Commander’s Log, Stardate 77695.35
The USS Shepard is now on day 33 of escort duties around Jensara Prime alongside the USS Ashhurst and USS Gheryzan. For the past month, Starfleet has been working to assist this world in the aftermath of a devastating planet-wide earthquake – Ashhurst has been offering engineering support in rebuilding their cities, Gheryzan has been offering medical aid to the injured and sick, while we here on the Shepard have been pulling escort duty – Parliament and Olympic-class vessels simply aren’t well enough armed to defend themselves near the sometimes lawless reaches of what was once the Romulan Empire.
Today marks our last day on this escort duty, however – our companion vessels have requested more small craft to assist in evacuation and construction, and the Akira-class Carrier Saitama has been dispatched to deliver and coordinate them. Given that Akiras significantly outgun the Shepard, our job will become obsolete… so, back to Starbase Bravo, and presumably a new assignment, we’ll go.
As for now, my last task will be a meeting with the other two captains to discuss the transfer of escort duties, and then all we have to do is wait for Saitama to show up and our job is complete.
“…Construction of the new fusion plant outside the capital city continues to be slightly behind schedule, but that’ll be easy to get back on track once we get those new shuttles,” Zelenko listened to Captain Howzer of the Ashhust say, the icon of his face minimizing on her ready room monitor as his display of charts and graphs took its place. “As you can see, we’ve run into some issues with overusing our transporters to move the building materials. Ten industrial shuttlecraft should rectify this, however… so, whenever Saitama wants to get here, we’ll be waiting eagerly.”
Commander Zelenko chuckled lightly, doing her best to brush away a few childish twinges of jealousy about Howzer being so eager to replace her ship.
I suppose it’s not such a bad thing to take such pride in my command, Zelenko mused to herself. As long as I don’t actually start getting my feelings hurt when a bigger fish shows up.
“How about you, Captain Storal? The Gheryzan holding up okay?” Howzer asked, his charts minimizing before being replaced by the feed from his desktop camera.
“All is proceeding at an agreeable level on our end,” Storal replied, his tone as flat as always. “As our mission statement generally concerns moving people instead of heavy industry, we have been able to keep pace with our schedule even without the requested additional small craft. Of course, said small craft will only make our tasks all the simpler when they arrive.”
“Great to hear. And everything A-okay with you, Shepard?”
“Nothing to report on our end,” Zelenko spoke up. “As usual, no suspect space travel has been detected in and around the system. Either no one’s interested in what we’ve got, or our presence alone is enough to deter them.”
“And the next thing I knew, Doc Hodge was walking in with a tray of donuts for the nursing staff. Lemme tell you, I love that guy,” Rysana said contently as she reclined on the couch in Vic’s luxurious Senior Officer quarters, popping the last quarter of a donut in her mouth as she spoke. “He sure knows how to end a work shift.”
As had become standard practice, the former crew of the USS Achana – Vic, Rysana, Dreval, and Tallera – were lounging around the science officer’s quarters after a long day of work, something Tallera was enormously thankful for. She’d been worried that the little friend group they’d develop would drift away from her, given she lived on a different deck, but nothing of the sort had come close to happening.
“It is fortunate that you find Doctor Hodgeson to be such an agreeable department head to work with,” Dreval nodded along from the other side of the couch. “I too have been thankful to work alongside Lieutenant Commander Merin. Her laconic temperament is very conducive to working alongside a member of my species.”
“Hey, glad to hear, man,” Rysana replied, licking a bit of frosting from her thumb. “What about you two fancy-ass bridge officers? You liking your staff?”
“The science officers I have are pretty great, I just sure do wish there were more of them,” Vic chuckled. It had been a running gag among the Shepard crew that their science department was almost nonexistent – given the large expansion of the fleet that was currently underway, some ships were given barebones staff in non-essential departments. Given that Shepard was mostly a patrol and escort boat, Science got the short end of the stick.
“As for the bridge fellas,” Vic looked at Tallera. “I’ll let Tallie have the first go at them.”
Tallera shot Vic a slight smirk, then shrugged to her friends. “Zelenko’s pretty great, but you all know that,” she began. “The rest, ehhh…”
“Ehhh?” Rysana teasingly laughed. “What does that mean?”
“It means ehhhh,” Tallera smirked back. “They’re okay. Krakii seems nice, but she’s not actually on the bridge very much. Mack is alright, I guess. But don’t get me started on T’Vrin.”
“I understand your aversion to Ensign T’Vrin,” Dreval nodded. “Many Vulcans fail to adequately understand that logic and empathy are both required for the other to operate properly.”
Tallera looked at Dreval with a smile, inwardly noting that statements like this were perfect examples of why she enjoyed being around him.
“Yeah, no argument about T’Vrin,” Rysana sighed. “Girl’s seriously got a lirpa up her ass. But what’s wrong with Mack? He’s seemed like a good guy every time I’ve met him.”
“Oh, he’s a perfectly nice guy,” Tallera shrugged. “We just have nothing in common. It’s like an eternal awkward silence whenever we’re on the bridge together.”
“Sounds like y’all just need to break the ice,” Vic interjected. “Why not invite him to one of our little hangouts? My room is always open for more people you three meet. Besides, Zelenko told us to stop being so ‘cliquey,’ so inviting Mack over sounds like a win-win.”
“But what if it turns out we’re even less compatible than we thought?” Tallera said. “I don’t want to make our working relationship even worse than it already is. And… y’know… I don’t really want to rock the boat, I guess. I like our little friend group the size it is now.”
“Well, that’s just gonna have to be up to you, then,” Vic shrugged. “I’m not in the practice of forcing friendships. But sooner or later, you’re gonna have to step out of your comfort zone, Tallie.”
“I’m sorry, which of us is serving as one of the first-ever exchange officers from their state in Starfleet?” Tallera asked with a playful scoff. “I think I left my comfort zone back on New Romulus, thank you very much.”
Rysana chuckled and shrugged in a way that seemed to say point taken.
The conversation was interrupted when Vic’s padd let out a ping.
“Yuck, what blowhard is messaging their department head when they’re off-duty?” Rysana asked, scrunching her face up and sticking out her tongue.
“Not a work ping, a news ping,” Vic said as he read his padd. “It’s an update from FNN about Starfleet ops on the other side of that wormhole to the Delta Quadrant. Says some of our ships just had their first run-in with Hirogen hunting parties since operations began.”
“We win?” Tallera asked, inwardly noting how she’d just referred to Starfleet as we.
“Yep. Looks like a Grissom-class got a little dinged up, though. They probably ventured a little too far into deep space without an escort, then had to do their best to survive until something a little shootier came to back them up.”
“I wish that could’ve been us saving them,” Tallera mused. “Heading out into frontier space like that sounds like a dream. We’d really get to see what a brand-new patrol ship like this can do.”
“Suit yourself,” Rysana smirked. “I’m more than content to stay on this side of the galaxy, thank you very much.”
“Ah, c’mon, Rysana,” Vic laughed. “You’re not a little jealous of all the ships going out there, walking in Voyager’s footsteps?”
“Nooooo thanks,” the Andorian said with a shake of her head. “The Delta Quadrant is nothing but anarchy and death. And Borg. I’d be lying if I said I want anything to do with it.”
16 hours later
Zelenko sipped her morning coffee and gazed out the bridge viewscreen as the USS Saitama warped into view.
“Saitama has arrived in-system,” T’Vrin spoke from the communications console. “Maintaining position 31 kilometers out at bearing 006-mark-020. The vessel is hailing us.”
“Onscreen,” Zelenko ordered, setting down her coffee and straightening her uniform blouse as the Trill Captain of the Saitama appeared on the viewscreen.
“Afternoon, Shepard,” she said with a smile. “Saitama is here to relieve you of duty.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Zelenko replied with a respectful nod. “Though you may wish to tweak your ship’s clock to sync with operations here. We’re operating at 0820 right now.”
“Noted. Thank you, Shepard. Have the hand-off procedures taken place?”
“Yes Sir. Ashhurst and Gheryzan are ready to receive you, and we’re ready to be on our way.”
“In that case, Shepard, you stand relieved.”
“Thank you, Sir. We’ll make for Starbase Bravo ASAP.”
“Godspeed.” Without another word, the Captain’s image was replaced by that of the Saitama, which turned toward Jensara Prime and flew past them.
“Mack, plot a course for system’s edge, then head back to SBB, Warp 8. I’m retiring to my ready room to finish up reports. S’Geras, you have the conn.”
“Commander,” T’Vrin spoke as Zelenko picked her coffee back up and began to head off the bridge. “Before you leave, we have received a text communication from Gheryzan’s commanding officer.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“It reads ‘Thank you for your protection, Shepard. Safe home.’”
Zelenko nodded with a gentle smile. “Respond ‘Thank you for your cooperation. Best of luck with ongoing ops.’”
Zelenko swirled the last bit of her coffee in her mug, sad that her morning drink was nearly gone.
With a sigh, she went back to typing up mission reports. Operations this, science department that, yadda yadda yadda. This was by far the worst part of being a senior officer, but it had long been something she’d become accustomed to.
A comms ping beeped from her desktop.
“Commander, I apologize for the interruption,” T’Vrin’s voice spoke. “We have received a communications request from Commodore Ekwueme.”
Zelenko raised an eyebrow. Why was a flag officer calling her after a freshly completed mission?
“Did he say what for?” she asked.
“Well, don’t keep the Commodore waiting,” she sighed, straightening her posture and facing her monitor’s camera. “Send the communique to my ready room monitor.”
Her computer pinged again, and the visage of Commodore Ekwueme blinked onto her screen.
“Commander Zelenko,” he stated. “How went the Shepard’s first mission?”
“Excellent, Sir. The vessel performed with no issues and we encountered no hostiles. The Saitama mission handoff occurred roughly an hour ago, and we just left the Jensara system.”
“Great to hear, Commander. How would you like another escort assignment?”
“I would… be happy to accept it, Sir. What would the mission entail?”
“Well, while the eyes of the galaxy are on the new operations and trade in the Delta Quadrant, the Federation has chartered a small fleet of merchant vessels to perform a supply run to the Romulan Republic. Mostly humanitarian aid, but there will be some defensive weapons as well. Given your ship’s capabilities, your current location, and… unique crew complement, I could think of no better vessel to escort the convoy than the Shepard.
“I agree with your thinking,” Zelenko replied. She’d long since learned that whenever anyone referred to something “unique” about her crew, they were referring to Tallera.
“I’m glad to hear. In that case, divert course for Starbase 23 instead of home, you’ll resupply and meet up with the convoy there. I’ll send you a complete mission profile soon, but as a quick overview, you and two Saber-class light frigates will be escorting 22 merchant ships from the Starbase to a New Republic colony on Virinat. It should take a little over a week to get there. The Republic colony on Unloth is closer, but the Romulans requested we bring the supplies as far as possible into their space, since our ships have a certain diplomatic immunity that theirs don’t. Your presence alone should discourage any pirates or Romulan Free State ships from trying anything.”
“Understood. We’ll divert course right away, Sir.”
“Excellent. Notify my staff if you have any questions or concerns.”
“Alright then, hope you have a nice trip, Commander. Ekwueme out.”