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Tea and Flowers

Posted on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 @ 10:12pm by Lieutenant Commander Deianira Coldbright

Mission: Prologue: Everything Old...
Location: U.S.S. Polaris
Timeline: MD01 0700

Deep in the Beta Quadrant, in a small corner of Federation space sandwiched between the Klingon Empire and the remnants of the Romulan Star Empire, sits the Sarona system. Made up of eight planets, only the furthest from the red giant sun is habitable. Sarona VIII was a lush, jungle planet that had become a popular shore leave destination for Starfleet personnel in the area over the last several decades. In the last ten years, Starfleet had expanded their own operations in the system to include the a massive starship repair and refit facility, Hephaestus Fleetyards. Like the god of the forge for which it is named, the seventeen platform large station in orbit of Sarona VI, also housed an advanced starship weapons lab, referred to as the Anvil. While eleven of those construction platforms were currently occupied by various Starfleet vessels, the most majestic of them all was the Galaxy-class U.S.S. Polaris, with her sweeping curves and iconic silhouette.

Under construction at the beginning of the Dominion War, the Polaris, like many other Galaxy-class explorers, was rushed to completion. Indeed, over 65% of the ship was incomplete when she launched from the Utopia Planitia construction facility in orbit of Mars. Having served honorably and survived the conflict, the Polaris was then assigned to the heartland of the Federation in less than noble capacities. Courier work, border patrols, and relief missions became the norm. While some of that great empty space had been filled over the years, the ship had still been a work in progress up until 2394. Then, when the mission to the Preserve was announced, the ship found a new lease on life.

A year later, the Polaris was nearly ready for the maiden voyage she had never received. Seventy-eight percent of the ship's hull had been replaced. The empty places inside were no longer empty, have been outfitted with crew quarters, science labs, and expanded medical facilities. Where she had started as a weapon for war, the Polaris would finally see her true purpose realized. Her new mission was one of exploration, diplomacy, and scientific discovery. An expanded diplomatic suite had been added to the ships layout. An intelligence hub had also been tucked away discretely among the lower decks. A museum and lounges and holodecks had been installed, where before there had weapons lockers and vacancies. Formerly staffed by a small crew of only four-hundred, the Polaris would finally be filled with life as more than 1,000 souls would come aboard.

The woman responsible for them all, lieutenant commander Deianira Coldbright, had spent the last year overseeing the refit to the Polaris. One week before launch, she was taking herself on a tour of the ship. It wasn't her first. As commanding officer, though, she felt that it was imperative that she knew ever inch of the Polaris. She still hadn't moved into her quarters aboard ship and had replicated herself a large mug of ulkfarn, an herbal beverage that was the closest thing to tea found on her homeworld, Grazer. While Deianire herself was human, she had been raised among the native Grazerite people, the daughter of an anthropologist who had made it her career to study the hircine people. She inhaled the spicy aroma from the replicated brown mug as she stepped through the airlock and onto the ship... her ship.

"Good morning, chief," she said to the petty officer working on the installation of one of the corridor LCARS monitors. The young enlisted human nodded back at the senior officer and continued with his work as Deianira turned and headed down the corridor. She passed by a bank of crew quarters for junior operations and flight control officers and let her mind wander to what she knew about the Preserve, the barely-explored region of space she would be leading a new and untested crew into. Twelve sectors, packed to bursting with stellar phenomena and non-humanoid aliens, she thought as the continued down the the elegantly curved passageway.

The Neaua, an aquatic and technologically advanced empire, the Hydrocracy was a a technological rival to the Federation a century and a half ago, her mind tracked back over the summary at the beginning of the dossier that had been forwarded to her in advance of the formal, pre-launch briefing. They later brokered the treaty that shares their name and barred the Federation and other outsiders from entering the region. Deianira turned right and entered the ship's helm training facility.

"Flying a ship this big isn't an easy job," Deianira mused allowed and ran her fingertips along one of the flight simulation consoles arranged in neat rows throughout the room. She turned and made her way tack into the corridor, passing several doorways to adult learning classrooms.

The other prominent resident power in the Preserve, she continued her recitation, is the Sk'lath Clutch. A semi-humanoid, reptilian race they ruled an empire built on the backs of other enslaved cultures from neighboring star systems. It was their ships that had nearly destroyed the U.S.S. Shasta, and limited their exploration efforts in the area.

She took a hearty gulp of the warm, fermented grasses and herbs as she walked into the open turbolift at the end of the hall. "I wonder if they've changed," she said to herself, thinking of the Sk'lath. "Deck sixteen," she ordered the computer and the lift whisked her upward almost silently. This morning she felt like starting with a walk through the arboretum. Starfleet had flown in a consulting botanist to oversee the internal layout, ensure water and lighting requirements were adequately met, and to plant a variety of examples from throughout the Federation. So far, her favorite were the vivid purple orchid-like flowers from the Capella system. They were always in bloom this time of the morning and she wanted to take another opportunity to enjoy the short-lived, sweet smelling flowers.

There was something about damage to subspace too, she thought as the turbolift deposited her at her destination. "The Phaedran Drifts!" she exclaimed and snapped her fingers as the arboretum doors parted. "We'll have to work on a way to detect them so we don't get caught up like the Shasta did," she made a mental note to discuss the matter with her chief science officer upon their arrival.

"While I'm at it," she spoke aloud to herself and took at hard left, "I'll probably need to talk to the tactical chief about preparation should the Sk'lath still be hostile."

The Capellan flowers were straight ahead. Some of their bulbous pods still unopened even as others began stretching their violet petals in the artificial sunlight. "So much to do really," she said and crouched down in front of the flowerbed taking one of them between her fingers and bringing her nose in close to smell the syrupy-sweet aroma. It was very different from that of the ulkfarn she was drinking, but both were pleasant in their own way. She sipped from the mug as she pulled her head back from the flower.

"And a Klingon first officer," she said to the flowers and shook her head. The Klingon Empire was once again an ally of the Federation. The idea to assign an exchange officer from the empire as he XO hadn't been Deianira's idea. She could see the merit in the choice, though she would have preferred to have been consulted about the decision, rather than told after it was made. "I'm sure it'll be fine," she said turning away from the purple floral arrangement and gulping again from her mug. "He has an interesting record," she shook her head and took off down the pathway laid throughout the verdant green grass.

Deianira circled the entirety of the arboretum, taking time to stop and smell the roses, and various other flowers, as she passed. Once they entered the Preserve she wasn't sure how much time for quiet contemplation she would have. She had reentered the corridor and was half way to the turbolift when her comm badge chirped. "Commander Coldbright, this is Dulgog in Hephaestus ops. You have an incoming communique from a Commander Barstow, U.S.S. Merlin."

"I guess my walking tour will be a bit delayed," she said to herself before tapping the delta shield on her left breast. "Route it my ready room, Dulgog and tell the commander to give me a few moments." She downed the last of her ulkfarn and boarded the lift. As the doors closed she ordered, "Bridge."


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