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JP: Cmdr Blake & Capt Rahman: Dewdrops at dawn

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((Saucer Hull, USS Veritas - Early Morning, Day of Departure from Kidman I))

Roshanara stepped back out onto the hull and walked around the bridge module, although this time she didn’t have to walk quite so far to the ship’s name and registry. Sitting on top of the saucer with her back leaned up against the front of the deck 1 dome was Starfleet’s newest commander, Blake.

The captain walked over and took a moment to look out towards where Blake was staring. The morning sun was just beginning to dawn.

Rahman: You’re up early.

Blake: Used to live by the mantra, “if there’s no sun, it’s not morning.” Space kind of blows that out of the water.

Her captain chuckled at the thought.

Rahman: I have a groggy Rodulan back in my quarters and under the covers who’d vehemently disagree.

The Brekkazoid huffed in agreement, crossing her arms. 

Blake: So what brings you up here? Getting a last look before you captain the take-off?

Rahman: Hmmmph. I was about to ask you the same thing.

Roshanara decided to take a seat next to her XO. She took another moment to savor the view, leaning back with her palms against the hull. The metal was actually a bit warm to the touch thanks to Kidman’s hotter climate. It was comforting, as if the two women were sitting on top of a living creature.

The Kriosian spoke up again.

Rahman: I can see why you like it out here.

The XO rubbed her hands together, arms and legs free of long sleeves and pant-legs respectively. Today, Blake was comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts -- a rare sight to see on the Brekkazoid so unsuited to regular human climates. Bupirninyirring afforded her that which wasn’t always offered on a starship.

Blake: I don’t have to rug up as much. ::she smiled:: A bit of freedom, really.

Rahman: I can imagine. Growing up on Earth in Lahore, it took me a while to get used to the cooler temperatures of Beta Ursae Minor II. This place reminds me a little bit of home.

Silence crept between them on a light breeze. The orange hue of sunrise stained the morning sky. The cloudless blue was atypical of the planet. It indicated a dry heat to set in soon -- often a cause for complaints by some. Not necessarily by the Brekkian-born Blake. It was something Sabor, too, would have enjoyed.

Blake: Can I ask a dumb question?

Rahman: Only if you’re okay with a dumb answer.

Blake: Is it too late to ask you to take it back?

Roshanara turned towards her Number One, scrunching her nose.

Rahman: Take what back?

Blake responded with a piercing side-glance.

Rahman: ::shaking head:: You know, Blake, for a woman many would describe as fearless, I’m always surprised what *does* scare you.

Blake glanced away, back to Kidman I’s bushland. ‘Fearless’ was certainly a descriptor -- maybe sometimes a valid one, but in the case of her personal ‘growth’... she disagreed with the assessment.

Blake: I recognise you, and others, believe I’m ready for this. I appreciate it. But what I’m not ready for… is the necessity of my taking command. When you’re captain, that’s a safety net. I can fall back and execute your word, no problem -- that's my job, and always has been. But now, there’s the possibility I could be called elsewhere.

Roshanara corrected her.

Rahman: That was *always* a possibility. We’re Starfleet officers. We go where we’re needed.

The words were familiar. She was told in no uncertain terms that this was the way things were when Veritas underwent its staff shift, when her first group of friends were dispersed across the region to make way for the staff that built the bones of this particular senior staff. 

Blake: “Transfers are part of the career. You don't like it, now is the time to throw in your hat.”

It was something Brandon Cormac had told her almost three years ago when she was struggling with her place on the ship. Cormac had been Veritas’ Special Operations Officer before he was transferred to the ill-fated Outpost 3 during the staff reshuffle. He was the sole survivor of a pirate attack on the station. Starfleet failed to send someone out to assist, word only travelling between friends that something was amiss. Once rescued, he promptly quit the service and moved over to the Colonial Coalition Marshals. He now works planetside, as a marshal on Shadow’s Edge, decidedly happier and in a long-distance relationship with fellow ex-crewmember Elis Nacubaq.

Rahman: ::nods:: “Pack light, pack often.”

It was a familiar mantra she’d shared with Addison MacKenzie when the doctor and Teller took up the opportunities that had opened on the Thor earlier this year.

Rahman: But still, you should put to rest your worries. Outside of wartime and a major crisis, Starfleet isn’t in the habit of just plucking random names across the fleet to put into the captain’s chair. I imagine you’ll start getting offers of your own command in due time once the Admiralty thinks you’re ready, but you could always decline. Eventually, they’ll stop asking -- which I guess depending on whatever your ambitions are, could be a good or bad thing.

Blake: That’s the thing. I don’t really have ambition for the ‘service’.

Rahman: That’s okay. We all have our own reasons for being here.

Roshanara watched her XO’s eyes closely.

Rahman: Whether they’re fresh-faced ensigns straight from the Academy or veteran officers trying to move up to the ranks, I usually know or find out quickly what drives them to be here. I realize now after all this time with you by my side, I’ve never asked *you* why you’re in Starfleet.

She continued to observe Blake as the Brekkazoid considered the question.

It felt like one of those “It all started…” moments Blake couldn’t really answer. For all intents and purposes, Blake’s life truly began less than a decade ago. In a previous lifetime, Sky Blake had been part of Starfleet. Blake today didn’t know how, nor why she had joined. 


((Flashback -- Ornara -- 239105))

Caronx: Are you alright, stranger?

The Brekkazoid’s chest was shuddering as her body shivered. She'd been here, standing at this curb, for over an hour now. She didn't not turn to look at the one approaching, but her eyes made the effort to at least try and see what they looked like.

The woman approaching was an Ornaran, in a uniform of some kind. Security, maybe. They had no weapon to speak of -- a far cry from the disastrous Brekkian security she’d lost herself to over the last three days. The officer continued to approach Sky carefully, non-threateningly, which she would have laughed at had she not been in a somewhat catatonic state.

Caronx: I'm Officer Caronx. Someone has told me that you may need assistance. Can I locate someone for you?

That was it. What composure she'd retained for the short journey here had been truly and utterly lost. Skyleena Blake fell to her knees, heaving sobs and blinded by her own tears. The Ornaran -- Officer Caronx -- had forgone slowly approaching her and threw her arms around Sky's shoulders as the blond Brekkian Betazoid simply cried into the street.

((End flashback))


Blake today knows she rejoined Starfleet based on a series of fortunate events. She’d abandoned life and responsibilities on Brekka to live anonymously on Ornara -- a result of a broken psyche and loss of a loved one. There, she met a local police officer that found her necessary assistance. Blake joined a police task force to combat felicium in the region. And then a ridiculous Starfleet officer found her, with the intention to bring her “back” to Starfleet.

Nevermind that Blake knew next to nothing about Starfleet, but Veritas needed assistance with the felicium problem in the area, and Blake, apparently being the only available Brekkian that had joined Starfleet, was their best bet. Carrero gave her a provisional rank of Lieutenant Commander (the rank she had originally held prior to retirement the first time). Things just… spiralled from there.

That was all well and good. The “how” was fairly self-explanatory, if a little convoluted, but it was there.

The “why” was a little harder to explain.

Blake: I could’ve left when we finished up with felicium. 

Rahman: But you didn’t.

Blake: No. I didn’t. I was given a reason to get up in the morning -- it continues to give me a purpose. A book to follow.

Rahman: That’s a perfectly good reason.

One that Roshanara related to well. She’d struggled with her own sense of purpose for a bit while she had been on medical leave after her accident on the Tempest fourteen years ago. A Medusan researcher who’d chosen to go by the name Frankenstein helped get her back on track while she recovered on Medical Starbase 253.

Blake: Thing is, though… I don’t actually like being on starships.

Roshanara couldn’t help it. She let out a snort.

Rahman: So you’re a masochist then? ::She shrugged her shoulders.:: That would explain a lot.

The two shared a laugh. Blake shook her head a little.

Blake: It’s very claustrophobic. I get sick all the time because the temperature is too cold, which means I’m confined to my spaces for most of the time. And I just…

She glanced away for a moment.

Blake: When we were at the border, and we were going up against those Orion ships while trying to push that damn station back over while trying not to draw Tholian attention… At the end of the day, Veritas is a tin can in space. And I was in charge of it, and its two-hundred and twenty crew. And while I believe I did the best I could have done under the circumstances… it’s not a position I want to be in again. 

Her captain took her own moment to consider everything she’d said.

Rahman: I think any starship commander who says they haven’t thought similar is either a liar or a fool.

Blake raised an eyebrow.

Rahman: You’re right. ::She tapped her knuckles against the hull plating underneath them, a satisfying metallic echo returning.:: You were in charge of this tin can, and it’s not a job for everyone. It’s a popular misconception, but not everyone in Starfleet wants to become a captain. *I* certainly didn’t join thinking that’s where I’d be now.

Blake: Your focus was engineering, right?

Rahman: ::nods:: It was -- and still is. No matter where I go, I’ll always still be an engineer at heart. Starfleet for me was a chance to work on the latest technological developments, a chance to contribute the next innovation to the galaxy.

From the quantum slipstream drive to the Warp XV engine, the little girl who’d dreamed of reaching the stars would have been amazed to see what her older self ultimately had managed to work on.

Rahman: But it’s different for everyone. Scientists, pilots, doctors, peace keepers… Starfleet is a large enough institution to give many reasons to get up in the morning. The thing is, Blake, you *earned* that third full pip. You might not ever have ambitions of having your own starship, but your leadership and sense of duty to a greater purpose besides yourself--whether it be the safety of your crew or the population of this region… those are an integral part of who you are now, the person you’ve become.

A small smile touched at the edge of Blake’s lips as she looked away once more. The sun had risen from behind the trees, bathing Kidman and Veritas in a warm light.

Blake: When my tour of duty is done, I’d like to return to the Rangers.

Roshanara looked back at her XO, seeing the woman’s slight grin and sensing from her a renewed sense of content.

Rahman: All right. I think that can be arranged.

The Kriosian stood up and looked down at Blake.

Rahman: But you’ve still got some work left to do here.

The XO looked up at her captain, eyes narrowing against the sunlight. She scoffed at herself, fully aware of the tumultuous months that were likely lying ahead. 

She reached a hand outwards, Roshanara assisting her up from the hull.

Blake: On your order, Captain.


((Bridge, USS Veritas))

The two command officers walked out onto the bridge, a crewman calling out, “Captain on the bridge!”

Roshanara gave a glance around the room and nodded.

Rahman: I hope everyone enjoyed the sunshine.

The captain then walked over to her command chair before looking over towards Blake, taking the XO station.

Rahman: Number One, I believe when I left you this spaceship, it was in space. Please put it back.

The Commander gaped for a moment, because nodding her head in an un-protested affirmation.

Blake: Blue alert. Helm, contact Engineering, prepare thrusters for planetary take-off.  

As the bridge crew around her acknowledged the orders, Blake took her station behind the captain. Though unexpected of a vessel not entirely suited to landing, Veritas’ nacelles inched off the ground, gradually pulling away from the comfortable land of Kidman I and returning to the vast unpredictability of space.



And the Adventure Continues...


Commander Sky Blake ( @Blake)
Executive Officer
USS Veritas


Captain Roshanara Rahman ( @Roshanara Rahman )
CO, USS Veritas

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