Commander Katya Leonov, PhD, is the Chief Science Officer and First Officer of Endeavour NX-06. Starting her career as a test pilot, she made her name with the Almagest Project, testing high warp speeds within the bodies of nebulae, and almost dying after pushing her engine’s limits. Studying afterwards for a doctorate in Astrophysics, Leonov went on to serve as a science officer on some of Starfleet’s most dedicated star-charting vessels – shy of the NX-project – until the outbreak of the Romulan War. Despite collecting an abundance of experience of warfare, including on the Buran NX-07, Commander Leonov remains a committed scientist and explorer, and her bitter acceptance of the militarised condition of Starfleet with humanity under attack is well-recorded.
A tall woman, Leonov learnt to keep herself in peak physical condition as a pilot, and has continued with such a regime despite moving into the sciences. Despite her focus on Starfleet’s mission of exploration rather than defence, her stern countenance and sense of personal discipline can be easily mistaken for a military manner. She speaks with a low voice that lends itself to her rather curt or sardonic manner.
Born in St. Petersburg, Katya Leonov enjoyed a privileged and comfortable upbringing for most of her childhood. A bright girl with a voracious appetite for learning, as she grew older she found herself at odds with the rest of her family, whom she considered parochial and unimaginative, a tension which was only exacerbated by her father’s persistent mismanagement of his work and business. While this did not cause any fall from grace for the family, a teenaged Katya found what she deemed his haplessness to be a source of embarrassment, which only worsened the gulf between her and her parents and younger sister. This only brought her closer to her aunt and uncle, who worked for the United Earth Space Probe Agency, and some of Katya’s fondest childhood memories were of visiting them and seeing and being inspired by their work.
As soon as she was old enough, she left home to study Astrophysics at Imperial College London. At last feeling like she was surrounded by people who matched her intellect and curiosity, Leonov fell into a lifestyle that could only be described as ‘work hard, play hard.’ Only by sheer force of will could she keep up with her studies as much as her enthusiastic social life and regular weekend adventures to whatever corner of the globe or extreme activity could be organised at the drop of a hat, including one infamous week in Melbourne with classmates that saw half of them politely banned from re-entering Australian territory until the country joined the United Earth Commonwealth. Despite this, Leonov emerged from her studies with a Masters degree and, at the urging of her uncle, a focus for her ambition: flight school at the all-new Training Command facility of the fledgling organisation of Starfleet.
Training as a pilot, Leonov went on to serve as a test pilot at the Olympic R&D Facility on Mars for two years, satisfied at first with the thrill and the physical and psychological challenges of flying while Starfleet developed the most sophisticated engines and craft built by humanity. But a tour on the Pioneer for two years as Chief Helm Officer finally linked this challenge with her intellectual ambition, sending her into deep space for the first time. Leonov was enchanted with the experience, particularly when the Pioneer for approximately one month enjoyed the record for travelling further than any other vessel. Her bitterness when this was beaten soon after, as Starfleet continued to push the capabilities of their Warp 3 engines, was a turning point.
Despite the love of exploration, Leonov was desperate to perform feats nobody else had, and soon after volunteered and was selected as the Lead Pilot for the Almagest Project. The project worked in conjunction with the NX Project, focusing on the sophistication rather than explicit speed of warp engines, and was specifically about sustaining high warp speeds within nebulae and other stellar phenomena. Leonov worked on the training and development of the project for long months before any test flights were even attempted, and conducted three flights in late 2143 and into 2144. The last came amid arguments between Leonov and the lead developer, where Leonov was convinced she could increase the warp factor of the test flight despite apprehensions from the engineering team. In the flight itself, Leonov went against the plan to push her belief, only to blow an EPS conduit – as warned – and lose control, power, and the warp field.
For one week, Leonov survived in a drifting test ship on field rations and what minor systems she was able to bring back online, unsure if any rescue party was coming or – considering the conditions of the nebula – could get to her before she lost power or supplies. Rescued in the end by the Republic, Leonov was returned to Earth with more relief at her survival, and the retrieval of her data, than condemnation for the accident. But she was still changed by the experience, either daunted by her brush with death – or, perhaps, Leonov had simply overcome even the most extreme piloting challenge she could set herself, and was in search of a new one. Her temperament shifted to less exuberance and less of a daredevil attitude, and once the Almagest inquiry ended, she requested a transfer to Starfleet Research to further her training.
For the next three years, Leonov worked on the research project at MIT that collaborated with Starfleet to analyse their latest deep space probe findings, in the process earning her doctorate in astrophysics from the institute. Now peddling her qualifications and experience to serve as a science officer, she ardently pursued another starship assignment, and was posted to the Ptolemy and then the Yorktown as Chief Science Officer for the next six years. She became one of Starfleet’s foremost experts in field study of stellar phenomena, with the Yorktown participating in several joint research endeavours with the Vulcan Science Institute. Leonov made several close connections in Vulcan High Command from this, her keen mind and attention to detail helping her build bridges.
Such research cooperatives came to an abrupt end with the Xindi Crisis. The Yorktown was recalled to simple patrol missions close to Earth, and a frustrated Leonov soon after requested a transfer. The Sojourner was a smaller ship conducting longer range operations which, while security oriented, still better-sated her wanderlust. She remained aboard the Sojourner as the Romulan conflict heightened to a war, and proved particularly adept at methods of using stellar environments to give Starfleet ships an edge against their more heavily-militarised opponents.
The Front Lines
The Sojourner was destroyed at the Battle of Sol, but Leonov had demonstrated her aptitude as a war-time science officer. She was immediately posted to the Buran NX-07, still under construction but launched by the spring of 2156. The Buran participated in some of the more significant front-line battles of the year, particularly as several of her sister-ships were recalled for refits. Leonov repeatedly expressed frustration with the Buran’s circumstances of remaining in familiar territory, military needs completely overtaking Earth Starfleet’s original mandate of scientific discovery and exploration. While there were no doubts of Leonov’s understanding of the war’s priority, and her mind was keenly turned to the tactical needs of her ship and its assignments, she was one of many scientists thoroughly disillusioned with the role they now fulfilled.
She came highly recommended as a candidate for the new XO of the Endeavour NX-06 shortly after her refit was completed; experienced as a science officer and ready to move on to more command responsibilities. But with a reputation as a hard-nosed officer, confident in her own judgement and occasionally acerbic in manner; a consummate professional but not one easy to get on with, there have been rumblings through Command that Leonov was posted off the Buran so the CO didn’t have to put up with her any more.
|2138 - 2140||Test Pilot||Olympus Facility||
|2140 - 2142||Chief Helm Officer||Pioneer NCC-63||
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|2142 - 2144||Lead Pilot||Almagest Project||
|2147 - 2149||Chief Science Officer||Ptolemy NCC-169||
|2149 - 2153||Chief Science Officer||Yorktown NCC-108||
|2153 - 2156||Chief Science Officer / Second Officer||Sojourner NV-05||
|2156 - 2157||Chief Science Officer / Second Officer||Buran NX-07||
|2157 - Present||Executive Officer & Chief Science Officer||Endeavour NX-06||