Missions - Favor the Bold

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Reassignment

Location: USS Helin, in orbit of Earth.
On: Day 1 at 0000

OOC: not sure as to Day and Time, so leaving it as default.

Chaol Westfall had just slashed his test blade down on his opponent, between the neck and shoulder, after he dodged the swiping swing. "Gah!" Ensign Trev grunted as his free hand went to the test blade impacted.

"You need to not put all your energy into a single action. Combat is about adapting." Chaol explained as he stepped back and gave a bow. The lesson was at an end and he had bridge duty.

"Yes sir," at this point most of Chaol's students stopped promising to do better as it took time so Trev mimicked the bow and returned the weapon to the rack before entering the change/locker room.

Chaol did the same and after a shower followed by a fresh uniform made his way to the Bridge.

"Lieutenant Westfall," a voice from behind called.

He turned around to find Captain Jessica Angel said with a smile. She was one of the various aides to Rear Admiral T'var. He saluted immediately and nodded. "Yes Captain."

"I have just been informed you are transferred to a new assignment, it's details is classified so I do not know the why, where, what and how but I can tell you the when." Jessica said, she gestured for him to accompany her to the transporter room. "Effective immediately, you are to meet your new commanding officer on Starbase 1. Details on this padd however it is locked by your security code."

"Interesting, well thank you," Chaol said with a smile. "You know I like being told where to go because I'm never sure what I want to do with my career."

"Indeed," Jessica rolled her eyes. "You'd never take the command exam or accept a command unless it was an order."

"Yup, who wants that noise," he said with a chuckle. "Just want a simple shoot and ask questions later when ordered to do so type of life."

Jessica stopped and eyed him before the two laughed. "I think that sums you up nicely Lieutenant. Anyway your record has attracted attention from other areas of Command and ordered to report to follow the instructions on that padd."

"Thank you for everything Captain," he smiled at her, for Jessica had always looked out for his best interests when he had come to her defense back at Starfleet Academy and it looked like less than desirable cadets wanted to do, what Chaol didn't know and preferred not to know but stepped in a young, strong and somewhat fearless first year cadet to protect a fourth year cadet.

Let's just say it was what made him go into Tactical and Navigation but pushed for Security as well. The academy had let him after much begging, he laughed softly at the memory as he accepted the padd. "Will you be able to keep an eye on me during this new assignment Captain?" Chaol asked, a little apprehensive for he had liked a powerful ally in Command but when it came to classified stuff Jessica may not be able to 'guardian angel' him.

It always amused her when he had called her that the first time after she helped him from losing his career back on the USS Hood, and many times after that. "Lieutenant, I..." Jessica said some apprehension of her own. "Don't know. I will have to ask Admiral T'var. I have a feeling that we may not be able to though so you will need to begin looking out for yourself, Chaos, and I mean quickly." She said with a wide grin.

"I am sorry I put you and the Admiral through so much but I have learned a lot from both of you, my angel." Chaol said with so much gratitude and 'love' and now that the thought occurred to him how much he'll miss her 'guiding' him.

The nickname Chaol earned when both Jessica and T'var had so many reports from various officers that were Chaol's superior complaining about him in various ways. Most were his lack of ambition or constant outshining them in all things but often coupled with the lack of ambition. It made his immediate superiors nervous and often they eventually either attempt to get him reassigned or demoted. Usually Jessica would get a copy of the reports as she had access to his record and consult with the ship's exec about the reports. The two usually agreed that nothing warranted the jealous officers recommendations and life carried on.

Jessica blinked hard as tears began to form. "Oh Chaol you big oaf." The two hugged and they walked the rest of the way to the transporter and were sent to Earth's surface.

Chaol had already said his farewell to those onboard the Helin upon hearing that he was reassigned and the Helin was ordered to deliver him to Earth. So there had been tearful going away parties most of that time.

"I'll let you know," Jessica said as the two parted ways in the transporter room 1 at Starfleet Command's lobby. Chaol requested that the operator send him to Starbase 1 and Jessica had already arranged for his stuff to be sent to the starbase prior to her seeking him onboard Helin.

He made his way to where the padd told him to meet with his new CO, though he was an Assistant Chief Weapons/Tactical Officer so it could be possible this new assignment could land him a promotion, in position not necessarily in rank which he didn't really care about.

Mission Synopsis

Location: Utopia-3
On: Day 200 at 0100



Hidden away on the far side of Mars, Utopia-3 is home to a classified construction project that only senior officers in Starfleet have been briefed on. The vessel is in the final phase of its construction, a name has been chosen and a commanding officer assigned to lead the final stages of this 'Project Ulysses'.

As construction enters the final stages, Captain Tharia sh'Elas, one of the fleets rising stars, assembles the final pieces of her staff jigsaw puzzle and prepares to take the Ulysses on her shakedown cruise to test out a number of technological enhancements. The ship is soon rushed into service when she receives orders from Starfleet Command to launch a covert investigation relating to the sudden disappearance of the Starship Leviathan in a remote sector...

Guess Risa is out of the question then...

Location: Messhall, USS Adriatic
On: Day 200 at 0450

RISA.

The most popular pleasure planet and tourist destination in the Federation had long since been Commander Tharia sh'Elas' vacation hot spot whenever she had shore leave and this time would be no different. Or at least, it wouldn’t have been if the Risian government hadn’t decided to commence a large overhaul of the planet’s aging weather control system.

The network, which had been installed nearly two hundred years ago, would be slowly upgraded with new computer hardware, atmospheric control systems, seismic regulators and energy collectors, and security upgrades over the coming months.

Before the installation of its weather control system, Risa was a wet and humid planet; rain and hurricanes were common, as well as frequent earthquakes. The indigenous Risian population mostly lived in small communities, sometimes in caves or underground to avoid the elements. Due to its high tectonic activity, Risa’s landmasses had been broken into ten small continents dispersed along the equator, with two large oceans in the northern and southern hemispheres. These large bodies of water, coupled with the planet’s tilt caused temperature differences in the ocean, forming large and powerful hurricanes, a major driving force of the planet’s rainfall.

But, during one of the upgrades something had gone wrong and seismic activity had significantly increased, meaning that tourists had been denied the right to visit. Thus, Tharia sh'Elas remained on the USS Adriatic, sipping a synthahol in the ships lounge and reading about the upgrades instead of experiencing them first hand.

Officials had responded to concerns over how the failure of the upgrade would affect the planet’s vital tourism industry.

“We don’t want visitors to our world to be inconvenienced by the upgrade any more than is necessary. Once the quakes have subsided and we have the system under control once again, all holiday packages will be honoured in full,” said Jennale Nasbri, Chief Administrator of Risian Weather Control. This had given the Commander some hope at least. Maybe she would get to Risa eventually?

Nasbri had explained that the upgrade had been scheduled in such a way as to affect only one portion of one continent at a time, in order to minimize the effect of Risa’s natural, chaotic weather system on the population but a problem with the system had caused six of the continents to experience several significant seismic tremors in recent days. She admitted that this would greatly extend the time it would take to complete the upgrades.

Watching a small video message on the console screen before her, the frustrated first officer let out a sigh. “We are actually promoting the effects the weather control upgrade is going to have,” said Bremar Forhal, head of the Risian Tourism Board. “By advertising the unique climate conditions not normally experienced in public areas of Risa, we have seen a 47% increase in reservations over the next eight months. Such attractions include aerial flights above hurricanes and surfing competitions to take advantage of increased ocean waves,” Forhal explained.

Aria let out a smirk and nodded slowly in approval, her antannae bobbing atop her head as she watched. “Aerial flights above a hurricane. That’s a flight risk I’d like to take…” she mused, her thoughts harking back to her days as a trainee Helm officer. She’d been in many a sticky spot in her time and, perhaps piloting in the Federation-Klingon war of the 2250's had not been easy, but flying above a hurricane wouldn’t be either, and perhaps it would be a great opportunity for her to get behind the controls of a craft again? It had been so long!

She had become lost in her thoughts when she was eventually dragged back to the here and now by the sound of the ship’s communications array. “=/\=Commander sh'Elas report to the bridge immediately.” She let out a sigh, took a final sip of her beverage and made for the Constitution-class ships command facility.

Just a few minutes later, the turbo lift deposited the diminutive officer onto the bridge, where she looked out of place surrounded by officers in their smart uniforms whilst she wore her jeans and cream coloured tank top. Standing behind the commanding officers chair, she looked down at the Navigation Officer.

“Ah, Commander!” the Caitian Lieutenant Commander grinned with his trademark toothy grin. “We’ve received a transmission from Admiral Marshall-Bennet that I think you should see,” Lieutenant Commander Zarl revealed as he looked up at the ships First Officer.

Aria nodded and tapped on the rail surrounding the command pit, before ordering the communications officer to pull up the transmission long enough for her to read it. She was surprised by its content, but not surprised that it meant that she would not be getting to Risa after all. “Wake the Captain and let him know of our new orders. Set a course for Spacedock, warp four. I’m going to go and get changed. When I get back,” she paused dramatically for effect before smirking at her first officer, “we’ll talk about how you lost seventeen bars of gold pressed latinum to a Tellarite in last nights poker game,” she grinned at the Caitian.

“Wha? Why?” Zarl look flustered as he threw his arms in the air in protest.

“Because I am the unluckiest sole alive and NEVER win anything, so for you to lose to me is a miracle!” Lieutenant Elam Gar laughed from the Science station as he turned to look at his two superiors.

With that, Tharia disappeared into the turbo lift from whence she came and directed it to her quarters where she would get changed in to her more formal attire. Whilst she did so, she'd spend some time contemplating the reasons behind the Admiral's decision to recall the Adriatic to Earth just two weeks after she had left.

Peculiar indeed. Very peculiar indeed.

Project Ulysses

Location: Somewhere Near Mars
On: Day 203 at 1315

The starship Adriatic had arrived back at Spacedock almost six hours ago, the Constitution-class starship docking at the station and her crew getting some unexpected shoreleave. Unexpected since they had only left the station in orbit of Earth a matter of weeks ago. No one had expected to be back anytime soon, but when Admiral Judith Marshall-Bennett called, you listened; or in this case, you returned to the capital of the entire Federation.

Commander sh’Elas had followed the additional orders that had come through and had beamed to a set of co-ordinates given to her. Upon materialising at an unknown location, the Andorian found herself trying to investigate, only to be stopped in her tracks by two security officers who were guarding the exit; clearly she was meant to stay put until her escort arrived. So far, she had been able to ascertain a few facts. One, she had arrived in a transporter bay which looked out into space. Two, from what she could tell, they were near Mars. Three, the Admiral liked to keep people waiting.

Whilst the blue-skinned, white-haired stood with her hands bracing both sides of the window frame, the sound of the door opening drew her attention back into the room and she turned around just in time to see the much older Terran woman enter.

“Commander,” Judith smiled with a polite nod, “apologies for keeping you waiting. I had to give your Captain his new orders,” the pink-skin informed as she gestured for the Andorian to follow.

“Orders, ma’am?” sh’Elas queried as she quickly fell into step beside the age-old veteran of the fleet. “Can I ask what we will be doing?” She queried, her antenna bobbing away freely atop her lush, white locks.

“The Adriatic is joining the relief task force that will be headed to Praxis,” Marshall-Bennett revealed before quickly adding, “but you will not be joining them.” She watched the Andorian with interest as the junior officer stopped in her tracks.

“I don’t understand…” Tharia began before being stopped by the Admiral.

“You’ve been reassigned,” she told, then corrected herself, “well actually, you’ve been promoted. We’ve decided that it’s time for you to stand on your own two feet. You’re ready to sit in the big chair,” the Admiral added with pride as they began to walk the corridor again. “We’re assigning you to Project Ulysses,” the Admiral declared as they came to a stop outside a locked door.

All the while, the Andorian Commander looked perplexed. Although she was grateful for the promotion and the confidence shown in her, she was perplexed at the ambiguity surrounding this ‘Project Ulysses’ the Admiral had mentioned.

“Do you know where we are, Commander?” Marshall-Bennett eventually asked after inputting the code to open the door behind her.

“Judging from what I saw,” the Commander paused whilst she thought for a moment, “I’d guess we are somewhere above Mars? At the Planitia?” she responded.

“You would guess correctly,” the Admiral nodded in acknowledgement. “What you are about to see is top secret,” she warned the Andorian before leading the younger woman into the room.

Together, they wandered over to the window at the far side of the room. As the Andorian caught sight of something outside the window, the Admiral grinned.

“Welcome to Project Ulysses…”

Four Years Together

Location: Vulcan
On: Day 210 at 1600

“This has been an agreeable four years together.” Sovak raised his champagne flute towards his partner, the statement almost sounding slightly above his usual monotone self.

Caz grinned and raised his own, tapping the edge of Sovak’s glass lightly, “I love you too old man.” This caused Sovak to raise an eyebrow in a most vulcan like way.

“I am only sixty eight years old. That is not old in Vulcan years.” The Vulcan Captain retorted in his usual fashion.

The two Starfleet officers were currently sharing a meal on the precipice of Sovak’s family estate on Vulcan, celebrating three weeks leave together and their four year anniversary as partners and lovers. The first two weeks they had spent on Risa, enjoying the many pleasures available there, well Caz more so than Sovak.

“Are you looking forward to your return to the Halifax?” Sovak asked before he took a fork full of his garden salad.

“You’re kidding?” Caz gave the Vulcan a serious look. “This has been the most wonderful time together. We have not had this much time together since I was on the Oberth.” It was true. The two had seen each other on shorter leaves but certainly not for longer than three weeks length in years.

“I did not mean to offend you.” Sovak’s response was sterile sounding.

“You did not offend me Sov.” Caz leaned back and sipped on the champaigne. There were times that dating a Vulcan could raise your blood pressure, he had come to accept this long ago.

“Do you know where the Oberth is headed after we are done leave yet?” Caz asked, starting in on his own salad.

“I have not heard anything from command yet. The refit is due to be finished in another few weeks, if things remain on schedule.” Sovak was pleased that his vessel was receiving some needed upgrades, especially to the sensory arrays.

“Do I really have to go to your family event?” Caz decided now was as good as any to bring up Sovak’s family gathering.

“My grandmother is retiring from the Vulcan Science academy. My family members would find it unusual if you were not there with me.” Sovak replied, in a light manner.

“Your family hates me Sov. I am sure they would love if I wasn’t there.” Caz did feel that way. He was certain Sovak’s family did not approve of him being with an ‘outsider’, a non-vulcan. Times may have progressed some on Vulcan, but some of Sovak’s family were traditionalists and made it very apparent to Caz.

“My family do not dislike you Caz…” Before Sovak could continue, one of the estate attendants presented themselves.

“My apologies for interrupting. There is a communication from Starfleet Command inbound for Lieutenant Commander Atherton’s attention.” The young appearing Vulcan female lowered her head slightly in respect.

Caz looked at Sovak, his face seeming blank for a moment. He had no idea what it could be, other than orders to return to the Halifax. “I better go see what it is. We will continue this conversation when I get back.”

The human-orion half breed could swear, for a moment, he saw a visible look of relief on his lover’s face. Within a few moments he was at a communications terminal within the house. Caz entered in his security codes and a message with brief but clear orders appearned.

The screen read “Report to Starbase One in twenty-two days for further orders regarding Project Ulysses. Do not discuss these orders with anyone. Leave may continue as approved.”

“Well…. That is certainly cryptic…” Caz raised his own brow and closed the screen down.

Red Planet to Red Planet

Starring: Lieutenant Ovik
Location: Vulcan, Sol
On: Day 230 at 1115

The dust storm had just settled from the few days prior, and the cool morning air was sweeping away the last bits of sand and dirt left on the patio of the homestead in the mountains. It was a safe haven, not just against storms, but for the family and Ovik himself.

"And you can't even tell us where?" Ovik's father, Grovik, was concerned.

Ovik shook his head. "Father, I've told what I can already. Earth, Sol. That's all I know. Final orders won't be provided until I get to Spacedock."

"You sure it's not that fight you got in so long ago?" His mother was also obviously concerned. "I mean it could--"

"No," said Ovik. Truth is he didn't know for sure. But he had a feeling this vague invitation was something good, something unique. Working back into the good graces of Starfleet may have paid off. "I am sure things will be fine." He kind of snapped, his emotions bearing themselves at home like usual.

The Vulcan looked back at his parents. "Listen mother, father. I will contact you as soon as I can. I promise. When have I not done that?"

He was right, and the two nodded, putting their hands on his shoulder, bowing their heads. There was a chant led by his father, and Ovik bowed his head in turn, accepting the blessing from their traditions. A familiar warmth flowed over him.

"I must go. The storms have put me behind a day." He would still be there with plenty of time, but he wanted to get to Sol early. "Rom-halan [farewell]", he said, hold up his hand in the well-known V symbol.

Sol System, Day 232

Ovik takes a deep breath as he wakes up well rested, a chime alerting him to their arrival in the Sol system. The cargo vessel shuttles the lot of these transfers towards Earth. Ovik prepares himself in his maroon uniform with green Security linings, and packs his ruck sack, heading to the docking bay.

He looks out and notices that there are several officers and enlisted alike transferring off the ship, but they are dropped at a separate docking port. Not too much later, with patience almost getting the best of him, the next docking bay came into view and he and just a couple others got off there.

Ovik looked around and went to sign into a console nearby. There was a message from his parents of course, and he wrote back quickly that he had arrived at Spacedock. And then there was an encrypted message waiting for him. He leaned in closer and opened it up.

'Level 14, Office 12, 1 hour.'


This was all it said. The Vulcan furled his brow, his ears tweaking a tiny bit. "Intriguing." He did not hesitate and went there immediately. It was slower down on the 12th level, but he made sure to take in a few views on his way there.

~"Well, this is it,"~ he thought to himself, waiting at the door a bit before he was due.

Green to Red

Location: Ithemba Station, in Uranian Orbit
On: Day 231 at 0955

The bong was a gentle, round sound- very pleasant to the ear, melodic. And again. And again.

Milky caramel arms, reedy but strong, hugged the stark white of a pillow beneath them. For Fyn Wihone there was warmth and softness, eyelids flickering and flexing: deep and indulgent, he was in dream as a fourth bong flexed them. Fyn ground his hips into the mattress as the first sleep paralysis began to break. He was... floating... his forearms flexed as in his mindscape he was pushing along a zero-gravity corridor.

A fifth bong. Brown eyes fluttered open and closed in bedroom soft grogginess. He squeezed his pillow and rubbed his nose bridge into luxuriant soft and warm. A sixth sound. Bong. Fyn's smile turned from a puppyish curl to the grim line of realization. When Fyn smiled, the bow of his lips forced a show of teeth. The flood of images returned: a party at the Court of Oberon club... he and seven others. There was dom-jot and... Fyn remembered losing? He remembered sitting in a booth while two of the girls he normally compiled reports with with flirted and made out.

Bong number seven. Full reality. Fyn jerked up and twisted. He palmed the socket of his eye, his frizzy head matted down on one side whipped around. The dim yellow-white light of Sol crept in his bedroom, with the same intensity as a pleasant reading light, but the vast majority of one side of his window was the creamy jade pearl of Uranus. Its light cast green and blue across his shared Enlisted quarters. As always, the quaking hollow of not remembering where you are slapped sleep out of Fyn's mind. He looked around at the bland Federation decor. Bong number eight.

Fyn looked at his alarm: 0953. Fyn's eyes filled with panic. He threw white sheets off his light brown body. His brows flexed against his nasal ridge, squinting. His lips trembled and he nibbled. "Ilaahay ha ku dhaco! Mar danbe ayaan ahay! Qalabka digniinta ah!!" He shout-grumbled in his native Farian." Fyn pivoted on his hip, was off the bed and his bare backside scampered into the bathroom.

Fyn fumbled at the washbin open button and scraped his hands into it before it'd fully opened. He splashed cold water on his face and toweled it off. "Kembuy-" he started, "No- Cuh-Computer. One coffee, black, strong, unsweet." The computer chirped at him, he waved a hand, frustrated, "I-I mean... not sweet, what... ever the cuh-command is." It chirped again. He shook his head, hissing words as he tried to fluff his curls on the side of his head where he slept. He shook his head, knowing they'd rise on their own; he abandoned them for deodorant and a quick mouth rinse.

"Saxa..." he whispered, his eyes squinting their chastisement when he ventured out and searched the ground for his uniform jumpsuit. He grabbed itand shoved feet and legs into them, the rest a sort of deflated skin behind him. Looking up, he buckled up as curses hissed past his lips again: "Saxa, saxa, saxa..." Fyn found the white of his under-shirt, smelled it and was pleasantly surprised, and he pushed his frizzy head through before he worked his arms through. Next he went for the upper half of his jumper. Arms threaded through as tan shoulder fell upon his narrow slopes. He bent long and far to his nighstand and grabbed the gold delta pin which he fixed to his chest. Then Fyn was up, both zipping up with caution toward the male parts while he grabbed his satchel, a hard-case type- and went out the door.

"Saxa..." he groaned. The doors crept open again with the slither of hydraulics and Fyn went to retrieve his travel coffee from the food synthesizer.

* * * *

The Yeoman pool of Ithemba Station was the same virtually everyday. White collars dominated a few science slate grays, medical greens and operational mustards. There was clamoring, a cacophony of raised voices that seemed a living, breathing thing. It had a strange sense of urgency and order as the Yeomans began their usual work to put order to the night before's chaos.

Fyn stepped in three minutes late and, therefore, toward the back. It was hard to know where he'd be assigned today. It was a jostle of senior Yeomans getting their bid in first with their gravitas. Next came the officer requests for specific returning personnel. Those often went to the colored collars more than standard white. Then a balletic melee engaged as the rest of the Yeomans wrangled for their favorite assignments.

Fyn was a quiet, almost serene soul on the outside; one would easily identify him as shy. But he enjoyed the friendly competition. It got the blood pumping. And the variety of tasks wasn't bad. Ithemba was a tertiary port of call, a lonely outpost in the distant Sol system. It wasn't a popular berth for the larger ships: the gravitational complexities of attaining standard orbit of a world lying on its side, and with counter-orbiting satellites made the dance complex. It was no Titan Run... but it was its own unusual creature that had claimed a careless craft or two.

Fyn put his hands behind his back and waited. He eyed one of the women he'd worked with yesterday, who smiled and waved at him. She made a slightly rude, signed gesture at him with a shrug, essentially asking him if he'd gone home with anyone last night for some recreational activity. Fyn shook his head; the girl frumped and looked tested at him, shaking her head.

"Hey Junkyard," a Bolian sidled up to Fyn. Fyn smiled at him.

"H-Hey," he greeted with a handshake, a bashful smile followed. Fyn hated that nickname, but he'd come to own it.

"What're you bidding on today?"

Fyn shrugged, "I-I don't know. I'm not feeling picky today. I was in the computer core all day yesterday. That wasn't so b-bad." He smiled. The Bolian turned with a hairless, raised eyebrow.

"Mmm, you lost that one early. Smakotinas got that one right off now that she's back off sick leave. I think she's sweet on the Kernel Operations Specialist." The Bolian grinned with white teeth and lavender-blue gums. Fyn only felt a slight deflating at the news. As long as he didn't get recycle and reclamation. Nobody liked recycle and reclamation. Who wanted to enter tonnage of matter material returned to the energy pool, ratioed with the net material loss so more deuterium could be requisitioned from the depot on MIranda? Boring.

"Dekit," at the sound of their name, the Bolian snapped and raised a hand. Fyn watched as Dekit took their assignment and was out.

Fyn watched on, shuffling as people came and mostly left. He finally heard his name and he went tiptoe to try and see over the taller portions of the crowd. He raised his hand, "Here."

The white haired Chief Yeoman caught his eye and had a datapad in her hand. "See me after the assignment session. Gonzalez!" She moved on. Fyn puzzled, his eyebrows knitting at his ridge. Was he in trouble? He couldn't imagine why. Except for this was his second near-tardy in a month. The Chief Yeoman didn't like her Yeoman pool late. But... he hadn't actually been late. He just hadn't had the time for his morning jog. So what was it?

As the crowd thinned to nothing, the white haired Chief Yeoman moved to her desk and waved Fyn close with a couple of fingers, "Wihone." Her weathered face, pale as her hair nearly, looked down at her datapad. She tapped several keys and then signed off with a rolling wake of her fingertip.

Fyn watched. She handed the datapad to him and leaned on her hand, "Fyn. Special assignment. Good luck. It was nice having you here. Report to Utopia Planitia A-S-A-P and ask for the Chief Yeoman of the starship Ulysses. They'll put you in contact with their ship's Captain."

Fyn's knitted expression of uncertainty held firm. "Ma'am?" A Yeoman talking to the Captain was unusual. That was well below a Captain's pay grade to welcome a lower decks kid like Fyn aboard. First Officer, maybe, if they were really an outreaching type. Chief of the Boat, possible. Chief Yeoman, obviously.

The Chief Yeoman was both stern both edged a smile. "You're being reassigned Fyn. Not that you don't do good work here. But their Chief Yeoman needs someone who has a good head on his shoulders and knows how to be discreet. Pack your gear and report to the Bou Regreg. It'll shuttle you to Mars at 1130 hours. You should be there by, oh, 1900 I imagine. Depending on the weather around Jupiter. Io's been acting up lately."

Fyn nodded, his stomachs wanting to do loops. No more... Uranus? No more Ithemba? Was this temporary or permanent? He glanced down at the datapad. "Yes Ma'am." He said with a nod. he had little choice otherwise.

"Good luck, Wihone. I'm sure you'll do well. Dismissed."

Fyn turned on his heel and walked out of the Yeoman Pool for the last time. The doors eased shut behind him and he sighed, touching the back of his head against the wall. He swallowed, conflicted, his eyes shutting. He was comfortable here. He knew this was the nature of the Yeomanry. Like flight attendants of old, you were shuffled around as needed. It didn't always mean you had say in the matter. The greater bureaucracy of Starfleet and the Federation was dispassionate and dry. Resources were plugged where they were needed. Fyn opened his eyes and looked at the datapad.

He steeled himself, though his hearts already ached for the turbulent jade jewel under them. He loved this space. He loved the feel of aging 2220s deckplates and 2220s architecture. It was a charming, run down old man in need of a some refit. Fyn pushed off the wall and robotically moved back to his quarters on muscle memory. There he packed. He tucked his bonsai plant in a nook of his arm and hip and shouldered the rest of his belongings in a larger duffle. Then he made his way to the shuttle port.

Mistakes

Location: Starbase 1
On: Day 232 at 0845

"... was a really bad idea," Cara Riley pointed out as she swept back her blond hair, tying it in a high ponytail with practiced ease. She paused for a moment, studying her reflection in the mirror as she gave a self conscious tug on her uniform. Today she would finally report for duty and what was it they said about first impressions?

Over twenty days since she was given her orders to report back to Earth with immediate effect. To then effectively spent well over a week cooling her heels. Largely in the dark about why exactly she was here.

Project Ulysses.

That was it. And a name of her new commanding officer. No more until they officially reported for duty and a stern reminder of the classified nature of the new assignment. If there was a better way to pique the interest of a scientist, she did not know it.

"I'll try not to take that personally," Matt Johannsen commented as he took a drink of his coffee. True to his word, he looked unphased. "Happy anniversary though."

"It doesn't count when we aren't married anymore," she pointed out. Finishing off her glass of orange juice, she leaned in, kissing him on the cheek before conceeding, "it was a pretty fabulous day."

"Still not going to tell me why you here?" he asked.

"Nope," she said with a firm shake of her head. "There is nothing to tell. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you with the committee. They will definitely pick you to lead the team. You got this."

A sad smile played on his lips, "until next time?"

She wrapped her arms around him. "Until next time," she promised as she pulled away and headed for the door. She did not want to be late. "And thank you again for dinner last night."

"You remember to get to Captain sh'Elas office?" he said. He quickly held his hands up, "sorry, course you do. Stay safe CJ."

"Right back at ya," she offered with a wave as she left. Outside she released a deep breath, quickly walking towards the nearest lift. She should not have come to the base early. But every bad decision she made always seemed to center around her now ex-husband.

Ironically enough, when they didn't wear matching wedding bands it actually worked. It was just a shame her younger self hadn't figured that out in time.

Focusing on her meeting with her new commanding officer, she negotiated her way through the base, arriving a few minutes early and pressing the door chime.

Perhaps now she would be told what Project Ulysses was all about.

Mixed Origins

Location: Level 14, Office 12, Spacedock
On: Day 232 at 1010

“I’ll miss you.” Caz looked up into Sovak’s eyes. The Vulcan remained stiff but returned the eye contact, in as tender of a way as he could manage. The two officers had taken a transport from Vulcan to Starbase One, in order for Caz to report as directed in the cryptic orders he received more than two weeks prior.

“It has been an agreeable time together. I will miss your presence as well.” The Vulcan Captain would be returning to the Oberth in that same week and undertaking a lengthy science mission. The two lovers would most likely not see each other for a least the next eight months.

Caz took a look around, making sure they were both out of the sight of fellow officers. Confirming such, he leaned towards Sovak and kissed him passionately on the lips. Sovak returned the gesture somewhat coldly but Caz knew there was some emotional undertone as the Vulcan lightly caressed his arm.

“Keep a comm channel open for me Captain.” Caz stood back and took one last look at Sovak. His partner nodded, “I always do.” He replied.

Shortly after the two had parted ways, Caz was making his way up to level fourteen as directed. It was not long before he ran into a duo-security-detail. “Lieutenant Commander Atherton?” The older of the two officers announced, a junior-lieutenant.

Caz nodded. “That’s me. How can I help you?”

“You’re to follow us Sir. We will take you the remainder of the way.” The reply was respectful but curt.

‘What am I getting myself into exactly?’ Caz nodded and followed the two officers willingly. His mind was in a racing pace however, wondering just how ‘classified’ this new assignment was.

Elsewhere, Tharia sh'Elas was stood at the window of her temporary home and staring into empty, open space. Soon, she hoped, she would be back among the stars. For now though, the people she had assembled, or invited, to take part in Project Ulysses would soon be arriving. Taking a sip of her Vulcan tea, she waited for the man she hoped would be the most senior officer on her project.

Several minutes later, the security officers entered Captain sh’Elas' temporary office, with Atherton in tow. There was a brief silence before Caz stood forward and presented himself.

“Lieutenant Commander Atherton, reporting as directed Captain.” He stood stiffly at attention, with his eyes forward.

Tharia stood silent and still before waving away the guards with a single gesture. The silence continued until, quietly, she asked for the man to join her at the window. "Tell me Commander," she spoke, "what do you see?"

Caz walked over to the view port, in a more relaxed manner, he was unsure what to make exactly of the particular question. The stars seemed still, calm and at peace. He laid his hands on the ledge of the window and leaned his torso in closer. "A calling." He pointed now to some random location, "A calling to find out what exactly is out there, beyond that star thousands of light years away." He was third generation Starfleet. His father's father was a Starfleet officer. Caz hoped that desire to explore and expand the horizons of the Federation was at the core of each officer.

"You're going to get a chance to find out the answer to that question," Tharia smiled, eventually looking at the Lieutenant Commander and offering a hand. "Tharia sh'Elas," she said in greeting.

"Oh?" Caz looked blankly at Tharia for a few moments, his own response lagged slightly in taking her hand and giving a firm shake, just enough to make the encounter slightly awkward on his part.

"Raiycaz Atherton... Everyone calls me Caz though." He offered her a warm smile. "I take it I won't be returning to the Halifax?" He asked, only to confirm what he had suspected when his cryptic orders came through.

"Well that's up to you," Tharia smiled as she released his hand. "You can go back to the Halifax or," she turned and moved back to her desk where she sat down and gestured for him to sit opposite her, "you can accept this small brown box and join my project."

Caz followed the direction of the Captain and assumed a seat across from her with a stiff and attentive posture. His gaze shifted between that of Tharia's eyes and the brown box several times. His heart began to race with excitement.

"I... Well..." It wasn't very often Caz was speechless, his mind raced with internal questions. Just what was this project? Did he really want to leave the Halifax? "I accept." He leaned in closer. "What exactly am I accepting though?"

“You’ll be my first Officer for a top secret project that will be revealed tomorrow,” Tharia told as she smiled at the man. “I’ll be meeting a bunch of other officers for roles in the project today and be hosting a dinner this evening where I hope to reveal a little more.”

Caz nodded. There was something rather exciting about this entire prospect. His eyes shifted back down to the brown box. "And I take it you arranged that just for some extra enticement?" He playfully pointed at what he assumed was a full Commander's pip.

“Such is the importance of this project that I couldn’t possibly go into space with a mere Lieutenant Commander at my right hand side,” the Captain smirked. “I’ll keep you updated on all new attendees for the dinner tonight and transfer you their profiles. I advise you know them as well as they know themselves.”

"Will do Captain."

The two officers exchanged words for several more minutes before Tharia presented Caz with his Commanders pip. The newly appointed Commander had departed the office shortly after that.

Belonging

Location: Level 14, Office 12, Spacedock
On: Day 232 at 1030

Reaching Level 14, Lieutenant Riley followed the directions she had been given. You could not help but admire the view offered by the floor to ceiling windows - yet all too quickly they were replaced by office spaces. Glancing down at her PADD, she confirmed the room number before touching the door chime, announcing her arrival.

Within seconds, a younger officer in a command white turtleneck beneath his maroon uniform jacket, wearing the rank of a Petty Officer Second Class, exited the room and smiled at the waiting visitor. "You can go in Lieutenant,"he nodded, "the Captain will see you now."

"Thank you," she said with a brief nod, taking a deep breath. Trying to appear more confident than curious. Not entirely sure she could pull that off.

Moving into the office, her gaze swept the room before settling upon the sole occupant. "Lieutenant Cara Riley, reporting as ordered, Captain," she announced, standing at attention.

Buried deep in her reports already, the Captain silently gestured for the newcomer to take a seat opposite her.

Arching an eyebrow at the limited acknowledgement, the science officer moved to the desk, sliding into one of the vacant chairs. She watched the woman work in silence, patiently waiting.

Eventually, the Captain pushed aside the work she had been buried in and settled her gaze on the scientist opposite her. Clasping her hands together on the desks surface, she considered her words before she spoke. "What drives you, Lieutenant?" she quizzed.

The reply was considered, yet still consisted of just one word. “Curiosity.” Followed by a hastily added “ma’am.”

"Curiosity about what?" Tharia queried some more as she sat back in her chair. The next words out of the Lieutenant's mouth would make or break her Starfleet career; if she passed the sh'Elas test, she'd join the most exciting project in a while. If not, she'd be on a freighter to Vulcan before the morning.

“Everything,” she admitted with a rueful smile. “Apologies, that was vague. You have my service record, can see my academic achievements... but I want to be out there. Learning some of the secrets we don’t even know exist yet. See things nobody has seen yet.”

Okay, she had salvaged her chances for now. "Tell me about your past assignments," the Captain smiled as she relaxed a little more in her questioning.

“I was assigned to the U.S.S. Orion as science officer after graduation,” Cara explained. “I served aboard for just under two years. I was then assigned to the U.S.S. Mercy as assistant Chief Science Officer. She was a medical ship and I had a background in biomedical and microbiology. When I was injured on an away mission I returned to Earth for treatment and was temporarily assigned to R&D before I was ordered to report here.”

“Please don’t take this the wrong way when I say it,” Tharia smiled as she sat forward in her chair, “I am assembling a staff for a top secret project that could well be the difference between a safe and secure future for the Federation as we know it. Why should I take someone who is relatively inexperienced as a member of my team?”

“You are welcome to request a more experienced candidate, ma’am, but I believe I can be a valuable member of your team,” the younger woman countered, her voice firmer and more assured. “And the fact I am sitting here means Starfleet agrees. While I may not have many years of active service behind me, I am well versed in multiple scientific disciplines. Most to doctorate level.”

“But I know I have to prove that and earn your trust, I just need you to be willing to take a calculated, minimal, risk for the good of your mission. Out there, would you rather have someone with thirty years service behind them who knows a little, or someone with fewer years but the knowledge that might keep the Federation safe from whatever is out there?”

She took a deep breath, realising she had said more than she had intended. But the idea of youth keeping her from this position was ... infuriating.

The Andorian watched the pink-skin with great interest as she ranted and raved, standing up for herself in a passionate way. Eventually, the Captain’s antennae dropped and she smiled. “The rest of the project team will meet for dinner this evening Lieutenant. I’d be proud if you would join us?” Tharia rose to her feet and offered a hand to the scientist.

Releasing a deep breath, Cara stood, shaking the offered hand. "I'd be honoured, ma'am."

Tharia and her new science officer continued talking for a short while until parting ways, allowing the Captain to carry on with her task of assembling a senior staff for the project.

Security Parameters

Location: Level 14, Office 12, Spacedock
On: Day 232 at 1115

The Vulcan had been waiting about 10 minutes, maybe longer. He was in fact early, but he did not have much else to do. He had already sent word to his parents, and had already taken in some of the views of Spacedock. He would not have minded a shower, but he avoided the temporary housing on the station until he knew where he was going.

Ovik eventually saw no one coming in or out of the office to get him or otherwise, so he went to the door, hearing the chime from his end.

“Enter,” a voice from within bellowed.

Ovik came in, set his duffel right at his side, and gave a proper yet not quite so tight salute. On the other side of the room was a rather lithe Andorian with the emblem of Captain. "Good afternoon, sir," he said calmly. "Lieutenant Ovik reporting as ordered."

“Ugh,” Tharia groaned as she rose to her feet. “You can dispense with protocol Lieutenant. You don’t have to call me sir,” the Captain told as she, perhaps uncharacteristically for an Andorian, offered the Vulcan salute of split fingers.

The Vulcan cocked his head confused, but took that she must have been a more lax officer. Or maybe he was use to running a security department and had to be regimented around them. "Of course, ma'am, err captain."

Ovik picked up his duffel and put it to the side out of the way of the door and walked a few steps closer, easing his posture a bit. "To be honest though, I am not sure if I should be scared or excited." He managed a half-grin.

“Oh?” Tharia queried as her antenna bobbed freely atop her head whilst she returned to her chair and gestured for the Vulcan to do the same. “Excitement and fear are emotions Lieutenant,” she reminded him, all in the name of her mission.

Ovik grinned as he met the captain's gaze and sat down. "Yes, my parents and mentors from my youth have said as much."

"I'm confused..." the Captain frowned as her antenna dipped, "aren't you supposed to suppress emotions as a good little Vulcan?"

"Oh they are under control these days, ma'am." The Vulcan's grin waned. "Herbal teas and other meditations have maintained things quite well. I can still tell jokes, I just don't let the jokes control me."

"I see.." she trailed off. A Vulcan that could display his emotions and tell a joke? Surreal, she thought, but there was no time to dwell on it for now. "Lieutenant, tell me about your experience and why I should put you in charge of security for my project," she requested.

Ovik cocked his head again, not sure he could adequately answer her question without knowing the details, per se. But he began to explain nonetheless. "Well, as you have probably seen from my dossier I have been in Security for about 30 years. I excel at working through difficult situations, via a variety of means. And I have been stationed in myriad types of environments from starship to planetary."

The Vulcan straightened his head and grinned. "But I suppose you are looking for more than what you already know." He paused but maintained a loose gaze on the captain. "As it pertains to my emotional capacity we discussed, I have been able to use that to my advantage, ma'am. While my parents would have preferred I stayed and worked at the monastery, I chose otherwise. I did so because sometimes force is necessary. Sometimes something like anger or fervent stoicism on behalf of Starfleet and her values are necessary. Sometimes calm and logic are needed, though. My people do not always recognize this balance, even with the strides our great representatives Spock and Sarek have made over the decades."

He paused briefly, but continued on. "My hope is to apply the Vulcan nature - making logical decisions, creating precise procedures and practices, remaining calm in most scenarios - combined with the strength of emotion. I would apply that to all my postings, which is what has gotten me this far in my career." Ovik gave a slight nod of his head, satisfied with his answer.

"Come on Ovik," Tharia smirked as she sat back and shook her head. "I know all that, that's not what I want to hear. I want to hear what you can bring to my team as Security officer. My project is one of great importance. We are going to have great responsibility on our shoulders and I need to know everything about my staff."

Ovik held his speech for a moment as he shifted in his chair. He was not uncomfortable with the question, he just wasn't sure how deep he wanted to go. "I can tell you there are some physical talents I have learned that aren't on my dossier. I can tell you that I can combine my high intellect in logistics, science, spirituality, and security into a... wicked skillset for the proper management and enactment of a security team, let alone other command opportunities. I can tell you that, while I'm not sure I had a choice, I answered your call for a reason."

"And what reason might that be?" Tharia queried, her curiosity piqued.

"To boldly go where others have not, captain," Ovik replied as if it were obvious.

The Andorian let out a laugh as she rose to her feet and offered a hand in the Vulcan's direction. "If that is the point of this project we have, then I'll be glad to have you aboard Lieutenant. Make sure you stop by our dinner party this evening to meet the rest of the staff and find out a little more," she advised.

Ovik looked queerly at the captain at first, but stood as she did. He accepted the hand and gave a nod of his head. "I will make every attempt to be there." That meant he accepted. "If anything to learn more of this project." He gave a grin and released the captain's hand.

If only the Captain herself had some answers for him...

First Contact

Location: Spacedock
On: Day 232 at 1210

Lieutenant Nathan Mitchell was not happy. He'd worked his entire career for a billet on a Constitution-class starship and after only six months on board the Endeavour, Starfleet had ordered him to return to Earth for reassignment. That was unusual enough but when he reached Starfleet Command, he was directed to report to Captain Tharia sh'Elas aboard Earth Spacedock.

The journey from the Endeavour to Earth had taken three weeks, a long three weeks, and all he knew of his new assignment was that it had something to do with 'Ulysses'. Since there was no starship or starbase by that name, Nathan had no idea what Starfleet had in store for him. As he reached for the chime of Captain sh'Elas' office on Spacedock, he hoped that the next few minutes would shed some more light on matters.

"Enter!" the voice from within beckoned to him.

Lieutenant Mitchell strode into the Captain's Office and snapped to attention in front of her desk. "Lieutenant Nathan Mitchell, reporting as ordered." He announced.

"Come Lieutenant, sit" the Captain smiled as she offered a hand to the man that she believed had the potential to be the missing cog in the project's machine. She just had to convince him of such. "I hope the Captain of the Endeavour wasn't too annoyed by my request to have you transfer?" she asked, her antennae drooping at the thought that she might have pissed off the Captain of one of the fleet's finest vessels.

Nathan shook the Captain's hand before sitting in the offered chair. "I think I was more upset about being pulled away than the Captain was." He told her honestly.

"I apologise for dragging you away from the old girl but I have something for you that could be the making of your career," she grinned as she casually slid a bulky data PADD across the table to him. "What would you say if I said the words 'first contact' to you?"

The two words that would pique the interest of every diplomat in the Federation. The chance to take part in first contact with a previously unknown civilisation was career defining, for good or for ill. It would certainly make being pulled off the Endeavour worthwhile. Any upset he had felt at that quickly melted away.

Nathan slid forward in the seat so that he was perched on the edge and lifted the data PADD off the table. "You want me for a first contact mission?" He asked, beginning to excitedly read the information contained on the device.

"The rest of the crew are not privy to this information, not even the XO, but your clearance warrants it," the Captain nodded as she rose to her feet and gestured for him to join her at the large wall console.

Lieutenant Mitchell stood and followed the Captain to the wall console, intrigued by the secret nature of what he was about to be told.

Tapping on the screen, she activated a map and zoomed in to their destination. "We're headed here, the Calandra Sector. A new species has reared its head and it's up to us to investigate, and if possible, make first contact properly," she told as she looked at the diplomat. "From the intelligence gathered, which consists of unreliable reports from several trader vessels operating on the edge of Federation space, these people have grey skin and some form of cranial ridges," she revealed as she made her way back to her chair. "We understand their vessels, like ours, vary in design and employ phased energy weapons, but beyond that, we know nothing. Except that they have raided three Federation cargo ships in the last six months, seemingly taking advantage of our preoccupation with the Klingons and the Romulans."

The vast majority of the diplomatic corps had been neck deep in preparations for the meeting between the Federation President and the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon, on Earth. When the Chancellor was assassinated, the meeting with the new Chancellor, Gorkon's daughter Azetbur, was moved to Khitomer. Another assassination attempt, involving high ranking Starfleet Officers, senior members of the Klingon Empire and the Romulan ambassador had kicked up a hornets nest that the Diplomatic Corps was still mostly focused on.

The chance to be involved with something other than Klingon and Romulan affairs would be a breath of fresh air to the Lieutenant. "I'll study everything we have on these people, but given their raids on cargo ships, they may not be predisposed to peaceful first contact."

"We're to go out there and show them that the only way forward is peaceful first contact," the Captain told with a nod, "to do that, we've been given a brand new ship, the USS Ulysses. State of the art Excelsior class, so, you'll be travelling with anything you need, Lieutenant," she advised him.

An Excelsior-class ship. There were so few of them in active service that Nathan thought it would be at leat five years before he would get to serve on the most advanced class of ship that Starfleet had. Never in his wildest dreams did he consider the possibility that he would serve on one of the first few ships and as Diplomatic Attache on a first contact mission. It was all a little overwhelming.

Not that he let that show. He simply nodded to the Captain. "Understood ma'am. We'll be ready."

"Report aboard the Ulysses, at Utopia Fleetyards, at oh-eight hundred tomorrow," the Captain smiled as she rose to her feet and offered him a hand of congratulations.

Nathan shook the Captain's hand again, unable to keep the smile from his face. "Aye Captain." When he pulled his hand back, he snapped to attention briefly before spinning on his heel and striding out of the office. He would have an unexpected few hours to visit with family on Earth, and he planned to make the most of it.

Hailing Frequencies Open

Location: Level 14, Office 12, Spacedock
On: Day 232 at 1345

One of the things that Wyatt found both fascinating and frustrating was that there was no universal time within the Federation. He understood the reasoning, of course, it was much like Earth which had different time zones, but still, it could become confusing because there was often a pretty wide divergence of time zones On the Hawk the ship he arrived on, it had been 0145 when the Ensign roused him from his bed. Early morning summonsing that were starting to happen with an annoying frequency in his opinion (not that command would have cared one bit for his opinion on the matter) At Starbase 1 as he stepped off of the transporter pad, it was 1330.

He was ravenously hungry, but his appointment with the woman he assumed would be his new Captain was in fifteen minutes. That left him time to jam down some food or make himself more presentable. He didn't consider himself to be a brown noser, but then again, he didn't consider himself to be a fool either. So, he chose to shave and change into a fresh uniform.

As it was, he barely made it before the appointed time.

There were two rather burly looking red-shirted security men standing in front of Office 12. "Lieutenant, JG, Wyatt Spencer," he said by way of introduction, "I'm supposed to have a meeting here in, em, about two minutes."

The men at the door to the office looked at each other and then simply and silently moved aside to grant him entry to the office of Captain Tharia sh'Elas.

The smile he flashed the two, as he moved by them, was a bit mischievous, but when he stepped into the office his expression neutral, almost unreadable.

He brought himself to attention and said, "Good afternoon, Captian, "I'm Lieutenant JG, Wyatt Spencer. I believe you were expecting me."

Stood at the window, staring out into space, the Andorian Captain did not turn to acknowledge the newcomer. Instead, she addressed him from where she was. "You've led a somewhat... varied... life Mister Spencer," she began in a stern tone, "you've been a circus act, a novelist and now, a Starfleet Officer. Tell me, do you stick with anything you do?" she queried, still looking out of the window with her hands clasped together behind her back.

Though she could not see him his characteristic smile faded, if only slightly. His response was not instant, but when it came it was measured and his tone even. "Yes, ma'am I do. I was, as you put it, a circus act when I was a child when I had little say in the matter. While I am no longer a performer, I still practice. Not because I have dreams of returning to the spotlight, but because it keeps me in shape. With all due respect, I wasn't a novelist. I am one. Present tense. Not past tense. I didn't join Starfleet on a whim. I was serving on a merchant vessel and could have stayed there if I had wanted. I chose to join because I thought, I knew, I could make a difference. I'm damn good at what I do, and I'm proud of my record, though I admit my mouth sometimes gets me into trouble. I'm creative, I'm fast on my feet in more ways than one, and those things that I was, that I am, make me a better officer and a better man. I don't know what assignment you're offering, but whatever it is. If I accept it. I'll be in it for the long-haul. I won't turn back."

"Let's get one thing straight, Lieutenant," the Captain remarked as she turned around and finally looked the man over, "I'm not offering you an assignment; consider this an additional interview. To join my team, I need to be suitably impressed and right now," she paused as she considered his earlier words, "how did you put it? Your mouth is going to get you into trouble." She took a few steps towards her desk and pulled out the chair, sliding into it with effortless ease before gesturing across at the vacant chair. "I don't need a novelist, a circus act or a merchant officer. Where I'm going, I need people who are one hundred percent committed to the cause. I need people who I can count on when the chips are down and who are prepared to say goodbye to home for a very, very long time."

He fought the urge to run his hands through his hair, a nervous habit, he knew he sometimes fell into. "My apologies ma'am," he said as he moved to the seat she offered and took it,"I thought I had responded appropriately, I misjudged. Let me state my case in a different way. But before I do that let me state categorically that you can count on me to not let you down. Once I make a commitment, I stick with it."

"I don't know what this assignment is but saying goodbye is not a problem. I have no home. No, that's not quite true. Starfleet is my home now. But, I have no other family There was one person I had started to care for, but I've already said goodbye to them. So, I'm here for the long haul."

"Yes, on the surface you don't need, a novelist, a circus act, or a merchant officer." He leaned forward slightly as he continued. But those things helped shape me into the person I am today. I'm sure that you could find a small contingent of comm officers that fit the traditional Starfleet mode, that knew they wanted to be an officer since they were five. I went to the Academy with more than a few. They'd be fine additions to your crew I'm sure."

"But I'm the better choice. First, I'm just as good at what they do on the technical side, though to be frank, I sometimes struggle with learning new tasks like that. But I push through and once I do learn it, it becomes routine for me."

"A circus act, no, I agree one hundred percent you don't need one of those for your crew, you may not even need a gymnast, though that skill might prove useful someday. But, you said this assignment was going to be a long one and my practising just keeps me in shape and that is an asset that you do need."

"I'd like to think that I'm creative. You have to be, to be a good novelist and you need officers that can think creatively, especially when we are far from home, who can come up a solution that's not in some handbook."

"As far as my days as a merchant officer, again those experiences give me an advantage. Starfleet trained me to be a comm officer but being a merchant officer gave me a pretty varied experience. We didn't wear just one hat. I'm a pretty decent pilot and not a half-bad navigator. I'd never be mistaken for an engineer but I do know one end of a spanner from the other."

"Oh, one more thing I just thought of when it comes to the circus act thing you mentioned as not being relevant. I don't know where we're going, but chances are I've been there. As both a circus act and a merchant officer I've been, quite a few places. Places I never saw a Federation vessel and I made connections in a lot of them. Even if we are going to places I haven't been those past experiences will serve me well. I can quickly adapt to new cultures and new languages."

"Sorry to be so long-winded, just one last thing to add. Yes, my mouth does sometimes get me into trouble, but it sometimes gets me out as well. In Starfleet, if you need a spare part, all you have to do is fill out a procurement order and you get it. That wasn't the case in my former careers. We sometimes had to be creative and I was usually the one they sent to pick those items up. Usually, I was able to convince whoever it was. On those occasions when I wasn't...well let's just say those gymnast skills I mentioned earlier came in handy."

The whole time the Lieutenant spoke, Tharia sat completely still, her blue fingers steepled in front of her face and listened intently to every word he said. She wasn't a fan of sitting, listening, but she would respect what he had to say.

"Very well Lieutenant," she eventually spoke up with a nod and sat forward in her chair. "Consider the job yours. You'll receive further directions later in the day and there will be a senior staff briefing at zero-nine-thirty tomorrow," she advised as she reached across the table and offered the younger man a welcoming hand.

"I'll be there ma'am," he replied as he took her hand.

"Oh, and Lieutenant," the Captain added before he left, "Next time, leave the long-winded speech to your Captain."

"Yes ma'am," he replied, the smile returning to his face."

No Harm in Having Ambition, Lieutenant

Location: Level 14, Office 12, Spacedock
On: Day 232 at 1650

Lucius had been wondering around for a while, he found level 14 quite easily but locating the office was proving much more complicated. He had briefly stopped a young cute ensign along the way for directions, she put the information on the data padd he was carrying; along with directions to her quarters later on. As he followed the route he found himself standing before a reddish coloured door and he pressed the door panel, activating the door bell.

The voice from within, stern yet definitely female in origin, signalled his permission to enter.

Clearing his throat a bit, Lucius walked through the parting doors once the permission was given to enter. As he walked into the quaintly spacious office, he briefly glanced around the room; and his eyes fell on a female Andorian in her uniform. Clearly she was the captain of what was going to be his new assignment.

Lifting her head from the data was she was reading, the blue-skinned woman waved the man over to her desk and then gestured for the vacant seat opposite her. "Come, sit."

"Yes captain," he replied as he approached her desk and sat down. "Lieutenant Junior Grade Lucius Powell reporting in Ma'am," he replied as he handed her his data padd concerning his transfer orders to her command. "I honestly did not know that I was being transferred, I was enjoying my time on the Apollo."

"Then you are free to go back there with my sincere apologies for bothering you," the Captain told as she rose to her feet and offered a hand to the Lieutenant, her face one that looked sincere, yet also stern.

"Okay then," replied Lucius as he rose from his chair and slowly started walking out with a puzzled look on his face. He had been mandated to Captain sh'Elas command, and here she was saying it was okay for him to go back to his old life.

Tharia allowed the Lieutenant to get a few steps from the door before calling out. "I was under the mistaken impression that you were an ambitious man, Mr. Powell? Someone eager to explore strange new worlds and seek out new civilizations."

"I am ambitious captain I'll give you that, "he said turning around before he hit the door. "I do crave a little bit of adventure and excitement for the mundane," he added as he walked a couple of paces forward. "Your perception is keen captain."

“You don’t get to be the commanding officer of Starfleet’s latest project by being crap at your job,” Tharia countered as she returned to her seat and gestured for him to take his again. “I understand ones desire to cling to the tried and tested, the familiar, but maybe it’s worth trying something new every once in a while.”

"I can agree with that," he said as he walked back over to the captain's chair and took a seat. "Something new would be a change, but it is shocking when the new isn't expected but sprung upon you. So tell me captain, what is this new assignment? My father was a tad bit annoyed when he found out I had been transferred, after finally becoming a pilot on a Constitution class starship."

"Respectfully, to hell with your father," she remarked, perhaps shockingly, "this is your career Lieutenant. You should want more for yourself than being the pilot of a rust bucket like the Apollo. And that is what I offer you. Something more," she grinned as her antenna bobbed happily atop her head.

Lucius was impressed by the captain's response, he was interested in something other than monitoring the Klingon boarder all the time. "Something more eh," he said as he leaned back a bit in his chair. "Exactly, what is that something more I might ask?"

"Join me and the senior staff for a meal this evening and you'll find out more," the Andorian told, eager to keep up the pretence of it being a secret project, "and I promise you wont be disappointed."

"Alright I will join you," replied Lucius. "However if I am disappointed would you be willing to get me posted to whatever ship I so desire?" he asked her.

"If you're disappointed Lieutenant," the Captain slowly rose to her feet as she spoke, "I would question why you are even in Starfleet in the first place," she smirked as she offered out a hand to the man.

Lucius took the captain's hand in shook it. "Your right about that captain, more so nervous as to what the future is going to bring rather than disappointed. Yet I have a strange feeling in my stomach that is telling me to hang in and see what develops," he said as he released her hand. "Either way you have your helmsman, that is if you still want me," said the young junior lieutenant. He was nervous, he had tried to follow his father's example as a Starfleet officer; but the captain was right he wasn't his father. He was more like his grandfather as his mother and grandmother so politely put it on so many occasions.

"You wouldn't be here if I didn't want you on my team Lieutenant," the Captain assured him. "I'll see you later this evening for dinner."

"Of course captain, but I am not that active in social functions so I will be blending into the background, watching and observing."

Maybe he would be perfect for the new project after all?

Sneak Peek?

Captain Tharia sh'Elas stood in the guest dining suite on Starbase One, overseeing the final preparations as she waited for the first of her guests to arrive. She had spoken with many of the Project's newest members over the course of the day (even talking to some and deciding not to assign them to the project after all). Those lucky people had all been invited to this evenings function, a casual affair designed to let the senior staff meet and get to know each other before they found out exactly what they were letting themselves in for over the coming weeks and months.

"Whoa! What is that?" she asked as she stopped a waiter who was carrying a large bottle of brown liquid.

"This?" he asked gesturing to the bottle, "Saurian brandy ma'am. We serve it at all functions now that Romulan Ale is outlawed..." he trailed off at the sight of her disapproving look.

"Take that swill and get some proper stuff. Get some Andorian ale," she growled at the man who made a hasty retreat, "hell, even root beer would be better than that crap!"

Caz walked in casually, just in time to see the exchange between Tharia and the waiter. He chuckled to himself lightly. "You are a saint." He grinned as he walked closer to his new CO. "Might as well be drinking swamp water if you're going to consume that stuff."

"Naturally I'd offer Romulan ale but these pink skins are a bit sensitive when it comes to illegal stuff," the Andorian smirked as she welcomed the first of her guests.

“Captain,” Lieutenant Riley offered in greeting as she arrived. Stepping aside to let a harassed looking waiter exit the room, she stared after him for a moment before heading towards her new commanding officer. “He seemed happy.”

“I endeavour to make all of my crew look as happy as him,” Tharia jokes before stepping aside and gesturing to the XO. “Commander Atherton, meet Lieutenant Riley. She’ll be joining the project as Chief Science Officer. Lieutenant Riley, Commander Atherton, the projects XO.”

"Commander," Cara offered in greeting, extending her hand. "Cara Riley. Good to meet you."

"Raiycaz Atherton. Good to have you here with us Lieutenant. Whatever here turns out to be." The XO took accepted Cara's hand and offered a firm and respectful shake.

Noticing another newcomer, the Captain gestured to her XO and Science Chief. “Please, help yourselves to drinks,” she smiled before wandering off to greet the newest visitor to her dinner party.

Eventually, not quite late but more precisely on time, Ovik entered the room to which he was directed. He wasn't sure he had the right place, gazing around the room at the few officers assembled. But then he saw Tharia's familiar face. "Captain, hello." He gave a bow of his head.

"Lieutenant Ovik," the Captain greeted the Security chief for the project, "glad you could make it!"

"A pleasure, captain." The Vulcan looked around and back. "I've not yet unpacked my duffel and thus I left my uniform on. I figured we may talk business anyways." Ovik wasn't nervous or awkward, it was just factual. At least that's what was on his mind.

"Oh, we'll talk business at some point I'm sure. Help yourself to a drink and we'll start the evening meal shortly," she smiled.

Caz offered their Vulcan security chief a nod of acknowledgement. There was something comforting in having a Vulcan presence on the senior staff, albeit it might have had something to do with the XO's own relationship with one. "Shame on me. Twice you've said help yourself Captain." He looked over at the Andorian captain before being first to grab a glass of Andorian ale upon return of the waiter.

"Thank you," Cara said as she took her own glass. She glanced at the ice blue liquid which filled the glass before taking a tentative sip. It was surprisingly pleasant. "If dinner is anywhere near as good as the drinks, I look forward to it."

Ovik took a glass of the ale as well. He was not a huge fan - he preferred a nice spiced tea or Vulcan port if he wanted something hard. That said, some of these unique ales were good to savor with friends once in a while. "Thank you," he said with a nod of his head to the waiter. He looked to Caz. "Sir," he said simply, with another nod. People would have to get used to his curt nods as greetings, almost like a waiter in a fancy Earth restaurant of old.

Lucius wasn't sure what to wear to this party so he kept his uniform on. He had made a couple of wrong turns until he asked a young ensign for directions. One day someone would create a computer to give directions to a specific location. As he arrived he noticed that the party was already in full swing. Lucius slowly slipped into the crowd picking up a small flute of liquid and taking a small occasional sip, looking around at the decorations.

In the background of the room, one of the waiting staff gently hit a small baton against a bronze gong which sent a beautiful sound rippling across the room and signaled the fact that dinner would soon be served and guests should take their seats. The first to react was the Captain as she made her way to the seat at the head of the table and slowly lowered herself into it.

The Vulcan gave a tiny shrug and went over to the table and found a seat on one side in the middle. He set his drink down and sat - he would normally let the females sit, but one was already doing so and she was in charge. Ovik shifted to get comfortable and then took his ale for another sip. He eyed the others as they came to the table.

Lucius heard the gong go off which indicated that something was about to happen, so he slowly watched the others move towards a nearby dinning table. Taking his cue he took one last sip of his flute and placed it on a nearby silver tray and walked over and quietly took his seat.

"Sorry we're late," a surprise male voice from near the door called out as three new officers entered the room. The man, a Terran, wore the colours of engineering whilst his female companions (one an exotic Deltan and the other yet another Terran) wore the colours of communications and medical respectively.

"Ah, you all made it!" Tharia beamed as she rose from her seat and went over to shake the hands of the three officers in greeting. It was clear that she knew each of them that little bit better than she did the others in the room. "Lady and gentlemen," she smiled as she turned back to her guests at the table, "may I present Commander Reuban Landry, Project Engineer, Lieutenant Nikala Stickland, our Medical Officer and Lieutenant Ilara. Ilara is an expert in linguistics and has been supervising the projects communications development," the Captain then gestured for the three newcomers to join them at the table for their meal.

Reuban politely moved to pull out the chairs for his two female companions from the project before takings his own seat at the table, looking around at the eclectic group of assembled officers. "So, Captain, what have you told them all about the Project?"

From her seat at the table, Cara studied the new arrivals. Curious - as scientists so often were. Landry seemed perfectly at ease, being the perfect gentleman into the bargain before he seated himself. At his question all eyes seemed to move from him to their captain.

"Not much." Caz replied casually with a nod to each of the additional officers. "I don't know how much longer I can stand it to be honest." He took another swig of his drink, trying to not let his impatience show. Even considering the fact that he was Tharia's second in command, she had been extremely limited in the details she had shared with him upon their initial meeting.

Tharia had intended to reveal the project to the newcomers the following morning, but noting how impatient they seemed, she figured she could offer them a chance to look around. "If you would like, we could skip dinner and I could take you to the project's headquarters?" she suggested, looking around the table.

“That would be perfect, yes please ma’am,” Cara said quickly , her curiosity winning out easily over hunger. Then she realised that may have sounded rude. “Not that dinner with you all wouldn’t be perfect also ...”

For a moment, Caz did feel slightly guilty. The Captain had taken time to arrange this dinner, for everyone to meet and his own impatience had hindered that effort. He couldn't help but want to know now, given the opportunity though. "I wouldn't mind that. Whatever you want Captain." He smiled and grinned at Cara, the two obviously shared the same feelings on this matter.

Tharia rose to her feet, pushing the chair from behind her with the backs of her legs. "Commander Landry. Contact Operations and arrange for a shuttle to be readied. We'll meet you in the hangar," the Captain instructed with a nod to the Engineer before looking at the group again. "Let's go," she grinned, her antennae moving freely, happily atop her head.

Ovik took a couple more sips of the Andorian ale as they discussed skipping dinner. He wasn't hungry, at least extremely so. His curiosity was more extreme in this case. Setting the small glass down the Vulcan rose and silently fell in line with the others. He shared their excitement internally, but only showed it with a slight curl of his lips.

Caz did not need to be told twice. He rose up from his seat with excited urgency and took position at Tharia's side.

Clearly thrilled by the prospect of learning more, Cara was close behind. She could barely contain her excitement, although she did try her best since it was true what people said about first impressions. Or was that something to do with shoes? She wasn't sure. Either way, she figured it would be best to at least try and maintain an air of professionalism.

Lucius picked up another glass on the table and quickly downed it, some sort of Blue liquid that actually had a nice bite too it; as he slowly pushed away from the table and picked up another glass and sipped it as he followed the group to the shuttle.

Several moments later, the group of senior officers for Project Ulysses had boarded the shuttle their Captain had requested from operations. The low level sound of various discussions between the officers had settled out to a dull whisper.

"Okay Commander Landry," Tharia smiled as she stood directly behind the two seated officers, Landry and Ilara, "you know where we are headed."

Reuban nodded and activated the shuttles controls, slowly and carefully piloting the craft out of the Spacedock's hangar bay and out in the direction of... Mars? How interesting.

"Mars?" Ovik muttered eventually, peering out a portal window, as the red planet came closer into view. "Reminds me of home, in a way," he commented almost absentmindedly. Of course on Mars you couldn't necessarily breath as easily, and it wasn't as craggy per se.

"Pray tell, Mister Ovik," the Captain smiled as she looked back at the Vulcan, "what currently resides on Mars?" she queried, hoping to pique the interest of those in attendance.

Ovik cocked his head and looked over at the captain, coming out of his daze. "Oh well, I believe there are several mining colonies, a few resort destinations or civilian complexes, and some Starfleet facilities with launch capabilities. I would imagine the Humans and Vulcans have partnered in archaeological research as well." That was off his memory from his parents as well as the Academy. "I do not believe it has been a huge priority to inhabit her quite yet."

“Well I’ll give you a little history lesson Mister Vulcan,” the Captain smiled as her gaze turned forward again. “Utopia Planitia is a vast lava plain on the planet Mars which hosts the surface structures of a starship construction facility, the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, one of the Federation's most extensive construction yards. Utopia Planitia was built prior to 2069. But what virtually no one else knows is that five years ago, three dock yards were completed on the far side of the planet, away from all traffic lanes and in complete secret. The idea was to have a place where secret projects could be constructed without any chance anyone would stumble upon them. Without actively looking for them, no one would know they were there,” the Captain revealed as the craft began to bank and make its way to the far side of the red planet. “Since then, Starfleet has had three new projects under construction at these very facilities and two weeks from now, the first of them, will be completed. Anyone hazard a guess what that project is called?”

"Ulysses?" Caz chirped in with a grin on his face. Someone needed to state the obvious, he figured it might as well be him.

"Teachers pet," Cara teased him lightly under her breath. Hoping he took it in the good nature it was intended. In truth she couldn't wait to see this. The fact Starfleet had managed to hide the construction was a remarkable achievement alone.

"A few years ago, Starfleet constructed, tested and ultimately failed with a new experiment that was, until recently, classified," she revealed as the ship began to level out, "the USS Excelsior was deemed the Great Experiment and when her transwarp systems failed, it was believed that the entire project was shelved. That was far from the truth. In reality, the ship still had significant design capabilities and provided a much needed tactical edge over the older Constitution and Constellation designs. With that in mind..." she grinned as she looked forward and there ahead of them, sitting in the drydock they approached, was a magnificent sight. "Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the USS Ulysses..."

Caz remained quiet and reserved, he playfully elbowed Cara for her teacher's pet comment on his way to the front of the shuttle to take in a better view of the vessel. He developed a wide grin on his face though as he processed the Excelsior class vessel in his mind. It was an exciting prospect to him, being second in command of such a vast and advanced vessel.

Ovik marveled at the vessel before them - a brand new Excelsior class, primed and ready to go. It was always a site to behold a new ship, but something like this wrapped around Mars was quite exciting.

"She's beautiful," Cara observed, leaning forward so she could get a better look at the ship now in full view. And she was. Sure, being in drydock added a few pounds, but to Cara's mind she looked magnificent. "Can we go aboard?"

"She may look beautiful on the outside, but the inside is a different story," Landry revealed with a wry smile towards the Andorian Captain. "We've got engineers all over the place, consoles still being fitted in areas, systems that are being tweaked and..." he trailed off quietly.

"And?!" the Captain queried sternly.

"And the tractor beam hasn't arrived yet," he added with a sheepish smile.

"Still?! When?" she queried.

"Not until Tuesday..." he trailed off again, firing a glance at the young science officer before looking forward again.

"Bloody Tuesday..." the Captain moaned with a sigh before nodding her head slowly. "Okay Commander. Let's fly past the port quarter and enter bay two," she instructed, before looking at the newcomers. "You'll all be free to come and go as you please, just don't get in the way of Landry's people."

"Yeah," Doctor Strickland piped up, "He gets very moody when people interfere with his teams work."

"Once! I yelled once..." the Commander countered.

Ovik stepped nearer to the others as they swept around the dry-dock facility. "Captain," he inquired, his brain starting to wonder where it probably should, actually. "I assume there are multiple security protocols in place. How much of that can we be briefed into?" He figured some of the info may still be classified, and maybe he was getting ahead of himself. Better safe than sorry? His gaze shifted between the captain and the windows.

“The nature of Project Ulysses is classified at present. There will be a briefing tomorrow morning where I can tell you more but, in the meantime, I don’t think there are any restrictions once aboard. The sheer fact you will be aboard signals you have the clearance and authorisation required,” the Andorian revealed, looking around the gathered group.

"So we'll be free to explore then..." Caz spoke softly, more so confirming the comment with himself. He could feel the tingle of excitement running down his spine. There was a small part of him that worried as the prospect of 'classified'. He hoped that their life on board the impressive vessel would not be short lived.

Watching the view in wonderment, the Captain never tired of seeing the massive frame of her new command, no matter how often she saw it. It would be a privilege to take her out into deep space for their first assignment, but for now that had to wait. For now, she'd let her newcomers get accustomed to the idea of serving on one of the fleet's largest vessels to date.

The secrets inside her head would have to wait for another time...

Laws of motion

Location: Deck 7
On: Day 232 at 2100

'A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force...'

Quite why an explanation of Newton's First Law of Motion chose that particular moment to cut into her thoughts, Lieutenant Riley did not immediately appreciate.

Just a fraction of a second before she had been considering more mundane things while she completed her run. Duty roster headaches and a new research paper published by a professor at Cambridge which was causing quite the uproar in the field of Molecular Biology. Thankfully they were a relatively meek group at the best of the time so an uproar probably meant just a few slightly raised voices.

Contemplating the severely flawed logic the professor had used to draw his conclusions, she had not been paying attention to where she was going. It hadn't been like she would forget the way to her quarters or the layout of the ship. But she was too distracted to factor in people.

And so she did not recognise the memory of her science teacher's monotonous voice as he had delivered a presentation on Issac Newton's Laws of Motion as a warning. Not until it was much too late to do anything about it.

It had been a long day for the Communications Chief, but one that had ended triumphantly. He had finally tracked down and solved the problem with the intraship's system and was feeling both triumphant and rather proud of himself. He was headed back to his quarters to shower and change, with uncertain plans about after that.

If that had been the extent of his thoughts he would have been paying much closer attention to his surroundings as well. but there were other things on Wyatt's mind, though none of them were scientific, in any way.

Unlike his colleague, he was focused on people. Or a person. He was thinking about the voice he had heard on the bridge. Fyn Wilhone. A voice he had not heard for so long and had been wondering why he had met with the Captian. Unfortunately, his thoughts though different were nonetheless equally distracting.

He rounded the corner in the hallway but didn't see his fellow chocolateholic until it was too late. They collided in a sea of arms and legs and both went crashing to the floor. For his part, he was startled but unhurt.

"Ar.. are you okay? he managed to ask while still prone.

Cara nodded, pretty sure that aside from having the wind knocked out of her she was unscathed. “I am so sorry,” she apologised as soon as she recovered enough to speak. It helped that he was incredibly close. “Are you okay? I wasn’t paying attention and then my science teacher was ...”

"No, no need to apologize," he said with a quick smile as he ran a hand through his hair, "it's as much my fault as it is yours. I wasn't paying much attention either. Do you need some help getting up? Are you sure you're okay?”

“I think once you move, I can manage from there,” she assured him. In truth, she was starting to feel a tingling in her ankle and hoped it wasn’t a sprain. She was such an idiot.

He slid his left leg out from underneath her right and was in the process of doing the opposite with his left leg and suddenly chuckled, "You know if someone walks upon us now, the rumors are going to be flying all over the ship."

Cara arched an eyebrow, looking amused, “is that because of that talented tongue of yours? Or is that just when it comes to languages?”

He couldn't be sure if she had intended her words to have a double meaning, but he was pretty sure she was aware of it.

He could not resist a playful smirk regardless. "I'll take that as a compliment. I mean I haven't had many complaints about my...oratory skills. I simply meant however we are in something of a compromising position. People might get the wrong idea."

“Probably best,” she agreed with a grin, gesturing for him to move first. She was going nowhere otherwise.

Still smiling, he rose to his feet and held out a hand for her in case she needed it.

Taking the offered hand, the science officer let him pull her to her feet. He seemed to do it with little effort on his part. As soon as she stood, though, pain shot up her leg. “I think I’ll hunt down a medical kit,” she decided, testing how much weight she could put on it. After the initial discomfort, it wasn’t too bad.

"You need a hand?" he inquired, "after all this was half my fault and it would be the chivalrous thing to to do, to escort you back to your cabin, or sickbay if you'd prefer."

“Between you, me and the walls, I hate Sickbay. Do you mind walking me back to my quarters? I’ll ice it and it’ll be fine.”

"Your secret is safe with me, though I imagine half the fleet shares your secret. Sure, I'll walk with you, it will be my pleasure. Just lead the way and feel free to lean on me as much as you need to."

Leaning into him as little as possible- pride was at stake after all - they made their way towards a turbolift. She didn’t elaborate on her slightly more specific neurosis when it came to doctors - and instead opted for more lighthearted talk. “So... how many languages do you speak?” She asked curiously.

"Five fluently," he replied as the entered the turbolift, "if you include standard and I can ask for directions and tell someone where to go in half a dozen more. Do you speak any other languages?"

“A couple fluently but I tended to study sciences rather than languages,” she said as she took the chance to lean against the turbolift wall. “I can read in a few others but to actually get the pronunciation right? I’d probably create a diplomatic incident.”

"Well, we wouldn't want that now would we?" he asked keeping his conversation light. He moved a little closer to her. "Are you sure you're okay, you can put more of your weight on me, I'm stronger than I look. I can even carry you if I need to.

“That would get people talking,” she laughed. “I’ve had worse, don’t worry.”

As the turbolift came to a top and the doors slipped open Wyatt said, "Sounds like you've led an interesting life. We'll have to talk about that sometime. Let me hold the door open. And, just so you know, I don't really give a rat's ass if people do talk."

Pushing away from the wall, “good to know. I think I’ve got it from here. Thank you.”

"No problem," he replied as he held the door. It seemed she no longer needed his help, which was fine with the blond man. That didn't mean he wasn't going to watch to make sure she could get back to her cabin.

"Have a good night."

A few passing crew gave them both looks. But no one said anything.

Home Sweet Home

Location: USS Ulysess
On: Day 232 at 2230

While the late hour made sleep a more prudent course of action, curiosity had kept Lieutenant Riley exploring every inch of the ship well into the night. Examining specifications of a ship was one thing, actually walking the corridors and crawling through a Jeffries tube or two was something else entirely.

From her quarters she had naturally gravitated towards the science department, then to the Bridge. A world of muted greys and blues which blended together in a surprising aesthetic way. Starfleet had rather spared much thought for such things.

When she arrived, the bridge was empty save for some technicians. Working on some last minute updates and installations they gave her only a brief nod before continuing with their work.

She gave them a wide berth as she sat at the science station, familiarising herself with the layout, personalising some of the displays, just getting used to the feel of her new post. Resisting the urge to pinch herself to test if it was all real. Determined to prove the captain had not made a mistake in choosing her.

Just under forty years her senior, the science officer did not doubt for a second that the captain would be someone she could learn from. Nor did she expect the captain would expect anything less than perfection. After all, Cara had argued her case. Argued that her age and lack of experience on a Bridge should not exclude her from whatever opportunity was waiting for them.

As the technicians cleared out, Cara found herself alone on the Bridge. She couldn't not... Sliding out of her chair at the science station she traversed the short distance to the centre of the Bridge. Her hand rested on the chair for a moment before she sat, trying to imagine what it would be like to actually sit there. To command an entire starship. To constantly have to balance the needs of a ship and crew to complete a mission.

Or to see it fail.

At that thought she stood up quickly, shaking off the idea as she headed towards the turbolift. In the morning the captain would be briefing them, before then she planned on some sleep.



Briefing

The Vulcan security officer had been briefed-in for security purposes. It really didn't afford him anything outside what they already knew, per se. But he did ensure that he was read into the specific communications channels and patrol patterns and such. Ovik and the rest then got the call in the morning to report to the observation lounge. Of course, they had been told that the night before. But he headed there and was evidently one of the first ones there. Punctuality for Ovik typically meant he was early.

Caz walked into the briefing room in a semi-relaxed fashion. He was about two minutes early for the briefing. The past forty-eight hours had been a roller coaster of anticipation and excitement. The newly appointed executive officer was still riding a high form the entire situation. "Good morning." He gave a warm smile and stiff nod before assuming his seat.

Commander Landry was not far behind the XO of the Ulysses and entered the room deep in thought and muttering to himself in between sips of the coffee that he was slowly disposing of. He gave an absent-minded nod to both the XO and the resident Vulcan on the staff as he took a seat and continued to play something over in his head.

"Morning," Lieutenant Riley offered with a smile as she entered the briefing room, nursing a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Her blue eyes swept the room as she took a vacant chair, waiting for the others to arrive. "I don't know about you three, but I've been like a kid on Christmas Eve since we saw the ship."

Powell had basically been resting and taking it easy for the most part. He wasn't the kind of person that got easily riled up with suspense. However, he was interested to know what was going to happen next. As he arrived at the observation lounge, he noticed that he was the last one to arrive. He quietly took his seat next to a lieutenant as he waited to find out what was going to develop.

Wyatt Spencer was among the last to arrive. He wasn't late. Exactly However he was pushing the tardy envelope and arrived with no time to spare. He was fresh-faced and alert, his hair still damp from the shower he had hastily taken.

He hated being late, or even the last in the room, but he'd needed a little extra sleep to recover from his space lag. Like Riley, he was carrying a mug of hot chocolate, his favorite drink. He saw her sitting there and after giving everyone a general greeting, sat down across from her a smile turning up the corner of his lips.

"Great minds apparently think alike," he joked to her.

"There isn't an ill in the universe hot chocolate can't solve," she commented with a grin, taking a sip of her own drink. "Or that's my theory anyway."

"I'd say that was a pretty sound theory. I'm Wyatt, the comms officer."

As the two conversed some more, the rest of the staff appeared, followed by the Captain who made her way to the seat at the head of the table and directly opposite the massive screen on the back wall. With the attention now on her, the Andorian relaxed and looked around the group. "Folks, I'm not going to bore you with the usual first-time nonsense. We've got a momentous task ahead of us," with that in mind, she tapped the control in front of her and activated the massive screen, gesturing to it. "The Excelsior-class starships you have seen here are the first of a new breed of exploratory cruiser, combined with the teeth Starfleet has needed for some time now. With the Enterprise now retired, and her replacement some way off, we're the ones that Command will look to for the big missions."

A bit of uncharacteristic excitement swelled in Ovik. "Are we to be the flagship then, at least when the admiralty are not out and about? And do I posit we have a tour?" The Vulcan had other questions of course, but he'd start with these.

"Flagship duties have been transferred to Captain Sulu and the crew of the Excelsior for the time being," the Captain told with a look at the Vulcan before gesturing back at the computer screen. "We will be the first of the three vessels under construction to launch. In less than a month, both the Achilles and the Melbourne will launch. All three vessels will be considered as active, despite a designated shakedown period of six months. Whatever we encounter, we will have to fix along the way," the Andorian revealed before turning back to the Vulcan. "To answer your last question Lieutenant, yes. We have been given a designated region to operate in and a clear mandate." Here, the blue-skinned Captain went quiet to allow others to chime in and also in order to build suspense.

"So Starfleet is giving the green light for the Excelsior class," replied Lucius. "It is about time, granted the Khitomer Accords may have introduced peace between us and the Klingons. This added firepower will hopefully keep the Empire at bay, but I doubt it," he said as he cracked his knuckles.

Caz had remained solemn and silent most of the meeting so far but straightened up slightly at the mention of the Klingons. He had hoped that they would not have to deal with them. He hated the Klingons. They were after all the reason he grew up without his father.

At that point, the Captain rose to her feet and slowly made her way to the large computer screen she had previously controlled from the desk. "The Klingons will not be our concern," she revealed before activating a two-dimensional map of the alpha and beta quadrants and running her blue fingers across different portions as she spoke. "The Achilles will be heading up a task force at the Klingon border, whilst the Melbourne will be leading the Potemkin, Tecumseh, and Yorktown to the Romulan border. Following the involvement of Ambassador Nanclus in the conspiracy at Khitomer, relations are... strained. But, that, again, is not our problem." She tapped the screen again and closed in on an entirely different region on the opposite side of Federation space. "We're headed here, the Calandra Sector. A new species has reared its head and it's up to us to investigate, and if possible, make first contact properly," she continued as she walked back to her seat, this time the opposite way to the way she had before.

Leaning forward in her seat, Cara studied the map. Committing it to memory. "What information do we have so far about this new species, Captain?" she asked, her curiosity written all over her face.

"From the intelligence gathered, which consists of unreliable reports from several trader vessels operating on the edge of Federation space, they have grey skin and some form of cranial ridges," she revealed as she relaxed in her chair. "We understand their vessels, like ours, vary in design and employ phased energy weapons, but beyond that, we know nothing. Except that they have raided three Federation cargo ships in the last six months, seemingly taking advantage of our preoccupation with the Klingons and the Romulans."

"Makes sense to me Captain, the Federation wants to protect it's cargo ships while flexing its power; and eventually making first contact with an alien species," said Lucius as he sat at the conference table.

"Everything we have available will be available for you to access and review before we depart. Make sure you review all the information we have before then," she directed, "which brings me to my next point. Commander Landry will be remaining with us until a new, permanent Engineer is assigned. Finding one with up to date knowledge of the latest systems is proving difficult."

Landry nodded along, listening to the Andorian's words. "I'm supposed to be moving to the Achilles next, but our gracious Captain here has sweet-talked me into hanging around for a while longer," he grinned.

"Any further questions?"

There was a notable relief in the XO's body language, now that the crew had been informed of their first assignment. He was pleased that dealing with the Klingon's was not the primary object of their newly constructed vessel. A new species? That he could deal with. Caz knew that encountering the Klingons was most likely inevitable at some point but was glad it was not happening in the immediate future.

"When are we departing Captain?" The XO spoke up finally, in a soft and gentle tone.

"We're not scheduled to depart for a few days yet," Tharia told in response to her XO. "We don't even have our tractor beam yet," she smirked before glaring at the Engineer.

"Actually," Reuban butted in, looking rather smug, "I managed to call in a few favours on the Melbourne and stole their tractor emitter. It's being installed as we speak. No sense in us being stuck here, waiting for one, when Melbourne is waiting on other equipment too," the Commander smiled.

"Mister Landry," the Captain smirked as she relaxed in her chair again, "you never cease to amaze me."

"It's what I do!" he grinned as he swung from side to side on his chair like a smug little child.

Caz nodded in acknowledgment of Tharia's answer. He grinned also. There seemed to be an ongoing theme of incomplete systems but he expected nothing less from the final days of such a vast-construction project. He was relieved that they would be keeping Commander Landry on staff for the moment. In reality. The Ulysses was a stranger to most of the officers in the room and would be for a while.

"Medical is up and running Captain," Nikala Strickland chimed in with a disapproving smile at the cocky engineer. "We're waiting on a few supplies from the quartermaster, but other than that, we are all set."

"Science will be fully up and running by the time we depart, Captain," Cara added, grinning at the look she caught the doctor flashing in the engineer's direction. "There are some last-minute adjustments being made to enhance the accuracy of our long-range sensors so I want to test them before departure."

"Speaking of testing," Wyatt spoke up, "I found an intermittent glitch in the intra-ship communications grid between Decks 17-24. I haven't been able to track down the source of it, but I hope to have that accomplished by end of day tomorrow."

"Mister Landry?" the Captain mused, looking at the Engineer.

"Mister Spencer will have whatever resources he requires ma'am," the engineer nodded.

Smiling, the Andorian turned her attention at last to the resident Vulcan at the table. "Lieutenant?"

"All security personnel are accounted for, procedures are in place for emergency situations and regular security drills are being scheduled as we speak," the Vulcan revealed, "I will be hosting regular firearms training scenarios should any of you wish to attend." And with that, his report was over.

Rising to her feet, the Andorian looked around her new collective and smiled. "People, we have a fantastic opportunity here, to go out into the unknown, beyond the boundaries of Federation space, and fly the flag of peace," she grinned, her white teeth showing and her antennae bobbing happily atop her white head of hair, "let's get to work!"

Thoroughly inspired by the words of the Captain, Commander Landry, Lieutenant Ilara and Lieutenant Strickland were the first to leave the room, having a good old laugh and a joke as they went. Soon, Ovik was close behind, silently judging the revelry of the two senior officers and their Deltan companion, although she seemed more of a spectator than a collaborator at this point.

From the opposite door, Captain sh'Elas made for the comfort of the bridge to go over some last-minute changes to duty stations.

Caz gave a friendly nod to those who were departing the briefing area. He was due to personally oversee the realignment of the port phaser array. When he had completed his weapons systems review earlier that morning, he was displeased with the particular alignment - it seemed sluggish. He had agreed to work with one of the engineering crew to fix the issue. He simply nodded to sh'Elas, who would have been aware of where he was heading and then made way for the turbolift.

Lucius left the briefing room behind the rest of the officers and took his seat at the Ulysses helm. After glancing down at the console he noticed that the layout was totally different from that of the Apollo. Trying to remain confident and exurb confidence in that he knew he was doing, he mentally made notes to study the new helm controls in depth. It would have been nice if they made all helm controls standard across the board. After finding the thruster control, he pressed a few buttons bringing them slowly on line across the ship. Once that was completed he inputted his access code to bring the main impulse engines slowly on line.

Wyatt had diagnostics to run and some issues to sort out and didn't want to waste any time. So, as soon as the meeting had officially ended, he made his exit.

A Brief Encounter

Location: Lounge
On: Day 233 at 1800

Wyatt had, had no idea of the scope of the mission prior to meeting with the Captian and to be honest, while he now had a much better understanding he still wasn't one hundred percent sure he understood. More accurately he had an excellent idea of the mission as it had been described, he was just wondering what would happen when not if something happened that threw a spanner into the mix.

He'd never been on a ship as large as the Ulysses, but his experience in any Starfleet vessel was rather limited. He was rather awed by the size of her, though he vowed not to let that show.

He was off-duty now, so he stopped by his quarters and changed into a pair of grey chinos and a black short-sleeved polo shirt and headed down to Deck 7 and the forward lounge. He wasn't sure if they would have alcohol, which he rather hoped. He'd be okay either way he just wanted a chance to unwind a little.

He found a table with a small viewport and he sat down. A waiter, an enlisted man, stopped by his table and he ordered some fish and chips and a beer.

Nathan entered the forward lounge. His personal belongings were yet to arrive so he was still in uniform but he'd opened the front flap, giving himself a slightly more casual appearance. The lounge was almost deserted, but for a lone figure sitting at a table near one of the viewports. 'The first of my new colleagues.' He sauntered over and cleared his throat. "Mind if I join you?"

Wyatt's order had not yet arrived and he looked up at the attractive stranger. "Sure. I mean, I don't mind at all. I could use the company."

Extending a hand, Nathan introduced himself, "Nathan Mitchell, Diplomatic Attache."

"Wyatt Spencer," came the reply as the blond man half rose to his feet extending his hand in return. "Wyatt Spencer, I'm the Comms Chief. Go ahead, have a seat. Make yourself at home."

Nathan smiled. "Thanks." He slipped into the offered chair. "These Excelsior-class starships are something else, aren't they?"

"They are indeed. Though to be perfectly honest this is the first time I've been on one. What about you?"

Nate glanced around the room. "This is a first for me too. When I joined Starfleet I thought the pinnacle of my career might be serving onboard a Constitution-class starship. Then they launched the Excelsior. Didn't think I'd get a billet onboard one of these things for another few years."

"Yeah," Wyatt replied, "I know what you mean." He was about to ask another question when the waiter appeared with his order. "Here's my food now," he said, "did you want to get anything?"

Thinking about it for a moment, Nathan finally decided upon his order. "I'll have a club sandwich and a glass of ice water."

The waiter set Wyatt's food down on the table, and without writing anything now, he headed off to the kitchen. "I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but why did you decide to become a diplomat?

"To be honest, it was never the plan," Nathan told him. "I did the diplomatic/legal studies course at the Academy and came away with a law degree. Spent the first part of my career with the JAG Corps. But I was offered a chance to move into diplomacy about eight years ago and decided it would be a chance to do something different."

Nate decided to turn the question back on his colleague. "What about you? How did you get into communications? Don't take this the wrong way but you don't exactly fit the stereotypical mold of a Starfleet Communications Officer."

Wyatt listened to Nathan's explanation carefully while he spoke and he could appreciate the story. In his mind, it was always a good thing to try new experiences.

He shrugged off the comment about his atypical appearance. "Well, I was on a merchant vessel before I joined Starfleet, so I had a chance to try my hand at several different positions. It was a small ship, so we had to be versatile. I was just more comfortable there. Plus if you think I don't look like a communications geek, just imagine what I would look like if I had gone into security."

"But, I have a talent for languages and it just seemed like the right fit."

"But, I have to ask, just what does the stereotypical communications officer look like?"

Nathan's reply was instant. "Bookish, unassuming. At least that's the type of Comm Officers that I've met in my career."

"Ahh, well I guess there were a few of those back at the Academy. I haven't run into a lot since leaving there. So, I'll take your word for it. I think I'm glad you don't see me as bookish, or unassuming. How do I appear to you?"

After studying his dinner companion for a moment Nathan replied, "I dunno," before finally settling on a proper answer. "Like a dancer. Like you'd be more at home in a ballet company than in a Starfleet Uniform."

Wyatt nodded and grinned, "That's actually not too far off the mark. I was a gymnast growing up and I still try to keep in shape The two do have a lot in common."

"So, do you have any hobbies?"

The waiter returned and placed the plate in front of Nathan along with the glass of ice water. "Anything outdoors. Hiking, horseback riding, camping. If it's outdoors, chances are I enjoy doing it."

"I'm not much of a camper, but I recently tried rock climbing, have you ever tried that?"

Nathan nodded as he chewed the first bite of his sandwich. "A few times. Mostly rope climbing but a little free climbing too. Where did you go climbing?"

"Well, on Earth I've been to Kalymnos Island and El Capitan. On Vulcan, I've been to Soren's Spear. Oh and on Risa, I climbed Potrenjura Bluffs. What about you? Where have you climbed?"

Wyatt realized he'd been so lost in the conversation that he had all but forgotten it. He took a sip of his beer and took a bite of fish as he waited on the other officer to answer.

"I've done some climbing on Earth, Andoria, and Rigel." He replied before taking another bite of his sandwich. "Some of my favourite climbing locations are on Earth. Ireland and England have some great climbs."

"Well, I didn't get a chance to go there when I was the Academy. Maybe if we have some shore leave we could go climbing together," Wyatt suggested after another bite of food.

Nate smiled. "I don't think we'll get much chance for shoreleave in the foreseeable future, but if we get the chance at some stage," he paused to take a sip of water, "Yeah, that sounds like a plan."

Wyatt finished his last fry while nodding his head. "Yeah, you're probably right about that. But let's do it when, or if we get the chance." After taking a swig of his beer, he pointed to the other's drink. "So, why just water?"

"Um," Nathan hadn't been expecting that question, "I dunno. I was just in the mood for ice water I guess." There was nothing behind his choice of drink, other than not being in the mood for an alcoholic drink.

"Fair enough, not that it's really any of my business. One last question, and if it's too personal, you don't have to answer. It looks like we're going to be gone for a long while. You leaving any close loved ones behind?"

Nathan shook his head. "I spent the past six months on a Deep Space Exploration mission onboard the Endeavour. I already left my family behind. Besides, we're not a big family. Just my parents and my sister. We keep in touch via letters sent over subspace." He took the last bite of his sandwich and washed it down with the last of his water. "How about you? Leaving family back on Earth for this assignment?"

There was a slight pause before Wyatt responded, but he didn't break eye-contact with the other man."My family and I aren't exactly close. I haven't seen them since I was eighteen."

"Oh." Lieutenant Mitchell got the distinct feeling that he'd put his foot in it. "I'm sorry to hear that. Though I guess it makes it easier taking an assignment like this."

"It's okay," Wyatt hastened to reassure him, "It is what it is. No one can do anything about it. And you couldn't have known. "There was one person I had started to get close to on my last ship. We were in something of a relationship. I'll miss them. But at least we had just started to get serious. So, I think I'm going to be okay."

Nathan understood what he meant. "One of the downsides of this life. We could receive new orders at any time and that can make forming emotional attachments to others difficult. But I knew that going in so I accepted that possibility right from the start."

The communications officer wiped his mouth with a napkin. "So true, I've resigned myself to that idea. Still, it's sometimes easier in the abstract than in reality. But, I think I'm about done here, I'm going to go back to my cabin now. What about you?"

Nathan leaned back and stretched his arms out to the side, enjoying the sensation of his muscles getting a much-needed stretch. "I have some research to do before I turn in for the night. I've never been involved in a first contact before and I want to brush up on my procedures."

"That sounds like a good idea. I'm a little tired though. So, I'm going to wait until tomorrow to do that.I'm sure we'll see each other around sometime. Do you want to do dinner again?"

The Diplomatic Attache nodded. "Sure. I prefer having some company and conversation with meals."

"Good enough," Wyatt said as he rose to his feet and stuck out his hand. "It was nice meeting you."

Nathan grasped the offered hand. "Good to meet you too. I'll see you around."

We're never going to get out of spacedock...

He was rapt. Soft red light crept like a hazy fog about them, an ember in what was, to Ennani eyes, true black. To Fyn, it was a different creature. True black was rare to a tetrochromat. Pinpricks of what were white were not just white but understood in shades of: "warm" or "cool" white. And upon Fafa Navoa, the Eye of the Goddess of Fortune had a great nimbus of fluctuating red, and deeper, purpler still red.

Fyn Wihone, all eleven years old of him, hugged preadolescent, lanky legs to his chest as equally weedy arms wrapped about them. His dark eyes glowed with a cat-like ring of copper, shifting once or twice like a cat's eye flicker watching movement in the dark. He smiled softly, a personal pronouncement of the utter beauty of the universe. Tonight he picked a new patch of sky as he stared out in the copper and bronze colored, sectioned dome observatory of the space station. In his ears, he could hear the soft sculling sound of a computer, and the fingers that input the data. They had minute corrections.

"Wihone," it was not the cold tendency of a coach to call someone by their last name, but a warm purr of what the word meant in Ennani: the smile of a child. Long, cold fingers screeched in his wooly, newly shortened hair. He beamed at the word, looking up as a plump woman moved to sit behind him and wrapped herself in him like a blanket. She pet his eyebrows- it was an odd Ennani custom like a secondary affection, not quite a kiss. "You should be in bed."

Fyn twisted and shook his head, "No, I'm n-not tuh-tired." He protested in a high boy's boy. She pet his eyebrows again.

"Remember: think about what you want to say. Picture the word as you speak." Shiveli was his language tutor and immediately had noticed Fyn's stutter. She understood why he did it, but it was her charge to try and scaffold around it. In the background sculled the computer again. Fyn turned to study the heat nimbus that came off the female shape, easily distracted. "Where are you tonight?" She asked, touching her cheek to his. Fyn pointed at the section of the sky.

"Ahh," Shiveli said. She pulled the boy back into her, her calming voice began to leave story. She drew lines to stars and formed pictures, "The great dragon of Vondem reared it's head and snapped at the sword of Tellar..." she began as Fyn moved to snuggle into her. He reached for one of her thick, honey-smelling dreadlocks and fidgeted with it.

"Wihone," a crisp voice said. The heat nimbus turned with a datapad. Fyn could see her features in the darkness. She was utterly bald, pale and had a severe sharpness to her face. When she smiled, she showed teeth. But she was not wicked, even if she looked it. Fyn pushed off Shivelli gently and scrambled to his feet. He brushed himself off and took the data-pad. He held it against his chest. "Take that to Patra in the central archives. Then you will go to sleep."

Fyn's eyes strayed to Shiveli and then the stars. "Bed, is that understood Wihone?" Eshiba was a stricter sort, and one did not cross the Matron.

Fyn nodded once. He turned a little reluctantly and waved at Shiveli before he walked down the long corridor toward the data archives.



"Main Bridge."

Fyn settled against the bulkhead of the turbolift and yawned against his fist a soft lion's sound. He held a data-pad against one of his pecs, tucked thereby an arm. It was hard to sleep in new places. The ship smelled new. Everything about it suggested it wasn't broken in. Ithemba, by comparison, was a relic: like walking into something mid-century before one entered an ultra-modern home. The bones were similar but inexorably different. And like it or not, they compared each other.

The turbolift hummed under him and Fyn rubbed crust out of the corner of his eye, then massaged along one side of his cranial ridge. He stifled another yawn. The turbolift crawled to a stop- Fyn's ears popped and he stepped out. He didn't wait for the turbolift doors to completely open but sidled through like an agile ferret. He paused to look about the Bridge: it was easily twice the size of Ithemba's Operations center. He was rarely up there, but it did. Fyn looked up at the dome of starry light flickering with warm and cool nimbuses.

He told himself to focus and stepped cautiously forward. "Can someone tell me where to find the Captain?"

The Ulysses Chief Communications Officer was laying flat on his back looking underneath the communications console. He could curse in nine languages and he had used most of them as he tried to fix, once and for all the problem with the intraship system. The answer kept eluding him.

He'd just put down a mini-spanner. When he heard a voice he'd never forget. A voice he hadn't heard in almost three years. He raised up quickly, too quickly, hitting his head, causing a sharp explosion of pain and a new expletive, this time in Standard, to come out of his mouth. It wasn't quite a shout, but it almost way.

The newly minted Executive and Chief Navigation Officer of the Ulysses was posted at his console. He had tinkered away with the controls for the past hour or so. Caz knew full well that many Engineers had run several sets of diagnostics on his navigation and tactical systems but he had been in Starfleet long enough to not trust brand new technology. As beautiful as the Ulysses was, several crew members had already encountered bugs and corruptions in various different systems across the ships. Mind you - nothing had been severe enough to bring any significant harm to members of the crew or the ship itself.

A voice had pulled him from his focus. Part of Atherton was glad for the distraction, as the LCARS panel was on the verge of meshing into one colourful abstract had he stared at it any longer. "Petty Officer.....?" It was an acknowledgement of the small stature male who stood looking like he was taking in the space. He was unsure of the officer's name but could identify the rank on his uniform.

The youth was looking for a friendly face on the cavernous Bridge when he heard one at the Helm speak. Fyn focused on it, gripping his data-pad at the hip with both hands. He smiled. When Fyn smiled, it always looked a little... bashful. The way the upper bow of his lips did its work. "Oh. Wihone, sir. Pretty Officer Wihone," he smiled at the green-skinned man.

"Welcome on board." Caz moved over to Fyn and extended his hand in greeting. "I'm Commander Atherton. Chief Navigation and Executive Officer." The taller and more muscular frame of the half-orion was an amusing juxtaposition to the young yeoman's. "I'm sure the Captain will be glad to have you here." Things were anything but quiet on the Ulysses as the crew prepared for departure in their maiden voyage.

Fyn knew many Orions in passing but the Commander's lighter coloring was new to him. Fyn extended his hand as well, shaking the Helmsman's with a broadened smile. "Nice to-to meet you, Sir." His hand naturally eased back down to his data-pad and he looked around. The Bridge was massive- and also cacophonous with the sound of "fine-tuning", "Um, Ki tusim ko i Ori'ana bolade ho?" He asked in Orionese. Do you speak any Orion, sir?"

Wyatt hadn't needed to hear the name to know who it was that had just entered the Bridge, he was just wondering why he was doing here/

There was a perplexed look on Atherton's face a moment. It lasted only a few seconds before he grinned. The sudden change in dialect had caught him off guard. "Very little." He replied warmly. "Sirapha na kujha jō mā'uam ne mainuu sik'hāi'a," his replied slowly, having reached into the depths of his mind to recall his mother's native tongue. "Only what my mother taught me."

"I'm half Orion. My mother escaped the slave trade before I was born. That side of my culture is lost to me... Well... Mostly..." It did not phase Caz to speak of this, he had accepted that his human side and culture would remain dominant in his life many years prior. "You speak it well though Mr. Fyn."

Fyn nodded, the bow of his mouth in a silent, Ahh, of understanding. "Th-there were a lot of Orions around the Jetsam. It was required learning if you w-wanted much. Good music though. They um, ran most of the clubs." He smiled at the compliment that he spoke well. "Thanks. Um. S-so where should I report to the Captain, Sir?" He looked back, naturally at the vacant center chair. Nearly vacant. A technician seemed to be tinkering with one of the armrests.

"She just went into her ready room less than ten minutes ago." Caz gestured casually across the bridge with his arm extended in the direction of Tharia's office. "Go ahead... She doesn't bite... Too hard..." He gave the Petty Officer an ominous expression.

"I-I only worry when people start ch-chewing," Fyn jested back. He followed the finger the XO pointed him toward. Fyn breasted his data-pad again and moved for it. He tapped the call button and waited.

"ENTER!" came the call from within the room, a tone that suggested that perhaps, just perhaps, entering the room would not be advisable at present.

Fyn looked down at his feet. There was harshness through the door speaker. But he still had a duty to perform. And whatever was wrong, it was not his fault. Fyn sniffed and put his hands clasping the data-pad behind his back. And he walked inside. The doors parted and he stepped inside. With a quick glance, he determined the situational setting of the room. "Good morning, Ma'am," he stated. "I'm Yeoman Wihone. I've been assigned to you." He looked at the Andorian woman, and he stood at a feet at shoulder's width apart attention, bringing the data-pad in front of him, clasped in his hands at his front.

"Finally, someone who can help with this mountain of PADDs," the Captain let out an exasperated sigh as she walked over to him and offered a hand. "sh'Elas," the Andorian smiled sheepishly, "Tharia sh'Elas."

Fyn shook it, right after he did a quick pivot of his own data-pad to his left. "Fyn, Ma'am. Nice to meet you." The youth looked at the near-literal mountain of data-pads the Captain had been contending with. Fyn had always suspected that launching a starship was a bureaucratic nightmare. The confirmation was unsettling. Fyn's bonding and security clearance were on file as of 0630 but he hadn't expected to give it a spin some thirty minutes in.

"Right. So what were you working on and where can I take the pressure off?"

"Honestly," she sighed as she collapsed onto the rooms sofa, "I've not yet begun. This is all from yesterday," she groaned as she gestured to the mess. "Status reports from all departments, transfer logs, requisition updates, updates from the yard engineers, sector security reports. Hell, there are even updates on the Klingon and Romulan situations in there somewhere..."

"Right," Fyn's mind processed the enormity. He moved for the data-pad pile. It was his job to prioritise what the Captain saw first, second and third, and what was simply background requests. And some of this was naturally supposed to go to the XO, Fyn bet. But he aimed to start chewing through it. Fyn decided to thin the herd of chaff first. He sorted sorting, lips moving silently as he read opening subject matter. His hands began to sift through, forming piles. Captain's eyes only, stuff better suited to the XO, requests that needed to go out.

Fyn walked over to the Captain and smiled at her his unusual smile. The Farian boy had double sets of canines and he had a tendency to smile with lips slightly parted. "OK these'll really just need y-your thumbprint OK." He whipped the first to his face, "Ok... a request to puh-pull from the deuterium supply depot on 12 Aten near Mercury since our shipment from Proxima Colony is delayed," he held it out for her to thumbprint. "And request to swap out a the secondary hull's backup sub-processor for a newer model." He held out both for her to thumb, a third tucked under his arm.

Tharia gladly gave her thumb print to both items and gave him a smile that signalled she was happy to have someone else deal with the chaos. "No one ever tells you about the paperwork until it's too late," she chuckled as she gestured for the next task.

Fyn was quick, switching one data-pad from under his arm to his hand. He gave it a quick perusal, "They'll try and sneak stuff by you knowing you're buh-busy. I saw it uh-on Ithemba a few times. It's not usually outright duh-dishonesty, it's just something they know needs to be buried in a requisition because it'd stand as superfluous on its own. But..." He chuckled, "I knew a guy on Ithemba who tried to req a live Vulcan Sehlat as a prank." His nose wrinkled, "That didn't guh-go over so well for him." He held out the third datapad, "This one's to replace the 23-gamma-starboard warp coil segment, it's duh-defective."

"We're never going to get out of spacedock..." the Andorian frowned as she signed off on the replacement of the warp coil. It was then that she looked at the chronometer and smiled. "Right, I'm going to leave you to this lot Fyn," she smirked happily, "because I can do that now!" she laughed, not directly at him or in any sort of sadistic way, just out of pure happiness that she had someone else to share the mess with at last. As she made for the door, she turned back briefly to give a last "I'll be on the bridge if you need me."

Fyn watched the blue Shan leave her ready room. He looked at the data-pads and decided to bring them over to the small seating area. He dumped them on there, sat on the floor and started to work through it.

Hitting the Ground Running

Location: Diplomatic Office | U.S.S. Ulysses
On: Day 234 at 1500

Lieutenant Mitchell placed his elbows on his desk and began slowly massaging his temples. So far today had been spent speaking with four different Admirals at Starfleet Command in San Francisco and the head of the Federation’s Diplomatic Corps in Paris. 'Communications must have been having a field day.' He mused, thinking of Lieutenant Spencer and his staff receiving so many high level comm traffic and having to reroute it too Nathan. No doubt the Captain was having similar conversations with the same Admirals.

Each of the Admirals focused on the need to end the raids on the Federation cargo ships operating in the Kalandra Sector, with the need for a successful first contact being a secondary objective. Meanwhile, the head of the Diplomatic Corps focused entirely on the need for a successful first contact and peaceful relations with this newly discovered civilisation established. The Federation had just established an uneasy peace with the Klingons, they didn’t need to replace one enemy with another.

All of them were united on one point; they felt that allowing such a junior officer to lead the Ulysses’ first contact efforts was reckless. Nathan pointed out to each of them that he would not be leading the first contact efforts, Captain sh’Elas would. His role would be that of an advisor. This didn’t seem to placate them, but they each dropped the matter at that point. Captain sh’Elas had been given free rein to pick her crew and Nathan was her choice for Diplomatic Attaché.

Nathan still wasn’t sure why, out of all the candidates the Captain had to choose from, that she had chosen him. But who was he to question the Captain’s judgement?

When not speaking to various senior dignitaries, Nathan was reviewing everything Starfleet Intelligence had on these grey skinned aliens. Unfortunately, all the information currently held didn’t amount to more than that; they had grey skin, cranial ridges and their technology was roughly on a par with Federation’s own.

His new Diplomatic Aide, Petty Officer 1st Class Arthur Wellesley, was first rate. His service record was impeccable, his evaluations all providing glowing reports. "I have a lot to live up to." He'd told Nathan, alluding to his illustrious lineage. The Petty Officer had attacked his work with vigor and the Lieutenant could see just why his previous supervisors thought so highly of him.

The diplomatic office in which they worked was little more than an empty room on Deck 4. It was large enough to fit four desks and a large computer display on the wall. If he needed to have a private word with someone, his quarters would double up as his office. Even on ships as large as the Excelsior-class, space was at a premium.

His attempt to ease his headache was not working. Deciding that he needed to stretch his legs, Nathan stood and announced his intention to go for a walk.

Nathan's level of excitement was high. He was about to get the chance to advise a Starfleet Captain on first contact. Most Diplomatic Attache's would go their entire careers without such an opportunity. That it would get both his and the Captain's names, along with the name Ulysses, into the history books was daunting.

‘We’re up to the challenge.’ He told himself, not entirely sure if he believed it.

It's Been A While

Location: Ship's Lounge
On: Day 234 at 2345

When Wyatt had told the Captian that he would have the intra-ship's communications system fixed by the end of the day, he had meant it. He thought it would be an easy thing to fix and that he might even have some spare time to explore around the ship. As it had turned out, Mister Murphy, had, had different ideas and the easy job turned out to not be easy at all.

Just when he thought he had gotten a handle on it, a new wrinkle developed and he was back to square one.

But, he had finally found the real issue, a defective relay on Deck 12, something he had missed earlier in the day. But to be fair to him, he had been distracted at first, after hearing a voice from the past. A Farian by his rather distinctive accent and not just any Farian, but Fyn Wihone whom he had dated for a tumultuous five months before he graduated He didn't know what his business with the Captain had been had been and he had to leave before he found out. But it got him to thinking

Whatever the reason the error cost him a lot of time and he had, had to work three hours past his shift, but had least got it done. It had also given him a headache and while it wasn't too severe he decided he didn't want to be alone in his own quarters

Now it was close to Zero hundred, or midnight and he decided to go to the lounge for his food, just as he did the previous night where he'd met the cute, but probably straight, diplomatic attache.

This time he decided to eat a little bit more healthy and ordered an apple walnut salad and a glass of white zinfandel to drink.

The mood of the lounge was pregnant, though its denizens sparse at such an hour. The lights were lowered, the deck powered down with less need to accommodate large groups of people heading into the quietest shift. Gamma was sedate. The same question was mused on: when do we launch and where do we go?

Fyn Wihone wasn't on duty, though his mind was- he forced it there. He'd spent his entire shift and a couple of hours into the next sorting through Captain sh'Elas' logistics backstop. He'd gleaned quite an understanding of what it took to get a starship launched. But with requisitions made- Deuterium even now was loading a freighter near the Cinder Trojans in Mercury orbit- replacements on their way- a new warp coil and a newer sub-processor en-route- Fyn felt justified that he'd helped relieve the Captain of some angst.

Much of what he'd scanned through were space weather reports- those went to Science and Helm- and personnel transfers- those were mostly meant for the XO- what had unsettled Fyn was how close the ship sounded like it might be going to his old stomping ground. That gave him pause. He knew the space and he'd left it for a reason. The powers in the area didn't behave like Klingons. More like... Orions. Or something more Romulan than Romulans were.

With it fresh on the mental palate, Fyn dreamed of things he'd put behind him, and had awoken from a nightmare from childhood.

The clean lines and exalted morals of the Federation were a world beyond what Fyn understood. He questioned when they had last truly felt existential fear as so many in the Jetsam dealt with, sometimes daily. Did they know places of fear? Places like he dreamt of. Places like Zombhi.

The word, to Humans at least, seemed to lead to a smirk or thought of as ludicrous. It had something to do with their past mythology that Fyn didn't quite grasp. But it was sobering fear to him. It wasn't spoken as "Zombie" but in the Yridian tongue, it was closer to Zumv-b-hee. And people in the Jetsam knew to give Zumv'b'hee a wide, wide berth.

Fyn surfaced in the lounge at this hour for warm, sweet milk with cardamom. His roommate in Academy, Lily, had given it to him a few times. He walked to the food synthesizer, swaying his head and dangling curls in unspoken thoughts as he refocused on the real: "Milk with cardamom, fifty-five degrees, touch of sweet." The processor hummed to life as Fyn waited. He spied the back an officer with a glass of white zinfandel. Fyn smirked. He dated a guy back in Academy who likes white zinfandel. Fyn wondered where he was now? Good memories but... bittersweet too. They knew it had to come to an end. But... inevitably it had tapered into subspace promises to meet that never connected and then less and less subspace until... somewhere along the way... they'd moved on.

The small alcove opened to Fyn's drink and he lifted it up to smell it. Farian sense of smell was on par with Humans though they lacked the same chemo-receptors for flavors. Too much sweet turned bitter- all Farian flavor receptors led to bitter if too much and it was akin to being too salty for Humans. Offputting. It was their proprioception and sight that were quite different. Fyn maneuvered himself into a small chair to face the stars so he could look out at them.

Wyatt was no telepath, so he wasn't sure what caused him to shift his position. But as he was setting his glass down he half-turned to his left and saw the face that belonged to the voice he'd heard earlier in the day.

After swallowing the wine he'd just sipped, he rose and walked towards Fyn and said, "Oh my God, it really is you."

Presence spiked in Fyn: primeval instincts- and he felt the hair on his neck stand on end. He turned as the Human spoke to him. Fyn's eyes rounded. He knew the face. It was a little older and the uniform was a lot different. But it was him. Same white hair. Same blue eyes. Same dark eyebrows. Fyn set his drink down, his toothy canine-doubled smile beaming as he reached to hug the Human. "Wyatt," he breathed into the neck. Smelled right, yet strange.

He eased out of the hug, holding the Human's arm, "It's been..." he smirked, searching eyes, "It's been a few uhh... years." Fyn was in disbelief. He eyed the rank standing out in gray, "Lieutenant, I-I guess, sorry." He stared, still not sure if this was just weird or... a weird dream down memory lane again. "I guess you still drink uh, zuh-zinfandel." Fyn's nose wrinkled- Farians didn't have a taste for grapes, and this one hadn't back then, either.

Wyatt smiled as the hug ended and the Farian continued to hold onto his arm. "Lieutenant Junior Grade if we're being technical. And yes, I still drink it. I remember when you tried it that one time."

He looked over his old friend his smile growing wider, "Are you, are you assigned here?"

Fyn nodded his head, "I-I was transferred off Ithemba Station a few days ago. It w-was out of nowhere. I was in the Yeoman Pool one moment and the next the Chuh-Chief Yeoman was telling me to get my ass to Mars." He too studied the face in front of him, "The-the last I heard, you'd just transferred to the Mercury. What're you duh-doing here?"

"I was just getting settled there really, had even, well I was just getting settled in and Starfleet decided they wanted me here. I'm the Chief Communications Officer here. My God, I can't believe we're going to be together."

Fyn smirked to the side. "Tha-that's good news. Congratulations, Wyatt." He blinked, "Well, um, Sir. You're ih-in uniform, after all."

Wyatt laughed and smacked his forehead with his palm. "Yeah, duh, of course. You want to join me for a drink or something to eat maybe?"

Fyn pursed his lips, thinking, nodding. Then he twisted and picked up his milk, "For a little bit. I have to be up at 0600 for my juh-jog, shower and then straight to work." Fyn walked with Wyatt to the table. Fyn set his drink down, then himself. He looked around the room- there were only three others in the entire lounge and all three had noses buried in datapad, their forks poised over late dinners. Or perhaps breakfasts.

Wyatt was a little conflicted. He wasn't sure how Fyn felt about him anymore. It had been a while and they had both been barely out of their teenage years. For that matter, he wasn't quite sure how he felt about the Farian. So, he wasn't sure just how to proceed.

He took a sip of his drink, his eyes locked on Fyn's. "It's been a while since we talked last. How have you been, what have you been up to?"

The Farian shrugged, "Aw-honestly, just work. I enlisted and they put me between Jupiter Station and Starbase Wuh-One for awhile. But it was purely cuh-clerical work. A lot of time on shuttles." He shrugged, "So when the Yard at Ithemba posted needing Yeomans for its shuttle construction yards, I applied. I've been there a couple of years." The Farian sipped at his milk. He looked down into its creaminess. "What did you d-do on Mercury? Wasn't it a deep space assignment or something?"

"No, it wasn't deep space, most of our assignments were classified. We had a lot of dealings with the Klingons and a few others I can't talk about. I had to do a lot of encryption work."

Without lifting his eyes, Fyn nodded his head. Then he sipped his milk and set it down. His long, brown fingers swept the rim of his drink, "Did you see combat?" he smiled and raised a brow, his gaze still down, "I understand if you can't tell me... because it was classified."

"Well, our job was not to see combat, but we did a few times yes. It was an interesting time. That may have been one reason I got picked for this assignment. Frankly, I wasn't how sure I felt about the change. Now that you're here, I feel a lot better."

Fyn nodded, "Do you know where we're headed?" He smiled to the side, "It's all the Yeomans are talking about right now."

"Deep space is all I know. You say that all the yeoman are talking about it. What are the rumors going around?"

Fyn shook his head, "Oh no rumors. it's just all questions. Where are we going? There's a betting pool that it's to Romulan space. But I'm not in on it."

"I met our diplomat, he specializes in first contact situation. I'm betting that we're going someplace new, uncharted space."

Fyn nodded, unable to reveal what he knew or he'd seen. A Yeoman assigned to the Captain had to be one of the most discreet people on the entire ship. "That sounds exciting. New languages for you to pick up maybe." Fyn leaned on his chin and watched the Human. "Sidee luuqadaada Fariisiga maalmahan?" How is your Farian these days?

"Waxaan ahay wax yar oo ka mid ah tababbarashadii, laakiin waxaan xusuustaa ku filan." I'm a little out of practice, but I remember enough.

Fyn nodded, "Not bad," he replied. "I guess on the Klingon frontier, you got better at your Klingonese."

"HIja', Suq kliononese SoHvaD QaQ." Yes, my Klingonese got very good.

Fyn smiled, "Now you're showing off," he teased, his one of his eyebrows rising under his ringlets. Fyn sipped his milk.

"You never seemed to mind that before," the Coms officer joked back.

Fyn raised his brows under his thick coiled bangs, "I still don't."

His tone moved from teasing to flirtatious. "Glad you feel that way. I could show off my quarters to you."

Fyn chuckled, and shook his head, "I need sleep. I-I'm just figuring out now how hard it is to launch a Federation starship. The requisitions and h-haggling is..." he shook his head and whistled disbelief. "Raincheck, as you once told me." Fyn took a healthy swig of his warm drink. "Speaking of sleep, I need to get back to it." Fyn stood up and tugged on his shirt.

"I get it. It's busy for all of us. But I am holding you to that raincheck. You have a good night."

Fyn nodded his head, shuffling to a stand, "Good to see you again Wyatt." The Farian smiled. "Come here," he offered a hug, "Then you cuh-can get back to your saxa-tasting wine."

A slow smile spread across the Communications Officer's face. "I'm about done here myself. Then I'm going to turn in myself. See you around." He sat his glass down on the table and stood to his feet. He put a hand on Fyn's shoulder than without actually asking permission, hugged the Farian.

Fyn hugged the Human back, lashing both his thin arms around the Communications Officer, tucking his nose against his neck and shoulder. "Mmmhmm, see you around," he murmured into Wyatt's neck. He pulled away and picked up his milk. The Farian peered at Wyatt's salad, "Walnuts?" He cringed, and grimaced, "They still muh-make me itch." Fyn smiled his double-canine smile at the Human and blinked fondly, "Night Wyatt."

"Night Fyn."