Part of USS Ulysses: Season 1 Episode 1: On the Precipice of Greatness

Out with the old…

USS Santa Fe, Starbase Bravo Dockyards
August 1st, 2399
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All was quiet on the Santa Fe. Tharia sat in the Command chair, idly flipping through a report on a PADD; more crew transfers, but she wondered when the ship was being assigned a new Commanding Officer, or a proper Executive Officer for that matter. Going through a refit was bad enough, but doing so without a command team in place for the final stages was never a good thing. This was the time when each commanding officer would ask for minor tweaks and clarify decisions for their ship. Without one in place, the acting Commander had had to make those calls, and to say she was uncomfortable doing so was an understatement.

Aged by modern standards, the Santa Fe was a long way down the list of desired postings for the best and brightest in Starfleet. To those who had served on her for sometime, however, the New Orleans-class frigate was a tough old girl worthy of a new Klingon opera. She’d fought her way through several conflicts, survived the Dominion War and now, she was getting her well deserved reward – a refit to bring her up to the modern standards of vessels Starfleet was producing (or as close to it as her infrastructure would allow). Although she was part of the Galaxy-class sub group, the Santa Fe lacked some of the comfort of her much larger cousins; that being said, she was still a damn sight more comfortable than some of the more modern, combat-oriented ships the fleetyards had been churning out of late. Yes – she was old, but she was ‘their’ ship, and they were proud to serve as her crew.

Even if it meant months in spacedock.

The bridge, as quiet as it possibly could be given the fact the ship had been in its dockyard for close to three months, was about to get a rude awakening. “=/\=Transporter room two to bridge,” the voice called out from down on the lower decks.

“This is the Bridge,” Tharia answered, setting her PADD in her lap.

“=/\=We’re receiving a transporter request from Starbase Bravo. They wouldn’t say who it was, just that it was urgent,” the unknown voice responded.

Well that wasn’t vague at all…

Letting out a wistful sigh, Tharia rose from the Command chair. “I will be right down,” she informed the transporter operator. Gesturing to another Officer to take watch, she then took the lift down to transporter room two. “Energize when ready,” she said to the transporter chief as they made eye contact, then she folded her hands behind her back as she waited for the transporter pad to illuminate them with their guests.

Within seconds, the familiar sound of the transporter activating joined the equally familiar blue hue of the beam as they engulfed the transporter room. A humanoid form gradually formed on the transporter pad itself until the rematerialization process was completed and a familiar face let out a relaxed sigh. “God it’s good to be back,” the man remarked.

“I had a feeling you wouldn’t stay away for long,” Tharia remarked with a grin when she saw Colby Drayton stood on the pad. “Welcome back,” she nodded respectfully to the ships previous commander, and a man who had recently been promoted to a posting on the brand new Odyssey-class starship known as the Achilles.

Captain Drayton took a step down from the pad and placed a gentle hand on the Andorian’s shoulder, as she gestured for the door. “Let’s walk and talk,” he grinned.

“Why do I get the feeling you’re up to no good?” Tharia asked with amused suspicion as they left the transporter room. “I’m about to get transferred, aren’t I?”

Walking with a relaxed, yet purposeful stride, the Captain couldn’t help but smile like a child as he looked around the corridors. It was incredibly good to be back aboard his old command, even if only for a short while. “No, you aren’t being transferred,” he shook his head. “Admiral Nazir thought you might want to hear the news from me,” he continued, glancing briefly at his former second officer. “They’ve finally appointed a new commanding officer for the Old Girl.”

“Finally, I was beginning to wonder if we had been forgotten about,” Tharia declared. It was good to have Cole back, even if only for a short while; Tharia hadn’t realized how much she had come to enjoy being in her former Captain’s company in the time they had served together. “Has an Executive Officer been lined up as well?” she asked, “I want to stop making decisions for a while.”

“I could never forget you,” Drayton smirked as they sauntered down the corridor. “The new commander is on his way as we speak and will be arriving shortly. As for an executive officer,” the taller Terran stopped in his tracks and held out a hand. “Congratulations, Tharia. Your promotion to full Commander has come through. You have been nominated and confirmed to the position of executive officer,” he grinned.

Tharia stopped when she noticed Drayton had stopped, and she narrowed her gaze; did he… no, he wouldn’t… He did… “I always suspected you were evil to the core, but this really solidifies it,” Tharia replied, then chuckled with a shake of her head. “I suppose a ‘thank you’ is in order,” she offered with amusement. “Thank you. Now, who will I be serving with this time? I hope you checked their ‘ambition’ section of the application? I don’t want to have to get used to another new CO just a few months down the line because the Old Girl isn’t cool enough for them…”

Drayton laughed his trademark, hearty chuckle as he slapped her playfully on the back and started walking again. “We’ve vetted every possible candidate and, frankly, we’ve got you the very best for the job,” the Captain revealed as they started walking again, this time headed for the shuttle bay. “It’s his first command, a newly promoted Captain. Very different to me. Made a bit of a name for himself on New-Orleans class ships though. He’s just spent five years as XO of the Boadicea,” he said, recalling as much as he could about the incoming officer.

“Sebastian Farrell?” Tharia quizzed, looking across at the Captain.

“Hmmm? You know of him?” Drayton asked, apparently confirming the Commander’s question.

“Yeah,” the Andorian nodded, her silver hair and antennae bobbing as she did so. “We’ve served together before. If I recall, he’s an uncompromising perfectionist. Just what we need after… well, you…”

Drayton smiled as they approached the turbo lift that would take them to the shuttlebay. “It’s going to be fun for you, I’m sure. So, fill me in. What’s been going on up here?”

“Not a lot, I’m afraid; it’s been terribly dull waiting for Command to assign a new Commanding Officer and watching people come and go,” Tharia remarked as they entered the lift. “We’ve had some transfers, I’ve been letting the crew visit the planet and the station for some shore leave, and I’ve been running regular drills to keep everyone sharp in the meantime. Refit is going as planned, I believe.”

“Shuttlebay,” the Captain commanded the small, mobile room. “Talking of crew transfers,” the Captain nodded slowly, “you’re getting a new Operations officer. She’s somewhat… unique,” Drayton told as he thought about anything else he had to tell the new executive of the Nogura.

“Oh goodie,” Tharia said with mock relief, “We like the ordinary here, not the unusual” she declared with a raised eyebrow. As the lift traversed the ship, Tharia began to wring her hands slightly behind her back, hesitant about asking the one thing that had been on her mind lately. “Any idea what our mission will be?”

“That’s for you and Farrell to discuss,” the former Captain of the ship confirmed as they rounded the corner to the Shuttlebay. “So, I hope you are ready to make a good impression on your new CO,” he put an arm around Tharia’s shoulder and pulled her closer. “I thought you were a Hanson lackey at first but you really changed my opinion. Now, I consider you a close friend and ally. Keep me updated on how things are going here, will you?” the Captain asked his friend. Even though he was moving on to bigger things, he still held the small frigate close to his heart.

She didn’t really have time to answer her friend, not that she thought he really expected an answer. The Runabout was right in front of them now, and making its way into position for landing thanks to the tractor beams which had locked onto the vessel once it had breached the internal forcefield of the shuttlebay.

They watched as the Mustang-class Runabout was guided into position by the beam, a loud metal-on-metal clanking sound as the craft eventually put down on the deck plating. Within seconds the ramp at the back of the craft began to lower itself. With Drayton and sh’Elas stood towards the front of the craft waiting, footsteps began to sound from inside and soon began to descend the steps until…

…a tall, dark skinned Terran with a well trimmed beard and a shaved head, and some impressively chiselled cheekbones rounded the craft and approached the two senior officers. “Captain; Commander,” he greeted gruffly as he dumped his duffel on the deck plating and offered out a hand in greeting.

“Captain Farrell,” Drayton nodded respectfully and took his hand briefly in greeting. “Welcome to the Santa Fe,” he added as he gestured to Tharia, “May I introduce Commander Tharia sh’Elas, the Fe’s First Officer,” he smiled, before adding, “although she tells me you already know each other?”

“Commander,” Sebastian offered a hand to Andorian and nodded in greeting, “it’s been a while.”

“Captain,” Tharia replied in kind, shaking his hand. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

“Likewise,” he spoke in his usual deep tone as he noticed a Crewman take his bag, assuming it would be transported to his new quarters. “It’s like being at home on the Boadicea… but I’m looking forward to putting my own slant on things here,,” he told as he puffed out his chest a bit and looked back and forth between the two. “I understand that the Admiralty has plans for us already,” he stated, his gaze finally settling on the ship’s former commander.

“Mmmhmm,” Drayton nodded as he gestured for the exit and began walking. “Command wants the ship ready for her new orders by the end of tomorrow,” he instructed. “Ready to depart by end of play the day after,” he added.

“A number of the crew are on the planet for shore leave, but I can have them recalled right away,” Tharia informed her new Captain.

“Essential personnel only,” the Captain interjected. “It may be some time until we have shore leave again, let them enjoy it while they can.”

“Yes sir,” Tharia replied. A decision that showed his respect for the crew already, a nice touch. “I assume you would like to meet with the Senior Staff after you’ve settled in?” she asked the man, doing her level best to impress him from the get go.

“Not until I have a reason to Commander, no,” the man shook his head as they began walking the corridors. “I’d rather they just get on with their jobs and focus on getting the ship ready for departure,” he instructed. Two days was not long to get the final stages of the refit completed, so frivolous meet-and-greets were a pointless waste of time in his eyes. He’d meet them as and when needed. “You’ll be getting a list of potential candidates for postings in the next hour. I’d like you to peruse them and give me your opinion by eighteen hundred please Commander,” he instructed, giving the Andorian no time to adjust to her new, permanent role before dumping paper work on her.

Lovely, paperwork, her favorite! “I will get right on it, sir,” Tharia replied as they came to a stop at the turbo lift. “Would you like me to show you to your quarters?” she offered, hoping against hope that he might want to go off on his own, or maybe want to walk with Drayton.

“No Commander,” the Captain shook his head, “I believe you have work to do to ensure we are ready on time?” he suggested with a quick glance at his fellow Captain, who simply stood in silence watching the interaction.

“Yes sir, excuse me,” Tharia replied then backed away.

As Colby watched the Commander retreat and make her exit, he turned back to the newly-minted Captain of his ship. “She’s a fine officer Captain. I trust you will find her very useful,” the older man told sternly. He was handing his ship over to someone else at last but that didn’t stop him being protective of his people.

“I am sure I will,” the new Captain nodded. “But respectfully, they need to know that this is my ship now and I do things my way. Especially those closest to you. I can’t have them questioning my orders or comparing what I do to their past experiences. It’s best we start as we mean to go on,” he told truthfully.

Drayton couldn’t argue with him and, had he been in Farrell’s shoes, he probably would have set out his stall early too. This was, after all, no longer his ship or crew and he had no right to question the newcomer’s method of command – at least, not until he’d had a fair crack at the whip anyway.

The two stood in the corridor talking for a while longer until the new Captain escorted the his predecessor back to the transporter room and, essentially, off his ship.

Santa Fe had its command team, now they had their work cut out to be ready for their deadline.