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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 75
06-02-2011, 08:58 PM
"Happier times..."

Moving steadily down the hallway towards the turbolift, Jarek Armstrong was joined by his XO and long-time friend Commander ShalanTora sh’Firal. She was a practical woman and wore little or no cosmetics; her brilliant white hair, typical of Andorians, in its usual bob; the pale-blue of her skin luminescent under the lighting, you almost couldn’t see the thin, healed scar in front of her right ear going from hairline to jaw that marred her otherwise flawless skin ; her slim antennae making fluid, subtle movements as she walked; he knew the lines of her face and figure almost as well as his own.

Her uniform was impeccable (of course), though she had changed out of her dress uniform and switched to the more comfortable duty uniform she favored. The red tactical swatches contrasted well with her skin and he often joked that it brought out the deep blue of her eyes, mostly because she hated his teasing attempts at flattery. It was a game they played. Had they been lesser friends, it would have been outright inappropriate in its familiarity. He was glad to have had her friendship and counsel through the years; she’d passed up several offers of her own command and that thought furrowed his brow with a mix of guilt and gratefulness.

“Admiral,” she said by way of greeting with a slight nod of the head towards him as she quickened her pace to fall in alongside his ground-eating stride.

He pursed his lips momentarily in faux-exasperation at her use of his rank, but refused to rise to the bait. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the ghost of a smile quirk the corner of her mouth. He involuntarily looked down at his uniform, a long coat in command colors but with gold braid and trim to reflect his Operations background. Numerous awards and citations, the “fruit salad” as he thought of it, decorated the chest and sleeves of the coat. The sight of these accolades seemed to bear down on him with a great weight; nearly every pin, tassel, or braid had come with a cost in blood and not always just his. The memory of each campaign was tiring and his mind wandered to the earlier days, when exploration and discovery were the order of the day…

Captain Jarek Armstrong watched through the transparent aluminum viewport as the Avalon was towed into a waiting berth at Spacedock. She was dwarfed by a nearby Galaxy-class cruiser but he took it in stride, “it’s not all about size,” he reminded himself. He’d served as the commanding officer of the refit Quasar-class science vessel for almost three years. She was an old ship; she’d served as a minesweeper and scout during the Dominion war of the mid 2370s. She was battered and scarred, if you knew where to look, but she bore these marks with grace and dignity. He shook his head; there he went again, anthropomorphizing his ship. He turned at the approach of his CMO Commander Karisa Bennet.

“Captain,” Commander Bennet said softly as she moved to stand beside him.

“Doctor,” he inclined his head respectfully to her and resumed looking out the viewport.

Karisa turned to him and narrowed her eyes, little lines forming at the corners of her gold-flecked green eyes. “You’ll miss the old girl won’t you?” She tilted her head to one side and looked up at him with her “concerned-doctor-you-can-talk-to-me” face. The effect was ruined when a lock of hair fell across her forehead and she blew it back into place with a puff of air from the corner of her mouth. Neither of them could keep from smiling after that.

“Hmm, can’t put anything over on you,” he teased as his Chief Engineer Lieutenant Marissa Lassiter entered the lounge holding a PADD. She was tall and slim and walked with precise movements. Her skin was dead white, as was her hair, a lingering aftereffect of her assimilation by the Borg years ago. A few implants still remained, as did the reflective membrane over her eyes. Seeing his reverse-image reflected there, he was reminded of Starfleet Medical’s report on her. They’d listed it as a coping mechanism, literally so in Marissa’s case; a protective distancing of herself from others. At least, she’d stopped referring to herself as ”Two of Five” or “this unit”. He’d even seen her crack a guarded smile now and again. She was a good officer and great engineer, so he didn’t see any reason to push her on it.

“Captain, “ Marissa addressed her commanding officer as she held the PADD out to him. No nonsense, straight the point, he thought. It’s what makes her a great engineer but less than thrilling company sometimes. “Lietenant Commander sh’Firal asked me to bring this to you. The Avalon has been towed to its mooring and all non-essential personnel have been assigned shore leave or shipped out for their new assignments.”

“Did we lose many?” Armstrong asked casually as he skimmed the PADD’s contents.

“Mainly those who were due for retirement, extended leave or rotation back to Earth,” Marissa stated matter-of-factly, then added as she noted the captain looking expectantly at her over the PADD, “23, sir.”

“Very good, Marissa,” he noted her features tense ever so slightly as her addressed her by her first name. It was familiar, perhaps too much so, but he took every opportunity he could to remind her of who she was, who she had been before the Borg. “Don’t forget. We’re giving the old girl a formal sendoff in conference hall 34, 19:00 hours. Attendance is mandatory. It’ll also serve as a meet-and-greet for new staff. We’re picking up a new Assistant Chief Engineer, a Lieutenant Emelar from Betazed. You’ll want to meet him.”

Lieutenant Lassiter nodded and turned to leave. She passed his XO ShalanTora sh’Firal, who was just coming in, “Commander,” she nodded to the XO but did not stop.

Tora started to raise her hand in greeting as Marissa breezed by, “Hi…bye.” She gave Captain Armstrong a crooked smile. “We need to work on her pleasantries, “ she half-joked as she came to stand near Jarek and Karisa.

“The captain just let it slip that her new Assistant Chief is a Betazoid. You know how she is around telepaths, even courteous ones.”

“Ah,” she clicked her tongue once and her smile became wry as she turned from the doctor to look up at her captain. “Seen the new ship, yet, sir?”

“The Avalon’s warp coils aren’t even cold yet!” Jarek exclaimed in mock outrage. He smiled at his XO as they all turned back to the viewport. He mentally made a note of the reflection of the three of them standing before the viewport; the red trim of his XO’s uniform contrasted with the blue of the CMO’s and the gold trim of his own. What was with Starfleet and primary colors, he chuckled to himself. The Avalon could no longer be seen and Armstrong was slightly disappointed for allowing himself to be distracted during her final mooring.

[Continued in next post.]