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Part of USS Sovereign: Hollowed Planet

Chapter Two

Devron Fleet Yards / USS Sovereign
March 2400
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“You cannot be serious.” Sucil stood there with her arms folded over her chest. She stared down at Captain Maxwell after she had requested a meeting with him a moment ago to go over her new assignment.

“I am very serious, Counselor.” Maxwell said, as he signed off on reports.

“But he is a Captain now, and in command of his very own ship. Clearly he is fine.” She told him.

Maxwell minimized his display and looked directly at her. “Is that your professional opinion, Counselor?”

Sucil stared back at him, doing her best to not pry into his mind and read his thoughts and then end up reprimanded or worse, in a court martial. “You had me observe him on his first official mission during the whole…what was it again? Century Storm? Point is, he did fine. I cleared him.”

Maxwell rolled his wrists, palms up in the air. “Then all I simply ask is for you to continue to observe him. As you said, he is a Captain now. Officially in command.”

“In command of a starship that you are personally attached to. Am I correct, sir?” Sucil asked.

Maxwell placed his palms onto his desk and pushed himself up to his feet slowly before he placed his hands behind his back, one hand clasped around the other. “I know my service record speaks for itself for that ship out there. I may be personally attached to that ship but that is not the key motivation for your assignment. It is one of the most prestigious vessels in the fleet. First of its class. Not to mention a very big leap from a Centaur Class for Vakai. Any vessel of that class makes a big statement to anyone when it arrives in their system. Maybe not as big as an Odyssey but a statement nonetheless. I want to make sure that the statement is not misplaced.”

Sucil sighed. “And I think you are overreacting. There are many on board that ship that are well trained, capable of understanding orders when they are good or bad and are capable of making the appropriate decisions if and when necessary.”

“Humor me, Lieutenant Commander. He may not have had an episode in his previous mission but what if he does have one later on? Is that the kind of trauma he went through really going to go away so easily?” Maxwell asked.

Sucil sighed heavily in thought before she shook her head. “No sir, it would not.”

“Exactly. Now, our station’s counselor worked with him. But I can’t assign her to the Sovereign. You are my only option. The doctor recommended you for the observation on the mission in the Paulson Nebula and the doctor still recommends you even now. So don’t take this as a punishment, Commander. Take this as an opportunity.” Maxwell told her before he sat back down and brought his displays back up to return to his daily work. “So are we good, Commander?”

Sucil cleared her throat and nodded her head. “Very, sir. Thank you. I apologize for taking up your time.”

“Dismissed.” Was the last thing Maxwell said to her before she left his office and headed for her quarters on the station to begin packing. He was right and now she realized that she may just have overreacted for nothing.

“I need some tea.” She groaned as she rubbed the bridge of her nose after she made it to her quarters.

Bazial stepped into the Astrometrics Lab and the smile on her face grew with sheer excitement. The Trill had arrived on board hours ago via transporter. She had then spent the time unpacking her bags and making her quarters more like home. Then she had taken a tour of the ship and one of the places she wanted to visit was Astrometrics. Her assignment previously before the Centaur, as temporary as it was during a crisis, did not have such luxuries as this ship did. She was going to absolutely love her new assignment.

Bazial went over to the primary station and began to input commands, queries, and observed as the screen shifted from displaying a galaxy to now displaying both Alpha and Beta Quadrants. First she pulled up major events and played them in with data accumulated. Such as the Super Nova that took out Romulus and how it had affected the area. She sped up time and watched as the great Romulan Star Empire fractured into the two empires today. The Romulan Free State and the Romulan Republic.

Then she played the recent event, the Century Storm and pulled up the fleet activity. She set the speed on the playthrough accordingly and watched as the Combadge symbol represented the Starfleet vessels entering and leaving the Paulson Nebula. As Bazial went to dial it back to play another event, one that had happened some time ago that put a lot of strain on her and her fellow shipmates when the Captain refused to tell them anything of what was going on, she was suddenly hit with the one thing she expected. A red border around the edges of her console’s screen with a notification that said ‘Access Denied’.

Bazial sighed. Was worth a shot. She discarded her attempts to look at that time frame and continued to experiment with the system, to get a better idea of how it worked and to become more familiar with it so that when the time came, she could better perform at her job.

The Saurian stepped into Main Engineering. The sight of the warp core was beautiful to her and while she was pleased to see it, she was focused on a task at hand.

Gatia stepped up to the main engineering station and began to perform some adjustments on various systems. Of course she would start to get some attention from the others but it did not matter to her, all that mattered was that she followed the parameters to the letter.

“Excuse me.” A voice rang in Gatia’s ear but she was too focused on her work to pay attention to it. It was when a hand was placed on her shoulder and pulled her away from the station. “I do not know who you think you are, but it is common courtesy to speak to the Chief Engineer before you go messing with the ship’s systems.”

Gatia looked at the woman and blinked, where she took in her face and the information that was just provided, she knew who she was. “I apologize, Lieutenant Gomez. I am Lieutenant Gatia, Chief Operations Officer.”

“I know who you are. But that does not change anything.” Ashley told her.

Gatia nodded her head slowly. “Again, I apologize. I was simply following instructions left behind by the former Chief Operations Officer.”

“The former?” Ashley asked.

“Yes. Before the Sovereign docked here and began her refit.” Gatia explained.

“Okay. What instructions did they leave behind?” Ashley asked.

“The instructions were precise and I quote, ‘I know the ratchet heads at the docks are going to reset everything back to standard but when they are finished and I happen to not be Chief Operations of the ol’girl again, then put everything back to where me and my friend had her. Trust me, she will purr like a kitten if ya do.’ And then there was a list of instructions for specific settings for various systems.” Gatia explained.

Ashley stared at the Saurian a little longer before she sighed and pointed to the station. “Show me the message.”

Gatia stepped back up to the station, brought up a display and then the message for Ashley to read. Gatia then stepped back and waited patiently.

Ashley read over the personal little letter to it as well as read over the list of instructions. Ashley then brought up a separate display and began to run simulations with the adjustments implemented. After several test runs, she could see why Gatia was determined on making these adjustments. “Overall average efficiency of ship’s systems is up by twelve percent. Not a lot but it is much better.”

“I had not meant to step on anyone’s toes, Lieutenant. I simply thought that, since the former crew had been on this ship for so long, they would know exactly how the ship would operate when in the field compared to blueprints and statistics.” Said Gatia.

Ashley sighed before she allowed a small smile to form on her face. She turned and looked at Gatia. “Next time just come to me with anything related to ship systems and then we can work together.”

“Noted.” Said Gatia.

“Good. Now let’s get these adjustments done, shall we?” Ashley said with a bigger smile.

The four ensigns sat together at a round table with their drinks either in hand or on the table top. Mizu, Elidia and Ruby were laughing over something K’Roll had said, leaving K’Roll to cock his head in confusion.

There are moments when K’Roll does not understand his friend’s sense of humor. Regardless, he enjoyed their company and the conversations that they have. It was more so at this moment as being on a new vessel meant that he heard voices of people he had not met yet and new sounds. His left ear would constantly twitch every time the door that led in and out of the officer mess kept opening and closing. Something about the hissing sound of the door was different from the Centaur.

“All right everyone. I enjoy the fact that we won’t be back on duty until tomorrow but I really need to get unpacking.” Said Ruby as he pushed out his chair and stood up. He then grabbed his glass and downed what was left of his drink.

“Awww c’mon man! Worry about that stuff later. We should be celebrating!” Mizu told him.

Ruby smiled. “Celebrate as long as you want, Mizu. But I want to be ready for the big day tomorrow. With this ship this big compared to the last assignment we had, there are bound to be more open spots on the bridge and I hope that I get bridge duty tomorrow.”

Mizu immediately stood right up, which her motion had knocked her chair back and onto the floor. “Oh damnit, Ruby! Why do you have to be so smart and yet so right?”

Ruby laughed. “You want a bridge assignment too, am I right?”

Mizu rolled her eyes and looked at Elidia. “There he goes again.”

Elidia just laughed.

K’Roll had already stood up from his seat and just placed Mizu’s chair right back on its legs. “I too shall return to quarters and unpack. I wish to claim my bunk before my new bunk mate arrives.”

Elidia was the last to stand up with a big smile on her face. “Then that settles it! We all go back to our quarters, unpack and get some shut eye so we can wake up early and get bridge assignments!”

The three of them looked at her.

“But you’re medical.” Said Ruby.

Mizu slugged Ruby in the shoulder. “So? They could use a nurse on the bridge. Anything can happen on the bridge!”

“Yeah! What she said.” Said Elidia.

Ruby shook his head with a smile. “All right, all right. Catch you tomorrow?”

“Duh.” Said Mizu before she put her arm around Elidia’s shoulder, while Elidia put her own around Mizu’s waist. “C’mon bunk mate, let’s ditch this joint!”

“Woohoo!” Shouted Elidia and they both left laughing.

Ruby and K’Roll looked at each other, Ruby then shrugged his shoulders.

K’Roll had chosen to take the long path back to his quarters, as he wanted to get used to his new home since he is a security officer. Though he did know that this would make it simpler for his new bunk mate to claim the drawers that K’Roll wanted, as well as claim the top bunk that K’Roll also wanted.

K’Roll reached his quarters and the second the door split apart to grant him entry, was the second he stepped in and saw his new bunk mate.

The man was neatly placing his folded clothes into an empty drawer when he heard the hiss sound of the door, which meant his bunk mate had arrived and he was very excited to meet them. So when he stood up to look, he was overwhelmed with joy. “Oh. My. Gosh. Kitty!” The man threw his arms around K’Roll and hugged him.

K’Roll stood there, paralyzed with confusion and fear. Confused as to why this man called him ‘Kitty’ and fearful, is to why he was embraced by this man. K’Roll then cleared his throat.

The man let go and backed off a couple feet with his left hand on the back of his neck, the look of embarrassment all over his face. “I am so sorry! I don’t know what came over me.”

K’Roll smoothed out any wrinkles in his uniform from the sudden embrace before he cleared his throat once more. “Ensign Theo Lane, I presume?”

A big smile formed on the man’s face. “Correct! And you must be Ensign K’Roll.” Lane then reached out and took K’Roll’s hand in both of his. Then Lane began to feel the fur on the back of K’Roll’s hand and arm. “Gosh, how do you keep your fur so soft and clean? Do you use the sonic showers or do you lick yourself?”

K’Roll blinked and then pulled his hand out of Lane’s hands. “I use the sonic shower much like everyone else. We Caitians have never needed to clean ourselves with our tongue in decades.”

Lane shrugged his shoulders. “Except some Caitians’ still do it out of practice. I mean it is something that your people used to do. Why let it go?”

“Hairballs. Some the size of your head.” K’Roll pointed out.

Lane blinked then laughed. “Oh right. Yeah I suppose that would do it. Oh um. If you don’t mind, I already made a claim on the bottom bunk. But if you want it, I can take the top.”

K’Roll shook his head. “No, that will be alright. I wanted the top bunk anyways.”

“Perfect! Oh my gosh, we are going to be such great friends, I guarantee it!” Said Lane.

Meanwhile, Ruby stood there at the doorway of his quarters, where he stared at the Gorn who also stared right back. The moment lasted longer than any of them had wanted. Ruby decided that he needed to break the ice. If there was any. Ruby had noticed that the environmental controls had been adjusted and it felt much warmer in their quarters. Ruby stepped in to allow the door to shut behind him as he began to introduce himself. “Hello. I am Ensign Ruben Ortiz. You must be Mazak.”

“That issss correct.” Said Mazak.

“Well it is nice to meet you, Mazak. It’s awfully warm in here.” Ruby pointed out.

“I like it that way.” Said Mazak.

Ruby nodded his head. “Okay.”

“I have the top bunk.” Said Mazak.

Ruby nodded his head again. “Okay. Good talk. I am just going to get ready for bed.”

‘Deep breath. In and out. In and out.’ The thoughts that were running through the Ferengi’s mind as he stood there before the very door to the Captain’s Ready Room. He did not understand why he was nervous but he couldn’t stop his heart from racing. This is the reason why he had pushed himself so hard since he graduated. All the extra shifts that he took over the years, putting in the extra effort at his job or any other job on the ship. He wanted to prove that he was worthy for the position that he has now. He wanted to prove that he can be counted on. Now he has the job and he is about to meet the two officers that gave it to him. No reason to be nervous, right?

The door then split open to grant him entry and the word ‘Come’ that came from the man behind the desk was clear that the time was now. He took in one more deep breath and slowly exhaled before he stepped through the doorway and headed straight up to the desk. “Junior Lieutenant Tagg reporting for duty, sir.” Said Tagg as he stood at attention.

The man looked at the other who was standing there beside them. His gaze then returned to the Ferengi and a smile formed on his face. “At ease, Lieutenant. And welcome aboard the Sovereign.”

“Thank you, sir.” Said Tagg.

“Lieutenant. Relax. You’re going to pop a blood vessel.” Said the man. Then he gestured to the chair beside Tagg. “Have a seat.” When Tagg complied, he then introduced himself. “I am Captain Vakai and this man beside me is our first officer, Commander James Ryker.”

“Commander.” Said Tagg as he looked at Ryker.

“Lieutenant.” Ryker replied.

“So tell us a bit about yourself, Tagg. What made you join Starfleet?” Vakai asked.

“I wanted to serve the best, Captain.” Said Tagg.

Ryker shook his head. “Dishonesty will not go well with us, Lieutenant.”

“I am being honest, sir.” Tagg said after he looked at Ryker.

Both Ryker and Vakai looked at each other before Vakai sighed and smiled. “All right. Thank you for your time, Lieutenant but I think we will choose someone else.”

Tagg felt his heart sink and the palms of his hands began to sweat. “But, I thought-”

“Dismissed, Lieutenant.” Said Ryker.

Tagg stood up from his chair and began to head for the door. But then he stopped and swallowed the lump in his throat before he turned around and faced both the captain and first officer. “I joined Starfleet because I didn’t want to end up like my father.”

The two gentlemen looked at each other, both smiled and then Vakai gestured at the chair.

Tagg took in another deep breath and felt his heart had pulled itself out of the pit that it fell in. He then headed back to the chair and sat back down before he resumed. “My father is all about business and profit. It’s all he cares about. Some of which has got him into trouble. When I was ready, he wanted to bring me into his business and have me help him. But I wanted no part of it. I saw what others have seen about my people, about the things we used to do before Grand Nagus Rom took over. And my father is all about the old ways, which defies everything the Grand Nagus has done. And defying the Grand Nagus is…” Tagg paused for a brief moment. “I did not want to become an accessory to my father’s crimes. So I took what latinum I had and left. I worked really hard to get here, Captain. Commander. I wanted people to see me for me…and not think that I would end up like my father.”

There was a brief moment of silence but only for a brief moment. Vakai then stood up and made his way around his desk to be there before Tagg. He leaned back against his desk and crossed his arms across his chest. “I can understand the determination to be better than your parents. I like to believe, at least from what I know from my parents, that parents out there want their children to do better than they have. To learn from them, to avoid the same mistakes they had made, to achieve goals higher than they had. I would not be here if it weren’t for my parents wanting a better life for me. But that is not always the case. Some parents are greedy and stubborn. Some only care about themselves more than they do about others, especially their own kin. This can become a strong motivation to do better than them. And you, Lieutenant Tagg, are one of the fine examples. Starfleet knows about your father’s criminal history. Your striving to not follow in his footsteps and create your own path, is the example of motivation to do better than he has.” Vakai said the last bit with a smile and extended his hand out to Tagg. “Welcome aboard the Sovereign, again.”

Tagg smiled as he stood up from his chair and took the captain’s hand in his with a firm grip and a shake. “Thank you, Captain!”

“We are about to land, ma’am.” Said the pilot. Who sat at the controls of a runabout, who guided the craft towards the open hangar doors to the main shuttle bay of the Sovereign.

The woman who sat off to the side in the cabin, had really paid much attention. “Good. Let me know when we have landed.” She said as her focus was on the PADD in her hand. She had read the letter over a dozen times and yet, she still had trouble with her new assignment. She was comfortable where she was, with the crew she was with and with the Command Staff that she had come to know and trust.

Then several days ago, she was requested to her captain’s ready room, well her former captain now, and was informed about her new orders. She wanted to refuse but the captain made it clear that, even though it was not much of a promotion, since her rank won’t change nor her position, she would still benefit from the experience of serving on board a Sovereign-class starship.

There was a soft shudder of the deck which left her to assume that they had landed on the hangar deck. “We have landed, ma’am.” Said the pilot, which confirmed the woman’s assumption.

She stood up from her seat and began to grab her two bags. The rest of her belongings had been sent ahead of her, so she had hoped. “Thank you, Ensign.” She said before she stepped out onto the hangar deck once the hatches and the ramp had completed their cycle. Once the bottom sole of her boots had made contact with the hangar deck, she took in a deep breath and then exhaled before she made her way to her quarters. It was time to get to work.

The replicator finished materializing a large glass of apple juice, to which Ryker grabbed and took a big swig of it before he returned to Vakai’s side. “Ah. Nothing like a good healthy juice after a good healthy breakfast.” Ryker chuckled. It had already been a day after their meeting with Lieutenant Tag, and they were just about done with the last new arrivals. “Anyways, back to what I was saying. She was on the desk, ready to pounce when-” The door chime’s interruption was just timed perfectly.

Vakai shrugged his shoulders with a grin at Ryker before he looked at the door. “Enter.”

The door split open and in a few graceful steps, the woman on the runabout from earlier now stood there in front of the desk, opposite from Vakai. “Lieutenant Commander Lexie Ward, Second Officer, reporting for duty.”

Vakai stood up from his seat and extended his hand out to her. “Welcome aboard, Commander. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

Ward just stood there, with her hands still clasped against the small of her back. “Thank you, Captain. I am eager to get to work. From what I have read, there is much to do.”

The two men looked at each other before they looked back at her. “Don’t you wish to tell us a little bit about yourself first?” Ryker had asked.

Ward’s gaze shifted to Ryker. “Sorry, Commander. But now that I have reported in, I am on duty and there are a lot of discrepancies that I need to attend to.” Her gaze then returned to Vakai. “Am I dismissed, sir?”

Again the two men looked at each other before they looked back at her, Vakai exhaled a sigh. “You are dismissed.”

“Thank you, sir. Commander.” She said to Ryker before she did a full 180 and was gone from the ready room in seconds.

Ryker exhaled an even louder sigh, followed by a groan of regret. “I think she was the last to report to us. So if you don’t mind, my friend, I am going to go to my office and prepare for the list of complaints that is about to hit my desk.”

Vakai chuckled. “Just remember she came from a very strict ship, so go easy on her.”

“We shall see.” Ryker told him before he left.