Commander Graelin is a highly-qualified astrophysicist. After successful exploration missions early in his career, Graelin’s rising star slowed as Starfleet began to roll back their operations beyond Federation territory. Since then he has taken pains to reinvent himself as a modern officer, developing tactical and strategic applications of his research. Despite being offered multiple command opportunities in recent years, Graelin has turned them all down as he pursues a staff role at a fleet level.
Born on the Federation planet of Ardana, Petrias Graelin grew up among the community that had once been the surface-dwelling Troglytes. A century after the Federation had instituted reforms to end the effective segregration among Ardanans, the world now formally offered equal opportunities of work and education to all its people, and no longer favoured the inhabitants of the floating city of Stratos. But the echoes of past oppression were still felt. While conditions for Zenite miners on the surface were vastly improved, including the use of breathing apparatus so the former Troglytes no longer suffered from exposure to the gas, opportunities for social mobility were imperfect.
Petrias was born to a family proud of their heritage as miners, and proud of their historic participation among the Disrupters, the resistance group who had brought the injustice suffered by their people to the attention of the Federation. His father had worked most of his life as a miner, eventually advancing to become a foreman and offered a management position that would take him out of the mines. But he found the work unsettling, ultimately returning to the mines.
Petrias saw this failed transition when he was very young, and was left horrified at the idea one might refuse a chance to ‘improve’ one’s lot – however happy his father was with his work and his family. From a young age he knuckled down in his schooling, and at the age of ten won a place in a prestigious school in Stratos itself. Rough around the edges for his upbringing in mining communities, he worked hard to adapt to his environment, disguise his heritage, and blend in.
Hope, for young Petrias, had always consisted of looking up – because that was always where somewhere better could be found. First it had been upward to Stratos, out of the mining communities. There it continued as he felt more of the Federation’s influence, knew they and Starfleet were responsible in large part for why his people were no longer oppressed, and so his eyes turned to the stars. He applied for Starfleet Academy as a teenager, though eschewed the help of various programs aimed to improve opportunities for members of former Troglyte communities.
Graelin entered the Academy with something of a chip on his shoulder. He had spent most of his life defying opposition and thwarting expectations that he would fail, and had a firm image of himself as a self-made man. Initially he attended the Alpha Centauri Starfleet Academy campus, which he deemed inadequate if he was to flourish, and he spent his first year dedicated to nothing but his studies to justify a transfer to the more-prestigious San Francisco.
While instructors noted his teamwork was somewhat lacking, after one year they could not argue with his outstanding academic scores, and Graelin got his wish to study at San Francisco. At last he began to look beyond his studies, though almost his every activity was calculated to build future career opportunities. He edited the Academy newspaper, captained an award-winning flight team, and pitted himself in constant competition with most of his peers, especially those he deemed to have had a privileged upbringing.
By design and talent, his cadet record was spotless. This made his cadet cruise posting to an Excelsior-class, where rivals with familial connections served on Galaxys or Sovereigns, an embittering pill. Classmates pointed out that serving on an older ship gave him opportunities for more responsibility, while cadets on advanced ships were allowed to do very little themselves, but the damage was done.
Graelin dealt with this by doubling-down even more, desperate to make valedictorian. In the end he worked himself to exhaustion, making a clumsy error in one of his final assignments. On paper, he still had an outstanding record: joint majors in astronomy and geology, a plethora of extra-curriculars making him a well-rounded officer, and glowing accounts from all of his instructors. All Graelin ever saw was the blight of graduating ‘merely’ sixth in his class.
This did not hold him back in his career. As an astrophysicist on the USS Arkansas, he identified and defined a new sub-category of nebula based on the composition of its gases. As Head of Space Science on the USS Phobos, he led operations to divert a series of planet-killer asteroids on a collision-course for the Beta Ardanis colony. When he was assigned in 2383 as Chief Science Officer on the Gemini, destined for a deep-space exploration mission, it seemed Graelin had defeated the ghosts of his perceived past failure.
The Gemini was recalled to Federation space with the Attack on Mars two years later. Exploration operations were cancelled for a border guard duty as Starfleet became increasingly wary of its neighbours and focused on protecting itself. An explorer and astrophysicist like Graelin had less and less to do while beating well-trodden space lanes.
His career began to drift accordingly. For a time he turned to records from his past missions to research and develop findings. He considered leaving Starfleet to join the Daystrom Institute, but for all he was a trained and talented explorer, Petrias Graelin had never aspired to be an academic. Science was not his passion, but the method for his true ambition: feeding the never-ending pit of hunger within him.
In 2387, after an inauspicious two years, he pivoted to turn his study of stellar phenomena to more practical applications. A paranoid Starfleet was uninterested in the nuances in the composition of a nebula far beyond their border, but the paths that discovery laid out for advances in sensor technology were considerably more interesting. Forced to reinvent himself, Graelin transformed from an astronomer seeking to see more of the stars, to an officer of the Federation who understood the tactical and strategic dimensions of space science.
This shift did not immediately pay dividends. But it did bring him to the attention of one rising star: Captain Alexander Beckett, the new commander of the USS Achilles. Beckett, himself a former astrophysicist who had been turned hawkish by the Federation’s hardships, seemed to recognise a kindred spirit in Graelin – or at least a useful tool – and offered him the position of Chief Science Officer.
Many officers would later speak of the Achilles as a difficult assignment, where Beckett seemed to delight in setting his subordinates to compete against one another. Petrias Graelin, however, thrived in such a cut-throat environment, and quickly became one of the crown jewels in Beckett’s collection of officers. He butted heads most regularly with the XO and Chief of Security, Matt Rourke, whom he first perceived as Beckett’s favourite due to their long history. But soon the rifts between CO and XO became apparent, and Graelin delighted in, to his belief, encouraging the distance between them so he could supplant Rourke.
It is likely that Graelin became Beckett’s new favourite. The captain met his second wife in Graelin’s department, a lieutenant some twenty years his junior, and Graelin did nothing to discourage the match despite the power dynamics; indeed, encouraged it. By Beckett’s side, Graelin became an expert on the border security monitored by the Achilles, and when Rourke left for his own command, replaced as XO by the former second officer and Chief Operations Officer, Graelin became second officer.
But in 2394, Beckett was promoted to Commodore and left to serve on the staff of the Second Fleet. Graelin plainly expected to be brought with his new mentor, deciding that staff assignments was a better fulfilment of his ambitions than starship command, which no longer held the same social cache in Starfleet as in his youth.
Beckett left him behind instead, securing him assignment as Starbase 17’s Chief Science Officer. Graelin was likely the first of Beckett’s pets to be kept not close, but sent out into the fleet to act as his loyal agent, his eyes and ears somewhere else. Mollified with advancement to the rank of Commander, Graelin decided to work hard and bide his time.
He thought his wishes were granted when summoned to Starbase Bravo by now-Vice Admiral Beckett in late-2399. Instead, he was reunited with his old rival, Matt Rourke, now the commanding officer of the USS Endeavour. Beckett charged Graelin first with debriefing Endeavour’s staff for their role in the 2399 Omega Crisis, and then with joining the crew as Chief Science Officer and Second Officer.
Despite the acrimony between him and Rourke, Graelin agreed. It is plain to most that he expects this assignment to be only temporary, and to be ultimately rewarded with a position on Beckett’s staff. In the meantime, Endeavour is considered one of the most useful arrows in Admiral Beckett’s quiver, and nobody doubts that Graelin his his eyes, ears, and occasionally voice aboard.
|2379 - 2381||Astrophysicist||USS Arkansas|
|2381 - 2383||Head of Space Science||USS Phobos||
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|2383 - 2389||Chief Science Officer||USS Gemini||
|2389 - 2394||Chief Science Officer||USS Achilles||
|2394 - 2399||Chief Science Officer||Starbase 17||
|2399 - Present||Chief Science Officer / Second Officer||USS Endeavour||