“Manoeuvring thrusters powering down. All forward momentum halted. Docking procedures completed.”
At the centre of the bridge aboard the brand new Polaris-class starship USS Cassiopeia, the ship’s commander stood, her arms folded, glaring straight ahead at the viewscreen on the forward wall. The words from the Flight Operations Officer drew rounds of applause from the cluster of bridge officers and enlisted personnel assembled in the command centre.
Reaching out, the Captain reached down to her command chair and, with a look across at her executive officer (a trusted confidant who would soon be departing the ship for his own command), she pressed the button on the control panel. “All hands, this is the Captain,” the woman began, “We have done it. After three long months, the shakedown cruise of our new ship is over. In just a few short days, men and women from across the Fifth fleet will embark upon our vessel with Admiral Azulas and our fine ship will be fully operational at last. You have excelled yourselves in these trials and you are all to be commended,” the Captain smiled as she spoke, those around her stopping to listen to her inspiring words.
“For the next few days, leave assignments will rotate – liaise with your department heads to co-ordinate. Department heads, submit your leave assignment schedules to the XO by the end of Beta shift, along with your end of mission reports,” the woman continued as she looked at Commander Levett who instantly got to work preparing for the influx of reports that would head his way.
“Lastly, I can confirm that we have received word that the annual Spring Ball championships will be taking place in the grounds of Fleet Headquarters on Bajor in two days’ time. This year, the crews of the starships Columbia and Atlantia will be fighting for bragging rights. Colonel Kira of Deep Space Nine will serve as umpire. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you about the responsibilities of each and every one of you when it comes to down time,” she smirked before concluding, “but whatever you choose to do with your downtime, stay safe. Nazir out.” And with that, the Captain pressed the control again and let out a happy sigh.
“Commander…” she called out, looking across at the Strategic Operations Chief.
Lieutenant Commander Garen Romaes had been listening to the Trill’s announcement with great interest; he was thrilled that the crew were finally going to receive their operational status. His entire career had built to this point, serving as an officer on a state of the art vessel like Cassiopeia was his childhood dream and serving with a commanding officer with a reputation such as Nazir’s was just the proverbial icing on the cake.
“Yes, Captain?” Garen asked as he spun on his chair to look at the Captain.
“You’ll be joining me and a few others down at Fleet Headquarters on Bajor in a few days,” the Captain began as she moved towards the automatic sliding doors that led into the aft turbo lift and gestured for him to fall into step with her.
Garen nodded and secured his station, handing it over to the relief officer before hurrying to catch up to the man. “I’ll be joining you at Fleet HQ, you say ma’am?” he asked as the doors slid closed and the lift began to move.
Nazir clasped her hands behind her back as she tapped her feet slowly and in tune. “I’ve put you in for the Advanced Command Training Programme. It’s the last step before you are eligible for an executive officer position,” the Captain revealed to his surprise. “I have been impressed with you these last few months. The XO and I both think you are ready, but, obviously, the choice is yours,” she continued as she looked over at the man reassuringly.
A burst of energy and excitement flowed through the Commander. He had been working towards a life on the command track, but he thought it’d be at least another few years before anyone would even consider him for the programme. “Thank you, Captain,” he said, letting out a wide grin. “You have no idea how much that means to me. I’d be honored to take the programme.”
“It means a few days of study whilst everyone else is on leave, but you’ll be excused from your duty shifts until after the final test, unless you feel you want to do them,” Nazir informed as the lift came to a halt and they began to move their way down the corridor. People who saw them coming slid to the side next to the walls and stood at silent attention until the CO and her companion had passed – the sign of the tight ship she ran. “If you pass, it shouldn’t be long until you get your promotion, especially the rate the fleet is churning out these new starships. Admiral Hanson reckons they’ll be retiring the last of the Excelsiors and Nebulas soon, such is the ability to mass produce these newer ships.”
“I understand,” Garen said as the two continued along. “I will be continuing my duties on board the Cassiopeia, Captain. I should have time to study when I’m not on duty.” He didn’t need any time to review; he had been slowly preparing for the test for four years, ever since he became the Strategic Operations Chief on the Trieste, prior to the Cassiopeia.
“I hope you know that if you are unsuccessful, it will be at least a year before we can resubmit you,” Nazir told sternly in an effort to ram home the importance of preparation ahead of arguably the most important day of the man’s career. “We’ll be expecting an influx of new personnel in the coming hours. Please make sure I’m not disturbed in the meantime,” the Captain ordered in her usual, pleasant way.
The two came to a stop at the side of the corridor and turned to face each other. “Believe me, Captain, I am fully aware of what’s at stake here. I won’t let you down,” Garen told his Captain. “And as soon as I get back to the bridge, I’ll let the Commander know your intentions.” With that, Garen nodded respectfully to his superior and then turned back towards the direction they came.
Captain Nazir smiled and watched as the Bajoran Lieutenant Commander departed. He was the first of a new generation of officers that would populate and lead the fleet. She had faith in him, but now it was all on him.
“No pressure, Commander,” she smirked before skipping down the corridor a few steps and entering her quarters.