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
“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
“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.