Reclining on the couch of her ready room, Jimena Zelenko was hard at work organizing her task list for the days ahead upon her personal padd. Repairs were nearly complete, and based on her estimates, it would be 24 hours at most until they would be able to depart. That meant that the crew would need to get back onto normal operating schedules.
While she was able to spread around and allocate duty shifts, much of the tasks in the upcoming days were likely to hinge upon a meeting that Fleet HQ had arranged with her, scheduled to take place in about an hour. Apparently, they had a ship close enough to the Shepard’s current location to relay off Republic subspace stations, allowing for instantaneous face-to-face communication. Whether the brass had opted for this sort of meeting instead of the usual long-range text-based message out of importance or simply convenience, she couldn’t be sure.
Her combadge pinged, and she sat up from her reclined position and gave it a tap.
“Commander, this is Dreval. I have news concerning repairs.”
“Go ahead, Ensign.”
“Damage Control Team 2 has completed their testing of the EPS systems leading to the aft ventral phaser arrays. No issues were reported, and as such, all possible repairs tests have been completed. Full phaser and impulse power are now available, although the torpedo tubes obviously remain out of order.”
“Excellent job, Ensign. Please give my commendations to Commander Merin and the engineering teams.”
“Yes, Sir. Dreval out.”
Zelenko sat back again, nodding as she began drafting up a departure announcement to the crew. With repairs completed quicker than expected, they’d only need perhaps twelve hours to get underway – she’d add in some buffer time and make it sixteen.
A little over an hour later, Zelenko sat at her desk, absent-mindedly cracking her knuckles as she awaited the call from Fleet Command. After a few moments of waiting, her desktop pinged, “receiving transmission” popping up in large block letters. Zelenko tapped accept, and was greeted with the visage of a familiar Tellarite.
“Captain Dellos,” she smiled, surprised to see her old CO again. “I wasn’t told you’d be dropping in.”
“Yeah, well, the Rokssovsky is patrolling pretty close to the old neutral zone, and since you and I have a shared history, the Brass thought they’d have me relay the message,” the Captain replied in his trademark gruff, almost guttural voice. “So I get to be your go-between.”
“Always glad to have a Captain acting as my personal secretary.”
“Keep it up, and I’ll have you acting as a Lieutenant Commander’s secretary.”
Zelenko chuckled, unable to keep up the belligerent front any longer. Talking to Tellarites was always equal parts amusing and poker face-testing.
“So what’s the news, Captain?” she said after regaining composure.
“First of all, how’s the Shepard doing? I heard you banged her up pretty well during her first combat showing.”
“Repairs and testing to our EPS systems have just finished up, we’re preparing to leave as we speak. We’ll be beading back to Starbase Bravo for a more comprehensive fix-up in less than a day.”
“Fantastic. I come bearing news about what you’ll be doing after that.”
“Mmhmm,” Dellos grunted, then pulled up a star chart on the monitor. “You’re being reassigned, Commander. Enjoy the former neutral zone while it lasts, because you’re going to the Tholian border.” A small icon blinked on the lower-left hand corner of the map, deep in the spinward side of Federation Territory.
Zelenko narrowed her gaze and cocked her head in confusion. “That’s clear on the other side of Federation space from our current position. Why are we going all the way out there?”
“It’s not a pretty story, unfortunately. Ever since the Federation pulled back to secure its core worlds after the Utopia Planitia attack, the region has become economically isolated. That made it all too easy for people like the Orion Syndicate to fill the relative power vacuum.”
“I’ve heard as much from colleagues working in the area.”
“Yeah. Thankfully, that’s starting to change. The task groups operating in the area are trying to rectify this mess by helping jump-start local economies and public works programs in the area to knock out the appeal of what syndicates can offer. That being said, there’s still a lot of illicit activity happening, and we’ve had multiple high ranking officers request the presence of more patrol ships. Both protect the humanitarian vessels and to go off hunting leads that intelligence finds. And there aren’t many better patrol boats than Reliants.”
“Understood, Sir,” Zelenko nodded. “I’ll notify my crew that we have a long voyage ahead of us after SBB repairs our rollbar.”
“Good to hear. You’ll receive more details when you get back to the Starbase, but as of now you’re going to be reporting to Captain Talen Varis at the Avalon Fleet Yards before heading out into the border regions. The Shepard was constructed at Avalon, right?”
“Indeed she was. Looks like our girl is due a homecoming.”
“Absolutely.” Dellos pursed his lips and diverted his gaze for a moment, then looked back at Zelenko. “There’s another reason the Brass is moving you, too. You’re getting hit by politicking, Jimena.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that, due to the political situation of the former Romulan Empire, the Admiralty is now of the opinion that a Republic exchange officer shouldn’t be anywhere near it. They’re worried that her presence will cause a diplomatic issue if you end up running into some Free State folks or Klingons.”
Zelenko sighed and massaged her temples. The Commander knew that Tallera would be absolutely mortified if she was aware of how much her very presence on the Shepard was affecting its deployment.
“I can’t say I’m a fan of that, but that does make a modicum of sense,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s no slight on her or you. Just the nature of the galactic situation.”
“I understand. In that case, you and the Rokossovsky make sure to stay safe while we’re off playing with gangsters and Tholians.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Dellos smirked. “Take care, Jimena.”
“You too, Sir.”
With that, the Dellos’ image blinked away and the screen went dark.