Queen's Gambit | Part II
Posted on Sat Dec 14th, 2019 @ 4:22pm by Fleet Admiral Donatella Figueroa & Commander K'Niras Sh'howul & Lieutenant Junior Grade Shras th'Zarath & Lieutenant Commander Seleya & Lieutenant Aeryn Vinia & Lieutenant Commander Michael Essex
Mission: S01E05 ConQstador
There was a bit of smugness to the woman, radiating confidence that very well may have bordered on arrogance, but that bore no difference on how Fig responded to the Commodore's sudden arrival which had caught the veteran Captain off guard. The 'admiration' of the Commodore brought a smirk to the woman's face. She cut the tensed air with a dismissive gesture of her hand, like a hot knife through butter. "At ease gentlemen," she said to all of them, not singling out the women.
She proceeded into the room and 'evicted' Captain Figueroa out of her seat at the 'head' of the table. "You're in my seat, Captain," was all the Commodore had to say to dethrone the battled hardy starship Captain of the fallen USS Musashi. She waited for Fig to take another seat further down the table which was already nearly full in a room that was teetering on maximum capacity and would be in violation of several safety codes.
The Commodore's short brown hair was very full, kept short well above her shoulders, and had an almost bowl or mushroom shape to it. Her eyes immediately locked onto the former Admiral Essex. "Michael Essex, oh how the mighty have fallen," she commented without missing a beat. "Gentleman, I am Commodore Hoffman, Sector Commander for the Triangle Sector which lies not too far from this listening post," she said introducing herself. She looked up to see the display of Rigel VII. "Good. Very good. I see you are aware of where Starfleet Command is sending you."
"Rigel VII," K'Niras stated. "Inhabited, the seventh planet in the Rigel system. It has one moon and is the homeworld of the Kalar. Captain Pike had some trouble with them when he was there in 2254. They were pre-warp and humanoid."
Commodore Hoffman agreed with the overview. "Thank you, Lieutenant. That is an accurate description of the planet; However, aside from being pre-warp it is frequented by visiting species. This has led to an increasing population of Orions on the planet which has only made the planet deadlier than ever. Increased space traffic in 'shipping lanes' has seemingly lead to a rise of criminal activity, very likely the syndicate. Perhaps, more concerning is the rise of her majesty, Queen of Rigel VII."
K'Niras frowned, his tail bouncing up behind him in interest and concern. "But the Kalar don't have a monarchial government. So, the Orions have inserted themselves as leadership?" He knew it was an assumption and speculation, but it didn't seem too far from what was possible, given the current situation.
"Starfleet Intelligence has been monitoring the situation from afar. We've intercepted communications from the planet, monitored the planetary media or what constitutes as such," replied Commodore Hoffman. "We, unfortunately, cannot be entirely certain of the dynamics without boots on the ground. That's where you, Captain and your crew come in," added Bettina Hoffman.
The Commodore continued on. "What we do know is this... woman assumed control over the planet seemingly overnight. How she came power remains a mystery to us, and we are not sure why the Kalar have not overthrown her yet. We came across a few mentions of her being a sorcerer of sorts."
"Probably with technology they've never seen," the Caitian First Officer suggested.
Fig let out a small scoff. "You're right, number one," she said to K'Niras. "It would not be the first time a technologically superior species or individual from a species settled down on an 'inferior' planet and seized power. Given the location of the planet, I wouldn't put it past a Klingon to do so."
K'Niras turned his gaze to Fig. "Klingons again? You think? Orions are more likely, don't you agree?" he asked.
"I'm biased," admitted Fig.
Commodore Hoffman cleared her throat. "You are. That is evident from reading over your personnel file. Command has quite the dossier on you, Captain Figueroa..." with that, Hoffman looked at K'Niras. "Orions are indeed more likely. They seem to be prospering under the current monarch so whether it is they who placed her into the position of power or not, they are tied into this somehow."
K'Niras didn't really like the way the Commodore was treating his captain, regardless of whether or not they agreed. He narrowed his eyes, some would mistake it for looking thoughtful, but it wasn't exactly what he was doing. "You know... if the Klingons are involved. I wouldn't put it past the Orions to have found a willing female Klingon to serve as their "Queen"." He shrugged and leaned back in his chair casually. "I mean the intimidation factor would be more impressive..."
Essex had kept his mouth shut until the Commodore went after Figueroa with that comment about quite the file. "Commodore she may have quite the file but that only means she's got experience, knowledge, and is the best person to make certain judgement calls. I'm sure that's what you meant." He might not have the rank anymore but the deal was that the Brass back of Fig if he gave up his rank. She must have known that. He hoped he wouldn't have to remind certain Brass elements. Because there was an out clause. If they interfered he got his rank back and hell would be paid.
The Essex factor was rearing its ugly head. Commodore Hoffman had not been too keen on the former Admiral Michael Essex being part of the new crew for the USS Musashi-A, but like most elements of this 'arrangement', she had very little say. It was by no means ideal, but there really was nothing that could be done. She needed to let things be and not cause too many issues otherwise there would be issues for her to deal with... issues that may derail her political aspirations. "I'll concede that point, Commander Essex," she replied. There was a slight glee at him being of lower rank than her.
"Klingons, Orions, Nausicaans... it matters not who we suspect may be behind this sudden rising of this queen, but more so confirmation as to who is responsible and how we can handle the matter. You will have the Sentinel class starship with a reasonable crew compliment at your disposal. We need to know more before the Federation decides to take any action. Reconnaissance gentlemen. That's what your initial orders entail."
Essex raised an eyebrow. She enjoyed saying his rank way too much. He did need to keep his mouth shut though. He'd gotten the better end of the deal. A second chance as well as a captain he knew would defend Seleya. There was a certain spark in him at going out on another adventure.
Seleya, for her part, had to work hard to keep her eyes off of Essex. He was a Lieutenant Commander just like her. It was a hard point to comprehend. She was always one for puzzles. She thought to her staff. She hoped Linwood would be a part of her team again. She personally couldn't wait to get to sickbay.
K'Niras was starting to get restless with the meeting. His tail was the first to show it, swishing slowly back and forth behind him. He took a deep breath and stifled a yawn with the back of one clawed hand. "Alright... so when do we get to see this ship? I've got a lot of system checks to preform."
"I require access to my sickbay. It will not be ordered as I wish it so I have work to do there as well." Seleya chimed in.
"And I have not seen official orders stating that I have this...Sentinel-class command, Commodore" quipped Captain Figueroa. "The semester is weeks from being over and I've been guest lecturing. Am I to just up and leave my classes?"
Commodore Bettina Hoffman was used to being badgered left and right with endless questioning. Sometimes, it was reporters or journalists other times it was Starfleet Admiralty, members of a committee, or back in her years before joining Starfleet, it was lawyers. "If you would all just give me a moment, I'll answer any and all questions as thoroughly and efficiently as I can" she replied.
"Captain, first and foremost your time lecturing cadets is appreciated, but all your orders will be arriving shortly. The Klingons have been making target practice of our subspace communication relays. Fortunately, many of those are unmanned or have a very small single-digit crew compliment. It's been taking non-priority messages days if not weeks longer to reach their recipients" explained Commodore Hoffman. "Your classes will be completed by another lecturer or academy instructor. Your focus should be on your mission ahead, not on the meanderings of a first year cadet."
The Commodore looked at Doctor Seleya. "Doctor, your Sickbay is fully equipped per Federation standards. We even gave you the latest in Medical software" noted Hoffman. "I understand wanting things to be sorted to your specific tidiness. You'll find both old and new faces on your Medical Staff" she added gesturing to Nurse Vinia. "You'll find Kylian Linwood and Egan Calix already aboard the starship. Nurse Vinia will continue on as your Head Nurse, though with some added autonomy."
Seleya gave a nod. She was not one for talking back to brass. She still wanted her sickbay ordered the way she liked it but she knew if Linwood, was indeed there, he would do it. She surpassed a smile. She'd grown attached to him. He was both co worker and friend.
"Nurse Vinia," the Commodore said addressing the woman with vibrant blue hair. "This mission and those in which are likely to follow will require someone of your expertise. It has recently been proposed that Starfleet start assigning actual counselors to these long voyages, but to be frank we are several years out from doing so in any 'official' capacity. I would, however, appreciate if you took a more hands-on approach in the evaluation of and overseeing the mental wellbeing of the Captain and crew."
"That is a hefty bit of responsibility Admiral, but I will make it work." She'd phrased it this way only because the Family Nurse Practitioner had not made a study of mental health as her focus. No matter what her last posting was.
Turning her chair slightly, the Commodore locked her eyes onto the blue-skinned Security Chief. "I'm afraid I cannot overstate the dangers of this mission, Lieutenant. Your security personnel will be almost entirely new to you and you to them. A handful of them are only a few weeks past their completion of basic training, and others freshly graduated from the academy this past graduating class. Those young men and women will be your responsibility to have as ready as possible for Rigel VII. Captain Christopher Pike barely made it off that backward hell hole alive, and that was will all his years of experience underneath him. Do not let anyone be blinded by their experience or confidence. We've had enough torpedo casings launched."
" I understand completely, Commodore. And Ive faced my share of dangers in my service in Starfleet. ANs I further understand that my new staff will be greener than green. But I was once, as well as you. And I will impart little tips and tricks that has kept me alive to them. Rest assured." Shras replied
One last focus of her attention. "Lieutenant," the said crisply looking at the Caitian. "You've come a long way in the past year and some change. A junior communications officer aboard the Enterprise, aboard when she was at Rigel VII if I recall correctly, a transfer over to be Chief Communications Officer aboard the Musashi, and several months later here you are, Lieutenant. You've found yourself Chief Engineer and First Officer. You've certainly climbed the ladder quickly. What have you to say for yourself?"
K'Niras leaned back in his chair, his arms folded over his chest and his ears twitching slightly. He shrugged. "I'm not sure there is a "quickly" climb, Commodore. I filled needs, to the best of my ability. I'm trained in Engineering and I've completed officer training. Is it really all that unusual?"
Captain Figueroa was not about to let Commodore Hoffman berate her First Officer's career. "Respectfully Commodore, Lieutenant K'Niras Sh'howul and I have a command rapport that outmatches almost any CO and XO pairing that I've been a part of or bore witness to. He may not be Commander Samuels, but that's okay with me," she said referring to K'Niras' predecessor. "Chris Samuels was a damn fine Science Officer, a hell of a First Officer, and I respectfully endorsed his promotion to acquiring his own command," added Fig.
"The lieutenant may have come a long way in a rather short amount of time, but that's what happens when our crews are spread thin and we are in a blood-soaked war with the Klingons. I could not ask for a better First Officer or Chief Engineer, and if you are going to try to give me one... no thank you. The Lieutenant will do just fine. More than fine," finished Fig.
Commodore Hoffman nodded. "Very well, Captain. You have voiced your opinion and I see no reason to change your working relationship with, the lieutenant; However, it does make for a queer situation having Lieutenant Commander Essex aboard with your First Officer of a lower rank. Henceforth by my authority, Lieutenant Sh'howul will be brevetted the rank of Lieutenant Commander," she proclaimed. The Commodore looked at the Caitian. "You will need to change the embellishments on your sleeves and dress accordingly, Lieutenant Commander Sh'howul. Should you leave this ship and crew, your rank will be restored to its previous status. Those are the terms and conditions I will layout in my report to Starfleet Command," explained the Commodore.
K'Niras blinked, his ears rising up to their full height. "Thank you, Commodore. I understand and I appreciate the consideration. I also understand the terms and conditions." He nodded. "Although, that stipulation makes me a little bit concerned about the length of this assignment." He glanced at Fig and then looked back at the Commodore.
"See, this is why I like the fluffball," teased Fig. "What is the duration of this assignment, and what happens when we finish with Rigel VII?" she added onto K'Niras' question.
Hoffman was anticipating something of the sort. "Rigel VII is the immediate concern, but as I had brought up... the triangle sector is also a factor. Once you and your crew get to the bottom of this Queen on Rigel VII, the... Musashi, yes Captain, your new starship will retain the namesake, will be setting course for the triangle sector. This war with the Klingons is draining our resources and we need more member worlds. We're hoping to find that in the triangle."
"What about the Romulans?" K'Niras asked.
Commodore Hoffman nodded. "Yes, they are something to be mindful of," she said calmly. "We have had reports of sightings of their vessels, but those have simply been unproven sightings. We have no actual reason to believe the Romulans are responsible as of yet. They remain... in the shadows."
K'Niras nodded and fell silent.
Essex piped in ... "And I, of course, have the Science department?"
Commodore Hoffman may not have been thrilled about that decision, but again it was out of her hands. "Captain Figueroa's Sentinel class starship presently has no science personnel with your experience and education. This was not my decision to make, but yes. You have been assigned to the official crew compliment as Chief Science Officer."
He grinned. "I'm up for that challenge." He studied the woman. She knew how to play politics. "Commodore, I may not be an Admiral for the moment," he said, making that clear and once again slipping in a reminder of the deal. "But, may I give you some advice before I put on the blue uniform?"
What now, she thought to herself. "Go ahead, Lieutenant Commander Essex. Please provide me with your insightful advice."
"Starfleet Command, it's a little like swimming with the sharks, ones with poisoned teeth. Don't get bitten. Remember HLDT, Honour, Loyalty, Duty and Truth. It's all you'll need." He stood. "Furthermore, this is a good crew, a good ship, and that," he said pointing to the captain. "That is a damn fine captain." He sat back down. "Now, having had my final Admiral's rant, I'll just sit back and enjoy the rest of this briefing shindig."
"Oh I think we've all had quite enough of this briefing," replied the Commodore. "Gentlemen, you have your orders. More details will be forthcoming we shall disembark for Rigel VII in 26 hours on the dot."
Yippie skippy, thought Essex. He was the first out of his seat and moving to the door. He had a uniform to pick up and his stuff too. This would be interesting.