Giarvar Kauhn had been hard at work since the arrival of the new captain, reviewing the personnel list Gor had provided and ensuring that his requests were followed to the letter. Nothing about the new captain suggested he would accept deviation or free thinking from his XO… yet. That trust and relationship had to be built, and so Kauhn had done as requested. Orders had been transmitted to the starships Intrepid and Prometheus for certain individuals to report aboard Proxima no later than thirteen thirty, and so it was. Thirteen-twenty-nine and the last of the three shuttles hit the deck plating in the main shuttlebay. Two had come from the Prometheus, whilst the last was from the Intrepid orbiting just several hundred meters from Proxima.
Appearing at the door of the first shuttle, several officers from the Intrepid landed on the decking, each relieved to see their former executive officer, but each confused as to why they had been summoned to Proxima. Conversations were hushed until the emergence of several officers from the second of the shuttles. Suddenly, the decibel count in the shuttlebay rose by triple digits, officers and crewmen alike darting over to one another, sharing warm embraces and overdue pleasantries.
Giarvar’s attention drifted to two distinctive females; both Bajoran, but one had striking blonde hair, whilst the other had grey, mottled skin and neck ridges usually associated with another Alpha Quadrant species. He’d heard enough from Henry to be able to instantly identify both.
“Henry said you two would be stuck together like glue,” he told, approaching the two women and offering a hand to the blonde. She truly was as beautiful as Mitchell had suggested. “My name is Giarvar Kauhn, executive officer,” he added.
Sharing a knowing look, a smile plastered over each of their faces, both women shook their heads. “Trust flyboy to talk about us while we’re not here,” the blonde bombshell replied, taking the man’s hand. “Commander Noli Auru, USS Prometheus. This is my colleague, Lieutenant Prida Rala, Chief Engineer.”
Giarvar smiled, nodding respectfully as he shook Prida’s hand. More pleasantries ensued as further arrivals disembarked from the various shuttles. Akaria Okan and her now husband Matheus; half human, half Klingon Mayr Bellurr and her Orion friend from engineering; even the entire medical team from Intrepid consisting of Doctor Torres, Lieutenant Iddar and Nurse Li.
Once the introductions and euphoria of seeing each other again had settled down, the crowd seemed to have gathered around Proxima‘s XO. Noli looked at Giarvar. “Alright Commander – you’ve got us all over here, for what? What is this all about?” she asked, hands on her hips as she looked at him with an accusatory look.
“Opportunity…” a voice called from behind the crowd. As the people at the back quickly figured out just who it was that had caught them off guard, the group parted like the red sea, clearing a path for the man to reach the two officers. “An opportunity to get the band back together Commander,” Gor grinned, a very toothy expression of joy.
Noli, like many others around the circle, looked more than a little surprised to see her old colleague standing before her again. Given the fact he’d given up the uniform the last time they had seen each other, she was justified in that surprise. “I had no idea you’d come back?” she quizzed, sharing a hearty handshake with the Captain.
“As of five hours ago, I hadn’t,” the Tellarite smirked, a glint in his eye as he released the woman’s hand. Memories of good times resurfaced for a moment, but they were fleeting. Soon replaced by those of recent trauma. Pulling his hand to his side, the Captain turned to the assembled crew.
“I’ve summoned you all here for a reason. Intrepid is to be decommissioned, whilst Prometheus is to be repurposed. You’re in need of new assignments, and new places to call home,” he paused, looking around the group of nearly thirty officers. Faces, both familiar and new, looked back at him with mixed emotions. “Many of you have served with me before. We’ve gone into battle and won. We’ve also suffered great losses. But we formed a fellowship that neither distance nor time can break. You’re here because I need you,” he told honestly, taking steps around the circle, kind gestures here, a touch of the shoulder there.
“Those of you I have not met before, I don’t need you,” he told, to everyone’s surprise. He continued. “You’re here because I want you. I want you to join my crew. I want you to join my fellowship. I want you to join this family.” The relief on some of their faces brought joy to his fragile heart. “I won’t promise to be perfect; I’ll make mistakes. We’ll all make mistakes. But together, we can turn this ship into a force for good, return her to prominence, and take a lead out there,” he pointed towards the hangar doors that had yet to close, and the void of space behind them.
“I don’t know what awaits us out there, but we can all face it together…”
Minutes later, Vasoch and several members of the group were on a turbo lift headed for the main bridge. A resounding cheer and slaps on the back was the affirmation that he needed and gave many of the crew he had summoned the chance to start fresh. For others, it was almost like a chance to come home.
Emerging from the lift at the back of Proxima’s command center, Vasoch took two steps across the threshold and held his arms out. “My friends, the bridge…”
Leading the gathering from behind the diminutive Gor, Commander Noli and Lieutenant Or’uil had to be practically shoved aside to allow the others to enter the room. All shared the same look of awe and excitement that Gor had displayed the first time he had seen the pristine bridge just hours before. A stunning blue carpet with gold trim perfectly accentuated the silver and grey of the bulkheads and duty stations. Oh, and the duty stations! If they weren’t around the perimeter of the room, they were beautifully angled to go with the flow and design of the command area.
At the heart of the room, an exquisitely crafted United Federation of Planets logo drew the eye of anyone who had served briefly on the Santa Fe.
“It isn’t for purely decorative purposes,” the XO spoke out, taking steps from the crowd and into the command pit, “the seal actually serves as a holo-communications platform, making the most of up-to-date communications technology and is capable of displaying holo-projections from lightyears away.”
“Nice…” Prida grinned, arms folded across her chest and a nod of approval.
“Well look who showed up,” Henry Mitchell joked from the CONN, having spun around to face the newcomers.
“Flyboy,” the Risian science chief nodded in the man’s direction, eliciting a smile from the youngest of the senior officers.
“Ops is down there, Lieutenant Or’uil. Noli, you’ve got tactical there, and Akaria, that’s science for you,” Vasoch told, pointing in various directions. He then walked to the chair to the left of his, tapping the headrest. “Miss Chiera, if you’d do me the honour?”
Vittoria took a deep breath and looked at the Captain anxiously. Even as a Betazoid used to sensing the feelings of those around her, she’d struggled with how she’d feel about taking her place on the bridge of a starship again. She’d not sat on a bridge since before the death of their previous captain, and while she knew the time would come again, she wasn’t sure she was ready to be the one at Gor’s side, offering advice that he needed.
Siddling up to their friend, Prida placed a gentle arm around Vittoria’s waist from the right, whilst Akaria approached her from the left. “It’s okay Tori,” Prida soothed, rubbing her friend’s back gently, “she’d want you here, with us.”
Taking a breath, Vittoria exchanged glances with her colleagues, her friends. Noli, Prida, Akaria, Flyboy. It was the look from the Tellarite that told her it was alright. Not just alright to take the chair, but it was alright to still feel the immeasurable loss. And that was what she needed to know in order to take her chair at the heart of the bridge again.
“Oh, I could get used to this,” she joked upon taking her place in the comfortable, leather seat, almost merging with it to become one entity, and eliciting a chuckle from her friends.“Anyone any objections to getting back out there?” Vasoch queried, making his way around the Counsellor and standing in front of his command chair. “Deep Space Seventeen is wonderful and all, but there is an expanse out there with our name on it, just waiting to be explored…”
Glances were exchanged across the bridge at the suggestion of the Captain. Were they ready to be back among the stars together? An almost instantaneous burst of movement said yes, as officers in a variety of uniform colours took their positions across the command center.
Prida manoeuvred across to the MSD and got an instant update from main engineering. Noli gently slapped her friend on the back and made for the tactical operations station, whilst Akaria and Or’uil moved to the port side of the bridge and took over their own stations from their relief officers. Henry let out a smile as he spun on his chair and turned to face the front of the bridge.
“Main engineering reports all systems a go,” Prida called out from the back of the bridge.
“Deep Space Seventeen has cleared all station traffic. Space lanes in and out of the system are clear,” Or’uil barked through the voice synthesizer on his chest.
“Clear the station, one-quarter impulse power,” Commander Kauhn instructed upon resuming his seat to the Captain’s right. “Commander Noli; transmit to Task Force Command that Proxima is alive and kicking,” he added, glancing to his right.
“And tell them we’ll be off doing our thing until they need us,” Gor called out, without so much as a look in the woman’s direction.
The Captain’s remark brought a long overdue smile to her face. “Aye sir,” the tactician nodded, getting to work on composing the message for transmission.
“She’s answering her helm,” Henry informed from the CONN, “we’ll be clear of the station in five… four… three…”
“Lay in a course; heading four-one-mark-one-eight-zero, warp five,” Gor instructed, tapping at the controls on the arm of his chair.
“Aye Captain,” the flyboy responded, “course laid in. Board shows green for warp speeds.”
“With permission Captain, I’ll be in engineering,” Prida called out, not waiting for a response before disappearing into the very turbo lift they had all emerged from minutes earlier.
“Engage Mister Mitchell.”
With Deep Space 17 slowly but surely falling behind the lengthy nacelles of the Proxima, the warp engines began to glow momentarily, the ship streaking into warp at the touch of a button on the CONN.
Proxima, and her crew, were once again doing their thing; exploring the stars.