Novelisation

STS Novelisation Book Cover Back

When I started this blog, I admit I was a little frustrated.

There had been no new Star Trek on television for a long time, and CBS didn’t seem to be doing anything with the property.  As far as anyone knew, they didn’t have any plans to.

Because I didn’t have the money or resources to create a fan film or fan series like so many others had, the next best thing I could do was let my imagination run free and write one, and hope a few other fans enjoyed it.

At that time, we were months away from the eventual and unexpected announcement of a new TV series, and I had already been working on a fan novel for a while, which I was having a lot of fun with.  It seemed right to base the screenplay on my little experiment of a book.

I knew the blog couldn’t just be about my idea for a new series, because that wouldn’t be enough to keep people interested – writing a screenplay isn’t something you achieve over night and I needed something else to encourage people to visit while I found time to translate my novel into a script, so I planned to collect news on my favourite universe and include it on the blog.  At the time, there wasn’t a lot of Trek news out there, so I didn’t think it would take up too many hours.

Holy crap I was wrong!  Suddenly, news starting flooding the internet on the new movie and on Star Trek: Renegades.  Before I knew it, all of my spare time was taken up aggregating all of the different updates that were happening about the web.

My poor screenplay took a back seat to a busy life and a reinvigorated Trek fandom.

To force my own hand, I decided to take my fan novel down from Wattpad and add it here, where it belonged, as it was that which had inspired me to dream up an idea for a series.

Novel?  Yep.  Doesn’t every Trek fan have one of those hidden away on their computer somewhere?

In the last half of 2014 I was introduced to Wattpad by a friend, and I started writing some fan fiction as a way of relaxing.  Some people do yoga… some people write fan fiction!

I love a lot of different science fiction shows, but the one I love the most is Star Trek.  If I was going to write fan fiction, there was only one property I was going to focus on.

STS Novelisation Book Cover

The idea was simple: what happened after Spock disappeared from the prime Trek universe at the beginning of 2009’s Star Trek, and what impact did the destruction of Romulus have on the Federation?

In working up the idea, I looked at what other authors were doing and was influenced by two of my favourites: David Mack, and Peter David.

I was a fan of David Mack’s incredible Vanguard series and I was also a fan of Peter David’s excellent New Frontier series.  I loved that they had developed stories that were a mix of familiar and unfamiliar characters, and I loved the fact both used new settings – the space station Vanguard, and the USS Excalibur.  After all, the various crews of the Enterprise, the Voyager and space station Deep Space Nine can only have so many adventures!

A few months (and about ten chapters) in, I started to think my idea would make a great new television series.  That’s how this blog was born.

In the process of creating the story for the novel, I’d worked out characters and their arcs, locations, designed a new enemy that took me months to develop and assign meaning and motive to, and I’d settled on a ship that I thought would be an interesting primary setting – at that time, it was the USS Prometheus.  I’d originally wanted to use an Ambassador Class starship, or an Akira, but Peter David’s Excalibur was (used to be) an Ambassador Class, and though I loved the Akira, it didn’t work in the story as it grew.  I’d been interested in the Prometheus Class ever since it appeared on Voyager, so the USS Prometheus it was.

I thought that if I put the book up here, it would inspire me to get back to the screenplay. I also thought it would be interesting for other book loving bloggers to see a screenplay and novel come together scene by scene and chapter by chapter.

Now that things have slowed down on the Trek news front again, I can refocus a little and put more of the book up and get further along with the screenplay.  In theory.

The story and screenplay recently changed, slightly.  The novel was always intended to be a trilogy, and for about a year was called Star Trek: Prometheus, with book one being called ‘Emergence’.

It changed because in December of 2015, a trilogy of novels was announced called Star Trek: Prometheus.  They were professional novels as opposed to fan fiction, and were being written by two German authors.

Our stories were different, and the only thing in common was the name of the ship and the class of vessel being used, but I quickly realised things could get confusing, especially after seeing over 230 hits on my site, two days after the official Star Trek site announced the new book series… and all of them were from Germany.  Out of respect for the two authors, I went and changed my title and setting – and for the record, I wish the authors of the soon to be released Star Trek: Prometheus series of novels all the best, and I hope their trilogy is a success.

Having learned that Peter David was no longer using an Ambassador Class starship in his New Frontier series – the Excalibur was now a Galaxy Class starship – I went back to my original idea for the ship and renamed it the USS Challenger in honour of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the astronauts who lost their lives in that disaster.

Then, in the last week of March, I was contacted by a fan of my blog who said there already was a USS Challenger and she pointed me to the New Earth series of Star Trek novels.  Once again, I was faced with making changes.  After pouring through everything in every Star Trek site I could come across, I decided on a new (and hopefully final) name for the title starship in my fan series.  The USS Sentinel.  Thanks Juliet, for the tip – I’m with you, I don’t want anyone getting confused.

For the record, there have been USS Sentinel‘s in the past but all of them were destroyed so I should be pretty safe!

I hope these changes aren’t too disconcerting, and that those of you who have enjoyed what I’ve put up so far, continue to enjoy the book as I find time to copy more chapters across.

This is the first draft of my work of fanfiction.  Thank you so much to the people who have given me positive feedback (on Wattpad and on here), as well as the odd correction, and who have told me how beautifully written parts of it are.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying writing it.

STS Front and Back Covers

DRAFT ONE

PROLOGUE

Starfleet Headquarters
San Francisco, Earth
November 2387

“We have what can only be described as a power vacuum, ma’am.”

Admiral Diana Ivanov, the recently appointed Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet, glanced down at her desk and silently counted from one to ten. She knew exactly where this conversation was going.

Satisfied she had successfully pushed down the sarcastic retort that had been on the tip of her tongue, she looked up at Vice Admiral Indiri Paranali and raised one delicate blonde eyebrow at the beautiful Indian woman. “You’re referring to the destruction of the Romulan star system?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Would you like to elaborate, Vice-Admiral?”

Indiri glanced over at her companion, Rear-Admiral Mark Daniels, before continuing. “The Federation is now the sole major power in both the Alpha and Beta quadrants. We’ve beaten back the Dominion and the Borg, arguably the worst threats either quadrant has ever faced.”  Warming to her topic she continued, a little too enthusiastically.

“The Cardassian border has essentially been closed for 12 years and they show no signs of coming out, the entire Romulan military is in disarray after the destruction of their home system, and the Klingons are content to remain a part of the alliance.” She looked at Diana as if there was only one conclusion any reasonable person could draw from the listed facts. Diana didn’t humour her. In fact, she was finding it difficult to keep from being deeply disappointed by the Vice-Admiral’s assessment.

Indiri leaned forward in her faux leather chair. “Ma’am, we have an opportunity to dictate terms that can secure the safety of the Federation like never before.”

Diana didn’t comment. She just stared at them and let the Vice-Admiral’s suggestion hang in the air.

As the silence stretched from seconds into a full minute, Rea- Admiral Daniels shifted his muscular bulk and grunted. He was much older than Indiri, and looked every bit the grizzled warhorse he was. While his face wasn’t scarred from physical injuries, it showed the wear of stress and too many sleepless nights spent defending the Federation through the dozens of threats it had faced in the last few decades. “We need to take steps to ensure the Romulans do not become an even more dangerous threat, ma’am,” he grunted, his voice as gruff as his visage implied it would be. “They were dangerous when they had something to lose, now even more so that they have nothing left.”

There. It was out. The same argument they had taken to her predecessor. Diana knew it hadn’t died and she was honestly surprised it had taken the Admiralty this long to press her on the issue.

Keeping her expression perfectly devoid of any emotion, she silently admired their persistence, but she was one week into her new job and she wasn’t interested in retreading old ground.

Certain elements within the Admiralty had pressured her predecessor, Leonard James Akaar, without success, and had even dared to approach the Palais de la Concorde in an attempt to take the issue straight to the President – effectively going around the CinC. The President’s Chief of Staff had refused to hear their issue and had promptly shot them down with a none-to-kind reminder of the chain of command. As far as the President and the Federation Council were concerned, Starfleet’s role in relation to the former Romulan Star Empire was one of providing aid and support to what was left of the people’s of that civilisation.

“Admirals,” Diana began, “the surviving peoples of the Romulan Star Empire are broken. I met with Admirals Valradi and Donatra recently, and I am certain the last thing on their minds is war.”

“They won’t do it overtly, ma’am,” Mark interrupted, his voice almost a growl. “They’ll come at us out of the shadows, like they’ve always done.”

The last thing Diana needed was a history lesson, but it seemed her colleagues might. “I agree that history should inform and guide us, Rear-Admiral, but it should not blind us to the potential for a people to change.” She could hear her usually subtle Russian accent thickening as her irritation started to show.

Rear-Admiral Mark Daniels was either ignorant to her ‘tells’, or didn’t care. “Our responsibility, ma’am, is to protect the citizens of the Federation. They’ve been through enough.”

Diana lifted her hand and brought it down suddenly and sharply on her desk. “Do not presume to lecture me on Starfleet’s duty, nor mine as it’s Commander-in-Chief.”

She felt a slight flush of satisfaction as both Admirals exchanged surprised glances. She knew she was considered ‘mild-mannered’, and was proud of her ability to remain unflappable during a crisis, but now and again you needed to ruffle feathers and she fully intended to ruffle and then pluck the feathers off these two popinjays.

Diana stood, never breaking eye contact with Mark Daniels, and continued as if she had not been interrupted. “We have an additional duty, Rear-Admiral.” She purposefully emphasised the ‘Rear’. She and Mark were the same age and had been through the Academy together. The fact that she was now CinC and he wasn’t should tell him something, and she really wanted him to get that message.

“The United Federation of Planets was not built on a platform of conquest, nor on a philosophy based in paranoia. We did not become what we are today by eschewing compassion.” She moved from behind her desk to a large display screen set into the opposite wall with a fluidity and grace that belied her age. The display showed a map of known space across all four quadrants. Dianna tapped at the touch sensitive surface and the Gamma and Delta quadrants fell away as the Alpha and Beta quadrants grew in size. As the image froze, a series of illuminated symbols appeared as scattered clusters across the map. “Under my command, Starfleet will remain vigilant to any possible threat, including the unlikely possibility of a Romulan or Reman attack.” Tapping at a series of clustered symbols spread across the map of the Federation, she continued. “I’ve ordered a redeployment of Starfleet’s resources throughout both quadrants, and have sent the 5th Fleet to the Nuetral Zone. We will continue to follow the directive of the Council and support the Romulans and the Remans in any reasonable and responsible way we can, and we will do our very best to ensure our forces are where they need to be at all times.”

She watched both Admirals as they carefully examined her sweeping changes to the distribution of Starfleet’s assets. As they glanced at each other with what she hoped was grudging respect, she decided to take a slightly different tack.

“Not so long ago, we were on the cusp of being assimilated or destroyed by the Borg. When their invasion force swept through the Alpha quadrant every government came together to try and defeat that threat.  Including the Romulans.  Their empire was not in immediate threat and they didn’t have to support us, they could have sat it out and hoped for the best, but they did not abandon us. They did not resort to their old isolationist habits. And now, in their time of need, we will stand by them.” She returned to her chair and waited for any objection. When none came, she continued.

“We might regret that at some point in the future,” she said softly, “but the Klingons and the Federation were once bitter enemies, and when Praxis exploded the Khitomer Accords built a new foundation of friendship which endures to this day. The Khitomer Accords were a watershed moment, and I and the government are choosing to see the shocking destruction of the Romulan star system in the same way.  As an opportunity for peace, and as a challenge to live our values.”

Appropriately chastened, both Indiri and Mark nodded. Mark even had the good sense to look slightly embarrassed.

“If I may?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“You’ve no doubt been briefed on the amount of Romulan weapons and starships flooding the black market?”

Diana nodded. It was unfortunate, but when regimes fell there was always a fire sale and usually some mad planetary despot or criminal would buy up big in an attempt to obtain an edge on his, her or its adversaries or competitors.

“Is it not possible that that is just a clever ploy by the Romulans to spread their assets within our space and use them against us at some future point?” Mark asked.

Diana paused for a moment. “That’s serious paranoia, Mark, but I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. That’s why I’ve ordered an increase in the number of ships patrolling the Neutral Zone.”

Indiri spoke up. “You’re probably also aware that Starfleet is not having a great deal of success at keeping track of the various weapons and starships that are being smuggled in.”

Instead of responding, Diana turned her attention to the Padd on her desk and tapped out a series of commands. Barely a second later, both Indiri and Mark’s Padds issued a simultaneous tone.

“I’ll be announcing this later today,” Diana said, once again focusing on both Admirals as they scrolled through the data their Commander-in-Chief had sent them. “You might remember Leonard ordering a major refit for the remaining Excelsior and Ambassador Classes just after the destruction of Romulus? He did that knowing there was a strong likelihood Romulan vessels and weapons would end up on the black market.”

“Police ships,” Mark said, raising both eyebrows. “You’re reassigning what’s left of the old Excelsior and Ambassador Class starships as patrol and policing vessels, and deploying them throughout the Federation.”

Diana nodded.

Indiri Paranali’s eyes grew wide. “That’s going to upset the Ferengi, the Orions and every other free trader across two quadrants. The Excelsior and Ambassador Classes may be old but they are powerful. One a class of battleships and the other a class of heavy cruisers… it’s like unleashing a tiger to hunt mice and these refits make them even more so.”

Diana smiled. “I know.”

“You don’t think it’s overkill?” Mark asked. “Starfleet has always patrolled the Federation’s interior, but never like this.”

Diana shook her head. “No. There are rogue states scattered throughout Federation space and they’ve become increasingly powerful over the last seven years.  Starfleet Intelligence tells me more are popping up every month. They’ve fed on the misery of everyone who lost so much during the Borg attacks, and it’s sickening.”  Diana went silent for a moment as she remembered a meeting she had attended earlier in the day that had confirmed the presence of an organ harvesting syndicate that was abducting survivors from certain border worlds Starfleet had not yet been able to properly protect.  She refocused her attention on both admirals.

“This action is entirely justified and the President agrees.  We only have twelve Excelsior Class starships and eight Ambassador Class starships left after the Borg conflict.  The Ambassador Class in particular bore the brunt of that engagement because of how sturdy and powerful those vessels are.  With their upgrades they will be even more formidable and they’ll hopefully be enough to keep an eye on the criminal elements spread throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.”  She smiled without any indication of humour.  “We still won’t have enough resources to be everywhere we need to be, I know that, but this is the strongest start we’ve made since the beginning of the recovery effort.  I, and the Federation Council, are deeply concerned a criminal organisation will get it into their heads to take on the Federation and that is the last thing we need right now.” She glanced at Indiri. “While we may be the sole remaining major power in two quadrants, that won’t stop some overly ambitious warlord.”

Indiri Paranali and Mark Daniels nodded.  The Borg invasion of 2381 had wiped out 40% of the fleet, and an unimaginable 63 billion sentient beings and been brutally cut down by the Borg’s scorched world policy.  Everyone had lost someone – the Federation, the Klingon Empire, the former Romulan Star Empire and many of the non-aligned worlds had all suffered equally.  Almost a decade later, the loss of Romulus and Remus to an unexpected galactic catastrophe had been just another shocking, and horrifically destabalising, blow.  The forces of law and order in the known universe had diminished, while those with a less than legal focus had benefited in too many ways to mention, and their personal armies had grown accordingly.

Diana took a slow, deep breath and stared intently at her colleagues.  “While the fleet continues the vital work of rebuilding the Federation, some of our ships will continue our original mission of deep space exploration, but Project Sentinel will keep our citizens safe.”

Rear Admiral Mark Daniels allowed a satisfied grin to spread across his rough features. “Nice.” He met Diana’s hard stare and nodded. “You have my complete support, ma’am.”

“And mine,” Indiri said. She regarded the Commander-in-Chief for a moment. “Why didn’t you inform the Admiralty, ma’am?”

“Leonard thought about it before retiring, but decided it should come from me. He knew a few of you would be concerned I wouldn’t have what it takes.” She almost hated herself for enjoying the look of discomfort on both their faces. Almost. “I should probably add that I won’t be as tolerant as Leonard Akaar was of any Admiral that seeks to circumnavigate my orders by getting political.”

Mark and Indiri nodded, glancing at each other uncomfortably.

Diana leaned back in her chair and drew both hands together under her chin. “Now, I need your help. I need us to select the Captain and crew of the flagship of Project Sentinel.  That Captain and their crew will carry the flag and be the face of this operation.”

Starfleet Delta Gradiated

Chapter One

Rigel
Liebold District
December 2387

Jacek wasn’t proud of his default position – which was to punch first and ask questions later, but he wasn’t embarrassed by it either.  In situations like the one he had just found himself in, such a tendency could be a positive one.

The substance sticking him to a slick wall in what could only be a holding cell in some sort of prison, was resisting his efforts to break free, but that just made him want to break free even more.

Some small, logical, detached part of his mind was telling him that if he kept pulling, he’d rip a nice chunk of skin away, but he couldn’t find it inside himself to care.

“Jacek… seriously, you’re gonna sprain something.”

The Deltan/Betazoid hybrid glared across the cell at his companion, a handsome, chocolate skinned young man who looked more like he was relaxing at a resort, than rotting in a dank little room buried who knew how many meters below ground.

“I thought you Deltans were supposed to be all cool and easy-going?”

“I’m only half Deltan,” Jacek grunted out.

“Yeah, but your other half is Betazoid.  Super zen bunch, Betazoids.”  The handsome young ensign paused for a moment.  “In case you were wondering, you’re not behaving in a zen way right now.”

Jacek loved Hasani Uhura like a brother, but right now he wished he would vanish in a puff of smoke.

Jacek was well aware he wasn’t much like either of the cultures he was born into.  While the range of personalities present among both Deltans and Betazoids was almost as diverse as those found in humans, most Deltans were committed to a lifestyle of contemplation and peace, and most Betazoids were warm and dedicated to honesty almost to the point of rudeness.  Jacek was honest to a fault, and was warm toward those he cared for, but deep contemplation and an eternal peaceful and calm demeanor were not his strong points.

 

Particularly right now.  If could find the Ferengi who had imprisoned him and his best friend, he would most definitely rip the sniveling little toads limbs off and shove them into each over sized ear canal with frightening efficiency and extreme prejudice.

“That frown isn’t going to get us out of here,” Hasani said, interrupting the Deltan’s violent musings.

Jacek looked across at his companion and bit his tongue.  He genuinely cared for the young man and did not want to take his frustrations out on him.

Not for the first time, the big Deltan wondered how, in the name of the Great Bird of the Galaxy, he had become friends with this jovial, outgoing human.  Hasani had quickly bashed through Jacek’s natural reserve to become as close to him as any other living being had ever come.

Jacek let out a growl of anger. “Neither is your sense of humour.”

Hasani chuckled, something that came easily to him. “Frown at the wall. Maybe it’ll get frightened and release us.”

The struggling Deltan ignored him and flexed every muscle in another futile attempt to struggle free.

He and Hasani were sitting opposite each other, both ‘stuck’ to their respective walls by an unknown substance. Their cell was one meter across by three meters wide and their faces were no more than forty centimeters apart. They were so close the Deltan could smell the strange vegetable concoction his companion had been eating before they’d been drugged. He wished Hasani had had time to eat a breath mint before their kidnapping.

Jacek had no idea what the substance sticking them to the wall was, but it very effectively held his arms, back, waist, and legs against the hard stone surface. The only parts of their bodies they could move were their heads.

Uhura signed deeply. “I have an itch.”

Jacek took a deep breath.  “That’s nice, Hasani.  Thank you for sharing.”

“Just making conversation.”

“Perhaps you should turn your attention to freeing yourself from this substance.”

Uhura looked at Jacek like he was an idiot. “Seriously, you’re built like a freakin’ tank. If you can’t pull yourself off the damn wall, how am I going to do it?”

The human had a point. Hasani Uhura was no weakling, but his athletic build was a little less bulkier than his own.

“What I’d like to know,” Uhura continued, “is how those damn Ferengi got the drop on us?”

Jacek blushed and ground his teeth together. If any of his unit found out he’d been taken down by a Ferengi, he’d never live it down.

“Oi, Jacek, you’re a telepath. Can’t you… you know… zap someone with your crazy super Deltan Betazoid mind powers and get them to set us free?”

“Deltan’s are touch telepaths, Hasani. And Betazoids are usually only telepathic with other Betazoids.”

“So you don’t know what I’m thinking?”

Jacek sighed. “Maybe if I touched you.”

“Hell,” Hasani Uhura said with a wink, “we’re so close you could stick your tongue out and lick me. Would that work?”

“There would be no need,” the older man said with a grunt.  “Why would I bother to link with you when you have no problem telling me everything you’re thinking all the time?”

“Sharing is caring my friend.”

Before Jacek could offer a retort, a series of noises interrupted them. Both men turned their heads to look out of the cell. “What tha?” Uhura muttered.

To Jacek it sounded like muffled voices having an argument. Then he heard what he was certain was the whine of a phaser pistol, the sound of chunks of rock exploding, and a high pitched squeak that could only be Damon Torst, their Ferengi captor.

All of that was quickly followed by the grinding of a badly oiled door rolling open and the Ferengi’s annoying, wheedling voice saying from close at hand “they’re down here. This way.”

If the Universe is in a particularly cruel mood and these are marines, Jacek thought, I will beg them to kill me.

“Holy Great Bird of the Galaxy,” Uhura muttered, “I think it’s the cavalry!”

Within seconds the dim chamber they were trapped in was illuminated by someone holding a palm torch. The light prevented either man from seeing who their saviour was.

“I give you the hew-mon, very happy to… but let me keep the Deltan…” the Ferengi pleaded.

“What?” The man who they hoped was their saviour asked.

Jacek recognised that voice, with it’s light Russian accent. It was a little shaky, as if the speaker was under a great deal if stress, but it was Sergei Vasilyev, the other member of their party.

“Let me keep the telepath,” Damon Torst said again.

“No, you little freak. You’re releasing both of them or I’m drilling a hole through your lumpy little head.”

“Sergei!” Hasani shouted.

“Yeah, it’s me. You’re lucky you boys still had your transponders in or you’d both be stuck with big ears here forever.”

“You think my ears are big, hew-mon?!” the Ferengi exclaimed with delight.

“Massive,” Sergei deadpanned. “I could park a shuttle between them.”

“Stop chatting and get us out of here, Sergei,” Jacek ordered.

“Working on it, brother.” Sergei moved the bright light from the tiny prison cell to their Ferengi captors face. “Open the cell, and um… get that gunk off them that’s sticking them to the walls.”

“I give you 50 pieces of gold pressed latinum for the telepath,” the Ferengi said with a nervous but still lascivious grin, ignoring the dark haired human’s request.

“I think creepy here has the hots for you, Rek. Might want to tone those pheromones down a bit,” Uhura said, looking the Ferengi up and down curiously.

The Ferengi glanced at his human prisoner with a scowl, then turned his attention back to Sergei. “Alright,” he growled. “55 pieces of gold pressed latinum.”

Sergei wiped beaded sweat off his face and pressed a couple of buttons on his phaser before placing it’s tip on the Ferengi’s bulbous nose. “Release both my friends or I’ll vaporise your head.”

A strange gargling sound escaped the Ferengi’s mouth and within seconds he’d fumbled out his keys, unlocked the cell door and pushed a button on the strange looking device hanging from his belt, causing a disgusting sucking noise to sound from the rock walls both men were attached to. A strange custard like liquid slid to the floor around them.

Uhura let out a whoop of joy and caught the phaser Sergei tossed to him. “Nice work, Mr Vasilyev. Remind me never to piss you off.”

Sergei tossed another phaser to Jacek, who let it bounce off his chest and hit the floor. The Deltan took one long step forward, grabbed the Ferengi by his throat, and hoisted him into the air.

The Ferengi’s usually orange/brown complexion drained of all colour. The only sound he could make was an ever intensifying squeal.

“Jacek!  Put the little Ferengi down,” Sergei said, “do you want to lose your commission?”

Jacek ignored his friend, as the Ferengi’s squeal approached a glass shattering pitch.

“Plus, I’ve left four other Ferengi stunned topside, and if that wears off before we get out of here we’re going to have a not too happy welcoming party waiting for us.”

Jacek screwed up his face and let out a snarl that made the Ferengi’s squeal shift to a full throated scream. The Deltan then dropped their would be kidnapper and strode past him.

“Far out, Rek, you really didn’t like that sticky stuff,” Sergei said as he clapped his friend on the shoulder. Jerek stopped and looked at him with a gaze that would have frozen hot coffee.

Uhura scooped up the spare phaser and followed his two friends. “Nice meeting you,” he said, as he stepped past the almost comatose Ferengi.

*   *   *

“I thought you were off getting a massage?” Hasani asked Sergei as they exited the cave system, stepping past four still comatose Ferengi traders. “You okay,” he asked his friend, suddenly stopping and looking closely at the Russian.

“I’m fine. Ate something bad… and I was getting a massage but Starfleet had other plans.”

“What?” Uhura said with surprise. “We’re on shore leave while they find us a new ship.”

“They’ve found one,” Sergei said.

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. We’ve been ordered back to Earth ASAP.”

Hasani considered this news as he, Sergei and Jacek traipsed toward a ground skimmer nearby. “Are they keeping the team together?”

“You mean the three of us?” Sergei asked.

“Yeah”.

“They are indeed, my friend,” Sergei grinned.

“Oh… joy,” Jacek muttered as he followed them both.

“Ignore him,” Uhura said. “He was just about to lick me before you guys interrupted our intimate moment.”

Jacek shot Hasani a glance that was anything but amused as the young man laughed. “No sense of humour, my friend,” he said as he jogged to the skimmer. Jumping in, he gunned the engine.

Starfleet Delta Gradiated

Chapter Two

Starbase One
Earth Orbit
January 2388

Alliance, you are cleared for docking, please proceed to your assigned berth…” there was a pause on the other end of the line, followed by a warm, “welcome home.”

Alliance acknowledges, space dock. It’s good to be back.” Lieutenant Suhur hit the ‘close channel’ button on her console and looked across the bridge to her Captain. “Our berth has been assigned and is ready, Captain.”

“I have the coordinates,” Thran th’Shanast said from the helm, his antennae moving with a measure of contentment. Earth wasn’t the Andorians home, but he was fond of the planet and it’s people, and would be very glad to feel fresh air against his skin again.

“Proceed, Mr th’Shanast,” Captain Saavik said.

“Aye. Maneuvering thrusters are responding.”

Saavik took a moment to look around the bridge of the old Excelsior Class vessel, as the Alliance glided through the enormous starbase doors and into the massive facility that orbited Earth. She acknowledged and accepted a feeling of pride as she watched her command crew securing their stations. They had been through a lot, and most of them would be leaving her now to move onto other adventures aboard different starships, while her vessel went in for upgrades to become part of a new task force called ‘The Challenger Project’.  Alliance was the last of the Excelsior Class vessels to go to refit and she didn’t know how long it would be until she would sit in its centre seat again.  For that matter, while her vessel was receiving its upgrades, she did not know what she would do.  She did know that she would miss the Alliance and her crew.

Her now deceased husband would have gently teased her for the emotions she was feeling, and she, no doubt, would have teased back, questioning the tone of affectionate humour that would have accompanied his statement – an accusation he would have denied, still with a faint hint of amusement in his voice. After his many years serving with humans, he had found peace with his emotional side and had stopped feeling any kind of conflict between the two. She admitted she had too. While her Romulan half did not experience humour in quite the same way as a human, or even a half-human, she had come to understand it and the both of them had made a private game of it in the rare moments they had been able to share as a couple.

Thinking of her husband caused her mood to shift slightly. She missed him. Even though they had spent more time apart in their many years of marriage than they had together, simply knowing he was out there, available to her if she ever needed him, had been reassuring.

Starfleet had declared him dead only recently, and provided quite conclusive proof that he was gone, yet she couldn’t accept it. Deep in her heart she was certain he was still alive. She felt it. The sensation wasn’t overwhelming, it was simply there. She had spoken to her mother-in-law about it, and her mother-in-law had suggested that perhaps it was ‘denial’. Saavik presumed that was possible, denial was – apparently – common in people experiencing grief. But it felt different to her. It was a different grief to the one she had internalised when David had died, and she doubted that was because David had died in front of her. Believing her husband was alive despite evidence to the contrary certainly did not make sense, but it was more than an inability to accept an apparent truth.

Perhaps now, with some much needed shore leave, she would be able to understand exactly what her confused heart was telling her.

“Captain,” Suhur said, interrupting her reverie, “Starfleet has requested we secure the ship for her upgrade and they’ve sent through the crew’s reassignments. They’ve asked that all final senior staff logs be synced with Starfleet Headquarters immediately and that the crew have their quarters vacated by 0900.”

Saavik nodded. “Please forward the assignments to my Ready Room and inform the crew of our exit time.”

Her Chief of Operations turned to her console and entered a set of musical commands. “They’re waiting for you, and I’ve forwarded Starfleet’s instructions to all department heads.”

Saavik rose from the centre seat and gently cleared her throat. Somehow, intuitively, everyone on the bridge knew what was coming – even though Saavik had had no intention of saying anything until mere seconds ago. She saw her Chief of Operations hit the intraship button without having to be asked.

Saavik lowered her eyes for only a second as she carefully composed her thoughts. Looking up at them, she raised one eyebrow at their expectant faces. “It is not logical to thank you for doing what you were trained to do, but I find, at this point, as many of us go our separate ways, that I wish to ignore logic.” She locked eyes with everyone on the bridge before continuing. “None of you have ever failed in your duty, and every member of this crew has consistently given more than was asked of them. I have… enjoyed spending these last few years with you.” She let that statement hang in the air for a moment before continuing.

“I have had the privilege of serving with some of the most renowned crews in Starfleet, and on some of the fleets’ most famous vessels, but I have never served with a crew I am more proud of. It has been an honour.”

Saavik had not expected a response, so when she was met with a wave of applause she admitted to feeling perplexed. Not sure how to proceed, she simply turned to her Exec. “I’ll be in my Ready Room, Commander.”

He strode forward and extended his hand. She was aware he knew Vulcan’s avoided physical contact because they were touch telepaths, even half Vulcan’s were usually capable of perceiving some sort of sensation upon bodily contact, but she knew Michael Sinclair meant no offense and was only defying the custom out of genuine affection and respect for his Captain.

Mentally erecting her ‘shields’, she took the Commanders proffered hand and shook it.

“Thank you, Captain,” he said and she noticed water accumulating around his tear ducts. This elicited another raised eyebrow.

“Thank you, Mr Sinclair.”

Her first officer smiled and returned to his seat.

As her command crew finished sending their logs and securing their stations, some of her people got up, shook hands with each other or exchanged hugs, as others simply sat staring forward affected in their own way by the completion of their mission. She saw the odd tear and felt momentarily moved that such strong bonds had been built among her team.

Saavik considered ignoring the reassignment data now waiting for her in her Ready Room to stay with her people, but remembered a certain ship’s doctor she had once served with telling her that people “needed to celebrate or grieve moments like these as best befitted their own particular needs”. Accepting that wisdom once again, she decided the Captain’s presence wasn’t needed and might even be a hindrance. She secured the command consoles on the armrests of her chair and walked quietly to her Ready Room and disappeared through the doors.

Alone in her own private sanctuary, she sat at her desk and keyed up the message from Starfleet containing the crew’s new orders.

As well as the expected roster, she found a message from the CinC of Starfleet, requesting her immediate presence. Saavik had not met Diana Ivanov but knew of her reputation. She was competent, not particularly ambitious, and had an outstanding record of achievements. The Admiral had been chief strategist when the Alliance had left on it’s most recent mission three years ago, and had been a favourite of the previous CinC. Someone he trusted.

Saavik tasked the computer with disbursing the various reassignments to her crew and hit her commbadge. “Mr Sinclair?”

Within seconds her exec’s voice responded. “Yes, Captain?”

“I’ve been ordered to Starfleet Headquarters. The ship is yours. Please see to the final arrangements for Alliance.”

“Understood.”

She allowed the channel to close and gave herself a moment to contemplate the request from command. Unbidden, the voice of James T. Kirk was in her mind, telling her to refuse any promotion that would take her away from the bridge of a starship.

She decided that she would.

You were only allowed to refuse a promotion so many times before Starfleet made the choice for you, and Saavik decided she’d try one last time if her advancement was what the Admiralty had in mind. If Starfleet ignored her, she would resign her commission. Her husband had done exceptional work for the Federation as a civilian, perhaps more so than he had as an officer of the Fleet, and no doubt she would too. At 124, she had more than enough experience to parlay into a new career, and it helped that she happened to have the ear of the new Federation President, T’Pol.

Her mind made up, she stood and tapped her combadge. “Mr Igawa,” she said, initiating a link to the Transporter Room, “beam me directly to the reception area of Starfleet Command Headquarters.”

A faint tingling sensation started in her stomach, and quickly spread through her entire body.

As her ready room dissolved around her in a shimmering of lights, she wondered if it would be the last time she ever saw it.

Starfleet Delta Gradiated

CHAPTER THREE COMING SOON!

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