Arrival at New Bajor
Episode 4: Whispers In the Dark
Location: New Bajor
“Captain’s log, supplemental. Nogura has arrived back at New Bajor without incident. We are in a high orbit of the planet, amidst a hive of activity surrounding the new Starbase and rebuilding efforts on the planets surface. We have received orders to transport our prisoner to the colonies prison facility whilst Admiral Archer has requested my attendance at Gamma Command. Personnel will be given downtime until I return with orders.”
As was so common with a Task Force on the frontier of exploration and expansion, things were always changing. The ongoing surge of new ships and new personnel into the Gamma Quadrant meant staff had to be reassigned as well. However while many things changed, others remained the same. The main threat from the Consortium had long since been defeated but the remnants still remained. That in addition to the delicate balance of power with the Dominion and minor powers and finally the always present risk of the wormhole collapsing meant that the capital of the Gamma Quadrant needed a reliable and experienced commander. Luckily Lauren had just such a commander in mind, who had just come back from her most recent expedition outside of the system. Her Aide had sent a message to the Nogura as soon as she entered the system that the Admiral wanted to speak with the Captain privately. As such Lauren was not awaiting the arrival when the doors to her office on the surface of New Bajor parted and a rather irate looking Admiral approached her desk.
“Seriously?!” Rear Admiral James Ryan exclaimed incredulously as he came to a halt before his commanding officers desk. “I have to find out about this from your aide? Did you even look at my recommendation before you disregarded it or what?” he fumed.
“Calm down James, yes I looked at your recommendations and found them not up to the requirements of the job. Captain Azulas has all the leadership qualities needed,” Lauren replied, as if tranquility herself.
“Are you kidding me? The woman was removed from command of the Nogura not that long ago and now you’re giving her one of the most powerful postings in the Quadrant?” he queried, pulling out a chair and taking a seat despite the fact she had not offered him one yet. This was the first disagreement of their short spell as a Task Force command team and it was not going as the male had hoped.
“A removal where the Admiralty in all their wisdom assigned a Commanding Officer who would end up betraying his oath, Starfleet and the Federation and who would have cost the Task Force a vital capital ship when she needed it most if not stopped by Captain Azulas,” Lauren replied, in all her years she had gotten used to officers needing to vent every now and then, as such she had developed a system of handling them. “The decision is a good one, and you know it.”
“Nilani Azulas has been a magnet for Consortium retribution from word go. She lost her command, her ship was destroyed and she once let said traitor escape her custody. Mark my words, if you give her this posting, the Consortium will be knocking on Eleven’s door once again,” the Admiral warned sternly, entirely convinced by his statement. As far as he was concerned, appointing the Trill was a massive mistake.
“They already are James, if anything forcing them to the surface allows us to get rid of them once and for all. It cannot remain a lingering threat. I get a visit from the governor daily about a final resolution to this problem and appointing a Consortium hunter will allow us to finally provide one” Lauren replied.
“I had a feeling you wouldn’t change your mind,” Ryan rose from the seat he had briefly occupied and placed a data PADD he had been carrying on her desk. “Formal notification of my objection to this appointment,” he declared before snapping to attention, awaiting dismissal.
“Your objection is noted and will be added to your record. You are dismissed.” Lauren replied slightly disappointed.
James looked down at his seated superior briefly, furrowed eyebrows and all before turning and heading for the door. Just as he was about to approach the threshold, the doors parted and he nearly flattened the aforementioned Trill as she entered the Admiral’s office. “Sorry Adm…” she stopped dead in her tracks as she watched the man steamroller his way out and round a corner. With raised eyebrows, the Captain shook her head and walked up to the Admiral’s desk. “What’s crawled up his backside?” she queried with a smile and a nod of respect to her Task Force Commander.
Lauren’s disappointment turned to joy as she saw Nilani enter. “Nothing you should worry about” She replied before motioning for the Captain to sit in the chair just earlier occupied by her second. “Glad you could make it so fast”
“Oh, you know me,” the Trill smiled as she followed the direction of the El-Aurian and took the offered seat, “nothing if not punctual! So, are you impressed or what?” she grinned, assuming the Admiral knew what she was alluding to.
“About finding a new architectural treasure just shortly after we found the Reliquary? Yes, though the Science departments in the other wing even more so. Then there is taking care of a traitor of course,” Lauren replied with a smile. “That is not however why I asked you here”
“I have a lot of very relieved people on my ship; people glad to see him where he belongs,” Nilani smiled, but was also intrigued by the Admiral’s last statement. “So, what’s up? Got another disaster for me to fix? Ship to rescue? Discovery to make?” she grinned cheekily, visibly relaxed in the Admiral’s company, a stark contrast to the previous occupant of the chair.
“Not quite, how does a fancy apartment in New Rakantha and the chance to work with me daily sound?” Lauren asked, slightly jokingly.
Nilani’s expression suddenly changed to one of uncertainty. “Doesn’t sound at all like my ship,” the junior officer remarked.
"That is correct, as you probably know the Commanding Officer slot on Deep Space 11 has been vacant for a few weeks. I have spent that time looking for a replacement and I feel you are best suited to fulfill that role," Lauren replied.
Nilani looked a little stunned to say the least. Yes, she knew the position that the Admiral had referred to was indeed vacant, but she had never considered the fact that it could be hers. Then of course there was her ship and crew. "I appreciate your belief in me Admiral, but what about the Nogura? My people need me," she told, her look of surprise having not yet dissipated.
"I can guarantee we will find a suitable Commanding Officer to take care of the Nogura for you," Lauren answered.
“I’d like to be involved in any appointment please,” Nilani asked, stopping short of pleading her case but if the Admiral harboured any hope of the Captain agreeing to the transfer, she would need to acquiesce to this request at the very least.
"You will get the chance to review the candidates but the final decision remains mine," Lauren conceded.
"I have to say..." Nilani paused for a moment as she walked over to the window and looked up to the heavens. "The idea of having an apartment here is quite pleasant - a proper home. I've often wondered about what it would be like to command a Starbase of real importance..."she trailed off. Eventually she turned back to look at the Admiral. "Okay Admiral, I acept your offer," she grinned.
Lauren smiled and grabbed a small box that she had left out of sight on her desk. "Excellent, then you are going to need this. Commodore," Lauren replied as she handed over the box.
The grin that had filled her face before was suddenly replaced by an open mouthed expression that couldn't help but share her feeling of shock. A Commodore so soon? She hadn't been a Captain for long and already she had ascended to the heady heights of the junior Admiralty. "I... I don't know what to say..." she trailed off quietly as she stared at the box in her hands. She hadn't even dared to open it yet. To do so would make it very real.
"Thank you, Admiral seems appropriate" Lauren joked.
"Of course," Nilani smiled, "thank you Admiral. I appreciate the continued votes of confidence and I am sure I'll love working with you closer," the woman grinned. "You might not love it though," she added as she rose to her feet.
Lauren shook her head while laughing. "We'll see Commodore, we'll see. Dismissed"
Nilani grinned as she nodded at the Admiral and then spun on her heels, heading out of the office, only to be confronted by two new individuals she had not met before.
"Commodore Azulas. My name is Ensign Selar ma'am and I'll be your Yeoman during your stay on the surface," the younger of the two smiled as she introduced herself and then gestured to the other officer. "This is Lieutenant Simpson from Operations. He'll get you set up in your new office and make sure you have all you need to carry out your new duties," the Ensign told before departing.
Nilani pursed her lips and nodded. This was going to be fun.