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Posted on Sun Mar 10th, 2019 @ 3:59pm by Captain James McCullen

Mission: Route to Raeya
Location: Ready Room, USS Sentinel
Timeline: MD1, 1100 Hrs

=/\= "Captain, you have an incoming message from Starfleet Command, secure channel, should I route it through?"

The ops officer on duty shook James out of the final refit report he had been pouring over. The ship was nearing completion, with all of the primary and secondary systems installed and dock-tested, most of the new crew was aboard and the Sentinel felt alive again, like a Starfleet ship rather than a hulk. His workload had both increased and changed as he began dealing with the daily mundane of running a starship, more than focusing on a single mission. "Put it through here, Ensign." He told the voice, and a moment later his desk computer lit up with an incoming message.

"Computer, on screen, authorization McCullen Alpha three seven baker." The captain told the system and the screen flashed to live, revealing an older woman with short graying hair and soft blue eyes. James smiled, "Admiral Carter, what can I do for you today?"

"Jim, my boy. It's good to see you," the woman said with her own smile, "and a captain no less. Coming up in the world, kiddo. How is command treating you?"

"Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. I thought being an XO came with a lot of admin, but damn." McCullen gave a theatrical grimace, "aside from that, it's pretty good. The Sentinel is almost ready to leave drydock and I'm itching to get out there."

"And that's why I'm on the horn, I've got orders for you." The Admiral smiled, "I'm afraid they're not glamorous or adventurous, but we do what the fleet needs."

"Yes ma'am," James leaned forward a bit, this was what he had been waiting for. The fact that the orders were coming from Julie Carter, a family friend - chief bridesmaid at his wedding and godmother to his two youngest was coincidental but welcome.

"The Sentinel is to proceed as soon as possible to Outpost Curtiss in the Taugan Sector. When you get there, you'll pick up some sensitive supplies, mostly weapons, hazardous materials, sensitive tech, stuff that we don't trust to cargo ships." The Admiral explained, popping up a map on one half of the screen for McCullen to see, "you'll then take those supplies through the Raeyan Transit Corridor to Faltan Station in the Faltan System. You'll drop off the supplies and then proceed to Starbase 440 in the Sinela System for further orders."

"A cargo run." McCullen stated after a moment's pause. "My first mission is a cargo run."

"Try not to let that big ego of yours get in the way, Jim." The admiral grinned, clearly joking, "the cargo run is incidental, you happen to be going that way and we need the supplies moved. The fact is we need the Sentinel in the Raeya Sector, there's not enough of a Starfleet presence. With the Klingon civil war spreading and Romulan terrorists in play, we need a strong Federation influence in the region. I'm including intelligence briefings on what we know about the Sovereignty of Kahless and the Free Romulan Movement as of this transmission, as well as the current status of the political situation in the Raeya Sector. Happy reading."

"Oh... Joy. Thank you for that." McCullen deadpanned, "I'll also need a full manifest of all the cargo we'll be moving."

"It's in the file," Admiral Carter smiled, "one other thing - some bad news I'm afraid - Lieutenants Makarova and K'Var are being reassigned - we need Makarova's medical skills... well, frankly, on a more important ship. K'Var is another story, hush-hush stuff that's above your paygrade. Replacements are already on their way, their dossiers are also in the file."

"Damn," was all McCullen could think to reply with. He had been in the command chain plenty long enough to know that these things happened, officers were sent where they were needed most - but it was a blow to lose two of his officers on the eve of their first official mission. He could only hope the replacements were up to the task of filling the boots left behind.

"Oh, and that XO of yours, Bast was it? Quite the service history on that one, you do seem to find interesting people, Jim. I assume you know something about his past, you trust him?"

"Implicitly." The captain replied, not having to pause for consideration. He did reflect on how irritating it must be for his XO to have his trustworthiness continually questioned and in turn, felt a little bit of irritation creep into his own heart on the man's behalf. "The events of his past, as far as I'm led to believe, were out of his control and as far as I'm concerned, have no bearing on who he is as a person or as a Starfleet Officer. He's an excellent officer and a good man, I wouldn't have him as my XO if I thought otherwise."

"Okay, point taken," the admiral winced slightly, "anyway, he's being promoted to full commander, mostly because of your report on his actions during what the intelligence boys are calling the Meja Incident, and because it'd just odd having a lieutenant commander XOing under a captain. When do you think the Sentinel will be ready for departure?" Carter prompted, shifting the topic back to the mission.

"Uh..." McCullen had to shift mental gears, stuffing the personnel changes away in a mental compartment labeled 'later' "24 hours should give us enough time to make final preparations." The captain replied, "as long as the shipyard doesn't hold us up."

"Don't worry about that, I'll make sure you get what you need." Carter said, "you should've called me earlier and I would have bashed some heads together."

"You're my friend, Admiral, but that doesn't give me the right to call you up whenever I have a problem." McCullen responded, "I'll keep that string unpulled until I really need it."

"Mmm, abuse of power and all that." Admiral Carter smiled wryly, "speaking of abuse, Mr. McCullen, an angry little bird tells me that you have not called your wife in more than a week and said little bird is a tad miffed - I reminded Mrs. Bird that these things go both ways, but it would be nice if you dropped her a line, if only to get her off my back."

"Ah, damn." McCullen frowned, wondering how it had slipped his mind, it never had before. "Tell Mrs. Bird that I'll make it a priority - today if I can make the time."

"Her and I both were first-time captains, once, Jim. She understands, even if she is a bit miffed, she understands." Carter said, "find time if you can... and speaking of time, I have to go to a wonderful meeting with a bunch of dusty old farts about something dull." She grinned, and McCullen suspected that she was doing something that was neither boring nor dusty, but he didn't push it.

"Yes ma'am," the captain began, getting the official out of the way before he leaned forward. "And Julie, thanks for the reminder."

"Any time, someone's gotta keep your dumb head outa your ass." Admiral Carter smirked, "Carter out."

James sighed as the connection cut, and dithered, wondering what he should do first. The mission brief files were a siren calling his attention, the crew changes were of paramount importance, Commander Bast's promotion was good and calling his wife would ensure his long-term health. On top of that, there was the half-dozen PaDDs on his desk, mostly maintenance reports, and reports from department heads. The phrase two heads are better than one popped into his brain and he made his decision, which would hopefully kill two birds with one stone.

"Computer, replicate a gold pip in a presentation box. Authorization McCullen Alpha Four Seven Five." He instructed - it took command authorization to create rank pips. As the replicator briefly hummed he tapped his comm badge, "McCullen to Bast, report to my ready room please."


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