Missions - Favor the Bold

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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.

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...

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...