Episode 0: Maiden Voyage
Location: Defiant shuttlebay
Timeline: MD1 (Immediately after Deck 6, Room 115a)
The Defiant's shuttlebay was the largest space in the vessel, followed by the Engineering bay at a close second. There was a time during the Defiant's early stage of development that Niamh would come and just listen to the long-lasting echo's she produced. Now, thanks to a full complement of shuttles and workbees the echo's had dulled. She smiled softly as the doors opening into the vast area let off the faintest echo before she crossed its threshold. It wasn't much but it reminded her of the path that led her to the current moment. It was important to remember those moments, she believed. Our memories were what made us who we are.
As she made her way towards the landing zone she was pleased to hear the familiar call of the workbees engines as it broached the shuttlebays forcefield. It wouldn't be long now until their assignment truly began and she was eager to see where the road took them.
The small maintenance craft settled down onto the deck with a satisfying thud. A moment later and a mechanized whir preceded the craft's hatch opening. Charlotte Reynolds, stood there looking just as dumbfounded as she had several minutes earlier when they first spotted Defiant. Now, inside the vessels cavernous shuttlebay, she felt somehow even more astonished. This was her command?
As she exited the vehicle, she did her best to stow the slack-jawed look, straightening her grey and gold uniform, which still remained patchless. Something she was suddenly very keen to amend.
Ahead of her, a woman in the telltale red uniform of Operations/Engineering. The rank pips indicated Lt. Commander. It took Charlotte only a moment to identify her as Niamh O'Donoghue, the woman who'd been assigned as her First Officer. From the sharp-looking tunic and trousers and stately heels to her more meticulously maintained hair, she certainly looked the part of a command officer. Outfitted in the starship's uniform, Niamh's presence here seemed much more natural than Reynolds'. Charlotte decided to lean into that feeling.
"You seem to look a bit less astonished to be here than I do," the blonde replied, extending a hand. "You must be Lt. Commander O'Donoghue."
"I am indeed, Captain," Niamh said as she accepted Charlotte's hand. "Me and the Defiant are old friends but I still find myself filled with awe when roaming the ship," She said before moving aside to gesture around the pair, "Welcome aboard the most advanced deep space exploration vessel, Captain. The Defiant has been refitted to bespoke specifications to support Arcadia whilst it finds it's feet" the Irishwoman explained, before taking a momentary pause as the bay was filled with an incoming shuttle.
Once it had landed she carried on, "Until then, under your Command, the Defiant will represent the interests of the Fleet and the Federation out in this region of space. Our mission scope is as varied as the Defiant is flexible, I think you'll enjoy the tour" the brunette promised before finally taking note of the uniform Charlotte was wearing.
A wave of nostalgia struck her as she took in the grey jumpsuit, that had golden divisional patches on both shoulders and sleeves with a golden lining that trailed from the outline of the front zipper around to the back and the outer legs on the uniform. One the left shoulder, firmly in the centre was a mission patch for the USS Zheng He, her previous command. She stood out like a sore thumb.
"I bet you can't you can't wait to get into the new uniforms," the First Officer joked, "mind you, I do find myself missing the pockets most of the time. Why they'd design a uniform with no pockets for the Engineers I'll never know" she playfully complained.
"I definitely prefer the brights of the standard uniform, but I have to admit these have their practical appeal," Charlotte said, noting that even she had made use of the various pockets. She decided to turn her attention to the Constitution-Class elephant in the room. "Believe it or not, the admiralty didn't decide to tell me where I was going, so it came as a pretty massive relief when I saw this beauty fill up the viewport. I hear you're responsible for designing her modular design."
"I reckon I'd have been given the same treatment had I not have been familiar with the ship already" Niamh replied with a mirthful roll of her eyes. "I am, Captain. We are currently in command of the most flexible ship Starfleet has fielded. Each of the modular bays can be torn down and refitted to mission-specific in less than an hour; I'm hoping that over time I can reduce the time it takes significantly" the Engineer explained, "Thanks to those systems we are able to give Defiant minor refits without having to come to port. Unless we need supplies or moderate repairs, we can spend a long time away from drydock".
"Looking to reduce that time? You just told me you can pull off something that could take days in port in a matter of an hour and that seems slow to you?" The captain laughed at the absurdity of it. Her First Officer was clearly an overachiever.
"Over the past three years, that hour was repeated a great deal," Niamh replied her face adopting a faux mask of weariness, "You have no idea how monotonous the system becomes once you've done it a few times. I'm proud of my work, but I'm questioning my decision to withhold on the pizzaz" she joked.
"Well, by the sounds of our mission, you'll get plenty of time to practice that pizazz," Charlotte replied coyly. "Alright, if it is all the same to you, I'd like to see the bridge."
"Of course, Captain. If you'd like to follow me" Niamh said before leading Charlotte away from the shuttle towards the turbo-lift. "Deck One," Niamh ordered once they were inside, "Brace yourself the Defiant's bridge is as aesthetically pleasing as she is advanced if you haven't fallen in love with her yet, you're about too" she promised as the lift propelled them towards their destination.
"Oh, I'm afraid my heart was snared before I even boarded her, Commander. I doubt there's anything that could beat that first sight,"
Charlotte said. She wasn't kidding either. Everything about the vessel had only intensified her adoration. However, as the turbolift settled to a smooth stop, the doors opened upon a bridge that stopped her in her tracks. The bright whites, outlined in a few stark bits of color. The sweeping viewport across the front. The elegant curvature of each of the consoles and handrails. And the chair. It was practically a piece of artwork in her eyes. It was enough to make admirals envious. The Captain simply took it all in. "I stand corrected."
Niamh smiled before bringing herself to attention, "Captain on the Bridge!" the First Officer called out prompting the bridge staff to mirror Niamh's stance.
As the whistlefaded, Charlotte gestured downward with her hands. "At ease, everyone," she said, as the hints of a smirk crossed her face. Pride swelled in her. She was very much looking forward to the adventures they'd have together. Turning back to Niamh. "I hope to serve you all well. By the way, in terms of addressing each other, I lean toward a bit of informality. Captain, Reynolds, Sir, Ma'am, Charlotte. I'm fine with anything, unless we're in a crisis or a diplomatic situation."
"Captain, Reynolds, Sir, Ma'am, Charlotte, "I'm Niamh," she introduced with a smirk before stepping back a step, adopting a more formal stance, "Charlotte, it is my honour to officially hand the Defiant into your Command, may her bells and whistles serve you well," she said loud enough for the present staff to hear, "And if they don't, it's a good job you've got me" she joked. The moment Charlotte accepted this was official. Charlotte and Niamh would begin a chapter of their lives that would likely be significantly profound. The Irishwoman couldn't wait.
"The honor is mine, Niamh. I happily accept command." Charlotte nodded, feeling the momentousness of her words. This would be the beginning of a great many adventures.