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Old February 25 2012, 04:30 PM   #1
CeJay
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And a Star to Steer Her By

Leading up to Amaya Donners' first ever solo adventure, I'm re-posting her 'origin'-story. Originally posted here last year as part of the Eagle Vignette Series Two: Crossing Over.

If you enjoy this story, come back this spring to find out what happens next in her own full-length story: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle.







And a Star to Steer Her By
Featuring characters from DarKush’s Dark Territory, Galen4’s Star Trek: Intrepid
and TheLoneRedshirt’s Tales of the USS Bluefin.


February 2372


There were a few constants in the universe that simply would never change. Matter and ant-matter would always explode when coming into contact with each other, a black hole would always swallow up all light surrounding it, Klingons and Romulans would never see eye to eye on anything and starship officers would always butt heads with starbase personnel.

And the worst kind of starship officers would always be captains. Always demanding, always imbued with that sense of self-importance and always with the unshakable belief that their mission, their ship and their crew was the one most significant in all the known galaxy.

Amaya Donners didn’t care for starship captains and yet she had made it four years as the executive officer of the space station Deep Space Five, having dealt with countless ship commanders, without ever letting them to believe that this energetic, efficient, comely woman harbored but the slightest resentment against them and their ilk.

After all she was quick to flash a pretty smile and ensure that the captains who came to her with their requests would get exactly what they asked for and sometimes even what they needed.

It was a terrifically well-maintained façade.

“Look, Commander, I appreciate that your people have a full slate, I really do. But I don’t have the time to sit here for three more days and wait for them to get around to the Guadalajara. If it was anything other than the warp coils I wouldn’t even waste your time but without the overhaul we won’t even make it half way to Starbase 12 where we are expected urgently.”

Amaya’s dark skin wasn’t prone to blushing and that certainly helped in this situation. She so wanted to tell him straight and without mincing words that there was simply no way that she could have her work crews skip a navigational deflector replacement on the Galaxy-class USS Venture so that they could tend to his little Oberth science vessel which inexplicably had gotten itself into one seriously bad fix and now had the scars to prove it.

Instead and as always she kept her cool. “I want to help, Commander. But it’s just not going to happen. I can promise you that your ship will be fully warp capable by the day after tomorrow and you’ll be able to get to wherever you need to go then.”

“I would prefer if you’d refer to me as captain.”

She caught herself glaring at him but replaced it with a more amicable facial expression so quickly that he probably never even noticed. “Of course, I apologize, Captain.” But it was getting to her that this man, younger than her, holding the same rank, needed to make a show of being referred to by his title. It was his right of course and she mentally berated herself for the slip-up.

He waved it off as if it wasn’t a big deal at all even though she could tell from the look in his eyes that to him it was. “I’m not trying to make your life difficult.”

But he was so clearly doing just that.

It was only then that she saw something else in his eyes. Captain Jason Aubrey may have been younger than she was but his tired eyes seemed to belong to man a great deal older. What ever he and his little ship had gone through had clearly taxed him enormously. And then there was that impatience brewing under the surface which he was fighting to keep from showing perhaps as much as she was trying to deflect from her own true feelings.

“But being second in the queue is simply not going to be good enough. I need to be out of here by tomorrow and I’m afraid neither one of us has a choice in that matter.”

“I really don’t think –“

Aubrey placed a padd on her desk. “Orders from Starfleet Command.”

Checkmate.

She simply looked at the padd without bothering to reach out for it, slowly realizing that he could have played that card at any point but had waited until now that he had found her unwilling to be convinced by his insistence alone.

She looked up and thought that she could see pity in his face now. He shrugged. “Sorry,” he offered meekly.

Amaya Donners had a poker face like the best of them and showed no outwards sign of this game-changing revelation. Instead she picked up the padd and quickly scanned it over. It didn’t reveal what Aubrey and Guadalajara had been up to but it made it quite clear that the top brass at Command wanted him back at Starbase 12 without delay.

She nodded. “Very well, Captain,” she said. “I’ll have her prioritized and shipshape by late tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Commander,” he said and then quite unnecessarily added, “I appreciate your help.”

She gave him a quick nod, which he returned in kind before turning on his heels and stepping out of her office.

As soon as he was gone she dropped the padd unceremoniously back onto the desk. “Why me?”


* * *


Commander Amaya Donners had not always felt that way about starship captains. In fact, back at the Academy she had desperately wanted to be one herself some day. Time had the tendency to change one's outlook on life.

She had graduated near the top of her class and received a coveted billet as the helmsman of a brand new starship. She quickly came to realize that she had a real knack for engines and eventually became the chief engineer of the venerable USS Columbia. After serving years on that ship, she had been in line to take over the vacant first officer spot until a good friend of hers had come in to scoop it away from her. She hadn’t held it against Michael Owens at the time and received her own XO billet shortly thereafter on the Bellerophon.

Her assignment on that ship had lasted for all but two months before she was recruited away by Admiral Samson Glover to become his adjutant. She had never regretted that decision even if she felt a profound sadness and not a little bit of survivor’s guilt when she thought of the fate that had befallen the ship and crew she had barely known at Wolf 359 just weeks after her transfer.

But Deep Space Five had been the perfect match for her. It wasn’t a starship of course but running the station and serving as the admiral’s right hand woman had kept her fairly busy and she had risen to the challenge with great enthusiasm. She had also grown fond of her crew and of Samson who over the years had treated her like the daughter he had never had.

If it hadn’t been for those pesky starship captains insisting on throwing wrenches into the well-oiled machinery she had turned DS5 into, the galaxy would have been a perfect place.

Amaya stepped onto the operations center of the station and took a seat at her usual workstation. DS5 was by no means the most modern facility within Starfleet. On the contrary, the Orbiter-class station was a relict of the previous century and had the cramped interiors to prove it. But it was her station and she didn’t want to exchange it for anything.

“How did the meeting with Aubrey go?” asked Lieutenant Jasmine Mendes, the station’s chief of operations, from her own workstation.

“Bump her to the top of the list,” she responded without looking up from her station, putting the orders into writing even as she spoke. “Pull as many people as you have to from the Venture to get Guadalajara’s new warp coils installed by tomorrow.”

“That bad, huh?” said Jasmine.

Amaya just shook her head. “Don’t even get me started.”

“I know you don’t want to hear this but Captain Ebnal won’t be happy if he’ll have to wait for his new deflector,” said the engineer.

“Tell him, tough luck.”

Lieutenant Raeger, the blonde-haired communications officer smirked. “Can I use those exact words?”

“Yes,” said Donners and then looked up when she realized what she had said. “No,” she corrected herself quickly and uttered a sigh. “If he has any concerns ask him to contact me and I’ll be happy to discuss them with him.”

Raeger looked at Mendes, still smirking. “And so her mission to keep peace among the unruly crowd of starship commanders continues. Another battle waged but the outcome of the war still very much in doubt.”

Amaya glared at the communications officer who refused to wipe that silly grin off her face. “I swear to God, Christine, if you don’t shut up soon I’m going to have you shown out of the nearest airlock.”

Raeger pointed at her superior officer. “Now that’s exactly how you should talk to your friends on those starships,” she said and looked at Mendes for confirmation. “Right?”

Jasmine smiled but shook her head. “Fat chance. Maya's simply too nice to say something like that and mean it.”

Donners grumbled. “I must be, seeing that I’m willing to put up with the likes of you two on a regular basis.”

Any further conversation on the subject was put on hold by an insisting beeping from Raeger’s station. “We’re getting an incoming message from Starfleet Command.”

This was hardly unusual. Admiral Glover was important enough in the fleet hierarchy to be in frequent contact with the top brass back on Earth. Donners turned to look towards his office adjacent to the operations center but could tell that he had not arrived yet. “Put it through to my station,” she said. As Glover’s adjutant she was quite used to speaking to high-ranking officials and while other officers of her rank and position may have been hesitant to field a direct call from the Commander, Starfleet or the CINC, she had never had any qualms about it.

“Coming through now,” announced the communications officer.

Donners screen switched to show the official Federation emblem and then the face of a gray-haired Starfleet admiral sitting at his desk. From the vista of the window just behind him it was clear he was calling from San Francisco.

The familiar face put a smile onto her lips. “Admiral, it is good to see you again.”

He appeared similarly pleased. “And you, Maya. How have you been?”

Donners was not one to complain even if she had good reason to so her smile never wavered. “Very well, thank you, sir.”

Jonathan Owens looked skeptical for a moment. They knew each other mostly because of Amaya’s close friendship with his son, Michael Owens. They had attended the Academy together and remained close afterwards, even after he had stolen her first officer position on the Columbia. And while Michael and his father had some undeniable issues with each other, Amaya had always understood that it was wise to keep on good terms with powerful men. It hadn’t been difficult with Owens, Sr. She genuinely liked the mysterious Starfleet admiral even if it was nearly impossible to figure out what exactly his duties entailed. Officially he was the head of something named the Department of Special Affairs and Investigations but his section was true to its cryptic name and nobody she’d ever met had been able to tell her what it was they did.

“Why do I have a hard time believing that? You can flash that pretty smile of yours all you want but I can tell something’s bothering you.”

“It’s nothing, Admiral, really. Just one of those days,” she said and then tried to change the subject. “I’m afraid if you’re looking for Admiral Glover, he is not in his office yet.”

But Owens was not easily distracted. “I think it’s that horrible little station of yours. What you need is a change of scenery,” he said sternly.

This she found rather annoying even if it didn’t show on her face. There was nothing wrong with the station and she certainly didn’t feel like leaving it. “You’ll better not let Admiral Glover hear you talk about DS5 that way,” she said with a playful grin.

He waved her off dismissively. “If it been up to me we would have replaced her years ago. I suppose resources are scarce at the moment,” he said and then added, “And you need to start thinking about your future, young lady.”

She liked Owens well enough but she really didn’t care for where this conversation was going. Thankfully her boss had decided to pick that moment to emerge from the turbo-lift. “Ah, the admiral is now available for you, sir.”

This actually caused Jonathan Owens to laugh. “You were always a smart one, Maya, knowing exactly how to tell somebody to mind their own damn business without actually saying it.”

“I would never presume to tell you anything of the kind, sir,” she said good-naturedly.

“Of course not. And don’t think you'll be able to dismiss me so easily. I’ve made it my life’s work to get involved into other people’s business so expect to hear from me again soon. I think I’ll hold for the admiral now. Pleasure speaking with you.”

“It was all mine, Admiral,” she said and then placed the call on hold and looking up just in time to see Samson Glover crossing over towards his office. “Good morning, sir.”

The tall man of African-American descent nodded towards his first officer. “Morning, Maya.”

“I’ve got Admiral Owens on the line for you.”

“Very well, please pipe him through to my office.”

Moments later and after Samson Glover had taken his seat behind his desk Jonathan Owens’ face appeared on his computer screen. This time the man didn’t waste time with idle chitchat. “Samson, I have a favor to ask of you.”

The frown on Glover’s face turned uglier the longer he listened to what the other admiral had to say.


* * *
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Old February 25 2012, 08:47 PM   #2
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Amaya has definitely found her niche aboard DS5, but like Will Riker on the Enterprise, perhaps she's become a bit too comfortable.

And any 'favor' that can make Samson Glover scowl has got to have some pretty unpleasant ramifications.

Terrific so far... though I wonder how that conversation with the ever-so-cordial Lucian Ebnal went for Donners.
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Old February 26 2012, 08:48 AM   #3
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
Amaya has definitely found her niche aboard DS5, but like Will Riker on the Enterprise, perhaps she's become a bit too comfortable.

And any 'favor' that can make Samson Glover scowl has got to have some pretty unpleasant ramifications.

Terrific so far... though I wonder how that conversation with the ever-so-cordial Lucian Ebnal went for Donners.
As you may know, my personal philosophy is that Starfleet isn't just a place to try and advance your career and sometimes officers simply stay in whatever position they feel most comfortable in for a long time.

Having said that, perhaps Donners isn't entirely honest with herself here.

Thanks for revisiting this story.
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Old February 27 2012, 10:05 PM   #4
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

I'm glad you're re-visiting this story. I enjoyed it when you posted it last year and look forward to where this leads Amaya. She struck me as a very level-headed and competent officer who perhaps found herself a bit too comfortable on a starbase.

But things change, don't they.
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Old February 29 2012, 01:56 PM   #5
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

One Week Later


“You are staring again.”

A startled Commander Donners turned her head to look up at Christine Raeger who had just whispered into her ear before placing the latest communications log onto her workstation for review.

Donners scowled at the younger woman. “I wasn’t staring, I was thinking,” she said in an equally quite tone to make sure the subject of their conversation, sitting at the other end of the operations center would not overhear them.

“My mistake,” she said, gave her a grin and returned to her duties.

Amaya was fully aware how her deep thoughts could have been mistaken as her staring at the white haired and bearded Efrosian officer across the room. It didn’t help that Raeger and the rest of her officers already suspected that she resented the recent arrival.

This of course was not the case. He had come onto the station only a few days earlier and she hadn’t even had the chance to get to know the man. But popular opinion had it that the sudden appearance of an officer of equal rank and judging by his advanced age, of greater experience, and a rather under-defined job role had to be vexing to her and perhaps even indicate a vote of no-confidence in her abilities to run the station.

But the truth was that all this had happened so quickly and unexpectedly that Amaya simply wasn’t sure how to feel about his presence yet. The official word from Admiral Glover had been that Commander Rahul was DS5’s temporary second officer and would answer directly to her.

Rahul himself was a quite sort who didn’t talk much unless he was spoken to but when he spoke it was with the confidence of a man who knew exactly what he was doing. His service jacket had shown that he was well over one hundred years old and it made her slightly uncomfortable to have to issue orders to a man who was more than twice her age. If anything she guessed that she could learn a thing or two from him.

All that was plenty of reason for her to be in deep thoughts.

She didn’t get much of a chance however to consider this peculiar development any further when Jasmine Mendes emerged out of the turbo-lift in what seemed to be a clearly exasperated mood. She was slightly shaking her head as she stepped closer. “Commander.”

Donners didn’t miss the fact that Rahul looked up from his station even though Mendes had clearly meant to address her.

“You’re not going to believe this,” she said. “Captain Solok wants us to go over the repairs schedule of the T’Kumbra again and he demands to have a senior command officer present this time. What is it with Vulcans anyway? If they think they can do a better job at this why come here at all?”

“Solok is a perfectionist even among Vulcans,” said Donners, who’d had the misfortune of having to deal with the notoriously difficult captain on previous occasions. “He’ll spend five hours to discuss a job that will take two. He won’t be happy until every last detail has been seen to,” she added and stood, sighing inwardly at the prospect of spending the rest of the afternoon with the nitpicking captain.

“Perhaps I can assist,” Rahul offered as he came over from his station. “Solok and I have history and he may be more amenable when dealing with an officer he is more familiar with,” he said and looked at Mendes who shot him an empty expression before looking over at Donners.

“Unless you would prefer to handle this yourself, Commander,” said Rahul who noticed the two women exchanging looks.

Amaya hadn’t even considered the possibility and her first instinct had been to dismiss this offer. If Solok wanted to speak to a senior command officer than that should have been her. But then of course this was not the kind of job she was looking forward to. She shook her head. “No objections, Commander,” she said. “If you want to take this one, be my guest.”

Rahul nodded and then turned to the operations chief. “I suggest we tend to Captain Solok immediately. The longer we keep him waiting the more difficult he becomes.”

“Sure,” Mendes said. She shot Donners another look, perhaps to see if she was truly alright with this and then led Rahul back to the turbo-lift.

“He’s real helpful, isn’t he?” said Reager once the two had left operations. She made a point to keep her eyes on her console however.

“Yes,” Donners said absentmindedly.

“You don’t think he might be up to something,” she said now looking up from her station.

“Like what?”

The communications officer shrugged her shoulders “I’m just saying, his sudden arrival on the station is rather suspicious, don’t you think? I’d watch my back if I were you.”

Amaya considered this for all but two seconds and then quickly shook her head. “I don’t have time to entertain your paranoid fantasies,” she said, picked up a padd and headed for Admiral Glover’s office.

He waved her in before she even had a chance to press the enunciator.

The admiral stood behind his desk as she strode in. Samson Glover was a man past his prime but not by very much. Still as tall and broad-shoulder as he must have been in his younger years, his hairline had noticeably receded and his close-cropped curls were more gray than black these days.

His broad smile which Amaya imagined had charmed countless women when he had been younger was much more fatherly now.

It had been his never say die personality and his magnetic charisma which had attracted her to work for him and even after four years, which had not always been easy, she simply could not imagine working for anyone else.

“Maya, how can I help you?”

Whatever she felt below the surface, she did a splendid job to keep those thoughts well hidden underneath a mask of stern professionalism. She held up the padd she had brought. “I have the weekly communication logs for your review.”

He frowned and she wasn’t exactly sure why until he located a padd of his own. He handed it to her and she looked it over to find that it contained exactly the same thing she had brought. She looked up at him. “I don’t understand.”

Glover seemed somewhat uncomfortable. “Commander Rahul provided the report earlier this morning.”

“I see,” she said, looking dumbfounded.

“I suppose we have to work on our lines of communication and responsibilities,” he said, clearly still not perfectly at ease on the subject. “Figure out exactly who does what around here.”

She nodded.

An awkward silence ensued.

“Anything else, Commander?”

She looked at the admiral as if she hadn’t realized that nobody had said anything for a while. “No, sir.”

“Very well.”

She gave him a quick nod and then turned to leave but she stopped before she reached the doors and turned around. “Admiral, may I ask you a question?”

“By all means.”

“Have you not been satisfied with my performance?”

Glover immediately shook his head. “No, not at all.”

“Sir?”

He grinned. “I mean, yes, I have been very satisfied with your performance,” he said and then held up a hand to stop her from responding. “And let me dispel any notion that Commander Rahul is here because I may not like what you’ve done here because that’s complete nonsense. Maya, you’re practically the lube that allows this station to run smoothly. Without you, well I don’t know what I would do.”

“I appreciate you saying that, sir, but if that is the case why bring in the Commander?”

“Because you do much more than just run the station. You are also my main adjutant and I know that sometimes that can be a full-time job.”

“And you feel that I have not been able to handle the workload,” she said, nodding to herself to show her understanding.

He sighed. “No, I just think that it would help having another officer around with whom you can share the workload. Make things easier on you. Don’t see this as a reflection on your performance. Instead consider it to be a reward. It will allow you to slow down a bit,” he said but made a pointed effort not to glance directly at her while saying this.

Donners still managed a smile. “I will do that, thank you, sir,” she said and left the admiral’s office.
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Old February 29 2012, 07:24 PM   #6
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Donners is justifiably concerned. Why bring in someone else with more experience as her 2nd in command if she's up to the task? And Admiral Glover didn't help with his initial response to her. He's being unduly evasive.

As they say, it's not paranoia if they are out to get you. Maya has much to ponder. Hope she's able to sleep at night.
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Old March 1 2012, 07:24 AM   #7
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone's not out to get you... Or your job.
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Old March 1 2012, 06:28 PM   #8
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Good to see this getting re-posted and I'm looking forward very much to a Donners story.
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Old March 2 2012, 04:17 PM   #9
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Thanks for reading and commenting guys.

And DarKush, I hope you can get your computer issues resolved soon. I missing me some Dark Territory.
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Old March 3 2012, 10:54 PM   #10
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

That smile was long gone by the time she returned to her quarters.

It had quickly become apparent that Rahul had already attended most of the duties she had planned to carry out that day and she suddenly found herself with little to nothing to do. Glover had told her to slow down and if that was what he wanted form her, than that was precisely what she was going to do. Unfortunately it was becoming more and more obvious that the quiet Efrosian was much too efficient to allow her to just slow down. At this pace she was going to find herself without anything to do at all.

Raeger’s warning echoed in her mind as she removed her uniform jacket and threw it carelessly on her bed not noticing that it began to stir slightly after it had landed on top of her bunched-up bed sheets.

Instead she headed for the washroom, deciding that a long relaxing bath was exactly the right thing to distract her from her growing thoughts of becoming redundant.

“You have an incoming message.”

Upon hearing the computer announcement she returned to her lounge and sat down in front of her desk, activating the computer screen.

She smiled upon seeing the familiar face. “Joe, what a surprise.”

“Hello there, kid,” said the white-haired, middle-aged man with a slight African accent. “How have you been?”

“Not too bad. How about yourself?”

Joseph Akinola nodded. “You know how it is. Still trying to keep the universe in order. Still chasing around Orion pirates or rescuing foolhardy freighter crews who think they can outrun ion storms.”

“Never be a shortage of those, I suppose.”

“You look good, Maya. It’s always difficult for me to believe that you are that same little thing that used to run around a border cutter like it was your personal playground.

She rolled her eyes in a dramatic fashion. “Just how I can’t believe how you manage to bring that up every time we see each other.”

“Which by the way is not nearly often enough.”

“No argument there,” she said. “What’s the occasions?”

“I don’t need an occasion to speak with my goddaughter, do I?”

She gave him a suspicious look.

“Bluefin just happened to be in the sector while we’re transporting a few prisoners to Starbase 74 and –“

“Joe,” she said, interrupting the skipper. “We both know that the fastest way from Star Station Echo to 74 is through the Mutara sector.”

Akinola shrugged. “What can I say, we’re taking the scenic route,” he said and then smirked when she noticed the unconvinced look on her face. “I’ve spoken to Cicero and Shelia last week.”

She nodded as if she had known all along. “And how are my folks these days? Enjoying their retirement, I take it.”

“Damn fools is what they are. Border Dogs have no business hanging up the uniform so early,” he said sternly but Amaya was well aware that he held no serious grudges against her parents who he considered to be amongst his closest friends even if they had decided to give up on the service and raise Amaya on Earth instead of schlepping her around the dangerous frontier from one assignment to the next. “But seeing that we’re out here and they’re back in their cozy Bayou home, they have asked me to check in on you.”

“I see,” she said.

“You don’t talk to them nearly as much as they would like.”

“I write to them every month,” she protested.

“But what’s the last time you visited them?”

“I’m rather busy here,” she said, knowing full well that it was a flat out lie considering that the exact opposite was now the case. “I’m trying to run a space station and I’m the adjutant of the most senior officer in the sector.”

“You are wasting your time.”

She looked at him big-eyed.

“Don’t give me that look,” he said, admonishingly. “We both know that you need to move on. And I keep telling you, there are plenty of opportunities right here in the Service. You could command your own cutter within months if you wanted to.”

“Here we go again.”

He continued as if she hadn’t even spoken. “Not to mention that it would mean the world to Sheila and Cicero if you were to follow in their footsteps. An officer of your caliber, with your legacy –“

The sounding chime to her quarters caused her to turn around. “Hold on a sec,” she said and went over to see who was there.

The doors slid open to reveal a slender, black-haired man with noticeable bulges at the side of his skull, hinting to his advanced telepathic skills. He had a concerned expression on his face, which made him look significantly older than his thirty-six years.

“Vej,” she said and then suddenly remembered. “We were due to meet today,” she said, pointing a finger at him

“Are you alright?” he said with genuine concern evident in his voice.

She frowned. “I wish people would stop asking me that.”

The counselor smirked. “It’s kind of my job to ask that.”

“Come in. Hope you don’t mind if we’re meeting at my place,” she said and stepped aside.
He stuck his head into her quarters, looking carefully left and right before setting foot into it.
She knew why and smiled. “Don’t worry, he’s sleeping.”
He nodded with fake bravado as if it wasn’t really a concern of his, causing her to suppress a chuckle, before he walked inside.
“Take a seat and I’ll be right with you,” she said, pointing to the sitting area, “I just have to finish up with a call.”

Seconds later she sat in front of her desk again. “Sorry, Joe, I forgot that I rearranged my weekly session with Vej to today. I promise I’ll contact you again before Bluefin leaves the sector.”

He slightly shook his head. “I never understood how anyone would want to have their heads examined by a shrink voluntarily.”

“Didn’t you know? We’re all softies over here in the Regular Fleet.”

“I believe that.”

“Listen, tell my folks not to worry and that I’m perfectly happy where I am.“

Akinola was about to protest but she cut him off.

“And I really can’t see myself in Border Service. And definitely not commanding my own ship. Trust me I have to deal with those people everyday and they drive me nuts. No offense.”

“None taken.”

“I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Take care, Maya. Akinola out.”

And with that the image of the veteran skipper disappeared from the screen and Donners turned in her chair to face the station’s counselor who had made himself comfortable on a large sofa underneath a slanted window into space.

“Your friend doesn’t have the highest opinion of my profession, does he?” Vej asked after she had come off the comm. channel.

“Joe? He’s an old school Border Dog through and through. Worked himself up the ranks all the way from a lowly ranking. Last I heard he doesn’t even allow a replicator on his ship. Suppose the man doesn’t have much use for modern amenities.”

“Is that was I am? A modern amenity?”

Amaya left her desk and instead dropped herself onto one of the two comfortable chairs facing the couch and shrugged.

“You want to tell me what’s bothering you?” he said.

“Why would you think something is bothering me?” she said and then threw him a dark look. “Are you reading my thoughts?”

He looked positively hurt by that accusation. “You should know me better than that.”

“Sorry.”

“Here’s why I know you’re not fine. I’ve known you for four years during which we’ve had countless sessions which pretty much makes you one of my most regular patients and I like to think that after all that time I can tell when something is bothering you. And if I couldn’t, I think I’d be pretty lousy at my job.”

“Patient? I don’t think I like that word.”

He leaned slightly towards her. “How does friend sound?”

“Much better.”

“Then as a concerned friend: What’s wrong? Any chance this has anything to do with our newest second officer?”

She looked straight at him, which made it perfectly clear that that was in fact exactly what had been on her mind. She forced herself to relax in her chair when she realized that she had given herself away. “People seem to think that he’s after my job.”

“And what do you think?”

“I can’t imagine the Admiral wanting to get rid of me. He’s never once complained about my work and we’ve always gotten along very well. But I can tell that there is something he’s not telling me.”

“Do you ever think that maybe it’s time to move on to other, greater things?”

She leaned back in her chair with an annoyed grunt. “Don’t you start as well. I am perfectly happy right here, why can’t people accept that?”

“Maybe it’s not about what you want but rather about what you need,” he said.

She sat up. “You’re saying I don’t know what’s best for me? I’m not a child. I’m perfectly capable to make my own decisions and figuring out what’s right for me and what’s not.”

“I think you’ve become to comfortable here. No matter what you tell yourself, I believe you’re not the kind of person who could ever be truly satisfied by being second-in-command.”

“Are you saying you know me better than I know myself?”

He smirked. “Yes.” And then with a more serious demeanor: “There are people who join Starfleet because they simply want to serve the Federation. There are some who join because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves and others who are looking to fulfill their desire to take on tough challenges. Many want to explore new worlds and meet new civilizations and some are out here just for the adventure. But just a few join to become masters of their own destiny. Not to become a follower and certainly not to get those admiral pips but to one day have a command of their own.”

“And you think I fit into that category?”

He nodded.

“Then you’re wrong,” she said flatly. “And clearly you don’t know me as well as you would like. I can’t stand starship captains so why in the world would I want to be one myself? They are arrogant, full of themselves and think the universe revolves around them. Take Michael Owens. A close friend of mine I’ve known since the Academy –“

“Just a friend?” he said with a knowing look.

“Yeah,” she said quickly even though perhaps that wasn’t entirely the truth. “Anyway, ever since he got his own command he’s become damn near insufferable to be around. He’s not saying it of course but you can tell he suddenly thinks he’s above us mere mortals.”

“I’ve never said you should be a starship captain,” said Vej. “All I said was that you need your own command. There is a galaxy of opportunities out there just waiting for you. But you have to go and make them your own.”

“Nicely put. What are you a poet now?”

He shrugged. “I moonlight a bit.”

“I don’t need a whole galaxy of opportunities and I certainly don’t need my own command. I’m practically running this station,” she said defensively.

“It’s not the same and you know it.”

That’s when Vej’s eyes grew wider, his skin paled and he became noticeably uncomfortable. His body tensed and he sat up straighter on the couch.

Amaya turned her head to see what had caused her friend’s sudden change.

Cosmo had awoken.

The four-legged green and yellow wildcat was perhaps the size of a young terran tiger and similarly built with four powerful legs and a long colorful tail. The creature was most noticeably Vulcan by its large upward pointing ears. Le-matya’s were generally vicious predators which preyed on animals and Vulcans alike but Cosmo was of the still imposing yet much less dangerous domesticated kind. His teeth were shorter and less sharp than those of the wild le-matya and his claws were retractable and not poisoned.

Amaya had had Cosmo since her father had found the cub on an Orion raider when she had been a child. Without any real friends, the creature had become her only constant companion. Much to the concern of her fellow colleagues.

Cosmo was leaving behind a trail of clothing and sheets as he emerged from her bedroom and strode towards Amaya, his yellow eyes looking over Vej as if to determine if he was friend of foe.

He ultimately hissed at the counselor before he placed his front paw onto Amaya’s lap. When he had been smaller he had simply jumped on her but since he now weighed almost as much as she did, they had both learned that that was no longer practical.

“Don’t mind, Cosmo,” she said as she began to scratch him behind those long pointed ears, causing him to purr with pleasure. “He’s just grouchy because he hasn’t eaten yet.”

Cosmo pulled closer to her face and tried to lick it. Amaya managed to hold off his head before she could be subjected to a wet tongue bath.

“Alright,” she said. “Let’s get you your dinner.”

Cosmo immediately jumped back down and trotted to the replicator, looking eagerly at the device.

“It never fails to surprise me how a person as gentle as you could have ended up with such a ferocious beast as a pet,” said Vej while Donners replicated Cosmo’s food and placed it in front of him.

“He’s hardly a beast,” she said, stroking his head while he was busy devouring the replicated meal.

“Maybe not but he knows exactly what he needs and how to get it. And he knows how to tell you.”

She looked up. “Are you implying that Cosmo is smarter than me?”

He shook his head with a grin. “I’m saying that you should take a page from your pet. You need to take charge of your life. And I’m not just talking about getting your own command, which you insist is not something you want. You have a problem with Commander Rahul? Don’t keep it to yourself. Tell the admiral that it’s bothering you. I’m sure you have deserved that right. Starship captains getting to you? Put them in their place. You said it yourself. You are running this station.”

“You want me to be somebody I’m not,” she said as she walked back to her seat.

“No, I want you to be more than what you are. I’m convinced it would make you a more complete person. And just maybe it will make you see that you need … that you want more out of your life.”

“Raeger to Donners.”

Amaya tapped her combadge. “Donners here, go ahead, Christine.”

“You’re not going to like this but the Cuffe just signaled. They’ll be making an unscheduled stop at the station. She’ll arrive within the hour.”

“I hate when he does that,” Amaya mumbled. Yet another reasons she had a problem with starship captains was that they seemed to be of the opinion that they could come and go whenever they pleased, not realizing that it would cause major headaches for her and her crew when they decided to show up announced. And one particular captain had seemingly made it his mission in life to cause her headaches. “Prepare docking port five. I’ll meet Captain Glover there when he arrives.”

There was a momentary pause, which Amaya thought to be odd, after all her orders had been quite clear.

“Commander Rahul has already given the order to prepare docking port two and said he’ll be welcoming Glover onboard,” said Raeger in a regretful tone.

Amaya rolled her eyes. “Then why are you calling me?”

“I just thought you wanted to know.”

“Of course, sorry,” she said, suddenly feeling guilty for snapping at her like she had. “Thanks for letting me know. Donners Out.”

She could sense Vej’s eyes on her before even looking into his direction. “I was a bit rude there, wasn’t I?”

He merely shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Somebody else may have been annoyed that Rahul has decided to meet Glover instead of deferring to you first.”

“It’s not a big deal. In fact, he’s doing me a favor.”

“Really?” he said and gave her that suspicious look again. “Forgive me if I’m wrong but haven’t you made it a point to meet every visiting starship captain when they come onboard?”

“Yes. But it’s hardly required protocol.”

“More like a tradition?”

She nodded.

“One that Commander Rahul will now carry out instead.”

She had no immediate response to that. Then she slapped her combadge. “Donners to Raeger.”

“Raeger here.”

“Lieutenant, tell Commander Rahul that I will be welcoming Captain Glover on board.”

She couldn’t see it but she could clearly imagine the large grin on the communications officer’s face when she spoke. “I will tell him.”

“Good. And one more thing.”

“Yes?”

“Have Cuffe assigned to docking port five.”

“Number five. You got it.”

“Donners out.”

She pointedly looked at Vej. “Is that enough taking charge for you?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “How do you feel about it?”

She gave that question a few seconds of thought and then a smile spread over her lips. “I kinda feel good about it.”


* * *
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Old March 4 2012, 07:52 AM   #11
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

A good counselor there, and one who's able to make Amaya face the reality of her situation, whether she cares to admit it or not. The woman is meant for bigger things, only she stubbornly refuses to see what everyone around her already knows.

Terrific stuff here, CeJay, really top-notch character work.
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Old March 4 2012, 10:06 PM   #12
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Poor Amaya - she even has Akinola on her case. Seems everyone is interested in advancing Donners' career except Donners herself.

Vej was providing sound (though unwanted) counsel, at least until the Vulcan kitty woke up for din-din. Wonder when Amaya will wake up and catch a clue - she's become far too comfortable in her current billet. She's destined for bigger and better things.
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Old March 8 2012, 06:39 PM   #13
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Some captains liked to walk onto the station through the docking port when their ship was docked to DS5 while others preferred to beam straight into one of the station’s transporter rooms. Terrence Glover belonged firmly into the second category and Amaya Donners had a good idea why. A beam-in was simply more dramatic and therefore much more his style.

She stood ramrod straight, with her hands clasped behind her back as she waited by the platform while Glover materialized.

It was unmistakable that the younger Glover was his father’s son. Blessed with the same large stature, broad chest and shoulders, good looks and the unwavering confidence not just of an unquestioned leader but also of a man who knew he would achieve exactly what he set out to do. Some would have called this arrogance. Terrence Glover probably didn’t.

“Permission to come aboard,” he said but had already jumped off the platform with a beaming grin on his face.

Protocol would have demanded that he’d wait until she would give him such permission before taking a single step. It was of course mostly a redundant practice of decorum but it annoyed Amaya that he didn’t even have the patience to wait the one-second the procedure required.

“Permission granted,” she said under her breath. “Welcome aboard, sir.”

He stepped right up to her and grabbed her by her shoulders. “Maya, anyone ever tell you that you look great?”

“You do. Every time you come by.”

“People need to tell you more often,” he said with that boyish grin.

“Whatever you say, sir,” she said and then pointed towards the doors. “Your father is expecting you in his quarters.”

He removed his hands but stayed in place. “Lead the way.”

She nodded and set out. She had secretly hoped that he would have simply found his way on his own, after all he was quite familiar with the layout of the station himself and would have been able to find the admiral’s quarters with ease. But again, that was not his way. And she was also fully aware that he liked to find excuses to talk to her.

“Honestly, I can’t believe you’re still on this bucket,” he said as he walked beside her down the corridor. “Your talents are being wasted here.”

She rolled her eyes. She didn’t need to hear this from him of all people. “I’m perfectly content with my duties here, Captain,” she said and began feeling like an automaton, repeating the same thing over and over again.

“Maya, we’ve known each other how long now? Four years? You should really call me Terrence. You're practically part of the family,” he said as he followed her into the turbo-lift.

“Level Three,” she said and the lift set in motion.

“And this whole cold shoulder routine is not working on me. I know you like me, why else would you come welcome me personally every time I come to visit?” he said. He was leaning casually against the wall, facing her even while she kept her shoulders straight and her eyes towards the doors.

“I do that for every visiting captain,” she said.

“Right.”

She turned to look at him. “No, really.”

He smirked at that, noticing that she was beginning to relax. Sooner or later women tended to do that in his presence. But in all the years he had tried, the pretty first officer of DS5 had never let herself succumb to his charms.

“You know, I’m free for dinner tonight. Want to join me?”

Terrence Glover was nothing if not direct. He didn’t believe in dancing around people and in part that was exactly why he tended to be as successful as he was, both as a starship captain as well as in other endeavors.

“1900?” she said.

This caught the starship captain by surprise and he stood away from the wall.

A playful smile came over her lips at having been able to faze the un-fazable.

“Perfect,” he said. “The Hitching Post?” he added referring to the station’s most prominent establishment.

The lift doors opened and Amaya walked out. Within seconds he was back at her side.

“I was thinking about something a bit quieter,” she said. “How do my quarters sound?”

If Terrence was surprised yet again he didn’t let it show this time. Instead he followed her example and kept his eyes forward, speaking to her without affording one glance in her direction. “Sounds good. I’ll bring the wine.”

They reached the admiral’s quarters and as they came to a stop in front of the doors they once again turned to face each other. A concerned thought was clearly crossing Glover’s mind. “Wait, do you still have that beast staying with you?”

“Cosmo?” she said with a smile. “He’s harmless.”

He shook his head slightly “He’s got claws and I got a little bit too acquainted with them last time I came by.”

“Yeah well, he’s a bit protective. You know how men are. But I’m sure you’d be able to handle him.”

It was a clear challenge and if there was something Terrence Glover didn’t back away from it was a challenge. She could tell that his mind was churning, running the figures on the potential pros and cons of a visit to the beast's lair.

“I was thinking of inviting Lieutenant Mendes to join us,” she said, having been able to wipe that grin off her face and sounding perfectly serious. “You remember Jasmine?”

She knew she had him. She also knew that Terrence Glover remembered Jasmine Mendes extremely well. It wasn’t a particularly well kept secret that the two had been involved in an on again off again relationship for the last two years and no matter how rocky it got between them at times, the general consensus was that they’d end up with each other for good eventually. In no small part because it was rumored that the Admiral himself had been the matchmaker and seemed to have a vested interest in making it last.

“On second thought,” said Terrence. “I don’t think 1900 hours is going to work for me today.”

“Shame,” she replied straight-faced. “Some other time then?”

He nodded.

“Captain,” she said and walked away, leaving Terrence Glover to enter his father’s quarters while she couldn’t quite get that growing smile off her lips. One had to enjoy the little victories. They didn’t come around very often.


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Old March 11 2012, 04:50 PM   #14
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Amaya had to admit that Rahul was doing a pretty decent job.

By the time she had come on shift, he already had all necessary daily reports ready for her to review, the senior staff was already in the process on tackling their daily tasks and the entire operations center had a sense of focused efficiency, which she couldn’t remember ever having seen before.

It gave her time to look over the reports while sipping on her raktajino and sorting through the admiral’s correspondence as well as planning his upcoming activities.

For the first time she wondered if Glover hadn’t in fact been right about bringing the Efrosian on board after all. Initially of course she had seen this as a sign of lacking confidence in her abilities or perhaps even an attempt to push her out of her position entirely but now she was beginning to sense that Rahul’s presence was actually making things easier for her.

But was easier really what she was looking for? Ever since joining Starfleet Academy she had made it a habit to seek out challenges, to take on the tough jobs and make them her own. Could she be satisfied with merely pulling her slowly reducing weight? And if not, if it truly was her nature to take charge of her life, as Vej had put it, then how could she ever be happy here?

Her train of thought was interrupted by Christine Reager. “We’ve got an incoming Starfleet vessel which has just cleared the outer perimeter and is on approach, requesting docking clearance.”

Another unscheduled arrival. Amaya took a deep breath and got ready to stand but then saw Rahul already stepping up to the master control station to handle the situation. She decided to let him take the lead.

“USS Agamemnon,” he said after checking the computer console. “Not an expected arrival.”

“Welcome to my world,” Amaya said under her breath.

Rahul looked at her as if he hadn’t been able to make out what she had said.

She waved him off. “Never mind. Carry on, Commander.”

He nodded and went back to work. “She is too large for any of the currently available docking ports.”

Amaya looked at her own console. The incoming ship was a full-size cruiser and the aging space station could only accommodate a limited number of those at the same time. With the T’Kumbra and Cuffe already docked, accommodating the newcomer was going to be a tight fit. But it was doable. “Commander, tell the Ferengi marauder to scoot over and take berth nine, she’ll fit in there nicely. Then get the Boslic freighter to re-dock at port three. That should free up berth four with just enough room for the Agamemnon.”

It took Rahul a second to realize what she had come up with. The man was no doubt an experienced officer but the finer points of space station operations were still new to him. Donners had no doubt he would learn quickly.

The view screen in the meantime had shifted to show the approaching ship as it entered visual range and Amaya found herself admiring her sleek, graceful lines. The Akira-class was very much the pride of Starfleet’s next generation starship design even if the saucer section had obviously been inspired by the old NX-class, the forbearer of the modern starship. She was smaller than most other ships in her class. A departure from the massive capital-sized ships like the Galaxy-class, the Akira had been designed to be a faster, more maneuverable starship without making compromises in flexibility or durability.

The appreciation didn’t last long and certainly couldn’t overcome the annoyance she felt over the fact that whoever was in charge over there had not even felt it necessary to follow simple protocol and advise of the visit sooner. If they had, then they would not have had to move heavens and earth to accommodate her now.

Furthermore Amaya had never heard of this ship before, never mind it operating in her sector. And she prided herself in being completely up-to-date on fleet movements.

“Did you see that?” said Reager, studying her console. “She just missed the outer approach marker by twenty kilometers.”

Amaya had been too irritated to notice.

“She’s drifting pretty far into the departure lane,” the communications officer added.

To make matter worse, it was the very same lane allocated to a Lissepian cargo hauler on its way out of the system. The chance of the two ships colliding in outer space was highly unlikely of course but they would pass each other far closer than protocol asked for. It didn’t help that the Lissepians weren’t the most adept people in starship navigation.

“Tell that cargo ship to change their outgoing course to one-five-three mark six,” Donners said calmly even if she hated playing traffic controller.

“Perhaps I should have a word with Agamemnon’s commanding officer about proper starbase approach procedure. They’re coming in way too fast,” said Rahul as he monitored the flight plan.

He was right, Amaya noticed. The ship was still at full impulse even though it should have reduced to one-quarter by the time it reached the outer marker. That was the proverbial straw. She had been perfectly happy to let the Efrosian handle this one but with Vej’s words still fresh in the back of her mind, she was determined to let her take-charge attitude assert itself. She didn’t care who was in command on the Agamemnon but she was determined to have a spirited heart-to-heart with that individual and this time it was going to be No-More-Ms-Nice-Gal.

She stood. “Advise the commanding officer of that ship that I would like to have a word in the wardroom as soon as she has docked,” she said and headed straight for the turbo-lift.


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Old March 11 2012, 07:03 PM   #15
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Re: And a Star to Steer Her By

Oh, Lord... this could prove either highly entertaining, or completely disasterous. Especially if the captain of that ship has a Glover-sized ego.
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