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Mission 1: E Pluribus Unum

Out of many a crew is assembled.

A Shiny New Toy

Various Locations
February 28, 2401

Shipyards, undisclosed location – February 28, 2401

The warp core was dark and silent as engineers rushed about engineering carrying parts, tools, various other equipment, and sundries. Two Starfleet officers entered. A thin comely blonde was being escorted by a short dumpling of a man with red cheeks and a balding head.  He was a head shorter than his companion.

The pair approached a green-skinned Orion, “Captain Tarken,” he announced in an incongruous squeaky voice. “Commander Riandri Nalam. She’s from Starfleet Intelligence.  What did you say was your reason for visiting Andromeda dear?” He asked, turning to Riandri. 

Riandri cracked a grin as she turned to look at the Lieutenant, “I do not believe I did, Lieutenant…?”

“Lieutenant Manning, ma’am,” the man said a little put off.

“I need to have a work with our young Captain here. Thank you for showing me the way. It has been a while but I will be able to find my way back once my business is concluded.” Riandri said as her eyes settled on the somewhat surprised-looking Orion before her.

“Ah…Not a problem, if you need anything please let me know,” Manning said before acknowledging Kirin’s presence with a quick nod and “Captain,” before he turned and left.

Riandri stepped up to Kirin and smiled, “Sorry for dropping in on you unannounced,” she began as she looked at the engineering compartment of the Andromeda

Kirin relaxed slightly but her experience in Starfleet intelligence made her wary of SFI officers appearing out of nowhere. “I understand how it goes Commander, what can do for you?”

Riandri chuckled softly, “Riandri will be fine and I have no doubt that you understand the workings of SFI given your record. D’donya must be proud of everything you have accomplished.”  She turned and gestured toward the main door out of engineering, “Shall we walk and talk?”

Kirin was a bit surprised by this stranger who looked to be younger than herself dropping her mother’s name so easily into the conversation nodding in agreement, “Sure, I was just finishing up here.” A moment later they walked into the corridor and Kirin spoke, “You know my mother?”

Riandri smiled at that, “Yes, I met her on Risa shortly before you were born actually, and worked with her in the late 2370s. She is very good at what she does.”

Kirin didn’t stop but her steps faltered for a moment but she caught herself, “Before I was born, but you aren’t…”

“That old? Looks can be deceiving.” Riandri said with a laugh before her expression grew more serious, “Now I am more than happy to tell you some stories about your mother at another time but I am here on other business today.” 

“I trust the repairs and refit to the Andromeda are progressing well, along with the Sojourner?

“Yes, given that the fleet is a bit stretched at the moment I was asked to oversee the refit since the Pathfinder took a lot of its design from the Intrepid, that and the Sojourner is in the next bay,” Kirin said. 

“Excellent.” Riandri said before her expression grew serious, “To business. We have a mutual friend that needs some support. You remember Captain Órlaith Murphy of the Crazy Horse?”

“Yes, only met her briefly but she was very professional and helped us out when we were in the delta quadrant,” Kirin said.

“The Crazy Horse has been slotted for decommissioning and due to some stuffy Admirals, Murphy is being shuffled aside. The Crazy Horse will be stopping here soon before the transfer crew takes it to its final destination. I will be recommending Captain Murphy for the command of the Andromeda, the issue I have is that I have not served with here since…well… let’s just say for a while. I need someone who has no personal connection to her, in good standing, to put her forward.”

Kirin tilted her head as she pursed her lips in thought, “I am just a commander, though I somehow command the Sojourner.”

“I will stop you there. You may be a commander, for now, but believe me when I tell you this. You are in good standing with the fleet. There were other officers who could have commanded the Sojourner but she is your ship and rightly so,” Riandri said, “Will you help?

Kirin nodded, “Of course, Captain Murphy did me a solid and I don’t forget that.”

Riandri’s smile beamed, “Excellent! Now, I need to get going as I am not technically meant to be here.” She turned to go and stopped, pulled a out small data chip tossed it to Kirin, “My secure comms channel, if you need anything in the future.”

Kirin caught it and nodded, “Will do.” She watched the slightly shorter woman turn and leave before thinking to herself that her connection with SFI always kept her life interesting.

Later that day Kirin found herself alone in her quarters at her console writing up a recommendation.

“I am aware that the Andromeda is currently without a commander. Given recent interactions I have had with Captain Órlaith Murphy I would like to make the recommendation that she be granted command of the ship to carry on her committed service to the federation….”

Two weeks later…

Órlaith sat behind her desk at Starfleet Academy sipping a coffee, a habit she picked up way back on the Denver.  She sighed looking at the latest evaluations. While most of the cadets were exceeding the expectations for their flight training there were still a handful sitting on the bubble. As she read through the evaluations the door to her office chimed. “Enter.”

Riandri stepped in and pushed some of her blond hair from her face as her eyes fell onto Órlaith, “Well, I have to say you have done well for yourself Murphy. Come a long way since Montana.” As she spoke a wide smile crossed her face.

Órlaith blinked at Riandri and then leaped out of her chair sending it crashing into the wall as she wrapped her arms around,  “Where have you been? Does Pete know you’re back?”

Riandri tried to keep the emotions from her face but knew she couldn’t entirely as a deep pain welled up within her. After a moment she smiled and let out a laugh, “You know, around,” she said as she lifted her hands. “And no, not yet.”

She stepped forward and nodded towards the chair in from of Órlaith desk, “May I?”

“Of course.”

“So, how are things, Captain?” Riandri said with a smile, “You outrank me now, seems odd.”

“I stayed in Starfleet,” Órlaith observed.   “But, I get what you mean.  I may not have looked it, but I was just a punk kid when we first met. Now I’m older looking and you look much the same as you did in the summer of 74. Can I get you anything?”

Riandri felt herself relax around the woman she considered a friend, even if it had been almost 20 years. “You could say that again. But I think you turned out pretty good,” she said with a little laugh. She glanced over at the replicator and tilted her head in thought, “Sure, a peach ice tea, unsweetened if that is ok.”

Órlaith replicated the tea for Riandri and an Irish breakfast tea for herself.  Serving the drinks she sat down behind her desk, “So, you going to tell me why you just popped up in my office out of the clear blue?”

Riandri smiled, “Can’t an old friend stop by?”

“You haven’t before,  why now?”

With a little chuckle Riandri nodded, “You got me, I asked to be the one to come speak to you about this. I have new orders for you, well you will get them officially later today.” She pulled out a small PADD from the inner pocket of her uniform coat and handed it to Órlaith and looked at the window, “Hope you aren’t too attached to the view.”

Órlaith raised an eyebrow, “This view isn’t the best, but the Sierra Nevadas from the cockpit, well nothing beats that view.”

Riandri nodded at that, “They are pretty I will give you that but it will be a while before you see them. Take a look.”

Órlaith picked up the PADD and scrolled through it with electric trills, “Is this some sort of prank? Because I’m not laughing. The Andromeda? What happened to ‘never getting a command again? Yeah, I know, they needed a scapegoat.  It happens all the time but that kind of a black mark doesn’t look good after your first command.”

Riandri smirked and shrugged, “No prank.  Best to ignore the words of some armchair admiral anyways. It is difficult for command to use a scapegoat when the whole story ended up with a journalist somehow who is very happy to publish.” She let out a little snort and continued, “That and a certain Captain who is overseeing the Andromeda’s refit puts in a rather glowing recommendation insisting that the command must be yours.”

“Must have been Kirin,  but did you put her up to it?”

Riandri feigned a shocked look and placed her hand on her chest, “Put her up to something? Never.” After a moment’s pause she continued, “I may have spoken to her and highlighted the situation. I was putting you forward for it anyways but I thought her recommendation and well, putting you forward for it would serve better. So I asked and she was more than happy to help.”

RIandri Smirked and continued, “Now you will get the official orders shortly so I would start thinking about getting your stuff in order.”

Órlaith hesitated,  “I didn’t think about that.  I have custody of the kids, but what about Cory? He’s leaving on the USS Falfurrias for a deep space assignment. That’s why I have them.  Is it fair to them to take them on a ship?”

Riandri paused at that as her thoughts went back to a conversation she had two-decades ago. She shook her head, “That is only a question you answer. An Intrepid isn’t as big as a Galaxy but families have been on them before and I am sure they would consider it an adventure.”

“Alright… I think you’re right. Mindy hates it here anyway.  She’s having problems with some kids in school.  You know how pre-teen girls can be.”

Riandri smiled sadly, she would have if she hadn’t left, “Sadly no, well that was a very long time ago, another life for me really.” She paused for a moment and looked out the window, “I am sure they will enjoy it and it will give them an opportunity to see the galaxy.”

Riandri exhaled and looked back at Órlaith, “It would be good to catch up before you depart, it has been a long time. I just wanted to make sure you got the command you have earned. Would you be free for dinner?”

“It’s Italian night at the house. Wanna come over to my place in Pacific Heights?”

Riandri smiled, “That would be nice, 19:00?”

“See you then ” Órlaith stood hugged Riandri and watched her leave the office.

The Chantry Siblings

Avalon Fleet Yards

“No!” Órlaith said, exhaustion in her voice as she emerged from the gangway and into the Andromeda’s airlock. Despite being over twenty-five years old, the Intrepid-class had that new starship smell.

“Come on, keep up,” Órlaith said, turning to look back up the gangway and into Avalon’s docking section.

The kids emerged with bags over their shoulders. Two girls, twelve and ten, and a much younger tow-haired boy, no more than five or six, all looked just as tired as their mother. The oldest had the expression of mopey anger that could only be accomplished by a teenage girl whose whole world was being turned upside down.

As the kids walked down the gangway, the door slid open again, and a blond woman, looking no older than 25, stepped through. She glanced down the passageway and smiled towards Órlaith and made her way towards her. “So, I see everyone is getting moved in?” She said, nodding towards the kids. Without pause, she stepped up to Órlaith and gave her a hug, “How are you doing?”

“I am well,” Órlaith said, returning the hug. She eyed Riandri with suspicion, “You haven’t aged a day in twenty-six years.”

Riandri shrugged and smiled, “Healthy food and staying active.” She paused for a moment, “Genetics help.”

“So, I heard you were at the shipyards and thought I would drop by and see how things have been going. Do you need a hand getting everyone on board?” Riandri asked.

“I need to look over things. I haven’t had a chance to follow up since I got the manifest finalized. Happy I got two familiar faces on the crew. Lieutenant Commander Hayden as my XO and Dr. Mulder as the CMO. They served with me on the Crazy Horse. Xander! Where are you going? Mindy, get your brother.”

The eldest Chantry rolled her eyes and chased after her brother as he ran from his sister squealing in delight to the aggravation of his sister.

Riandri laughed at that as she watched the kids, “I think you may have your hands full with them on board.” Turning back to Órlaith continued, “I am glad there are some familiar faces, having a known quantity such as your XO and CMO will go a long way in helping you get settled.” She glanced over at the ship, “Part of me misses being out there but at the same time I spend too long on a ship without much direction.”

Órlaith sighed, “I don’t know if I should thank you or curse you for this assignment. Too bad you couldn’t have pulled those strings before Cory took that deep-space assignment. I don’t have any family, as you know all too well. Cory only has his 108-year-old great-grandmother, and I’m not going to saddle her with the kids.”

Riandri pursed her lips, “Wish I had been able to. I am sure it feels daunting now but I am confident you are meant for this.” She reached out and put a hand on Órlaith’s shoulder, “Don’t doubt yourself; you are meant to be doing this.”

“We’re about to find out, aren’t we?” Órlaith quipped. She adjusted the luggage strap on her shoulder and smiled warmly as Mindy returned with her brother’s hand in hers.

“Mom,” she announced, her tone indicating she was thoroughly done with all of this. “Why couldn’t we just stay in San Francisco?”

“You know why,” Órlaith said. “We’ve been over this. Mindy, this is Commander Nalam. She and I served together years ago.”

“Yeah, back in the Dominion war on the Denver,” Riandri said. “I get the frustration of moving; San Francisco is a nice city, but life on board a starship,” she tilted her head towards the Andromeda gives you the option of seeing so much more.”

For once Mindy didn’t roll her eyes at Riandri, but it was obvious that the Commander’s words did not resonate with the teen. Simply shrugging, she replied, “I guess. But there is no one else my age here, and… well, I’m missing out on the Spring Formal.”

“Ah,” Riandri said, “I can understand that completely. But think of it this way. As the daughter of the Captain, I am sure there will be many parties and such you can attend when the Andromeda is in orbit around planets. I had to make a move when I was young and missed out on things, but with this,” she said pointing her thumb back towards the ship, “…you never know what you might find.”

“There are holodecks,” Elizabeth added with a grin. “I get to run the Adventures of Fotter anytime I want. I couldn’t do that on Earth.”

“That is an excellent point, Elizabeth,” Riandri said with a grin, “As the Captain’s kids, you may even be able to get reserved times, though you would need to run that by her.” She paused for a minute in thought, “I am sure you will also be able to find some other great adventure programs for kids in the database. Lots of Starfleet ships have kids on, some even have schools. So I am sure you will not be bored.”

“I hate school,” Elizabeth said with a frown.

“You’ll hate computer learning more,” Mindy said to her sister.

Riandri turned to look at Órlaith, “You have sweet kids.” As she said that, she looked distant for a moment before refocusing on Órlaith, “Any idea what your first mission will be?”

“Not at the moment, but I expect I will find out soon enough,” Órlaith replied. Producing a PADD, she handed it to Mindy. “Our quarters assignment. Take your brother and sister to get settled.”

Mindy took the PADD, “Okay, Mom.” She gathered up her siblings and ushered them down the corridor to the turbolift. As she did, she referenced the screen to make sure she was still heading in the correct direction.

“They are good kids despite me not being there for them when they were younger. I regret that so; maybe this is for the best even if it is less than ideal. At least this is a science ship and not a warship.”

Riandri felt her stomach drop at that comment but tried visibly to push the feeling aside, “I am sure spending time with them will be worth it, and like you said, it’s a science ship. You shouldn’t end up in any combat, and if so, the Andromeda is a fast little ship. She will look after you.”

Órlaith smiled and then hugged Riandri, “Thanks for everything. If you are still around tonight, swing by my quarters. I got some fresh veggies.” She patted her duffle affectionately, “I’m thinking eggplant parmesan with fresh homemade marinara.”

Riandri smiled at that. “Count me in. I do love a good home-cooked meal! My day is pretty open at the moment, though I do need to get back and review a few reports from the Deneb sector before the end of the day.”

“See you around 19:00 then,” Órlaith shouted over her shoulder as she chased after her kids.