Five shuttlecraft swept downward from the USS Chaffee towards Mellstoxx III, banking slightly to port before entering the planets upper atmosphere one at a time. The planet was covered in a thick blanket of cloud so very little detail would have been visible had any of the passengers been able to see outside.
The trip from starship to touchdown on the planet’s surface was smooth and uneventful and took just over ten minutes. The cadets all disembarked and under the direction of a Chief Petty Office, who introduced himself as Chief Merryweather, headed towards the academy’s administration building. A large circular building located within stunning gardens. Within a small conference room they were greeted by Commodore Bale, the man who was in overall charge of the training facility.
Over the next few hours the 37 new arrivals were introduced to some of the training personnel and two Cadets who were there to show them around the complex. Starting first with the dormitories they’d be staying in whilst on campus. They dropped off their bags, those like Jason in their third year would still be sharing rooms but anyone starting their four year of cadet training would have a room to themselves. They then continued the guided tour.
The Starfleet Academy on Mellstoxx III was an immense complex covering a circular area some ten kilometers in diameter, only rivalled in size by that of Starfleet Academy’s main campus in San Francisco.
Jason’s first day on the planet was almost drawing to a close when having just finished his evening meal in one of the campus dining halls and stepped out into one of the many gardens, he was approached by a lieutenant commander who he saluted. “If you’d care to follow me the Commodore wishes to see you in his office.”
A moment of dread filled his mind, but the officers face betrayed no sense of might be happening. He had been merely sent to do a job, and was carrying out his orders. After a brief walk, Jason again found himself within the administration building. Following the lieutenant commander, they both entered a turbo lift, which took them to the top floor. As they headed along first one corridor then another Jason made a mental note of everything he passed.
The Commodores secretary asked his to take a seat whilst she buzzed to announce his arrival. It was only five minutes which seemed like forever, before the door to the Commodore office opened and Jason was asked to step inside. He came to attention and saluted. “Sir”
“At ease cadet,” the word where spoken without the merest hint of friendliness, a totally contrasted to how the man had been earlier that day. Jason took a quick look around the room. Behind the Commodore was a map covering the local star system with the star Mellstoxx at its center and the seven planets that orbited it. Over to the right was what looked like a painting of a Constellation-class star ship passing Jupiter.
As Bale sat down in his large black chair one side of his desk, he motioned for Jason to sit in a smaller chair opposite him. He taped the top of the computer monitor screen with his right index finger, twice.
“I’ve been reading through your report. Both of them!” The last three words were spoken with more emphasis. “I’m the only one in this entire establishment with a high enough clearance to do so.” The Commodore brought his hands together on the desk interlocking his fingers.
“Frankly the whole thing reeks of Section 31. And if you are in any way part of some clandestine scheme they’ve cooked up to bypass the relevant channels you’d better get off this planet pretty damn sharp”
Jason gathered his thoughts before replying to the accusation. “Sir, I know I’m here under a false name, but I assure you I’ve not been sent out here on some secret mission by this Section 31 as you call it.”
Bale raised his hand signaling for the young man before him to stop. He knew section 31 had been around from almost day one. It had gone from legend to pariah, been a savior of mankind one moment and nearly its destroyer the next. An organization which felt the rules that governed every citizen of the Federation didn’t apply to its members, no matter how tightly anyone tried to monitor and control their actions.
But Bale realised this cadet now seated before him had risked his own life, even if unknowingly to save many others. Lives which included some the Commodore knew personally. Someone had felt this young man was worth protecting and giving a second chance to. The question remained, was he worthy of this second chance. Had one act been enough, could he be trusted?
“I’m going to give you a chance. But I will be keeping a sharp eye on every action you take from now on. The slightest slip up and you’re on the next ship out. Understand?”
“Sir, yes sir”
“Now get out before I realise what a stupid old fool I am!”
As the cadet left his room Commodore Bale took one last look at the file on his screen before closing it. Jason Devron as everyone would now know him was a remarkable person. Starfleet had received its fair share of rogues, mavericks and misfits over the decades. People that didn’t exactly fit the perceived idea of a model officer. Some had turned out to be fine officers. Their fellow crewmen could trust them to get the job done; trust them with their lives even, if the time ever came. Others had proved to be as big a danger to those around them as any enemy they may have to face. As to which one had just walked out of that room, only time would tell. But he would be watched. The Commodore had a duty to this academy and the Federation as a whole.