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Arrivals And Departures

Posted on Mar 10, 2018 @ 9:34pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale

"ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES"

(Continued from "That Afternoon")

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Captain's log, supplemental - after a short voyage from Acamar, the Phoenix's arrival home to the Sol system is imminent. The crew will be pleased with their shore leave, given that many of them are native Earthers and it has been almost a year since we were last here...

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Location: USS Phoenix, en route to sector zero-zero-one
Stardate: 2.[18]0309.2300
Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section


As had been cleverly times, or perhaps ordained by fate, the Phoenix's arrival to sector zero-zero-one was scheduled to take place around ship's midday, in the middle of Alpha shift. All the ship's senior officers were on duty, but the mood on the bridge was one of geniality. Here, in the heart of the Federation's core worlds, was already like being home.

Michael Turlogh Kane was content. His department heads were on top of crew performance, and the ship's systems were running smoothly. Memories of the Acamarian mining disaster were still fresh - FedCom was still continuing to report on it, and its associated political fallout, several times a day - but the distance between there and here was definitely helping to lift the general mood aboard ship. Hopefully, some time on Earth would help to lift spirits even further.

{{Earth arrival in sixty seconds,}} announced Byte at Ops. {{We will be dropping out of warp just beyond the Mars defence perimeter.}}

The starfield ahead was a blue or white on black. From here, inside the warp field being generated by the Phoenix's mighty engines, all reality was a blur. The ship was currently moving at around two hundred times the speed of light. Kane had never been one for mathematics, but he understood enough about warp theory to know that here, inside the warp field, space-time itself had been altered to such a degree that nothing outside it - passing ships, planets, suns, nebulae - could be seen, just the simple white streaks of distant, dead stars against the long night. Travelling through space at such enormous speeds was exhilarating, but also seemed to consecrate the emptiness of the void. If Humans had moved into space to be closer to God, they had failed, because God was not here. Perhaps he never was.

{{Realspace emergence in ten seconds,}} said Byte. The android's voice was detached and professional.

Kane thought about those crew-members who had left Earth with the Phoenix nearly a year ago, but who were not now returning with her. Those who had died at the hands of the phobophage (and his heart twisted in his chest when he thought of Ellie) had been the ship's first casualties since the deadly Battle of Earth. The Phoenix had flown to Romulus, heart of the Empire, and become enmeshed in the politics of the Romulan Senate, before moving to Acamar to assist with the relief effort there. Life in Starfleet did that - uprooted you and sent you to far-flung shores, to stars that were only tiny, dim flickers from the night skies of Earth, with no guarantee that you would ever see home again. He reminded himself to treasure these moments, even as they passed on by.

{{Warp field deactivated,}} said Byte. {{Impulse engines engaging.}}

There was no discernible moment that could be heard to mark the passing of the ship from warp speed to impulse power, but it was clearly visible on the main viewer. From a blur of white-on-black suddenly emerged colour and shape and scale, and a view to make the heart leap.

Mars, formerly the Red Planet, but now a kind of rusty terraformed purple, was nearby, clouds scudding across its sky. Centuries ago, it was a desert world, but after three centuries of terraforming, flowers and trees were blooming across large swathes of its surface, a testament to the charge of Humans into the stars.

Beyond that, though, lay the beautiful blue planet that was home to all Humanity, and the spiritual home of billions more born on colonies scattered across the stars. No longer the Federation's capital world, it nevertheless remained a galactic hub of commerce and shipping, being orbited by no less than three gigantic space-stations - McKinley, Starbase One, and Spacedock - and its atmosphere was forever clogged with starships of various shapes and sizes, military and civilian. For all its bustle, it was still home.

As his officers continued their work, contacting Starfleet to arrange a docking berth, his thoughts turned to what he would do, where he would go.

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Location: Upper C-Dock, Starbase One
Scene: Cargo Bay 2, Deck 15, drive section - umbilical entrance
Time Index: Four hours later


The afternoon was winding on. The Phoenix had been issued a docking berth at Starbase One, a mighty construction that maintained a geocentric orbit of over two thousand miles from the planet's surface, well above the rotation of Spacedock and many hundreds of smaller satellites. Starbase One was an exclusively Starfleet installation - no civilians were allowed aboard unless in emergencies, and the station was home to over one hundred thousand Starfleet personnel, a veritable city in space. It looked like a gigantic top, similar but sharper to the mushroom-shape favoured by Starfleet designers, and could berth dozens of starships of various sizes. One of the largest docking berths was upper-C, equipped with a limpet-strong umbilical and dozens of moorings to keep even the largest starships riveted in place.

The crew were disembarking in their dozens. Only a skeleton crew of about fifty would be kept aboard to monitor and maintain the ship's critical systems, supervised by a handful of luckless officers led by Lieutenant Byte. Almost everyone else - over eight hundred souls - had a week's shore leave to enjoy the sights of Earth, to reconnect with any friends and family, and to remind themselves that they were people, not just Starfleet personnel.

The umbilical had been attached to to cargo bay 2, which was a hive of activity - Starbase engineering personnel were coming aboard in their droves to begin maintenance and defragging of the ship's main systems. They were like ants swarming a morsel of particularly tasty food, but they were sensible enough to defer to any of the Phoenix's officers, and especially the Phoenix's commanding officer.

Kane positioned himself near the exit of the ship, saying goodbye to those disembarking and wishing them a pleasant trip. He made sure to measure his distance accordingly - close enough to be visible, far enough to be unapproachable - and through a series of nods and pleasantries had seen off many of the senior officers already. Those who didn't like him passed him by without looking him in the eye, but there were plenty who paused long enough to say goodbye.

Kane spotted Jake Crichton and Xana Bonviva approaching. The two of them didn't look altogether comfortable with one another - it was more like they were aware that they were in public and that there were onlookers - but were putting a good face on it. Jake was wearing his red-banded command uniform, while Xana Bonviva was wearing an elegant semi-formal two-piece silver suit. There were seventeen Bolians serving aboard the Phoenix right now, and those of them who were in the cargo bay greeted her as she passed by.

Jake reached him first. The ExO didn't look like a man about to go on a holiday. Kane eyed him warily. Jake and Xana were going through a divorce right now, and there were likely details to be ironed out, but that wasn't really any of his business.

"You don't look too pleased to be leaving the Phoenix, Commander," said Kane casually. "Perhaps you'd like to relive Lieutenant Byte and spend the week wandering the empty decks?"

"I might have more fun," Jake glowered. Then he sighed. "There are some things to be arranged. The children, some stuff I have. That sort of thing."

"Ah." Kane eyed Xana. She was smiling at Crewman Fylea, a female Bolian engineer, and the two of them were reminiscing about somewhere on Bolarus. Despite all that, the woman did not look well. Her eyes were tired, her cheekbones thinning, and where the used to be fire, there were now only embers. He supposed it might have been something to do with seeing the dead and wounded children of Acamar, but his gut told him it was a bit more than that.

Xana said her goodbyes to Fylea and approached Kane and Jake. Kane straightened up and inclined his head. "Ambassador Bonviva."

"Thank you for the lift," she said. "The Phoenix remains as impressive as the day I first boarded her three years ago."

Kane nodded. "The Council is not in session following President Kevak's election. I hope the time on Earth will do you some good."

Xana shrugged. "Rumour has it that Bolarus will not be represented on the Council following the next round of elections. The clamour for change in the Assembly is very strong right now." Her voice was disengaged, like her mind was on other things.

There was nothing more to be said. Kane nodded and stepped back to signal that the conversation was over. "Ambassador. Commander."

Jake and Xana walked away down the umbilical - he to a list of tasks he had no stomach for, she to an uncertain future. Kane watched them go.

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Scene: Cargo Bay 2, Deck 15, drive section - umbilical entrance
Time Index: Half an hour later


The ship was rapidly emptying out. Hundreds of people had passed Kane by in the last thirty minutes, but now a group of visitors was approaching from the Starbase side. It was a detachment of Starfleet Security officers, here to take Evangeline Montoya into custody. The handover had been arranged by Lieutenant Yu, timed to take place when the ship was almost empty. Less eyes, less likely for any sort of confrontation.

A squad of five Security officers, led by a female Andorian Lieutenant Commander, marched crisply down the umbilical. The Andorian woman stopped just before she reached the boundary between the Phoenix and the umbilical. Her face was all business - sharp cheekbones, a downward, pursed mouth, and her skin was ice-blue. She stepped forward. "Lieuternant Commander Eseria, Assistant Chief of Starbase Security."

Kane faced her. Saluting was outmoded in Starfleet, so he eyeballed her for a moment, then nodded a greeting. "Captain Michael Turlogh Kane. Wait a moment, your prisoner is en route." He touched his communicator. "Kane to Yu."

Jasmine replied immediately. [[Go ahead, Captain.]] Kane knew she was waiting in the Security Centre with her own squad of Security guards, ready to escort Montoya here. The criminal could have been transported directly to a cell on the Starbase, but protocols and legalities meant that such an action would only be taken in extreme situations. Montoya had no chance of escape, and still had her rights, which included the right not to be dematerialised against her will.

"Starbase Security have arrived, Lieutenant."

[[Understood. On our way.]]

Kane turned back to face Commander Eseria. "You have paperwork for me?"

The Andorian woman produced a PADD from her belt pouch and handed it over. "The prisoner is to be incarcerated in a maximum security stockade, pending trial. All precautions have been taken."

Kane activated the PADD and ran his eye down it. It was a legal document dealing with the transfer of Evangeline Montoya from the Phoenix to a new jurisdiction - the nebulous and murky "Starfleet Security". It was signed by both the local Admiral and local JAG officer.

"This looks in order," he said gruffly, swiping his finger across the screen to give his assent.

The cargo bay door grated open, admitting Jasmine and four Phoenix Security guards, who were surrounding and escorting Evangeline Montoya. Jasmine had them all well-trained - they marched quickly and crisply up to Kane, halting in front of the Starbase Security squad.

Kane handed Jasmine the PADD for her perusal. While she read it over, he looked at Montoya - the madwoman seemed completely nonchalant, looking all around her like she was a child at a playground.

"Huh? What?" said Montoya suddenly. She was not looking at anyone in particular, but speaking to the universe in general, like she was listening to a voice nobody else could hear. "What was that? I should... I should kill everyone and escape?"

Eseria and Jasmine put their hands on their hip phasers, and the other Security guards assumed a heightened air of alertness, but then Montoya cackled to herself. "Oh!" she said innocently, tapping the side of her head with her right index finger and looking around at everyone. "It was the voices again." Seeing the looks of alarm, she smiled wickedly.

Jasmine signed the PADD and handed it to Commander Eseria. "She's all yours."

"Permission to disembark, Captain?" said Montoya to Kane. She winked at him.

Kane nodded, face hard, watching as Eseria and her people surrounded Montoya and led her away down the umbilical. Montoya half-turned and waved goodbye at them both before the group disappeared around the corner.

Jasmine let out a sigh, and dismissed her squad with a nod. "I'm glad to see that back of that one," she muttered.

"I know what you mean," said Kane pointedly. "I hope I never see her again."

"Are you remaining aboard the Phoenix, Captain?"

"No. I'll disembark later." Kane turned to look at her. "You're heading to the surface?"

Jasmine nodded. "I have family."

Kane nodded. "I see." There was nobody waiting on the surface for him. "Enjoy your time off, Lieutenant. I'll see you in a week."

Jasmine turned away, and Kane looked around at the empty cargo bay, silent and cavernous. Part of him wanted to go and join the great heaving mass of people beyond the umbilical, but that part of him was overshadowed by a desire for solitude. A mountain, a lake somewhere. For a man without a home, it was the best he could hope for.

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NRPG: The Phoenix has arrived on Earth, and your characters have some shore leave!


Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer
USS PHOENIX


"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117

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