Travelling for nine days straight, the Ulysses had finally arrived at its destination of the Beta Antares shipyards just a few light-years from Bajor, docking at Shipyard Alpha-Three on the outskirts of the facility. It would be the last time for a significant period that the ship would leave the safety of her dockyard as she underwent a significant review and overhaul in the wake of the disturbing technical issues identified by her Chief Engineer and his colleague from Operations.
For the crew, the ships arrival meant the end of an, albeit short, era. For many, the arrival of the Ulysses at Beta Antares meant the end of their time on the ship. Whilst some, like Commander Travis, would be departing for a number of other vessels, the majority of the ships company was transferring to the USS Cassiopeia but they would be going without their leader. Commander sh’Elas would soon be on her way to meet with Admiral Azulas and begin her new assignment, which meant those joining the new Polaris-class vessel would be meeting their new leader in the coming hours.
Most knew Captain Nazir by reputation alone, with her service in the Dominion War and, later, the Consortium conflict in the Gamma Quadrant, of particular interest. She’d been given the nickname ‘Guardian of the Gate‘ due to her effective defence of Federation interests in the quadrant, and her role in defending the Wormhole in particular. She had a reputation as a respected strategist and a real leader, but their were also rumours that were no doubt designed to spread anxiousness and fear – she was not a woman to be trifled with, and would do everything in her power to achieve her goals. Everything. Whether those rumours were indeed true or not remained to be seen, and the crew would find out in due course, but for now they had a few hours to say goodbye to their home, their friends, and pack their bags before transferring to their new assignment.
Life in Starfleet was always full of surprises, and sometimes that meant being reassigned or moving posting quicker than expected. Ulysses was a new ship itself, but serious question marks now hung over its systems and thus, its future. Yard Engineers had swarmed aboard like moths to a flame the minute the ship docked at its new home, eager to start work and get to the bottom of the situation that faced them. With Lieutenant Wilson and Ensign Zemke transferring to the Cassiopeia, they would no longer be involved in the investigation or repairs, so oversight had been passed on to Commander Darin of the Corps of Engineers.
Commander Travis had already departed for the Grissom, with the Nova-class ship entering transporter range an hour before the Ulysses arrived at Antares. It was a bittersweet moment for the Scientist, who had been shunted from post to post in the last month or so, but at least he now had the stability he deserved as he went to head up a science expedition.
Commander Hill would be transferring to the Cassiopeia, and would no doubt love the massive medical facilities the ship offered. Spanning the entirety of deck 12 (well, mostly), he’d have access to state of the art technology that would make his job, and that of those in his department, much easier. Lieutenant Elloyia would be joining him, with her own Counselling suite of offices and therapy rooms at the disposal of the Counsellor and her team.
Elsewhere among those joining Captain Nazir’s crew, Lieutenant Paxton would have probably the biggest challenge of all the bridge crew. Cassiopeia had been constructed with a focus on long term, deep space exploration in mind. Indeed, she was the first ship in over a decade that had been given such a mandate, with everyone else largely tasked with protecting Federation space and working with neighbouring species. Cassiopeia would be travelling further than any Federation starship had before, and to do so she would make use of a new and updated Quantum Slipstream Drive, as well as an actual functioning M.A.R.S. system that would significantly boost the ships defensive capabilities in these new and uncharted areas of space. These enhancements, coupled with the ships long term mission, presented added complications however. For Lieutenant Paxton, that meant the Flight Operations department now had to share responsibilities with the newly reactivated Navigation department. Many of the responsibilities he would have been expected to perform on the Ulysses would now be delegated elsewhere, and he’d have to work hard to find that balance with the Nav officer.
Ensign Udal, the burly Orion who had served with the Ulysses since graduating from the Academy had opted to transfer, joining the Cassiopeia’s security team, whilst his Cardassian friend Nisha Kedam had also opted to transfer, taking her place in the ship’s Stellar Cartography department.
Lastly, there was Commander Winters. She’d only been on Ulysses for a short time, but in that time she had become a key component of the ships crew, so Commander sh’Elas was thankful she had agreed to transfer to the Cassiopeia. She would be the one to look out for the crew, both Cassiopeia and Ulysses alike, as these two families merged into one. She’d have to get used to yet another new commanding officer, but there was no way she could face the same tensions she had with sh’Elas, right? Both would freely admit that things hadn’t exactly been smooth sailing between them and, whilst they had begun to develop a rapport at last, events had probably transpired in a way that would benefit both officers. sh’Elas had the opportunity to go and learn a bit more before returning to command, whilst Aria would have the opportunity to start a fresh with a new commander.
It was an opportunity for all of the personnel moving on to start a fresh. And their first true experience would come in less than two hours, at the special ‘Welcome to the Team’ lunch that had been organised for thirteen hundred aboard the new ship and for most, that would be their first opportunity to meet their new commanding officer.
If only they had known of the news that would come later in the day…