Talaina shifted slightly in her hover chair. She was still recovering from her injuries, and had to avoid moving to much. But she also had no intention to lie in a sickbay for six months. It had taken alot of 'pursuasion', but she had finally got the doctors to let her out, with the compromise she uses the chair and makes regular checkups. She moved through the corridors of Starbase 375 towards Admiral Cullen's office. Aproaching, she waited for the door to open and entered, hovering up to the desk. Admiral Cullen sat behind, a warm smile on her features.
"Commander Talaina, it's good to see you mobile. How are you recovering?"
Talaina waved her hand dismissively, careful not to stretch her injuries. "Getting better slowly. But at least the Doctors have let me out." Cullen nodded. "Good. I've been going over your reports, and I think-"
"Sir, with all due respect, I understand you are about to reassign me. But I want to take a ship out and find our people."
Cullen cocked her head to the side and studied Talaina intently before replying.
"Do you know where they are?"
Talaina hesitated a bit, her lone antenna curling up in mild annoyance at what she had to admit. "No Sir. Analysis of the ship's logs did identify the ship that took them, but we haven't been able to locate it. Yet."
"Commander, you do realise that was over three months ago? The chances of your crew being on that ship is remote at best. They could be anywhere in the galaxy by now. We had ships scouring the area the Sentinel was ambushed, and though they did find a small base that looked like it was once used by the Gorn, it was long abandoned. The trail has gone cold, and we can't afford to direct ships on wild goose chases. IF.... we find some evidence of where they are, then you can be certain we will send a ship to investigate. But you have to understand, we have a finite number of vessels, and with the recent discovery in the Jouret system, we're stretched dangerously thin as it is. I'm sorry, but we need the Viper in Task Force Omega. There has been alot of political unrest in the Gamma Orionis sector and Admiral Rykon needs starships there to help keep the peace. Plus, there is that other matter you were briefed on, and we will need as many ships as we can get."
"Fine. I accept that. But I can not accept leaving our people to the mercy of the Gorn. I know first hand what monsters they can be. And it's not like I'm asking to go after one man, they took a fifth of our crew." Talaina tried to straighten in her chair, fighting back the pain from surgery as she lifted her head. "As First Officer of the U.S.S. Sentinel, it is my responsibility to find them and bring them home."
"That's just it Commander. You are no longer the First Officer of the Sentinel. There is no more Sentinel. You are officially being promoted to Captain of the Viper."
"Surely there must be others who can take command. What about Ttorkkin? He knows his way around combat situations. He has command experience. Give him the Viper. Let me find my people."
"No Captain. We don't have the ships to spare. Dismissed."
Talaina punched her fist against the arm of the chair, causing it to dip slightly on the right before it had chance to steady itself. "Dammit Admiral, then let me take an old ship out. One from mothballs. What about the DarkFyre? I know that ship, what it's capable of. It's only being used as a training ship for cadets around the Sol system. Let me take a small team of officers and find them. Commanders Bearlo, Zhong, K'zeph, Ensign Jones. We can-"
"You're not listening. So let me make this perfectly clear." Cullen also straightened, taking a harsher tone with her voice. "Starfleet is not a Merchant Fleet. We issue orders, those orders get carried out. If you had a lead on Stunshock's position, then I might be willing to reconsider. But you don't. You don't know where to begin. Ships and their crews have gone missing throughout Starfleet history, dating back to before the NX days. If we find a lead, we will investigate. But you and your crew are needed elsewhere. End of discussion."
"Yes Sir. I will select my officers and have them transferred within the week."
"One more thing Captain. Bosip K'zeph is not a part of your crew. He is on permanant assignment at Starfleet Command."
Talaina blinked at the news. "May I ask why?"
"He has a history of not following orders. The last incident cost the lives of two crewmembers. We can not afford to have someone that unreliable on Task Force Omega. The situations are too hazardous."
"Sir, Commander K'zeph-"
".... Lieutenant K'zeph is resourceful and inventive. Exactly the kind of person we need in situations the task force will find itself in. Whatever his past mistakes, I'm sure-"
"ENOUGH! This is not a democracy Kazzur. You have your orders. You can either carry them out, or resign your commission. Which is it to be?"
Talaina frowned, struggling with that. Her military upbringing had always instilled a sense of honour, duty and responsibility to the chain of command, to the structure and orders of your superiors. But her time in Starfleet had also taught her loyalty, friendship, to never surrender to what fate deems is your lot in life, to push past that and do what you know to be right. And right now, those two things were in conflict. Seeing Cullen raise an eyebrow at the unexpected pause, Talaina answered firmly. "I will perform my duty as commanded by my superiors until such a time I am unable to. Sir. I will overview available crew manifests and select a suitable list of replacement members for the Viper's command staff."
"Good. Viper is still undergoing final repairs, but she should be ready to head out end of next week. You have until then to recover and get your crew together. Dismissed."
Talaina turned and floated out of the room. In the Reception area, Ttorkkinn was leaning against a wall, arms crossed over his chest and getting some funny looks from the Receptionist. When he saw Talaina come out of the office, he pushed himself forward with his shoulders and walked over to her. "Well? How did it go?" Talaina kept hovering along as she slowly shook her head. "Not good. The Admiral was adamant we continue our transfer to the Viper. She wouldn't even let me take a small group out on the DarkFyre to find them."
"Dammit. Did you tell her-"
"That it was a fifth of our crew? Yes, yes I did. And though she sympathised with our position, she wouldn't budge."
"So what do we do now?"
Talaina stopped and turned her chair so she could see Ttorkkinn properly. "Now? We do as we are told. We ready the Viper for deployment. And I am making you my First Officer."
Ttorkkinn was completely taken aback by that. "Me? I'm the leader of a glorified assault squad. I'm not ready to command. Not in that capacity."
"Emony told me that without you, we could have lost alot more lives. You've always handled yourself above and beyond what was expected. You've shown many times that you have the skills."
"But what about Emony? She was the Sentinel's Second Officer, if anyone deserves the position, it's her."
"The Viper is a Defiant class ship, assigned to Task Force Omega. That means we will be mostly involved in tactical situations. I need a First Officer who can think and react to such things quickly. Emony....." Talaina sighed. "Emony just doesn't have what it takes for command of this nature. A long range science mission, yes. But not a combat orientated one. Besides, she's taken an extended leave of absence to deal with some personal issues. I don't know when she'll be back. Or even if. The Viper is launched end of next week. You have until then to get the TRT back together and go over the crew manifest of those who are staying on the Viper. Needless to say, a small ship like that becomes family. We'll be the outsiders, it may take time to adjust. And I want to know exactly the kind of personalities we will be dealing with."
Talaina smiled slightly. "That's officially Captain now."
The two weeks had passed quickly. Talaina stood near the docking airlock, looking out a window as crews finished their tasks around the hull of her new ship. A standard Defiant class in shape, she had a dark hull, almost black but not quite. An enhanced form of the ablative hull armour gave the ship it's colour. Talaina didn't mind, it helped the ship blend into space. However, it did also make the glow of the warp engines seem brighter when they were online. Still, Viper had teeth and could take any punishment, as her last mission proved. A direct torpedo to the Bridge had caused many of the key personel to be transferred off for recovery, hence why many of the Sentinel's bridge crew were moving in. But there hadn't been any fatalities. Talaina reached up to her collar, brushing a thumb over her new fourth pip. Captain Kazzur. Captain Talaina Kazzur. Though not quite the way she wanted it, she had finally made it. Her father had been so proud when she told him. The whole family had been. Their little girl finally had her own ship in the fleet. If only her older sister knew. Talaina had sent a message to the Klingon ship she was serving on, but there had been no contact. Although she hadn't seen her older sister since she joined the ship of disgraced Captain Bravok. The war with the Klingons seemed to have fizzled out with hostilities nothing more than the odd border skirmish, and the various other species of the Klingon Empire breaking out and performing actions on their own, such as the Gorn ambush. This was why she had felt safe in trying to contact her sister, though she had obviously only said she wanted to talk to her, making no mention of why in the message. Still.... one day they would meet again. Talaina turned and made her way towards the docking port, using a cane for stability only, making sure both her legs took her full weight. She caught her reflection in a window and paused a moment, admiring the pips. The new one stood out, shining brightly against the slightly scratched and duller existing ones. It was a matter of pride. Keeping the same pips throughout her career, no matter what happened. Even when they had switched to the new uniforms, she had simply swapped pips over rather than get new ones. They were more than a statement of rank, they were anouncing her experience, her history. And she wore that history with pride.
Stepping through the airlock, making a note of not using her cane to appear strong for the crew, she saw Ttorkkinn waiting. He had changed out of his TRT uniform, now wearing the same dark red 'Odessey' uniforms Talaina wore, as befitting his new position. Beside him was a Vulcan male who looked around 30, but of course you could never tell with those guys. His records indicated he was called T'Fon and was currently the highest ranking science officer on the ship. At only Lieutenant, that was a place Emony would take over if she returned, but for now T'Fon was in charge. Beside him stood a Betazoid male, short cropped brown hair and a beard. His black eyes looked intently at Talaina, reading her body language. Lieutenant Bob Juffra was the ship doctor. Having spent so much time with Luawra as the Sentinel's doctor, Talaina felt comfortable with another Betazoid doctor. She wondered how this would be different, and yet similar to Luawra. T'Fon was the first to speak, raising his hand in the traditional Vulcan greeting. "Peace, and long life, Captain. It is an honour to have you onboard."
Talaina nodded in reply. "Thank you Lieutenant. I hope to serve this ship as well as her previous captain."
Bob stepped forward. "Captain. Lieutenant Bob Juffra. Ship doctor. Other than our chief engineer, we are the only main crew staying over, so felt it was best for you to meet us."
"Doctor. Where is the Chief?"
"She's in Engineering, overseeing the installation of our cloak." Now that did take Talaina by surprise. "We have a cloak? That wasn't mentioned in any of the ship files."
Ttorkkinn replied to that. "Yes, well, it seems it was a last minute addition. Some deal with the Romulan Republic that I'm sure can't possibly go wrong in any way shape or form."
"I see. Well, best not distract her then. Gentlemen, if you would take your positions, I think it's time the Viper was underway."
The door opened onto the cramped Bridge. It was much, much smaller than the one on the Sentinel. Efficient. Clean. Tactical. Talaina liked it. She noted Ttorkkinn had taken position at the weapons console. Ensign Jenna Jones was at the helm. Xui Li Zhong was seated at the side with T'Fon sitting to her left. Talaina approached her chair and slowly sat down, savouring the feel of the padding as she rested. Jenna tapped a few controls and then turned to face her Captain. She didn't show any signs of her injuries. "All systems are standing by. Moorings have cleared and all base personel have vacated the ship."
Talaina drew in a slow breath. This was it. This was the moment she had been waiting for. The anticipation was electric. She pointed at the viewscreen.