A Valiant Beginning Starfleet Academy; San Francisco, Earth
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The dark haired woman, dressed in Starfleet Command uniform with the rank of commander stood before a classroom full of cadets with her arms crossed as she looked over the group. "Well? Anyone?"

A bajoran woman sporting a Starfleet Cadet uniform slowly stood.

"Yes, Nera?" the commander asked.

"Commander Jacobs, ma'am, you would fall back and signal for reinforcements?" Nera said.

"Are you telling me or asking me?" Jacobs, tilting her head slightly to one side.

"Telling ma'am," Nera replied, trying to sound more confident in her answer.

"Wrong! A Klingon captain would not allow you to perform such a move. He or she would press their attack and you would be destroyed before you could even go to warp. Congratulations, Cadet Nera, you just you and your crew killed."

"Ma'am," Nera replied, agitated that her answer was wrong--she had been so sure that she was right. "Why are we discussing Klingon tactics anyways? They're our allies."

"With a question like that, Cadet, perhaps I should recommend you to the counseling track. Would you like that?" Jacobs asked sternly.

"No, ma'am," Nera replied, defeated.

"Then I suggest you pull your head out of your ass and start thinking like a second year Starfleet Cadet. You study not only the tactics of your enemies but your allies as well. You'll never know when you may have to someday engage them in combat. Now have a seat."

"Aye, ma'am, Nera said, sitting down.

A buzzard sounded in the classroom, indicating that the class schedule had ended. "Well, that's it. I suggest everyone spend their time studying up on basic Federation tactics. Dismissed."

The students stood from their desks. "Aye, ma'am!" before filing out of the classroom.

Jacobs moved to the edge of her desk and sat down on the edge as she pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Is it really that bad?" came a man's voice from the doorway.

Jacobs looked up to see a man with greying hair and beard in an Admiral's uniform standing just inside the doorway. "Admiral Volkov. What can I do for you, sir?" she said, standing.

The admiral approached her. "I actually come bearing gifts this time, commander.

"Sir?" Jacobs asked, confused.

"You've been reassigned. As the commanding officer of the USS Valiant. She's a Defiant Class vessel," Volkov explained, handing her a PaDD with her new orders on it.

Jacobs was still confused as she took the PaDD and looked it over. "Defiant Class, sir? They're normally assigned to Starbases, not independent duty."

"Well, the Valiant is. We need more muscle out on the outer territories and we've chosen the Valiant as the ship for the job with you as her captain," Volkov replied.

Jacobs looked over the orders again--they were official. "What did Robertson have to say?"

Volkov grinned. He hated Robertson for the paper pushing brown nosed by the book asshole that he was. "Admiral Robertson is still on vacation--he doesn't yet know. But I'm certain he won't be happy."

Jacobs smiled. "Music to my ears, sir. "I'll get ready immediately and head to Starbase 336."

Volkov nodded with a wink. "Good. Godspeed, commander. Kick ass out there."

"I intend to, sir," she offered her hand as Volkov grasped and shook it.

New Doctor's Orders Starbase 336 to USS Valiant
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"Aboard a what?" Alara exclaimed, dropping her tricorder as she grabbed the orders and reading them herself.

"A Defiant class..." the ensign delivering the orders got out before Alara interrupted him.

"Who in their right mind?" Alara demanded as she reread the orders again. "It's not even attached to a starbase! What the shit, Parker?"

"Ma'am..." Was all the ensign could get out before Alara was packing her things.

"If you need a hypo, Doctor Parker will have to help you, Ensign. I have a ship to catch." Alara called as she closed up her bag on her way out the door, her tricorder now forgotten on the floor.


Interestingly, Alara didn't have much to pack in her quarters - just a small collection of tiny glass cacti she kept in a stasis lock case and some spare uniforms. Even the bedding was a generic replicated set that went with the room. She'd been here for four years and though she'd had a few pieces of art replicated, she was perfectly willing to feed each one into a replicator if needed. Instead, she left them on the walls, wondering what the next occupant would think of her selection of paintings from around the galaxy ranging from one of Data's works to a Picasso from Earth. There was even a recreation of a Vulcan piece from around the time they turned to logic.

Having quickly finished packing, she typed in the code lock releases on the door controls to give up her ownership of the quarters and took one last look around. Interestingly, they were nearly as sparse as ten minutes ago. Smiling, she turned and headed out of the room.


Not long after that, Alara was walking down the boarding ramp going between Starbase 336 and the USS Valiant, her duffel slung across her back, her medical bag on one hand and her orders in the other. When she got to the docking port on the Valiant, there was a brief exchange as she showed him her orders and she got a room assignment. She was then on her way to find the nearest turbolift.

Which she couldn't find...

Pulling up a map of the ship on her PaDD, she realized why. There were no turbolifts. Thankfully there were only four decks and the main two decks she needed were connected by a deck ramp. Adjusting her bags, she headed out once more, now confident in how to get to her new quarters.

Which it turned out she was standing next to.

Chuckling softly, she opened the door and found out they were a lot smaller than she was expecting. That was ok though - this was a tiny ship and she should have expected it. Setting her bags on the tiny bed, she straightened up and smiled brightly. This was a good thing. Nothing to decorate and no need to invite people over for tea and cake or anything. If she wanted to eat something messy she...

Then her smile faded...

There was no replicator...

And no shower...
The Price of Justice SB71, Brig Prior to reporting in on the Valiant
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Coltan Xan lay reclining on the bunk in his holding cell. He had been looking at a dishonorable discharge and a period of imprisonment, but his old friend Colonel Andra Uporu, now a JAG Officer, had stepped in and was negotiating a deal for him that would hopefully keep him in the service and out of a penal colony. As he waited, he meditated to calm his mind. He had made a choice, likely a bad one, and there would be consequences. Since he couldn’t do anything about his situation at the moment other than not compound the problem, he would have to sit and wait, alone with his thoughts. Easier said than done. Hearing General Magruder in that bar brag about his actions at the Second Battle of Chintoka brought up some very painful memories, memories of being left behind in enemy territory, of fighting for his life for months before Starfleet bothered to send anyone back to Chintoka, of finding out that Starfleet and the other Allies had no idea any allied troops were left on Chintoka, of finding out that Magruder, then a Colonel, had ignored their calls for extraction and told Allied Command that everyone who remained behind was dead. Colt lost his cool and punched Magruder in the mouth and broke the general’s jaw. That would have been bad enough, but then the general smacked his head on the bar and knocked himself unconscious. Colt’s thoughts were interrupted when two Masters-At-Arms entered his cell and escorted him to an interview room. Andra was in the room waiting for him. She sighed.

“Well,” she said. “We’ve come to an agreement. You are as lucky as you are good looking, Colt.”

“How do you figure?” Colt said, taking as seat next to his lawyer. “Should I assume I’m not going to a penal colony?”

“You’re not going to a penal colony,” Andra confirmed. “And you’re staying in the service…Senior Chief Coltan Xan.”

Colt winced. So, they demoted him.

“I know I punched the guy,” Colt said. “But he’s guilty of gross misconduct at the very least. Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“It does,” Andra said. “That’s why you’re staying in the service and why General Magruder is going to retire quietly with a ‘General Discharge’.”

“Seriously?” Colt said. “He should get a Dismissal at the very least! And I should get another medal!”

“You broke the man’s jaw and knocked him unconscious, Colt,” Andra said. “That’s what we call ‘assaulting a superior officer’.”

Colt frowned, then grinned.

“Technically, I only broke his jaw,” he said. “The bar knocked him unconscious.”

Andra laughed.

“You’re such an asshole,” she said. “You haven’t changed a bit. So, for the rest of the bad news, you’re being reassigned from that large, comfy cruiser you’re on now to a Defiant Class. I picked that ship out for you myself. Trust me, you won’t be bored there, despite the reduction in rank and responsibilities.”

Andra reached out and took his hand.

“Colt,” she said. “You were holding on to that punch for twenty years. Chintoka has haunted you for just as long. Now it’s time to move on. I hope you will.”

“I’ll…” Colt said, his voice catching in his throat for a moment. “I’ll try.”

Several days later all the details were settled and the dotted lines signed on. Shortly after that, now Senior Chief Coltan Xan packed his gear and caught a transport to rendezvous with the USS Valiant.
New Orders Pacifica -- Taurus Reach, Alpha Quadrant Stardate Unknown
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Kornan Rao stepped outside into the warm and humid Pacifican afternoon, inhaling deeply as he took in the salty sea air, and smiled. The Trill checked his chronometer and pocket once more, then started off towards the Institute. Despite wearing a large floppy hat, a button up shirt with festive looking palm trees and a fruit he believed was called a pineapple, tan shorts, flip flops and dark sunshades, he didn't look the least bit out of place as he headed down the walkways of Oceana, one of Pacifica's great floating cities and a popular tourist attraction.

He soon arrived outside the Oceana Institute of Marine Biology and proceeded to the doors, which parted for him. Inside the huge open lobby people milled about, and great aquatic animal of some sort hung from the ceiling. He took everything in for a moment before proceeding to the desk where several people were working. A woman looked up and greeted him with a smile.

"Hello, welcome to the Institute. How can I help you?"

"Ah..." Kornan hesitated. "I'm looking for Doctor Dash Wilder."

The woman nodded and pointed towards a set of doors along the far back wall. "Doctor Wilder should be out back. Go all the way to the rear doors, back outside, and to pier one."

"Thanks." As he walked away, he briefly wondered why he hadn't asked for maybe a description of what the doctor looked like. He hadn't met Dr. Wilder in person, of course, he had only received a message from the top to come to the Institute here in Oceana, find Doctor Dash Wilder, and deliver an encrypted message. Hopefully someone would be able to point the doctor out to him once he got out to the pier.

The large transparent doors parted as he approached, and he went back outside. The back of the building sat near the edge of the city, giving an incredible view of both it and the ocean beyond. Numerous piers extended out into the waters, some with aquatic vehicles docked, some with people out tossing food to fish. He saw a large sign pointing towards PIER ONE and went that way. An old man sat at the entrance, and looked up at him with uninterest.

"Doctor Dash Wilder?" Kornan asked hopefully, but realistically knew it couldn't be that simple. The man didn't reply, just grunted and jerked his thumb in the direction of two people who crouched several meters down the pier. "Thanks." He headed towards them. It was a man with short brown hair, and a boy no older than 13 with long sun-bleached blonde hair. Well maybe it would be that simple.

"Doctor Wilder?" He called out as he stopped. "Doctor Dash Wilder?"

Both the man and the boy looked back over their shoulders at him, then stood and turned towards him. They both wore black wetsuits, though the boy's had been unzipped and peeled down to hang at his waist. They looked at each other and the man said something quietly, then started walking towards him.

"Hello, Doctor..." Kornan began to say to the man, but trailed off as the man looked at him as if he was stupid and continued to walk past him. He turned to watch him go, then looked back at the boy, who was still standing there, hands on his hips.

"Yes?" The boy's eyebrows raised as he waited.

"I... um..." Kornan hesitated, confused, then walked up to the boy, reaching into his pocket and removed a small data chip. "Doctor Wilder, I have an encrypted message for you."

The boy doctor simply regarded Kornan for a moment, before finally taking the data chip. He turned and walked over to a table, picking up a PADD and inserted the chip. The PADD ran the decryption protocol he'd programmed on it, and the message came across the small display. He read it quickly, then paused to consider for a moment. Looks like he was needed. He peered out over the waters. In the years that he'd been here on Pacifica following the Dominion War, he'd come to think of this place as home. Well, he'd just have to make sure he wasn't gone for too long. Deactivating the PADD, he walked back over to the messenger.

"Where's your ship?"
Doctor's Appointment With the Captain Captain's Ready Room
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Alara had set up her case of tiny glass cacti on the single shelf in her new quarters and unpacked her uniforms and now she was on her way to see the Captain. According to the computer, she was in her office, which according to the map, was in an odd place off the bridge, but still close enough to it to not be too far out of the way. Nodding at the map she carried, Alara certainly was amazed at how space efficient this ship was designed. It was like it was built for nothing but combat. At least she didn't have to use the ladder and tube systems for travel between decks one and two - the engineers were kind enough to include the single amenity this ship seemed to have - a deck ramp.

Also, after further investigation she did eventually find a somewhat concealed refresher and sonic shower. There was also a tiny replicator, but it seemed to only have access to around a dozen drinks. It seemed that if she wanted anything more than coffee or water, she'd have to go to the mess hall.

Pressing the door chime for the Captain's ready room, she flipped the PaDD back over from the ship's map back to her orders.

Jacobs was doing the one thing she hated about commanding a starship--administrative tasks. And with the Valiant undergoing launch preparations, there seemed to be no shortage of them as she looked over the PaDD in her hand that held the Supplies manifest. They would require more than the standard due to their independent mission profile. The chime was a welcome relief as she set the PaDD down on the desk before her. "Enter."

Entering the small office, Alara smiled brightly, straightening the lab coat from the starbase she still wore. She'd have to have the replicators swap the shoulder patch out later. "Captain Jacobs? I'm your new doctor, Lieutenant Samar. I just got my orders and reported as soon as possible." Offering the PaDD with her orders displayed, she continued. "I look forward to working with you and serving aboard this vessel."

Jacobs stood and accepted the PaDD. "Thank you, doctor. Please have a seat?" she said as she gestured to the empty chair near her desk. As Jacobs sat back down, she began looking over the doctor's file.

Taking the offered seat, Alara smoothed out the crease in her uniform pants. She learned in her schooling that sitting prim and proper made people look favorably upon you so it came naturally to her now and that's how she sat in this case - back straight and not touching the back of the chair, ankles crossed and slightly to the side, and knees together. She then waited for the Captain to finish reviewing her records, such as they were.

"Quite impressive, doctor," Jacobs grinned, setting the PaDD down. She took note of the doctor's posture--not many doctors were this disciplined, which impressed her as she hadn't expected it from the other woman. "I would however, suggest that you work on your hand to hand combat abilities or at least learn how to use a phaser better. You are after all, on a warship."

Alara nodded, choosing her words carefully. "I will endeavor to increase my skill with the phaser then. I had one trainer comment that I can be quite surgical with it when up close and personal, but at range I lack the skills needed to reliably hit my target. Of course, at the time, I was thinking of it more as an instrument of healing so that might have made a difference."

"Relax, doctor. I'm not going to bite your head off...yet," she winked with a grin. "Will you require any extra equipment?"

"I haven't been to sickbay yet, but I brought my personal set of tools with me so I'm good on that front. Judging by the rest of the ship, I'm betting the supplies I'll have to work with are spartan and the office cramped at best, but I'll make do. I've been in worse situations, after all." Alara smiled a bit brighter with her reply.

"Good. We may be cramped space wise but we'll have to be ready for any situation which is why we're packing the cargo bay full with supplies. So if there is anything you need, you have my permission as long as we have the space for it. Do you have any questions?"

This was something Alara was definitely prepared for. "Yes actually. Can you share a bit of our actual mission with me? It'll help me tailor my future healthcare plans for the crew if I had an idea of the sort of areas of space we'll be traveling through and the sort of dangers we'll be facing."

Leigh clasped her hands together on her desk. "Our initial mission profile is to patrol outer Federation Territories and safeguard them. Our main patrol sectors will be the Titus, ladara, and Icor Sectors. So we could possibly encounter the Gorn, Klingons, or Tholians."

A serious look crossed Alara's face at the mention of Tholians. "Hmm... Tholians... Their weapons leave some nasty burns. I'll request some radiation treatment kits from the starbase just in case. The Klingons and Gorn we should be well stocked to triage any injury against, but the Tholians... I've seen radiation burns from their weapons from larger ships that just didn't have the right kit available and couldn't replicate it in time and the patient had to be transferred to us at the starbase for complete limb replacement."

Leigh grinned, happy the new doctor was on top of things. "That's good to hear, doctor. Also, there is one more thing that I'm not sure you're aware of is that Starfleet has assigned you the role of executive officer until another qualified officer can be appointed."

"A temporary appointment then?" That almost put a crack in Alara's perfect smile. Almost. She finally got an assignment to go out into the galaxy to help people, it ends up being a combat ship, she's likely going to be the only person on the medical staff, and she's going to be the XO as well? Even if it's going to be temporary, this was a lot to take in. Still, she would persevere - people counted on her and she'd been in far worse situations. "Understood, Captain. When I look over medical records, I'll review personnel records as well then. I'll also brush up on bridge operations and familiarize myself with the layout as soon as I'm able. Is there anything else?"

"No. I'll let you get to work as you will soon have your hands full," Leigh said as she stood and extended her hand "Again, welcome to the Valiant, doctor."

Thank you, Captain. It's good to be here." Standing, Alara flashed her trademark smile and shook the Captain's hand pleasantly.
Rabies! Distemper! Fleas! Medbay
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Alara was going through the crates of medical supplies that were stacked in the sole unoccupied corner of the tiny medbay of the ship. Thankfully, they were the drawer-casing type of crates so they were easily unsealed from the sides and literal drawers of medpacks, hypos, tricorders, and medicines were readily available to her as needed. The down side was that all three crates were designed for colony relief measures. There was only one set of surgical instrumentation aboard and it was in the surgical sterilization case between the three biobeds. Each one had a full set of twelve med kits and another twelve science tricorders and hypo sets with the more common drugs lined up with them... which were easily replicated.

Sighing heavily, she closed up the cases. At least if every single crewmember had a migraine, she could give each of them a hypo to hang on to with something for the pain. Or a stimulant. or Anesthezine to put them to sleep at night. Or any number of a dozen relatively safe and hard to overdose drugs.

Sickbay was not a place where Me'Shlaht had ever felt comfortable, and this sickbay... this sickbay was small. She realized that upon entering, as its small size instantly made her feel as if she were in a cage. Were it not for Starfleet's insistence on physical exams upon reporting to new assignments, she would have retreated back into the hallway. Instead, she padded over closer to where Alara was working, her tail twitching wildly. Her paws - unencumbered by boots - made such a soft sound on the deck that she made certain to purr slightly, announcing her presence in a less frightening way.

"Kitty kitty... I sense a kitty..." Alara mumbled as she turned around expecting to see either a Caitian or a house cat. Meeting a Ferasan face to face... Well, her smile didn't falter but she did blink a few times in stunned silence.

"...Welcome... To sickbay..." Alara finally got out, still with her chiseled smile. "How can I help you?"

Me'Shlaht grinned, though the toothiness of that grin was unlikely to help matters. "I believe you are meant to do my boarding physical. Unless you're not Doctor Samar?"

"I am, and yes if your recent physical is up to date, I just need to do a quick scan. I must have missed your file though. What's your name?" Alara was perfectly composed now and was pulling up records on her PaDD now, looking for a Ferasan Lieutenant that she might have missed.

Me'Shlaht's ears twitched slightly. It wasn't often that people overlooked a Ferasan file, but she supposed it might be possible. "My name is Me'Shlaht. Rank, lieutenant. Chief Security and Tactical Officer."

"Ah here it is. It looks like it was just forwarded to me by your prior medical staff less than an hour ago. They also added a note..." Alara went silent as she read the note, then clicked the PaDD off and looked up at Me'Shlaht. "I should probably assume that your prior medical chief is trying to play a practical joke on you. He says he forgot to give you your rabies shot before you left."

"It is not a joke. My rabies vaccination came due at the same time that the Unicorn was decommissioned." Curious, Me'Shlaht tilted her head to the side. "I suppose if I were Caitian it would be a joke. But I am Ferasan, and I hunt wild game when on leave. Starfleet does not require vaccination for rabies, but I take it anyway."

It then dawned on her just how feral this Ferasan before her was and why the emotions her half Betazoid senses were getting were so much more cat-like than normal Caitians. "Oh... I..." For a moment, her smile actually faltered. "I'll have to request a supply of medicines for you from the starbase before we leave. I think..." Looking down at her PaDD again, she pulled up the file and glanced over it again to see which rabies formula it was.

"I'm sorry, I'm normally not this unprepared." Heading over to the medical replicator, she set an empty hypo ampule in it and punched in the necessary code for the rabies vaccine listed and started the replication process. "This will only take a minute. In the meantime, your last physical was long enough ago that I might as well do another one on you. Do you mind hopping up on one of the biobeds so I can take a few readings?"

Ferasans did not have very expressive faces, but Me'Shlaht's ears and tail swished and twitched, much like a curious house cat. After a moment or two, she made a humorous purring sound, the closest she'd ever been able to approximate laughter. "I do not mind. Please, take your readings." Because she was smaller than a Caitian might be, Me'Shlaht did have to hop a bit to get comfortably on a biobed. That seated position would have left her paws dangling, so she tucked them neatly under her rump. No Caitian would ever sit so like a non-sentient cat, but Me'Shlaht hated to have her paws unsupported. And she couldn't cross her legs the way humanoids did. "If it eases your angst, my previous assignments were not prepared for me either. My Starfleet record originally indicated that I was a Caitian, which caused quite a bit of ruckus once I arrived."

"I can imagine. I bet it didn't take a first year med student to tell the difference either." Pulling out her tricorder, Alara set the biobed to start its scans while she took her scans as well. "So I'm curious. How does a Ferasan find herself in Starfleet? Aren't they a member world of the Klingon Empire?"

"They are, but I am not from our adopted homeworld." She didn't know why people found her origins so interesting, but Me'Shlaht didn't mind sharing the story. "I was born in a Ferasan mining colony. The mine was run by a Ferengi... and when the Klingons came wanting the magnasite, they Ferengi blew it all up after weeks of fighting. Not many of us survived."

"And you were then adopted, like I was, by a loving and caring Federation family that eventually led you to a life of service within Starfleet. Am I right?" Alara headed over to the replicator, grabbed the newly replicated vaccine, scanned it to make sure it was pure, tossed it into a hypo and got ready to inject it. "Do you prefer this in the arm or thigh?"

"That is correct. A child-less couple on the southern continent of Trill." Me'Shlaht paused to consider the question, never having been asked where she preferred the injection. "I believe it is absorbed faster if given in the thigh, because the muscles are more active. But if that is awkward, my arm is fine."

"Your thigh is fine - I just need you to take your uniform pants down a bit so I can get past your fur ok." While Alara waited, she tapped on the biobed controls and logged the physical scans for review later. "Looks like you have a clean bill of health. My adopted family is a family of healers and I was encouraged to find my own healing art, whatever it might have been. I have thirteen siblings now, mostly adopted."

"I am an only child. The orphanages on Trill were... reluctant to adopt any other children to the same families who had adopted Ferasan cubs." Shifting slighting on the biobed, Me'Shlaht pulled enough of her trousers down for Alara to give the injection. It was not that she was modest, only fearful of how any wandering crewmates might react. Were it not for how most societies viewed nudity, Me'Shlaht would be happy to be nude when not in uniform. "But I wasn't always. The missionaries found me guarding a sister who had died during the fighting."

Moving the fur aside as best she could, Alara pressed the hypo in and injected the vaccine. She then rubbed the site for a few seconds to make sure it went in ok. "All done. I'm sure you're familiar with the slight burning these cause for a few hours. If it gets uncomfortable, I can give you an analgesic cream. As for your adoption... If you want, we can be sisters."

"I have gotten these injections every three years since I was four years old. I am accustomed to the sensation." Me'Shlaht adjusted her uniform back to its proper position, taking a moment to ensure her tail wasn't trapped in any way. "I think I would like to have a sister again. But I will warn you... if we fight, sometimes I bite." She grinned, showing off her impressively large canine teeth.

Alara smiled a bit wider, showing off her own pearly whites. "I try to find peaceful resolutions first, but if it comes to biting, I'm a doctor. As long as you leave me a hand and I'm conscious, I should be able to patch myself up." Setting aside the hypo and tucking her tricorder back in her lab coat, she held out her arms for a hug.

"Fair enough." Ferasans did not embrace one another like humanoids did, for them it was a fighting posture. But Me'Shlaht had learned the behavior from her parents. Hopping off the bed, she embraced her new friend and purred softly.
Coltan Reports In USS Valiant Current
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Senior Chief Petty Officer Coltan Xan boarded the USS Valiant and walked the corridors looking for the quarters he'd been assigned. He figured they'd be cramped and lacking in most amenities. At least being Chief of the Boat granted him private quarters, likely with all of the other chiefs in the Goat Locker. Based on the fact that the Defiant was a tiny ship, Colt hadn't brought much with him. A few clothing items that couldn't be replicated, the ones made from textiles produced on Andoria by Keth (Clan) Omtala. He brought a few personal items. Blades he was particularly fond of, a PaDD with all of his favorite books on it with room to spare for new titles. A handheld audio device loaded with most of his favorite jazz, blues, and funk artists, again with room to spare for new music should he come across something new he wanted to save. He brought a few blades and sticks he was fond of using. He'd first learned to fight with a blade from Andorians, but later he'd learned the Filipino martial arts Kali and Kuntao, which had given him more insight into the use of knives, short swords, a short spear, and both 4 and 5 foot staffs. He had pair of expandable staffs that could be used as a 4 foot staff or a 5 foot staff. When not extended, they functioned as Kali/Escrima/Arnis sticks varying in length between 24 and 28 inches depending on preference. But really he didn't bring much else.

Colt found his quarters entered and sighed as he looked around. Like he thought, it was cramped and slightly claustrophobic.

I deserve better than this, he thought. But I guess this is what I get for letting my emotions...and my fists, get ahead of my common sense. Guess I'll just have to make the best of it. At least I'll have the opportunity to get back in the field...I hope. Spiritus Invictus.

Colt set up his quarters the way he wanted them set up, made sure his uniform was shipshape, and set off to meet with his new CO. He found the Captain's small Ready Room fairly easily. He'd studied the deck layout of the Valiant on the way to SB336 and all Vulcanoid Rigelians possess an uncanny sense of direction. They rarely get lost if they know where they are headed. That ability came in handy when he was performing reconnaissance duties with the Raiders. Giving his jacket a tug to straighten it out, Colt hit the chime next to the door.

Leigh looked up at the sound of the chime. The morning had been busy so far and she was still stuck with administrative work. She tossed the PaDD down onto her desk. She happily recalled the days of being an enlisted woman and not having such responsibilities--now she was once again charged with the safety of a ship and crew. "Enter."

Colt took a deep breath and stepped through the hatch as the door slid open. He walked purposefully over until he was standing at attention in front of the Captain's desk. On the way over he discretely took in his new CO without being a pig about it. He'd looked up her file and seen her picture. It hadn't lied. She was a very attractive woman.

I guess I'll find over time if she's as attractive on the inside as she is on the outside, he thought. Hopefully we get along. This is going to be a very long, very miserable assignment if we don't.

"Master...damn it...Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Coltan Xan, reported to the Captain," he said. "Apologies, ma'am. The reduction in rank is new. I'm still getting used to it. As my orders will tell you, I've been sent here to take up the post of Chief of the Boat."

Leigh nodded. "At ease, Senior Chief. I completely wasn't long ago I was reduced in rank as well." She liked the man's profile as he had been a Marine like she had been and like her, he had a problem with one of the members of the admiralty. "Your record is very impressive."

"Thank you, ma'am," Colt replied. "I've heard good things about you as well. I don't know the circumstances of your reduction in rank, but my understanding is that Admiral Robertson is an asshat of the first order, so if you disobeyed his orders you probably had a very good reason. As for me...well, the man whose jaw I broke had that coming almost twenty years ago. I was just a little late on the delivery. For the record, I don't usually go around punching senior officers and I know how to take an order."

Leigh grinned. "That's good to know because I would hate to have to kick your ass, Senior Chief," she winked.

Colt grinned back.

"I'll try to remember that," he said. "So, I've done this Chief of the Boat gig before, and it works better if you think of me as sort of an unconditional sounding board, someone you can share concerns with, think out loud with, and run things by. About enlisted stuff, sure, but other matters as well. As you know I have a lot of experience in the Special Operations community and I've worked for Starfleet Intelligence's clandestine service. My file also probably mentions that I've got not only an undergraduate degree in national security, but also two graduate degrees, one in leadership, the other in strategic studies. There are people more experienced than me, but I've been around."

Colt suddenly looked less jovial.

"Commander..." he said. "I know I messed up, and I understand there have to be consequences for my actions. It's just...please don't let them make me irrelevant. Defending the people, property, and the ideals of the Federation has been my life for over thirty years, my entire adult life. It's all I know how to do. If you put your trust in me Commander, I won't let you down."

Leigh leaned forward with her hands clasped together on her desk looking sincerely at the man. "Thank you for your openness, Senior Chief. Be sure that I will seek your advice..." She sat back in her seat, letting out a sigh, "especially since Starfleet in all of their infinite wisdom decided to make the Chief Medical Officer the XO on a warship, at least for the time being."

"Uh...that makes as much sense as making me the XO," Colt said. "Based on my spending almost my entire career as a ground pounder. That settles things. If you go off and lead an Away Team, I'm coming with you. A warzone is safer than a starship commanded by a CMO."

Leigh couldn't help but chuckle at the comment. "We will have to see...Doctor Samar may yet surprise us. Anyways, I'm hoping to have a more qualified XO before we launch but until then, she is the XO."

"Yes, Ma'am," Coltan said. "So, do we have a specific destination when we head out? Or are we just going out on patrol and waiting for something for us to rapidly respond to? You know, our mission being rapid response and all."

"At the moment, we are scheduled to go on patrol in the Icor Sector, which borders Tholian and Gorn Space. But knowing Starfleet, that could change at a moment's notice," Leigh explained.

"That should be fun," Coltan said. "I mean, who doesn't want to patrol the Federation's borders with two of the most territorial races in the quadrant? Not to worry. I'll soldier on and make sure all of the rank and file do the same. Spiritus Invictus, as we used to say in the Raiders. Unconquered Spirit."

Leigh grinned, liking the Senior Chief's attitude. "Good. I think that motto would serve well aboard the Valiant. Do you have anything else, Senior Chief?"

"Nothing at the moment," Colt said, rising and coming to attention. "Permission to withdraw, Commander?"

Leigh nodded with a slight grin. "Permission granted, Senior Chief."

Colt did a smart 'about face' and exited the captain's ready room.
Corpsman and Physician: Heal Thyselves USS Valiant: Sick Bay Current
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After meeting with the captain of the Valiant, Colt headed down to Sick Bay to check in the with the Chief Medical Officer. He figured she'd want to do some kind of 'entrance exam' and he was not in a position to be uncooperative with her. He also figured since he was qualified as an Independent Duty Corpsman, he could talk to her about helping out with medical duties as time permitted. He arrived at Sick Bay and found what he assumed was the CMO.

"Doctor Samar?" He said. "Or do you prefer to be called 'Lieutenant'? Anyway, I'm Master...excuse me, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Coltan Xan."

Looking up from the tiny desk in the corner, Alara beamed like a lighthouse as she stood and moved towards the newcomer. "Welcome! Doctor is just fine. You're our senior enlisted member AND you know your way around an operating table? Very impressive, though..." motioning around the cramped medbay, Alara almost bumped into two walls with her sweeping motion. "With only six stasis pods, three full bio beds, a few crates of medical supplies, and a medical grade replication unit that can't even do a full artificial liver... What can I do for you?"

Colt chuckled.

"Well,' he said. "Fortunately for me my liver is just fine. As for what you can do for me, some CMOs like to do their own entrance exam of all incoming personnel, others rely on the report from the crewmember's most recent exam. I wasn't sure which kind you were, so I came here to make two offers. First, if you feel the need to examine me, well, here I am! Secondly, you're right, I do know how to perform certain surgeries in the field and how to assist on others. Technically, in the absence of a qualified physician, I can do quite a few procedures, short of opening up the patient's cranium. I can also perform primary care duties, treat minor and major injuries, administer antibiotics, painkillers, sedatives, and other meds on my own authority, again, in the absence of a qualified physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner, or, if they are present, with their permission. I've even got training in optometry and sanitation. I was a combat medic assigned to the Marine Raiders for over twenty years and I'm qualified as an Independent Duty Corpsman. So, I guess I'm saying that I'd like to help out here and there if that's alright with you."

Alara blinked a few times as she listened, nodding politely and edging her way over to the three crates over in the corner. As soon as he was done talking, she spun around, popped open one of the drawers, pulled out one of the med kits, and turned back to Colt. "In that case, I'd like to present you with your very own med kit! As for an examination, I'm kind of in the middle. As long as you have a recent physical on file, I just want to give you a once over with my tricorder just so I'm familiar with potential future patient readings." Handing the medkit over to Clint, she thought a moment more as she pulled the tricorder out of her lab coat pocket and held it up. "As for me... Well, I'm a general practitioner, but I've had practice performing surgeries across a wide range of races. I've been in Starfleet for... What... Eleven years now? I guess that makes me young compared to you."

Colt caught the medkit and grinned.

"Hey!" he said. "I'm only fifty years old! I'm half Vulcanoid Rigelian and I come from a long line of long lived people! I could live to be well over two hundred!"

"Less experienced in the field then. How about that?" Chuckling softly, Alara ran the tricorder over Colt with a quick scan just to familiarize herself with his physiology, then saved the scan for further review later. "Definitely less experienced, judging from those scars. Sorry, I won't pry but if there's ever anything you want to talk about, I have a bit of counseling training as well if you do. Not that I'm trying to pry, mind you."

Colt shrugged.

"I probably ought to talk to someone at some point," he said. "After all, I was demoted to Senior Chief and sent here as punishment for breaking a Marine general's jaw. Maybe I'll tell you sometime about how he left me and my fellow Raiders behind to fend for ourselves at the Second Battle of Chintoka, and then told Allied Command that we were all dead so they didn't come looking for us until three months after the war was over. But that's not a story for a first meeting. Where are you from, Doctor?"

Alara nodded in understanding, tucking her tricorder away and leaning against a convenient bulkhead, her infallible and flawless smile never wavering a single micron. "I'm from Betazed. I spent the first nine years of my life in the slums next to a crack house, eking out a living in a hole in the ground sharing a basement corner with a dozen other orphans before we were found and adopted out. That's not a story for a first meeting though."

Colt grinned.

"Doctor," he said. "When this crew is filled out I do believe it might look like a who's who of residents of the Island of Misfit Toys."

"Judging just by the medical records I've received so far, I have a feeling you may be right," Alara replied. "Now the question is, who's bringing the booze?"

Colt laughed.

"I've got a few of bottles of applejack in my quarters if you ever want to knock a few back," he said. "It'll be hard to replenish my stash in the outer reaches since it's distilled in a joint Rigelian/Human/Andorian agricultural concern my family is a part of, but who knows what we might find out here to replace it. One I intend to share with the captain. I always keep a little good booze to share with the CO. The other bottles is for sharing with other friends."

"That's good to know information. Unfortunately, I have only myself and a cure for a hangover to bring to the table. Thankfully, that's been enough in the past." Alara replied with a chuckle. "So where are you off to next?"

"To review personnel files," Colt said. "With only thirty-five enlisted personnel on this ship, I figure I can afford the time to look over all of their files and maybe even meet all of them individually over the next week or so. I can put that off for a bit if you need some help sorting through some of this stuff."

Alara motioned to the far door. "Well, I could use a hand in the science and medical lab next door. If you're offering, that is. These crates are ok where they are, but someone left some rather heavy crates of sensor equipment in the middle of the medical side and I need them moved and secured."

"Not to worry," Colt said. "In addition to being blessed with stunning good looks, I am also blessed with Vulcanoid...well Vulcanoid Rigelian strength. Show me what you want moved, and I'll move it for you."

"Excellent! Right this way then." With that, Alara turned and headed out the other door into the science/medical lab next door into the mess that it was. "The ones marked with Starfleet Medical need to be along this wall and the ones marked with Starfleet Sciences need to go along the far wall. I've already inventoried them and thankfully they're all designed to open from the side so stacking isn't an issue."

Colt walked over to the crates and began moving them as instructed.

"Tell you what," he said. "When you're ready to do them, I'll help you out with the sanitation inspections. Storage of perishables, crew quarter initial inspections, waste disposal and reclamation, inspection of the replicator systems, the whole nine yards. I'm familiar with the health and safety codes involved."

He set a crate down and one of its drawers popped open. Colt looked inside before he closed it and chuckled at what he saw there.

"Well, at least they stocked us up on contraceptives," he said. "Better that than have to take that bitter pill known as 'noassitol', not that there's much room on this ship for frigging in the rigging."

"Better to be safe than sorry. There are also no means of in-vitro if I wanted to cross a Vulcan and a Caitian or anything like that. Nor is there a maternity ward or a daycare." Alara added as she pushed on a crate full of planetary scanners that refused to budge. "We have ninety quantum torpedoes and three launchers, but no sex swings."

"I've made do with less," Colt said. "What? You don't think I've been celibate for the last thirty-two years, do you? I'm half-Vulcanoid Rigelian for the Prime Number's sake!"

"And I'm half Trill and half Betazoid. One of my older adoptive sisters is a sex therapist." Alara gave up on moving the obstinate crate and just stood there looking around the room. "I'm familiar with the healing properties of sex and its necessities in Vulcanoid Rigellian physiology."

"That's good," Colt said. "There aren't that many of us in Starfleet (OOC: and most of them are written by me). Imagine what it's like to spend a whole mess of time saying over and over 'no, I'm not a sex addicted maniac, this is just how my people are.' Trust me, it gets old quick."

"Just keep in mind that if I ever need a supply of antibodies, you'll be the first person I come to." Alara chuckled a bit more, her smile still on her face. "Your blood is as universally accepted as it comes in the universe and your antibodies, without proper medical facilities, can be used to create a vaccine for just about anything."

"I usually prefer when the women in my life are interested in my body, not my antibodies," Colt said. "But whatever powers your warp engines."

"With an expected crew of around fifty and close quarters like these, I'll need every single cell I can get," Alara replied as she tried moving another crate, this time with a little more, but still minimal success. "Especially without a proper DNA resequencer. One of these stations can do some minor antiviral resequencing, but Starfleet ships in the twenty third century could do about the same thing."

Colt set the last crate in place.

"Well," he said. "That's the last of them. Tomorrow we can divvy up the sanitation inspections. Nice to meet you, Doc."

Alara smiled her patented smile. "It's a pleasure to meet you as well. I'll see you then."
Welcoming the XO USS Valiant Current time
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“This...feels small...” Mark thought aloud as he strolled the corridors of the Valiant, his new assignment.

His career in Starfleet had begun working on vessels of all shapes and sizes, whatever happened to come through the Starbase. It was also far from his first Defiant class, but something about having to live and work aboard on a more permanent basis made it dawn on him more than it did before. It also didn’t help that his last few assignments had been on significantly larger vessels too, he guessed. It was another period of adjustment.

The Captain’s base was just off the Main Bridge, pretty much the standard, and it seemed like the most appropriate place to try first for checking in. Mark reached across to press the annunciator, rocking patiently back and forth back on his heels.

Leigh sighed as she dropped the PaDD onto the desk. It had contained yet another supply manifest approval. Not having an XO or a fully qualified Chief of Operations aboard meant she had to personally oversee or approve the transfer. "Forgot how much a pain in the ass Command was," she muttered. Yet it still beat being in a classroom teaching cadets all day--barely. She looked up at the sound of the chime. "Enter."

Accepting the invitation, Mark hitched his duffel bag back to the top of his shoulder, striding purposefully inside and to his new Commanding Officer’s desk. Mark wasn’t best known for formality, but he knew about getting off on the right foot with people. “Lieutenant Commander Mark Cross reporting in” he announced.

"Ah, welcome aboard, Mr. Cross," she said as she stood. "Can I get you anything?" she asked, gesturing for him to have a seat at the chair near her desk.

"No thanks Commander" Mark declined as he slid the duffel bag to the floor and took a seat. He often had a lot of restless energy when it came to things like waiting for transports, and often spent the time chain-drinking coffee. He'd had more than enough en route. He rummaged around in his bag for the PADD with his transfer orders on them, which he produced on the desk a few moments later.

Leigh took the orders and read over them as she sat down, noticing his impressive build as she did. Thankfully Starfleet had assigned her a more permanent XO. She at least knew Doctor Samar would be relieved. "I see you've had previous command experience--that's good," she complimented.
If I may ask, what happened aboard the Kennedy when the Commanding officer was killed?"

"He was hit by a sharp piece of falling metal about...this big..." Mark held up his hands to signify around 4 feet in length. "We were attacked unexpectedly in a first contact situation. We managed to limp into a spacial anomaly within the system that hid us from their sensors long enough to escape and get back to the nearest Starbase. It was a shock to all of us, but we did what we had to do to get home. Most of the crew got assigned back to the Kennedy, as far as I know."

"I'm sorry to hear that about your last CO," she paused for a moment before continuing. "You'll have your hands full making sure your department is ready to go as well as aiding me in ship launch preparations. Since we're on independent duty, we're stocking the cargo bays full of supplies more so than we normally would. Most of all, as a warship, I want this ship ready to handle any threat. Our initial patrol route will be taking us near Tholian and Gorn Space.

“I’ll try my best to make sure you stay in one piece, Commander” Mark meant it light-heartedly, but his British accent probably made it sound a little more sincere. Sometimes it worked well, other’s it backfired on him. “I’ll make sure everything and everyone is ready to go, although I’ll admit the setup is a little new to me. Did Starfleet Command explain why they’re using a Defiant class for this?”

"At the moment, it's to simply establish more of a presence in the region, which we can do with much less resources than any other starship," Leigh explained. "Yet that can change at any moment with Starfleet. Any other questions?"

It sounded like a political answer, but to be honest, he doubted Starfleet would have given anything else away. "That's everything for now I think!"

Leigh nodded and extended her hand as she stood. "Again, welcome aboard, commander."

Mark took the extended hand as he rose from his seat. “Thank you very much!”
Intelligent Discussion Mess Hall Current
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<< ON >>

Next on Coltan's Xan's list of officers to meet was Lieutenant Evan Lougheed, the ship's Chief Intelligence Officer. Having worked for SFI himself, Colt was interested in seeing just what kind of spook Evan Lougheed was. Colt tapped his commbadge.

"Senior Chief Xan to Lieutenant Lougheed," he said. "Do you have a few minutes to chew the fat? Could we meet up somewhere?"

Evan had just finished settling into his quarters, which given the size didn't take long. "Sure why don't we meet in the mess."

"See you there in a moment, Lieutenant," Colt replied. He made his way to the Mess Hall and found the lieutenant there waiting for him.

"Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Coltan Xan, Lieutenant," he said. "Welcome aboard. May I take a seat?"

"Of course. Evan Lougheed. Nice to meet you Senior Chief." The Intel Chief said. "What did you want to talk about?"

Colt slipped into a seat across from Evan.

"Really I'm just checking in," he said. "Making sure everyone knows who I am and that I'm a resource they can utilize, both in my role as enlisted advisor and as an experienced special operator and special operations corpsman. I'm only fifty. In Vulcaniod Rigelian terms, that's very young. I'm more than capable of engaging in field ops if the need arises, and I always look for opportunities to keep up my skills."

"Well since my department, at least of the time being is just me I'll keep that in mind in case we need to draft you." He replied with a smirk. "Admittedly most of my experience is on the analysis side of intel, my background is Security and Tactical before being transitioning to SFI."

Colt nodded.

"I started out as a Starfleet Corpsman in a Marine platoon," he said. "I had thought that I'd go for Security, didn't even consider the Marines. But my test scores suggested Hospital Corpsman would be a good fit. In basic training I got high marks in small arms, small unit tactics, hand-to-hand combat, things like that. One of the DIs commented on it but I didn't think anything of it at the time. Towards the end of Hospital Corpsman 'A' School, the CO there asked if I'd considered being a field medic with the Marines. He said I might like it there and asked me if I'd like to volunteer. Next thing I know I'm at the Field Medical Training Battalion, crawling through the mud again, this time while being shot at, and learning how to treat injuries while ignoring small arms fire, heavy artillery, orbital bombardments, etc. I was scared to death...and I was loving every minute of it. The reality of combat set in later, but I still liked my work. Qualified as a SAARC, was assigned to the Raiders, and then the serious shit started. After the war and after spending some time assigned to the Cardassian reconstruction effort, I ended up working for the clandestine service of Starfleet Intelligence, mostly providing direct action support. Things were going good. Then I...well...I broke a Marine general's jaw and knocked him out cold. In my defense I technically only broke his jaw. The bar knocked him out when his head hit it. Anyway, there's a longer story behind that. To sum it up, the guy had it coming for almost twenty years. I took a demotion and ended up here. Valiant is smaller than my last assignment and I'm pretty sure Command sent me here as punishment, but I don't care. Yes, I want my rank back, but I've got time to earn it back. Plenty of time."

"I mean, I've encountered a few flag officers i wanted to punch in the face but normally I try to avoid it." The spook said with a smirk. "Try to avoid breaking any jaws and we shouldn't have a problem. At least not in my books."

Colt grinned. "Hell, sir. You're Intel now, not Security. If I break someone else's jaw, it won't be your problem. But, not to worry. I'm got no immediate plans to punch out any other flag officers, baring orders from the CO to the contrary, unless they deserve it. That particular general abandoned my unit at the Second Battle of Chintoka and told Allied Command we were all dead. Starfleet took his word for it and didn't even bother to come looking for our bodies until three months after the Treaty of Bajor. I lost a lot of friends because of that bastard. Combat wounds, disease, starvation...some just gave up and cashed in their own chips. So, as I said, he had it coming nigh on two decades."

"I heard about that, not our finest moment." He said pausing, "Well given our size I'm sure we can do a bit better at keep track of our people. I don't intend to leave anyone behind and from what I know of the Captain she doesn't either."

"That was the impression I got when I met her earlier," Colt said jovially. "You seem to be a smart guy, successful, someone who should probably be a Lieutenant Commander, running an Intel department on a much larger ship. So, what's the catch? What brings you to this island of misfit toys? I punched a general, the captain pissed off an admiral. What's your story?"

"Rather new to Intelligence, but mainly need a quick exit from my last posting. Sleeping with the Captain drunk on shoreleave. Needed a new posting, and with the glowing recommendation from my last Captain, Command posted me here." The Lieutenant replied.

Colt laughed.

"That sounds about right," he said. "Proof positive that you've paid your entrance fee to the USS Valiant, which I'm sure will become what, I'm not sure, but we'll definitely be known."

The Lieutenant smirked. "Well if there's nothing else Senior, I should get to work. My doors always open if there's anything you need."

"Same goes for you, Lieutenant," Colt said as he rose from his chair with a smirk to match Evan's. "You need something, I'm you're guy. If you haven't figured this out yet, we Chief Petty Officer's run Starfleet. We just let the rest of you think you're in charge."

"Oh I'm well aware that you do." He said with a nod before rising and heading to his office.

<< OFF >>

Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Coltan Xan
Chief of the Boat

Lieutenant Evan Lougheed
Chief Intelligence Officer
A Spook From the Past USS Valiant
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Leigh was happy to get out about the ship albeit a small one but it allowed her to stretch her legs a bit and to get out of the Bridge, which seemed to be the focal point of all of the admin work and with an XO aboard, she delegated some of those duties to him 'Sharing is caring,' she thought, allowing a grin to form. As she rounded a corner, she spotted a man dressed in a Starfleet Intel uniform stepping through the docking port from the starbase. 'Must be the resident spook,' she thought as she made her way towards the man. She wasn't all too keen about Intel officers, seeing them as a necessary evil as they delved in secrecy and deception. As someone who came up through Security and Tactical, Leigh preferred a straight up fight. "Welcome aboard, lieutenant."

"Ma'am." He said with a nod, "Lieutenant Lougheed, Intelligence Officer." He said handing her his orders. A dufflebag over one sholder carrying the personal effects he had brought with him. He had never served on a Defiant, but had done a two week cruise aboard one while at the War College. He knew how small the ships were, hopefully this time he may have his own quarters, and at least they wouldn't be hot bunking.

"With me, lieutenant," Leigh gestured as she began to read over his orders and records. The name then struck a cord that stopped her in her tracks as she turned to look at the man. "Evan?"

"Yes ma'am." He said with a smirk. "Wasn't sure you remember me. I mean Security was what, a grad class of 200 our year."

Leigh continued to glance at Evan's record and continued her walk. "Something like that, but I never forget those I spent 4 years with. So how did you come to be in Intel?"

"My CO on the Arc Royal recommended me for the Advanced Intel Course at the War College. Never hurts to have a few more tricks in the bag. Although admittedly, people see the collar and tend to run in fear now. Terrible for the social life." He added with a smirk.

"I can only imagine. I'll admit, I'm not much of a fan for Intel but you know me, I always loved a fight," she grinned. "How has Starfleet treated you otherwise?"

"Not as well as it's treated you, Commander." He quipped, "It's been alright, keeps me busy, hasn't killed me you know, what more can we ask for." He said. "How about yourself."

Leigh forced a grin. She may be a commander with her own command, yet life had been rough for her. She had lost plenty of men and women under her command, been demoted despite working hard--even so much that she sacrificed her personal life to do so. "It's been fine," she said simply, pausing for a moment as she rounded a corner to go up the ramp to Deck Two. "The Intel Department aboard the Valiant will have extra duties in regards to field reconnaissance and special operations. If there any special equipment you need, you have my permission to have it so long as it falls within the Federation Standards. Also, your department Office and Central Operations in located on Deck One, Aft of the Main Bridge, next to the Armory. Any questions?"

"No, that should be it for now. Do we have our first mission yet?" He asked.

"Not yet. For now, it will be to start our patrol route in the Icor Sector, which borders Tholian and Gorn Space," Leigh replied as she handed Evan's orders back to him. "Should be fun," she grinned. "I suppose I should let you settle in and get to know your department."

"Thank you ma'am. Looking forward to it." He said with a nod.
Kitty Meeting
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New assignments were a part of Starfleet life. Me'Shlaht knew that and yet... she was anxious, like a house cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Not knowing if Commander Jacobs were the sort to suppress her feral Ferasan nature, she had read the commander's personnel file many times. Now aboard the Valiant, she had sought a private place to read the file again. Tail and ears twitching as she read, she paced like a caged animal. Starfleet files so rarely told the whole story, but she had little other information to work with. One former commander had embraced and encouraged her wild spirit. The other... had not.

Me'Shlaht could not tell from the file which type of commander this Commander Jacobs was going to be. There was only one way to find out. "Computer." She paused, giving the computer a moment to adapt to the purring quality of her speech. "What is the location of Commander Leigh Jacobs?"

"Commander Jacobs is in the ready room."

Me'Shlaht nodded slightly and quickly proceeded to the bridge. With only four decks, the Valiant lacked a turbolift system, which suited her just fine. Easily finding the correct ladder, she leaped as far up it as she could and then quickly climbed upward, whipping onto the bridge and pressing the door chime to the ready room in order to announce her arrival.

Jacobs had finished her tour of the Valiant as she sat down behind the desk in her ready room. She had never even been aboard a Defiant Class vessel before and now she was to command one. She still thought it was sort of a cruel joke by the Admiralty to commission a Defiant Class on an independent mission instead of being assigned to a Starbase. The tour had barely taken 45 minutes and with only four decks and no turbolift, it was just that--a cruel joke. But one she was going to take seriously. The chime sounded, breaking her out of her train of thought. "Enter."

The doors parted to let her in, and Me'Shlaht stepped nimbly through, making sure to secure her tail inside the room before the door closed. She could tell nothing of Commander Jacobs by sight, other than that she was a powerfully built woman. Strong. Not someone who appeared afraid, that much was certain. Hoping this meeting went well, Me'Shlaht made a small purring noise before speaking. "Lieutenant Me'Shlaht, reporting for duty, ma'am."

Leigh looked up at the feline woman and stood, allowing a grin to show as she gestured to the seat in front on her desk. "Have a seat, lieutenant. It's good to have you aboard."

"Thank you, ma'am." A little puzzled by such a cheerful greeting, Me'Shlaht sat down in the indicated chair, letting her tail drape over the arm of it. "You seem... happy to see me."

"Is there a reason why I shouldn't be happy to see my Chief of Tactical and Security aboard?" Leigh said. "If you'd prefer, I can be a real bitch or so I've been told on a few occasions."

"It's simply not what I expected. Most Starfleet commanders would be dismayed to have a Ferasan on board." Me'Shlaht shrugged slightly.

"Ah, well, as you'll find out I'm not most commanders. Ferasan may be wild as opposed to Catians but they are fierce warriors--a perfect fit for a warship such as the Valiant. I have read your records and we have more in common than you would think." She paused a moment before continuing. "Like you, I also lost my parents and I also came up in the ranks in the Security and Tactical field."

"A Caitian would be quite out of place on such a ship, I agree." They had only just met, but Me'Shlaht was pretty sure she liked Leigh pretty well. "I did review your record and read that information. It seems we are more alike than one might think."

Leigh grinned. "I believe so. Being a small crew and ship, I want to make sure the Security department is ready for anything we may encounter. Therefore, I'm giving you some discretion on what personal weapons to add to our armory, provided they fall within Federation guidelines."

"Really?" Me'Shlaht's eyes lit up and her ears and tail quivered with excitement. Sure, she had to follow Federation rules, but there were so many things she could stock the armory with! "Well then. I want my officers trained to handle blades and projectile weapons. Too many security departments rely on phasers alone, can't fight without them. We're not going to be that type of ship."

"That's good to hear because our patrol mostly covers space bordering the Klingon, Gorn, and Tholian territories. Being that they are all territorial species, it's likely we'll have an encounter with them," Leigh said.

"I look forward to such encounters." Me'Shlaht's expression turned downright predatory, just the tip of her tail twitching.

"That's the attitude I want," Leigh grinned, liking Me'Shlaht so far. Many security officers she met were more concerned with peace keeping and using violence as a last resort--appearing more like diplomats than a Security Officer. Aboard a Defiant Class, she needed those in Security who loved to fight--who wouldn't back down when called upon. "Do you have any questions?"

"Not at the moment. But if any questions do come up, I know where to find you." Me'Shlaht was certain there would be questions later, but for now she was content to carry on toward checking out her department for any needed supplies or personnel.

"Good. I'll leave you to getting your department ready. You're dismissed," Leigh said.

"Thank you, ma'am." With another mildly predatory grin, Me'Shlaht rose from her chair and gracefully swept out of the ready room, on her way to inspect her department.
Engineered Engineer USS Valiant
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Leigh looked out the tiny viewport in her ready room, watching a worker bee pod fly by. They were almost ready for launch and she had just received word the Valiant had finally been assigned a Chief Engineer. She had taken the time to look over his records and while he wasn't the most experienced Engineer in Starfleet, he did seem to get things done--which is something she liked in an officer.

Lieutenant JG Lucius took a deep breath and stepped aboard the U.S.S. Valiant for the first time. He was both elated and nervous. He had only been in Starfleet for two years, at least out of the Academy for two years, but he was ambitious. In his two years he had managed several promotions, one of his rank and one of his position. He was the type that pushed himself hard and focused on perfection. He didn't accept failure. Not from himself, not from his crewmates. Granted, this attitude didn't always make him popular among his crewmates, but it didn't stop Lucius from continuing his ambitious path. He had been pushing the last six months for another promotion from Assistant Chief Engineer to Chief Engineer and had finally gotten his wish. The ship was Defiant class, small but fast with some interesting engine configurations.

As small as the ship was, Lucius was more than happy with his assignment. He made his way to the Captain's ready room after dropping off his bag and checking on his brother. His twin brother Braith would be joining him aboard the ship. It would be the first time that they would serve together. He paused briefly at the door to the ready room and pulled on his uniform, making sure everything was in place. Only when he was completely satisfied with his uniform did he press the buzzer.

Leigh turned at the sound of the chime. "Enter," she called.

Lucius stepped through the door and saluted his new Captain smartly. "Lieutenant Junior Grade Lucius reporting for duty, Captain." He tried to maintain eye contact, because he always felt that that was important, but he couldn't help a quick look around the room. Even though he had studied the schematics of the Defiant class extensively, it was different looking at a blueprint versus being in the actual room.

"At ease, and welcome aboard, lieutenant. Have a seat. Can I get you anything?" Leigh asked, gesturing to the chair near her desk.

"Thank you, Captain and no thank you. I'm good." He relaxed a little and slid into a seat. "I have to say that I'm very glad to be on board. You won't be disappointed. I can promise you that." He probably didn't intend his statement to sound cocky, but it did. Lucius considered it just simply stating facts. He wasn't a very tall man. He looked no different than a human, but his records said he was born on Angel One. His hair was blonde and pulled back from his face so tightly in a small ponytail it was possible it was changing the shape of his eyes slightly.

"Well, you're definitely confident," she grinned, as she took a seat behind her desk. "That's good. Once you get situated with your department and the ship, I would like to get the rest of the crew at least trained in damage control as to be able to help out should we ever require the extra man power." In Leigh's opinion, with a ship this small, it was a good idea to get the crew cross trained in medical and damage control.

"Yes, sir,"Lucius replied with a nod of his head and a smile. He liked this Captain so far. They seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "I'd like to run my own inspection of the engines, sir. We're already docked and still waiting for crew to arrive, so it won't take up any sort of important time... Are there any other things that you would like me to do before we leave dock?" He tipped his blonde head to the side, looking at her seriously.

"Go ahead with your inspection. Just make sure the Valiant is ready to go as is your department is all that I ask," she replied.

"Is the second officer aboard yet? Or do I give my duty rosters and schedules to you for now?" He wondered if there was need for a second officer on a ship this small. "Or the first officer? I also have a request, sir."

"Technically, Doctor Samar is the Second Officer but Commander Cross is the XO, so you can hand your schedules to him. What is your request, lieutenant?"

Lucius tipped his chin, almost like he was flipping his hair out of his face, but it wasn't in his face. "I am not certain what your bunking policies are, but my twin brother is going to be aboard as well. I was hoping we could bunk together. If that would be alright. We're already used to each other."

Leigh found the request odd but she was all for cohesion and if the two brothers wanted to be bunked together, she had no problem with it. She shrugged. "Sure, why not. Just be sure to let Operations know so we don't have any mix ups on room assignments."

"Thank you, sir. I promise you that you'll have the best Engineering department in the fleet," he said with confidence, his eyes narrowing a little with his seriousness. "I might be young, but I won't disappoint you."

Leigh grinned at the man's boasting. 'Yep, definitely overconfidence,' she thought. "That's good to hear. If there's nothing else, you're dismissed."

Lucius stood. "Thank you, sir." His next plan of action was engineering. He wanted a get a good look at what he had to work with. Not so much the engines as much as the crew he would have to work with. He saluted the Captain again and turned for the door.
Phantom Forces Vestix Two
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OOC: This begins our first mission. :) Notes will be added shortly.

Vestix Two, a barely rated Class M planet, rife with volcanoes was an ideal place for the Tholian Colony, which sat close to the star in the Vestix System that sat only two light years from the Federation Border and a three light years from the Gorn Border. The colony was established to monitor activity along both borders.

The Tholian General stared at the sensor output in the colony's Operations Center on the The sensor contact had seemed to appear out of nowhere, by not triggering the long range sensors. The sensors were designed to alert him to any vessel that approached the colony. He also used them to keep an eye on the Federation ships. He would never understand how anyone could live in such cold environments--anything below 400 degrees Fahrenheit was too cold for him.

He then turned the sensors onto the strange craft to get a better reading--it was fast--and a design he had never seen before, yet the trajectory it entered his space was from the Federation. 'A new ship class? An invasion?' he thought as he activated the alert panel. The sensors registered a massive energy buildup and a feeling of dread came over the Tholian general. "Shit..." was all he muttered as he was blinded by a blinding white light...and then complete darkness. Throughout the colony, buildings and structures exploded with a tremendous force before being vaporized, along with it's residents. The ground beneath the colony shook violently, causing it to split apart as the the tectonic plates were broke open, causing what remained to fall into the deep crevasses.

In high orbit above the colony, the ship seemed to moved at an incredible speed before disappearing in a white light.

Thirty minutes later, a Tholian vessel dropped out of warp, approaching the planet, having picked up the alert. On board the ship, The captain moved closer to the viewer, He could not believe what was being shown. Where the colony had been was now blacken, the ground scarred and ripped open. His body resonated as he related his commands to those on the bridge with him. "Any transmissions or bio signatures?"

"None, captain," came the resonating harmonic from his Tactical Officer.

The Tholian Captain Zor seemed to grow redder and his eyes glowed brighter as his anger grew. "Find out who did this!"

Send Off Messhall; USS Valiant
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Commander Leigh Jacobs had decided to call a send off celebration, so she had some real food sent over from the starbase to the ship's mess hall. The Valiant was only a days time from being ready to launch. She had invited the available crew to the celebration, which would pack the small mess hall but she hoped the celebration would help keep morale high on such a small ship without any luxuries of the larger Federation ships. The smell of the food filled the mess hall as she looked it over, awaiting for the crew to arrive.

Colt entered the Mess Hall and found the captain there waiting for the rest of her crew.

"Ma'am," he said. "Don't worry. They'll show. It's one of the last really fresh meals they're going to get before we shove off. They're not going to pass this up."

Evan stepped into the room and nodded to the two, "Captain, Senior Chief." He said with a smile before helping himself to the punch. "Sadly I assume there isn't anything stronger lying around if we're due to deploy tomorrow?" He asked tasting the drink.

A grin formed at Leigh's mouth and she looked from Evan to Coltan. "I have a bottle of aged Scotch behind the bar. Captain's prerogative, but that's for later."

Before Evan could respond the door opened a few more people entering. "I guess as senior staff we should mingle." Lougheed added, with a nod to the pair before moving off to speak to some of the new arrivals.

Mark skidded to the door of the Mess Hall, taking a few moments to straighten his attire. As was often the case when it came to social occasions, he had become flustered at the thought of being late. As the doors opened, it turned out he was one of the first to arrive. Secretly, he loved social gatherings, it was often something he’d be excited about for some time leading up to it.

He proceeded to make a purposeful stroll to the drinks table so he wouldn’t be empty handed, throwing nods and smiles at the familiar faces he’d run into so far.

"Welcome, commander," Leigh greeted. "Glad you showed."

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world!” Mark reached for the food table. “Good chance to work the room and meet everyone. Literally everyone.”

Leigh chuckled at the joke. "Very true." It was these small commands which made it tougher on captains because whether they wanted to or not, the close space made them all each closer to one another--hell even Admiral Archer's NX Class Enterprise carried more crew than the Valiant did. "How has been your transition so far?"

"I'm getting there..." he looked around again, having previously been used to much more space than this. "More than anything else I'm looking forward to getting underway and sinking my teeth back into something again."

"Be careful what you ask for," Leigh warned with a grin.

Mark returned the grin. "I'm at my best when everything's falling apart around our ears, don't worry about it!"

Leigh nodded, noting her XO's confidence...or perhaps over confidence. "Enjoy yourself, Commander."

Me'Shlaht was not fond of parties. She'd never understood the tendency of other species to want to have a party for everything. But this would probably be their last chance for real food for a long time, and she knew she would regret not partaking in fresh meat. Besides, Commander Jacobs had suggested it would be best if everyone came. So she slinked into the mess hall and casually milled about for a moment or two before scoping out where the food tables were.

"I'm glad you decided to show up," Leigh said, approaching the feline woman. "How has preparations with Security gone?"

"Preparations are going well, but I am waiting for headquarters to authorize and send a complement of TR-116 rifles. They seem to think we will not need them." The tip of Me'Shlaht's tail twitched in annoyance.

"I hope they do send them, because I've got field kits for patching up our people if any of us get shot with one for some reason," Lieutenant Alara Samar commented as she snuck in just in time to catch the tail end of the conversation. "I'm not late am I? I'd hate to miss out on anything that isn't spit out of one of these replicators."

"You're right on time, doctor," Leigh grinned at the woman before turning back to Me'Shlaht. "I'll have a word with them. Being an Academy Instructor and former Security Chief has it's advantages," she winked. Leigh over the years had a few contacts at Starfleet Command that now worked at Starfleet Security and all she needed was to call in a few favors owed to her.

"I would appreciate it, ma'am. Thank you." Me'Shlaht's expression softened slightly.

"From a medical standpoint, I hope you requested the model B over the model C. The projectiles leave a cleaner wound and are easier to patch up if I need to keep a prisoner or, heaven forbid, one of our own people." Alara added. "Besides, from what I've heard unless we're fighting Borg there's not that big of an advantage of having the model C."

[[ Sometime Later ]]

Vitaath entered the messhall and found about a dozen of the crew present. She had tried to balance her compulsive punctuality with a social desire to not awkwardly be one of the first people there. She smiled politely as she shifted past a pair of teal collared POs and moved to the food table. Selecting a few items she turned to the room and looked for a familiar face. She saw none, which having only been aboard for a few hours, most of those spent in her quarters and her room mate not present, quickly exhausted the roster of people she knew. She was quickly intercept by a very talkative Bolian who introduced himself as a Crewman in Security exited for his first shipboard posting.

As Colt's sharp Vulcanoid ears scanned the room, he picked up the lovely sounds of a Bolian unloading his life story on an unsuspecting young officer. Taking pity the young woman, he walked over to her.

"Excuse me, Crewman," Colt said. "I need to talk to the lieutenant for a moment. Why don't you run along and mingle a bit."

"Oh, of course, Senior Chief!" the Bolian said. "I was just telling the lieutenant here..."

"That sounds fascinating!" Colt said. "But I really need to speak with the lieutenant myself. There's a good man."

The Bolian looked like he was going to speak again, but seemed to remember that he was talking to a chief who could at any moment start chewing his ass, so he nodded and left.

"Of course," he said. "Lieutenant. Senior."

"Senior Chief Coltan Xan, ma'am," Colt said after the Bolian had moved on, reaching out for a handshake. "I hope you don't mind me rescuing you from that young man."

"Well Senior Chief. Coltan Xan, I owe you a drink for that one. Let me buy you a punch." She said with a small grin. "Lieutenant JG Vitaath Zh'challiss, Engineering Officer. You can call me Vita." She said extending her hand.

"Nice to meet you, Vita," Colt said, accepting the cup of punch. "My friends call me Colt. I'm the Valiant's Chief of the Boat, so if there's any issue with discipline among your NCOs or Crewmen, please let me know and I'll straighten them out right quick. Same goes if you noticed or discover that someone among your NCOs or Crewmen are struggling with something. It's my job to help them out."

"Thanks," She said with a nod handing him a glass of punch. "There's that drink I owe you."

"Thanks," Colt said. "So, where was your last assignment?"

"My last posting was SB 447 along the Klingon boarder. It was pretty uneventful to be honest." She said with a small laugh. "What about yourself?"

"The brig," Colt replied. "But before that I was Command Master Chief of the USS Muldoon."

"Probably not a particularly eventful last posting for you either then." She said with a small smile.

Leigh stepped in front of the crowd, by the small bar and cleared her throat to be loud enough to hear. "Excuse me! May I have your attention!"

Vita turned stopped mid conversation and turned to face the Captain.

Leigh continued after all eyes turned to her and the conversations died off. She held up a bottle of Scotch dated 2357 and handed it to a nearby crewman. "Pour everyone a shot, would you?" she said, opening the bottle and pouring a bit into a shot glass on the bar.

"Yes ma'am," the crewman replied, taking the bottle before going about the crew, starting with the senior officers first.

"I want to congratulate everyone on a fine job you've all done!" Leigh smiled at her new crew. The Valiant will be launching at 0800 tomorrow to begin her patrol of the Icor Sector. So far, I am proud of you all! No doubt we will likely face dangerous situations but you would not be aboard if I didn't have full faith in your abilities." She grabbed the shot glass and raised her hand. "Here is to the crew of the USS Valiant!"

Mark shuffled a little closer to the bar to catch a glimpse of the bottle. Whiskey. Nice. He graciously received his glass from the crewman, propping himself up in prime position so that he could see some of the funny faces that would be pulled any second now. It was an acquired taste.

Evan clinked his glass with a few nearby crew mates before knocking back the shot. "Nice speech ma'am." He said with a grin. "Let's hope you didn't set the bar too high." He joked.

"Then I'll be sure to give you a boost, lieutenant," she replied, grinning.
Setting Off Bridge; USS Valiant MD 01; 0800 Hours
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Leigh sat down in the captain's chair for the first time since taking command of the Valiant. She slowly ran her hands down the arm rests, and looked at the view screen that showed the docking ring of Starbase 336. One of Starfleet's smallest, fastest, and most powerful warships was now at her command. Doubt began to surface about being able to command. 'You got this, Leigh,' she thought to herself. She activated the ship wide comm system. "Attention all department heads, give me a go or no go for departure."

Lieutenant JG Lucius tapped his comm. "Engineering is a go, Captain." Even though the last couple of days had been a struggle for the Engineering department, Lucius felt confident that they were ready.

Me'Shlaht could have waited until everyone who wasn't on the bridge commed in, but it didn't make too much sense to wait when she was literally standing right behind Leigh's chair. "Security is also a go."

"Intel is ready." Evan said from his seat.

Rather than sitting still in sickbay, Alara was standing just inside the bridge. "Sickbay is prepped and ready."

Colt stood behind Leigh's command chair, off to the right.

"The First Lieutenant reported to me earlier that all of the non-rated crewmembers are squared away," he said. Colt grinned. "So all the decks will be scrubbed, the heads cleaned, the trash emptied, and if Waste Reclamation springs a leak, there will be someone to clean it up."

The comment from Senior Chief Xan made Leigh chuckle. "That's good to know, senior chief."

"Operations is a go, captain," replied the Operations officer, Ensign Mortewomble.

"How are we looking at CONN, XO?" Leigh replied, leaning forward slightly.

"CONN is going to need another 15 seconds..." Mark's hands flew at a rate of knots over the console, the self-confidence (read, over-confidence) that often came back to haunt him had struck again since he'd not spent any time in a holodeck flying a Defiant-class. The layout of the console was a little different to what he was used to, and from the moment he'd sat in the chair it'd been a rush to get everything laid out how he wanted it. "...and we're good to fly"

"Science reports ready," Ensign Nora reported from the Science station. Lt. Wilder had placed her on the bridge as he was busy setting up the Science lab.

"Good," Leigh leaned back in the chair satisfied thus far. "Commander Cross, take us out. Once we clear Starbase traffic, set us on a course of zero-nine-zero mark two-one-five at warp factor seven.

"Aye, taking us out..." Mark, now feeling comfortable with his control layout, relaxed his shoulders and leaned back into his chair, expertly guiding the vessel towards the expanse of space. The handling was as light as a feather, this was going to be fun. When they were in the clear (and without scraping against anything on the way out) he pulled the ship around deftly to match their intended course. "Course laid in, taking us to warp."

On screen, the stars turned to streaks of light as the Warp engines engaged and propelled the ship towards their destination.
Gordon Ramsay is my Engineer Engineering Before leaving space dock
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Lieutenant JG Lucius was about to get everything he had currently wanted. Of course his ambitions went way beyond Chief Engineer, but it was definitely toward the top of his list. He stepped through the door and into Engineering grinning like a madman and rubbing his hands together. He let the doors close behind himself before cupping his hands around his mouth and using them like a megaphone. "EVERYBODY GATHER UP!" Lucius had always loved to be the center of attention, but he wouldn't have put it as such if he had been asked. They crew in front of him was definitely not moving fast enough, nor did he think that they really appreciated how much he was going to make their lives better. He clapped his hands together like that would encourage people to move faster or something.

Once everyone had gathered Lucius cleared his throat. "Greetings everyone. If you don't already know who I am, I am Lieutenant JG Lucius and I'm your Chief Engineer. I want a clean ship people. I'm not here to be your friend. I expect my people to show up on time and do their work. When you are in Engineering you are on MY TIME! Do you understand? When you are on my time you will do what I ask you, when I ask you and without argument. Is that clear? Anyone who wishes to argue will quickly find themselves out of my department. I'm going to come to each and every one of you today and make sure you know how to do your jobs. Do I make myself clear? Do you have any questions?" His tone was not exactly polite and he seemed to be very serious about what he was saying.

Vitaath was standing near the main the console reviewing the matter energy conversions records when the Chief got started. She understood the Chiefs attitude having encountered it before, she'd also seen it bite them in the ass when they were too interested in their own opinions and not open to other ideas. He was the Chief and it was his choice how to run the department.

"Chief," she said, seeing that Lucius was free. "We've finished, reviewing the engine matter-energy conversion logs. We've begun a level 3 diagnostic of the warp systems ahead of our departure."

Lucius was slowly making his way closer and closer towards her as she spoke, occasionally glancing her way and nodding in acknowledgement. "Good... I want those reports sent to my PaDD as soon as they're done." He stepped up next to a young woman working on a console and looked over her shoulder and then looked back at the Andorian female, then did a double take and stared back at the console. He pushed the Ensign out of the way of the console roughly causing her to gasp in surprise. Lucius' fingers flew over the surface of the console. "What in the hells are you trying to do woman?" he yelled at her over his shoulder. "Why don't you just jump in the reactor core! That would make my life a lot easier!" He actually motioned to the reactor in case the Ensign was unsure of its location.

The crewman didn't know what to say, she just stood there, her eyes downcast and her hands shaking. "I'm sorry, sir?" she tried.

"I don't want to hear it! Get out of my sight!" Lucius shoved her out of his way for a second time and stepped toward the Andorian female again. The Ensign slunk off quickly. "Where did they get these people? Do they know anything about what they're doing?" He was staring at Lieutenant JG Zh'challiss as if she might have some kind of answer.

"Talk to the Captain," Vita said, with the diagnostics underway she moved to the damage control station. Well what would be the damage control station when needed, given the small size of the Valiant it was currently displaying secondary system readouts. "We've got some minor power fluctuations in the EPS taps in section 3 delta," she said. "Petty Officer Martinez, grab a kit and come with me."

"Hey!" Lucius shouted. "What level is the EPS tap set to? I've heard that anything less than a level three can cause that. We might need to crank it up a bit. Please be careful what you touch in there." EPS taps could be extremely dangerous and even though they hadn't left space dock, they could still be carrying a backlog of power, just waiting for the right conduit to release it. Any direct current from the ship would more than likely stop the recipient's heart.

Lucius didn't wait for an answer, instead he turned his back and went back to micromanaging everyone else in the room. He had zero tolerance and zero tact. He yelled, insulted, belittled and insulted. "I wouldn't trust you running a bath. Let alone an Engineering console!" He caught one crewman so off guard that the girl burst into tears and ran off as he yelled after her. "I've never ever, ever, ever met someone I believe in as little as you!"

Vita seeing the Chief already changing focus ignored his questions, letting someone still in engineering deal with it as her and Martinez moved into one of the jefferies tubes. Getting to the junction she pulled the panel off as Martinez opened the tool kit and handed her a tricorder. "It looks like we've got a damaged isolinear in the control assembly. Grab me the flux decoupler," she said, accepting the tool. Ten minutes later the pair were crawling back into engineering, the problem solved.

The situation in Engineering had not changed much when Vita and Martinez returned from the jefferies tube. Lucius was still roaming the room and insulting people. "My grandmother could do better! And she's DEAD!" When he spotted the Andorian Lieutenant from earlier he made his way towards her. He pointed a finger at her when he was sure he was close enough for her to hear him. "Good job, Lieutenant Zh'challiss," was all he said.

Vita shook her head and returned to work, this certainly wouldn't be a boring assignment.

Small Talk Messhall; USS Valiant Current
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With the Valiant having recently departed Starbase 336, Leigh had taken the time to grab a bite to eat from the Mess Hall. With the preparations of launching, she had forgone eating breakfast and now she had some down time. Before her sat a nutritional replicated steak, or so she told herself. Taking a bite to eat, she was surprised it wasn't gross but it wasn't the same texture and taste as a real steak.

Colt entered and clocked the captain sitting by herself, eating what he assumed was a replicated 'fake steak'. He smiled and walked up to her table.

"Want some company, Skip?" he said jovially. "That is, if you'll break bread with someone who works for a living."

Leigh chuckled and looked around. "I don't see any junior enlisted personnel around for you to boss around so it can't be you," she joked back. "Have a seat," she gestured to the seat across from her.

"Thanks," Colt replied. "Let me just quickly grab something to eat and drink and I'll be right back."

Colt walked over to the replicators and ordered up corned beef hash with two eggs over medium and a glass of iced tea. As he always did with replicated food, he drove all thoughts of where replicator matter came from in the interests of not starving to death. He returned to the captain's table where he took a seat across from her. He broke his 'egg' yokes and took a few bites of his hash with the eggs. Satisfied that his meal was palatable, he turned some of his attention to his dining companion.

"So," he said. "You were a ground-pounder before you went to the academy?"

"Yeah. Spent four years with the Second Battalion, Seventh Marines and saw my first action on Cardassia during the invasion," she said, remembering the hate she had for the Dominion for taking her life away from her. She still hated them and the Cardassians.

"That was the one part of that war I missed out on," Colt said. "I was a little preoccupied, what with being left on Chintoka. The Breen and the Jem'Hadar didn't really take kindly to us blowing up their facilities and supplies. The Jem'Hadar were particularly touchy about us blowing up their ketrecel white. The Battle for Cardassia must have been a shocking introduction to life in the SFMC."

Colt smiled at the last part to show he was joking.

Leigh returned the smile after finishing another bite. "It was. You think you're prepared for it, but you never are but yeah, I'd imagine the Jem H'dar were very pissed at you for destroying their ketrecel white. So, you never found the urge to get a commission?"

"Not yet, anyway," Colt said. "The warrant ranks might be more my style. I've considered applying to the Fleet Staff Operator's Course. I have the educational background and it's available to CPOs and commissioned officers below O-5. I've also considered applying to the Physician Assistant program at Starfleet Medical or even to the full MD program. I'd take a commission for either of those. I'm going to be alive for at least another 150 years, probably active for over 100 of those years. I've got time. At this point, I've dug myself into a bit of a hole that I'll have to claw my way out of before I can consider anything like that. Funny how it takes a lifetime of good decisions to earn the respect of your colleagues and superiors and just one bad decision to lose it. Why'd you apply to the Academy? More attractive lifestyle options?"

Again Colt grinned to show he was just poking fun with the lifestyle options comment. He was career Starfleet (for the time being, anyway) but for most of that he'd been assigned to the Marines as a Corpsman. He knew exactly how rough life in the Corps was. Beyond that, though, he was genuinely interested in the woman who would be making life and death decisions about his life.

Leigh laughed. "Well, it does help not having to sleep on the ground or the mud. But it was actually my Battalion CO who gave me the idea to go to the academy. I guess he thought I was officer material and convinced me to go. I also remembered how in awe and intimidated I was the first time I walked onto the Bridge of a Federation ship as an enlisted Marine. I had heard of the stories of Admirals Archer, Kirk, and Picard growing up and that was what I wanted--to make a difference--more so than I ever could as a Marine so that's why I decided to join."

"You didn't feel like you were making a difference as a Marine?" Colt asked.

Leigh shook her head slightly. "I never said that. But who can make more of a difference in the galaxy--a Marine or a captain with a starship? As a Marine, I could only do so much to protect people but with a starship, I can travel to different planets and defend them against ground and space borne threats."

"True," Colt said. "But I think you're generalizing. You, specifically, can make a bigger difference as a starship captain, but that's not true for everyone. The ranks of the Corps and even Starfleet for that matter are filled with people who can make a bigger difference in the roles they currently fill than they would as a starship captain. Don't forget the 'little people', Commander. Starship captains don't make a difference in a void. You make crucial decisions and issue orders. The rest of us make those orders reality. Without us, you'd be that famous tree in the forest, falling with no one around to notice whether you made a sound or not."

Colt laughed and shook his head.

"Bet you realize that your steak came with a side of Old Earth philosophy!" he said.

"No, but it could use some seasoning," she said as she swallowed the last bite. "So, any family to miss?"

"Plenty," Colt said. "If you count all the people in my clan. Lots and lots of relatives by blood or by marriage. I'm 'Uncle Colt' to a lot of people from my clan, and I have some Human cousins who have kids so I've got some second cousins, and some of them have kids, so I've got third cousins. I send out general messages to them regularly with updates on me and some images here and there of me in strange places or with interesting people. Not as often as they'd like, but I've spent a lot of my career doing stuff I'm not really allowed to tell my family about. If someone has a special day, a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, has a baby, you know, the important stuff, I try to send them something more personal. And boy, do they contact me! When I can, I try to make it back to Rigel IV. Sometimes I'll go and visit some cousins on Alpha Centauri or Earth. I split one leave between Bajor and Cardassia recently. I have family working on agricultural projects on both planets. What about you?"

Leigh shook her head. "I lost my biological family in the Dominion War but I'm rather close with my foster family. Besides my foster parents, I have two foster brothers and one foster sister. I'm especially close with my foster sister--she's always looked up to me."

"I'm sorry about your biological family," Colt said, his tone genuine. "Were they on Betazed during the occupation?"

Leigh nodded as she recalled what happened. "My father was a member of the Betazed Council when they invaded so he...and most of the other ruling members of the government and their families were killed. I survived because I was on a trip with friends off world when it happened."

"Well, I'm very sorry," he said. "Their deaths motivated you to enlist, then?"

"Not at first. Their deaths initially sent me into a deep depression for several months. I had a friend on Earth who convinced me to enlist into the Marines. At first, I thought he was nuts but he convinced me it was better to do something about my parents' deaths instead of 'moping around' as he put it.

"Hey," Colt replied. "Don't knock moping. I've made some of my most life changing self-discoveries while moping. But, yeah, I get it. At some point the moping has to stop and you have to get up and start living again. Once you pass that point, you start to forget what it means to be alive, to have people in your life. Did it help? Joining the Marines? I mean, it led you to this point, where I get to have you as my boss and colleague, so I think your decision to enlist was a good choice, but that's just me."

Leigh grinned. "Thanks but yes, it was a good decision--it gave me focus and direction in my life. Before my parents were killed, I was, to be honest, a spoiled materialistic brat. I had everything I could have ever wanted and then one day it was all gone and I had no clue on how to move on until I enlisted. Funny how it takes a Drill Instructor calling me "cupcake" and kicking sand in my face to get you to realize that."

Colt chuckled.

"Even the most outgoing, socially conscious teenager finds their worldview challenged in Basic," he said. "I thought I knew what it meant to want to serve, but what I learned in Starfleet Basic is that I really didn't know anywhere near as much as I thought I did about how things in the galaxy worked. That's the intention, of course. At that point, I was ready to really learn."

Leigh nodded in agreement before standing. "I better get back to the bridge. See you, Senior Chief," she grinned as she took her tray back to the replicator to be recycled.

"See you around, Skip," Colt replied. He pulled a PaDD from one of his leg pouches and began looking over some things as he finished his iced tea and gave his stomach time to start digesting his meal before he went back to work.
O' Brother Where Art Thou? Crew Bunks Present
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Lucius was waiting at the airlock when Ensign Braith boarded the USS Valiant. Regardless of how much Braith probably didn't want to see Lucius right away at his new assignment, Lucius was actually excited that they were going to finally get to serve aboard the same ship. They might argue a lot, but they were twins. Two parts of the same whole, even as opposite as they were. Lucius had been feeling like something was missing from his life for awhile, but he was pretty sure that would be solved by his brother's presence. He grinned when the door slid open. "Hey there little brother!"

The moment Braith stepped through the airlock to board the Valiant a familiar musky scent struck his senses and the hair on the back of his neck arose. It was not fear so much as it was a very familiar anxiety. Why do I smell... the thoughts of his brother came to his mind only mere seconds before the voice snared his attention and pulled it towards the source of the voice. The door had slid open and Braith had been preoccupied with reading a PaDD as he walked on through. That was when the door opened, the scent hit him like a wave, and the voice of his brother all hit him one after another.

"Oh for the sake of the stars," replied Braith stopping in his tracks. He looked at Lucius. "Oh... hey. You did not respond to my last three messages asking how you were doing, and I am not little. I am just younger and only by a few minutes... probably because you pushed me out of the way just so you could be the firstborn," added Braith. "Are you stationed on the station... or?" he did not even want to ask it. Oh no. He cannot be stationed here, can he?.

Lucius scoffed. "Station? Do you really think that Starfleet would let my brilliance go to waste on a station? C'mon now... I'm stationed here with you, little brother!" He grinned broadly. "Someone had to keep an eye on you. I even requested shared quarters. You'll still have to report in, of course, but I can take you to our bunk. Did you get shorter?" They were exactly the same height, matter of fact, despite his brother's dyed hair, Lucius still felt like he was looking in a mirror. "Have you heard from Dad?"

“Did your ego get larger last time I spoke with you?” countered the ‘younger’ brother with his own inquiry. “Of course I have heard from dad. I actually try to keep in contact with my family unlike some people,” he added with a glare at his brother. “I’m sorry, I thought perhaps small starships were beneath you by now.”

Lucius rolled his eyes and started to lead the way down the corridor. "My ego is just fine. Landed me Chief Engineer of this ship. And I'd keep in contact if anyone ever tried to contact me... besides you." He sighed. "Face it, Braith. They just don't understand me and how brilliant I am. I mean what did they think was going to happen? That they'd put me in Starfleet and I'd fail? Wanna come back home? Act like a man and stay at home taking care of kids?"

Braith sighed and shook his head. I give up my life for you and this is what I have to deal with, thought Braith. He looked at Lucious and was for a loss. What words could express his feelings now? “No, they did not expect that of you. None of us do. You were sent to the Academy to save you from yourself,” commented Braith. “You and your radicalism would get you shunned if not completely exiled from Angel I. You know what they used to do to men like you,” he added crossing his arms. “Who said I wanted to bunk with you? I spent my childhood doing that and I still have nightmares, Jerkface.”

Lucius stopped in the hallway and made this little put-upon noise. "Really? You really don't want to bunk with me?" He actually managed to look and sound hurt. "I just... I thought you might be uncomfortable. I don't know what I'm supposed to do about it now, so you'll just have to be stuck with me until I can ask for a reassignment... Daddy's boy." Lucius was quiet for several moments, which was mostly a miracle. "Why the hells are you even here? You graduated... you can go home... and... and I know good and well what they do to men like me on Angel One! It's barbaric!" He was definitely upset, but at this point it was hard to sort though the jumble of emotions he'd thrown at Braith.

Regardless of whether or not his brother's 'hurt' was real or just another charade from the pompous jerkface, Braith was attracted to it like a moth to a flame or a nurse to a wounded patient. As difficult as Lucius was, he was still Braith's brother. The nurse dropped the PaDD without thinking. It hit the deck floor with a good THUD. Maybe he broke it? Maybe Federation tech was more sturdy than his subconscious gave it credit. He ran towards his brother and wrapped his arms around Lucius' waist. Resting his head on the engineer's shoulder, Braith took in the other man's scent. It was nostalgia hitting the nostrils, his brain firing and conjuring up the good memories of home and of Lucius. "A billion stars between us cannot separate us" he said with a soft sigh and tender tone.

It had been awhile since anyone had touched Lucius physically. He stiffened for a moment, but relaxed. It was his brother after all and his brother's hair smelled like home. It brought Lucius a lot of comfort. His mind had been such a mess for weeks now with his transfer and promotion, but he relaxed, as he hugged Braith, for the first time in weeks. "I'm so glad you're here. I missed you." He actually sounded sincere. "I'm sorry I'm a jerkface..." he added. It might have sounded like a miracle, but Lucius had said he was sorry for his behavior. After enough sorries it was probably pretty clear that he was either not sorry or stupid. His Starfleet record and rank suggested that he wasn't stupid, so it had to be the first reason.

Braith held his brother for a few moments in a tight embrace before letting go or being forced to for the sake of his brother's dignity. "It's okay. You are my jerkface and Of course I will bunk with you. It will be like old times," he said with a warm smile. For better or for worse, he thought to himself. "I graduated, Lucius. Who the heck graduates from Starfleet Academy and doesn't serve? I'm here because this is where I ended up. It needed a nurse and well, I'm a nurse," he added teasingly.

"You're the perfect nurse," Lucius replied with the same confidence that he talked about himself. "At least I know people will get taken care of like they should with you onboard." He stood there sort of awkwardly. Lucius had never been good at displays of affection, it seemed to come hand in hand with his egomania. He also recognized his own awkwardness, but never seemed to do anything about correcting it. After several moments of silence he nodded. "Alright. You wanna see our quarters?"

You said something nice? Maybe you have changed a little, thought Braith. Then of course his brother moved things along and asked about showing him to their quarters. "I feel like I only need to take a few steps and I'm already there," commented the 'younger' brother. "I knew these Defiant class starships were small and compact, but it's another thing actually setting foot on one. How's... Engineering? I imagine it's rather small?" asked Braith. How your ego even fits in there with other engineers is beyond me, he thought.

Lucius nodded in agreement. "It is small... but it's also one of the most experimental engines and one of the more powerful. So there's that. It's a demanding ship on a lot of levels. Everything is tight. Fortunately, you won't have to hot bunk with anyone... Of course if I hadn't asked to be roommates with you..." He sort of let that statement hang in the air for a few minutes. "I've been trying to beat the engineering team into shape... Yesterday I felt like that might not even be possible. It was a long day."

Braith nodded. "If you hadn't made arrangements for us to bunk, I would be hot bunking and have a nice new stranger to annoy me with their little quirks no doubt," he replied. That was one thing he could be thankful for. He already knew all of his brother's annoying quirks. "I am sorry to hear your day was long and probably stressful. Just remember that not everyone thinks the way you do. Your engineers aren't going to do things the same way as you," offered the 'younger' of the two siblings.

"It was better today. They'll learn. It's not like it's a huge room either... so there's that. Sometimes you have to upset people to get them to really listen to you too. Things were better organized today. Ran a little more smoothly with less yelling." He led the way out of the shuttle bay and toward a lift that would take them up to the next deck. "So... just to help you orient yourself, we're on deck three now, but our quarters are on deck two. Sickbay is also on deck two and so is the lower half of main engineering, so it's convenient for us."

The other twin smiled. "Well, that is quite a relief. I was so terrified that I would somehow lose my way wandering aimlessly through this technological wilderness of four decks," replied Braith with some evident sarcasm. "If I get turned around, I'll just yell for you to come save me. I'm sure you can probably hear me if I yell loud enough," added Braith. "Have you met the Captain... sorry stupid question. You are the Chief Engineer on a Defiant class starship. You've met everybody I'd assume."

They'd ridden the lift up to the next level and Lucius had led the way down several short corridors and stopped in front of a door. He stared at Braith for a moment. "Really?" he asked sarcastically. He tapped out the door code and the door slid open. "I don't remember you being this much of an asshole. Are you sure you're my brother?" He motioned for Braith to go through the open door.

"I am your brother. I am only sarcastic because it's you, and you taught me well," he replied teasingly. "Home sweet home," Braith said as he walked into the room. It was not very spacious. That was for sure. "Our parents always wanted us to spend more time together... bonding. I guess I should tell them we have finally found the solution to making that happen. So, how do we go about doing this shared quarters thing?"

Fortunately, Lucius' quarters were not the regular crew quarters. Unfortunately, they weren't much bigger, but they were made for two officers to share the space. "Well... we'll have to split everything up like we used to do at home. Which bunk you want?" Lucius smirked. "You're still a bottom... right?"

Braith scoffed in response to his brother's pesky backhanded little play on words. "I choose the bottom bunk because it is better for getting up and out of in an emergency. Also, if the ship were to be attacked or hit some sort of turbulent causing anomaly, there's less of a fall from the bottom bunk" he said crossing his arms. "If you want the bottom, you can have it. I have good reflexes and have no issue being on top despite what you may think."

Lucius laughed softly. "I don't want the bottom. The top is actually easier for me." He puffed himself up a little bit. "I've always been a top, you know... Are you still saving yourself for the right one?" he asked suggestively. Of course, Lucius was making a bit more out of it then it was. He'd actually always been very versatile and didn't necessarily like being a top, but he wasn't about to tell his brother that at the moment.

"I took an oath to do no harm, Lucius, not an oath to have no fun," replied Braith shaking his head. Then he sighed. "Yeah, kind of," he said confessing a bit to not really exploring the 'having fun' aspect of things. "I just have not found anyone that I clicked with. They never seem right for me. Also, if I want to get liberal with my oath of 'do no harm,' anyone who would get into a relationship with me would be in a world of hurt. I usually end up working extra shifts, odd hours, make house calls, and I have too many issues for someone to handle."

Lucius watched Braith as he spoke. Lucius might be a jerkface, but he did care about his brother. He always hated to see Braith get down on himself, especially when he didn't cause his brother's downswing directly. He frowned. "You don't have issues. You're just busy. You need to find someone who's busy too. That way they won't get bored with all the time they have to live without you." He smiled a little, trying to be encouraging. "You'll find someone. Hey, I'm still single and I'm quite the catch." Not that he was any less busy then Braith was. He didn't have time for that sort of thing either.

You do not even know the extent of my issues, he thought with a sigh. "You are alright. Arrogant, but someone can always knock you down a few rungs," he said sticking out his tongue. He smiled at his brother. "Okay, you've showed me our room and we've settled on a bunk assignment. Do you have time to maybe grab something to eat with me?"

"Sure. I actually made sure I had some time to spend with you. Unless they blow up something I don't really have anything else to do today." He smiled. "We can go sit in the teeny tiny mess hall." He chuckled. "Much like everything on this ship."

Braith chuckled. "Sounds good to me. We will go to the teeny tiny little mess hall and eat with little doll house utensils" he replied.

Medical Meeting Sickbay
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The tiny sickbay was tiny but it was hers. Finally, Alara had her own medical practice where she could help people without some hooty-snooty senior doctor getting all up in her grill trying to tell her her work wasn't good enough or something. Even as small and cramped as things were, Alara was still going to have a little help though.Three biobeds in the smallest excuse for a sickbay, and she had a staff of six. Three of them were engineering and security augmentees, but still.

Looking over the PaDD she help again, Alara tapped her lips with a finger of her free hand. Apparently the ship's nurse had somehow snuck under the radar when coming aboard and failed to report to his new department head in a timely manner. Quite negligent of him. "Computer, Please inform Ensign Braith that he is to report to sickbay at his earliest convenience... For a colonoscopy." With an affirmative series of beeps, the message was sent and Alara grinned slightly.

It was true. Braith had not yet reported to his Department Head to notify her that he had come aboard. However, he was not quite ready to report for duty as he was still coping with the weight of everything. He had been given his orders and accepted the assignment not knowing what would be awaiting him when he arrived or rather who...his brother was not on the brochure as it were. When the computer notified him that the Chief Medical Officer wanted to see him in Sickbay for a 'colonoscopy' he had to double check the meaning of said procedure. It was...dated by Earth terms to say the least.

He nervously proceeded to Sickbay. Along the way he quickly learned as much as he could about the Chief Medical Officer as he crunched the information and quickly tried to absorb what he read. The most important bit of information that struck him immediately was that the Chief Medical Officer was in fact a woman and female identifying. Braith switched the information on the PaDD to that of his own records and the orders he received to the USS Valiant. When he entered Sickbay, the woman was easy to locate. He practically curtsied and groveled. "Please forgive my tardiness in reporting, Ma'am. I am most humbled to receive your wisdom and guidance on our voyages. I am Ensign Braith reporting for duty at your service, Doctor." If the colonoscopy was a bit dated, the way he spoke in addressing her surpassed it.

Alara blinked a few times, sitting at the makeshift desk as the Ensign nearly prostrated himself before her. Then her patented smile slid back on her face like the mask that it usually was and she nodded to him. Heading to the replicator, she motioned to it. "I was hoping you would have reported in by now so we could get to know each other a bit better. The quarters are tight and we'll be working closely together. Care for something to drink? The replicator in here isn't the best, but at least it's medical grade and makes a decent cup of tapcaf."

"It's a long story and I do not want to bother you with personal matters, Doctor. I apologize for not reporting in sooner, I was just uncertain on my assignment here...nothing bad...and it's not you or the ship or anything like that" he said nervously. "My brother is the Chief Engineer. I just do not know how I am to feel about serving on the same starship as him" the nurse said with a sigh. At least its medical grade he thought. "Medical grade is...good. I mean it is better than them trying to give us an old replicator from a mess hall to use" he said with a bit of a smile. "Ginger ale? Cannot go wrong with that" he added with a drink request.

Punching in an order for a ginger ale and a spiced tea, Alara took them once they materialized and handed the ginger ale to the Nurse. "I guess I can understand that a bit. Then again, It's my policy to consider everyone that comes to see me family, so there's that. As for your brother, I assume he'll be spending most of his time in engineering. You'll be here most of the time so maybe your paths will rarely cross, even on a ship this small."

“Maybe” replies Braith. “He’s made arrangements for us to be bunk mates. I will of course be in here working most of the time, but this ship is only so large. It would be foolish of me to think I can just avoid him altogether” said the nurse. “None of that meters now anyways. Let’s just focus on the here and now. Is there anything specifically that I need to know?”

"There is, actually," Alara said before sipping at her drink. "This is a very small ship. We're not equipped to handle most medical emergencies that may arise like most other ships. Odds are good that now and then we'll have to just patch a few people up the best we can and send them to a ship or station that can handle them. Our job on this ship, sadly, won't be to heal people. It'll be to patch people up and get them back into the next fight. If we can't do that, we make them comfortable. Barring that, we have twelve stasis pods. As for your specific assignment, I'd like to assign you to bridge triage duty when we're in combat. That way we have someone that can make sure the bridge crew can keep going."

Braith nodded. "Yeah, not to speak ill of the ship, but I kind of gathered that this starship wasn't really equipped to handle deep space assignments for extended periods of time. The mess hall is tiny. My quarters are tiny, but at least I'm not hot bunking" he said swiftly. He took a deep breath and pushed onward. Back on track he reminded himself. "I agree with you, Doctor. I think patching people up and triage is probably our best course of action. I am just glad that we have an actual physician aboard and not just some Corpsman like most small patrol vessels get."

"And I'd like to think I'm a skilled doctor as well. The only patient I've lost walked out on me after a disagreement about management methods." Alara flashed her patented smile before sipping her tea again. "Unfortunately, that person eventually ended up being my commanding officer at my last assignment. That's probably how I got this assignment."

The young nurse chuckled. "Well, I mean what can we really do. When our patients are stubborn like that and leave AMA on us, there is not much we can do except put a foot down before they go out the doors and protest it with facts and information. In the end, it is their choice. It is not like we can hold them against their wishes if they are psychologically sound and not a danger to the rest of the crew" he said. "I am looking forward to working with you and learning from you, ma'am."

"Yeah, those that only want numbers will only want numbers..." Staring into her mug, Alara seemed lost in her own thoughts for a moment before looking up at Braith with a smile. "I look forward to working with you as well. If you ever need anything, please just let me know."

Braith finished his drink and nodded. "Thank you, Doctor. I will definitely let you know if I need anything. I guess I should start familiarizing myself with everyone's medical records. I will try to have that done before my first actual shift in Sickbay."

"With only fifty people aboard, that shouldn't be too hard. Our Security Chief might be our most interesting file." Alara finished her drink as well, then set her mug back in the replicator. "I'll likely be here or in the lab next door if you need me."

Braith nodded. "Thank you, Doctor" he said ending their conversation.

Confrontation Icor Sector MD 02
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The Valiant had continued to cruise at Warp Seven for a day since launch, which found Commander Jacobs on the bridge, as she looked over a PaDD containing rotations requiring approval.

An alert beep caught her attention, as she handed the PaDD back to the crewman upon authorizing it with her thumbprint. "What do we have?"

"Sensors picking up four Tholian vessels crossing the Federation Border, captain," the operations officer announced. "I'm reading their shields and weapons are active. "Red Alert. CONN, change course to intercept and increase speed to maximum warp." Leigh turned to the Operations Officer. "Open a channel, all frequencies."

“Affirmative!” Mark tapped in an intercept course and kicked the engines up into high gear. He could feel a small amount of latency in the controls, probably just needed a recalibration. He’d get the toolkit out when the situation abated.

"Frequencies open, captain."

Leigh stood and took a few steps forward so she was standing right behind Commander Cross. "Attention Tholian vessels, this is Commander Jacobs of the Federation Starship Valiant. You have crossed into Federation Space. State your intentions or you will force me to use deadly force."

Only silence responded.

"Drop us out of warp and--" Leigh was caught off guard as the Valiant rocked from the barrage of disruptor fire. "Evasive maneuvers! Fire at will!"

Me'Shlaht's feline instincts kept her on her feet with only a light grip on her console. "Firing!" she growled, activating the Valiant's phasers and setting the auto-targeting subsystem to focus on the nearest ships. Those farther away she pinpointed with more precise strikes, including a flurry of torpedoes.

Lougheed had been in the small office allotted to his department when the Red Alert call came. He dropped into his bridge station just as the second barrage impacted the Valiant. "What has the Tholians this pissed off," he said to no one in particular. He accessed the sensor feeds and analyzed the incoming date.

Lucius tapped his comm. "Lieutenant JG Lucius to the bridge. Commander, was that disruptor fire? Do you want me on the bridge?" His tone was one of concern.

"Where ever you think you can do the most good. Jacobs out!" Leigh sat back down in her chair.

Grabbing the edge of his station as another hit caught their port side. "I'm detecting a minor disruption in their ventral aft shields, likely destabilized by their their engines at high power. If we can get under them we should be able to punch through the shields and take out her engines with the pulse cannons," Lougheed reported.

"You heard him, Mr. Cross. Let's show these Tholians just how maneuverable the Valiant is," Leigh commanded, as she brought up the tactical readouts on her left console. "Lieutenant Me'Shlaht, target their engines."

"Yes, Captain." Me'Shlaht almost sounded cheerful as she disengaged the auto-targeting and meticulously - but rapidly - picked out engine signatures for each ship. She too saw the weakness in the shields there and anticipated that only a few phaser blasts would be enough to punch a hole so she could disable their engines.

“You’ve got it skipper...” Mark leaned forward in his chair again, pulling the ship hard right and into a corkscrew before dropping the nose. The vessel responded effortlessly, dropping into a position roughly where he’d calculated the firing arc of the phasers could expose the weakness. This was going to be a fun ship to fly, that’s for sure.

Arriving on the Bridge with a Medical Kit in hand, the young nurse braced himself as the starship was fired upon, fired at things, and moved about evasively. In general it was like being a conductor on an old earth railway transportation vessel or crude atmospheric aeroshuttle. He gently and gingerly made his way around. "House Call," he said alerting the bridge crew to his presence. He saw someone at a console who looked to be in some discomfort. They continued working as he treated them for a minor sprain.

Lucius didn't make his way to the bridge, instead he shouted orders. "I want any excess power we have rerouted to the shields! Right now people! Not tomorrow! We don't want to get hit by those disruptors!" He made his way around Engineering and started to help, finding areas he could borrow power from. "You think we got problems now! If one of those blasts get through our shields we'll be dead out here... dead! You got that!"

Alara wasn't used to working a combat ship, but she'd pulled ER duty enough times that she figured that it might be a lot like doing that on a roller coaster. After the ship rocked from weapons fire and nearly knocked a protoplaser from her hand for the second time though, she learned that it was a far cry worse than that. Taking a firmer grip on her tools, she buckled down as another injured crewmember stumbled through the door of sickbay right before she was thrown off balance again. "Doctor Samar to Engineering. If you can spare a little energy, I could use some in our inertial dampeners here in sickbay..."

Lucius tapped his comm badge. "I'll give you what I can spare Doctor, but I can't promise it will save anyone from being shaken." His reply came quick and short.

"Thanks, I'll make do!" Alara replied as she was nearly thrown to the floor again with another hit while using a protoplaser on a plasma burn.

The Valiant had one ship disabled with another two damaged. Leigh knew the Valiant was too small and too fast for the Tholians to try and build their infamous web that was a huge danger to larger, slower vessels. The ship rocked again as she checked the shield status on her console--they were down to seventy-five percent.

Lucius was doing his best in Engineering to keep damage to a minimum. He was glad for the ablative armor, but he still didn't want the shields to fail. Disruptors, regardless of ablative armor, could be very unpredictable. If they did manage to break through the shields, one disruptor blast could disable their systems, or at least take them offline for some time, essentially rendering the ship helpless. He continued to watch the power of the shields and pull from wherever he could to keep up.

"They're coming around, energy build up in their forward weapons array," Lougheed reported.

Colt hadn't been on the bridge when the shooting started, and he hadn't been able to make it there since.

"Do you need help carrying him to Sickbay?" he asked a very stocky and muscular female Tellarite master-at-arms in reference to her duty partner, whose leg Colt had just set. He felt silly asking. The woman looked like she could juggle quantum torpedoes.

"Hmph!" the woman hmphed, then, as gently as possible, slung the man over her shoulder. "Senior, I could carry him and you while dragging a workbee on a harness."

"Yes, I believe you could," Colt replied. He left her to her work and started off towards the bridge. He passed an engineering specialist making his way through the corridor. Colt only had about ten seconds to wonder where the man was off to when suddenly there was an explosion behind him followed very shortly by a scream of pain. He was thrown forward and fell, just managing to avoid injuring himself. He felt heat on his back and smelled smoke. His jacket was on fire! He rolled on the deck, then quickly pulled it off, leaving him in his command red overshirt. He took his commbadge off of the discarded jacket and pinned it on his overshirt, then looked up to assess the situation. It wasn't good.

Multiple EPS conduits had exploded, jarring and burning the engineering specialist. There were flames and smoke in the corridor, some of which didn't seem like fire smoke. Colt soon realized that a nearby fire extinguisher had burst and the pressurized contents had sprayed out into the corridor. Unfortunately, it missed most of the fire. Colt went to a wall panel and tried to activate the corridor's fire suppression system. Nothing happened.

Why can't anything every be easy? Colt asked himself.

Colt quickly went to his jacket and tore loose enough of the flame resistant (but obviously not flameproof) fabric and tied it bandanna-like over his nose and mouth. Without further hesitation, Colt ran through the flames, scooped up the wounded specialist, and carried him safely out of the fires. As for the fires... he was pretty sure his next idea wouldn't work, but he had to try something.

"Computer," he said. "Raise containment fields fore and after of section 2A, Deck 3 and vent all atmosphere in that section!"

The containment fields were raised and the atmosphere vented. Without oxygen to burn, the fires went out.

Colt turned to the downed specialist. He pulled out his medical tricorder and checked the man's condition. He was suffering from smoke inhalation and burns of varying degrees, and he had a concussion. Miraculously, he didn't appear to have any large pieces of shrapnel buried in his flesh anywhere, just some smaller pieces. He was moaning in pain and trying to get up.

"Shh... settle down," Colt said. "I've got you."

"Seh... Senior?" the man said. Colt remembered that his name was Fitzpatrick, Michael Fitzpatrick. Unmarried and not in a hurry to make that step. Grew up on Alpha Centauri. Went to high school with one of Colt's cousins there. "It's going to be alright Michael. You're going to be fine, but you've got to relax."

To help Michael relax, Colt injected him with Tri-Ox to help his breathing, followed quickly by a painkiller. Once Michael had settled down, Colt pulled out his utility knife and cut off Michael's clothes down to his shorts so he could better visualize the man's burns. Colt pulled a pair of largish tweezers from his kit and removed all of the shrapnel he could find. The he pulled out a dermal regenerator and went to work on the burns, cuts, and scrapes.

"Just hang on Michael," Colt said. "We'll get through this."

When he had all of the burns treated, he tapped his commbadge.

"Xan to Samar," he said, keeping his voice calm. "Is there a doctor in the house?"

Alara was a bit busy in sickbay with half a dozen burn victims and someone that decided he didn't need his left arm during an EPS rupture but she had a moment to reply. "Samar here! What is it?"

"I've got ES3 Michael Fitzpatrick with me here," Colt replied, his tone still calm and conversational to avoid upsetting Michael. "Michael has had a rather rough encounter with a pair of exploding EPS conduits. He has multiple burns of varying degrees and a concussion. He's also got a multiple contusions, ranging from minor to fairly severe. I've done my best to treat his injuries, but the more serious burns are going to need treatment that would be better done in Sickbay. Can you get us transported there?"

"Doing it now," Alara said. "Standby."

That last hit had hit hard. Leigh had felt the ship shudder as if the ship itself had screamed in pain from the hit. "Bring us to full impulse and all available power to execute a high energy turn!" The Valiant increased speed as it separated itself some from the pursuing Tholian craft. "Fire one torpedo set for high yield proximity detonation and then fire! Commander Cross the minute that torpedo detonates, execute the High Energy turn, keeping engines at full. Tactical, you'll have two seconds at most to get a lock with the pulse cannons and fire them!"

"Torpedo set... and firing," Me'Shlaht replied from her station.


The torpedo exploded, overloading the Tholian's sensors as they briefly lost sensor contact with the Valiant. In that brief time, the Definat had turned on a dime, pushing it's engines and SIF fields to the limit, heading back at the Tholian at full impulse. Me'Shlaht fired the pulse phasers that ripped into the small Tholian vessel before exploding as the Valiant flew through the explosion, it's deflector field, shields, and ablative armor protecting it from the debris of the destroyed vessel. There was only one damaged vessel left.

The explosion in the hallway had a small team from Engineering running towards it when the fire suppression systems had failed. Lucius was in the lead, but when they rounded the corner the fire was already out and forcefields were in place. Only the Chief Petty Officer and another crewman were there. Lucius approached and the rest of his team went about managing the damage. "Are you okay?" His questions was more directed at Colt then the man on the floor. Lucius could see that he was not okay. "Do you need to be transferred to sick bay?" Not that sick bay was that far away, but the man's burns seemed serious.

"No thanks," Colt said as the transporter beam took him and Fitzpatrick to Sickbay. "Everything is under control!"

Lucius watched the two disappear and got back to work.

When they finally got to sickbay, the overhead lights had been blown out and everyone was working by flashlight and the lights of the consoles. "It's about time! Nurse Joy take over this patient for me!" As the indicated nurse took over the plasma burned patient's treatment, Alara moved over to treat Fitzpatrick's injuries, tricorder at the ready. "Don't you worry, we'll have you as good as new in no time," she said with her patented smile as she prepped a hypo for the pain and began treating the more serious of the wounds on him first.

Just then, another couple people walked in with plasma burns. "Light plasma burns? Protoplasers are in the open drawer over there. Pretend you're resealing an EPS conduit," Alara instructed them, pointing them in the direction of an open drawer full of nothing but protoplasers.

"As you can see," Colt said to Alara. "I stripped him to his shorts and treated most of the minor burns and contusions with the gear I had in my medkit. There was nothing I could do for the concussion with what I had available, and the deeper burns and bruises I thought you'd want to handle."

As Alara worked, she made note of everything Colt was saying as the biobed alarms started going off. "I'll do what I can, but he may need to be transferred to a medical ship for a few days after this is over. For now, grab that neuralyte probe and work on his concussion. Relieve the pressure while I keep his cardiovascular system going. He's starting to go into shock." Loading up a hypo, she injected it into whatever unburnt flesh she could find before skillfully manipulating three different tools with one hand and a tricorder scanner in the other over Fitzgerald's chest trying to keep him alive.

Colt picked up the neuralyte probe and went to work on Fitzpatrick's concussion as ordered, his hands remembering the skills he'd used regularly for years. His training didn't allow him to actually open a person's skull, but working on the skull from the outside with something like a nerualyte probe was permitted. He kept an eye on the biobed monitors and when the sensors indicated the concussion was healed, Colt shut off the probe.

"All set on the concussion," Colt told Alara.

After a few more tense seconds, the heart rate monitors on the biobed stopped screaming as Fitzpatrick's pulse returned to a normal range. Relaxing slightly, Alara shut off two of the tools in her right hand and continued with the third, still intense in her look. "Thank you Obweh... His cardio regulatory system is stable - now to stabilize the rest of him."

Leigh tapped a few commands into her console, activating a comm link to the remaining Tholian ship. "Commander Jacobs to the commander of the Tholian vessel. I will only ask this once--stand down and surrender."

The view screen switched to the image of a Tholian standing on the bridge, which glowed red--from the extreme heat that Tholians required to survive, Leigh presumed. There was some chirping noise before the universal translator translated the language. "It is you who attacked us first, Federation! You are the ones who declared war on us! We will avenge our fallen with your blood!"

Leigh got out of her seat and took a few steps closer to the view screen. "I do not know what you are talking about. I know of no Federation attack on any Tholian forces. There must be a mistake."

"There is no mistake! There cannot be!" the Tholian commander exclaimed. "We picked up a warp trail of a vessel that destroyed one of our colonies coming from Federation territory!"

"Then let us help to find out what happened to your colony," Leigh offered. "Let me see this proof before a war is started between our two peoples."

There was a moment of silence. "Very well! I will submit a copy of our findings to your ship. You have one hour to look over the findings!" the Tholian commander replied before cutting the comm link.

"I want intel, engineering, and science working on that evidence," Leigh ordered.

"Aye Ma'am." Lougheed said, "We've received the information."
Brotherly Love and Braith's Juice Mess Hall Shortly after Braith's arrival
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Lucius led the way to the mess hall. He was right about the size of the space. It was a small room for a mess hall. There was no way the entire crew would fit in here. Instead of any sort of bar there were only tables and replicators on the wall. It was pretty empty in there as well. Lucius went to the replicator and stood there, waiting for his brother to join him. "It's not much... let's just hope the replicators stay online or it's going to get lean quickly..." he chuckled.

Braith had followed his brother down the corridors and into the lift, through another corridor and into the mess hall. Well, hall was a relative term. Did they mean hall like a great feast area or hall as in short for hallway because the Defiant class mess hall reminded Braith of the old 'traditional' style ramen places on Earth in what was historically Japan's region. Though instead of a bar with stools around it, there were a few table in a small compact room. He took in the sights and joined his brother at the replicator.

"I think they would be better off advertising this as take out," he teased. "I am sure if the replicator goes, you can fix it. If worse comes to worse, there are Federation food rations. Also, If you remember growing up, I had quite the green thumb and father taught me plenty about gardening and actually cooking our own food" he said rather proudly. "Is there a... hydroponics bay aboard?" he asked nervously. Probably not, he thought to himself. "Or at least some sort of botanical lab," he added.

Lucius laughed. "If there is a hydroponics bay here... it's the size of a window planter. I think there might be a botanical office though. At least for research purposes. I'm sure you know how to use a replicator. I'd think I'd like a human dish today. Maybe a cheeseburger... or spaghetti... or maybe just a sandwich." He turned his gaze to Braith. "What are you getting?" Sometimes these leading questions from Lucius were solely for the purpose of making fun of Braith, but sometimes they were also because under everything Lucius wasn't so self-confident and had a hard time making simple decisions about daily living. Of course it was impossible to tell which one this time was.

The 'younger' twin looked at his brother and shook his head. "That's a lot of options you are juggling there. Given those cravings... may I recommend you have a meatball sub. It should be a good mix of all of those things together without being entirely disgusting," he said flashing a smile at his brother. "I will have cheesy cauliflower soup," he said to his brother. "With Braith juice #2... I added it on my way here," he said raising the PaDD in his hand. He then looked at his brother's approaching expression. "Don't even," he said pre-emptively sensing something coming from 'Braith juice.'

Lucius stared at his brother for a moment. "I see you're still eating by numbers..." he gave the 'Braith juice' joke a miss for now, but it was stored for later. "One bowl of cheesy cauliflower soup, hot and one glass of Braith juice number two..." he told the replicator. "Why number two? Couldn't you have used 7 or 12 even?" When Braith's food appeared in the replicator Lucius handed it out to him.

"Hey," he said slightly offended, but just let it slide. "Thank you," he said accepting the tray of food and the beverage. "I put several juices into the food and beverage databanks. I will have you know there is a seven and a twelve already. I just simply put them in and ordered them per my likelihood of ordering them and by my preference for them. Number two as you can see is purple. It has several vegetables and fruits in it including carrots from earth and beets."

"Grape flavored, no doubt. You always did like grape flavored things. I bet number one is strawberry." He chuckled. "One footlong, meatball sub with mozzarella cheese, hot and a rakdijino, double sweet, hot." When his food and beverage appeared he picked it up and looked around. "I guess it doesn't much matter where we sit in the closet, huh?" He headed to the nearest table.

"At least it's a walk in," replied Braith teasingly about the size of the place. "Oh we are going to be a nightmare for this crew if we keep joking about how small this starship is. You are also right, number one is strawberry," he said. "Actually it is strawberry and lime," he added further with clarification. "Also, double sweet raktajino? Isn't that a bit extra?"

Lucius made a face, wrinkling his nose. "Ewww. Strawberry and lime? That's disgusting and I haven't slept... the sweetner and the caffeine keep me awake. Maybe I can sleep tonight. It's been a rough few days trying to get everything ready for ship to launch and this crew is mostly full of young people. There's like one Andorian female in Engineering that knows what she's doing. Everyone else sucks." He picked up his sandwich and took a good sized bite.

He shuttered at the thought of working with his brother. I am so glad that I am not in Engineering, he thought to himself. "I am sorry that you haven't been able to sleep that well. Maybe with me there you will be able to sleep better? I could tuck you in and read to you if that would help," he said worried about his brother's stress levels and lack of sleep. "Lack of sleep is not something to mess with," he added.

"You'd like that..." Lucius replied with a small sort of sneer/smile. "Any chance you can get to Daddy someone." He chuckled. "Someday someone is going to find that endearing." He continued to eat, sipping at his drink on occasion. "Although, I might take you up on that bedtime story. I'm sure that's boring as hells... might help me sleep." He chuckled again . "I'm hoping that your being there will help. I knew this assignment was going to be stressful..." He shrugged, which usually meant that he was aware that his behavior was a little out of line.

Braith rolled his eyes at the daddy comment. Yes it was true he liked to be nurturing and caring, and maybe he did take after their father in that aspect. However, he was just sincerely concerned about his brother's well being. "As your crewmate, fellow officer, and as the Head Nurse of this starship, your well being is my concern. That is all," he said taking a sip of his juice. "If necessary, we can have the Doctor prescribe you something to help knock you out for the night."

Lucius leaned back in his chair and looked at his brother. It was nice to see him. It had been awhile. Then he yawned. "I think I'll be just fine now that you're here." He grinned. Although, with Lucius it was hard to tell a genuine grin from a facetious one. He laced his fingers behind his head and leaned further back in the chair, his elbows sticking out. "Do I need to show you where sick bay is? Or can you find that on your own?"

"I can find it on my own when it is time for me to report for my first shift," he replied as he observed his brother. "Fine is questionable when it comes to you," he added. "You look like you are going to fall asleep mid meal, brother. Have you been overworking yourself in Engineering?"

Lucius tipped his head to the side and looked at Braith. "Yeah, pretty much. No sleep... I guess it's true what the humans say about no rest for the wicked..." He smirked. "I don't have to go back to Engineering until tomorrow. Hopefully, they won't blow up the ship. I asked off early today to meet you." He closed his eyes for a moment. "So you've probably got a meeting with the Captain?"

Braith nearly spat his Braith juice at his brother in response to his presumption. "Whaaaat? The Captain?" he replied shaking his head and waving his hand through the air dismissively. "Lucius, I'm just the Head Nurse and that's only because the medical staff is mostly technicians. I might get five minutes with the Executive Officer if I'm lucky. I do have to report to the XO and to the Chief Medical Officer, but that's about it," he explained. "We aren't all as important as the Chief Engineer" he said teasing his brother.

"MMmm..." he replied sleepily. "Maybe you should go do those things and I'll get your stuff to the room. Meet back up in quarters?"

Braith shook his head. "Oh no no no," he said defiantly. "I have a while until my first duty shift. I do not want to meet the Chief Medical Officer or the XO yet. I want to prepare what I am going to say first. You go on ahead and I will be along shortly. I just want to finish my juice," he said with a smile.

Lucius eyed his brother. "You and your Braith juice..."

Message from the Homeland Crew Bunks
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Ensign Braith was alone in his assigned quarters albeit only momentarily. His brother Lucius was going to be back any moment. So, Braith did not have much time to do anything worth writing home about. He could barely do anything as a child without Lucius being right there watching him or breathing down his neck, observing his every move. At least that was how it felt like growing up on Angel I. That of course was not to say that the two were constantly at one another's throats. Actually, they cohabited rather well as children. Yes, there was always a one-sided competitiveness from his brother, but Braith could look past that. It was not until their teenage years that the two had some note worthy arguments. At the time, Braith could get pretty irritated and fed up with his very slightly older brother. However, the younger twin's career path had steered toward science and medicine. These past several years spent studying the two and seeing them overlapping in the medical field had caused him to realize that sharing living quarters with his brother was not as bad as he remembered it being. He came to see that things only got heated because they became teenagers and teenagers meant puberty which meant hormones going crazy and biological changes... every little thing could set him or his brother off. So, it was no wonder that they got under each other's skin and set the other off.

Braith lay on his bottom bunk sprawled out lying on his back with a small Federation tablet PaDD held in his hands. He was reading through a wall of text. It was from back home. Their parents checking in on him. Of course the message was several weeks old. One because it took forever and a day to get to him and another because it took Braith forever in ten days to figure out what to send back in response. It was unlike him not to respond quickly to things, except this was from his parents and that changed everything. Well, I guess I should tell you both that I am now holding a position of Head Nurse, he thought to himself as he popped out the stylus from the PaDD. Most people just spoke to the thing, it had voice recognition for over a century now. However, Braith was a writer by nature and also protective of his privacy. This was something he could work on without Lucius overhearing everything. That would not be the case if he sat in bed and just rambled off words for it to speech to text it onto the screen for Braith to review, save, and later send to his folks.

The nurse smiled a bit when he thought about his annoying older brother. I will have give you updates about him too I suppose. You both will be happy to hear that we are posted on the same starship I am sure, Braith thought as he stuck the end of the stylus in his mouth and sucked on it a little. Yeah, nasty habit. I know, he thought, remembering the lecturing his father had given him over and over again when he'd suckle on the stylus as a kid. It never really went away. It was a bit of a nervous habit as much as it was a 'security blanket' for him. It kind of calmed him down in some odd way. Their mother never really seemed to care. Probably because she was too busy worried about his brother Lucius and what trouble he was getting himself into and darn well nearly getting the whole family in trouble with his rebellious ways. Braith may not have liked having to follow his brother's footsteps and attend Starfleet Academy just because he had to be his Brother's Keeper, but he did not blame his parents so much as he blamed Lucius, but now that he was aboard the Valiant with his brother, it was hard to place blame on Lucius for just being Lucius. The important part was that the family were still intact. Nobody was excommunicated, exiled, or thank the stars... executed.

With a deep sigh and groan, he rolled over onto his tummy which was full from a nice lunch with his brother and took the stylus out of his mouth. He began to put the stylus to the black mirror of the PaDD causing the screen to illuminate once more. Here, he could properly reply as he had formulated the introduction in his mind. And so it began:

Mother and Father,

I hope that fair weather has come through Angel I and that you are of good health. I hope it was a good season for the both of you. I can happily write in response that all is going well among the great sea of stars. My journeys have been educational and enlightening, and you will be proud to know that I have been assigned to a new vessel. This came with an increase in my departmental hierarchy. The most glorious of news that I do wish to share with you both is that your two boys have been reunited. The stars have found it suitable that we both serve aboard this vessel named Valiant. Lucius of course bids you well. He and I will be writing to you more often now that I am with him on the Valiant. I will make sure that he does so that you, father, will not have to worry your breath as your hairs silver from time's passage. Lucius has been made the head of his department. They call him Chief Engineer which means he ensures our vessel can sail among the sea of stars. Of you both I think of always.

With love and well blessings,

It was then that the quarter doors slid open and Braith tucked the PaDD underneath his pillow. It was just the sort of natural reaction that caused nostalgia to wash over him. Just like times of old indeed, he thought as he looked up innocently at his brother. “Welcome back,” he said teasingly. “I fixed your bunk while you were away. Your sheets were not properly tucked in to meet regulations, Sir,” he added with a smirk.

"Wow. Are you going to help me change into my PJs too, Daddy?" Lucius teased.

Braith laughed a little and then quickly blushed. "No, but I did promise to make sure you were tucked in tonight. And you had better actually sleep, Mister Chief Engineer. You are responsible for this starship and the crew aboard. You were practically falling asleep with food in your mouth," he lectured. "This ship is only as good as it's Chief Engineer. As I recall that is you, and the only other competent person you have under you is that Andorian."

"You're right... if I can't get my beauty sleep... I might actually sacrifice one of them tomorrow to the warp core gods..." he joked.

"Praise be" replied Braith mockingly. "So long as their is a plentiful harvest, I am sure the Captain can overlook the sacrifice of one of your minions" added Braith. He stood up from his bunk, making sure not to whack his head on his brother's bunk above him. He was going to try to get his brother tucked in and hopefully asleep before the wee hours of the morning or rather what constituted as wee hours given they were aboard a starship and such.

Shore Leave Starbase 336/The Valiant Shortly before mission start
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Starbase 336 wasn't the most ideal place for shore leave, Shath had decided less than a day into his stay. While Starbases covered the standard recreation - holodecks, gymnasiums, even an arboretum - the Andorian had little interest in escapism via holonovel, he had passed his PT test in the last three months, and arboretums didn't usually do much for him due to the fact that almost all of the plants featured came from planets in which ice wasn't a regular feature on its surface. Andoria's plant life was mostly lichen and fungus, and while it was delicious, most of the Federation species weren't liable to think mo'keth caps particularly pretty, all grey and lumpy.

Which meant he spent most of his leave reading in his temporary quarters, and taking meals in the starbase's lounge, watching the starships arrive and depart. He'd made something of a game of it - every class he could identify the primary computer core's model number on, he would reward himself with dessert. All the ones he couldn't, he'd go to the dreaded gym and work on his ushaan forms as penance.

He hadn't been in the gym yet this trip.

But he kept looking for a Defiant. He'd never served on a ship so small - the Repulse was an old Excelsior workhorse, with 400 people making it fly. Defiants pulled off missions with barely an eighth of the crew. The advantages of redundancy and spacious duotronic circuitry fell by the wayside for state-of-the-art isolinear computing, which admittedly excited Shath.

It took almost four days for the ship to show up, though he almost missed it - he'd forgotten it was only five decks tall, making the silhouette essentially invisible at anything but close range. He had been warned by an update to his orders on his PADD - the USS Valiant was now in dock.

He'd rushed to his room, packing up his uniforms, mementos, and his pillow, and headed for the gangway. Once the little ship was docked and began to disgorge officers, he walked against the tide, stepping onto the ship and checking his berth - deck 2, Aft-starboard.

He'd known they had small rooms, but he wasn't expecting a quad-bunk. Junior officers' quarters on any other ship, Shath found himself a department head but stuck calling a bunk. His roommates, a security officer, an engineer, and one of the flight controllers, had reported for duty at their last port of call, leaving Shath with the aftmost top bunk. And when he settled into it and could feel the pulsing of the impulse reactor in his antennae, through the bulkhead, he understood why.

But Shath wasn't one to complain. He'd consider at some point later how to rectify such a situation. In the meantime, he pulled out his PADD again and reviewed the computer system specifications for the Defiant class. No time like the present.

Lt. Shath Birev
Chief Operations Officer
USS Valiant
Do Engineers Dream of Twin Systematic Sheep? Crew Bunks
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As he stood up carefully out from the bottom bunk, Braith smiled at his brother as he watched his brother playing with his hair, twirling it around his index finger. "You are playing with your hair," commented the younger twin. He did not mind his brother asserting himself as being the 'older' brother, but they were practically born at the same time... only someone had to come out first and it of course was mister pushy. "You used to do that when you were little right before bed time. Father always said that was how he knew you were sleepy," said Braith. "And yet you remain awake," he added noticing the expression on his brother's face.

Ensign Braith let out a small sigh. "I think you just have your mind racing all over the place trying to solve problems and fix things ahead of your next duty shift. Your mind is restless because you bring Engineering with you everywhere you go, don't you?" he said, placing a hand on his waistline. "There's an old Earth belief that warm milk calms people down and helps them sleep. I could replicate you some," he said somewhat teasingly. "Then you can change into your pajamas, because you are not sleeping in those slacks," added Braith.

Lucius looked up at his brother and blinked at him. It was just like being at home. Braith sounded exactly like their father and for once it wasn't completely annoying Lucius. "What is this about milk? You promised me a bedtime story." He slid down out of the top bunk and started to change his clothing, feeling wistful and a little homesick. He didn't feel homesick often and it usually made him angry. Usually Lucius had a lot to say about everything. Everything he had a snide comment for, but tonight he was lost in his head, doing exactly what his brother said he was doing.

Braith nodded "Yeah, I will tell you story," he said to his brother. "Get comfortable and I will tell you the tale..." added the nurse. He was not really sure which tale he was going to tell. He knew a few from different cultures and there was always room to maybe tell a truer story, but he wanted something nice. He thought for a few moments before he decided on something.

"There were once two brothers who left home to travel the stars, but before their voyage could begin, they had to go through a few years of learning first," said Braith. It was clearly about Starfleet and the brothers were probably them.

Lucius looked over at him, about halfway in his pajama bottoms. He finished pulling them up, still looking at Braith. "But I know this story..." he whined, as if he was a small child, complaining about a book he'd been read too many times. "Tell me a story I don't know..." he smiled a little at Braith, letting him know he was mostly giving him a hard time and not really complaining about the story.

"Shush your lips," he said shaking his head. It was adorable, Braith had to admit that. Lucius could be a pain in the ass and give you a hard time just for his own amusement, but he almost always managed to do it in a way that left him looking innocent or adorable. It was how he got away with so many things as a child. "How about the time you broke father's crystal vase he won for having garden of the year when you were bouncing that rubber ball of yours off the walls and knocked the vase over and shattered it. Then, you tried to blame it on me," said Braith, crossing his arms. "Besides, you don't know this story because it isn't from your point of view," added Braith.

Braith paused the storytelling in order to get himself ready for bed. He would of course stay up longer to ensure his annoying brother actually got to sleep. Braith had stripped down to a grey beater undershirt and changed into some pajama pants. I will get you to sleep if its the last thing I do thought the determined nurse.

Lucius pulled his shirt off and stuck his tongue out at his brother. "Fine! Go ahead... tell your story." He looked over at Braith and pulled his sleep shirt on. "What are those on your pants?" He pointed at his brother's pajama bottoms, just now noticing that they were covered with what he thought had been little designs.

"I thought you were Chief Engineer of this starship?" his brother replied. Braith inched closer to his brother. "They are starships, Lucius. Little Federation starships from the past and present. I mean they aren't very detailed or anything, but I think they look somewhat like they should," he said shrugging his shoulders.

Lucius pressed his lips together in that way that said he was about to be sarcastic and nodded. "Little starships... on your pants." He shook his head slowly, judging his brother for his pjs. "So... what about this milk thing?" He looked over toward the replicator. "Did you say warm?"

Braith nodded. "Yeah, warm milk. You should be able to find it or rather it should already be programmed so just order it. If not, ask for a steamer. That's basically the same thing. You can get those with a flavor shot to if you are nervous about warm white fluid in your mouth, but your reputation at the Academy stands to counter that."

Lucius snorted and headed for the replicator. He ordered warm milk and was given several options from which to choose from. He took his with honey. "Besides... I rather like warm fluid in my mouth." He sipped the warm milk and made a pleased noise and then sat down on the edge of Braith's bunk and looking at him expectantly.

"Don't think I did not hear about your incident your senior year," said Braith. "You were flapping your gum and doing your macho big engineering student act while trying to replace the fluid in a bio neural gel pack, and you ended up puncturing the pack and got some of that nasty goo shot into your mouth," the nurse said shaking his head. "That stuff is meant to power circuitry, it's practically toxic if someone consumes it."

Lucius shrugged. "I lived and that's not my preferred fluid anyway... it's not like I go around trying to kill myself with bio neural gel on the regular. I'm actually surprised that's the story you're even talking about." He chuckled and leaned back on his brother's bunk. "There were definitely a lot more interesting stories then that one... enough about me. Tell your story."

"Before I was interrupted" said Braith sticking his tongue out at his brother. "Anyways, the two brothers were in their second year at the school so very far away from home. The younger of the brothers was much better looking, but got picked on and teased a lot. One day he was sitting all alone on the grounds underneath a very old oak tree when this nasty Orion came over with his greasy dark hair and started to pick on the handsome brother when he was trying to work on his chemistry assignemnt" said Braith with a gloating smile.

Before Lucius could say anything, Braith pressed on. "His older brother was not ugly or anything. He was just a teeny bit less handsome. When the Orion kicked the PaDD out of the hands of the little brother, he was terrified that he was going to get beat up by the nasty, sleazy looking Orion who oddly enough had a peculiar Earth accent."

"Less handsome?" Lucius protested.

"DISCLAIMER: Stories and events are based on real life occurrences. Descriptions, names, and finer details may be distorted or exaggerated. Listeners discretion advised," replied Braith with a smirk on his face. "I have issues about how I look," he added taking a slight break from the story.

Lucius stared at him. "Why? You're adorable... I'm adorable. I know I'm adorable because I got laid plenty at the Academy... So if I'm adorable enough to get laid so are you."

They were identical twins. That was kind of the point of Braith seeking to difference himself by coloring his hair darker and trying to wear clothes that his brother would not, to do things with his hair that Lucius would not. "I don't wanna get laid," he said blurting that out. Oh gosh I hope these bulkheads are thick, he thought as he nervously looked around the room. "I mean... yeah," he said much quieter. "But, I don't with some random person. I want... more. I want someone I can have breakfast with, or tease and joke with, someone I can come home to after a long day in Sickbay."

"Well d'uh. We all want that, but a little practice never hurt and it was fun and now I know what to expect if I do run into an actual relationship." He chuckled. "I don't just want to find a person that makes me happy. I want to make them happy too. I felt like I needed an education in that regard, but hey if you want to save yourself, you go right ahead." He finished his glass of milk and got up to put it back in the replicator. "You're not telling the story again..."

Braith had never heard his brother speak such lovely and tender words. Not in a very long time at least. "Here I had thought your heart had grown ice cold and hardened black like obsidian," said the younger twin. "You know the rest of the story. That Orion was on the ground in a world of hurt before I could even cower in fear. You showed up like my hero and saved me."

"Well yeah, but my bedtime story!" he demanded crawling back into his brother's bunk. "I'm still awake!"

"Alright alright," responded Braith. "Scoot over, that's my bunk anyways because you are the top and I am the bottom as you like to state in your little world," said Braith as he climbed into his bottom bunk and nudged his brother over. Braith had two pillows on his bunk, so there was enough for them to not necessarily have to share. He placed his hand on his brothers chest and pushed him down flat, as Braith lay on his side, propping himself up with his arm. "Before the Orion could take another step, a shadow loomed over him. It was a big strong handsome Engineering cadet from Angel I. Unlike most boys from Angel I, this one was pretty athletic looking."

Lucius was accommodating and moved where Braith asked him to. He scooted over and put his back to the wall and tucked one arm up under his head. He stuck his other arm up and pretended to make "muscle man" arm and grin.

Braith had momentarily closed his eyes unintentionally as he felt a yawn coming on and embraced it rather than awkwardly try and fight it. When his face was done contorting around and his eyes opened again, he looked to see that his brother was beside him grinning and flexing his one arm in a 'muscle man' like posture. "That makes you look like a mother," he said shaking his head. Why are you so awkward and adorable, he thought. "Yeah, heroically you showed up and broke that Orion's nose and fractured his jaw if I remember correctly."

"I sure did. No one messes with my brother. Ever. Except maybe me... occasionally." He put his arm down and closed his eyes. "I hope you're not done with that story..." he also yawned, it being contagious and all. He threw the arm he had had up around Braith. "Then what happened?" he asked sleepily.

Wiggling himself closer to his brother, Braith crept his arm closer to his brother and placed his brother's hand in his own, squeezing it gently. Braith laced his fingers around Lucius' knuckles. "Then I saw that no matter how bad things got, I always had someone to protect me when I needed saving. I have a big strong hero and I am lucky that I do."

Lucius squeezed Braith tightly. "Mmmhmm..." he was almost asleep, the hand Braith was clasping, twitched a little and squeezed his own. "Forever and ever..." Lucius mumbled into his brother's hair.

Got you right where I want you, sleepy jerkface, thought Braith as he could just tell his brother was about to fall asleep any minute now. It was like watching the life force drain out of him. Braith pulled the covers up over them. He was not going to kick his brother out of his bunk as that would entirely defeat the purpose of getting Lucius to sleep. Instead, he just made sure Lucius pillow was giving him enough support. Braith leaned over and kissed his brother on the forehead. "Sweet dreams, my muscle man," he said teasingly and he snuggled up to Lucius. It was like they were kids again, cuddled up on the cool autumn nights back home.

Lucius was knocked out and sleeping hard. It took just a little bit of home, in form of his brother, his twin, to make him feel like part of him wasn't missing anymore and he could relax.