Part of USS Achilles Archive: It Resides in the Purview of the Diplomats

A name drifting on the wind…

Xendi Sabu System, Alpha Quadrant
Stardate 24582.19: August 1st, 2347; 1000 Hours
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“Captain’s log, Stardate 24582.19.

 

Dubbed the ‘Golden Age of Exploration’, the 2340s have proven to be no less challenging or significant than any time before them. Although peace with the Klingons is almost a foregone conclusion, it came at a heavy price. Starfleet’s flagship, the Enterprise-C, was lost with all hands in the defence of the Klingon world of Narendra III. Since that fateful day just three short years ago, Starfleet has been on edge, watching our borders closely and building starships at a rate I’ve never seen before. Gone are the days of refitting old space frames; now we’re churning out Centaurs, Freedoms and Excelsiors faster than we can pick names. But the real power of the fleet lies with us, of course. We lucky few, those of us with the privilege to serve aboard one of the finest starships ever created – the Ambassador-class. Designed to be the Federation’s Ambassadors, travelling the cosmos and spreading our mission of peace, yet armed with the kind of technological upgrades we’ve not seen for a generation.

 

I should know; I was there…

 

On the verge of being declared operational, after a year long shakedown cruise, Achilles finds itself headed towards a new foe. Tasked with spreading the word of peace, we will be the Ambassador’s that the Federation so desperately needs, but I won’t hesitate to use these modern technologies I have at our disposal if the rumours are true. Rumours of prisoners, terrorism, subjugation… death.

 

What we know is limited, and what we’ve been told is less than clear. We’ve had very few dealings with them over the years and I’ve not personally met one yet, but if they are what recent refugees have reported, I can’t imagine we’ll be friendly for long…

 

I’m told if you listen carefully around these parts, you’ll hear whispers in the darkness. A name drifting on the wind.

 

Cardassians.”

With the Achilles having successfully departed the colony on Xendi Sabu, Captain Nazir and her senior staff had monitored ships systems for over an hour and once everyone was satisfied that the ship was running as efficiently as possible, she had ordered a temporary change to shift patterns for the day. It seemed only fair given the fact she had ordered senior staff to the bridge at gone 2am, well into gamma shift. She had decreed that gamma shift would remain on duty for an additional two hours, moving Alpha shift to ten-hundred hours instead of the usual oh-eight-hundred hours; an opportunity to try and regain those lost two hours of sleep. Satisfied with the arrangement in place, she herself had turned in a little after oh-four-hundred. She was out for the count the minute her head hit the pillow; no sleeping pills were needed this night.

Despite the disturbed night’s sleep, she had looked bright and cheery upon reporting to the bridge, via a stop at the mess hall for a hot beverage and some toast of course – a late breakfast to set the Trill commander of the ship up for the day. She had decided that she would go for the unzipped uniform jacket and blonde ponytail look today as she reported for her shift.

Sat in her command chair, staring out at the universe, she absentmindedly fiddled with the small device perched on her left breast. Her crew were some of the first to trial the latest insignia Starfleet had designed. For the first time ever, the metallic object served as more than a symbol; the latest versions came with a significant redesign to take advantage of the latest communications technology. Commbadges inside insignia! Who would have thought it possible? Gone were the days of bulky communications devices, instead all they had to do was tap their badge and speak the name of the person they wanted to converse with and the ship’s systems would do the rest. What a thrill! That was just the first of the many upgrades that came with being a crewmember upon the grandest ship in the fleet. New hand phasers, including an easily concealable version. A slimelined tricorder that could sit in a pouch on one’s service belt (no more neck straps), and a medikit that contained all of the essentials for use in a medical emergency off of the ship. It certainly was a great time to be alive.

“Captain…”

Plucked from her daydreaming, the blonde haired beauty looked around for the owner of the voice.

“Captain,” Lieutenant Alexandre Levett called out, turning in his seat from the Communications station to glance across at the ship’s commanding officer. “We’re received a transmission from the starship Hermes. They’re in the immediate vicinity, travelling at warp five.”

Keziah rose from the command chair and let out a sigh as she got adjusted her uniform. ‘It’s too damn early for strange new people…’ she pondered internally. Or was it one of her past hosts? Damn she needed to get a handle on all these thoughts and feelings. “Let’s have it,” she spoke eventually.

Levett nodded and tapped at his controls, finally nodding in the Captain’s direction as the view screen changed to reveal the face of an aging woman with (quite clearly dyed) red hair.

“Ahhh, you must be Captain Nazir? Greetings! My name is Captain Natalia Usmanov, commander of the Hermes,” the older Terran smiled happily and nodded in the direction of her much younger counterpart. Her Russian accent was thick yet somewhat alluring. “Starfleet has ordered the Hermes to rendezvous with yourselves, the Berlin and the Okinawa at the site of the new Starbase Two-One-One, just outside of the Betazed system,” the woman told, relaying a message that, no doubt, the woman on the other side of the conversation had already been told.

Nazir returned to the safety and sanctuary of her command chair and shifted forwards slightly, her hands gripping the chair arms as she listened to the words of the woman on the view screen. So, they would have company out in the region after all. “I didn’t realise Starfleet was sending anyone else out this way so soon. Admiral th’Zorati made it clear that we’d be on our own for at least the next two mon…”

“The threat level in the region has been raised from moderate to significant. Border skirmishes are on the rise, and our grey-skinned friends are not playing fair,” Usmanov interrupted, her demeanour changing as she spoke. “Of course they are going to send more than one Ambassador class starship. Look at the Enterprise when she was left alone.”

Nazir raised an eyebrow as she glanced across at her Navigation Officer, who returned her quizzical expression, before continuing about his business. “We can be at Betazed in the next eighteen to twenty-four hours. We are to rendezvous with the Adriatic and Tolstoy first to take on crew replacements,” she confirmed, her tone calm, but clear, letting her fellow Captain know that this particular commander would not be pushed around. Achilles would reach her destination exactly when Nazir intended, and not a moment sooner.

“The closer to eighteen, the better,” Usmanov exclaimed. Then, as quickly as it had switched the first time, her demeanour changed again, and she was once again the chirpy soul who had first contacted them. “See you at Betazed, Captain. Hermes out.”

And just like that, the Russian disappeared and the view screen was deactivated, leaving Keziah somewhat perplexed at the interaction that had taken place.

“A single Ambassador…” muttered Levett to the Captain’s right, “it’d be alright if she was commanding an Excelsior or something, but the Hermes is only a Miranda! What good will she be in a fire fight?” He glanced across at the Trill, only to see her shooting him a look that sparked a sudden feeling that he had overstepped the mark in his rant, “sorry ma’am.” He offered his profuse apologies and got back to work.

Keziah shook her head slowly, and let out a smirk at the young Lieutenant’s indiscretion, but her thoughts soon turned back to what appeared to be an adjustment to their orders. The Achilles would report to the Betazed system and continue her journey to the Cardassian border with three new friends in tow.

“Ok Lieutenant,” she called out as she rose from her chair again and pulled down her jacket, “note down the adjustment to our orders in the ships log. We’ll meet up with the Adriatic and Tolstoy and then we’ll make for the Betazed system, at best possible speed. Inform Lieutenant Jaeger of our change of plans and have him ensure all security protocols are in place for when we get there.” She turned on her heels, not waiting for a response from the Ensign before heading for her ready room. “Knowing our luck, our new friend Captain Usmanov will want to stretch her legs on something a bit bigger than her tiny little Miranda.”

Levett watched with an enormous grin on his face as Nazir disappeared into her ready room and then got to work carrying out her orders.

Inside the ready room, there was research to be done. About Starbase Two-One-One, about the Hermes, and about this perplexing woman called Usmanov…