Eline purposefully walked over the Starfleet insignia engraved onto the floor at Starfleet Command, waving to a few friends she knew from her previous time at Command Headquarters. She had a meeting at 11 am (local time) with Admiral Eruzione and she was running slightly behind. The USS Bellingham, the Miranda-class starship she had caught a ride out of Starbase 110, had been delayed in its approach to Spacedock Earth and consequently, it was about 10:58 am as she strode across the Starfleet logo on the floor. She knew she was late, and was walking briskly through. Due to her time at Command headquarters, she knew the way through to the executive offices, and after a few turns, she saw the office she was looking for. She knocked on the door, and entered the lobby of the fleet commander’s office. Ensign Strobel, the Admiral’s aide-de-camp, was on duty, and when he saw the Lieutenant enter, he stood up at attention.
“At ease, Ensign, I’m just a Lieutenant. I’m Lt. Eline Liebenberg, here to see Admiral Eruzione, as ordered.”
“Good to see you Lieutenant Liebenberg. I’ll inform the Admiral you’re reporting as ordered. Please, have a seat. He’ll be right out.”
With that, she takes a seat, and begins reflecting on the past two years. Her first deep-space assignment wasn’t what she had expected it to be, but she had done a lot of good work. She hoped secretly within that the new assignment was going to be close to Earth, so that she could spend some more time with her partner. She loved being assigned to a starship, but her heart was here on Earth, and so, she hoped that she was coming back. She was sprung out of her reverie by the sound of the office doors opening. She stood instinctually as Admiral Eruzione stepped out of his office, a smile gracing his face. She smiled as she stuck out her hand.
“Lieutenant Eline Liebenberg, reporting as ordered, Admiral.”
“Very good, Eline. Why don’t you come into my office so we can talk about your next assignment.”
“Of course, Admiral.” She steps into his office, and waits for him to motion for her to sit down. He motions to one of the chaises that he keeps in his office, on the other side of his desk. “Please, have a seat. We have much to talk about.”
She takes a seat, and crosses her legs. “Well, Admiral, what’s going on? Am I coming back to Command HQ?”
The Admiral considers her questions and imperceptibly shakes his head negatively. “Eline…you’re not coming back to Command. I’m sorry. I know you had expressed a desire previously to come back to JAGCOM (the acronym for the JAG division at Starfleet Command), but Starfleet needs you out there. You did a lot of good work on the Cairo, and her Captain spoke very highly of you. Therefore, I guess the first piece of news is that you’re getting a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. I have your insignia here.” He holds up a little metal box engraved with the Starfleet arrowhead. He opens it, and it’s the Lieutenant Commander rank insignia inside the box.
“Stand at attention, Lieutenant Liebenberg.”
Eline immediately stands at attention. The Admiral picks up the insigina and takes it out of the box, then stands up to face her.
“For your dedication and efforts as the Staff Judge-Advocate onboard the USS Cairo, and for the exemplary work that you have cumulatively performed in service to Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets, I hereby promote you to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities therein.” He takes the rank insignia, and after removing her Lieutenant insignia, pins it on her. “Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Liebenberg!” He takes a step back and nods. “At ease, Lieutenant Commander. You can have a seat again.”
Eline smiles, and stands easy. She waits for the Admiral to sit down first, then she takes a seat.“Admiral, what IS my new assignment? I assume I’m getting a new post?”
Admiral Eruzione nods, and grabs a PAAD. He hands the PAAD to Eline. As she begins reading, he begins briefing her.
“I’m not sure if you were able to hear the new developments, as you were in deep space. The FNS reported on the news, and we sent a message to all starships, but not everyone was able to hear the news. A few weeks ago, we finally signed a peace treaty with the Klingon Empire. The Khitomer Accords lay out the terms of a Federation-Klingon alliance, and for the first time, the Federation President is hosting the Klingon Chancellor here on Earth.”
As the Admiral speaks, Eline realizes that she had heard about it, but she didn’t give it the importance it deserved. In her defense, it was only a blurb in the news report, and she was busy with a case at the time and hadn’t really read more about it. Having been posted to Space Station K-7 and having been on the front lines of hostilities between the Federation and the Klingons, it was a momentous occasion. The Captain threw a party, but she hadn’t attended. She was genuinely surprised, and pleased that those hostilities were over. The Admiral continued; “Therefore, we’re shifting our focus to another one of our neighbors. The Cardassian Union has been starting to ramp up hostilities, and we’ve seen some minor border raids coming across to outposts in that sector. Starfleet has been tasked with keeping the peace, and I think you would be a good addition to that effort. We launched a new class of starship, the Ambassador class, to replace the Constitution class.”
When Eline heard new class of starship, she groaned internally. ‘Great, another starship posting. I’m going to be gone for God knows how many years, and yet…it sounds like I’m going to be working diplomatic angles. Babysitting delegates. Eh, easy enough. At least it’ll be short.’
“After the prototype was brought into service and commissioned, construction started on a few new ships. One of them launched a few weeks ago with a skeleton crew, though Command has been slowly working on filling its roster with capable officers. The USS Achilles, I believe.”
Eline reads the PAAD: Lt. Commander Eline Liebenberg, by the authority vested in Admiral Gregory Eruzione by the President of the United Federation of Planets and the Chief of Staff of Starfleet, you are ordered to report to Capt. Keziah Nazir, of the USS Achilles, to serve as the Executive Officer of the USS Achilles.
Her eyes go wide. “Admiral, you’re assigning me as the Executive Officer? I’m not…I’m not qualified for this!” “Eline, you’re more than qualified. At the Academy, you were one of the top students, and your work in JAG has been exemplary. You’ve earned this.” Eline slowly nods, accepting the new post. “First Officer of a brand new starship. I can live with that. It’ll be a fun adventure. So…what happens next?”
“The Achilles has been dispatched to Starbase 211, and it is due to arrive in the next few days. After we’re done here, you’ll have leave for a few days, then you’ll report to the USS Johannesburg for the trip to Starbase 211. The Johannesburg should arrive about a day after the Achilles, so that’ll give you a smooth transition. Your commanding officer will be Captain Keziah Nazir. She’s still a new CO so that should make your transition period slightly easier.”
At this, Eline breathes a sigh of relief. At least she can go home for a few days, and relax with her partner.
“Thank you Admiral. I appreciate that. When should I report to the Johannesburg?”
“It’ll be encoded in your orders. I know you have family you’d like to see, so I set aside a shuttle that you can pilot home and then up to Spacedock Earth. It’s going to be waiting for you in the Shuttle yard here at headquarters. Just tell the yard supervisor, and he’ll point you to your shuttle.”
Eline smiles, then stands at attention. “If that’s all sir…”
“That will be all. Make us proud out there. Dismissed!”
The Admiral stands up, and Eline walks out of his office. She gives a nod of acknowledgement to Ensign Strobel, and heads off in the direction of the Shuttle yard, eager to spend some time with her partner in Springfield.
Eline piloted her shuttle through the atmosphere on her way to Starbase Earth. She had spent a relaxing few days with her partner and her family, and she was ready to continue serving Starfleet. She spoke to planetary control, and found out that the Johannesburg had already undocked from space dock and was currently in orbit, taking on last minute supplies. She had left slightly late, but it was worth it. As she left Earth’s atmosphere, she witnessed the daily movement of starships in and out of Earth’s orbit; some heading to distant points, others coming back from deployment, and still others being tried and tested.
“Earth planetary control, Shuttle 2 request vector to USS Johannesburg.”
“Shuttle 2, heading 221 mark 5, watch traffic at 5, 3, and 10 o’clock. How copy?”
“Heading 221 mark 5, watch traffic on several points, Shuttle 2.”
She deftly moved her hands over the controls, and the shuttle effortlessly glides in the right direction until she can see the Johannesburg.
“Shuttle 2, contact USS Johannesburg for approach and landing instructions.”
“Copy that, have a good one Control.” She taps the console and changes the channel. “USS Johannesburg, this is Shuttle 2 on approach. Request vector for final and docking.”
“Shuttle 2, use Shuttle-bay 2; once you’re aboard we’re going to depart the system. You’re bound for Starbase 211, correct?”
“That is correct…transferring to the Achilles. But it should be a fun trip.”
“Indeed. Whenever you’re ready.” Eline brings the shuttle in to a smooth landing in the bay. As soon as she powers down and opens the door, she notices the main shuttle-bay door is shut, and on the deck is an Ensign.
“Lt. Commander Liebenberg, welcome aboard the Johannesburg. I’m your escort around the ship for the duration of your stay here. We should be to Starbase 211 in about 40 hours. The Johannesburg is a Centaur-class ship; small but necessary for the fleet.”
“Thank you Ensign. I assume the Captain will want to meet with me?”
“Yes. You can leave your bags aboard the shuttle. We’ll handle the arrangements. In the meantime, if you’d follow me?”
“Of course, lead the way.” Eline smiles politely and follows the Ensign, unsure of what this new adventure will bring.
As Eline is relaxing in her quarters, she hears the com-channel chime softly, and she presses the panel. “Lieutenant Commander Liebenberg here.”“Lieutenant Commander, this is Lieutenant Hatfield, the deck officer on watch. We’re about 30 minutes from Starbase 211. The USS Achilles has already arrived and is in orbit around the Starbase. We’re going to enter the pattern shortly, and then we can transfer personnel. Would you like to transfer ship to ship, or transfer directly to the station, and board one of the Achilles’ shuttles?”
Eline thinks for a moment, unsure of which one to choose. “I’ll transfer directly to the Achilles. It may be easier and faster. And I can always visit the station later.”
“Very good. I’ll send you a message when you need to report to the shuttle-bay.”
“Thank you. Close channel.”
Eline yawned, and started her morning routine. She had a nice window view as the Starbase came into view, with a brand new Ambassador class starship orbiting. Though there was room inside for the ship, the Achilles was just orbiting around. It was a beautifully designed ship, and it looked…new.
“Bridge to Lieutenant Commander Liebenberg. Report to the Shuttle-bay. The Achilles is standing by to receive you.”
“Liebenberg acknowledged. Be there shortly. Thank you for your hospitality.”
She packs her bags and heads back to the Shuttle-bay. There, she places her bags inside the shuttle, and boards. At the controls is the same Ensign that had greeted her in the same place when she had come aboard. The hatch closes, and the shuttle takes off for the Achilles.
As they approach, Eline has an opportunity to take a detailed look at the newest starship in the fleet. It looks like an improved version of the Constitution class, with the two nacelles lower than the previous version. The saucer section looked bigger, and it was actually dotted with windows; Eline thought it almost looked like braille. Her nacelles glowed blue, and the bussard collectors glowed red. All in all, the Ambassador class starship was a beautiful addition to Starfleet, and Eline took a moment just to admire the new ship before her thoughts turned to duty. The shuttle approached the shuttle-bay, and after a brief communication with the bridge, the shuttle docks. The hatch opens, and Eline steps out onto the shuttle-bay of the USS Achilles. She’s finally here. And it is overwhelming. She takes a deep breath, and approaches the deck officer, as her bags are taken off the shuttle.
“Lieutenant Commander Eline Liebenberg, reporting for duty as the Executive Officer for the USS Achilles.”
“Confirmed. Your transfer orders?”
Eline hands him the PAAD containing the transfer orders from Admiral Eruzione. “Here you go.”
He receives it, and reads it, then nods. “Orders are confirmed and approved. Welcome aboard, Lieutenant Commander. Before you are assigned your cabin…Captain Nazir would like a word with you in the conference room.”
She nods, and asks “Where is the conference room?”
“Deck One, off of the bridge. It’s technically the observation lounge, but it’s the conference room.”
“You’re welcome.” Eline heads off, entering the ship. It has the ‘brand new starship smell’ and the corridors are so shiny and neat. She soon found the turbolift and entered. “Deck 1.”
It began to move upwards, and soon the doors opened, and she saw the bridge. There were several officers milling about, and once she stepped off, she walked up to one, and asked where the observation lounge is. After being pointed in the right direction, she walks up to the right doors, and takes a deep breath before entering. ‘This is happening,’ she thinks to herself. ‘You’re the First Officer now.’ She approaches the doors and waits for them to open, then walks in.