Everything about the work Vex had been committed to over the past month had been wrong. From the invasion of a primitive society to the secrecy surrounding the research of the Tkon beacon he and his compatriots had found upon Koruku III, more and more questions were being raised in the Trill’s mind and all the while the levels of secrecy surrounding the matters at hand grew greater and greater.
It was convenient then that he had been called to the office of Starbase 72’s commander, Commodore Jalian. Not exactly a woman of formality, it was rare for Jalian to meet with anyone in her office that she didn’t absolutely have to. Yanrel knew then that he was being called for something more significant than a simple chit-chat. Had he made the wrong call on Koruku III, was he to face a reprimand, a court-martial, or something worse?
As a woman whose career was built upon the legality of the Federation, Vex knew that her words came not just with authority but with experience and knowledge. Her ruling on his actions during the fleet action were to be nothing short of absolute.
He barely had time to collect his thoughts before the turbolift hissed to a halt and the doors slid open. Stepping out, Vex found himself in a waiting room, heavily decorated with a variety of landscape paintings and potted plants of many origins, as well as rather happy looking holo-photos depicting the commodore in pleasant company with the various denizens of the Starbase.
“Commander Vex?” a Trill woman from behind a small L-shaped glass desk inquired. She was young and didn’t appear to be a member of Starfleet. Her trademark spots, which ran from the top of her head down, were shown off by her high-and-tight ponytail.
Vex nodded in the affirmative and with a polite smile, his arms folded behind his back as they often were.
“Commodore Jalian’ll see you now.” She replied.
The door in front of him hissed open pneumatically and within, he saw a Saurian woman sat behind a similar small, glass desk. She was entering information rather hastily on a PADD and occasionally looking at a display monitor to her right.
Vex stepped through and stood at attention. The office was much like the waiting room appeared, lively and with a variety of plants, pictures, and paintings.
“Ah, you must be Yanrel!” the Commodore exclaimed.
“Fourth host of the Vex symbiote, am I right?” She continued.
“Ah, grand! I do like to know at least a little bit about all the senior officers under me. Now then, we should get down to business! Would you like anything before we start? Tea, a snack maybe? Maurian’s Deli down in the Arboretum makes the most wonderful little things he calls ‘flapjacks’. You absolutely must try one! I can send for some if you’d like?” She rattled off.
“No, no, that’s quite alright ma’am.” Vex replied, raising his hand in declination.
“Oh, very well. Well at ease there, Mr Vex, at the very least. We don’t want you pulling something before you’ve left the office now, do we? Please do try to relax, you’re not in any sort of trouble, far from it in fact!” She continued as Vex’s stance scarcely slacked at all.
She motioned to the seat on the opposite end of the desk before bridging her scaley fingers, a broad smile across her reptilian features.
Vex took the seat that was offered, though he did little to hide the perplexed look upon his face.
“Mr Vex, I am pleased to have invited you here to offer you your first command!” She said with an increasing degree of excitement. It seemed almost as if the good news was hers and not his to receive.
“A command, ma’am?” Vex almost stuttered.
“Yes, that’s right! You’ll be captain of the USS Nova. She’s small and a little old but she’s a fine vessel, the namesake of her class, in fact! She was last captained by a Mr Mzuzi Nazari for about 4 years, though he later went on to captain the Nautilus…”
Jalian continued to speak at length about the varied history of the Nova and its crewmen, including how each one of their careers had progressed. Yanrel remained polite and engaged and did his best to feign an interest in what was being said, though honestly his mind was now utterly enraptured by the prospect of what had been laid in front of him. Never in all of his lifetimes had he ever actually been the captain of a Starfleet vessel. Burza was of course First Officer aboard the Forester and even held command of the vessel on occasion, but to be the captain of a vessel was such an incredible privilege and responsibility to be granted.
The possibilities of what he might encounter out there in deep space from the chair of his humble ship were inspirational in their limitlessness.
“Sorry Commander, I probably shouldn’t keep babbling on like that.” Jalian finished.
Yanrel’s thoughts were brought then straight to the moment as his attention returned to Jalian, and with that return of attention came the questions he had been asking himself the whole time he had been heading towards her office.
“Uh, it’s quite alright ma’am. Though, I must ask,’ he paused, taking a moment to consider his next inquiry, ‘permission to speak freely, commadore?”
“Oh of course. Please, speak your mind.” She returned in her usual warmth.
“About our mission to Koruku III. What dire situation could Starfleet ever possibly be placed in to require us to take such frankly heinous actions so terribly in contradiction with the Prime Directive? What was so important about that planet that we were forced to open fire on a civilian population of a pre-warp society?”
Jalian shifted uncomfortably in her seat and averted her gaze for a moment, as if she had been awaiting such a question and did not much relish the thought of giving a sufficient answer.
“When we conclude this meeting, Commander Vex, I shall reveal all. As the captain of a Starfleet vessel, it is your duty to know the truth of the omega directive, and why it’s secrecy and classification is so imperative to all of our continued survival.”
The tone of her voice audibly changed, as did her countenance. She was tense, and her response was laced with a formality uncharacteristic of such an open woman.
Yanrel paused for a moment before offering a simple nod in acknowledgement.
With that, her usual smile returned, as if a dark cloud that had hung over the room, conjured by the question, had been blown aside for a moment.
“Anyway, aren’t you excited to hear what your mission is? I know I would be!” She continued in her typical exuberance.
“Ah yes Commodore. Please, continue.” Vex responded. The weight of the Omega question still sat heavy on his shoulders, but he would bare the burden of it for the while. This was, after all, a good day for him otherwise.
“The alpha and beta quadrants are vast, Commander, and there is much even within charted Federation territory that hasn’t been fully explored. Several of our larger ships in the past have discovered planets of interest to the Federation within our own borders that simply haven’t been given the time to be explored fully. They’ve managed to hash out a quick survey before moving on to other matters to which their attention might’ve been better spent. It’ll be your job to return to those planets and conduct full surveys of them. They could potentially be the locations of new colonies or of potential scientific or historical interest to the Federation. Either way, the Nova will be the one to make those determinations. You’ll be getting your hands dirty with botanical and soil analysis, environmental mapping, meteorology, geological studies, paleontological and anthropological discoveries. Ah, it’s so exciting Commander! I’m jealous of you, I really am! You’ll be out there, doing what Starfleet does best! Discovering new and strange things about the worlds we know so little about and expanding our knowledge of our own little corner of space! You’ll be provided with a dossier of planets and spacial anomalies to investigate and we do hope to see detailed reports on each of them. Of course, as Captain, it is at your discretion where you go first and how you handle each situation, but we look forward to seeing your studies of each.”
Vex could barely contain his own excitement at the prospect of the work before him. Finally, after years or service aboard vessels of varying missions, Vex could finally dedicate his time, knowledge, and experience to pursuits more in line with his own interests. He pictured himself hacking his way through jungle thickets to find ancient tombs long since claimed by nature’s growth. He imagined himself trekking through great deserts and amongst the ruins of what were once wonderous ancient cities of alien design now lost to memory and untrodden upon for thousands of years until his arrival.
“That sounds amazing!” he finally blurted out, unable to find anything more restrained and respectful to say.
“Doesn’t it just!?” Jalian responded, sharing in his enthusiasm.
“Now then, there are just a few matters we need to go over. Your responsibilities and duties as Captain of a Starfleet vessel, certain protocols and additional items of training you will need to go through before you can be left to your own devices- don’t worry, we can handle all of that here at the Starbase, you won’t be sent away or anything- and, among other things, your, uh… concerns regarding the Omega directive.” She added, standing up out of her seat and casually strolling around the office.
Yanrel stood from his seat in kind, and returned to his usual semi-formal stance, his arms firmly folded behind his back.
“Of course, commodore.” He said.
“Great! Let’s get started then, shall we.”