It was busy in the large main crew lounge. Jam-packed would be the best phrase to describe it. Noisy was another word to use with the huge crowd that were all mingling and getting to know one another. But it wasn’t a deafening sound as the ship’s jazz band, made up of a range of the Discovery’s crew that were musicians, played softly in the background and could be heard by all. Spirits were high as food and drink was shared, but no-one was unruly like a bunch of drunk Klingons toasting to their recent honourable victory. This was subtle, a Starfleet subtle.
Gazing at the pleasing image before him, Commodore Bennet held a glass of Aldebaran whiskey and was sipping on it. The Discovery was hosting the crews from the rest of the ships in the expeditionary task force and those also joining them for their trip into the Delta Quadrant. While every ship was docked at Starbase 38, Bennet felt it was important as they would all be working closely together that everyone got to know one another a lot better. The crews had worked together during the recent Archanis Campaign but it wasn’t what they had originally been assembled for.
Pleased to see one face he had yet to see since taking command of the Discovery and the task force, was his task force executive officer: Captain Alexandra Sudari-Kravchik. She would be assuming command of the USS Nobel, their Galaxy-class ship. The change in command of the ship was a last-minute decision from Starfleet after it was felt that Captain Thrain was needed to remain on Haydorian to calm the situation with the colony’s governor. As a result, Kravchik would find herself more involved in maintaining the expeditionary force as well as heading up diplomatic efforts too.
“Captain, it’s good to finally meet you.” The commodore greeted with a warm smile as he extended his hand towards her.
“And you as well Commodore,” Alexandria said, not stumbling over any ranks by virtue of having no habits in that regard. “Face to face is far more personable than a hologram,” she said with a faint smile that did extend to her eyes.
Offering her a drink, Bennet turned to one of the nearby waiters and asked for a glass of the same green whiskey he was sipping on. Passing it over to her, he toasted towards her with a simple ‘cheers’ and the two clinked their glasses together before taking in some of the strong potent beverage.
“Have you had a chance to settle into your new command yet?” Bennet asked as he pulled his glass away from his lip.
“Not yet Sir. The Nobel was late arriving due to answering an S-O-S on her way here. I have been aboard and assumed command, met the XO, Commander Jezgo, who I have had the pleasure of working with before and my belongings are being transferred across, but that is about it so far.”
“Well let me know if there’s anything I can do in helping you adjust to your new command.” Bennet remarked.
“Will do, Sir. The Nobel only had a few gaps in her crew roster before Captain Thrain was reassigned and Commander Jezgo was fighting with BuPers to fill the gaps already. I have given her some contacts to call and we will expedite who we can before we leave. If I can not make BuPers come to heal, I will give you a call Sir,” Alexandria said, head nodding in acknowledgement to a raised hand in the crowd from someone she knew.
Suggesting they take a seat at a nearby empty booth that was far away from the larger crowd, Bennet led them over and sat down. “It’s good to see everyone getting to know one another.”
“After all that fuss in Archanis, it is good to see as well. Crews all need a chance to unwind and relax a little bit before launching through the Barzan wormhole and getting to work in the Delta Quadrant,” Alexandria responded.
“So have you read our first mission orders?” Bennet asked her.
“I have, and I am keen actually. Good old fashion exploration and relationship building. Voyager after all barely scratched the surface, we will be able to do a lot more, see a lot more. Though I understand we are following in the footsteps of a few ships that have gone before us already, ships that launched off on long range exploration before the recent reorganisation, yes?” Alexandria asked, though of course she had read the reports already.
“Yes, I’m eager to ensure their efforts are backed up as well. We’re going to head to Kadi first, strengthen our diplomatic relations with them before beginning a bit of a tour of the nearby region. The Gradin Belt has a lot to offer us.” Bennet explained. “I want you to head up our efforts in setting up relations with a businessman in the area known as Abaddon. Have you heard of him?”
“I believe the brief I have seen on him says a boneyard operator,” Alexandria said, but she didn’t have anything more specific, her attention more on the government actors of the region, not single actors.
“That’s right, he owns a huge junkyard but my thinking is if we can set up some kind of business transaction with him we may be able to find someone who could provide us with resources while we are in the region. I know every ship will be full to the brim with supplies, but I think if we can find a way to find a consistent supply chain when we cannot access the wormhole then I’m all for it.” Bennet shared. “Up to the challenge?”
“Certainly sir. I am sure we can arrange some sort of business arrangement with him to make some introductions in the region for us. I am sure we have some sort of offering we can make to him for such.” Alexander responded.
“Good, while you’re doing that I’m sending the others to study a nearby particle fountain. It’s one thing Starfleet is keen to learn more about, so it makes sense to send the Triton ahead with the others to do it while we’re busy establishing some good relations with the neighbours.” Bennet stated.
“Is this the same particle fountain mentioned in Voyager‘s files in relation to Abaddon?” Alexandria asked.
“It is, Admiral Janeway wrote in her reports that they never remained in the region long enough to establish why a shuttlecraft they purchased from Abaddon was keen to return to it.” Bennet remarked. “Our theorists have been wondering if the fountain is some sort of gateway to another dimension.” Before he could say another word, Bennet was interrupted by the arrival of another familiar face he had met during the recent Klingon assault. Walking up to them was Captain Langston, the skipper of the Fearless. “Captain Langston, it’s a pleasure to see you.”
“After that mess with the renegade Klingons, I can truly say it is a delight to be here with you all,” he replied. He was attentive to the present company of Commodore Bennet, nodding politely to each nearby.
“I didn’t think the Fearless would be here for another day or so.” Bennet said as he shook the man’s hand. “How did you get that aging Excelsior-class to move so fast?”
Ed reciprocated Bennet’s gesture of greeting with a firm handshake of his own. He chuckled at Bennet’s humoured inquiry with a lighthearted smile and responded with similar disposition, “the promise of shore leave I’m sure; to be honest, I’m not sure who needs it more, the ship or the fledglings.” There was more he could have said, more he would have liked to have said, but it was clear this was neither the time or place for such candor.
Smirking at the response, Bennet offered for Langston to join them. “Captain, please meet Captain Alexandra Sudari-Kravchik, my right hand woman in leading this expeditionary force.”
Ed turned his attention in diplomatic fashion, extending his hand for a warm greeting. “Captain, we’re a bold and zealous bunch, but I promise you’ll get no trouble from us”. He turned his focus back to Bennet with a nod as he continued the introduction.
“Captain, this is Captain Edmond Langston of the Fearless. I believe the last time we all spoke was during the Archanis Campaign.” Bennet said finishing the introductions.
“A pleasure to talk to you again Captain. I am relieved to actually see an Excelsior-class along with the mission, they are after all known for their reliability. Something that a hundred years of refinement and perfection will grant any class of ship I am sure,” Alexandria said with a polite smile and a warm handshake in response to Langston’s invitation to the growing universal gesture.
As Langston took a seat, the commodore continued with his chat with Kravchik and included the Fearless’ captain now, “I was just explaining about our first few orders that Starfleet want us to indulge ourselves in.”
“A delectable indulgence I hope,” Langston replied; his voice riddled with mild sarcasm. He continued, purposefully shifting to a serious and dutiful collaborator, “something of the ‘seek out new life and new civilisations variety?’”
“It’s funny you should say that,” Bennet said as he took another sip from his glass. “Once we’ve sorted out establishing a local foothold, I’m keen for the expeditionary force to head to New Talax.”
“No doubt I will be bringing Nobel up behind everyone in the task force,” Alexandria said. “I almost feel like I am going to need a fleet of California or Parliaments to run around and chase up all the second or third contacts.” She sipped her drink and looked at Bennet. “Though I suppose dragging along a gaggle of smaller ships is outside our remit currently. What of the other vessels already in the Delta Quadrant? The likes of Apollo and Atlantis come to mind.”
“They’re beyond the Gradin Belt from the last set of reports I read. So while they’re going one way, we go in the opposite direction.” Bennet answered. “The Federation Council is keen to re-establish ties with our Delta Quadrant Ambassador to see what is happening. Not that we are able to set up a base of operations with the Talaxians due to the Jankata Accord, but having something at the end of the Gradin Belt may help us in the long term. We’ve been authorised to assist the Talaxians in any shape or form with their colony development.” Bennet shared. “We’ll need to negotiate with the Turei the use of their underspace for some of our journey before making our way at high warp for the rest of it. But that said the new enhanced warp engines should make it easier. Captain Langston, I hear the Fearless’ upgrades are almost complete. I’ve seen you will be docked at Starbase Thirty-Eight for the next day receiving the refit.”
Ed nodded affirmatively, “that is correct. A few of our eager crew members have skipped out on their shore leave and agreed to assist in the refits, so we may be up and running before that forty eight hour mark. However, I am expecting everyone to take some R&R after that bout with the Klingons.”
“As the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked.” Bennet said with a smirk. “That said, once the Fearless is up and ready, we’ll need to sit down and discuss your orders for the Delta Quadrant.” Bennet said as he soon realised there were plenty of captains he would need to meet in the coming days before they entered the Barzan Wormhole.