Curioser and Curioser
Episode 0: Maiden Voyage
Location: Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: MD 3
Lieutenant J.G. Dante Rawlins had arrived on Starbase Arcadia, head full of questions, less than five minutes prior to his arrival at the door to Commodore Khethiwe's door. He'd been ordered aboard a transport ship and told he had a meeting scheduled with a Captain Charlotte Reynolds, and a Commodore Khethiwe, on Starbase Arcadia, which he'd never even heard of. He'd done a quick search through the computers he had access to and found nothing of note for any of that information. Hopefully, he would be getting the answers he needed in the meeting, otherwise, he was fairly certain he'd probably go crazy from the sheer curiosity. He had thankfully had enough time to get himself a fresh uniform and get changed, once he'd arrived, and was striding down the corridor in freshly shined black boots, his black trousers freshly pressed, and his gold tunic, seemingly perfectly tailored, stretched across his broad chest and shoulders.
Reaching out he pressed the button to alert the occupants of the office that he'd arrived. Seconds later the doors swished open, and allowed him entry into a much larger office than he'd expected, with a massive wooden desk sat directly in the middle, and what could only be described as a regal woman sat behind that. She was dark-skinned, with intelligent, penetrating eyes, and she wore what appeared to be a traditional African hat from the Zulu tribes. She glanced up at him as he approached, and smiled broadly.
Lieutenant Rawlins, it is wonderful to meet you," she said, her accent thick, and melodious, but easily understood. Standing she extended her hand, and after he had shaken it signaled for him to have a seat.
"Thank you, Commodore, it is a pleasure to meet you as well," Dante replied. "Will Captain Reynolds not be joining us?" he asked, noticing that the woman he'd been expecting was not in the room.
Before the commodore could even answer the door chime sounded again, and the commodore smiled. "Speak of the devil, eh?" she said, standing. "Enter," she called out.
The blonde woman entered, in the grey and gold uniform of Starbase personnel. The rank pips gave away that this was in fact the captain they were awaiting. "My apologies for the delay, Commodore. A very...proactive dignitary had me locked into a conversation and it proved harder to escape than I would have thought." She noticed the man in gold and extended a hand, matched with a warm smile. "You must be Lieutenant Rawlins."
Having stood back up when he heard the door chime Dante was still standing when Captain Reynolds extended her hand. "Yes, ma'am, I am." He said, shaking her hand warmly, and returning her smile with one of his own. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"The pleasure is mine," she said releasing his hand and taking a seat. "Where were we at, Commodore?"
"The young lieutenant arrived only moments before you did, Captain," Khethiwe replied. "In fact, I'd say it is quite shocking the two of you didn't run into one another in the corridor," she added with a jovial smile.
Activating the screen on her wall she brought up the Starfleet logo and then turned her attention back to the pair in front of her. "Captain Reynolds, I was advised by Admiral T'Vor that you wished to be the first to broach the topic that brings us here today with the Lieutenant, is that still your desire?" she asked.
"Indeed," Charlotte said, turning to the young helmsman. "I figure I should start by introducing myself. I'm Captain Charlotte Reynolds. I'm going to be your commanding officer out here on the frontier. As you can likely see, we're a little resource-strapped out here. Arcadia is going to be very impressive once she's done, but there's a lot of work to go into her before then and not a lot of support to get that work done, as you probably noticed on your entry."
She was dragging it out, trying to hammer just how limited the resources were out here. It'd make for a better surprise when he learned the vessel he'd actually been assigned to. He'd likely only seen the older vessels, since Defiant was so tucked away inside. "Am I correct in assuming Starfleet hasn't told you much about your new assignment?"
"That is correct ma'am," Dante replied. He had indeed noticed the unfinished nature of the starbase and could tell there was a lot left to complete. He also knew that meant the ships assigned out here were going to be under a lot of pressure to protect the base until it was complete, and facilitate that goal in any way possible. "I was told nothing but that I was to report here to the two of you," he added with a wary smile. He didn't like being kept in the dark, but he could tell, no matter how hard she tried to hide it, that the blonde woman before him had something she was very excited about.
Charlotte didn't address the question that was obvious on the young helmsman's face. Instead, she turned to the Commodore. "Commodore, if it is fine with you, I'd like to take Mr. Rawlins on the move for the rest of this meeting. I can update you on any pertinent details."
Khethiwe smiled knowingly and nodded. "By all means, Captain. I'll eagerly await your report..." she replied.
Charlotte nodded, rising to her feet and making her way toward the door. "Mr. Rawlins, if you'd join me..."
Standing he gave the commodore a nod and a smile, and then turned and followed the blonde Captain out of the room.
They made their way down the corridor toward the turbolift. The halls were bustling with activity, but not the sort that would be standard for a command tower. Engineers ran too and fro, making sure basic systems were functional. The Commodore and her crew were clearly used to a spartan existence. Once the station was even halfway functional, it'd be a paradise. But until then, it was bare even by frontier standards.
As they made it to the lift, Charlotte grabbed the control knob. "Starship Housing 6A." The lift shook ever so slightly as they took off at remarkable speed toward their destination. "So, I understand that you have completed your command training courses. That will come in handy for your posting. You see, I'm not sure if it has been made clear, but I'd like you to serve as my second officer. It's going to be a new crew with some learning to do. I think it will be an excellent opportunity for you to build you leadership skills in the field."
Dante stood, mouth slightly agape, staring at the woman as if she'd just sprouted a second head. It wasn't that he doubted himself. He was a good officer, and he knew that. He had every confidence in his skills. It was just the cavalier way she said it that caught him off-guard. Finally, a few moments later he managed to recover well enough to respond and grinned, broadly. "Thank you, Captain. I'm honored," he said, his deep voice plainly conveying how pleased he was just as his grin did.
"Don't thank me yet," she replied with a wry smile. "As part of your duties as Second Officer, I've assigned the staffing of the Helm Division to you in its entirety. You'll be selecting your team from scratch. From Navigator down to shuttle maintenance."
It was going to be daunting. He'd have to read over countless service jackets for people who were awaiting assignment, and were rated on the ship he ended up serving on. Then it hit him, he didn't even know what kind of ship it was. Something told him he wasn't going to get an answer, so he didn't bother asking. He could tell this was something of a fun adventure for the woman he was following around and felt a certain trust that all would be revealed in the time she felt appropriate. "I'll get right on it," he said, in reply.
"Excellent," the woman replied, eyeing the progress on the lift. Perfect timing. "Well, then. Welcome aboard the USS Defiant, Mr. Rawlins."
Her delivery was practically perfectly on cue. The doors to the lift opened to the Observation Bay for Ship Housing 6A and the view immediately dominated the door frame. Outlined in the station's docking lights was the massive and elegant frame of the Constitution class vessel. Other than her own shuttle viewport first glimpse, there probably wasn't a more striking vantage point of the ship on the entire station. Charlotte reserved comment and allowed the helmsman to see just what it was he'd be piloting.
Dante felt his jaw drop open, and his eyes go wide as he walked forward. "Please tell me you aren't joking..." he said, turning his head slowly to look at the woman. It was a dream come true. He'd rated on this class as soon as the training was available, and he'd hoped, one day, possibly in the future, to fly one. He'd never in his wildest dreams thought it would be this soon, and he felt a swelling hopefulness in his chest at the thought of it.
"I am not joking. And I can tell you, she's somehow even more impressive inside," Charlotte said, dropping a bit of the formality as she admired the ship herself. "Believe it or not, when I arrived on station, I was confident I'd been assigned to one of the old freighters. They kept me in the dark about what I'd be commanding until I arrived. I suppose I wanted to pass the surprise down the chain at little."
"She's gorgeous. Can't wait to see more," Dante said, turning back to look at the ship as he listened to Charlotte speak. "Thank you for making it a surprise. It was certainly an effective one," he added, turning to give her a broad grin, his dark eyes sparkling.
The Captain smiled. "I'll give you two a moment," she said, only half joking as the helmsman gazed upon his vessel. "Once you've settled in and gotten your quarters, come find me in my ready room. We'll go over that roster selection process."
Dante nodded and turned to face her, extending his hand for a shake. "Thank you, Captain, I will do that. And thank you for bringing me on board. I'm honored to be a part of the team!" he said with genuine enthusiasm filling his voice, and making his smile even broader and brighter.