bajoran man leaning on the edge of the console, looking over what monitors were actually working.
He glanced down at Kelly with startling grey eyes. Kelly almost forgot his irritation at the interruption—almost. “Right now, this station doesn’t have a weapons array to be targeted. Once I get something to shoot, then I’ll worry about making sure I hit my target.”
The Bajoran gave him a faint smile that didn’t touch his eyes. “I didn’t mean to criticise, just trying to help.”
It was only then did Kelly notice the three full rank pips on his red collar. How can he be a full Commander? He can’t be out his twenties!
“That’s alright, Commander?”
“Rogan Enek. I’m on a stop over here, waiting for the Trident to arrive; I’ve been assigned as her new XO. Commander?”
“Jordan Kelly, the stations tactical chief—assuming we can get the system online.”
“Anything I can do to help? My background is in Security/Tactical, and I’ve got a few weeks to wait before the Trident arrives, so I might as well make myself useful.”
“Right now we can use every free pair of ha—” he was interrupted by the chirping on his sensors (probably the only thing that worked properly on his console).
Jumping to his feet he quickly brought up the display and looked at what had triggered the alert. What he saw made the muscles in his neck and shoulders tense. He tapped his combadge. “Kelly to sh’Ranni, we have Cardassians incoming.”
“On my way,” sh’Ranni responded promptly. She was just in the office, in a meeting with Lieutenant Yamada, so it took her only a few seconds to step out onto the deck. Rather than go to the Ops table, she headed straight for him, as Yamada took the vacant engineering post. In the time it took her to reach him, he had already assessed what kind of ships they were, approach vector and ETA.
“Report,” she asked, casting a look at Rogan, who was looking over the outer defence perimeter, but said nothing about him.
“Three ships—a shuttle and two Hideki’s—on a heading of two-two-six-mark-four. They’ll be here in a little under twenty minutes.”
“This must be the contingent the Admiral told us about.”
He nodded. “Looks that way.”
“They’re hailing, Captain,” Yamada announced.
The large oval screen above the pit rippled to life. On it was the strong face of a Cardassian woman, her steely eyes quickly taking in all those in Ops with a barely contained sneer. “I am Gahn Jarak of the Cardassian Defence Fleet. I have been assigned to Empok Nor to serve as senior military liaison between your task force and Cardassia.”
“Gahn Jarak,” the captain greeted with a respectful bow of her head. “I am Thanasirta sh’Ranni, commander of this station. May I, on behalf of Starfleet and the Federation, welcome you and your people. I know that we are all looking forward to working with you, as way of helping to bridge the gap between our governments, so that we may never know war between our peoples again.”
Jarak made a non-committal noise. “We need clearance for docking.”
Kelly looked at sh’Ranni and noticed the muscles in her jaw clench, a clear sign she was fighting with her temper. “Of course. We will have you cleared for bays three and four as well as landing lad D.”
Before anything more could be said, Jarak cut the signal.
“Delightful woman,” Kelly muttered.
“We always knew this arrangement would be a tough, but a little co-operation would be nice,” sh’Ranni admitted. “I’ll go meet the Gahn. Inform the Admiral when they will be arriving. Who’s your friend?” she asked, gesturing at Rogan.
“Commander Rogan Enek. He’s asked to help out with the weapons array until the Trident arrives.”
She gave Rogan a smile before looking back at Kelly. “Put him to work then, before he changes his mind. Ops is yours, Commander.”
“Aye and aye, sir.”
Sh’Ranni stepped into the turbolift and descended. Kelly placed a quick call to the Admiral’s office and told her aide that the Cardassians would be arriving in ten minutes. Once done, he looked at Rogan. “Well whilst I finish checking out the control pathways, why don’t you being loading the new control interface. After that we’ll head out to defence sail two and get your hands dirty.”
“Sounds like a solid plan to me.”
* * * * *
Forward Observation Deck, U.S.S. Nash
On approach to Empok Nor, Trivas System
Stardate: 53135.7 (February 19th, 2376)
The Nash was filled with Starfleet personnel, most wearing blue undershirts, though there were enough red and gold to stand out in the crowd. All of them were heading for the old Cardassian station Empok Nor, some would be assigned permanently, others would be waiting for reassignment to other ships that had been attached to Project Outreach. Counsellor Lunah Su-Kwa-Vel took the opportunity to people watch, a habit she had picked up at the Academy and one that had stuck with her ever since. Despite being one of the new non-humanoids in the room, most didn’t notice her or were intimidated into staying away, due to the high level of cybernetics across her small body—something all Choblik possessed, without which they were nothing more than a sub-sentient, armless animal (though for many the presence of cybernetic components made them think of the Borg, which was understandable but regrettable).
Watching the crowds of uniformed figures, she suddenly spotted a dark-skinned woman in a long crimson tunic and matching trousers, with a wide brimmed hat of the same shade. Like Lunah, she was more observing the crowd than looking out the large viewports at the front of the ship. It was odd to see a civilian in the midst and in all her trips to the mess hall and lounges onboard, Lunah had never noticed her in any working capacity.
She could be heading to the station as well, she surmised. It does have a commercial section, which encourages free enterprise, though for someone to set up a business this early onboard is risky. She made a mental note to keep a close eye on the woman in the big hat; there was something about her that Lunah for interesting, though she couldn’t quite determine what.
“Spying again, Counsellor?” a friendly male voice asked from behind her. Looking up as Doctor Benito Ramirez came around and sat opposite her at the table.
“I do not ‘spy’, Doctor. I observe, analyse body language and assess emotional state,” she told him, quickly glancing back toward the civilian but not seeing her again.
“Is that a Starfleeter’s way of saying spying?” he asked with a smirk.
Ramirez may have worn the same uniform as all the others but he wasn’t like them, his commission merely temporary until the stop/loss order was withdrawn and he could return to his life on Deneva. Like many others during the war, he had done his patriotic duty and signed up to serve in order to defend the Federation. With the honorific rank of Lieutenant, he had seen the true horrors of the war by way of the injured and dying. As the two responsible for the mental and physical wellbeing of the station’s crew, she and Ramirez had spent many hours talking and getting to know one another. She knew that after the war, he’d been offered a place at the recovery wards at Starfleet Medical on Earth, but had yet to understand why he would leave that behind to accept the assignment to Empok Nor.
“No, it’s the counselling way.”
Her human companion chuckled. Slouching back in his seat he looked comfortable and at ease, though with his jacket wide open and shirt collar undone he didn’t project the same uniformity as the others—which she assumed was the reason for it.
When the doors behind her opened, he could see who it was and perked up on seeing the newest arrival. She glanced back and saw Lieutenant Karr Grex enter. The behemoth Brikar stomped inside, the deck vibrating under his footfalls, which made the crowd inside part to let him through. His uniform was stretched almost beyond its capacity, which as a testament to the Starfleet designers and manufacturing. As three of the senior officers onboard, they had met several times, though not as productive as her conversations with Ramirez, she had learned quite a bit about the science officer—more from what he didn’t say than what he did.
“Karr, care to join us?” Ramirez asked as the Brikar approached.
“I’m not staying,” he replied in a deep, gravelly voice. “I just wanted to take a look at the station before we get aboard, who knows when we’ll next have time to appreciate the view.”
“Very true,” Ramirez admitted. “Given all the work ahead, I doubt we’ll get much chance to take a breath, let alone smell the roses.”
“I have found that humans seem to have a saying for just about every situation and state of being,” commented Lunah.
Ramirez just smiled. “Yes, we do.”
“There it is,” someone near the front viewports called excitedly.
There was a surge forward, as many of those in the observation deck moved to get a look. Murmurs of excited chatter rippled through the room, as they all took in the new base, which was to become home for many. Mixed with the excitement was anticipation, apprehension, caution and, in some cases, fear. This station was to become a symbol for a new beginning, but with the traumas and emotional wounds left by the war, it wasn’t to be an easy one. They were to be at the forefront of the reconstruction work of their former enemy, a species they with whom Starfleet had never had good relations with, and who now had a presence on the station as well. As tough starts came, this was definitely one of the toughest she could imagine.
As they drew nearer, the noted a Miranda-Class ship in dock, as well as a Cardassian Hideki, and several other smaller ships, mostly freighters and transports. It was a good representation of what the station was about, what Starfleet wanted from it. She could only hope that all those onboard were as invested in it as their governments were.
Lunah looked around the room again, but her eye caught a flash of crimson by the exit. The woman stood in the open doorway, taking one last look at all the uniformed personnel, none of whom paid her any attention. The she stepped out into the corridor and was gone once again.
* * * * *
Operations Centre, Empok Nor
Stardate: 53151.2 (February 25th, 2376)
Rear Admiral (lower half) Alisana J’Nae stepped off the turbolift into Ops, following her latest tour around the station. She was amazed at the work that had been accomplished in such a short space of time. Though far from one hundred percent, the base was at a sufficient level to be deemed operational, with the Mercury and the Defiant-Class U.S.S. Shran on hand to provide defence until her weapons were fully restored, the base was covered for the time being. Meanwhile, the S.C.E. team had only three days left to get as much done as possible, after which time the Tahv was departing to help with the rebuilding of Betazed. Once they left, it would be down to the remaining engineers and technicians onboard to get the overhaul work finished—fortunately Lieutenant Yamada, one of the S.C.E. officers, was remaining onboard as Chief Station Operations Officer.
“Good morning, Admiral,” Captain sh’Ranni said from the Ops table as J’Nae stepped down to join her.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about that,” she stated, drawing a quizzical look from the Andorian. “‘Admiral’ sounds just a little too stuffy for a posting like this. I’ll hardly be stuck behind a nice safe desk out here.”
“I see. So how would you prefer to be addressed, sir?”
J’Nae smiled widely. “I think I’ll take a page from the twenty-third century and go for ‘Commodore’. Sounds a little more hands-on to me.”
“Can you do that?”
“It’s a title that was never quashed from the regulation book, merely fallen out of favour—I checked this morning.”
“So it’s been on your mind for a while then, Commodore?”
“You could say that.” She looked around the Ops Centre, at the wide assortment of faces (and uniforms) present. It was definitely an eclectic mix, but hopefully an effective one. “What’s our status here?”
“All docking bays are operational, all transporters online, the cargo bays have been cleared out. Everything is ready for the convoy.”
The station was about to receive its very first full convoy of supplies, materials and aid workers destined for Cardassia; twelve ships from the civilian organisation, Support for Sentients. But they were just the beginning, a missionary ship from the Sisters of New Hope due in the following day, with eight Vulcan cargo ships due soon after—each one carrying an industrial replicator to help on eight different worlds. From here on, the station would only get busier.
Thinking of what was coming the stations way reminded her of something important that she’d left with sh’Ranni to decide, but had yet to hear the results of. “So, Captain, any thoughts on what we can officially call this place? Since it is now under Starfleet control, we can’t keep calling it Empok Nor.”
“I was thinking, since this is the command outpost for Project Outreach, why don’t we simply call it that?”
J’Nae mulled it over for a few moments, seeing how it sounded in her mind: Outreach Station. “Sounds good to me.”
“Captain, sensors have picked up the convoy approaching the station,” the bulky Brikarian science officer announced.
“Thank you, Mr Grex. Gil Dahkal,” she said to the youthful Cardassian at communications, “hail the convoy. Tell them that Outreach Station is standing ready to receive them.”
* * * * *
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
"Outreach" sounds too much like some sort of community drugs rehabilitation program for my liking.
Star Trek Outreach - providing emotional and practical support to people affected by Star Trek throughout the community.
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
I take it before you're picking on the name you liked the rest of it though :)
It made sense to me, as Starfleet was reaching out to both help the Cardassians rebuild and bridge the gaps between the two powers.
Besides, I think all of us here have been affected by Star Trek in our community :lol:
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Other than the name the work itself is up to your usual high standards I'll admit.
Re: Star Trek: Outreach - "And So It Begins..."
Greatly appreciated Sandoval.
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