Colonel Shadaa N’Aamah stepped off the turbolift, PADD tucked into her hand.
An aide greeted her from the desk “Hello! You must be Captain N’Aamah!” said the perfectly groomed young man. Shadaa stepped up to the ensign. “Colonel.”
He made a quizzical face “Pardon?”
“My rank is Colonel. Not Captain, Ensign.” She replied. Sternly but not too overbearingly. She wanted to scare the kid not make him wet his pants.
“uhm-uh right! Yes! Of course, Colonel N’Aamah. The admiral is waiting for you.” He gestured to the door beside the desk and Shadaa stepped up to the door, hitting the chime.
“Come!” answered the male voice from inside.
She stepped in to see the admiral sitting beside his desk, an array of PADDS arranged around him.
“Colonel Shadaa N’Aamah. Commanding Officer of the USS Lilith reporting, sir.” She said, snapping to attention.
The middle-aged human looked up from the PADD in his hand with a half-smile on his face.
“I was told you were…a bit severe, Colonel. I see your reputation does you justice.” He said lightly chuckling as he sat the PADD down.
“Not severe, Sir. Just a Marine.”
“To-may-toh, to-mah-toh, Colonel. Please. Sit.” He responded gesturing to the chair.
Shadaa sat into it briskly, back straight one hand on her knee, the other holding the PADD.
The Admiral shook his head. “Those your reports on your shakedown cruise, Colonel.”
“Yes, Sir.” She said handing them over. The artificial fingertips of her left-hand grazing those of the admiral accidentally. He looked at the hand curiously a moment before snapping his eyes up to her face. Faint, dark, lines traced about under her skin and a small, blackened metal device sat beside her left eye. Scars tracing outwards from it.
“Your profile said you were an XB, Colonel. Is that accurate?” he said reading over the reports in front of him.
“That’s correct sir. Assimilated on the USS Volyendesta as her Science Officer. My CO at the time saved my life. She’s my XO now.”
The admiral looked up from the PADD “I can’t say I’ve heard of many instances of Orions being assimilated. You must have been something of a treat. Honestly, Colonel, I’m not even sure how I feel about an XB commanding a ship in 17th Fleet.”
“My loyalty has been proven time and again…I’m not Picard…I’m not out for revenge. Most days I just try not to think about it. Being conscious of my body’s actions and being unable to control them was…not a pleasant experience.”
“Yes, I heard you assimilated a lot of the crew, Colonel, including your girlfriend at the time?”
Anger surged across her features, but she got it under control quickly.
“Oh, sore spot…good. I just needed to know that you weren’t essentially an android, Colonel. I’m legitimately sorry for your loss…and for forcing an emotional reaction.” The Admiral responded, holding out a placating hand.
“My stiff upper lip doesn’t come from me being an XB sir. It comes from me being a Marine.”
The Admiral nodded with a smile “I’m sure that’s the case. These reports are…impressive but the Marines during shakedown, Colonel…”
“I don’t disagree, Admiral…In their defense, they are Enlisted, and they were left with little to do on our shakedown cruise. Aside from our training maneuvers with our allies on Qo’NoS of course.” She responded, finally cracking a half grin.
He furrowed his eyebrows a moment at her Klingon pronunciation of their homeworld’s name. Picking up another PADD he scrolled.
“You were a member of the Klingon Imperial Xeno-League after you left Starfleet once you were de-assimilated. Care to tell me about your time there?”
“I’m afraid I can’t, Admiral. Officially as an alien mercenary for the Empire…my missions never took place.” She responded, schooling her face back to her normal calm and rigid exterior.
“You captained a ship the…Spectre? Heavily modified Orion Interceptor? There’s no record here of any of your missions that’s true but…you were well decorated by the Empire, Colonel…why’d you come back?”
I was given an offer I couldn’t refuse. She wanted to answer but instead said “I got tired of running black ops for the Klingon Empire…I…missed Starfleet, Sir. Brought most of my crew over to Starfleet with me.”
“I was reading that…Many were ex-Starfleet like yourself. Half of them Joined the SFMC and the other half Starfleet Special Operations. Oddly, records show you joined both…why? That’s highly irregular.”
She sighed “I had a moment…or ten…of being like Picard. I couldn’t go back to Starfleet science knowing what’s out there. I wanted to be the best warrior I could be.”
Bran nodded “And it eventually landed you command of a science ship…with half of the 350-person crew being SFMC, SFSO or both…There are questions Colonel, but I feel like in order to get them answered I’d have to go up the chain of command and…frankly…I don’t know I’d even get an answer. If I’m being honest, Colonel…you and your ship scare the hell out of me. You’re wildcards in the well-oiled machine that is 17th Fleet. I don’t like it.”
“Does that mean you won’t let us launch on our primary assignment in this sector, Admiral?” she responded, lifting an eyebrow in an almost Vulcan way.
“No…No, it doesn’t mean that at all…I know that if I denied you launch…someone’d probably be sitting in the chair beside my bed some night when I’d wake up.”
“Admiral, I don’t think I like what you’re implying.” She responded, almost snapping at her superior officer.
He only smirked again. “Alright then. Yes, you are going to launch. Approved it before you walked in. This was all to get to know you as a person, Colonel. Your commencement ceremony will be at 1700. Deck 22. The banquet hall. Have your crew, all of ‘em, come by in their dress uniforms and have a blast.”
This caused her to slump back in her chair. “I don’t like being toyed with, Admiral.”
He reached out his hand, standing. “That makes two of us, Colonel.”
Shadaa shook his hand. “Thank you, Admiral. You won’t regret this.”
He belly-laughed in earnest this time “Oh, I’m fairly certain that I will.”
Hours later she stepped off another turbolift. Black dress uniform tailored to her. She liked to think that the eye candy on her arm, her Denobulan husband (They were married in the Denobulan way, not the Orion way much to the chagrin of her family), also complemented her. Walking up the red carpet for the head table the crew stood and raised their glasses.
There at the head table was Lieutenant Colonel Nizz Amara(a Klingon/Romulan hybrid), her silvery hair draped down her back and her blue, cybernetic eyes glinting in the stark overhead lights. Beside her sat the Chief Engineer Commander Kalley an interesting Vulcan/Denobulan hybrid who had earned the Nickname “The Kraken” among the crew. She was kind and dutiful with her crewmates but may whatever god you may speak to have mercy on you if you were disrespectful, damaged a ship system, or generally made her life aboard the ship unpleasant.
Down the table was the Chief Medical Officer Captain Amari Jal, a joined Trill with a shock of bright red hair contrasting her light complexion. She wasn’t known for her excellent bedside manner…Shadaa theorized this was because she was treating Marines who had a penchant for hurting themselves in new, ridiculous, and amusing ways under her watch. Chief Science Officer Sabek, a Vulcan of course, was probably the only “normal” crew member on her senior crew. He sat beside the female Ferengi helmsman Plikk, who in turn was sitting beside the Grazerite Ops officer Moshal.
She grinned. Looking out over the rest of the crew she saw dozens of Klingons, a handful of fellow Orions, a Gorn named Sshaseth who worked in engineering (unexpectedly healthy sense of humor that one), and a score of more common races. Reaching the dais where the head table sat, she saw everyone was being served their choice of food.
Laagam, her husband squeezed her wrist as it lay on his. “Love, it’s time to give them a speech I think.” With a smile she patted his shoulder and turned to the crowd, letting him take his seat beside hers at the big table as she lifted the synthehol-champagne filled glass waiting beside her plate.
“Attention, please!” her voice echoed in the hall causing every face to turn to meet hers. With a small gulp she began.
“We’ve been through a lot these past months. We’ve seen a lot. We’ve done a lot. Some of you I’ve known since before I came back to Starfleet. Others are new faces I can’t wait to meet. Our assignment is exploration. We will see wonders never seen before by Federation citizens. We will make new friends. Maybe new enemies. We will forge ahead into the unknown. As Admiral James T Kirk once said ‘the greatest danger facing us is ourselves and irrational fear of the unknown. There is no such thing as the unknown. Only things temporarily hidden. Temporarily not understood.’Our mission is to travel through the darkness of ignorance and into the light of knowledge and each person on this crew is a candle. To the USS Lilith!” She said lifting her glass and taking a healthy sip.
They’d come a long way, but it was only the beginning…