This is the post that sees the USS Pathfinder back to Obsidian Command. There is a sense of relief, the return to safety and a place they call home. For Major Porter Wallace and Chief Petty Officer Ibis Xeri it’s a moment that signals the end of their ordeal. There is however, one more hurdle to go through: an official reception by the Marine Corps, and no one is going to escape this honour.
It is a post that shows Starfleet at its best, and what happens when two heroes finally make it back home.
Posted on 01 Aug 2023 @ 11:13pm by Admiral Zavareh Sepandiyar & Captain Corvus DeHavilland & Commander Thaddeus Zayne & Major Declan Finn & Commander Calliope Zahn & Lieutenant Commander Maurice Rubens & Major Porter Wallace & Chief Petty Officer Ibis Xeri
Mission: M3 – Into the Deep
Location: USS Pathfinder – Obsidian Command Space
Timeline: MD14 – 1023 HRS
3757 words – 7.5 OF Standard Post Measure
The swirl of warp was comforting in its own way, a sort of cocoon of safety that she knew wasn’t absolute, but still gave her a sense of being closer to safety than she’d been. Right on her expectation, the swirl ended and an even more familiar view met her eyes – the profile of the Stardock class starbase – Obsidian Command. With everything that had happened and everything that they’d all been through since they’d left, seeing home again took a huge weight off of her shoulders. Sure, they had a lot to get through now that they were back, and it was about to get way more complicated when she had to lie directly to the Admiral’s face. But. This was home. Here, they were safe.
Corvus wasn’t sure how she was going to deal with all the moving parts that were about to take off the minute the Pathfinder docked but she was happy she was going to be able to do it from a place of strength. The Nova-class was a good ship, but singularly built for a purpose that kept it far from conflict and while it was good that the Admiral had sent the Theseus with them for protection it wasn’t comparable to the defensive capabilities of the stardock class starbase. Now that they were in their protective zone there was nothing short of a massive fleet that could really do them harm.
As they dropped out of warp and were met not only by the view of OC, but also by the planet and the chatter of the normal traffic moving around a Starbase, Corvus didn’t immediately spot the Alexander in the area. The large, aggressive profile of the starship was just another layer of comfort and not seeing it strangely didn’t sit well with her.
“Mr. Edgerton, do you see the Alexander on scanners?” She asked curiously, looking over to the Science officer.
He shook his head as he consulted his screen, “No, ma’am. Alexander’s transponder is not in the Loki system at all. Expanding… there. Transponder is pinging towards the edge of Federation space, near the former neutral zone,” he announced calmly, moving on with his pre-docking duties.
Corvus just leaned on to the arm of her seat and nodded. Was that a good thing? Did that mean that the Admiral wasn’t on the station? Had she dodged the proverbial bullet? Would they be able to get through the toughest, initial stages of this ruse without having to stand face to face with their biggest challenge? She certainly hoped so.
Typically, the First Officer would have managed the arrival but Corvus had asked Commander Zahn to make sure that their delegation, Major Wallace, Chief Ibis and the children were all setup to disembark as soon as they arrived. She felt, in a way, that Calliope had earned that more than she had. If it hadn’t been for her work and advocation, Corvus might well have left them all behind. Yet another demon she was going to have to wrestle with now that they were home.
“Take us in on thrusters, helm,” she ordered quietly as they reached the opening bay doors for the internal section of the station. The ship slowed as she’d ordered and they began the transit from open space to the cavernous interior of the starbase. It was hard to describe, but her feeling of relief intensified as they transited the big doors and were fully surrounded by the docking bay. Several other ships were already berthed, as was usual for OC, and there were a few under refit. As they came in she could see the Ardeshir up along the center column, wrapped in a construction lattice, the Luna-class pod arch completely separated from the main saucer. Farther, on the other side of the interior, the Casablanca wasn’t faring much better. In a few months, they’d both be completed and back to active service but for now they were little more than space frames and structural plans.
All around them workbees, automated drones, and even a few small shuttles fluttered to and fro as they came in. The helm officer slowed the ship down to a near crawl in the more confined space and soon they were moving towards the defined docking berth for the Pathfinder. Once they were inside, Corvus stood up. “Chief Edgerton,” she spoke up.
“Yes, ma’am?” He asked, turning in his chair back to her.
DeHavilland smirked, “You have the bridge, Chief,” she declared.
Edgerton’s eyebrows went up in an almost Vulcan fashion and he slowly nodded, getting up from his seat. Corvus turned and left for the lift, glancing back to see the Chief standing before the big chair and looking forward awkwardly. Technically, there were more than a few Ensigns on the bridge that could have guided the ship in the last little bit but Chief Edgerton was far more qualified even if he refused to take the next promotion up. She’d read the man’s record and had worked with him enough to see the truth; that he was overqualified for his role and should have been running a department on a starbase or starship of note on the fast track to Chief of the Boat or Command Master Chief. But he simply didn’t want it.
Her last view of the bridge as the lift doors closed was Chief Edgerton standing there, his left hand twitching with nervousness as he issued speed orders to the helm. She chuckled to herself and looked down, smiling. Maybe she could convince him to keep moving up. Not the top of her priority list, but with everything else going on, maybe a welcome pet project.
The lift rides on the Pathfinder were never long, so in a brief moment the doors were opening again and Corvus was stepping off into a corridor that almost immediately was full of personnel. This was the corridor that led to the docking access hatch and already there were crates and crates of supplies along with the staff intending to disembark it all. They all shifted aside for the Captain, making themselves small against the crates or into cracks between stacks along the wall. She just nodded curtly as she moved on, finding her destination by the sight of the crowd gathered at the door.
Calliope caught sight of Corvus as she was approaching the party waiting at the airlock where she had organized their guests. Movement was none of their strong suits, right now. It was difficult for Calliope to watch the delegates manage awkwardly walking on the deck, Torpedo often having to support Uanika and taking brief pauses for her. The Korinn delegates were so natural to their water habitat but such… fish out of water in the shipboard air environment.
Wallace was having an even harder time of it. Calliope wasn’t sure how he’d managed it, but somehow he’d been gotten into uniform and lifted from bed. It looked odd on the rail-thin man: the uniform, crisp and well-ordered, put an exclamation point on the fact he was sickly. Medical staff were hovering in the periphery, leery about him walking on his newly reassembled hip, but also willing to give him the space for his pride.
Wallace stood lined up at the airlock, one hand steadying himself with the railing. In his other hand was Ikemba’s, the little boy’s wide eyes looking up at him. Ibis stood nearby, having chosen to wear her older uniform variant which she last wore on the Sunrise. The willowy teen was hugging close to Ibis’ arm as she took in the vast scenes through the view ports; For her part, Olivia had worn as little as possible, just shorts and a running bra, and was adorned with her prized necklaces and her dreadlocks restrained with a band. Having sensed that this “homecoming” of Wallace and Ibis’ was to be a special occasion, she’d gotten a hold of a greasy make-up stick from one of the crew and drawn her school-of-one lines all over, too. When she’d presented herself, she’d expected Ibis to make her wash it off and put on more clothes, but she’d just smiled sadly and told her it was time.
Through the hatch’s viewport, a long sliver on either side of a double-sided hatch, they could see the docking space approaching as the ship moved laterally through the void towards it. The matching double-sided hatch looked much stouter than the Pathfinders and did not have any viewports on it. Corvus stood just before the doors, looking over at the gathered group behind her, surreptitiously tugging on the cuffs of her uniform.
“Corvus,” Declan said quietly from her left nearer to the bulkhead.
She looked over her shoulder at him slightly and he beckoned her closer. Turning towards him, confused, she shook her head.
“What is it?” She asked.
“You should… probably stand over here with me,” he said quietly.
“…. why?” She asked suspiciously.
He chuckled and shook his head, “Just… trust me?”
She looked at him warily and folded her arms over her chest, turning back to the doorway. Major Wallace stood at the front of the group now, next to Chief Xeri and the children. Commander Zahn stood just off from the group, watching the door with everyone else.
The ship shuddered slightly as it made contact with the docking port and the clamps that came out immediately after made it shudder once more, locking them into place. The lighted control panel on the opposite side of the hatch from Corvus turned yellow and then green and the crewman manning the control tapped the screen and they heard the pop-hiss of a positive seal. Both sets of doors hissed along the middle and then they opened together to reveal the access hatch onto Obsidian Command.
Corvus didn’t think twice about it— as the door began to hiss open, she took a step forward. Declan grabbed her by the elbow, stopping her. Before she could turn and ask what the hell this was about, a bosun’s whistle sounded loudly right outside the hatch. That struck her as odd, this wasn’t a visiting Admiral, they were just returning from a simple mission.
“ATTENTION!” Someone boomed from beyond the doorway in a voice loud enough that they might have been able to hear it on the bridge of the Ardeshir five docks away. “PRESENT. ARMS!” the voice boomed again.
The bosun blew for a returning dignitary once more, and was immediately followed by the sound of a brass band playing the Marine Corps Hymn. Stepping forward slightly to look down the gangway, Corvus saw an impressive sight. An entire honor guard of Marines in dress uniform lined the inside of the gangway, each standing at attention holding a saber scabbard in their left hand with their right, presenting their polished silver sabers up to form a corridor from one end to the other. At the far end, the brass band was formed in the entryway with a small group of Officers arranged in front, waiting for their distinguished guest to arrive. Even from this distance, Corvus could see the familiar figures of Major General MacTaryn and Admiral Sepandiyar, the latter of which surprised her considering his ship was nowhere nearby.
“You did this?” Corvus asked, looking over at Declan.
He shook his head, “I know MacTaryn. There’s no way he was letting him come back without one hell of a fanfare,” he said, cocking his head towards Major Wallace standing there, looking just as stunned as Corvus at the reception.
Ibis slipped under Wallace’s arm and looked up at him. Her face was a mess of feelings. “A brass band. I can’t remember? Was that on your coming home wish list?”
While Ibis lent her shoulder to Wallace in surreptitious support, Olivia walked on her other side, nearly stupified by the sheer number of people and the sounds and sights. All the while, Ikemba was wordlessly pointing with his free hand in all directions, as if he wanted to say, ‘look, look.’
Wallace attempted to appear as taciturn, but failed miserably. Several tears fell over his cheeks disappearing into his trimmed gray beard. Embarrassment, pride, guilt, and relief flooded through him as he hobbled forward with his small family through the glinting arch. He had to stop halfway through when a jolt of pain rippled through his body, but he patted Ibis’ hand and shuffled forward until he was face-to-face with the officers.
He pulled Ikemba closer and let the boy get a grip on his pants with his free hand before he let go and saluted. “Sir, Major Porter Wallace, Marine Commanding Officer, USS Sunrise. I stood my post and am ready for relief.”
Standing stoically, hands behind his back as the delegation made its way down the gangway under the honor guard, Major General MacTaryn snapped to attention as crisp as a parade drill Marine and formed a sharp salute. “Major General Iain MacTaryn, Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Division. You are relieved,” he replied, his voice booming disproportionately compared to the size of the man speaking. He lowered his hand quickly and Wallace did the same.
“This is Ikemba Adeyemi, son…” Wallace cleared his throat of a lump and hugged the boy closer. “…son of Sergeant Jimoh Adeyemi, who died on the planet.” He didn’t know what MacTaryn should do with that information, but somehow it felt right to give it.
“Welcome home, son,” MacTaryn offered the young man as warmly as he could manage. Iain wasn’t the warm and cuddly type and even with a lifetime of training by his wife, he still wasn’t much for warm words.
“Chief Petty Officer Ibis Xeri,” Ibis introduced herself as primly as she could, although her own voice was breaking before she began. “And this is Olivia Winetrout. The late Dr. Laura Winetrout’s daughter.”
Olivia hung back just slightly, with Ibis between herself and these strangers. She took one glance back to reassure herself with the sight of the two Korinn following, ushered by the green lady. They were still only half way along. Meanwhile, Ibis was still talking.
“Sirs, we are…” Ibis gathered a breath and exhaled, bearing all the lost hopes she couldn’t express. There was no one else to introduce. No one else to bring home. “We are the remainder of the crew of the USS Sunrise.”
Sepandiyar gave a reassuring smile nothing at all like the cold reception MacTaryn offered, and extended his hand to the woman. “Chief Xeri, I am Admiral Zavareh Sepandiyar of the 9th Fleet Joint Fleet Command. Welcome home.”
Up until Ibis shook the Admiral’s hand, she had been able to maintain her composure, mostly by worrying over steadying Wallace and being concerned how Olivia and Ikemba were taking in everything new. But with the simple handshake and the warm look in the Admiral’s eyes, she couldn’t keep tears from welling up any longer. They’d made it home.
Commander Zahn pointed Uanika and T’orpeo to an appropriate place to stand in greeting. She wondered if they understood that this display was only an entry point, and that there would be much more to see. She knew she didn’t have the breadth of time required to properly explain to them the roles of the Admiral and the General, and was worried with the pomp and circumstance of the presentation they would be mistaken for the equivalent of Grand Crest.
It seemed inappropriate to follow the delegation through the honor guard any closer than they were so Corvus and Declan hung back as far as they dared with Commander Zahn and the Korinn delegation, using their slow progress as a tacit excuse to linger. It wasn’t until they were halfway down that Corvus noticed Doctor Corduke bringing up the very rear of the rear congregation.
“Admiral Sepandiyar,” Calliope began when Captain DeHavilland had arranged herself after the walk beneath the sabers. “We are honored by the Korinn people with their presence in the persons of Uanika and T’orpeo, sent with us as ambassadors under the auspices of the Grand Crest, the leader of the Irix School.” She turned to the delegates to make the other half of the introduction to them. “Admiral Sepandiyar and General MacTaryn hold the highest ranks in the Ninth Fleet, one of many operational divisions of the United Federations of Planet’s defense and exploration force.”
“On behalf of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets, welcome to the Federation and Obsidian Command,” Admiral Sepandiyar offered as formally and slowly as he could, presuming that the Korinn could not follow him all that easily. “You are welcome guests here, and I look forward to discussing the future of Korinn and Federation friendship and cooperation,” he declared.
“Thank you. As all waters are connected, we will treat yours as our own,” Uanika said, declining her head slightly. She added gravely, “We hope that you and your people share the same philosophy.” T’orpeo, a step behind, waved his hand quickly in appreciation of her and in agreement. Although they were standing in place of technological wonder— the size of the this ‘dock’ stunned him— she had presented herself admirably by ignoring it all.
As the Admiral exchanged greetings and wellwishes, Calliope noted someone with a place of some prominence to his right, a dark haired man with a blend of muted trill and vulcanoid features and a purple diplomatic collar. Fortuitously, it seemed the station had signed on a diplomatic officer in the couple of weeks they had been away. So far he’d only been observing, all of the honors going to the ranking officer, but seeing as the Pathfinder had sent news of their guests ahead, she anticipated the diplomatic officer would have made some kind of preparations.
“I look forward to learning more of Korinn philosophy,” Sepandiyar replied respectfully. He then gestured to another officer, this one in a uniform adorned with the soft purple tones of the Diplomatic department. “This is Lieutenant Commander Rubens, Chief Diplomatic Officer aboard this station. It is his department… his ‘schools’ function to make sure all friends of the Federation feel welcome and that their needs are met. “Commander?” he said, gesturing to him.
“One of our functions,” Rice said as he bowed his head slightly to the two Korinn and then smiled warmly which didn’t betray his exhaustion.
The past twenty-four hours had felt like some epic poem worthy of the Greeks. Four days and— besides the briefing the Executive Officer had given— he hadn’t glimpsed thread of any command uniform. Then, suddenly, on the fifth day the Admiral had summoned him and ordered him to digest a significant sized brief about a species the Pathfinder had stumbled upon called the Korinn. He barely had enough staff to do basic functions, let alone all the tasks needed for the follow-up for a first contact. (“He rested for four days, then the God Zeus demanded homage and he had no rest after…” the composition in his mind went)
“I’ll be your constant companion for at least the next few days. We received word this morning that our government is arranging to have our more ranking diplomats to discuss your requests with you. I will be helping you to prepare and, also, I wish to know you better.”
Uanika bowed slightly again and then clicked back to T’orpeo, “We should have brought more than you and me. We won’t be on even footing.”
“Footing is what you make of it,” he chuffed and intoned back.
Rice cocked an eyebrow. Apparently the Universal Translator was having trouble with their language. Odd. That was going to be problematic. “Admiral, with your permission, I’ll escort the ambassador and her second to their quarters.”
“I leave them in your capable hands, Commander,” Sepandiyar nodded in approval. “We will see each other soon,” he added to the delegation, gesturing, indicating that they should follow Reubens.
“This way, please,” he indicated the direction to the turbolift and fell in beside them as the two Korinn slowly hobbled toward the door.
In a way Corvus felt relieved that the Korin weren’t her responsibility anymore, but in the same sense she felt as if she was now removed from something she was so very personally vested in. They’d nearly died to get them here, and they had secrets in spades besides. She knew she shouldn’t have felt that way as there were people far more qualified for this kind of work than she was, but after what they’d been through to get them here it was almost like watching a child go off to school for the first time.
“Captain,” Admiral Sepanidyar said, stirring Corvus from her reverie, as if calling her from some great distance.
“Sir,” she smiled. “Alls well here?” she asked.
“Fine,” he replied. “We just have a few matters to discuss,” he said, gesturing away from the disembarking crew and Marine falling out from their honor guard.
She nodded to follow and took a step before looking back to Declan who was already half engaged with the Major General. Corvus paused briefly to say, “I’d like a readiness report on your Marines within the hour, Major,” she said, giving him the briefest of smiles and hoping he understood the coded message she was trying to provide.
“Aye, Captain,” he nodded, letting MacTaryn lead him away while she turned to the Admiral.
“Do you have readiness reports I can read, Mr. Zayne?” Corvus asked as she followed the Admiral and her First Officer to the lift.
“Aye, ma’am. I have them in the CIC,” he nodded distantly.
Corvus smiled and heaved a sigh as they reached the lift doors and waited for the car to arrive. She glanced back at the rest of the disembarking crew, at the livelihood of the deck around them and couldn’t help but smile despite it all. It was good to be home.