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Part of USS Denver: Prologue

Welcome to the Crew… I Guess

Terra Alpha - Starfleet Field Office
January 29, 2400 @1300
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Ethan didn’t frequent the Starfleet Field office often, and he went to his own tiny office even less.  Under normal circumstances he was either on the Zebulon Pike which he conducted meeting in his quarters or he was completely away from Starfleet here on Terra Alpha.  Another reason he avoided the field office at 223 Hampton Street in the heart of  downtown Capital City was that he felt compelled to wear a uniform.  Something he despised.

He tugged at the black collar as he stepped through the door, clean shaven, pressed uniform and spit polished boots. The receptionist, a petty officer, looked up from her terminal and gave Ethan a second look surprised to see him. “Good afternoon commander.”

Ethan approached the desk, “Is my 13:00 here yet?”

She glanced down at her terminal going through those that had signed in, “No sir.”

He nodded, “Direct her to my office when she arrives please.”  And she’s late too. Not a good sign, he thought to himself.

“Yes, sir. Do I need to coordinate with the spaceport authorities to prepare the Pike for launch?”

Ethan considered the question for a minute and then shook his head, “No rumors of a mission just yet.  Bucking for the promotion to Chief are we?”

“No sir!  Of course not!”

Ethan chucked despite his sour mood, “Relax Petty Officer.  I am probably the one officer you can do that with. At any rate,” he tipped an imaginary hat in her direction.  “Good day ma’am,” he said in an exaggerated Texas drawl which made her smile.

He crossed the lobby and entered the nearby elevator and pressed the second floor which only took a few seconds.  A few steps down the hall he used his thumbprint and retinal scan at the door and entered his office. The office lacked any kind of personalization with a simple desk and chair with a pair of chairs facing on the other side.  In a corner was a fake plant and a small food and beverage replicator.  The whole office had the smell of a room that has long gone unused.

Approaching the replicator he pressed a button to bring it out of stand-by mode, “Coffee, black.”

The replicator obediently hummed, and a stainless steel cup with the logo of Starfleet Intelligence emblazoned on the front appeared out of the glow of energy.  Grasping the cup he dropped into his chair, propped his boots on the desk and waited.

Mikaela fussed over her uniform in the cramped quarters of the USS Irvine, a California-class ship that was ferrying her to the clandestine headquarters of Starfleet Intelligence, not in San Francisco, but in Terra Alpha. She had gotten used to the comforts and space of the Normandy and Trafalgar, and so the spartan quarters on the Irvine was not something she was acclimated to. Mikaela had been advised by the bridge that the Irvine was about 15 minutes out, though because the Irvine was low-priority, it would take them a while to dock to transfer personnel. She pulled her hair back in a ponytail, and tied it back, then fretted with her uniform as she looked at herself in the mirror. She glanced at the display, saw that it was 1255, and cursed. She was going to be late.

Once the Irvine had docked, Mikaela took her go-bag and walked briskly to the transfer point, where she boarded a shuttle to the surface of Terra Alpha, the Capital City, and then walked to Starfleet Field Headquarters. She looked around, a habit before entering any building, then walked inside. After checking her bag at reception, she took the lift up to the second floor. Here, masquerading as standard Starfleet offices, non-descript and out of the way, was the home of Starfleet Intelligence. After signing in and showing her credentials, she was admitted, and walked to one of the many offices and knocked. A Petty Officer opened the door and smiled. “Good afternoon, Lieutenant Commander. He’s expecting you.” “Thank you, Petty Officer. Right through here?” Mikaela points at the office door. “Yes, ma’am.” Mikaela walks through the door and sees the Commander, feet on desk, waiting for her.

“You made it,” Ethan said dryly. Standing because he was taught that it was the proper thing to do and offered her a seat. “Have a seat.”

Mikaela nods. “Thank you. I apologize for being late, the Irvine was delayed in spacedock a bit. I’m Speci…I mean, Lt. Commander Mikaela Kovalev.” She cringed inside, as she struggled to keep about 6 years of habit out.

“I know who you are,” Ethan said flatly. “What I don’t know is what you are doing on my team. I choose officers I work with.  I have to trust you have my back and interests.  We operate in the grey and we only have each other. And they made you a a Lieutenant Commander?  I already have an XO and it ain’t you.”

“Well, in that case, you should know that I’m not here to replace your XO, nor am I here to command. I was seconded to this by Starfleet Intelligence, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to countermand them. That being said, I’m used to working in a team where you have trust each other with your lives and I’m not asking you to trust me just at the start. I’m asking you for an opportunity to prove myself, and to earn your trust.” Mikaela was confident of herself.

Ethan sat up in his chair and looked her dead in the eye, “Opportunities I have… for people who aren’t planted spies for Starfleet Intelligence.   What’s your real reason for being here? You don’t just jump ship protecting the President to go into covert ops, and you certainly don’t need the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Which is an insult to every officer in the fleet by the way.  Most have spent over a decade of service to Starfleet to earn that rank and some brain dead Admiral who wants someone to tattle tell on me just hands it out like candy.” He was starting to get fired up and was quickly loosing his cool.  Something that was very unlike him.

Mikaela remained quiet, then started looking out the window, scowling. She had never felt so indignant as she did in the moment. Not once had anyone questioned her talents and abilities and now that he had, she felt insulted. Mikaela didn’t respond right away, taking a few moments to center herself before she lashed out at him. She reminded herself that she had earned her position on the Presidential detail and that she had earned her rank, when all the equivalences were done. However, it would be useless to argue the point. Coldly, she began to speak.

“My real reason for being here is to defend the United Federation of Planets and the Federation Charter from all enemies foreign and domestic. Same as you, Starfleet. We took an oath to defend the Federation and that’s what I’m going to do. You don’t have to like me, but we’re working together. So you can drop the act and be a professional officer, like the ones I’m used to working with, or we can continue going back and forth, insulting each other to no avail.” Her voice was resolute and determined, making it clear she was not giving ground.

“I can respect that,” Ethan grumbled.  “Sounds like a recruitment poster,  but everyone says that. It’s probably even true to some degree or another.  Do you know why I pick my team?  Of course you don’t.  You don’t know me.  I pick my team, because I know who they are.  I know their motivations, and capabilities.  You are an unknown quantity in an already hostile and stressful environment.   Guarding the President is stressful I get that, but like anyone you don’t know what you are made of until you are in a fight for your very life. They say there are no atheists in foxhole. To that end it’s the ones that freeze up or do something reckless in heat of battle is was gets them and others killed.”

He sighed and stood up, “I’m stuck with you. At least for now, so I guess a ‘welcome to the team’ is in order.  We start training tomorrow.  I guess we’ll find out if you even have the right instincts.” He picked up a PADD entered information into it and handed it to her, “Here’s your access code to the Pike.  She’s docked in the Starfleet Terminal gate A4 at the Capital City Intergalactic Spaceport.  That code will get you by security and onto the jet way. We don’t have fancy crew quarters on the ship.  Just double bunk quarters barely bigger than a closet,  but right now we have a light crew so you do get your own. When we are in between missions your time is yours. You can either take up residence here on Terra Alpha or you can find someplace else that suits you, but be prepared to report to the ship within 48 hours. ‘Ethan nodded to her, “Dismissed.”