A New Chapter
USS Vesta NCC-82601
“Commander T’Lawra, on behalf of everyone on my crew and the Federation I want to thank you and your crew for being excellent travelling companions!”
Standing in transporter room one, Captain Zack Marshall-Bennet was wishing goodbye to his counterpart from the RRW Valdenor. The Vesta’s commanding officer was one year away from being fifty, but had maintained his boyish charm over the years he had spent in Starfleet. Rising through the ranks rapidly due to the Dominion War, he had spent the last two decades refining his trade in being one of the most notable Starfleet captains. He had a flare of being able to mix his skills to be quite effective in leading a range of missions.
That said his accomplishments and reputation was small compared to the woman he had developed respect for over the past twelve months. Commander T’Lawra was a much older woman than Zack had originally guessed (he had heard her hinting at being over a century old once). Even though she was quite reserved in her approach, the two of them had developed a firm working relationship that ensured that cooperation between their two crews was effective. For the last year the crews of the Vesta and Valdenor had undergone a joint exploration program in the Beta Quadrant on the far side of Romulan Republic territory. It had been the furthest the Vesta had visited since Starfleet preferred to keep it close to home, but it was felt that its involvement in such a mission would go a long way in developing relations further with the Romulan Republic. Bennet, being a vocal critic of Starfleet’s lack of deep space exploration, had been eager to see the mission through. Now it was ending and the moment was slightly bittersweet.
T’Lawra, was a veteran of the former Romulan Empire’s Star Navy that had left with her crew and ship when the former empire had collapsed. Being a part of the republic was, in her own words, more agreeable to her and everyone that served under her. She was just a few inches smaller than Zack but her presence in any room was always felt by her commanding conduct. Her thick dark brown hair was styled in the typical short-cut bob stereotypical of Romulans. Rarely did she smile and when she did it made those who did not know her feel nervous. Zack had felt that the first time he had seen her do that during a diplomatic mission a few weeks ago. That said, he had now got used to it.
“The pleasure was all ours.” She said with a wry smile and extended her hand to shake Zack’s hand. It was very un-Romulan of her to perform such an action but Zack appreciated it. As he shook her hand she spoke up again. “We’ve proven to our people and both governments that joint operations can happen. Captain, you’ve earned a friend in the Romulan Republic.”
“Commander, the feeling is mutual.” Bennet said as they let go of their handshake. “Next time we do this make sure you bring enough Romulan ale.”
Smirking at that remark, T’Lawra nodded in agreement and turned around to step up onto the transporter platform. Flanked either side by her first officer and security chief, she signalled that she was ready to beam back to her Valdore-class ship.
“Energise chief.” Zack ordered his Boslic transporter chief.
The transporter beam was activated and within a few seconds the Romulan contingent had left the Vesta. Giving out a big sigh from behind him, Commander Natashar Rozan spoke up. “I think I may miss them.” Rozan held three positions on the Vesta. Not only was she its chief counsellor but she was also its chief diplomatic officer and second officer. The Betazoid had become one of Zack’s finest officers and closest confidants since he took command of the Vesta over six years ago.
Agreeing with her sentiments, Zack nodded twice before snapping out of the moment in saying goodbye to their Romulan friends. “I think it’s time we headed back home.”
“Back to Starbase Twenty-Three?” His first officer asked.
Nodding to confirm, Zack looked at Commander Lucas Rider. “Absolutely Number One.”
Rider, who was only a few months younger than Zack, was one of the finest first officers that Zack had served with. A former security and tactical officer that had served on multiple assignments, when Zack had been looking for a first officer to join him on the Vesta he had been quick to accept Rider’s application. When Zack had met Lucas, he had a full head of dark auburn coloured hair, unfortunately though in the past few years his hair had receded and was losing its natural colour. Rider should have left a long time ago to take command of his own ship but had insisted on staying with Zack. The two had developed a strong friendship, one built on trust, mutual respect and their shared interest including a number of holonovels. The latter had overspilled to others on the crew.
The intercom chime then went off followed by the voice of the ship’s chief security and tactical officer, Lieutenant Commander Michael Johnson. “Bridge to Captain Bennet.”
Tapping his combadge naturally, Bennet responded and used the nickname that his security chief had been given by Rozan back when the Vesta launched. “Go ahead MJ.”
“Sorry to interrupt you sir, but we’ve just received orders from Starfleet Command to head to Starbase Bravo at once.”
Surprised to hear the change of destination for the Vesta, Zack ordered for them to get underway while he made his way back to the bridge with Rider and Rozanov.
Once the Vesta had docked at Starbase Bravo, Captain Bennet had made his way around the station to find the office of Rear Admiral Seagraves. While the ship had been at high warp for a longtime, he had reviewed his orders from Starfleet Command. For the first time his order had been quite short and simple: report to Rear Admiral Seagraves for his new orders. Never encountering Seagraves before, he did not know what to expect. He knew of ‘her’ though back when he had survived the Klingon attack at Ajilon Prime and he had led his team to the Starfleet base at Tanandra Bay. He and the others had been survivors from the Farragut and after arriving at the base they had been debriefed by one of Seagraves’ people.
Eventually once he had found the office of the admiral, he had been greeted by the admiral’s chief of staff. Captain Bancroft had asked Zack to wait in a small area just outside Seagraves’ office. The admiral had called to Bancroft to send their guest in.
Entering the room, Bennet kept his posture strong but friendly. He had met with so many admirals in his career, he wondered if Seagraves would be fair and approachable like Fleet Admiral Luke Duncan or more direct and blunt like Fleet Admiral Nancy Clancy. That said, one thing he definitely knew that Seagraves would be nothing like his mother. In front of others, Admiral Judith Marshall-Bennet was quite professional, forthcoming and reasonable however while in the company of her children she became quite ‘mumsy’ when she knew she could get away with it.
“Captain Zack Marshall-Bennet, reporting as ordered, Admiral.” Bennet said as he looked over to where Seagraves was.
“Have a seat, Captain,” Seagraves replied. The tall, middle-aged woman was facing away from the door, hands clasped behind her back as she watched a Resolute-class starship passing next to the station.
Appreciating the gesture to take a seat in the chair opposite to her desk, Bennet did as he was told and took the chair.
“I’ve read the highlights of the Vesta’s logs from your time in command. Impressive work, managing to stay on the Romulan’s good side for the duration,” Seagraves noted, before turning around and sitting in her seat opposite from him.
Valuing that the admiral had read his reports on his exploration assignment with the Romulans, Bennet felt like he was starting to warm up to her. “Two first contact missions successfully completed, over five hundred parsecs mapped, encountering a school of star-jellies and avoiding a clash with a group of rogue Klingon birds-of-prey. Hopefully that’s enough to keep good relations with the Romulan Republic going for some time.”
“They’ll forget about it within the week and we’ll somehow resume being perceived as an assimilative culture that wants to absorb all of the former Star Empire,” Seagraves said, with a shrug. She slid a PADD across the desk to him, and then leaned back in her chair. “It was enough to earn you a new assignment, though.”
“A new assignment?” Bennet repeated as he looked at the PADD she handed him. As he opened it with his security clearance, he read the subject heading first and was shocked what it said. “I’m to take command of Task Force Seventeen?” He looked at the admiral. “Sorry ma’am, but can you elaborate this? I thought I was going to receive the next mission orders for the Vesta, not to be re-assigned?” He paused and skim read the introduction points. The one that stood out the most was that he was losing the Vesta as it was being sent back to Earth for an upgrade to its engines. Almost two-thirds of his crew would be assigned to the brand new built ship, USS Discovery. The Century-class ship would be assigned as the flagship of a new lead expeditionary force into the Delta Quadrant.
“A new assignment. Now, I hope that’s the last time I’m going to have to repeat myself in this conversation,” Seagraves replied, icily. “The Vesta is a fine ship for long-range solo exploratory missions, but she’s not suited for service as a flagship the way the Discovery will be. You’ll be coordinating field control of the Fourth Fleet’s long-range exploratory units from the Discovery in the Delta Quadrant.”
The admiral flipped through her holographic desk display to find a file and then pulled it off of the screen to float next to her above the desk. It showed the relative positions of Starbase Bravo, the Gradin Belt, the Nacene Reach and a handful of blue dots spread throughout the galaxy that indicated ships like the Vesta: solo, long-range exploratory vessels.
“Since we don’t have any starbases in the Delta Quadrant, we need an experienced captain to make calls that we won’t be able to from here; we do have communications between command and the Gradin Belt, but that’s not a substitute for on-the-ground leadership,” Seagraves elaborated, as the map highlighted the vast distances at work. “You’ve been a captain for seventeen years. If you’re going to keep resisting promotion, this is the best use of your talents.”
Shocked, stunned, surprised, the captain was out of words. A few times he had been offered the chance to take on a few other assignments, including being his mother’s chief of staff as well as teaching at Starfleet Academy. None of them had interested him. Realising there was nothing he could say about it, Bennet went on to discuss his new assignment with the admiral.
This would be a new ride for him, however he couldn’t help think that Starfleet was sending him far away to keep him quiet.
– written with David
Task Force 17 Updates
Well it has been almost a month since I took over the reigns with Task Force 17 and I just want to thank everyone for their kindness, support and help as I settle into the new role. It is great to be back as a Task Force CO and getting to know all of the TF17 family. I am grateful for McGig agreeing to remain on Task Force Executive Officer and I was happy to have twd777 join us as Task Group 9 Commanding Officer. I genuinely feel we have a good strong team in TF17 and we are ready to take the task force forward. We are already putting together an aspirational plan for TF17 on what we want to do to engage further with the TF17 members. More on that later on!
So what’s new in Task Force 17 this month? Well here’s a few things to let you know!
Have you visited Relay Station Bravo Recently? If not, why not?! Task Force 17 has created some great stories this month. Those ships include:
Take a look today!
- We welcomed DarthCrusader to TF17 during this month and he went from being a Lieutenant Junior Grade to a Lieutenant.
- VividShado, JEBryson325 and twd777 were all promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
A big well done to everyone for their achievements!
It was great to see TF17 do so well in the Romulan Diaspora Competition and the Operational Readiness Protocols, again many of our members placed in the top 3 in most of these competitions so well done TF17’ers!!
Our Aspirational Plans for TF17
As mentioned earlier, we have been looking at creating an aspirational plan for TF17. What’s one of those I hear you ask? Well it’s like a development plan, but as BF is a hobby and something we should enjoy we wanted to put together somewhere our ideas on where we would like to take TF17 in the future without setting absolute milestones. The aspirational plan is flexible like that so if anything was to come up we could adapt as we go along. We also want to be ambitious and if anyone else has any ideas, please do share them! So what is coming up that we want to work on first? Well we have two areas we want to focus on for now, they are based around engaging with our members as much as possible.
Focus: Membership Engagement – the launch of the TF17 Lead Expeditionary Group
We have launched our new sandbox on the Relay Station Bravo. No longer is Task Force 17 stuck to one region. We are exploring all areas of deep space and our first focus is the Delta Quadrant, so we are launching the TF17 Lead Expeditionary Force. From here our members on the ranks of ensign to lieutenant will be able to ‘mingle’ with the TF staff and other members on one of our ships. Each one has an area of specialism, so please do join us! Ideas for plotlines will be greatly received too! Which takes us onto our next thing nicely…
Focus: Involvement with the The Archanis Sector Campaign
As part of our first set of storylines set within the task force we want to be involved in the upcoming fleet wide event as setup by our great Loremaster! As such we plan to have the Lead Expeditionary Force have to put their plans to head to the Delta Quadrant on hold as they help out in dealing with those pesky Klingons!!
TFCO Concluding Remarks
So that’s it for now, I hope that helps everyone see the fun and excitement we hope to generate in Task Force 17!