Of all things visible, the highest is the heaven of the fixed stars.

Posted on Tuesday December 22nd, 2020 @ 7:35pm by Captain Nilani Azulas
Edited on on Friday December 25th, 2020 @ 11:02pm

Mission: Episode 1: Maelstrom
Location: Bridge, USS Solaria
Timeline: Day 1 at 1145

“No, no, no,” scoffed Captain Azulas as she rose from her command chair and glanced back towards the Tactical Officer behind the tactical rail, and her acting Tellarite Executive Officer. “The Ferengi said that if we wanted to put our latinum where our mouth was then we could go back to the station and challenge him to Tongo or Dabo,” the Trill frowned. “It was your fault we even got challenged in the first place Commander,” the commander of the USS Solaria countered before returning to her seat with a shake of the head.

Commander Vasul Gor, son of Rear Admiral Vasoch Gor, frowned and crossed his arms across his stocky chest as the man with pig-like features scowled at the Tactical Officer next to him. “How was I supposed to know that the Ferengi was listening in to my idle boast? I’ve never been to Deep Space Nine before!” Gor protested fiercely.

“You are forgetting the twenty second rule of acquisition Commander,” Lieutenant Hunter spoke from beside the Tellarite at tactical, “Wise men can hear profit in the wind.”

“With ears as big as his I’m not surprised…” Gor fumed as he moved around the rail and made his way towards his chair beside the Trill Captain, but as he did so, everyone’s attention was diverted towards the forward Ops station that began to beep and chirp out of nowhere.

“Report,” Azulas queried as her gaze fell forward to the woman at Ops whilst Gor took his seat at her right hand side.

A few seconds of silence passed as the woman confirmed her readings before turning slightly to address her CO’s question. “We are approaching Deep Space Five ma’am,” she revealed before turning back to her console.

“Take us out of warp Ensign,” Azulas ordered as she gripped the arms of her command chair. On the main viewer, the glorious sight of Deep Space 5 was greeted with sighs of relief from nearly everyone on the bridge of the Galaxy-class starship.

Thirty days. Thirty long, seemingly endless days of convoy duty had finally come to an end with the ships arrival at the station and, for a while at least, the crew would have some time to explore the station and the planet below whilst the ship received some supplies and crew replacements. Some of the crew who had been with the ship for a while would be departing for pastures new, but for the Captain of the ship, it would be a chance to feedback on several issues to Starfleet Command.

“Commence docking procedures,” Gor ordered whilst the Captain remained in her daydream-like state for a few more seconds.

The ship had only been at Deep Space 5 for a matter of thirty minutes when Captain Azulas had been asked to report to transporter room one to receive a guest who would be beaming aboard. It was unusual to receive guests without the commanding officer being privy to details of who they were or why they were coming aboard, but these were the orders of whoever it was that would be boarding. As she stood in the transporter room, the Captain couldn't help but feel nervous for the arrival. Possible names ran through her head at warp speed, but it wouldn’t be long until she found out.

As she was in danger of letting her mind wander too far, the Captain was brought quickly down to the deck plating with a thud by the sudden sound of the Transporter Chief’s voice behind her. "The Admiral is ready to beam aboard ma’am," the voice spoke.

Nilani glanced around at Petty Officer Jordan, stood at the transporter controls, and gave an audible, yet brief sigh as she nodded in response. So, it was an Admiral? But who? As the Chief began the process of transporting the Admiral aboard, Nilani smoothed out her uniform, eager to look presentable for the arrival of whoever it was that would board.

The azure blue of the transporter faded and a lone man found himself on the pad of the USS Solaria. Placing his hands behind his back, he moved forward onto the tips of his toes and then back on his heels as he rocked back and forth, looking around the room.

"Mmmmmm" was all he said as he stepped forward and walked down the steps onto the deck. Facing him, decked out resplendently in the new uniform that had been recently commissioned by Starfleet, was the officer he'd come to speak with. Captain Nilani Azulas. As he approached the officer, he could see that the Trill was ramrod straight at attention, and inwardly, the Admiral appreciated the gesture. It was something he still had to get used to after his own, recent promotion.

As he stood in front of Nilani, Rear Admiral Vasoch Gor said "At ease Captain, we don’t want you in sickbay with back problems!"

Azulas’ stance visibly altered as she nodded in thanks to the Chief for completing transport before stepping forward and offering a hand in welcome to her superior officer. It was the first time the two had met, but the Captain hoped they would get along just fine - she had, afterall, heard a lot about the Tellarite from his son. "It is a pleasure to have you aboard sir. Welcome to the Solaria," Nilani spoke.

"So, how did convoy duty go?" the Tellarite asked Nilani as they exited the room side by side, "still as mind-numbingly boring as I remember?” It had been an age since the man had been on convoy duty, or any type of starship related mission for that matter.

As they began to slowly stroll, the Captain clasped her hands together behind her back again. "We came incredibly close to seeing the alliance with the Klingons go out of the window when my engineer beat a Klingon gentleman in a Bat'leth tournament,” the Trill reported, “and my XO is still smarting after losing a tonne of latinum to Quark at DS9. But, other than that, relatively uneventful sir,” Nilani concluded as she referred back to the mission the Solaria had been on prior to arrival at Deep Space 5.

“I’ve warned him about gambling before,” the Admiral smirked as they walked and talked, "he's never been very good at it."

Nilani laughed a little as she shook her head. Back on topic, she reported the situation with her ship. "I can report that we have had no major issues with any of the ship's systems. What issues we did encounter have been ironed out,” she concluded her report about the ship's status.

Admiral Gor stopped in his tracks and lowered his voice a little. “And what of the slipstream drive? Had chance to test it yet?”

Ah! There it was. One of the reasons, if not THE reason for the Admiral’s visit. Nilani nodded her head slowly as she folded her arms across her chest and stood face to face with the Tellarite. “Yes Admiral. We have and I am sorry to report that the sheer size and shape of the vessel was just too much for the system to take.”

There were a couple of moments of silence as the pair slowly resumed their stroll along the corridor again, until Gor broke the serene sound. “That will make the next part of our conversation easier,” the Tellarite shrugged. “Where do we get the best view of the station’s internal docking bay?”

Nilani looked somewhat confused as she thought about the potential ramifications of what the Admiral was referring to, but eventually had an answer for him. “Ten forward is this way,” the Captain smiled as she led the way, somewhat confused.

Gor smiled again, an infectious enthusiasm about his toothy grin. He was certainly not as miserable as his son. “We’re assigning you a new mission that will take you away from convoy escorts and patrol duty,” the man revealed as they stopped at the lift and the Captain pressed the call button. “We have somewhat of a mystery on our hands that we would like you to solve."

Nilani reluctantly nodded as they stepped into the turbo lift and she allowed the doors to close. "What sort of mystery would that be?” she queried now that they had more freedom to talk.

Gor shook his head. "One that will likely be quite personal..." Gor trailed off as Nilani started the lift on its way. He looked the woman squarely in the eye and continued, "But before I tell you more, I have to be honest with you. I know you are more than up to the task, but Starfleet isn’t so sure."

"Let me guess,” Nilani frowned, “they are questioning my headspace because I voluntarily demoted myself?" the Trill shook her head slowly. “I sent friends on a mission that saw them lose their lives. The Ulysses was destroyed on a mission I sent them on,” she argued.

“That’s an Admiral’s job,” Gor countered, “and every Captain, including Captain Nazir, knows the risks when they sit in the chair. You did your duty, and now you punish yourself for it,” he grunted.

“I earned that position Admiral,” the Trill responded as she felt the slowing of the lift through the deck plating beneath her feet, “and I reserve the right to give it up.”

“You’ll likely never get that opportunity again, you know that right?” Gor revealed through gritted teeth as he straightened up his posture and the lift came to a halt.

Nilani nodded. “I have made my peace with the decision Admiral. Now, Starfleet put me back in command. They need to let me do my job,” she responded as she, too, stiffened her posture just in time for the lift doors to open on deck 10.

There was silence for a moment as Gor stared into the woman’s eyes, until that trademark toothy grin returned. “I was hoping you would say that,” he laughed, “now, let’s go and check out the fine print of your mission,” he nodded his head in the direction of the now visible doors to ten forward.

Captain Azulas watched with great curiosity as the Tellarite headed for Ten Forward. He was a curious man, far more curious than his relatively easy to understand son. She jogged a couple of steps to catch up and led the Admiral into the somewhat crowded mess facility. Layover at a Starbase usually meant more time off, and it seemed like most of the ship had descended to the mess hall to take a well earned break. Several people greeted the Admiral and the Captain as they navigated through the room until they reached the windows.

Once they stood at the large bay windows, the Admiral looked out, into the large internal bay of the docking arena. Then he set his eyes upon his target. He nodded silently in the direction of the ship he had spotted, causing the Captain to divert her attention in its direction. At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, it was just one of many starships that graced the fleet. She was clearly somewhat damaged, but that wasn’t uncommon these days.

But then she spotted it. And took a step closer to the window. She leaned forward and squinted as she searched for confirmation of what she was seeing. When she read what she thought she had seen, her eyes widened, and she spun her head around to look at the Tellarite, who was smiling gleefully.

“She arrived three months ago and has been undergoing repair and refit ever since,” the Tellarite revealed as he, too, took a step closer.

“But she was lost, ages ago…” Nilani’s quiet voice trailed off in disbelief as she gazed in awe of the sight before her. Never had she expected to see her old starship again. There, just a couple of hundred yards from the Solaria, with dozens of workbees and maintenance craft buzzing around her, was the battle scarred hull of the Sovereign-class USS Nogura, the Captain’s last command before she had taken her promotion over a decade ago. She had followed the ship with great interest ever since, and despite most of her people having left for ventures new (much like her), she had been devastated to learn of the ship’s apparent loss in the Wastelands area of space. Now it was here once again, and under repair. “It’s like a dream…” she whispered as her confused expression was finally replaced by one of joy.

“All the information you need about her last mission is in your mission notes,” Gor spoke, “but you’re ordered to transfer aboard the Nogura at oh-nine-hundred tomorrow and assume command,” he revealed, much to the Trill’s apparent astonishment. “Unless you don’t want her?”

“Of course I want her!” Nilani grinned, trying her best to temper her enthusiasm for the transfer. Solaria was a fine ship, but she was no Nogura. To her, it was like offering Picard the chance to Captain the Enterprise again. Enterprise was as synonymous with Picard as Nogura was with her.

“Good!” Admiral Gor clapped as he turned away and walked to a nearby, vacant table. He took a seat and relayed his orders as she finally took a seat opposite him. “You’ll oversee her repairs, put together a crew and, as soon as the ship is ready, you’ll head to Deep Space 12.”

As they talked and shared a beverage in celebration of the Captain’s return to her old vessel, she couldn’t help but let her mind drift to what was to come next.