The Untold Era: Picking Up The Pieces

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, May 4, 2020.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    So right now I don't have much form to what I'm working on. As ideas begin to form, I'm getting them out as I can, trying to put all the stress and other issues into a creative outlet, something I have full control over. For this piece, I really fancied working on a Miranda-Class ship (the workhorse of any era) and to have a story that comes into focus for the reader as it does for me as I'm writing it, lol.

    This takes place sometime in the mid 2320s.

    * * * * *

    Star Trek: Polaris

    Picking Up The Pieces


    The scorched displays and smoke blemished bulkheads spoke of the violent battle they had been through, but it was the blood-stained deck plating that showed the true cost of the engagement. Lieutenant Commander Xanthe Palmer struggled not to stare at the marks on the floor, she needed to stay strong for the crew more so now than ever before—given that Captain Strenn’s green blood was amongst that of the others who had fallen and never risen again.

    “Sir, we’re approaching the outer edge of the system,” reported Rinell from navigation, the Deltan was the only other member of the senior bridge crew to still be at their post.

    “Thank you, Lieutenant, scan for nav-markers and lock us in for approach. Helm, drop us out of warp, take us in at full impulse.”

    “Aye sir,” Petty Officer First Class Cian O’Shaughnessy confirmed

    She turned to communications where Ensign Eelona Mazz, their newest addition, was covering the station. The rookie Bolian was clearly having a hard time with the aftermath of the battle, her hands were trembling on the control panel and her eyes were wet. Losing people was never easy but facing it after less than a month out of the Academy was going to be even harder.

    “Ensign, hail station ops.” She got no response. “Ensign Mazz.”

    The younger woman started and spun about. “Sir?”

    “Can you hail operations, please,” she repeated, her tone sympathetic.

    “Um, y…yes sir,” she replied, shaking her head, trying to clear whatever thoughts plagued her.

    Palmer faced the viewscreen again and waited. It took longer than she had expected, but after a few moments the face of Rear Admiral Fitzpatrick appeared, a mixture of concern and relief was etched onto his lined face.

    Polaris, where have you been? What happened out there? Where is Captain Strenn and Commander th’Varesh?”

    She swallowed hard. Fitzpatrick was not a man known for his tact, so she’d been prepared for questioning, but their recent losses were raw. “I’m sorry to report that both the Captain and XO are dead. Admiral, we have several crewmembers needing urgent hospitalisation, we need to begin transporting them as soon as we’re in range.”

    Flustered, Fitzpatrick glanced at one of her crew and ordered them to prepare the infirmary before looking back at her. “We’ll be ready to receive once you’re in range. Lieutenant Commander, I want a full report by on-nine-hundred.”

    “Understood, sir. We’ll be in range in eleven minutes.”

    “We’ll clear you for a repair berth as well. Theta Station out.”

    That had gone better than she’d expected. She tapped the companel on the chair’s armrest. “Bridge to sickbay, prep the serious cases for beam out. We’ll be in range in a few minutes.”

    “Understood, standing by.”

    With her immediate concern, the crew whose lives hung in the balance, addressed, Palmer needed to turn her attention to making sense of what had happened. Unfortunately, there was no polite or acceptable way to include ‘absolute cluster frak of a shitshow’ in her report. She would worry about that once they’d offloaded the injured and docked, she would need the time to get her head on straight and pull together all the records and logs in order to make sense of it all.

    From where she sat, Palmer had a clear view over the joint helm-nav station and could see the number of orange and red indicators, which stood out against the blue and green LCARS displays. The Polaris had taken a serious beating, including all of their propulsion systems, they’d limped back to Theta Station at barely warp two and she’d been told that anything more than one quarter impulse would burn out the reactors. She’d taken note of the report, but with twenty-two in sickbay needing the advanced treatment features of a starbase, she didn’t give much of a damn about their sublight drive—there were already thirty-five body bags stored in cargo bay four, she wasn’t going to add any more to that total.

    She watched the seconds drag on the chronometer above the viewscreen, willing them to go faster. Eventually, they reached eleven minutes.

    “We’re in transporter range,” announced Rinell.

    As the navigator formed the first syllable she was tapping the companel. “Energise when ready.” She closed the channel and looked at O’Shaughnessy. “Reduce speed to one eighth impulse.”

    “Sir, we’ve been cleared for docking bay fourteen.”

    “Thank you Ensign. Nav, find the beacon. PO, take us in for docking manoeuvres.”

    “Aye Commander,” they replied in unison.

    As the Miranda-Class ship hobbled into the safety of the dry-dock, Palmer let herself breath a sigh of relief, knowing full well that this was only just the beginning of another struggle for survival, only this time it would be against the bureaucracy of Starfleet protocols and regulations.

    * * * * *
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2020
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  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Seated across the table were three individuals who held a considerable amount of power in the region: Rear Admiral Leonard Fitzpatrick, sector commander, Captain Talia Alexander, the JAG senior officer, and Ambassador Rhesh’da. Palmer clasped her hands tightly on top of the table, trying to keep herself from trembling.

    Finally, Fitzpatrick set his datapad down and glowered at her. “Is this really what happened on your last assignment, Lieutenant Commander?”

    “Yes sir. That is a full and accurate description of all the information I can recall, as well as the appropriate telemetry to support my statement.”

    He huffed pointedly, clearly having his doubts. “A routine diplomatic mission falls apart so completely, resulting in thirty-nine deaths and seventy-eight injured, and you’re saying that there was nothing that could be done?”

    “Yes sir.”

    “You said there was no warning signs,” interjected Alexander.

    “That’s correct, sir. We never suspected anything was awry until they opened fire.”

    “Were they provoked? You went in with shields up and weapons charged, didn’t you!” accused Rhesh’da, the Zaranites expression unreadable behind his breathing apparatus.

    Palmer gritted her teeth. “No sir. We followed standard protocol for an assignment like this. We entered the Dresleq system with our shields and weapons powered down, when we reached standard orbit Commander th’Varesh, Lieutenant Commander Reese, and Lieutenant Tayis accompanied Envoy Nguyen down to the planet.

    “I monitored them from the science station and tracked them into the Premier’s building. After sixty minutes, Commander th’Varesh reported in as scheduled. It was five minutes after that all hell broke loose.”

    “They attacked,” prompted Alexander.

    “Yes sir. Three Dresleq ships, which had been in close proximity to us since we entered orbit, opened fire with type-four disruptors—my analysis shows that they’re of Orion design. They were so close to us that the computer wasn’t even able to get the shields up in time. They hit our weapons pod, port nacelle, and sensor dome in a coordinated attack. We took heavy damage before Captain Strenn could order battlestations. With our sensors compromised, one warp nacelle useless and no torpedoes, we were all but crippled.”

    “What about Envoy Nguyen’s mission?”

    She glanced at Rhesh’da, feeling an overwhelming urge to rip the breathing tubes from his mask, for a diplomat he wasn’t very diplomatic. Even in the midst of the sudden and brutal battle the Polaris found herself in, Palmer had tried to keep track of the away team, looking for some way they could recover them in order to make an escape. She felt her chest constrict as she remembered studying her monitors, watching as one by one their lifesigns blinked out.

    “As we were ambushed in obit, so too was the away team. They were executed.”

    “How can you be sure? A rescue mission should’ve—”

    “Ambassador,” she interrupted, quickly pushed to the limit of her frayed nerves, “I spent four years studying sensor telemetry analysis in conjuncture with xenobiology, astrophysics, geochemistry and computer science, I know how to read a display screen and what it means when lifesigns that were there one second suddenly disappear. I lost one of my staff on that planet, as well as two very dear friends. This whole assignment was a set up, they were waiting for us to let our guard down. It’s failure lands squarely at the doorstep of the diplomatic corps,” she accused, feeling her eyes fill with angry tears.

    Commander!” Fitzpatrick snapped.

    Drawing in a few shaky breathes, Palmer tried to dispel the steadily building rage. She turned away from the Zaranite, her hands clenched into fists on her lap. Knowing that she’d most likely made an enemy of the senior ambassador, as well as the problems that could well cause her in the years to come, she didn’t much care in that moment. This disaster of a mission had seen her lose many friends and colleagues; she wasn’t about to let some posturing tohzah belittle her just to be seen to be saying the right thing.

    After a few moments of tense silence, Alexander cleared her throat and picked up her PADD. “You stated that Captain Strenn gave the order to withdraw.”

    “Yes sir,” she replied, turning her attention to the JAG officer, ignoring the diplomat on the other side of Fitzpatrick. “After I reported the loss of the away team, he gave the order to break orbit and retreat from the system on impulse power.

    “Even damaged and trying to escape they kept on pounding us, whilst our attacks were negligible. Our shields were buckling, which was when they got in a lucky strike that breached deck two and caused heavy damage to the bridge. Th…that was the hit that killed the Captain and the other personnel we lost on deck one.”

    “Without warp, how did you escape the Dresleq ships?” asked Fitzpatrick.

    “For a few months, myself and Lieutenant Saygen have been experimenting with warp field geometries that would allow us achieve warp speed with only one nacelle. It was the topic of her senior honour’s thesis at the Academy, and she’s been tinkering with the idea ever since. It was still very much in the development phase, but we had a model that worked in around thirty percent of simulations.

    “After,” she swallowed hard again, “after I checked on Captain Strenn and couldn’t find a pulse, I assumed command and order her to implement the new geometry.”

    “You utilised an untested proposal with such a low success rate?” asked Fitzpatrick, his scowl darkening.

    “Yes sir. It was either that or wait for the hostiles to collapse our shields completely and destroy the ship. Saygen had the same idea and was preparing the new configuration. We got lucky, for once that day, and we were able to jump to warp four for an hour, enough to get us to a class two nebula, where we were able to evade the Dresleq and slip past them. We pushed the warp drive as hard as we could for a few hours before we had to reduce to factor two.”

    Silence descended on the conference room again. All three of the senior officials stared at her, before glancing at their respective PADDs and going through whatever questions or notes they’d made. Fitzpatrick looked to Alexander and Rhesh’da, then fixed his full attention back on her once more.

    “That’ll be all for now, Lieutenant Commander. Dismissed.”

    “Yes sir,” she said before quickly getting to her feet and leaving. In the corridor, she made a beeline for the nearest turbolift and waited a few moments for a carriage to arrive. When the doors opened a pair of non-coms exited, giving her a respectful nod, before she entered the lift and ordered it to docking bay fourteen.

    As the lift headed down towards the lower ring of berths, she braced herself against the wall, feeling utterly drained. How many more times would she have to relive the experience? How many more questions would she have to answer? They’d done all they could in impossible odds, the fact the ship had survived was a miracle—a testament to the hardy and reliable Miranda-Class. Of course, the Rhesh’da’s in this universe would always think they knew better and always believe they’d have saved the day somehow. This had been a very real Kobayshi Maru, but she hadn’t beaten it, she’d just gotten lucky.

    * * * * *
     
  3. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I like this. I would like to read more, please. I think the point is that this officer got her ship and crew home when her captain and first officer couldn't. They shouldn't punish her. They should promote her. Great job as always, Bry. Take a million credits out of petty cash.
     
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  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thank you, glad you're enjoy it. Have a hazy idea of where this will go, so have a few more installments to write.

    What's the exchange rate on that into pounds sterling? :lol:
     
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  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    Wow, those were some ugly attempts at blame-shifting by the Diplomatic Corps and Starfleet Command. They're clearly looking for a fall-guy to take the heat off whatever idiot brain-trust determined this species was ready for a face-to-face meeting.

    As Admiralelm11 pointed out, Palmer's due a medal or two and a promotion after her grit and quick-thinking helped save the ship from certain disaster. Here's hoping she doesn't have to take this fiasco public in order to make sure the fault is laid at the feet of those responsible.

    Reading that exchange in Palmer's debrief made me so made I had to take a couple of breaks and come back to it, so I'd say you certainly succeeded in capturing the emotional tone of that scene. :bolian:
     
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  6. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    "Lt. Commander Palmer showed tremendous courage and resolve under fire and, demonstrating tremendous initiative and ingenuity, managed to get the ship and surviving crew members home." Or, that's what the first line of her commendation should read. Unfortunately, it seems that the brass and the diplomat want a scapegoat, and Palmer fills that role nicely from their point of view.
    I'm interested to know what the JAG captain thinks.
    Hey, if they get really angry with her, she might get transferred to the Border Service. She might end up commanding her own ship with the "Junior Varsity." :D
     
  7. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
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    Ten million pounds, give or take whatever the British government tries to steal from you. ;)
     
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  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Seriously, right now I'm not sure exactly where this will go or what the fallout for Palmer might be (I did have one notion, but that is likely to change).

    On a totally unrelated note, @TheLoneRedshirt, what ship classes were employed by the Border Service in the 2320s? I'm asking for a friend :lol:
     
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  9. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    ”Bridge to Palmer.”

    Though she was lying in her bed, sleep eluded her. Her mind was buzzing with what she had to do as well as dwelling on the days of meetings and interviews with Fitzpatrick, Alexander, Starfleet Intelligence, and numerous other agencies and representatives she’d had to endure. All of it left her drained and in need of one decent night’s sleep, tonight especially given what was happening in the morning.

    I guess that was too much to ask for, she mused as she tapped the companel beside her bed. “Palmer here.”

    ”Sir, you’ve got an incoming priority two signal from the Exeter.”

    She frowned. Of all the options for what this disturbance might’ve been, she hadn’t even had the Excelsior-Class ship on the list. “Patch it through, please,” she instructed the officer of the watch.

    ”Aye sir.”

    Calling for the lights as she roused herself from bed, she walked to her desk, straightening up her sleepwear and running her fingers through her mousy hair, making herself as presentable as she could for the sector’s most senior captain. She sat down and activated her monitor which depicted the customary delta, before quickly being replaced with the stern face of Captain Wolfgang Müller. The man was well known across the quadrant, one of Starfleet’s finest, equal parts explorer, diplomat and soldier, as such his ship was one of the most sought after postings.

    ”Commander Palmer, I hope I’ve not woken you,” he began his tone remarkable soft, despite his deep voice and strong German accent.

    “Not at all, Captain.” She stifled a yawn. “What can I do for you, sir?”

    ”I’m not sure if Fitzpatrick mentioned this to you, but I’m taking the Exeter, Ardent and Ivanhoe to the Dresleq system to get some answers from those drannit, and teach them a lesson for what they did to the Polaris.”

    Of course, the rear admiral hadn’t shared that with her. She had to admit she was surprised at the firepower that was being sent in, with two Abbe-Class destroyers going with the Exeter. They’d also be going in with their eyes open, ready for an ambush and with the capabilities of taking out every ship the Dresleq had at their disposal. She could only hope that such a show of strength would mean they wouldn’t need to use it.

    “Thank you, Captain. That is appreciated.”

    Müller leant forward, his features softening. ”I’m truly sorry for what you and your crew have gone through, not to mention all the coals you’ve been raked over since getting back to Theta Station. You should know that it’s not for nothing, thanks to all the information you were able to provide, we know what will be waiting for us.”

    “I hope you find some answers, Captain, and if there’s anything else you need from me please just ask, I want to help however I can.”

    ”That’s appreciated, Commander. For right now, focus on getting your people and your ship put back together, that is more important than anything else.”

    “I’ll do my best, sir.”

    ”From what I’ve read in recent days, your best is pretty damn good, so I know you’ll succeed.”

    She felt her cheeks flush. “Thank you, sir. Good luck out there.”

    ”I’ll keep you posted on what we learn. Müller out.”

    The captain’s face was replaced with the Starfleet delta and Palmer was left surprised and perplexed. She’d never had the fortune to meet Captain Müller, but she’d clearly done something to get his attention, enough for him to make a person call to her—which she suspected was going around the sector commander, especially with keeping her abreast of his own mission.

    What had happened to the Polaris had been brutal, so much so that even the Federation News Service was reporting on the incident—though with even fewer details than Palmer had, given the seriousness of what had happened and the ongoing operation to sort it out. Fortunately, all comm traffic to the damaged ship was filtered, with all inquiries about the attack being routed to the admiral’s office. She didn’t think she’d have the patience to have to deal with reporters right now, not after the way she launched into Rhesh’da.

    Yawning, she glanced at the chronometer. It was almost midnight, which meant it was a little over ten hours until the memorial ceremony. Though all the bodies, at least those they’d recovered (she could only hope that the Exeter was able to bring back the away teams remains), had been removed from the ship and were in transit back to their families, the crew were having a service to pay their respects. It was this, more than anything, that was causing her sleepless nights. She would have to be at the forefront, saying the right words to bring the crew together, to help them find strength to move on, though without the calm reserve of Strenn or strength of th’Varesh. With all the meetings she’d been in, not to mention all the work that was needed on the Polaris, she’d never had time to even think about what she’d say.

    She glanced at her bed once more. Two options were open to her, spend hours sitting at her desk working on a speech, or try and get some rest and tackle it in the morning. She yawned again. The last time she’d felt this drained was during her senior year final exams at the Academy, when she’d pulled all-nighters in order to study and help out a few friends as well who were panicking. Although back then she didn’t have the local brass breathing down her neck, a starship without her captain and in need of major repairs, or two hundred and seventy officers and crew looking to her for leadership.

    Unlike many of her friends during her Academy days, she had never set out with her eyes on the ‘big chair’. She had wanted to be a scientist; it was where her heart lay and what gave her the most joy. Of course, over time she’d steadily climbed the promotions ladder, taking on more responsibility, leading her own section before taking on an entire department, then taking on the duties of Second Officer when she’d joined the Polaris five years ago. The most surprising thing was that she actually enjoyed the additional duty. It had been a challenge; one she’d wrangled with at first, before words of wisdom from Strenn and support from th’Varesh had helped her get on top of the new responsibilities.

    However, after all that had happened in the last fortnight she doubted she’d remain Second Officer for much longer—hell, the impression she was left with was she’d be lucky to retain her post of Chief Science Officer. If they stripped her of all she’d worked hard for, Palmer wasn’t even sure if she could stand to wear the uniform any longer. But if she wasn’t a Starfleet officer, what would she be?

    “Screw them,” she announced to her empty room. If they were going to punish her for what had happened she’d resign and figure out what she’d do, but that hadn’t happened yet. She was still the Polaris’ Second Officer, now Acting Captain, and as Müller had said, she had important work still to do onboard. Until Fitzpatrick and everyone else in the firing squad held her in their sights, she would do her duty. She would do her best for her crew.


    * * * * *
     
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  10. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As the memorial concluded, Palmer took a shaky breathe as she stepped away from the podium and off the small stage that had been set up in Theta Station’s terrestrial enclosure. When the Polaris had gone to the Dresleq system she’d had three hundred and eight crew aboard, as well as Envoy Nguyen, but they’d lost forty (one of the injured beamed to the station hadn’t made it) and another eleven were still in the infirmary (two of which were still critical), but all those that were able had been in attendance. Two hundred and fifty-seven sets of eyes had watched her, some crying as others managed to hold back their tears, but the collective grief was a powerful force.

    During her speech, as she looked over the crowd of her friends, colleagues and shipmates, she’d seen a surprise visitor standing apart behind the crowd. She’d tried to ignore them and focus of what she was saying, the empty words she hoped might help out some of those among the crew who needed to hear them.

    With the end of her arduous task, she made her way through the crowd, pausing to speak with a few of the crew who offered her their thanks or checking up on those that seemed to be having the hardest time, such as Ensign Mazz. All the while, the back of her mind was dwelling on why their visitor was here and just what it meant for her.

    After a few minutes, she passed through the crowd, which was steadily dispersing, some returning to the ship to continue with repairs, others heading into the depths of the station, whilst a few lingered in the garden. The visitor stood beneath a Rigellian jak’a tree, the purple leaves shrouding her in shadow from the artificial daylight. As Palmer approached she stepped out, hands clasped behind her back, blonde hair immaculately pulled back into a tight bun at the back of her head, sharp green eyes watching everything around her.

    “Captain,” she greeted Talia Alexander.

    “Lieutenant Commander,” she began, then gestured to the stage. “You did well up there. That can never be easy.”

    “My first and, hopefully, last time.”

    “Would you like to take a walk?” the JAG officer asked.

    Palmer frowned. What was the older woman playing at? “Of course, Captain.”

    The pair fell into step beside one another on the path. The terrestrial enclosure was one of two appendages attached to the central core of Theta Station, both domes were around the circumference of a Constitution-Class saucer, though the other module was used for docking of smaller ships and shuttlecraft. Paths criss-crossed the gardens, with small bridges over flowing streams and a number of small ponds dotted across the lush green fields and patches of foliage and flower beds. It was a tranquil place, the perfect setting for a remembrance ceremony or a conversation away from recorders.

    “Commander, I’m sure you’ve probably heard this from too many sources to count, but I just wanted to say how sorry I was for the losses you’ve faced.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    “It’s been a long time since I was last on starship duty, but I remember what it was like. These people become closer than family, losing one of them is hard, but what you went through was truly awful.”

    She took a steadying breathe, blinking away the dampness in her eyes. What is she up too? she asked herself, trying to think where Alexander was going.

    They headed down another path, away from the main route and the bulk of the habitats visitors. Palmer had her defences up, waiting for whatever the purpose of this visit was to become clear. Though Alexander seemed genuine with her statements, she was a lawyer after all.

    “I thought I’d let you know what I was going to report to Headquarters.”

    Palmer stopped, rooted to the spot as the captain carried on a few steps before realising she was alone, then turned back to her. The glimmer of a smile tugged at the left corner of her mouth, but faded as quickly as it appeared.

    “I’m going to report, that neither you nor anyone else on the crew was at fault. For whatever reasons, the Dresleq lured us in with a request for Federation membership, a peaceful mission that just about any starship would be eager to take on. With no previous hostility from them, we had no reason to believe they weren’t anything but genuine. There was nothing that the Polaris could do, ambushed and badly damaged, a rescue attempt would’ve been suicide, so you took the only action that was available to you.”

    “I…I don’t know what to say,” she stammered. “Thank you, sir.”

    “I just hope we can find out what made them attack.”

    “I’m sure the Exeter will figure that out.”

    Alexander chuckled softly. “I see Captain Müller has been in touch with you.”

    She winced. “Yes sir, he contacted me last night before his task force left.”

    “I’m not surprised, he was pretty incensed that you’d been excluded from the mission briefing. Don’t worry, Commander, I won’t tell the Admiral.”

    “That’s appreciated.”

    “Fitzpatrick and Rhesh’da will still be looking for someone to pin this on, so you may still face some flak for it, but I’ll do everything in my power to keep that from happening.”

    Alexander moved a few steps closer. “I’m also recommending a number of commendations and awards, though just how HQ takes that is anyone’s call.”

    “That’s really not necessary, Captain.”

    “Stow the modesty, Commander, you got all those people home. Yes, you endured losses, but there are two hundred and seventy people that owe you their lives.”

    Palmer scowled. “Captain Alexander, why are you telling me all this? Surely, it can’t be normal to tell the focus of an investigation what will be in the report?”

    “You’re correct, it’s not normal. I assessed the testimony you gave, all the reports submitted by your officers, and all the telemetry from the Polaris’ own computer records, and came to my own conclusions. Rear Admiral Fitzpatrick doesn’t like incidents that make his sector look bad, so he has his own agenda, whilst Ambassador Rhesh’da was Mr Nguyen’s mentor, so he has a personal stake in this—I’ve noted all of that in my report as well, so the brass back at HQ have a little more context.”

    “So I’ve got you in my corner against both of them.”

    “You have more friends than you realise, Commander. Captain Müller went to bat for you, the reason he demanded the mission was to help figure out why this happened, instead of just focusing on what happened.”

    She felt her cheeks flush. Her suspicion and distrust of Alexander evaporated as she heard how the older woman was fighting for her, not to mention the backing from the sector’s senior most captain. She was still flummoxed as to why or how she had earned their support, but if Alexander was right and she was facing the wrath of two high-profile officials she’d need all the help she could get to keep her head above the waves.

    “Thank you, again, Captain. I really don’t know what more I can say.”

    “Just keep fighting the good fight, Commander.”

    * * * * *
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2020
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  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Unexpected support from multiple corners. Exactly what Palmer needed, and right when she needed it. I'm pleased to see that at least some in Starfleet recognize what she managed to accomplish.

    I'm hoping Exeter's task force can shed some light on what the Dresleq's motivations were. It won't bring back the dead, of course, but it might give some solace to Polaris' survivors.

    The efforts of two captains have re-established equilibrium in my blood pressure. ;)
     
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  12. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Engineering was buzzing with activity. The Polaris’ own engineers mixed with the stations technicians made for chaos, albeit organised chaos. Lieutenant Saygen had estimated the Miranda-Class ship would need four weeks for repairs, diagnostics and testing before she’d be space worthy again. Having known the young Alkarian for a few years now, Palmer knew she wasn’t one to pad her estimates—if she said it would take four weeks, it would take four weeks almost to the minute.

    A week had passed since the memorial, and her off the books meeting with Captain Alexander, and things had quietened down. The crew were allowed to get on with repair work or enjoy some well-deserved r-and-r on the station (she also knew of a few making use of the therapists on the outpost). She’d also not been called into any further meetings in almost seventy hours, so she was putting her time to better use and helping out wherever she could.

    Presently, however, she wasn’t being of much use. Her thoughts were dwelling on the Exeter. The small task force would be in the Dresleq system by now, but so far she’d not heard anything from Captain Müller or for official sources. Had they fallen victim to another ambush?

    “Credit for them?” a voice whispered in her ear, making her jump. Saygen laughed as she perched on the edge of the console.

    “Very funny, Oka.”

    “I thought so,” the engineer replied with a toothy smile, flashing her sharp canines. Chief Engineer Oka Saygen was a striking woman, tall and lithe with all the grace of a jungle cat, whose pale skin set off her vibrant jade green hair and amber eyes. “So what’s going on in that big brain of yours?”

    “I’ve never been a fan of waiting. I keep dwelling on the Exeter and wondering if there was something obvious I missed, some detail that was hiding another, greater threat.”

    “Xan, you told them everything you knew. I told them everything I recalled. We only know what we know, but it’s enough to make sure they went in their shields up and weapons hot. They may not know the name Wolfgang Müller, but by the time he exits that system I’m betting he’ll become a mythical deity of wrath and destruction.”

    Palmer chuckled, conceding that the chances of the Dresleq getting the drop on the experience starship captain was about as likely as her growing wings and flying around the engine room.

    “I guess I’m just waiting for this to all be over, one way or another.”

    A frown wrinkled Saygen smooth brow. “Still no word from HQ?”

    Palmer had chosen to keep her conversation with Alexander to herself, not even telling her closest friend on the Polaris what the JAG officer and divulged. “Nope. Guess they’re debating how severe my punishment should be.”

    “That’s dren!” the engineer hissed. “If some out of touch admiral thinks they can hold you accountable for this, then they’re going to hear about it!”

    “From you?”

    “Me and every other man, woman and Rhaandarite onboard!”

    She smiled at her friend and patted her arm. “Thanks, your support is appreciated but if they’ve going to take it out on someone, I’d rather they just blame me and leave the rest of you alone.”

    “Do you have a martyr complex or something?”

    “I’m just looking out for everyone else, as I’m meant too.”

    Before Saygen could say anything else, the communicator lying on the console next to her chirped. With all the work going on in engineering, all the open panels and exposed wiring, the internal comgrid was shot to hell as such they needed to rely on personal comm devices. Saygen’s prehensile tail gripped the device, flipped it open and brought it up to her face.

    “Engine room, Saygen here.”

    “Is the Commander still there?” asked Rinell, who was on bridge watch.

    Saygen passed the communicator to her. “Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

    “Theta Station has just sent a priority message, you’re to report to briefing room two immediately.”

    “Did they say what it was about?”

    “Negative sir.”

    “Understood. Inform them I’m on my way. Palmer out.” She closed the communicator and handed it back before standing. “Wish me luck.”

    “Good luck, Xan.”

    Palmer strode out the engine room, her manner and body language expressing a confidence she didn’t feel (th’Varesh has reminded her of an old Earth saying, ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, which was something she had taken to heart). She hurried from engineering, through the ship and passed through the docking port in only a few minutes. On the station, she kept her brisk pace until she reached a bank of turbolifts and ordered one up to the administrative levels.

    Though the carriage was swift, her lack of movement let nervous energy build up, which fuelled her own thought processes. Was this another meeting? Had headquarters finally decided her fate or her punishment? Or was it a report on the destruction of the Exeter?

    Come on, come on. Go faster, she willed the turbolift.

    Approaching the level she wanted, the lift slowed and stopped. Stepping out she straightened her uniform and tucked a rogue lock of hair back behind her ear, then proceeded towards the briefing room. As she approached the door the panels parted and she stepped inside.

    Present was Rear Admiral Fitzpatrick, Captain Alexander, Ambassador Rhesh’da, and Commander Dorah, the station’s intelligence chief. Alexander and Dorah were seated at the table, the former sipping on a mug, whilst the latter scrutinised a PADD. Fitzpatrick and Rhesh’da were off to the side, speaking in hushed voices, which stopped as soon as she entered.

    “Lieutenant Commander Palmer, reporting as requested, sir.”

    Fitzpatrick gave Dorah a nod then turned his back on her. She looked at the Tiburonian who gestured to the control panel on the table. “Please, provide a thumb scan.”

    Confused, but not wanting to rock the boat if she didn’t need to, she pressed her thumb to the small biometric scanner. After a few seconds it chirped, followed immediately by the one of the large monitors activating. Everyone turned to it as the standard delta was quickly replaced by the once-handsome face of Captain Müller.

    “Captain, what is the meaning of this?” demanded Fitzpatrick.

    “Admiral, I just wanted to make sure all involved parties were present.”

    Palmer smiled to herself. You sly dog, she thought to herself. Müller had sent a secure transmission that could only be displayed for a certain number of people, the thumb scan would log that all those necessary were present before connecting the signal and descrambling it. She suspected that he’d have hell to pay for pulling a stunt like this.

    Fitzpatrick folded his arms across his chest, his eyes boring into the screen like the Polaris’ pulse-phasers. “Watch your tone, Captain,” he warned. “What have you discovered?”

    “The attack on the Polaris was a set up from the moment the Dresleq sent their diplomatic overture to the Federation Council,” he stated succinctly. “It appears that sometime between the last time a starship visited the Dresleq system and they contacted the Council a coup d’état occurred, one that threw out the previous government and had some notion of becoming a major power in the sector.”

    “That’s impossible!” Rhesh’da objected. “How did you coerce that out of them?”

    “I coerced nothing, Mr Ambassador. Our show of force was all that a local militia group that supported the previous government needed to act. Whilst this new regime was focused on us, they were able to retake several key installations on the planet and cut the head of the snake. When the fighting on the surface stopped, the were able to call off the attack on our task force. The leader of this militia informed us of what has been going on here over the last fifteen months.”

    “How could there have been a revolution that we knew nothing about?” Dorah mused aloud.

    “I was going to ask you the same thing, Commander.”

    “What’s the situation in the system now, Captain?” asked Alexander.

    “It’s on a knifes edge. The regime responsible for the attack are amassing their forces once more. Unless something is done now to try and defuse the situation, I’d say that civil war is inevitable.”

    “Are you in any danger,” Palmer spoke up, suddenly feeling every eye on her.

    Müller regarded her with an almost paternal look of pride. “Don’t worry, Commander, we’re quite safe. Thanks to your information we came here ready for a fight, with our shields modulated to disperse Orion-made distruptors—they never dipped below eighty-five percent.”

    His expression darkened slightly, his eyes taking a more sombre tint. “With the help of the militia group, we’ve been able to recover the bodies of your away team.”

    “Thank you, Captain.”

    Fitzpatrick cleared his throat, bringing Mueller’s attention back to him. “How confident are you of this militias claims about a coup?”

    “They’ve been nothing but apologetic about what happened to the Polaris, they’ve also provided records for the last couple of years about the political climate on their homeworld.

    “However, they are asking for Federation assistance to resolve the current tensions.”


    “This is clearly an internal matter, the Prime Directive would apply,” scoffed the admiral. “Inform them that Starfleet doesn’t get involved in civil wars and withdraw your ships, Captain.”

    Palmer shot him a look, her fists balled and her jaw clenched tight, though he wasn’t paying her any attention so never noticed her shift in body language. The man that had run her ragged with his incessant meetings and interviews that felt like interrogations, he’d tried to find whatever way he could to blame her for what had happened, but now after being presented with the full picture, and a people that were at each other’s throats he wasn’t willing to listen any more.

    “Admiral, they’re not asking for tactical intervention from Starfleet, they want a Federation mediator to help try and establish some sort of peace before a civil war begins.”

    “I’ve already lost one diplomat on that planet, I won’t risk another,” Rhesh’da said, drawing his line in the sand.

    Alexander set down her mug. “The Federation Council thought them a valid enough candidate for membership to send in an initial diplomatic mission. They were clearly willing to get involved then. Now the Dresleq are on the brink of imploding, if we could intervene to stop any bloodshed that would put future relations in a far stronger position.”

    The sector commander glowered at her aghast. “Captain, you’re not suggesting we risk more lives in that system?”

    “To save thousands, if not millions? Yes. Yes, I am, Admiral.”

    “Given the systems proximity to Tholian space, having more allies in the region would be a benefit, sir,” Dorah chimed in.

    “I’ll contact Starfleet Command. In the meantime, Captain Müller, I want you and your task force back here.”

    “Understood, sir.”

    “Meeting adjourned,” the flag officer announced, before he faced any further dissention in the ranks.

    * * * * *
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Nice to see the admiral in the hot-seat for once! :devil: He's earned every bit of discomfort that he just tasted. And now Palmer and her crew know the why's and wherefore's of the ambush they suffered. I hope Captain Müller sent his fair share of the hostile Dresleq to meet the deity of their choice while his shields were holding steady at 85%.
     
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  14. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Location:
    Space, the final frontier.
    Very intriguing story so far, Bry. Definitely looking forward to more.
     
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  15. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Kudos to Captains Alexander and Müller for cutting through the B.S. and giving Palmer their weighty support. Perhaps Lt. Commander Palmer will be able to stay on with the Polaris, as XO (dare I say, Captain?), or her fortunes may lie elsewhere.
    Bry, re your question as to Border Service vessels active in TUE: Albacore-class (still fairly new), Soyuz-class, Cerberus-class, a few aging Saladin-class destroyers for picket duty (primarily along the Klingon and Romulan Neutral Zones), Antares-class, and some assorted Mirandas assigned to the Border Service.
     
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  16. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I'm enjoying this story more and more as I read it. Please keep at it.
     
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  17. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Shetland
    It was amazing what could happen in two weeks. Repairs to the Polaris were almost complete, including the installation of a new weapons pod and port nacelle, with diagnostics underway on most of the new systems. So far everything looked promising, she’d meet her scheduled date for return to active status, as would her crew—none of whom, surprisingly, had sought reassignment after such a tragedy.

    The Exeter has returned from the Dresleq system, carrying the bodies of their murdered first officer, chief of security, and senior xenologist, as well as the Diplomatic Corps envoy. The crew had gathered once more to pay their respects to the fallen, as they were loaded aboard a cargo ship heading back into the Federation interior. The senior staff of the Excelsior-Class ship had been in attendance, after which they’d had to face the appreciations of the survivors, all of them being offered countless rounds in the stations watering holes. There, the officers told them of all that had happened when they’d reached Dresleq; how they were set upon almost the moment they entered the system, as well as how they gave better than they got, taking out ten hostile ships and crippling a further thirteen.

    Palmer had finally gotten to meet Captain Müller, as well as his first officer Commander Kara Valentine, face to face. She couldn’t thank him enough for what he’d done for her crew as much as for herself. He’d deflected the praise much as she always did, never one to like being in the spotlight, telling her that it was the very least he could do and that he owed her.

    As for the bigger picture, that had changed considerably as well. The Federation Council had agreed to mediate peace talks between the Dresleq factions wanting to salvage something from this disaster, they were still hopeful that one day they would make a genuine petition for membership. Ambassador Rhesh’da had been given the task, much to his chagrin, though proper security precautions would be taken; all meetings between the Federation representative and both sides of the looming conflict would be held on the Ambassador’s ship, as it would be neutral ground and could ensure no weapons or explosives could be smuggled in.

    Meanwhile, less than a week earlier it was announced that Rear Admiral Leonard Fitzpatrick was being recalled to Earth, assigned to Starfleet Operations. Though it all looked perfectly legit and above board, the rumour mill had it that the upper echelons of Command weren’t happy about his handling of the situation, so wanted him somewhere they could more closely monitor him. On the back of his reassignment, came the news that Wolfgang Müller was being promoted to Commodore and appointed the new Sector Commander, to the delight of almost every ship’s captain in the region.

    As for Palmer, she’d been told that no charges were being levied against herself nor anyone else on the crew. In fact, a number of decorations had been announced, including a Cochrane Medal of Excellence for Saygen, posthumous Star Crosses for each member of the away team, a Decoration for Gallantry and Award of Valour for the late Captain Strenn, as well as Karagite Order of Heroism for her own actions.

    Despite the shiny new medals for her display case, there had been no further word on just what her fate would be. Though, as the shuttlecraft touched down on the deck, she suspected that that question would soon be answered soon.

    She was one of three dozen officers and crew assembled in shuttlebay one to welcome the arrival of the Polaris’ newly appointed commanding officer, Captain Srii Harash. When she’d been informed of they’re new CO, she’d had all personnel not working on repairs and diagnostics to ensure the ship was as presentable as it could be, whilst in her spare time she’d read up on the Saurian. By all accounts, he was a solid and dependable officer, who liked to hear the opinions of his crew and weighed up all the options available to him before making decisions. However, his meticulous manner was not to be underestimated, as he was also a shrewd tactician with his own list of medals and commendations to prove it.

    Beside her were Lieutenants Rinell and Saygen, as well as Doctor Mwanajuma, the last surviving members of the command staff. It would fall to Captain Harash to fill the empty vacancies which, for Palmer, could mean either a new exec or chief science officer.

    The hatch lowered and the boatswain’s whistle blew, bringing the welcoming party to full attention. Harash stepped out and took his place at the podium, where he stood for a moment as his large orange eyes scanned the assembly, taking in every face.

    He set down his PADD and glanced at it for a second. “To Captain Srii Harash, stardate two-one-seven-six. You are hereby requested and required to take command of the U.S.S. Polaris as of this date. Signed Admiral Marshall Atherton, Starfleet Command.” He came around the podium and approached the front line of the welcoming assembly.

    Palmer took a slow breath and stepped forward. Harash stopped in front of her. “Computer,” she began, her voice clear and level, “transfer all command codes to Captain Srii Harash. Voice authorisation: Palmer-alpha-six.”

    The computer chirped. “Transfer complete. U.S.S. Polaris now under command of Captain Srii Harash.”

    The whistle blew once more as Harash extended a hand, which she took in hers.

    “I relieve you, Lieutenant Commander.”

    “I stand relieved, sir.”

    They released hands and she fell back into line as the new captain surveyed the crew once more. “I just wanted to say how honoured I am to take on this position. I know that I can never replace Captain Strenn, but one thing I will endeavour to do as well as he did is to give each of you my all, to do everything in my power to ensure you are all safe.”

    A crooked smile, the best he could achieve given his physiology, spread across his coral face. “Now, what say you all stop listening to me prattle on and get some proper work done. Dismissed.”

    The junior officers, non-coms and crewmen all quickly filtered out of the shuttlebay, eager to impress their new captain they all returned to their duty stations. Palmer and the other three officers on the front line remained.

    “Welcome aboard, sir.”

    “Thank you, Commander, it’s a pleasure to be here. I’ve heard a great deal about all of you, as well as all you did during your recent crisis. Strenn was always very shrewd when picking crewmembers.”

    “You knew Captain Strenn?”

    He nodded, his eyes becoming misty with fond memories. “I served under him when I made Lieutenant, he taught me all I needed to know about leadership and how to get the most out of the best people.”

    Palmer smiled. “He did indeed, sir.”

    “Well, like your junior members of staff, I’m sure each of you have far more important things to do, so I’ll let you get to them. I’ll schedule a meeting this evening at eighteen hundred, so I can get the latest status reports.”

    “Understood,” she answered on their behalf.

    “Excellent. Lieutenant Commander, with me, the rest of you are dismissed.”

    The three senior officers all left ahead of them, Harash hung back for a few moments before heading for the exit at a relaxed pace. She matched it and stayed quiet as they entered the corridor and headed deeper into the ship. He didn’t seem to have any destination in mind, but just seemed to wander aimlessly taking everything in.

    “Commodore Müller speaks very highly of you, Lieutenant Commander, his predecessor less so.”

    She swallowed hard, wondering just what side of the fence he might be on. She opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by the Saurian muttering, “Pompous eema.”

    He stopped at a four-way intersection and turned to face her. “Lieutenant Commander, the position of first officer is yours if you want it. From everything I’ve heard and read about you, you’re just the one for the job. So, what do you say?”

    “Bridge to Palmer,” the intercom interrupted.

    She stepped to the nearest companel. “Palmer here, go ahead.”

    “Sir, you’re being summoned to a meeting at the sector commander’s office.”

    “When?” she asked, frowning.

    “Now sir.”

    “Inform them I’m on my way.”

    The channel closed and she looked back at Harash. She opened her mouth, but he held up a hand to silence her. “I suspect you’ll be receiving a flurry of new opportunities, so don’t feel you have to decide here and now.”

    Her frown only deepened. “Sir?”

    “You’d best get going, you don’t want to keep the new Commodore waiting.”

    “Of course, Captain.”

    Leaving Harash to his walkabout on the Polaris, she made the trek back through the station towards the ranking officer’s office. This time, it wasn’t dread that clouded her mind and knotted her stomach, but rather a mixture of curiosity and confusion.

    As she entered the sector commander’s anteroom, she was surprised to find Müller perched on the edge of his attaché’s desk perusing a tablet. His administrative aid was nowhere to be seen.

    “Welcome, Commander. I always appreciate promptness.”

    “I don’t like to keep a flag officer waiting, sir.”

    “There are times when you should, remind us paper-pushers what life is like in the real world.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind.”

    He gestured through to his office, where he opted for the more comfortable couches instead of his desk. Palmer followed his example, sitting down and trying to maintain a straight posture in the ridiculously comfortable sofa.

    “You’ll have met Captain Harash.” She nodded at the statement. “Good, he’s a fine man and one of the best CO’s in the sector.”

    “His record is certainly impressive, sir.”

    “And I’m guessing he’s offered you the first officer post.”

    “He has.”

    “Have you accepted?”

    “I was summoned here before I could say anything, Commodore.”

    Müller grinned. “Excellent. I’d like to offer you a position in my office, my chief-of-staff in fact.”

    She blinked. “I’m sorry?”

    “Rear Admiral Fitzpatrick took all his staff with him, meaning I get to choose my own executive team, and I’d like you on it. After two or three years in such a position, you’d make Captain and could have a ship of your own.”

    “Surely there must be officers from the Exeter with more experience who’d jump at the opportunity.”

    “My first official act as one of the brass was to promote Kara to Captain, she was my XO for eight years and more than ready for the job. She, in turn, got to my former second officer first and offered him her old position, and the rest of the senior staff are happy where they are.”

    “I’m not sure what to say, Commodore, it’s an incredible offer.”

    “You don’t need to decide right now. I know you will have a deep loyalty to your ship and her crew, especially after everything that’s happened in the last month, but I see great potential in you, Commander, you should be aware of what other options are available to you.”

    “I understand, sir, thank you.”

    “Mull it over for a day or two and get back to me, hopefully by then I’ll have a yeoman to take my calls.”

    “Of course. Thank you again, sir.”

    She rose off the couch as gracefully as she could and left the newly promoted Commodore’s office, her head spinning. What the hell is going on? she asked herself, pinching the back of her hand to make sure she was actually awake. In her dazed and confused state, somehow her legs worked and retraced their steps as her mind was going a light-year a second.

    When the Polaris’ new Captain was announced, she knew that her name would be on the list of candidates for first officer. Though command was something she hadn’t sought out in her career, it had found her and, truth be told, she actually enjoyed it—even with all the responsibility and hard decisions that came with the white turtleneck. Being offer a prominent position on Commodore Müller’s staff had come out of nowhere however and knocked her for six. He was right, it was an excellent opportunity, even if it was as far away from her comfort zone as it was possible to get.

    Two choices stood before her, which one was right for her?

    Without realising it, she’d made it back down to the docking ring where the Polaris was berthed. As she neared port fourteen she noticed a familiar face heading towards her from the opposite direction, a wide grin stretching from ear to ear.

    “We meet again, Commander,” Kara Valentine said, the good cheer giving her voice a lyrical quality.

    “Hello sir, congratulations on your promotion.”

    “Thank you, I’ve not been able to stop smiling since Müller handed me my new bars.”

    “They suit you.”

    “You put in the hard work and you get rewarded. I was actually on my way to speak with you, do you have a moment?”

    “Of course, Captain.”

    “I know this isn’t the best form, especially for a newly promoted Captain, but I was wondering if you’d be interested in transferring to the Exeter? Since the previous science officer now has my old job, I’m needing an excellent replacement and your name was at the top of my list.”

    Palmer couldn’t speak. All she could do was stare at the older woman and try not let her jaw hit the deck. The expression of pure dumbfounded shock was enough to turn Valentine’s smile into a concerned frown.

    “Is everything alright, Commander?”

    “Um, yes Captain. I’m—”

    “I don’t mean to skew your decision, but I should tell you that the Exeter has been given the Dondaris mission,” she almost squealed with excitement. And squeal she should, the Dondaris Reach was a region of space beyond Theta Station that had only been charted by probes, though looked to be rich with raw materials, phenomena and unencountered civilisations—it was the mission every officer dreamt of. “Five years of deep space exploration, first contacts and surveys, the discoveries we’ll make will go down in history.”

    “Wow, congratulations again, sir, that’s an amazing opportunity.”

    Valentine opened her mouth but her wristcom interrupted. “Captain, the station quartermaster has been on the comm again looking for you, can I tell him you’re at least on your way?”

    “Sorry Mr Jorn, I was just taking care of something, I’ll be with him presently. Valentine out.” She looked back at Palmer. “Have to run, but why don’t you sleep on it and let me know.”

    “B—” she never got to finish forming her train of thought, let alone say anything, as Valentine darted off in the direction she’d come from.

    Palmer set her hands on the hips and looked up at the ceiling. “Seriously?” she sighed exasperatedly. She’d never been a religious woman, but she was starting to wonder if there weren’t a pantheon of mischievous deities messing with her at that very moment.

    Continuing on towards the docking port, she tried to push all her thoughts down deep, as far as she could. This was a massive decision to make, one that would affect her life immensely, it was not something to be made without due care and thought. Or I could polish off that bottle of Aldebaran whiskey and play eenie-meenie. She chuckled to herself.

    “Everything alright, Commander?” Crewman Higgins, the security guard on airlock duty, asked.

    “Just one of those hugely surreal days that make you question all you thought you knew about the universe and fate.”

    “Oh, one of those days. Down in security we call them Tuesday.”

    She laughed again, heading for the gangway that would take her back to the Polaris, but Higgins stopped her.

    “Sir, Ensign Mazz wanted me to ask you to contact her on the bridge when you were back onboard.”

    “Thank you, Crewman,” she said with a nod and proceeded aboard.

    Back in the familiarity of the Polaris, she paused at the companel beside the airlock. “Palmer to Mazz, I understand you were looking for me.”

    “Yes sir. You received a message whilst you on the station.”

    “Who is it from?”

    “The office of the Border Service Commander, sir.”

    “What now?” she muttered to herself.

    “Sir?”

    “Nothing, Ensign. If the Captain is there, can you let him know that I’m delayed?”

    “Understood. Mazz out.”

    As she headed for her quarters, she couldn’t help but note how the atmosphere on the ship seemed to have shifted. After weeks of uncertainty as they’d focused on repairs, they now had a Captain (one who seemed like a decent man) and with only a few last minute diagnostics and cosmetic updates the ship was almost whole and hearty again. There was a renewed vigour, even Mazz had sounded more like her upbeat self. Whatever choice she made, the Polaris looked to be in good hands and would carry on doing the fine work she always had.

    Stepping into her quarters, the first thing her eyes locked onto was the luminous green liquid in the intricately decorated bottle, which made her smile. Sitting down at her desk, she entered her security code and waited for the message to be displayed. Instead of the standard Starfleet emblem, the one that appeared was the standard delta shape but in place of the five-pointed star in the middle were a pair of crossed anchors, the symbol of the Border Service.

    The image changed to that of a human woman in her late-fifties, whose thick wavy hair was completely silver and rested on her shoulders, though her vice admiral insignia was still clear to see. Her face was well worn, with deep crow’s feet and even deeper laughter lines, she was definitely a person who had worked all her days and worked hard. However, it was her eyes that drew Palmer in, the darkest mahogany she’d ever seen—she could’ve easily been mistaken for a Betazoid—which were at the same time warm and sad.

    The admiral beamed at the screen. “Good day, Lieutenant Commander Palmer. I am Vice Admiral Helena Kirschner, Commander of the Border Service. You’ve caused quite a stir here at Headquarters, so much so that your after action report even graced my desk. And I have to say, I’m impressed,” she emphasised with a sly look.

    “With all that’s been going on out there, I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping up with developments elsewhere. We’ve been getting worrying reports from Tzenkethi space; it seems that the new Autarch is rattling his sabre, with his sights set firmly on the Outland Expanse. With this threat looming, Starfleet Command has approved the bolstering of the Second Squadron, which includes reactivating a few ships we have in reserve.

    “Since these ships are lacking crews, I need to pull together as many good people as I can to get them launched ASAP. To that end, I’d like to offer you a command of your own.”


    “What. The. Frak.”

    “You may be asking ‘why me’, or words to that effect,” the recording continued. “It’s quite simple really, you’ve got gumption, grit and guts—valuable traits in every Border Dog—you’re also inventive and can clearly think on your feet. You would be a valuable asset to the Border Service.

    “Unfortunately, I can’t offer you a brand new Albacore- or Soyuz-Class, our reserve fleet have a few more light-years on the clock, though all are proven ships that have save countless lives over their decades of service.

    “I know this will be a lot to process, so take a few days to think it over. I’ll be waiting you’re your call. Kirschner out.”


    The screen returned to the unique emblem before going black. In the silence of her quarters, Xanthe Palmer had to laugh. The momentary hysteria had her eyes watering and made her sides hurt, as she struggled to draw breathe. It stopped as suddenly as it started, leaving her to suck in deep lungful’s of air as she wiped her cheeks dry once more.

    “What the hell is going on today?” she asked her empty room.

    She paused a second, half expecting a response from the universe.

    Never before in her life had she felt so utterly adrift. When she’d woken up this morning, the biggest question she’d had about her career would be whether or not she’d remain chief science officer or be offered the first officer post on the Polaris; now she had that offer, as well as three additional and unique ones. She glanced at the bottle of green whiskey once more, thinking, I’ve had crazier plans than that.

    * * * * *

    END
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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  18. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Shetland
    So, there we have it.

    The longest piece of creative writing I've done in years. Just goes to show what can be done with just a name and a starship class :lol:

    I know, a cliffhanger, but I honestly don't know which would be the best way to go:
    1. Remain on the ship she has served on for five years, now as First Officer, with a new CO and some new crewmates as they take on assignment after assignment across the sector
    2. Serving under the new Commodore, in a prominent position in his office, taking on responsibilities across the sector and having to deal with all the logistical, operational and political work that requires
    3. Remaining Chief Science Officer on a mission of pure exploration and discovery, the kind of thing every officer in the sector would kill to be a part of
    4. Commanding her own Border Service cutter, dealing with all the scut work that entails, away from the spotlight, with the threat of the Tzenkethi looming
    Thoughts? :)
     
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  19. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    1. The safe route - she knows the ship, crew, and reputation of the new captain. A good career move and possibly a step to command of Polaris. Or, she could end up with the Will RIker syndrome . . .
    2. The fast-track route - not only preparing her for a C.O. slot, but possibly grooming her for eventual flag rank.
    3. The exploration route - no promotion, but right up her alley as a Science Officer, and a fulfillment of a dream.
    4. The hand's-on route - an old ship, a frontier sector known for violence and instability, no chance in hell of flag rank with the fleet, possibly a dead-end, career killer move. But command of a ship . . .
    Heck, you know which I would choose just by my avatar. :D
     
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  20. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    By the way, I neglected to mention this was a great story, Bry! Excellent character work and an intriguing plot. I hope we see Lt. Commander (or Commander, or Captain) Palmer again.
     
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