“Captain’s starlog, May twelfth, twenty-one-fifty-seven. We have rendezvoused with the Poseidon ahead of schedule. I must admit, seeing my old ship brings back some good memories from my time serving on her as its first officer and chief helm officer. That said, I am appreciative of my former mentor and superior for finding the final three members to complete my senior staff. How Admiral Paulsen does it, I will never know.”
Walking down the corridor, hand-in-hand with Trommler, Captain Campbell had a smile beaming across his face.
“You’re certainly in a good mood,” Trommler commented to his husband as they turned down a junction. “Especially for someone who is about to meet their third chief medical officer, fourth chief armoury officer and sixth chief engineer.”
Ignoring the comment from his husband, Campbell shrugged his shoulders. “I know what you mean, Fynn, but we’re not the only ship in the fleet that hasn’t had a rapid change of staff. Anyway, I’m feeling positive about those who are about to join us.”
“You said that the last time,” Trommler stated.
Campbell sighed, “I know.”
Approaching the airlock, Trommler slowly let go of Campbell’s hand to avoid appearing too inappropriate in front of the assembled senior staff. Stepping back while Campbell headed to the front, Trommler walked over and nodded to his superior, Major Caidin.
Caidin acknowledged the nod with one of her own; her muscles and nerves finally relaxed and recovered after the shoreleave on Risa.
Seeing that the Poseidon was not docked with them yet, Campbell looked at his first officer. “Ready to meet our recruits, Number One?”
“I would have hoped a ship like the Endeavour would be sent senior officers with more leadership experience,” Leonov drawled with her usual lack of satisfaction with more or less anything that didn’t meet her exacting standards. “So we’ll have to see if it’s them who’s ready.”
“Fingers crossed.” He whispered.
Moments later, the sound of gentle hissing and mechanical locks being activated were heard. Everyone went quiet as they stood to attention. Campbell nodded to Randall to do the honours of opening the airlock before he looked to Ricci, who had the boatswain whistle ready.
Josh looked at the readouts, making sure everything was operating within the norm. Then when the green light came on, he pressed the button, and the airlock started to open.
Antione knew the protocol quite well from doing the same task many times. It had been all too regular lately, with new people arriving more often than he had been used to. He blew the boatswain whistle in almost perfect sync with the doors opening. He stood there watching as the guest arrived.
The airlock door swished open, allowing for their guests to step through. First through was Rear Admiral Paulsen, followed by three new faces to the Endeavour’s crew.
“Admiral on deck!” Campbell called a bit louder than usual.
Everyone stood to attention.
Smiling at the formality, the admiral waved her hands. “At ease, everyone, please,” She turned to Campbell and hugged him. “It’s good to see you, Ollie,” She said.
“Likewise, ma’am,” Campbell replied as he hugged her back. They soon let go, and Campbell began introductions to everyone around him.
Stepping back, she turned to the woman beside Campbell, “Ah, this is the woman I hear is keeping my former first officer out of trouble. Commander Leonov, it’s a pleasure to meet you finally.” She offered her hand to the commander.
“Likewise, ma’am.” Leonov’s handshake was as brisk as ever. “And we appreciate the attention and support you’ve shown the Endeavour these recent missions.”
“Endeavour is a fine ship with a fine crew; it’s only right she is honoured the right way,” Paulsen remarked.
Campbell then extended his arm towards Ricci’s direction. “You remember, Lieutenant Ricci, my chief communications officer and protocol officer.”
Nodding, Paulsen smiled at the man in the teal uniform. “How could I forget? It’s good to see you again, Lieutenant. How are you?”
Ricci smiled. “I have been well, Admiral. Life here on the Endeavour is certainly an adventure, but I wouldn’t change it for anything; in fact, I think the adventure keeps me young at heart.” He smiled.
“And, of course, you know my chief helm officer, Lieutenant Joshua Randall,” Campbell stated.
“Absolutely,” Paulsen said, still with her friendly expression across her face, “Lieutenant, you wouldn’t believe how much I’ve heard good things about you from your captain. I promise you, that’s high praise from my former chief helm officer too!”
“Thank you, admiral, that’s nice to hear,” Randall snapped back to attention when he finished responding to the admiral.
Campbell then went on to introduce the admiral to his MACO detachment commander. “Then this is Major Saorise Hess-Caidin.”
“Major, I’ve read your record; it’s an honour to meet you,” Paulsen said as she shook the major’s hand.
”Thank you, sir.” The Major replied. “It’s good to know my record still leaves an honouring impression even after being out of the field for so long.”
“And then you know these two!” Campbell remarked with a smirk as he led Paulsen to Trommler and Knight, who stood further away from the airlock.
Again she embraced both men separately before introducing the three figures she had brought with her. “Now, let me introduce Lieutenant Commander Xiang Shu, Lieutenant Monica Gasset and Lieutenant Edward Bronson. Your new chief engineer, chief armoury officer and chief medical officer, respectively.”
Campbell smiled at each of them. “It’s great to meet and have you all with us.” He turned to the rest of his senior staff before looking back at their newest members. “We’re excited about having you with us, so we’ve had a meal prepared for you.”
”Pleasure to be here, sir,” Shu replied, the Australian twang not nearly as hard as stereotypes would lead most to believe. “Glad to get back out here, to be honest.”
The other two remained quiet, just smiling instead.
“If no one has objections, shall we make our way to our conference room and enjoy what our chef has prepared?” Campbell suggested before leading the group towards where their meal awaited them.
While the meal was being finalised and brought up, a few stewards had prepared a few drinks for the senior staff.
“Scotch whisky, how did you get the real thing?” Paulsen asked as she took one of the drinks from the stewards. “Especially in wartime?”
“Admiral, you never ask a Scotsman where he gets his whisky from,” Campbell told her with a grin.
“I’ll drink to that.” Doctor Branson said as he raised his glass.
Trommler looked at the doctor and instantly recognised the accent. “Do I detect another Scotsman in our presence?”
“That ya do,” Branson answered. “Is that a problem?”
“Absolutely not; I’m married to the most senior one in the room.” Trommler indicated toward Campbell before waving his wedding ring.
A few of the staff chuckled at the exchange.
Campbell looked at Leonov, “Number One, would you mind doing a small speech welcoming our new members?”
Leonov gave him a sidelong look for only the briefest of moments, before checking her glass was charged. She did not get to her feet, and the glass of whisky was lifted in one sharp, crisp movement. “Officers.” Her eyes swept along the three new senior staff, gaze piercing and cold. “You may think you’re ready for an assignment like the Endeavour. I can promise you that you’re not. We stand at the frontier not only of this devastating war, but known space. Anything can happen – and will happen. You will not expect it. And it will take the legs out from under you.”
There was a moment where she paused, eyes still on them, and those who didn’t know Leonov – or perhaps those who did – might have thought the greeting would end on such a cheery note. Her expression did not brighten as she continued. “But this crew has not been victorious by seeing these challenges coming. This crew has been victorious by trusting one another, helping each other up, and standing together. Bringing us – you – together like that has been Captain Campbell’s duty and privilege.” Now there was the faintest hint of a smile hovering some distance from her lips. “It’s mine to train, test, and prepare you within an inch of your lives so when the unexpected happens, you don’t break. I know all three of you will meet my expectations.”
A year ago, two, Leonov might have ended it there. But now she tilted her glass a mere inch to the newcomers. “To standing together. Na zdorovie!”
“Na zdorovie!” Campbell echoed, as did most everyone else in the room as they raised their glasses before taking a drink from them.
After an introduction and welcome like that, Shu looked at her own raised glass of whiskey, mouth pursed to one side in thought, before she spoke. “Gānbēi,” she said with honest cheer and downed the entire lot with only a slight wince right afterwards. “Smooth,” she half gasped. “Please tell me there’s someone on this ship younger than this drop at least.” Her glass was held such that a steward could refill, though politely cut short, enough to charge the glass for any other toasts to come and sip at lightly.
Campbell, hearing his new chief engineer ask about the drink, walked over to her. “I’m afraid that’s the best we have. As the admiral said, this is war!”
“Don’t worry, commander, when Endeavour returns home, we’ll make sure to speak to some of the captain’s family who are in the whiskey business and see what strings they can pull,” Trommler said smirking.
Antione chuckled at the speech to himself it was well known that the First Officer wasn’t always the person you went to if you wanted a bubbly personality, but she was respected and Antione enjoyed talking to her. He walked up to her with glass of whiskey in hand. He rose the glass “Well done, Commander! I have to ask though after the last mission how are you holding up? I know that was a rough one for all of us?”
Overhearing the question, Admiral Paulsen interjected, “I heard Risa was quite pleasant for you all?” She asked the communications officer. “Did the captain miss something off his report?”
Ricci shook his head “No Admiral, I was being sarcastic because it was so relaxing. I apologize if that misled you to think different.”
”Personally, while probably a necessary and overall welcome change of pace, I couldn’t help but feel unease myself…” The Major interjected after downing her whiskey in a single take and swallowing what would have otherwise been the resulting burp. “…reminded me a bit too much like an intensive physiotherapy routine…only with prettier nursing staff.”
Paulsen laughed at the remarks from Campbell’s staff before sipping on her own drink.
Before entering the room, Josh let all the senior officers precede him but in front of the enlisted personnel. When the toast came, he raised his glass, he doesn’t usually drink hard liquor, but he decided it wouldn’t look good if he didn’t toast to the ship and the crew, so he downed his drink in one gulp and immediately started coughing.
Approaching the captain, Lieutenant Gasset held her glass tightly. “Sir, I hope you don’t mind but I heard you were ex-military yourself before joining Starfleet?”
Smiling at his new armoury officer, Campbell confirmed her question. “I was, I was a pilot in the R-A-F.”
“Heck, rate things are going,” Shu said, butting into the conversation with a smile, “most national militaries are likely going the way of the dinosaur.” She snapped her right fingers together once, leaving one finger pointed to the ceiling. “Lieutenant Gasset, USN, right?” Yes they’d come on the same transport to Endeavour, but the trip hadn’t exactly been a social event itself.
”That seems to be not an uncommon story for Starfleet these days.” Saorise Hess-Caidin chimed in. “Used to be if a Terrestial military soldier was getting recruited to go space side, it was into the MACOs…military to military…we even had our own special RAP…er…rapid acclimation program, for it. Hell, one of my earlier COs had been pulled straight from the Canadian Mounties of all places, bright red uniform and all…
”Now? Sign of the times I guess…Starfleet‘s pulling not just from the sciences and boomers on a much grander scale…who knows, with all the combat roles that the Fleet needs, maybe even the MACOs might start being asked to trade in our browns for those purple jumpsuits…pass the salad, please?”
Campbell didn’t say much between the exchange until the major finished. “I understand where the commander is coming from,” He said indicating towards Shu, “But the whole purpose of the Earth Global Defence Force is for national militaries to work together for the greater good, but with Starfleet growing, I’m not surprised people from all walks of life are signing up. Starfleet was never meant to be a branch of the Commonwealth’s military, but with the way things with the war have gone on, I suppose a bit of war spirit has entered most people in wanting to fight for what we’ve built.”
“Most of the MACO recruits in the past few years have been because of the Xindi crisis and the war with the Romulans,” Trommler noted.
Gasset, appreciated the conversation with her new crewmates, “Well all I was going to say, was it was nice to know I’m not the only one on the ship who skipped most of Starfleet Training Command.”
“Don’t worry lieutenant, I’m with you on that one too,” Branson said as picked up some food from the small dishes that had various nibbly bits on them. “Starfleet fast-tracked my application after I joined. My various degrees and status within the I-M-E-P granted me my commission.”
Paulsen interjected then, “However, you’ve both spent the last year moulding what you know and learning on the job. You shouldn’t knock what you bring to the table.”
“I’m not, ma’am, but I can see that Starfleet is keen to fill in gaps,” Branson admitted in between a mouthful of food. “It’s war and every able person needs to do their part.”
Josh put his glass down on the table and started looking around the room to see if he could see if there was anyone else who felt out of place at the gathering. Josh started walking around the room and stopped when he saw someone sitting at a table alone. He walked over to Ricci and said. “Excuse me. How do you feel about us returning to Earth so quickly?” he asked him.
Antione appeared lonely when in fact he was trying to hide the fact he was eying up the delicious nibbles on the serving table. He made sure no one was looking as he scanned the table it may seem ridiculous but he needed the extra time what with one eye. His ogling of the food was interrupted by a voice.
Ricci smiled trying to be friendly though he had other things on his mind “I can’t say for sure, but with the arrival of the Admiral…we might not be returning to Earth.” He looked back at the table “Now if you‘ll excuse me I see someone calling my name.“ He said acting like he was walking toward someone making sure he wasn’t being watched before grabbing some food.
Moments later the stewards returned with more food for Campbell and his guests to enjoy.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy!” Campbell said after everything was laid out on the serving table for them to help themselves with.
Impressed with the spread, Doctor Branson complimented the catering team. “Captain, my thanks to your chef and their team for an impressive array of food.”
“This all looks lovely,” Gasset added as she picked up a plate. “Are we going to be treated to such yummy delights every day?
“You’re welcome,” Campbell replied with a smile before he answered Gasset. “And yes, be expected to be spoiled and to use the gym often!”
The three officers chuckled.
Clearing her throat, Paulsen spoke up to the whole crowd. “Before we start to eat, I just wanted to let you all know that later on, I’ll be briefing Captain Campbell and Commander Leonov with your new orders and I’m happy to say that Endeavour will get the chance to go and explore a new star system.”
Everyone smiled at hearing that news and a few of them clapped.
“I know the constant fighting and diplomatic efforts you’ve undertaken recently have been challenging, but I hope this change of pace will help,” Paulsen stated.
“Admiral, will we still be returning to Earth?” Trommler asked.
“After this mission, then hopefully yes, Fynn!” She answered. “Now shall we get stuck in here?” She gestured towards the buffet they was now waiting for them.