USS Alexander


An Ongoing Mission

Posted on 11 Feb 2020 @ 2:14am by Admiral Zavareh Sepandiyar & Captain Lachlan Callum & Captain Markus Hawthorne & Captain Shea Parnell
Edited on on 05 Jul 2020 @ 7:25pm

Mission: Season 1 - Into the Deep
Location: USS Alexander - Conference Room
Timeline: MD1 - 0900
4074 words - 8.1 OF Standard Post Measure

Callum brooded quietly at the rear of the turbolift swiftly winding its way through the interior of the USS Alexander. After so long on a ship as small as the Wallace-class, he had forgotten the frustration of having to stand and wait as you were taken to your destination. On his previous command, it was faster to climb or descend a Jeffries tube ladder than call the lift. By the end of his tenure as commander of the Devil Dog, he's abandoned the lifts altogether. He wasn't too often needed that far from the bridge or his quarters/ready room so when he was it was good to get the exercise. But that was his life before. The one good thing Starfleet had given him in a long time; his own command that lasted for more than a mission. Granted, he'd been assigned to the ass-end of nowhere as a garrison vessel for Starfleet Marines, but the command was his. His crew, his orders, his prerogative. That was gone now, taken from him as abruptly as it had been given and in typical Starfleet fashion, without a word as to why or where he was going next.

His crew had stayed aboard, but the senior staff had all been transferred with him to SB-99. It frustrated him that he'd lost the command and that his friends were having to pay for that as well, but in the same vein, at least they were together. But even that was short-lived. Barely a day after they'd arrived at SB-99 Doctor Purcell had been transferred off, Frenchie followed that afternoon. Westergard was gone the next day with Raicell (who flew the shuttle) leaving Callum alone on SB-99 without a command, and without orders. Were he on any other station, he'd have gone to the station's commander and pressed him or her for information on where he was going next, but the last time he'd been here to 99, Vice Admiral Isfahani had been clear that he'd have drum him out of the service if he'd had the choice. The more he thought about it, the more he convinced himself that was exactly what was happening here. When he received orders to report to Admiral Sepandiyar aboard his flagship, and not simply been given orders to another assignment, he knew he'd been right. The sun had set on his career in Starfleet. All that remained now was the formality of having a Fleet Admiral lay that news on him.

As he rode quietly in the lift, watching crew come and go along the way, Callum reflected on that. He may not have had a storied career in Starfleet, but he was proud of it nonetheless. It had been a good career. That's what he was telling himself at least. A career that he wasn't ashamed of in the least. He'd followed his heart, and his instincts. He'd never sold out on the ideals of the Federation or of himself, not even once, despite the orders he had to the contrary. At least, at the end, he'd been able to finally have his own command. He was going out having achieved what he had truly wanted. He could be content with that. Just this one last time, he convinced himself he could hold his tongue, look the Admiral in the eye and accept the death sentence his career had been avoiding for a long time.

The lift finally drew to a stop and the computer announced that they had reached the bridge as the doors hissed open. Callum pushed himself off the wall and stepped out into a wide, but relatively short corridor filled with working stations. Looking up, he could see the bridge on the second level and was immediately taken back by the fact that the Alexander's bridge was so big it needed two levels. A Petty Officer was manning a terminal just to his left, by the lift doors, and turned to him.

"Conference room is there, sir," he said, gesturing to a door on Callum's right.

"Thanks," he muttered. He headed that way and stepped through.

The conference room of the Alexander was a huge space, as suited the rest of the ship. On his previous command, the conference room was the bridge. A bridge that would have easily fit in the Alexander's expansive conference room. The bulk of the room was dominated by a large, wooden table that could seat the entire senior staff of this ship comfortably. Normally he expected the table would have chairs surrounding it, but currently there were only four. One on the interior side and three on the opposite side, facing it. It sealed his assumption that this was in fact to be his final moment as a member of Starfleet.

To his left, along the main wall that separated the room from the bridge, was a massive saltwater fish tank filled with all manner of earth-specific ocean flora and fauna. Opposite that wall, looking out over the rear of the ship and the rest of the space dock, was a huge viewport that spanned one side to the other. He could see work-bee's, auxiliary shuttle craft and all other manner of vessels moving through the interior of the starbase servicing the dozens of vessels docked surrounding the Alexander. Callum walked to the viewport to have a look directly, leaning against the frame and heaving a sigh. In the distance he could see a few familiar ship profiles, one he'd never seen before and closest to the Alexander, above the nacelle's, was a ship under construction. He was just focusing in on what class the ship was when the doors to the conference room opened up. He turned quickly away from the window, pacing around the table on the opposite side from the three people that had just walked in.

"Admiral," Callum nodded, assuming that he should take the seat that no doubt was meant for him at the table facing the other three

Admiral Sepandiyar led the way into the conference room followed by two Captain's, one Callum recognized immediately and one he suspected he knew just by reputation. "Have a seat, Commander," Sepandiyar said as he and the Captains who had accompanied him sat down on their side of the table. The Admiral sat in the middle and as the other two sat down he gestured to them, "You know Captain's Hawthorne and Purcell?"

"Aye," Callum replied as he sat down. Hawthorne he knew very well having worked closely with him and his crew patrolling the sector around Catus XI the last couple of years. The Ardeshir had played host to him and his crew dozens of times, and he'd begun to rely on Markus as a trusted friend and a mentor of sorts. The other officer, Captain Purcell, was not someone that Callum had worked with directly, but was an officer he knew by reputation. She didn't look anything like the woman he'd expected she would be. He knew her for her work saving her ship, a Nova-class, from near destruction by a far superior enemy. Lacking in real firepower and the ability to run, she'd held them off long enough for the cavalry to arrive and save her. How she managed to keep her ship alive was likely to be studied at the Academy for some time yet.

Sepandiyar activated the holoterminal on the table in front of him and a screen came to life that he rotated so that it sat on the table at a slight angle. "Commander," he began, "You have an interesting file. I see here a letter of reprimand from Vice Admiral Isfahani, the commander of this station," he said, bringing that up on a smaller holo, "Captain Holderman of the USS San Jacinto, Commodore Van Staten of the Opportunity, and several other less notable commanders in Starfleet," he began. Callum gave a slight smirk.

This was his legacy, he supposed, a career of bucking the system. Of following the spirit of his orders if not the letter. It had nearly cost him everything, but he'd saved more than a few lives along the way. The Yprians, the Doromian's, the crew of the Opportunity, even Commodore Van Staten herself. Yet those hadn't ever been his orders. In fact, his orders were to the opposite. He wasn't supposed to have gotten involved but he was the kind of man that couldn't sit idly by and wait for backup. He saw something wrong and he had to act. It had cost the lives of some of those in his charge, but they knew the risks when they joined Starfleet and when they joined his merry band of misfits.

The Admiral continued, "I also see a letter of commendation from Captain Markus Hawthorne of the Ardeshir," he said gesturing to the man on his right. "and another from Major General MacTaryn of Camp Falkirk," he added for effect, making sure each of the letters was on the screen. He flipped them around so that Callum could read them, expecting that he'd never seen them. "Can you explain either of these, compared to the list of reprimands?" he asked.

Callum looked through the letter that Hawthorne had put in his file and met the man's eyes, giving a respectful nod. He turned slowly back to the Admiral, clearing his throat, but rather than replying he simply shook his head.

"I see," Zavareh replied, slashing his hand through the holo's.

"Commander," Captain Parnell cut in, "What can you tell me about Doctor Purcell. I understand she, along with a few other officers, have been a part of your... crew... for the last few years?"

"Seven years," Callum nodded. "Doctor Purcell and I have been together the longest. Since the San Jacinto incident, after she proved their Chief Medical Officer wrong. He refused to admit his error, so we... countered Captain Holderman's orders and did what we had to do given the correct information," he explained, "I received a reprimand and she got assigned to me, ending a bright future. It's not what I wanted for her," he explained plainly, "She deserves better,"

"She was transferred out of your command recently, and since then she has filed a formal complaint with her new commanding officer," Purcell explained, "Requesting that she be returned to your command."

"No," Callum replied loudly with a shake of his head, "No. I won't hold her back any longer. She deserves better than what I can give her," he answered emphatically.

Purcell gave him a wide, disarming grin, "You didn't even ask what posting she was given."

He shrugged, "At best I've commanded a small escort. It's time she had a career worthy of her skills as a Doctor. I doubt there's another in Starfleet Medical that has seen the variety of patients or injuries she has. She'll be invaluable anywhere she's sent," he declared.

"And Lieutenant Anderson?" Purcell asked, again flashing the disarming smile that was so vastly different from the near scowls Hawthorne and Sepandiyar wore, though he knew Hawthorne's to be simply his normal facade. He wasn't an overly emotional person, and he suspected that Sepandiyar was cut from the same cloth. "He has requested the same."

Callum harumphed, but shook his head, "While I feel a great stab of pity for the skipper that has to learn Frenchie's eccentricities for themselves the hard way, it's the same answer. He belongs in a real engineering deck, not holed up in the corner of a decades old converted runabout or escort ship tethered to the ass-end of nowhere," he replied colorfully, "I refuse to hold him back."

"I have to be honest, Commander," Sepandiyar chimed in, "I know Kaspar Isfahani very well, he's an old friend, but I cannot reconcile the man he reprimanded in his letter to the one sitting across from me now. What has changed?"

"Nothing's changed," Callum replied, "It's a matter of respect. I saved Isfahani's ass and didn't get so much as a hand-shake in thank you, just his foot in my arse," he growled, "I gave him the respect he gave me. Simple as that. Same with Holderman and Van Staten. Self-righteous bastards who think because of rank and position I must grovel at their feet."

"Then your cooperation now is because of?" Sepandiyar pressed.

"I've served in your area of operations the last two years, Admiral. I've served with Captain Hawthorne even more closely. I've been treated fairly, and given the autonomy to do the job I was assigned without micromanagement. That's all any skipper can ask for, and for that, you have my respect. I can manage that much for this one last time," he explained, drawing himself up proudly in his seat.

"One last time?" Sepandiyar asked curiously, taking off his glasses and letting out a slow breath. "Is there something you wish to tell us, Commander?" he asked. There was more that he wanted to go over, but if the man had committed to a different path already, it was a wasted effort.

"No, Admiral," he grunted in reply. "You can get on with it,"

"Very well," he pressed on, changing the screen on his holo terminal to something else. He glanced over at Markus who gave him a wry smirk in reply, clearly knowing something that he didn't. He cocked his head slightly in confusion, but continued on. "Commander, you've made a career of being a malcontent. An arrogant, brash, and insubordinate officer who has served on the edges of the fleet for nearly forty years. Yet you're still here. Just when your file would suggest you're softening with age, you earn the ire of one of the most influential Admirals in the quadrant." Sepandiyar outlined, leaning back slightly in his seat, "Yet. Your successes are unquestioned, regardless of the details leading up to them. Had you followed your orders, you'd very likely be in this seat."

"And have let who knows how many die," Lachlan answered flatly. No, no he wasn't going to be second guessing himself on those decision. He did the right thing, and if the only price paid was in rank and station then it was worth it every time. Every damn time. "If the price to pay for that is my rank, and my career. Done. Paid. I'd do it again, every fecking time." he blurted, blanching slightly. "...Admiral." he added as if that might erase the colorful language.

"There are no situations in your career that you would have chosen to follow the orders given? None of these letters of reprimand that you think you could have avoided and come to the same solution?" Sepandiyar asked, gesturing to them as if they were still visible there on the screen.

"I can't deal in what might have been's, Admiral," Lachlan answered firmly, "I made my call, and I believe those were the right calls. We're Starfleet. Our job is to protect lives, not destroy them no matter what the cost. I want to sleep at night without seeing the dead. If that makes me a sixty-year old Ensign because I didn't follow some half-cocked orders sent from a hundred light years away, then I'm willing to live with that."

Sepandiyar nodded slowly, just watching Lachlan from his seat as if he were a betazoid digging through the mans thoughts looking for something worthy of discussion. Callum stared quietly back, not willing to back down from this. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (Captain Purcell was starting to squirm uncomfortably), the Admiral looked to her and gave a slightly smile, "Anything else?"

"Yes," she smiled sweetly back, leaning onto the table to look at Callum, "Thank you for your candid observations on Lieutenant's Purcell and Anderson. I will let them know I spoke with you regarding their transfers. They've both been assigned to the de Grasse as the Chief Medical and Engineering Officers, respectively," she beamed, "I couldn't be happier with their performance's so far, even if they have asked to leave," she chuckled, "I admire their loyalty."

Callum blushed lightly, "Good for them," he smiled slightly, "They deserve it." he said, clearing his throat, now looking to the Admiral. "Can I ask where Petty Officer Raicell and Chief Westergard were transferred?"

"Raicell has been assigned to the Atlantic as their Chief Helmsman and Westergard has been assigned to the Titan." Sepandiyar replied. "They have filed the same requests to be transferred back to your command."

He shook his head, "No."

"Noted," Sepandiyar replied.

Sepandiyar and Callum stared quietly at one another again, one assessing and one holding his emotions back. Emotions he wasn't expecting he'd have here at this juncture. Forty years of service hadn't seemed like much before, but now that he was literally staring down the barrel at the end of it, it was catching in his throat. But he couldn't flinch and show it to the Admiral, and give Starfleet the satisfaction of knowing that they'd finally cut him down to the quick. He drew his breaths steadily to fight off the emotions, staring resolutely back at Sepandiyar.

"Oh for Pete's sake, Zavareh," Purcell finally broke the tension.

It broke the tension and both men looked away, Callum giving Purcell the slightest of grateful smiles. He reached for his collar, "Is it customary to leave these with you, Admiral, or are they mine to keep?"

Sepandiyar fixed him with a curious gaze, then looked to Purcell who was leaning onto the arm of her chair as if the Admiral was a moron who had missed the most obvious point ever made. "They're yours to keep..."

"I told you he'd take it this way, but you didn't believe me," Purcell whispered quickly to the Admiral, gesturing to Callum, "You wanted to size him up, but he thinks we're the final review board before his separation from the Fleet. I can't say I blame him, three of us against him, picking apart his record."

Callum looked at her with confusion, trying to catch all of that, then to the Admiral, looking for a thread to grasp onto.

"I wanted to hear it from him myself," Sepandiyar explained quietly but with more uncertainty than he was used to having. "It's important," he added. He'd learned a long time ago that personnel records weren't the end all be all of who an officer was. It certainly gave a strong indication but hearing the officer themselves explain their logic, reasoning and remorse (or lack thereof) generally spoke volumes more than the words in the file. That's why he wanted to have this meeting. To face Callum straight up on his shortcomings in the past, and to gauge the kind of officer he really was. Having Markus in his camp was certainly a boost, but it was his orders that Callum would be following. Not Markus'.

Shea gave the Admiral a sweet smile, the kind a daughter might give their aging father when he stumbled on some old memory. Turning her attention to Callum, she pushed slightly away from the desk and gestured at the window behind them. "Have you seen the de Grasse?" she asked, gesturing to the ship directly to the rear of the Alexander in the star dock.

Callum shifted in his seat to take a look. Purcell got up and walked to the window, gesturing at it. Callum looked to Sepandiyar, who had gotten up as well, and decided it was ok to leave his seat and join the Captain at the window. She smiled and pointed, "It's a little bigger than a Nova," she chuckled.

"Hawking-class?" Callum asked in awe. Purcell nodded. "Frenchie's got to be beside himself," he chuckled slightly. "Finally a warp core that doesn't have issues. Bastard. Shame on him for asking to transfer," he added with a growl.

"He's loyal to his friends," Purcell beamed back, "So are you," she added. "There's the Ardeshir there," she pointed, indicating the ship berthed above the de Grasse, shifting the point deftly. It looked a whole lot more put together than the former ship, but then again she'd been in service for nearly a decade under Captain Hawthorne. She had a while yet to serve, as did her skipper.

"She still looks fresh off the yards," Callum praised, looking to Hawthorne. Looking out at the Ardeshir his eyes naturally moved to the ship in front of it, the one above the Alexander's nacelles that he'd been trying to work out before they had arrived. "This one almost looks like a Prometheus," he mused.

"It is a Prometheus," Sepandiyar declared, "A fresh build with the latest technical specifications added to the original design. Starfleet feels a more aggressive presence is needed in the sector we're about to be calling home," he explained, "The USS Theseus." he said, turning away from the window a bit and pacing briefly away. "The Alexander is going to be heading into space beyond the desolate expanse, acting as a waypoint for Starfleet in the area. It's well beyond the reach of Starbase-99, and so we will act as that Starbase. Repairing, supplying and otherwise serving the same purpose. Several ships will be operating in the area, including the Ardeshir and the de Grasse. Skippers I know and trust," he explained, "Ardeshir will be our scientific vessel, de Grasse our explorer, and Theseus the spear," he explained, gesturing to the ship.

Callum nodded, "Good choice for it," he said staring wistfully at it. He turned back around and drew himself up, "Is there anything else, Admiral? I owe it to my wife to explain what's happened here, and hopefully catch a transport home, today."

"Told you," Purcell smirked at the Admiral.

"It'd be a short shuttle ride," Markus grinned, gesturing to the windows and the ship under construction.

Callum looked back in confusion and then snapped around again to the Admiral who reached into his pocket and drew out a small decorative box, offering it to him. "I'd like to offer you the command of the Theseus," he declared, "Captain Callum."

He stared in disbelief at the pip in the box the Admiral had given him, then looked to Markus in disbelief. Hawthorne just smiled, his arms folded across his chest. On his opposite side, Purcell was wearing that infectious, motherly smile that she always had. It was so infectious, it was on his lips in no time. He looked up at the Admiral and drew to a more formal posture, "I accept, Admiral,"

"It's done then. Report to your ship, Captain. I'd like a report on her potential operational status by the end of the day tomorrow. Your Chief Medical Officer and Chief Engineer are already aboard, the latter has been overseeing the final stages of construction. Your XO arrived on station early this morning, but has not yet reported to the ship. I told her to wait until you had taken your posting, and that you would summon her when you had," he explained, "The rest of the senior staff should be arriving soon. I want the Theseus out of dock and with us when we make our initial jump beyond the expanse. Questions?"

"No, Admiral," Callum replied.

"Then, dismissed," Sepandiyar declared with a nod, before turning towards the door.

Callum let out the breath he'd been holding and let that sink in. Before he could catch himself, he blurted out, "Admiral!" Sepandiyar stopped and turned around curiously. Lachlan took the few steps towards the man and again, without thinking, stuck out his hand. "Thank you, sir." Zavareh looked at the hand, something so wholly out of character for the man that he knew Callum was, but took it. "Thank you."

Zavareh Sepandiyar
Commanding Officer
USS Alexander

Markus Hawthorne
Commanding Officer
USS Ardeshir

Shea Parnell
Commanding Officer
USS de Grasse

Lachlan Callum
Commanding Officer
USS Theseus