=/\=Paris Guest House, Earth
=/\=April 4th, 2385
Noli stood alone on the balcony. She had been there since the early morning hours, long before the sun had risen, clearing her mind and collecting her thoughts. Much had gone into preparing for the day ahead. She saw it as the culmination of months, even years of hard work and dedication. Yet, Noli knew it was more than that. This was a day that marked the beginning of something new. It was the start of a new season, one that would undoubtedly change their lives forever.
The cup of tea in Noli’s hands had gone cold, but she hardly seemed to notice. Her attention was lost in the middle-distance somewhere as she took in the sounds of city life around her.
Somewhere behind, the faint sound of doors parting and closing again could be made out, followed by footsteps. Footsteps that approached with an almost skip in their step. “Good morning beautiful,” the owner of the steps called out rather jovially as she approached the balcony area. “How are you on this fine day?” the voice asked as a man emerged onto the balcony behind Noli. A Terran, in a smart gray suit and pale blue shirt.
“Well, and you?”
“It’s the start of a beautiful new dawn, and excited for an opportunity to shape the future of the galaxy,” the young man grinned as he stepped forward to the rail of the balcony and leant on it with his elbows. “So, I guess you could say I’m pretty good!” he smirked, but the smile softened when he noticed the expression on the woman’s face. “What’s wrong?” he queried, standing upright again.
“Nothing,” Noli said, turning to smile at the man. She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, “Just being mindful of the moment.”
Nodding slowly, Leon glanced across the city and, in the distance, could make out the outline of a particular building through the morning haze. “Sounds like all the preparations for the visit are complete and the swearing in should go smoothly according to the FNS,” he told, using a hand to push himself away from the railing and back into the apartment.Once inside, he took a seat on one of the sofas. “You are allowed a couple of days off for your own wedding, Noli.”
Noli poured the remains of her tea over the flower box on the balcony, then followed her partner inside. She crossed over to the kitchen sink and began washing out the mug. “I know, I know,” the young teen frowned as she worked, “Just… I’ve been on the Admiral’s staff for six months. He finally lets me get involved in something major and I swan off for my wedding.”
“So what? You work for Picard, you haven’t pledged your life to him,” Leon grinned as he rose to his feet again and wandered across to the ridge-nosed blonde. “You pledged that to me,” he smirked, sliding his arms around the woman’s waist and leaning in for a kiss, which she gladly reciprocated.
Once their lips parted and their frames untwined, Noli went back to her task at hand. “I suppose you’re still visiting Utopia, though?”
“It’s First Contact Day. I’m going to meet the team, sign off a few orders and then I’ll be home. An hour, two at most, then we can begin our honeymoon properly,” the husband smiled. “What could possibly go wrong?”
=/\=USS Santa Fe, Deep Space 9
Blinking the sleep away, the real world awaited once more. ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ Words that had haunted the Bajoran’s dreams for fourteen long years, ever since that fateful day in 2385. First Contact Day had never been celebrated in the same way since.
On that fateful April 5th morning, multiple A500 androids had suddenly gone rogue. One android, now known as F8, lowered the deflector shields protecting the shipyards and the planet itself, then hacked the Martian defense net. Moments thereafter, numerous synth ships began targeting the Romulan rescue armada under construction, the Utopia Planitia Shipyards, the Mars Orbital Facility, and other Martian facilities. The satellite network surrounding Mars was turned against the surface. The synths then began bombarding the surface, igniting flammable vapors in the stratosphere and causing massive damage to the planet’s infrastructure.
Of course, Starfleet dispatched a task force to Mars at high warp in response to the attack, but they were too late. They were unable to prevent the destruction of almost the entire surface of the planet. Admiral Picard himself had called the attack ‘devastating’, and for Noli, it was. Like so many others, the Bajoran lost a loved one that day. She’d lost her best friend, her lover… her soulmate. But unlike many, she was only 19 at the time. Married to her childhood sweetheart only days before, and robbed of any sort of future together. She’d thought about leaving Starfleet altogether during her mourning period, but in the end, that was all that she had left, all that could keep her going. All that remained now were the nightmares, the constant reminders of times gone by. And the only way to suppress the thoughts? Throwing oneself into one’s work.
Pulling on her duty uniform jacket, the blonde stared at herself in the mirror, as she did each and every day. Silently. Observing her moment of remembrance before heading out for work. only this day, before she was able to exit the room, she was stunned by the sudden sounding of yellow alert across the ship.
“=/\=Senior staff to the bridge.”
Being summoned to the bridge by the Captain under yellow alert was nothing unusual under normal circumstances, but today was far from normal. With the ship docked at Deep Space Nine it was most unusual to hear the issuing of yellow alert. Such a move more than piqued the Bajoran’s curiosity and she immediately made her way towards the nearest turbo lift where she would, eventually, grab the next passing elevator. Inside the moving transportation system upon its arrival, the tactician joined the executive officer and their counterpart from flight operations.
Upon the lifts arrival, the doors parted to a hive of activity that saw the tactician taken aback somewhat. When a ship was docked at a starbase, the bridge tended to be relatively unmanned, but given the sudden sounding of yellow alert, people were all over the place, including the captain.
“Ah, the missing pieces to my puzzle,” the dark-skinned Terran master and commander of the Santa Fe nodded to the Bajoran as his staff crossed the bridge and approached the Captain’s chair. He didn’t wait for them to take their stations before revealing the nature of the situation they found themselves in.
“Alright people. Listen up,” he called out, drawing the attention of those around him. “A situation has arisen in the area of the Paulson Nebula. Starfleet mobilized a massive response force, and we’ve been drafted in,” he then pointed to Commander travis at science.
“Data shared with me from Starfleet Applied Sciences shows the nature of this situation,” the ginger-haired, pale-skinned scientist tapped at his console and pulled up a real-time schematic of the unfolding situation.
It drew several gasps and caused the Andorian executive to sit forward in her command chair. “What, on the boiling hell of Vulcan, is that?” the woman remarked as her antennae bowed. Even she, as unflappable as she was, was worried.
“Ladies and gentlebeings, meet the Century Storm,” the scientist began, “Technically the manifestation of multiple ion storms of a similar nature, the phenomenon has impacted communication and travel throughout the region, damaged ships and stations, and inflicted massive adverse weather effects on colonies. The high risk to the hundreds of thousands of individuals living and working in the nebula prompted Starfleet to mobilise a mass evacuation of endangered regions.”
At this point in the briefing, the Cardassian at Ops took over. “The ion storms appear seemingly at random across the Paulson Nebula. Their strength, speed, and rate of intensification all vary, making no one storm quite the same. Now, the nature of the Paulson Nebula already makes travel, communication, and use of sensors occasionally difficult or outright impossible; this has only exacerbated where the Century Storm appeared. Ships caught within the ion storms are at high risk of losing sensors and communications, of disruption to their warp fields, and sustaining damage from the storm itself,” Lieutenant Prida revealed, much to the dismay of those around her.
“You couldn’t take us to Risa instead, Captain?” Noli smirked as she folded her arms across her chest and shook her head at the viewer.
Standing beside the blonde-haired tactician, the Captain let out a smirk. “Maybe next time, Lieutenant. For now, due to the high risk to the hundreds of thousands of individuals living and working in the nebula, Starfleet has mobilised a mass evacuation of endangered regions. We’ve been ordered to head up a small task group headed to the planet Sathea on the nebula’s westernmost edge. The science station on the fourth planet is home to a large science expedition. We are to evacuate the people and their research before the storm hits,” the Captain concluded.
Commander sh’Elas had already begun working at her own console. “Adriatic and Bristol have made contact, and confirmed their orders. Rendezvous has been set at the Yridia system,” the Andorian informed the Captain.
Sebastian placed a gentle hand on the shoulder of Dante Rawlings at Flight Operations. “Clear departure with Ops and set a course for Yridia, maximum warp,” he directed before returning to his own command chair at the heart of the bridge.
Dante exchanged glances with Lieutenant Prida beside him and together they began departure preparations; Prida contacted the station operations manager and cleared their departure within the station’s travel zones, whilst Rawlings coordinated with engineering to start the ship’s warp and impulse engines.
Once Prida had given him the nod, Dante glanced around at the Captain. “Course entered, Ops has cleared us,” he informed.
“Ready maneuvering thrusters,” the Andorian XO requested.
“Thrusters ready,” the Operations chief called out in an almost immediate response.
“Initiate launching sequence,” the blue-skinned commander ordered.
“Sequence underway,” Dante declared.
With a deep breath, the Captain looked out of the main viewer and smiled. “Let’s rock and roll,” Farrell ordered with a nod, hands gripping the arms of his chair tightly. Through the leather arm rests, Sebastian could feel the vibrations of the ship’s engines as the Santa Fe moved clear of the old Cardassian station’s upper pylons and crawled into a safe position. Seconds later, the New Orleans-class frigate streaked out of normal space and into the starscape, leaving the once broken system of Bajor behind and moved into high warp.
“That feeling never gets old,” the Andorian next to him grinned as both command officers visibly relaxed in their chairs.
Watching from her position behind the tactical rail, the Bajoran tactician in Operation’s gold had her arms folded, watching the stars streaming by. Thoughts of days gone by had long since evaporated, with the events of the here and now taking precedence. Until the morning, anyway. Those memories would return, as they did every morning.
For now, Sathea IV awaited.