Docking Precinct A
[Day 1: 0730]
[Transport Omicron to Docking Precinct A, Starbase Bravo]
Three days on a transport off Starbase 157, and Rourke’s knees were still getting intimately acquainted with his chin. But that was fine, because he’d lost all sensation after eating and drinking this much badly-replicated food and especially coffee.
‘If those engineers sing that song again,’ he grumbled to his travel companion, ‘I’m going to find the evac hatch and space them.’
Doctor Vennik, he’d been told on day one, was a political analyst just stopping through Starbase 4 en route to Earth. That was as much as Rourke had been told about the man’s purpose or interests, and on day one, the lack of social engagement hadn’t been a problem. By now, it was starting to add to the crushing sense of isolation, and crushing.
Vennik pulled out his earpiece. ‘Sorry?’
‘I said, those engineers -’
‘Are they singing?’ Vennik made a face.
‘No, but they look like they might.’ Vennik’s disgust only grew and he went to put his earpiece back in, probably with the volume up, but Rourke snatched at the opportunity for social contact. ‘I mean, what are they even singing? It doesn’t sound like words.’
‘Roll the Old Chariot Along; it’s a classic naval song. I would have thought a military man would know.’
Rourke bristled. ‘I’m not a military man.’
Vennik looked him up and down in his red uniform and rolled his eyes. ‘Of course you’re not,’ he said, then put the earpiece back in. Rourke let him.
When the transport dropped out of warp ten minutes later, he thought he honestly might weep out of relief. When the pilot announced there was a delay of one hour before docking at Starbase Bravo, he considered force-feeding Vennik his own earpiece just for want of something to do.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Rourke, flagging down one of the attendants. ‘Could I get a cup of coffee while we wait? Milk and, if you’d be so kind, only one lump of pure despair this time?’
He did not get his coffee.
Docking Precinct A was the busiest and most bustling of Starbase Bravo’s arrival lounges, specifically receiving smallcraft ferrying personnel as a priority. To Rourke’s eye as he emerged out the airlock and into the lounge it was probably busy at the best of days, but he could make out the particular thread of bustle in the traffic that had to be from the conference. More ranking officers, more beleaguered security personnel, more civilians already bearing what he recognised as Starfleet-issue access passes.
And then he saw it, the beating heart of all his hate: the large, ad-hoc desk set up in the lounge with a ten-feet tall holodisplay above it to catch the attention of him and his ilk. That wasn’t the problem: large lettering saying, STARBASE BRAVO WELCOMES YOU TO THE OSIRIS INITIATIVE was reasonable enough, if not particularly evocative.
Rourke was less thrilled at the picture right next to it of the upper body of Commodore Beckett, arms folded, iron-tight smile suggesting he needed you - yes, you - to just step up and make the galaxy a better place and if you were very good you might get a treat at the end. Only one man could look quite so demanding of your time and commitment, while seeming so ready to give the minimal acclaim and respect afterwards.
But this was his heading, so Rourke slung his pack over his shoulder, and moved through the crowds ‘til he reached the desk of a frantic-looking administrator. ‘Commander Rourke, USS Endeavour.’
‘Hang on, sir.’ The administrator lifted a finger while the other hand scoured her holographic display of records.
‘Here for the conference, of course,’ Rourke added unnecessarily. ‘I just need a room allocation, if the Commodore’s got some welcome booklet it’s not -’
‘The information package will contain everything you need ahead of the briefings,’ the administrator said in a babble. ‘I’m just finding you on the list - oh.’
Oh, was not an unusual reaction when people found his records. ‘Yes,’ he sighed, ‘It’s only a temporary assignment to Endeavour.’
‘Oh no, sir! Everything’s fine!’ The sunny smile was not convincing, and she lifted her holo-display to transfer the files over to his PADD. His chirped in acknowledgement. ‘That’ll be everything you need for the conference, telling you the itinerary. At noon in the Main Conference Room, there’ll be an opening ceremony. You are encouraged to attend.’
‘Great, I’m sure the Commodore will -’
‘But I’m sorry to say that rooms on the starbase are at a premium right now.’
Rourke frowned. ‘How? This place is huge.’
‘Even command-level officers are requested to share with one other for the duration. This is not required but it would lighten the burden on our station, and we’re prepared to offer you a 1 hour guaranteed holodeck slot in recompense.’
I could spend all the hours I wanted on my holodeck back on Endeavour, Rourke lied to himself. Commander Valance would never let him spend his days on the holodeck. But the principle remained. Still, he rubbed his eyes. It wasn’t the petty officer’s fault. ‘I - sure.’
‘If you find an officer you are prepared to berth with, I can get you a room assignment.’
‘Find a - okay.’ He groaned. ‘Is there anywhere in this lounge I can at least get a coffee which doesn’t inherently make me longingly contemplate the heat death of the universe while I poach a roommate from these unsuspecting souls?’
‘Oh! Yes, sir. The refreshments panel over there will provide you all you need while we process your arrival.’ With a perky grin he didn’t trust, she pointed to what looked like a low bar by the wall, and Rourke knew was nothing more than a replicator with a staff member - probably to keep courtesy in queueing, and provide some facsimile of humanoid contact.
‘Cheers.’ With an unhappy nod, he trudged towards the promise of coffee, and swung his bag onto his other shoulder.
This conference was priming up to be Pure Beckett, and he already hated it.
[One Week Ago]
Jonas received his orders. He was being transferred to take command of his own vessel. They didn't tell him his mission or what vessel he was getting. He was instructed to attend some conference called "Osiris". Yeah, strange, naming a conference after a dead Egyptian 'god'. He had to look it up. Early Earth Egyptian history wasn't his thing. He wasn't an archaologist or a farmer or even vaguely a scientist. He hoped the conference named after the dead Egyptian wasn't about any of these things. He'd just have to find out. He was a captain to be without a starship, so he'd have to find passage to the conference some other way. He found a ride. The SS Gewürztraminer was taking a load of wine and liquor to the conference. He paid his fare and booked passage. What could go wrong?
What a hangover. Five days on a 'booze cruise'. The captain had beeped his cabin half an hour ago. The beep was still ringing in his head. A shower and coffee had started to make him feel human or partially human again. He hauled his bag over his shoulder and headed to the airlock. Jonas stepped through the airlock. The spacestation had a charged atmosphere. He felt his head clear almost instantly. It was like stepping into a casino where they pump oxygen in to encourage people to stay away and play the games/loose their money. He saw a flashing neon sign that said, "Welcome to the Osiris Event". Jonas walked up to the check-in desk. "Commander Jonas Flanigan, most recently of Deep Space 12."
The clerk tapped it into her console. "Here you are Commander." She handed him a lanyard with his picture on it. "Since you're only a commander, we are asking that you share a room with another attendee."
"Not a problem, I don't expect to be in my room very much."
"Make sure you check in at all the talks. There will be some door prizes"
Jonas nodded. "Anything else?"
"Enjoy the conference."
"Thank you." Jonas turned and walked towards the gateway to the rest of the station.
**[0730 hours] **
The one thing Captain Idrissia was good at was being on time. For everything. The schedules aboard the USS Tricerdonia were so precise a swiss watchmaker would be green with envy. But, for Mason's purposes, it meant that he disembarked the ship at precisely 0730 hours, pack slung over one broad shoulder.
Given his orders were to attend the Osiris conference in preparation for his own command, and Idrissia was somewhat peeved at the prospect of training another XO, he supposed he should have been grateful that the captain had seen his way clear to dropping him off. It had saved him the need to find alternative passage.
The airlock shut behind him with a precise snap. Everything about the Tricerdonia, like her captain, was precise. Was it possible that a ship took its personality from its captain in some way? Raan pondered on that question as he made his way across the arrivals hall.
It was a slow, meandering walk filled with stops, starts and 'excuse me's'. Given his height and build, most people scuttled out of the way when they saw him, as though they expected to be stomped underfoot. It was a little unfair, he'd never once stomped on anyone without meaning to, but... people often judged a book by its cover and assigned stereotypes. He scrubbed a hand over his close-cropped hair. Perhaps he should dye it pink to give a 'softer' first impression...
He finally neared the check-in desk with the huge 'Welcome to the Osiris Initiative' banner above it, with a picture of a commodore right next to it. Raan studied the face for a moment. He didn't recognize the guy, but, if he was the poster boy for the event, no doubt he would be here. He made a mental note to scan down the list of attendees and familiarise himself with names.
"Commander Raan Mason," he said as the check-in clerk looked up in expectation. "Formerly of the Tricerdonia. Here for the conference."
"Of course, sir... just let me check the list. Ah, there you are." She tapped the console to check him in, then handed over a badge and lanyard. He checked the image absently. Definitely not his best side. "One other thing sir. Since we are expecting a large number of attendee's we are requesting that all attendees share a room with one another."
"Oh?" That was definitely not usual. But, it wouldn't be for long and he didn't have to be best buds with whoever he ended up rooming with. "No worries, I'm happy to share."
"Excellent, I'll put you down on the list and inform you when your room assignment is ready. Enjoy the conference."
"Thank you." He smiled, readjusting his pack and headed off to find some coffee.
The shuttle, which had left on-time from the USS Frontier just two days prior, dropped out of warp with a start, and through the viewscreen Commander Chandra and Ensign Til'rek gazed in awe at the tremendous Guardian-class station before them.
"Now there's a sight!" The young Andorian beamed.
"Yeah. It's impressive enough." Raksha responded with an impassive tone.
"What's wrong, Commander? Not excited about your first real assignment as a captain, hmm? I thought this was something you'd been looking forward to!?"
"Oh, it is,' Chandra began, 'but you know how these Admiralty-types are. It's all 'stepping boldly into the future' and 'we salute your dedication' and 'daring' and 'sacrifice' and any other buzzwords and dedication-plaque speil you can think to cough up. I'm telling you, this whole affair is going to be a waste of time!"
Ensign Til'rek muttered something about attitude under his breath.
"What was that, Ensign?" Chandra spun her head about, clocking his silent response.
The Andorian rather swiftly changed the subject in slight alarm.
"Uh, what was this conference about again?" He stuttered.
"They're calling it the 'Osiris Initiative', I think. It's some new expansion initiative being spearheaded by the Bravo Fleet or something like that. I've been asked to attend the conference as a commanding officer of Task Force 72, which operates in the Alpha Quadrant. Goodness knows what they plan on doing there but knowing Starfleet and that patch of space, it'll likely involve kind words to Cardassian Guls and under-the-table trades with the Ferengi. Things are ropey there at the best of times."
"What about the Tzenkethi and the Breen?" Ensign Til'rek pondered.
"We'll see,' the Commander replied, 'anyway. It's all conjecture at this point. I don't know what they have planned for us here. I'd quite like to just get there, find a decent bed to sleep on, shake the Admirals hands, tell them how honored I am to be given this opportunity to serve, be given my damn ship, and be on my way."
At this, the Andorian simply sniffed as the shuttle pulled in to the outer docking ring.
"Good thing we didn't come with the Frontier, hmm?' he commented as both officers gazed out at the multitude of Starfleet vessels docking and circling the station, 'would've been a dogfight just to get an airlock."
"You're not wrong." The commander responded, slinging her rather hefty bag over her shoulder, making sure she had everything within that she would need for her next command.
"Well, thank you for flying space-Frontier! We hope you have enjoyed your journey with us." The Andorian mockingly saluted.
"Oh, I don't know. The food was lousy and the service was dire!"
At this, the Andorian simply smiled. He waited for a moment, an intimate look in his eyes.
"I'm going to miss you, Commander Chandra." He finally said, almost sounding a little choked up.
Tenderly, Raksha looked at the young ensign, a warm and caring smile upon her face.
"You too, Til'rek. It's been a pleasure serving with you. Give the rest of the crew my best, and... tell them I'll see them again soon." She ended, getting up out of the seat and heading to the airlock door.
With a sigh, as she prepared to cross the threshold and leave her old life behind her as she entered a new, she crossed out into the station. The entire place was absolutely abuzz with Starfleet personnel, intermixed with the odd civilian and Klingon or Romulan dignitary here or there. The lobby of Docking Precinct A, vast as it was, with deafeningly loud with the clammer and chatter of so many people, all wondering where they were and what was going on.
With a great struggle, the woman was finally able to fight her way to an administrative desk, passing the large holodisplay which, in a bold and somewhat spartan font, displayed the words 'STARBASE BRAVO WELCOMES YOU TO THE OSIRIS INITIATIVE' along with an image of a rather scruffy looking Admiral whom Chandra could not quite place and did not exactly care to at this time.
She leaned over the large desk to speak up over the clamor to the woman overseeing check-in.
"Uh, Commander Raksha Chandra, formerly of the USS Frontier. I'm here for the conference." She almost shouted.
"Yes, of course." the young Bolian woman responded in a manner that suggested she had memorized her script and had planned on reciting the same few sentences at least a thousand times that day.
Pressing a few buttons on her holoterminal, she took the officer's PADD for a moment before handing it back to her.
"That’ll be everything you need for the conference, telling you the itinerary. At noon in the Main Conference Room, there’ll be an opening ceremony. You are encouraged to attend."
"Thank you,' Raksha could barely respond, 'where will I be staying?"
"You'll be in habitation section C. I’m sorry to say that rooms on the starbase are at a premium right now, so we ask that you politely share a room with another attendee." the Bolian answered.
'Oh, wonderful' Chandra thought sarcastically to herself.
"You'll be sharing with a Commander Jonas Flanigan. Please, do enjoy the conference."
At this, Chandra merely nodded with a mouthed 'thank you' as she headed towards the turbo-lifts.
This conference was chaos already, and it had only just begun. All Raksha wanted to do at this point was to find a bed and just be.
“Captain, we’re on our final approach to Starbase Bravo.” The Bajoran Ensign at the Helm announced, turning his head to face the Blonde Commanding Officer.
CeCe stood and took a couple steps forward. “ Signal Station Ops, I’ll be transporting over in a few minutes.” She placed her hands firmly on her hips.
“Aye.” Came the response from her plucky Bajoran helmsman.
The blonde haired Captain turned to face the First Officer. “Commander, the Hypatia is yours.”
The First Officer stood and nodded, before moving in front of the center seat to await the Captain’s departure from the Bridge.
CeCe took a look around the entirety of the Bridge quickly before departing for her Ready Room. The Office space was clean and organized, just how CeCe liked it. She strode towards her desk and retrieved a handful of PADDs as well as a rucksack and headed out the door into the Deck One corridor.
It occurred to her very suddenly that, since taking command of the Vesta Class ship, Captain Rhodes hadn’t been away from her for any extended period of time.
A small amount of sadness crept over the Captain as she entered the Transporter Room and ascended the steps to the pad. Nevertheless, Celia Rhodes stood tall and nodded her readiness to the Chief. “Energize.” She instructed. Within moments the warmth of the transporter bean enveloped her and she was swept off to Starbase Bravo.
Commodore Camilla Dougherty
Task Force Executive Officer, 86
Commodore Catherine Waldorf
Commanding Officer, USS Hypatia
Head of The Family, Stardust City
The Sundowner was a civilian ship, but his helmsman was from it, and Captain Will Fletcher discovered that the adventuresome Caitian had certainly grownup in a unique environment on his way to Starbase Bravo. Will spilled out of the Sundowner with at least a dozen Caitians who were also taking leave on the station while the Sundowner picked up cargo and got ready for the next leg of its trip. Will ran his hand through his brown hair that was ever so slightly turning grey. He gave a distant smile to the others passing him as he passed through the docking area and headed to his bunk.
[Docking Precinct A, Lounge Area]
Mei watched the traffic from the lounge area as the overworked staff was guiding in the various shuttles and coordinating with a small flotilla of capital ships and freighters. She couldn’t help but let out a bit of a sigh, spying various officers at or around her rank struggling through the lines of people and to get past the operations officers who tried to coordinate this entire thing. She had already been at this for days. She couldn’t time her travels just right to make it here right on the morning of the event. She had met her oldest daughter relatively nearby to pass off her younger twins so they didn’t have to stay on the ship without her – and they could spend some time with their older sister. But it meant she was in the area a little earlier than planned. She would end up eating up some leave time just for extra travel to and from the event, and back to Shanghai afterward. Still, they required her to come back down here to get everything set up for the actual event itself.
She didn’t mind too much, though. Being here early meant she at least got to do her morning routine before rejoining the crowds like someone who had just arrived – even if part of that routine had to be repacking her things in that old Starfleet duffle bag she had carried around for the past twenty years. It wasn’t some schadenfreude that she was enjoying, making her a bit more chipper than some of the frustrated officers around her. She just loved the different shuttles. Everyone, despite many being the same class, was a little different. Each had a different life, and she could tell the backgrounds of different pilots by the way they came into the bay. This was where she enjoyed being. She was always a pilot at heart, and with nowhere else that familiar to her and with the only faces she knew from vague encounters or wardroom meetings in the past, she couldn’t help but seek out the most comfortable spot. That would always be watching flights.
She sipped her tea again as the padd in her leg pocket chimed. It made her sit up quickly and set down the drink. The light blue screen displayed simple text – Incoming Transmission: Sun Cai. It took her no time to tap the answer button and see her young twins peering back at her. There was a hint of excitement on their faces as her picture appeared in front of them, and with a wide smile she gave a quick just over the background hustle and bustle, “Good morning you two! Giving your sister any trouble?”
The two jumped into their responses to their mother without hesitation – though both talked at her at the same time, each trying to outdo the other with volume as they thought they weren’t being heard over one another or the background noise. She caught little bits, “It’s night here, muqin,” was one phrase she caught, “Did she say we were in trouble?” was another, “I saw a lizard with wings,” and much more, each accented with an array of motion that sat somewhere between example and nerves. She just smiled and nodded along, picking up her tea and moving to a nearby replicator. She suspected their sister let them have more treats than she should have. “What have you been doing?” They both sort of asked at near the same time. One was likely mimicking the other, but it did give her an opening as she recycled the replicated tea and cup.
“Me? Getting ready for work, watching the shuttles come in and having some tea, and then find some other captains I’m going to be working with. I get to change rooms this morning since I was here early, which is fun,” She explained with a little bit of a pause as she waited for a tired officer to clear the way back away from, “But right now I have a little time to talk to you – what have you and Cai been up to?”
Again, the two launched into stories of their adventures with their older sister. It was nice to hear from them, and it took her mind off her nerves. This wasn’t exactly what she was used to as a Captain, and she would never understand why meetings like this flared her nerves more than commanding a ship. For a minute that morning, as she sat back down next to her bag, she was just happy to wait for whatever new bunk assignments came her way and listen to two rambling seven-year-olds.
Captain Sun Mei Xiang, CO - USS Shanghai, TF93
[Seven Days Ago]
[USS Odyssey NCC-80000]
Sat behind his desk, mulling over what he had just received, Captain James Preston McCallister called for his first officer to join him.
“Tea, English, white, hot.” He ordered the replicator that sat behind him. McCallister reached around and pulled the mug of tea out of the dispenser and took a sip of the hot beverage before placing it back down on his desk.
McCallister was in his late forties, only another three years and he would be hitting the big five-oh. That was something his wife reminded him often. She was over twice his age, being the baby El-Aurian that was born on the Enterprise-B, she had celebrated her centenary birthday only six years ago. As a result, if learnt quickly on in their marriage never to tease her about her age as she always took it as a compliment. Catching his reflection in the deactivated desktop screen, he wondered where his youthful looks had gone recently. Being a father and a starship captain, especially one of the Odyssey-class had aged him. His former blonde hair had become darker and silver highlights was now substituting his famed gold locks. Even though his hair had changed, he was happy that his blue eyes hadn’t faded in colour. Rubbing his stubble beard for a moment, the tall and slender man reached for his mug and took another mug.
He knew that his first officer would be a while, as she had been finishing off crew evaluations with their counsellor. Another report he would have to read at some point. With a crew of over two-thousand individuals, they had setup the performance management reviews so they were undertaken by department heads and then recommendations and concerns were sent up the chain of command. It was manageable. Just.
Getting up from behind his desk, McCallister stretched his shoulders back as he took more sips from his tea. The day only had begun and already he knew the news he had received from Starfleet Command Headquarters would change the ship’s current assignment. Walking around his glass desk, he made his way over to the large bay windows that curved down from the ceiling. The view of the ship being in orbit of Kovar Prime had become a common one. Over five years ago, Odyssey had been assigned to the area to assist the Federation world and its guardian (Deep Space 19) with the biggest plight in the area, dealing with refugees from the a neighbouring non-aligned state. It had been ravaged for years by the pandemic of an ancient civilisation’s virus that had killed a number of its citizens. The crew of the Immense-class starbase had found the cure through the use of modified Borg nanoprobes. However this race did not have the technology savvy and ability to reproduce the cure in mass quantities. It had been left to their former enemy to aide them, however by the time Starfleet had entered their space to assist their economy was ruined and their social and political turmoil had devastated what was left. Then when the news of Hobus broke followed by the attack on Mars, Starfleet’s policy on this blight that Odyssey was involved with swiftly changed. Instead of a decent size of ships to help, they had pulled back their resources to leave only a handful of ships. DS-19 had become the base of operations for relief efforts, while Odyssey led the six ships that had been left. The seven ships had banded together to keep themselves protected as not one could survive alone against the turmoil that was happening across the border. Raiders from the former military would attack their convoy often in the early days, but once they realised they were not an invading force and one of relief and help they ceased. Those early days seemed like ages ago now for James and his crew.
That all had come to an end today though. Starfleet had informed him and Captain Templeton (DS-19’s commanding officer) they were suspending their efforts for now and had ordered the relief force to return to the Kovar system for the time being. All of the ships were to receive repairs and refits at the Templar shipyards. Every single ship, except Odyssey. Odyssey had already been back in the Kovar system for several days now. They had been home for the funeral for a former flag officer that had passed away. Now all of that sadness was to be put aside as the ship was to be sent elsewhere.
The door chime went off and James just crossed his arms as he answered. “Come in.” He said with his thick English accent coming through.
Stepping through the threshold was his first officer, Commander Campbil Bexa. The Bajoran woman had served with him on the Luna-class ship, Triton. Originally she had joined him as his Gamma shift officer-of-the-watch after the two had worked together as lecturers at Starfleet Academy. She joined Odyssey as second officer and security chief when McCallister had been re-assigned. Over eight years ago she had succeeded James’ former first officer. Since then she had thrived in her new role. Bexa was an average sized woman with a slender figure. She kept her healthy through playing regular Bajoran Springball, something that she did with James on a fortnightly basis. Her relatively long hair, sat just below her shoulders. An efficient and caring officer; her friendly manner made her approachable and easy to get along with. Everyone on the crew loved her.
“Number One, tell the crew to make preparations to leave Kovar.” He ordered, still staring at the image of the Federation world before him.
Walking up to him and standing next to him, the two of them had developed a close relationship over the years that they could be quite comfortable and relaxed when it was just the two of them. “New orders I take it?” She asked. “Your scowl was evident all the way from the bridge.”
Trying to smirk, slightly, James returned to his desk as he fetched the orders he had from the admiralty. “Odyssey is to begin a patrol of the Romulan border.”
“The Romulan border? Which part?” Bexa asked as she followed the captain with her eyes.
Handing her a PADD with the information on it, James took his seat and crossed his left leg over and explained. “That will be made more apparent when you arrive.”
Looking from the device and back to her superior, the first officer was confused. “Are you not coming with us?” She assumed.
Shaking his head in answer, “No, I’m to head to the new Starbase Bravo to attend a meeting.”
Shrugging his shoulders, “Again, I have no idea until I arrive.”
[Four Days Ago]
Packing the last of his bags, James pushed the jumper further in and then zipped it up to prevent it from forcing the case to pop open.
“Is that the last one dad?” asked his twelve-year-old son Alfie.
From the personal confines of their parents’ bedroom, the McCallister boys had watched as their father packed his belongings into three bags for his trip. Alfie, who was the eldest of the triplets had remained almost still as he observed the scene before him. His brothers, Theodore and Henri, had assisted their father in grabbing hold of clothes and shoes he would need. Most of it was his uniform that he had packed along with a few other personal items.
Pausing to think, James was certain he had packed everything. “I’m certain that’s it.”
Alfie appeared disappointed at that response. “Oh, okay.” He whispered.
Walking over to his son, James lifted Alfie’s chin up with his index finger. “Hey bud, I’ll be back before you know it. It’s just same lame meeting I’ve got to attend.”
“Mum said it’s an important meeting.” Stated Theodore as he approached his brother. Even though all three boys were triplets, they were unidentical. They shared similar traits like James’ blue eyes but they all resembled different combined versions of their parents. Alfie had his father's blonde hair, while Theodore matched his mother's dark brown hair. Henri on the other hand had almost black hair, similar to James' brother Conrad.
Jumping over the king-size bed, Henri (the more rebellious one out of the three) plopped himself down next to Alfie and pulled him in with his arm and hugged him. “Don’t worry Alf, I asked Uncle Tobi to take us to the holodeck! He said we can do another chapter of Captain Proton!”
“There you see, you guys will be so busy in between going to school and having fun with everyone else, you won’t realise I’ve gone!” James said
"I suppose," Alfie said in a deflated tone.
Seeing how down Alfie was, James gestured for his three boys to give him a hug. Not needing a reason not to 'attack' their father, both Henri and Theodore jumped on him which then prompted Alfie to do the same. The three of them all bundled their father which ended up him landing on his back on the floor.
Walking into the scene before her, Commander Karyn Reyas rolled her eyes knowing that it would be a few more days, possibly a fortnight before the ‘men’ in her family were re-united again. Until then she would be dealing with the carnage herself. Standing at over one hundred and seventy-two centimetres, Odyssey’s chief science officer and second officer moved herself in to calm down the situation before someone started to scream or tears erupted.
“Come on boys, your father needs to get going.” She said in her stern motherly tone.
They all responded to their mother, none of them wanting to feel the wrath from her dark brown eyes. Getting off from their dad and standing up, they all gave him one more group hug (which he returned) and gave him his space to say his goodbye to his wife.
Kissing her softly, just like they did on their wedding day, they were interrupted by their sons calling out how gross they were at such an act or with Henri declaring he needed to see a counsellor for being scarred for life. Both parents just sniggered and held each other for a bit longer.
Pushing back her long brown hair, James smiled at his wife. “I’ll see you shortly.”
Nodding in agreement, “You will and you better not get too comfortable on that new starbase.”
Holding his hands up in defence, “I won’t!” He promised as he made his way out of their bedroom and into the main hallway that connected it to the other rooms in their house suite. Unlike other starships, quarters on the Odyssey were lavish for their senior staff. Having a big family, meant that the McCallister’s suite was huge. It had four bedrooms (all with en suite), a large living room, a dining room with attacked kitchen and two private offices for James and Karyn. James moved across their suite and towards the main door.
Standing there waiting for him was his yeoman and the ship’s chief of the boat, Senior Chief Petty Officer Tobias Court. Almost a decade younger than James, Tobias had become a trusted confidante ever since he joined with James on the Triton. James had taken Tobias under his wing and the two were close now like brothers. In some ways, Tobias reminded James of his own younger brother Horatio. Over the years, James had developed Tobias’ adventurous side and had taught him how to play velocity, to fence and spring ball. Due to their close relationship, it was a pleasant surprise when James and Karyn asked him to be the godfather to their three boys. As a result, ‘Uncle Tobi’ was coined first by Theodore when he was old enough to talk and string a full sentence together. Alfie and Henri soon followed. “Already sir?” Tobias asked, looking up from a PADD he was reading.
“Yeah, I think so.” James answered. “Is everything else in order here?”
“I believe it is. Commander Campbil is meeting with the senior staff shortly to go over the latest from Starfleet,” Tobias said as he passed over the PADD in his hand to his captain, “And here is your itinerary for your trip. It’s got a level ten clearance over the files marked for your immediate attention.”
“I’ll read it on the Invicta,” James said as he took the PADD and stuffed it in his backpack. “Can you get someone to beam all of my gear to the yacht please Tobias?”
“Consider it done.” He answered. “Anything else?”
“Good luck saving Doctor Chaotica from the Triplets of Terror!” James remarked deadpanned.
Both men laughed at the Captain Proton reference.
“Seriously though, I appreciate you helping Karyn out while I’m gone.” James said sincerely as held out his hand to his yeoman and pulled him in for a brotherly-like hug.
“Hey that’s what a godfather is for!” Tobias exclaimed.
As they let go of each other, Karyn shouted out to her husband. “Stop cheating on me with your younger man!”
Laughing more as James turned around to his wife and sons approaching him, he assured her there was no-one else he loved but her. “If I was truly cheating on you with him then he would be with me on the Invicta.” He said mentioning the name of his yacht as he kissed her one more time. “Don’t be jealous of our bromance my love.”
Rolling her eyes again, Karyn kissed her husband back and knocked his embrace off in a jovial manner. “Go on, get out of here already!” She kidded with him.
“I’m going, I’m going!” James protested as he said his final goodbyes and left his home heading to his captain’s yacht.
Moments later he was sat in his cockpit, similar in design as most runabouts, the Invicta was purposely designed for the captain’s own private use. Rarely had he used it since taking command of the Odyssey. His first officer’s voice came over the channel saying he was clear to depart after they dropped out of slip-stream flight. The Invicta departed from the underbelly of the primary hull and came to life as it sped off. Bringing the warp engines to life, Captain McCallister plotted a course to the Betazoid colony on Mellstoxx Three to attend the Osiris Initiative conference. Behind him, the ship he left turned around and resumed its journey through its slipstream drive.
[Day 1: 0730]
[Invicta to Docking Precinct A, Starbase Bravo]
Entering the Mellstoxx system, the home to his Betazoid chief engineer, James took his small ship out of warp and slow her down to impulse. Straight away he was picked up by Starbase Bravo’s sensor grid and he identified himself in response. Cleared to proceed, the captain flew his yacht towards the docking port he had been ordered to go through.
Eventually he landed his craft on a pad that descended into a large bay area. Once it was safe to depart from his craft, he shut down all of its systems and placed it on a lockdown to prevent anyone from stealing it. Not that would happen, but he wasn’t prepared to call the Odyssey and tell his crew he had lost his yacht. With his backpack on, he moved through the docking port and eventually joined a queue of other officers, most of them wearing command red, who were being processed on where to go.
When it was his turn, he was told by the quite bored and frustrated administrator to take his information package and proceed to finding a ‘bunkmate’. The tone of her voice was not friendly at all, especially to a superior officer but he wasn’t the only other officer she had spoken to in that tone. Tough day, he considered as he moved through the crowd and onto the station properly.
For a moment, he wondered where he would start to find a place to stay. If not, he was considering returning to the Invicta. He started to miss his suite on Odyssey now. __
[USS Cardinal Bridge]
The doors in front of Anna opened with their customary swish. The bridge of the Cardinal was far less busy than the bridge on the Hyperion, which was a welcome break at this point. The CO of the Cardinal, a rather handsome Trill Commander named Broz, had invited her up here to view their arrival at Starbase Bravo. For most of the trip she had been taken to relaxing in her quarters without being interrupted every 7 minutes for one thing or another. She enjoyed her job as Starfleet captain, in fact she had resisted several attempts to pull her out of the chair and into Starfleet Command after the Hyperion had made an, admittedly small, name for itself over the last 11 years. She never wanted to get shoehorned behind some desk; there was real work to out here and captaining a Sovereign Class vessel was too powerful a tool to give up. Starfleet may have changed in the last 10 or 15 years, but she hadn't. There was still good to do out here and she intended to be on the front lines of it.
Commander Broz flashed her a grin as she stepped on the Nebula Class ship's bridge. "Good morning Captain! We're about to drop out of warp and I thought you might want to see our first view of Starbase Bravo. It should be quite the sight."
She returned the smile and moved over to stand next to his chair. "Thank you, Commander. Thank you for the ride as well, with the Hyperion in dock I was thinking I'd have to make the trip in a Type 9 shuttle." The timing of the conference had been rather fortuitous. The Hyperion was scheduled for it 'D' Level Check at McKinley Station and that was a process that would take weeks. While her crew enjoyed shore leave, she would be away from it all.
Commander Broz chuckled. "Well, the pleasure is all ours. I am afraid that the Cardinal does not have as much to offer as the Hyperion. Only a few holodocks, one lounge, small quarters, and we don't even have a fancy Slipstream Drive....."
Anna held up her right hand, cutting the other man off. "The less said about that damned Slipstream Drive the better. Be glad they never out one on this ship. Besides, the Cardinal is more than comfortable in every way. She may not be the size of a Sovereign but, well, size isn't everything."
Anna heard one of the junior officer stifle a snort. Broz shot her a wicked smile. "I'm going to let that one go, especially since I am sure my husband would quickly get word of any comment I made." The Trill shot the Bajoran women at the science station a mischievous glance.
The ease at which the crew communicated and their comradery pulled at Anna's heart just a bit. She missed her crew. Over the last 10 years they had grown quite close and she realized she hand't been away from her ship and crew for this long in many years.
The Ensign at conn pulled her out of her thoughts. "Approaching Starbase Bravo, dropping out of warp now."
The viewscreen switched from the streak of stars to a picture of the massive Starbase and dozens of ships in orbit. Broz whistled as his eye widened. "Well, I'm glad we're just dropping you off. I would not want to have to dock in that mess." He turned to his ops officer. "Please tell me we don't have to dock in that mess just to drop Captain Caldwell off."
The Lieutenant shook his head. "I don't think so. There is a beam in protocol, it's just a mess right now. I'll have permission sorted out shortly."
Anna sighed softly. "Well then, permission to disembark, Commander Borez?"
The man nodded. "Of course Captain. And Captain? Do some good out there, would you please? If this conference is some new, grand, thing Stafleet had dreamed up then...well, I think we all could do with some good news."
Anna gave the man a sincere smile and placed her hand on his shoulder. "So long as you promise to do the same, Commander. You have a good crew and a fine ship. Go out there and do good; we need it." He gave her a nod in reply and she tapped her commbadge. "Caldwell to Bastel, report to transporter room 1. We've arrived."
"Aye ma'am" came the all to chipper voice of her yeoman.
The two had meet once she arrived on the deck and he had been filling her in on some of the finer details as they made their way to the transporter room.
"....they had expected you to berth with another officer but I squashed that quickly and made it clear you needed your own space."
Anna stopped in her tracks. "Spencer, you've been my Yeoman for 11 years so you know I say this will love but, what the hell?"
The man, to his credit, was unfazed. He was incredibly good at this job, sometimes taking on matters that were beyond his job, but he often took things a tad to far. He certainly suffered from a case of 'my Captain is more important than yours, so be quiet' and while he meant well, she had worked hard to get him out of that habit and it had worked. Mostly.
"You command a Sovereign Class vessel and have been a starship Captain for nearly 20 years. That carries with it a level of respect and the perks that come with it. They didn't mind that much anyway, they have plenty of space. "
Anna rubbed her eyes and sighed. "I appreciate you trying to keep my interests at heart, but that wasn't needed. I have bunked with other officers before, it's no big deal. The last thing I want is some Fleet Admiral getting wind of 'my' 'demands' and thinking I'm some stuck up Federation council member. Next time, just do as they ask."
The man seemed to bristle at that but nodded. "Aye ma'am. I have handled your overall check in so you can skip that part of the process. You will still have to give the biometiric verification that you are who you say you are but that can be handled in your quarters. Hopefully the process works well as there are classified documents for waiting for you, however, the line to check in could easily be over 45 minutes and that is just a no right there. They seemed rather happy about the fact I asked to have you remotely check in considering the volume of officers that are coming though, but I'm not sure they had a great plan for it so we shall see ma'am."
Anna sighed as they walked into the transporter room and stepped onto the pad. The man was very good at this job, be he could certainly use a lesson in humility. She'd tried over the last several years but she clearly had more work to do. "Very well." She looked at the crewman behind the controls. "Are we clear to beam over?"
He nodded. "Yes ma'am."
She looked over at her Yeoman. "Just remember Spencer, behave yourself around the Fleet Admirals or I'll have to start looking for a husband for you. Again. Energize crewman."
Her Yeoman's eyes widened in slight horror at the memories of the last time the Captain tried to find him a date to 'take his mind off work and finally relax'. "Yes ma'am. Understood."
Anna grinned. "Good."
With a hum and blue shimmer, the transporter took the two away to the the always busy arrival bays of Starbase Bravo
Captain Anna Caldwell
Commander, USS Hyperion
Stepping out of the Type 7 shuttle's rear hold, the fifty-one year old former officer surveyed the scene before him. It was one described, at best, as organized chaos. Throughout the cavernous Docking Precinct A, Captains, Commanders and support personnel, a sea of red interspersed with flairs of yellow and teal, disembarked from shuttles, queued up to check in and otherwise milled about. He hadn’t been among this many Starfleet officers in an official capacity since the day he was acquitted a decade ago.
Dressed in black cargo pants and a grey thermal, he was clearly the odd man out. Nonetheless, he strode down the gangway with a brisk, military-like gait and approached a registration desk where an Ensign had just finished checking in a pair of Commanders with way too much luggage for the short stay. Fair weather officers, he thought to himself as the two walked away. They weren't about to start roughing it now.
"Next," the Ensign asked from behind the desk without looking up.
"Lewis, Jacob Daniel,” he declared. An awkward silence followed, the administrator waiting for him to offer a rank or assignment, but he had neither.
After a moment, the Ensign looked up. "Oh, I'm sorry, but this is a Fleet check in only. Press should report to Precinct C, and civilian auxiliaries to..."
"Then I'm in the right place," Lewis asserted in a firm tone. "Just get me checked in, Ensign. I've got things to do." His expression made it clear this wasn’t a discussion and that he expected it done on the double.
The Ensign, doubtful but unwilling to argue with the imposing man without confirmation from the computer that he was in the wrong place, quickly keyed in the man's name to his holographic display. To his surprise, the system spit back a registration. The guy was apparently in the right place. Mr. Jake Lewis, listed as Fourth Fleet staff but a civilian devoid of any affiliation or assignment with the Fleet since 2389. The oddest part of the registration though was who had issued the invite, and it put a stop to any further questions the Ensign might have.
"Here you are, Mr. Lewis," the Ensign said as he slid a PADD and a temporary security badge across the desk. "This PADD contains your welcome packet, itinerary, and information about Starbase Bravo, and this badge should be worn at all times while you’re here. The festivities begin at noon with an Opening Ceremony in the main conference room, which you are encouraged to attend." Lewis slapped the badge on his chest and tucked the PADD away in his bag without so much as glancing at it.
"In case you were not already briefed, on account of everyone arriving for the festivities, space is at a premium, and we're asking attendees to double up in shared quarters," the Ensign added. "Do you happen to have a colleague you're willing to share with? Or would you like us to pair you with someone?"
"Really? They invite us all out here for this circus and then forget to arrange enough rooms?" Lewis scoffed sarcastically. "Since she's the one that dragged my ass out here, tell Admiral Reyes that I'll be bunking with her." The way he said it with a stone cold stare, the former Commander looked dead serious about the ludicrous idea, but the Ensign also knew there was no way he’d be telling a Fleet Admiral she’d be sharing a room with anyone, let alone this guy.
After a few moments of the Ensign looking as though he was about to vomit, Lewis' face transformed from stone cold to a warm smile. "I'm just joking, kid," he laughed. "Don't worry about finding me a bunkmate. I'm sure there's an unoccupied bulkhead below deck where I can catch some Z's."
Without another word, Lewis spun on his heels and headed for an exit with a quick, deliberate stride, leaving the Ensign standing there looking dumbfounded by the strange exchange. Didn’t that guy need quarters arranged? In reality, as much as Lewis had slept in places far less comfortable than a bulkhead, he'd probably just spend a few credits on a nice room at the starbase's ritzy civilian hotel. Ten years running private operations meant price wasn't really a concern, and it'd give him some space from all the idealistic young Fleeters.
Fleet Admiral Allison Reyes
Commanding Officer, USS Polaris, Task Force 93
Director, Advanced Science, Technology & Research Activity (ASTRA)
Captain Gérard Devreux
Executive Officer, USS Polaris, Task Force 93
Commander Jake Lewis
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Polaris, Task Force 93
Onboard the runabout Hanphear, the alarm for dropping out of warp was quite different to the normal wake-up alarm, and it jerked Jufv tr'Caemin out of his slumber with an unpleasant start. Unaccustomed to such harsh alerts, it took Jufv a good few seconds to orientate himself before drowsily pushing himself out of his bunk. It really didn't matter how much time he'd spent in Starfleet; Jufv despised being awoken suddenly. He loved being a physicist for many reasons, most particularly because of the lack of excitement, but as he shuffled to the runabout's tiny bathroom, he mused that he'd have to get used to such irritants. Starship captains, even lowly ones like him,
A quick sonic shower later, the uniformed Romulan made his way to the runabout's small cockpit. The immense starbase was conspicuous in the viewport, but what caught Jufv's attention was the considerable number of starships, freighters, shuttles and other space traffic visible nearby. Curious, he checked sensors and his eyes widened: there was a lot of space traffic, more than he'd seen in decades. The starships Odyssey, Cardinal, Hypathia, Tricerdonia, Frontier, Excelsior and many more besides. It was a thoroughly intimidating sight. The sheer number of starship captains and admirals present was dizzying, as was the apparent importance of the Osiris Conference. Jufv's shoulders sagged at the realisation. He'd hoped for a short event, a simple and practical affair, but with this many captains present, that surely meant meetings and briefings.
Lots and lots and lots of meetings and briefings.
Two hours later, the runabout finally set down in one of the starbase's vast docking bays. Carrying a duffel bag with one hand and an ornate sheathed sword with the other, Jufv stepped out of the runabout, glancing around before settling on the the young ensign waiting outside the craft. The Tellarite, PADD in hand, smiled politely, her snout-like noise twitching.
"Lieutenant Commander," she said brightly, showing all the enthusiasm and eagerness of a fresh Academy graduate. "Welcome to Starbase Bravo, sir! Starbase habitation facilities are still under construction, so I'm afraid that you'll have to share quarters. Who are you assigned to, sir?"
Distracted the busy hub-bub of the docking bay as shuttles launched and landed, Jufv was confused. "Assigned to?"
"Yes sir!" the ensign said, her enthusiasm undimmed. "Which captain, sir? Or are you assigned to a flag officer? I don't see you on the list of aides."
Feeling profoundly awkward, if still amused, Jufv's grin grew slowly. "I actually am a starship captain...just without a starship. I am on the Captain's List. I think. Probably. Am I? This will be a very awkward visit if I''m not."
The ensign blinked, glancing down to her list and hurriedly tapping away on it before finding what she was looking for. "Oh...yes sir! There you are! Urgh...I'm sorry, it's just your rank, and, uh..."
His grin widening, Jufv cut her off. "Relax, Ensign. I was surprised too when I got the news. Let's get the paperwork for the runabout done, okay?" Still, as he ran through the routine document with the young Tellarite, Jufv mused that this would hardly be the first time he'd encounter such an awkward situation. Regardless of what Starfleet said, he certainly didn't feel like a captain, and he doubted that he'd feel like one until he set foot on his very own starship...and probably not even then.
Nevertheless, after bidding farewell to the ensign and heading down the corridor, Jufv began seeing four-pip captains and admirals in the corridor and he forced himself to stand straighter. It was true: even when Starfleet decided which ship to send him to, it wasn't going to be a ship of the line. Career scientists warranted only the smallest and least capable starships, the kind only sent on the lowest priority assignments worthy of a mere lieutenant commander. Even so it didn't matter, because Jufv was a captain, and he deserved to stand with everyone else; believing anything less of himself was simply foolhardly.
Lieutenant Commander Jufv tr'Caemin
Task Force 72