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
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)
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.”