TUE: USS Ranger - Setting Up Shop

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, May 8, 2020.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    Setting Up Shop

    Xanthe Palmer’s head pounded making even the simplest tasks a labour, though at least the nausea had passed. Her leaving party had been a big bash with an abundance of food and even more alcohol. Every member of the crew had attended to wish her well on the next stage of her career, though a few were mystified (some mortified) that she’d chosen the Border Service above everything else. Truth be told, she was still a little surprised herself, but something about it just felt right to her.

    She would find out soon enough if it was a complete disaster.

    Turning slowly, to ensure the room didn’t spin again, she surveyed her quarters one last time to make sure everything was packed. Her home of the last five years was bare, making it look much larger. She was going to miss this ship.

    The door enunciator chirped cheerfully, making her wince. “It’s open.”

    The panels parted and Oka Saygen leant against the frame. “Good, you’re up.”

    “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, though not by much.”

    The chief engineer flashed her a toothy smile as she stepped inside. “Yeah, I think most of the crew are suffering, but it was in aid of a good cause.”

    “And it was greatly appreciated,” she said, picking up the hard-shelled carrying case from her bed and slinging it on her shoulder. “Well, I think that’s me.”

    “Not quite,” Saygen replied, producing a small PADD from somewhere and handing it to her.

    “What’s this?” she asked, not sure her eyes were quite up to the challenge of reading.

    “Transfer requests. Mine and O’Shaughnessy’s,” she stated.


    “Wow, you are really suffering, aren’t you? Reminds me of that night on B’kar when you met that Orion gigolo—”

    “He wasn’t a gigolo,” she replied automatically, how she always did when Saygen brought up that incident. She shook her head clearing the pleasant, not to mention athletic, memory and trying to refocus on the here and now. “Don’t think you can distract me, Lieutenant. What do you mean transfer request?”

    “Last night, Cian and I got to talking about your decision—he was all for it by the way, his uncle is in the Service. He was already planning on requesting to join your crew, I had to tell him he was as crazy as you were, but the more he talked the more I was swayed by the notion. That mans’ got some sort of weird mind trick, as the next thing I knew I was agreeing with him.”

    “It’s the accent.”

    “The Border Service should hire him as their recruiter.”

    “Oka, are your sure about this? I mean it won’t do your career much good, and the ship will probably be a constant headache.”

    “I’m up for that. It’s not hard for a modern ship to meet my standards, in fact it can get a little dull, so I’d be interested in tackling a different beast. Besides,” she set her hands on her hips, “you’ll need the best engineer you know to save your tailless rump in the nick of time.”

    “He’ll be busy, so I guess I can settle for you,” Palmer replied with a smirk. “If you’re absolutely sure about this, I’d gladly welcome you aboard.”

    “I am. It’ll be fun!”

    Palmer extended her hand and Saygen took it, her calloused grip a little too firm. Truth be told she would be glad of the company, given that she was a fleeter going in the heads of a few Border Dogs who would’ve been eager for their own command, she’d need a friendly face or two in order to help her through. The fact that she was ending up with a talented engineer and a natural born helmsman for her new ship was just a happy coincidence.

    “My transport leaves at oh-eight-hundred tomorrow, so you won’t have much time to pack.”

    “Don’t worry, we’ll both be ready.” She stepped aside and gestured to the door. “Shall we?”

    Leading the way, Palmer left her quarters on deck four for the last time. The corridors leading to the turbolift were quiet, though she knew why that would be. They never needed to wait for the lift as the doors opened on their approach. There was an easy silence between the two women, given that this wouldn’t be goodbye for them, though she knew that as soon as the doors opened it was going to get harder for her. She tucked herself against the side of the carriage as slowed. Once it stopped on deck seven, the doors opened and Saygen stepped out ahead of her.

    She hadn’t looked into the passageway, but her friend’s pronouncement of, “Attention on deck,” told her what was waiting for her.

    Taking a steadying breath, she turned to face her last few minutes onboard. Her eyes misted as she saw both sides of the corridor lined with crewmembers from every department, uniforms neatly pressed, postures straight, all patiently waiting for her. With a confident stride, she followed the path laid out before her. She looked from one side to the other, seeing a few grins, a few tears, and a few encouraging nods (as well as one or two bloodshot pairs of eyes).

    Far too quickly, she reached transporter room one and entered. Captain Srii Harash stood waiting for her, whilst Petty Officer K’rrt’tyx manned the controls. She stopped before the Saurian.

    “I guess this is goodbye, Lieutenant Commander.”

    “So it would seem, sir.”

    “You made a good choice.”

    “Thank you, sir. For all your help. I know this ship is in the best possible hands.”

    “Until we meet again, Captain,” he said with his familiar crooked smile.

    She smiled at him, before stiffening her posture. “Permission to disembark, sir.”

    “Permission granted.”

    With that, she stepped up onto the dais and nodded at the operator. “Energise.”

    * * * * *

    After they had each departing the Polaris, Palmer, Saygen and O’Shaughnessy had spent two weeks onboard a high warp courier, travelling from Theta Station to the Tragan Surplus Depot, where Starfleet and the Border Service stored ships deemed suitable for reactivation should the need for them arise. The journey had allowed them all to familiarise themselves with the specific rules and regulations for the Service, the Outland Expanse, the Tzenkethi and everything else that they might have to contend with when they got there. They also had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the ship specs, though Palmer kept to herself the more colourful aspects of the Ranger’s history.

    She put most of her time into selecting a crew. Whilst a lot would be assigned to the cutter through normal crew rotations and transferrals, she would be able to put together her senior officers and non-coms—for which she already had her chief engineer and senior helmsman. When more prolific across the fleet, the Altair-Class had a crew of around one hundred, however she would have sixty-six. During refitting the ship to handle the duties of the Border Service, accommodation had been sacrificed to include a pair of better tractor beam emitters, an additional emergency power generator, torpedo launcher and magazine, and evacuation transporter rooms, with a number of cabins being knocked through to make a couple of large shelters for evacuees. From her experience, she knew that the smaller crew would work all the harder to get the job done. By the time they’d reached the Tragan system, she’d managed to get almost all of her key posts filled.

    Due to the amount of hardware in the system, which was still kept at an operational level, transporter scramblers were set up across the depot to keep any ne’re-do-wells from trying to make off with a prize, so they shuttled over to the control hub (little more than one of the old orbital offices from fifty years ago). There was already a travel pod waiting for them, so as soon as their belongings were loaded aboard they were on their way.

    The Polaris trio stood behind the pods pilot, looking out the large curved viewport at all the ships they passed. After only a couple of minutes she’d lost count of the number of different classes, there were even a few she didn’t recognise—which wasn’t surprising, given the S.C.E. facility on one of the systems moons was known for experimenting with taking old ships apart and putting them together in new and unique ways. Rumour had it the Enterprise-A was somewhere in the system.

    Zipping around a Ptolemy-Class tug, one of the smaller dry-docks came into view. Nestled safely inside the lattice of scaffolding and workshops was the Ranger. At 222 meters in length she was fifty-five meters shorter than the Polaris, as well as being seventy meters narrower and half the height of the Miranda-Class starship, the ship itself had an almost unfinished look to her, lacking the smooth, sleek finishing of most other classes—though it did make her look like a proper workhorse.

    “Not as bad as I was expecting,” Saygen commented as she craned her neck forward to get a better look.

    “So long as you don’t mind the ghosts, Lieutenant,” stated O’Shaughnessy in his lyrical Irish brogue.

    Palmer glanced at him, wondering how he’d heard of the ridiculous rumours about the cutter. Saygen shot him a look, her brow furrowed.

    “Ghosts? What ghosts?”

    “The Ranger is haunted by the spirits of one of her previous crews, didn’t the Commander not tell you that?”

    “Xan?” she challenged with an accusatory tone.

    “Come on now, Oka, you don’t honestly believe in such superstitions?”

    “I like to have all the facts before I make a huge life-altering decision!”

    “Well I never asked you to come with me, so on your own head be it. Besides, it’s the twenty-fourth century and despite the efforts of a few misguided ‘parapsychologists’, there has never been any evidence of ghosts detected with even the most advanced equipment available.”

    That seemed to placate the engineer, whose tail flicked nervously. “You’re right, you’re right.”

    “So why does almost every sentient species have some sort of mythos around spectres?” quizzed O’Shaughnessy, his hands behind his back.

    “Because of a fear of death and a desire to believe in something more,” she interjected quickly. “Remind me to add a refresher of xenoanthropology onto your training programme, PO.”

    He chuckled to himself, watching as the pod approached the portside docking hatch, manoeuvring between the nacelle and saucer. Aside from the ghosts, what the Belfast native had said about the Ranger was true. In the mid-2280s, when she was still serving as a surveyor, the ship vanished for a week. Every available ship in the area had joined the search, but there was no sign of her, until almost seven days to the minute of the last known contact when she suddenly reappeared only a light-year away from her last known location. She hadn’t answered hails, and when a search party finally got aboard they found no traces of the crew nor any indication of what had happened to her. Since then the ghost stories started to emerge, which was why Starfleet had handed the ship down to the Border Service. Whilst it was an unsettling story, there were numerous theories that could account for what happened to the ship, such as being caught in a wormhole, exposed to some unknown form of radiation, even abduction by slavers was a possibility.

    Under the pilot’s practiced hand, the pod applied her breaking thrusters then rotated one hundred and eighty degrees as she neared the hull of the ship. A couple of additional bursts from the reaction control system and she connected with the port, before docking clamps engaged and the small craft was securely fixed in place.

    She thanked the crewman, before grabbing her shoulder bag and briefcase and opening the airlock. Saygen and O’Shaughnessy followed on behind her. Unlike Captain Harash’s arrival on the Polaris, there was no assembly of the crew or boatswain’s whistles or speeches, given that most of the crew weren’t aboard and the depots technicians had more than enough to do getting the ship readied.

    They would need to hit the ground running, to both assist in getting the ship ready for launch as well as ready themselves for a new way of life with the Border Service.

    * * * * *
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    For anyone curious as to what the Ranger looks like, have a look at the Antares-Class (which I've dubbed the Altair-Class, to avoid any confusion with all the other ships out there that call themselves Antares).
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Oh, my, they got themselves a ghost-ship! :eek: Fantastic that Palmer at least has a couple of old shipmates to help ease her transition into the Border Service. Her departure from Polaris was heartwarming, certainly the sendoff she deserved after what she and the crew had been through together.

    Now she and her new crew have a lot to do ahead of them. Putting the finishing touches on a refurbished old museum piece will be no walk in the park, and there will doubtless be some friction as Palmer, Saygen, and O’Shaughnessy adapt to life among Starfleet’s proverbial red-headed step-children.

    I’m eagerly awaiting more of this terrific story!
  4. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    No worries . . . just a ship that disappeared for a week, then just pops back, sans crew. Nope, nothing creepy about that at all. :wtf: Actually, it's a marvelous back-story providing fodder for all sorts of fun weirdness.

    Glad that Saygen and O'Shaughnessy are along, both to support Palmer as friends but also as highly competent officers. It will be interesting how the (former) Fleeters interact with (and become) the Border Dogs. Looking forward to how Captain Palmer fleshes out the crew and begin serving together aboard the USS Ranger. :techman:
    David.Blue and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  5. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 11, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Okay, looking forward to how this progresses!
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  6. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Which version of the Altair-Class is it? The one with the TOS movie-era nacelles?
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  7. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    That's what I have in mind. Thinking the Ranger was launched in the late-2270s, had around 7 years service before the "incident" and stayed in Starfleet until 2289. With no crew wanting to stay aboard her for longer than short tours and the rumours starting to circulate, Starfleet cut it's losses and gifted it to the Border Service. After the refit work, she would've been launched as a cutter by 2290, with stories and rumours still circulating about the ghosts onboard but she remain operational until the mid-2310s, when she was stood down and placed on the reserves list. So she's had ten years in the surplus depot, waiting for her chance to serve once more.
    TheLoneRedshirt and Gibraltar like this.
  8. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    With the looming threat in the Outland Expanse, the Ranger had only been given ten days, upon Palmer’s arrival, to shake off the dust and work out the kinks from sitting inactive for ten years. It wasn’t a lot of time, but the S.C.E. team in the system had done an admirable job of ensuring the ship wasn’t far off full readiness status—with Saygen now cracking the metaphorical whip, she was sure the ship would be ready.

    The crew on the other hand was more of a worry. The first of the ship’s actual personnel had only arrived twenty-nine hours after she’d set foot onboard. Comprised entirely of engineering and operations crewmembers, they had stowed their gear and gotten down to work. So far things seemed to be going smoothly, they were following orders and focused on getting the old she prepared. Palmer was dividing her time between helping with diagnostics, co-ordinating work with the control hub, and readying herself for the mission ahead, so had only limited contact with the crew. Whilst all the interactions were polite, she couldn’t help but get a prickly feel from a few of the more experienced non-coms. The question though was if that were real or just in her mind?

    It was well known that there was no love lost between the two branches (or the Marine Corps for that matter), with the Border Service often having to make do with hand-me-downs from Starfleet including ships to personnel (the latter often being near the bottom of the barrel). In the last few decades, thanks to the work of Admiral Lars Odegaard, the Service had been dragged out of the dark ages and turned into something far more modern, but that still didn’t help inter-departmental relations. She’d known when she decided to accept the offer that this was going to be a tough transition, she couldn’t think about not judge the operations of her new ship by Fleet standards, not unless she wanted to still have a ship and crew to command, but likewise her crew would have to understand that she wasn’t going to put her own stamp on the Ranger neither. It was going to be a tightrope walk, though without a net under her.

    “Bridge to Captain,” O’Shaughnessy’s dulcet tone echoed through the empty metallic corridors.

    She stepped to the nearest companel. “Go ahead.”

    “That’s the next shuttle-load of new crewmembers about to arrive.”

    “Thank you, Cian, I’ll go and greet them.”

    She’d been waiting for this contingent of new arrivals, and not just because their culinary specialists were among them, as it would finally mean she’d get to meet some of the crewmembers she has selected. Thanks to the size and practical layout of the Ranger, she reached the hangar at the rear of the ship in time to witness the Type-4 shuttle pass through the forcefield—before they left the surplus depot they would be carrying two such craft.

    The shuttle set on the deck with a thud that she felt through her boots, whoever was flying it wasn’t the most delicate of stick jockeys. As the hatch opened she approached, hands clasped behind her. The first to emerge was a human male with naturally tanned skin, swept back dark hair, deep brown eyes, a wide jaw and narrow chin, Lieutenant Rafael De Souza service jacket photo didn’t do the young man justice. Despite his expertise in communications and computer systems he would be her Second Officer, a step up for him, one he probably hadn’t expected—aside from a poor image, his personnel file listed a few times he’d been written up due to his behaviour. Lieutenant (j.g.) D9 Blue, the Tactical Officer, skittered out on two of her eight legs. The top of the pillbug-like Nasat would barely have reached Palmer’s chest, but her thick, flexible azure carapace she was a stout being with large black eyes that darted around the hangar. The last member of her senior staff on the shuttle was Petty Officer Second Class Aila, the Chief Navigator. The statuesque Deltan was stunning, with flawless ebony skin and an amused smirk curling her full lips, as she stepped off the shuttle the other nine non-coms and crewmen that would be joining the ship almost fell out of the shuttle as they gawked after her—Palmer has to wonder how much worse it would be if she didn’t take a pheromone suppressor. The junior crew quickly righted themselves when they spotted her waiting for them, sorting themselves into two lines along with the officers and Aila.

    “Welcome aboard the Ranger. I’m Lieutenant Commander Xanthe Palmer, your new CO. I won’t keep you, as there is a lot of work to be done and not a lot of time to do it. Mr De Souza, can you come with me. The rest of you are dismissed.”

    They quickly filed out, not saying a word, until it was just the two humans left. His gaze was impassive whilst his resting expression was better than most poker faces she’d seen. When she had chosen him to be her third-in-command she knew she was taking a risk, given what was written about him from previous captains. The common thread was that he was blunt and aloof, often causing offense with his direct manner that was taken as rudeness. Despite this, and his difficulties in making friends with his shipmates, he had demonstrated his braver and calm under pressure several times—the most recent being on the Golden Bay, where he pulled three shipmates clear of a raging plasma fire, sustaining serious burns for his act. There was definitely more to the man than met the eye, and she was going to give him a chance to show it.

    She gestured towards the exit and he followed her into the corridors of deck five. “Lieutenant, once you’ve stowed your gear and gotten your bearings, I want a full review of all communications protocols and computer security measures,” she began, making full use of his specialties. “We’re currently waiting on our quartermaster, until they’re aboard I want you to co-ordinate with all sections for a full inventory of what supplies and equipment are onboard and what we’re still needing, also ensure all equipment lockers are properly stocked. Also, I’d like recommendations for shift rotations and a schedule of readiness drills,” she finished, not about to take it easy on him, she needed to know quickly just what he was capable of. “Questions?”

    “Why me?” he asked simply.

    “The XO isn’t onboard yet and you are next in line.”

    “That’s what I meant. Why did you pick me to be Second Officer?”

    She suppressed a smile, thinking, He is definitely direct. “This ship is my big chance, Lieutenant, so I felt I should offer that to others as well. Call it a CO’s prerogative.” De Souza didn’t look overly convinced. “Now snap to it.”

    * * * * *

    The lack of transporters in the system was getting to be a nuisance, a necessary security feature but a pain in the neck. Work on the Ranger was progressing at a brisk pace, though De Souza’s checks of the comm array had found that a key component used for scrambling transmissions was a potential security risk—given than the Klingons had managed to break the encryption sequencer that is used. Granted, they weren’t likely to face off against the Empire but it they’d been able to manage it then how long before others did as well? The module had been removed and loaded into a travel pod, which Palmer was taking to the control hub to see about a suitable replacement. Surely, in a system like this with a crack team of S.C.E. personnel, there would be something better.

    The discovery had come at a bad time. She’d just been contacted that her chosen Chief Operations Officer had just handed in his retirement paperwork. She was trying not to read too much into it, given that he cited a request to spend more time with his growing family, though a little voice of self-doubt nipped at the back of her mind. Shaking it off, she tried to focus on the jobs at hand: repair the communications array, find a new ops manager.

    Though with five days remaining, both looked like impossible tasks.

    It’ll be fine, I’ll get this sorted, she told herself over and over again. Luckily, the rest of her crew didn’t seem to be having the same reaction to serving under her—at least not quite so obviously. The last couple of days had seen almost all the crew arrive, including Petty Officers First and Second Class Kenara Vaal and Karyme Hamid, her Ship’s Corpsman and Security Team Leader, respectively. Given the size of the Ranger, she wouldn’t be carrying a doctor or even a nurse, luckily the Rigellian-Tomal was a long-serving Border Service medic and could deal with the typical phaser burns, broken bones, deep tissue bruising, and stab wounds that were most likely faced in pursuit of their duties, in his sleep. Hamid was harder to get a read on. She was a highly rated marksman and martial artist, as well as having extensive training in explosives, so on paper she looked to be an ideal security specialist. Unfortunately, that paper would also have written on it about her temper and repeated scraps with superiors—had it not been for those issues, she could easily have made Chief Petty Officer by now.

    The only members of the crew left outstanding (other than a new ops officer) were her Chief of the Boat and First Officer, though both would arrive at least forty-eight hours before they were due to launch. It’ll be fine, I’ll get this sorted.

    She docked the pod at the Border Service module, secured the controls and opened the hatch. She’d start with her new section, but if they couldn’t help then she’d have to seek out the engineering corps specialists. In the aft section she activated the antigrav trolley, loaded with the defunct piece of hardware, and passed though the stations airlock into small control room. As it was late, the room was pretty much empty, except for one young Tellarite with a confused expression.

    “Um, can I help you, sir?”

    Pushing the trolley over to the station he sat at she gestured at its contents. “I hope you can, Mister?”

    “Aal. Narr glasch Aal. Junior Lieutenant Aal, sir.”

    “Lieutenant Aal, I’m—”

    “Is that a J-9 CommSec Scrambler?” he interrupted peering at the mound of duranium, wires and isolinear chips that she’d brought aboard.

    “It is indeed.”

    He whistled as his eyes darted all over the device, then up at her. “I never suspected that the Ranger would have something that old still installed. Under the latest communications security protocols, you need at least an M-3 module.”

    “Do you have one?” she asked hopefully.

    The young lieutenant shook his head. “I’m afraid not, sir.”

    “Damn,” she muttered to herself, before letting out a heavy sigh. “Can you direct me towards the S.C.E. supply office?”

    “Um, sure, but eh…”

    Her heart plummeted into her stomach at hearing his hesitation. “Let me guess, they don’t have one handy.”

    “There’s none on their inventory I’m afraid. Sorry sir.”

    She was about to swear in a very un-captain like manner but managed to bite her tongue. Without the component there was no way for them to send or receive secure transmissions, not without essentially screaming them to anyone in communications range. It’ll be fine, I’ll get this sorted.

    “If I were to put in the requisition request now, how long would it take to get one here?”

    “Um, a week.”

    “A week,” she repeated, exasperated.

    “If you’re lucky,” he added softly.

    “Well that’s just frelling perfect! What would you suggest? Sourcing one on the black market?” She clenched her teeth tight until her jaw muscles ached, looking around for something breakable to throw.

    “S…sir?” Aal tentatively began.

    “Yes Lieutenant?” turning back to him, glowering.

    Aal visibly swallowed. “So long as you weren’t looking for an off the shelf module I might be able to help,” his words coming so quickly they were almost tripping over one another.

    “What do you mean?”

    “With all the parts we have on the station, I should be able to cobble something together that would meet the standards of an M-3, at least until you could source a new one.”

    Palmer was taken aback by the young unassuming Tellarite (that was definitely an oxymoron). “You could build one?”

    “Um, yes sir. It’d hold up for a couple of months, at least, so you could request a new module for delivery to Star Station Bravo and pick it up when you arrive.”

    “How long would it take?”

    “The better part of a day, but I’d need to be on the Ranger to make sure I could get it connected up properly.”

    She beamed at the Lieutenant (j.g.) that could be about to save her bacon. “When can you get started?”

    “Well, I’d need a couple hours to get all the parts I need, but I’ll need to finish my shift before—”

    Palmer waved him off. “Point me towards your CO, Lieutenant, I’ll get you covered.”

    Aal told her where she could find him. Leaving the antigrav with him, she marched off. Given the priority of her orders, she’d surely be able to get the kid off a few hours early and on detached duty for essential works. It’ll be fine, I’ll get this sorted.

    * * * * *
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
    TheLoneRedshirt and admiralelm11 like this.
  9. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    New ship's motto: USS Ranger - It'll be fine, we'll get this sorted . . . :lol:
    Palmer is definitely feeling the pressure of getting the ship ready in a short-time but with a longer laundry list. No XO and no COB yet, and replacement parts not available. Plus she's facing the typical inter-service posturing. That should pass . . . hopefully.
    De Souza is an interesting choice - with all else Palmer was deal with, wondering if a "project" senior officer is a good idea? Still, it worked for her, so here's hoping.
    I like Lt. (j.g) Aal. An unassuming Tellarite! A rare find, indeed. Perhaps she could find a way to lure this youngster aboard Ranger - someone who can cobble together M3 modules from spare parts would be a valuable addition.
    One minor correction: It's Outland Expanse, not Outreach Expanse.
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  10. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum

    The power of positive thinking :bolian:

    They're coming. Hopefully, they won't cause the new skipper any issues...

    Palmer is definitely someone to root for the underdog. If her tenure as Captain is a brief one, she can at least help build someone else up. Either that or he'll be a complete disaster and will end up being booted off the ship in a couple weeks.

    He'll have a few normal Tellarite quirks as well, but he's still a young officer whose never been taken all that seriously in the past, so has yet to find his voice.

    Changed. I'll make sure to keep that in mind going forward.
    TheLoneRedshirt likes this.
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Putting the finishing touches on Ranger is certainly turning out to be quite the project for Palmer and her crew. I hope that adding De Souza to this mix won't become something Palmer regrets. I get the urge to help pay forward the faith her superiors have shown in her, but this guy might not be up to the task. Only time will tell.

    I also thought Aal would make a terrific addition to her crew. A brilliant techie type who can also wheel and deal to get a ship what it needs. Sort of a cross between Chief O'Brien and Quark.

    I'm very much enjoying where this is going.
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  12. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    Once again, Palmer was burning the midnight oil. With so much practical work needed seen to during the day, she’d taken to leaving all the administrative demands until the evening, of course that turned into several hours of filing reports, reading status updates, responding to communiqués. What she wouldn’t give for a yeoman at that moment, either to take on some of the burden or show up with a flask of Vulcan fire root coffee, alas her small crew complement didn’t include such a position.

    “No wonder Captain Strenn always made the job look effortless,” she muttered to herself, envious at the small admin section that had been onboard the Polaris.

    Among the many pieces of paperwork that was on her terminal was the approved transfer request for Lieutenant Aal. When she’d brought him back to the Ranger, she had let him work but kept an eye on what he was doing and had been amazed at what she’d seen. The kid knew the ins and outs of the communications array, computer connections and electrical system like the back of his hand. She’d called up his file and was amazed to see he was just twenty-three, having sailed through the Academy and graduated a year early then requested a posting to the Border Service. His great promise had been squandered though, first on Star Station Alpha and then at the Tragan Surplus Depot, luckily he had the right qualifications and was of sufficient rank, so as soon as he was finished with the constructions and installation of his makeshift scrambler unit, she offered him the open ops manager post. The young Tellarite had eagerly accepted and she’d immediately submitted the transfer request.

    She rubbed her heavy eyes. There was still too much to do, she couldn’t go to sleep quite yet. Standing, she let out a groan as her aching muscles and stiff joints were forced to move her once again after sitting for too long.

    “Serves you right,” she muttered to herself as she shuffled through her quarters.

    As the captain, she was afforded a large set of accommodations than any of the crew. There was the small living space, with a couch that dominated the bulkhead opposite the entrance with a matching armchair, a low coffee table, ample shelving and a large desk. A circular doorframe with smoky glass doors led into her bedroom, which was cluttered with a chest and the rest of her luggage, all waiting to be unpacked. She stepped into the private head, a feature only the ranking officers onboard got to enjoy, seeing as how most of the crew shared quarters with at least one other person.

    Filling the sink with cold water, she splashed it on her face to try and wake herself up a little. The attempt was an abysmal failure. As she looked at her haggard face in the mirror the enunciator whistled.

    “Please be the coffee fairy,” she said to her reflection, eliciting a throaty chuckle at her terrible joke—she really was too tired. “Come,” she called out as she made her way back.

    She arrived to find a strange man, in a set of enlisted coveralls, standing just inside her quarters. He was looking around at the bare bulkheads and empty shelves as she walked in, at which point he stood at attention. He was handsome, with an ageless face, dark narrow eyes, a square jaw, and long jet-black hair swept and tied back in a regulation style. It took her exhausted brain longer than she cared to admit to work out who her visitor was, clicking into place a second before he introduced himself.

    “Chief Petty Officer Noah Lien reporting aboard, sir.”

    “Right, of course,” she approached him and extended her hand. “Welcome aboard, Chief. Lieutenant Commander Xanthe Palmer.”

    “I know, sir.”

    “Sorry, it’s been a long few days.”

    “That’s pretty much standard for us, sir.”

    She paused and scrutinised him. However, she was too tired and didn’t know the Chief of the Boat in order to discern his tone. It wasn’t thick with sarcasm or tinged with disapproval, but something seemed off to her, either that or she was getting paranoid due to the long days, stress and stories surrounding the ship. Going into this new assignment, she knew that she’d face a hard time from many of the more experienced Service personnel who were being expected of following some unknown Fleeter. She’d worked out that her new XO and COB would be the main points of contact for this collective displeasure, of course she could’ve gotten around this by finding a couple of ‘yes men’, who would agree with all she said, but that’s not what she wanted. If her first command was going to be any sort of success, she needed people who would stand their ground, who would tell it to her straight.

    “Problem Chief?”

    For a split second he hesitated before replying, “No sir.”

    “Mm-hmm.” She folded her arms across her chest. “No, that’s not going to work for me.”

    He frowned. “I’m sorry, sir?”

    “Chief, whenever you’re within these four walls, I expect honesty. Hell, I need it. You have a vital role on the ship, you are my link to the non-coms and enlisted men, I need to know that the person I’m entrusting that responsibility too will help me do right by them.

    “I know that I’m not a Border Dog, I know you don’t know me or what to expect from me, but I will never feed you bull and I need my COB to hold enough respect for me to do the same.”

    That got a reaction out of him. Clearly, he’d never expected her to be quite so frank, but with only fifty hours to go until they were to leave dry-dock she needed to have a handle on where she stood with those that she was going to trust with her life and the lives of everyone else on her ship.

    “I know a few, very deserving, Border Service officers that were passed over for this opportunity because of you, sir. When I got this transfer offer I was going to decline it.”

    “Why didn’t you?”

    “I guess you could say it was curiosity. I wanted to see what made you stand out over them.”

    “If you figure that I’d like to know too” she admitted.

    “I can promise you this, sir, I won’t undermine you to the crew. Despite whatever you may think of the red-headed stepchildren of Starfleet, we know that we can only succeed by working as a team. You are the Commanding Officer, regardless of where you came from, I’ll make sure that the position is regarded and treated as it ought to be.”

    “That sounds like a good place to make a start, Chief. Dismissed.”

    “Aye Captain.”

    * * * * *

    Standing before the airlock, Palmer resisted the urge to check the chronometer, given she’d looked at it only minutes earlier so knew there was still just shy of thirty hours to go until their launch. Her new First Officer was cutting it pretty fine for getting onboard.

    The indicator above the hatch turned from red to green, so she straightened up and held her hands in front of her. The heavy doors parted and Lieutenant Taras stepped out of the travel pod, ducking to ensure he cleared the doorway. Even for the towering Pandrilite he was a behemoth. Standing well over two meters, he was barrel chested and thick limbed, giving the impression that his he flexed he’d bust the seams of his uniform. Stepping onto the deck (she imagined she could feel the deck plates rattle), he straightened himself as he stood at attention which only emphasised how much larger he was as she looked straight at his chest.

    Craning her neck, she gave the cobalt skinned officer a polite smile.

    “Request permission to come aboard, Captain,” he asked, his voice deep but quiet.

    “Granted Lieutenant, welcome to the Ranger.”

    “Apologies for my delay in arrival, the Thrasher had to respond to a freighter with engine troubles.”

    “Ah ok, I was beginning to wonder what was holding you up. I trust everything worked out alright?”

    “A case of poor, infrequent maintenance and an apathetic ship’s mechanic. We got them underway with a cited infraction of health and safety regulations.”

    She gestured down the corridor and led the way forward, Taras following close behind. The corridors of the Altair-Class were already fairly narrow, but they looked even smaller due to his bulky frame.

    “So, one last milk run before you departed.”


    When looking for her very first XO, she’d trawled through a number of candidates. She hadn’t known just what she was looking for, all of those on the list were amply qualified, but reading their files something just didn’t feel right. Coming upon Taras’ she’d slowed down in her reading and taken note of the lieutenant. His background was as a tactical officer, though he wasn’t the sort of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ gunner, his response was always measured and precise using just as much force was needed to disable pirate or raider ships, so they could be boarded and brought to justice. She had to admit she liked his approach, the Border Service was as much about policing space lanes as it was repelling invading forces, and his ability to make the necessary distinctions gave her a positive vibe. Since it was a similar feeling that had brought herself to the Border Service, she decided to trust it once again.

    As she led him towards his quarters, she gave him a quick run down of their status, how all planned upgrades and refit work had been finished and they were running a whole battery of system diagnostics and last-minute recalibrations. He listened quietly, not interrupting, she had to glance over her should a couple of times to make sure he was still following and hadn’t just left her to talk to herself—for someone his size, he was remarkably light on his feet. As hard as she’d found it to get a read on Lien, Taras was far more difficult.

    “Have you got any questions for me?” she asked as they reached the entrance to his cabin.

    “There was one thing, sir,” he paused and looked up and down the corridor. “Perhaps we could discuss it privately?”

    “Of course,” she said with a soft frown.

    Entering his quarters, she stepped to the side as he set his luggage down on his bed. He paused for a second and then turned back to face her. “Permission to speak freely, Captain?”

    Palmer smiled to herself, remembering being in his shoes not very long ago. Opting to take a page from another’s book, she told him, “Whenever we’re alone, Lieutenant, I hope you will be candid.”

    “What are your intentions for this command? This is a Border Service ship; we have a way of doing things that may not meet the standards you’re used to. I am concerned that if you try to implement Fleet procedures onboard that you may soon find most of the crew will put in transfer requests.”

    “So, I shouldn’t try to force a square peg in a round hole.”

    “Essentially, yes.”

    “Lieutenant Taras, I know what Border Dogs believe about Fleeters and vice versa. I’ve worked with a couple of cutter crews in the past and have seen what they can achieve, when given the slack they need to do their jobs. I don’t want to stifle that creativity and dedication, though likewise I’m not going to let the crew get away with whatever they want. I’m not about to turn everything on its head, but I am going to have my own way of doing things, blending the best aspects of both with what we share in common. Just how that will work remains to be seen, but it is something I am very conscious about.”

    “I’m glad to hear that, sir.”

    “Of course, in an alert situation I do need to ensure my orders are followed, not questioned.”


    Palmer looked over the towering officer once more, nodding to herself. Her feeling about Taras growing stronger, knowing that she’d made the right choice with her new righthand man. “If there’s nothing else, I’d better get back to work.”

    “I’m ready to get started, Captain.”

    “Good,” she replied with a faint grin, starting to feel all the pieces were slotting into place.

    * * * * *
  13. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    Stepping into the engine room, Palmer took a moment to watch as the crew hurried from one station to the next as the warp core gently hummed. They’d been on their own power for a few days, but they had yet to leave dry-dock, though that time was fast approaching.

    Saygen darted from console to console, checking all the figures as she called into her wristcom and getting reports from the impulse reactor room, environmental control, as well as other systems she under her purvey that weren’t directly managed from main engineering. The Ranger had passed all simulations and everything looked to be fully functional, though with the warp drive not having been active in a decade there was always the slim possibility that something might go wrong.

    “Lieutenant, how’s she looking,?” Palmer announced her presence.

    “Captain, what a pleasant surprise. We are all ready here and good to go.”

    Palmer looked around nodding thoughtfully. “Good, good.”

    The chief engineer moved in a little closer, so no one could overhear them. “So how are you doing? Freaking out yet?”

    “Let’s just say I’m a little tightly wound today.”

    “So, no different than usual then?”

    “That’s so funny I forgot to laugh.”

    “You just don’t know good comedy.”

    “Don’t give up the day job, you’ll never cut it doing stand up.”

    Saygen planted her hands on her hips defiantly. “My crew thinks I’m hilarious.”

    “That’s ‘cos you’re the boss, and you kinda have to laugh at the boss’s jokes,” she said, patting the Alkarian’s shoulder in mock sympathy.

    “You’re actually doing far better than I thought, Xan.”

    “I’m just eager to get out there and get started.”

    “In that case, I’ll make sure the engines won’t let you down.”

    “That’s appreciated, Oka.” She took a deep breath. “Right, I better get back to the bridge so we can get this shindig started.”

    “Just give the word, Captain.”

    “Consider it given, Lieutenant,” she said giving her friend a nod, then returned the way she came. As she made her way up to deck one, she was like a coiled spring ready to be released, full of energy and anticipation. They’d spent ten days doing everything possible to get the ship ready, the crew were all aboard, and they had a mission waiting for them. There was no way to know how the ship would hold up or how well the crew would work together, so they would learn a lot by doing, but she was ready for it.

    Stepping onto the bridge for the solitary turbolift at the very rear of the bridge, she once again paused to take it all in. For the first time, all the senior crew were at their posts, though they would soon all be rotated onto their respective shifts but for their launch they’d all chosen to take their stations.

    Taras, who stood at one of the master systems displays on either side of the turbolift alcove, spotted her first and gave her a respectful bow of his bald blue head.

    “How are we looking up here, Lieutenant?”

    “All eager to get underway, sir.”

    “At least we all have that in common.” She flashed him a smile before heading for her chair and settling in.

    Taking a steadying breath, she looked up at the chronometer above the viewscreen. There scheduled departure time was just minutes away. “All stations, report readiness.”

    “Helm ready.”

    “Navigation ready, Captain.”

    “All tactical systems ready.”

    “Um, operations ready, sir.”

    “Propulsion ready.”

    “Environmental systems ready, sir.”

    “Auxiliary systems ready.”

    Taras finished off the chorus. “All decks report ready to depart, sir.”

    “Excellent. Secure all docking hatches and close all interconnector ports.”

    “Hatches secure, all interconnectors sealed,” stated De Souza from the aux systems station.

    “Lieutenant Aal, get me the dock master.”

    “I have them, sir.”

    “Control, this is Ranger requesting permission to depart.”

    “This is Control. Ranger, you are granted permission. Good luck out there.”

    “Thank you, Control. Ranger out.” She looked back to Aal. “Release all moorings.”

    “Moorings released.”

    “Nav, lock onto marker buoy. Helm, aft thrusters at one quarter, port and starboard at station keeping.”

    “Aye-aye sir.” She could hear the smile in O’Shaughnessy’s voice.

    On the viewscreen, stars that had been static for the last ten days started to move as the cutter finally powered her engines. Her stomach was performing flips as the dry-dock cradle disappeared from view.

    “We are clear and free to navigate,” stated Aila.

    “Set a course for Star Station Bravo. Increase to half impulse until we clear the system, then prepare to take us to warp factor six.”

    This was it; they were finally underway. Her first command was well and truly begun.

    * * * * *

    Captain’s log, stardate: 2299.8.

    Ranger will arrive at Star Station Bravo in approximately twenty minutes. Upon arrival, I’ve been summoned to the office of Squadron Commander Attyx to receive our first patrol route in the Outland Expanse. We’ll also be able to collect our new M-3 scrambler module, which Lieutenant Aal informs me he can have installed and online in five hours.

    So far, everything has been going smoothly. The crew are still figuring one another out, as well as what to make of a Fleeter as their new Skipper, but I’m optimistic.

    End log.

    On the screen her dictation had appeared as she spoke. Giving it one final read through, she saved and logged it, at which point it would be stored in the ships log buoy—just in case the ship was somehow destroyed, there would be a record of everything that had happened onboard.

    As she’d stated in her log, the journey from the Tragan Supply Depot to the base of operations for the Second Cutter Squadron had been straight forward and uneventful. No bust-ups or mutinies among the crew, which she took as a positive sign. She’d been having regular informal meetings with Taras and Lien in order to get a feel of the crews mood, but so far they hadn’t heard of any comments being made no noticed anything wrong with the standard of work—not an easy thing to judge with an all new crew. The real test would start from tomorrow when they were finally on active duty, in one of the most quadrants most unstable regions. Only time would tell.

    She turned her terminal off and grabbed the cranberry bomber jacket off the back of her chair, pulling it on over her white duty shirt as she headed for the exit. Palmer never looked back as she headed for the bridge, if she had she might’ve noticed the stylus on her desk gently rock back and forth for a second.

    * * * * *

    Last edited: May 10, 2020
    TheLoneRedshirt and Gibraltar like this.
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    OoooooOOOOOooooo! Ghosts!

    Love the run-up to launch, with everybody scrambling to get the old girl ready for her new career. Interesting choice for XO, a walking tank. However, he seems very capable and isn't afraid to speak truth to power (when prompted). I'm guessing they may have to reinforce the command chair for him, though.

    It's going to be interesting to see how this blended Fleeter/Border Service crew comes together. An easy mix, or will a centrifuge be required?
    Bry_Sinclair and TheLoneRedshirt like this.
  15. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Wonderful story, Bry! Palmer has collected an eclectic mix for a crew and it will be interesting to see if any conflict arises as Fleeter practice collides with Border Dog pragmatism. I think the Captain has done a stellar job in getting the crew working and ready to launch on time. Bravo Zulu!
    Now the real mission begins in the Outland Expanse. There's a lot of space and few assets to cover it. I've no doubt the Captain and crew of the Ranger will have plenty of work ahead.
    If I were C.O. of that ship, I might search the old mission logs to see if she ever made a stop at Starbase 66 . . . :whistle:
    Gibraltar and Bry_Sinclair like this.
  16. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jan 17, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    I like it. I can't wait to see where else you go with this. :)
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  17. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Oct 1, 2011
    Space, the final frontier.
    A very good start to what promises to be an entertaining series. And oh, there may be ghosts after all? How exciting! I look forward to your next story.
  18. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 11, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    VEry nice!
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  19. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    I've decided to do a little retconning with this story, as I'm trying to work on the second piece and having issues with De Souza and the role he will ultimately play in upcoming stories. I'll come back and re-edit his introduction here at a later date, but just wanted to give folks a heads up before I change him (not for the better though).
    think and TheLoneRedshirt like this.