A New Frontier, Part 1

Posted on 19 Dec 2018 @ 2:09am by Rear Admiral Valentina Petrovich & Captain Abigail Rhodes

Mission: Prologue


[USS Farragut-A]
[Mars Orbit]

Abigail Rhodes knew this day was coming.  She had begun the process as soon as the notification came through subspace two weeks ago.  She could have taken a runabout right away, but the orders didn't give a firm reporting date, and she wanted to finish one last mission with the crew she had grown to love.  Captain Nora Yamato had given her every chance to succeed, and to forge friendships that would last a lifetime.

Her orders said to report to Utopia Planitia, which meant she was either getting a new ship right off the line, or one which underwent a refit.  She had looked into the USS Mark Miller, and discovered it was kind of both. The ship had been constructed and commissioned a few years ago, but stayed at Mars without a crew.  She had a few ideas why; some less than ideal. She hoped Command wasn't pawning a lemon off on her.

Abby took one last look around her quarters before hefting her small carry bag onto a shoulder.  She had been on this ship for seven year. Even if she hadn't had the same quarters during that time, or even the same uniform, it still felt like home.  Switching to the far smaller Nova-class would definitely take an adjustment.

She opened the door to see Captain Yamato waiting for her in the hallway.  She pushed herself from the wall and smiled broadly to her colleague and friend.  "Ready to go, Abby?"

"Not really," she admitted, placing an emotional hand on the door jamb before heading into the corridor and matching stride with Nora.  "I'll miss this place."

"This place will miss you, as will all of us.  You were a great XO, and you'll be a great Captain."

"Thank you, Nora."  Abby's smile was wide and genuine, and full of emotion.

They shared some more small talk and a few laughs before reaching the transporter room.  Abby noted that this "small" walk was nearly the entire length of a Nova-class starship in itself.  It definitely would be an adjustment.

They reached the transporter room and they shared a final hug and handshake before Abby stepped upon the pad.  She gave Captain Yamato a salute before ordering, "Energize."

[Utopia Planitia]

"Welcome to Mars, Captain," the Russian accent was a dead giveaway.  Well, that, and Abby's orders that listed Rear Admiral Valentina Petrovich as her contact.

Abby stepped down from the transporter dais and gave her superior a salute and handshake.  "I'm looking forward to my next assignment, Admiral."

"Enough formality, Abby.  It has been far too long," the Admiral stated before wrapping Abby in a warm hug.  It indeed had been quite some time. More than a decade since they had stood in the same room, though they had periodically exchanged letters.  Admiral Petrovitch had been a Commander when they first met; the Executive Officer of the USS Nova. Coincidentally the prototype ship of the class to which the USS Mark Miller belongs.  Abby had just returned from extended medical leave and was hesitant to get back in the saddle. Commander Petrovich had been instrumental in the young scientist finding her confidence again, and in the process became an invaluable and beloved friend and mentor.  If not for Valentina Petrovich, Abby was sure she would not have lasted in Starfleet.

The two women walked side by side down the corridors towards the elder's office.  As they walked, they briefly caught up. Abby on her most recent adventures on the Farragut.  Valentina on her assignment on Mars overseeing upgrades to the Nova-class of which she was intimately knowledgeable.  In normal circumstances, the lower rank would let the higher rank lead, but the pair had a tighter bond than that.

Reaching their destination, Abby stepped aside to allow the Admiral to enter her credentials in the office door.  Then the pair entered and sat on opposite sides of an expansive desk. Admiral Petrovich smiled widely. "You spent many years on the Farragut," she observed.

Abby nodded, "Yes, Admiral.  I have come to love that ship."

"Please, Valya when it is just us.  I am sure yo will come to love your next assignment just as much if not more.  A Captain has a very special bond with her ship.."

The other woman nodded, "As you wish, Valya."  It was an odd sensation; she hadn't used the Admiral's nickname in... well... ever.  Abby was a professional; being familiar with a superior officer was alien to her. Then again, Valya was as familiar to her as her own family.  "I hope so," she said in answer to Valya's second comment.

"We must speak further," Valya said leaning forward, "I read reports from the Farragut, but it there are always those little details that don't make it into the reports," she smiled slyly.

Abby chuckled, "Oh, I'm not sure there's as much as you think.  I've been as thorough as possible with my reports."

"As a good scientist always is.  But as I said, always things slip through the cracks, da?"

Abby nodded grudgingly, then shook her head with a smile.  "Of course, Valya."

The older woman shook a hand dismissively, "But that is not why you are here.  There will be plenty of time later." she began rifling through a stack of PADDs, many of which Abby could see were hidden by secure logins.  Admiral Petrovich selected one with an audible "Ah," and slid it towards Abby. "How much do you know of your assignment?"

Abby leaned forward and retrieved the PADD.  Before glancing at it, she spoke from memory.  "I am to command a Nova-class research vessel. The assignment mentioned it is part of an exploratory task force out on the frontier, but details were scant."

The Admiral folded her hands on the desk.  "That is the gist, yes."

Not for the first time, Abby wondered why her friend, an Admiral in charge of Starfleet Starship Design, was giving her orders to the frontier.  A glance at the PADD told her why. Even as she read the details, Admiral Petrovich said them.

"You are to assume command of the USS Mark Miller, currently in drydock following a round of upgrades.  Then you are to escort the vessel and myself to Deep Space Thirteen and our new task force. The Mark Miller will be tasked with exploration and research on the fringes of Federation space in the Beta Quadrant."

"M&M," Abby barely suppressed a giggle behind the soft utterance.

"What was that?"

"Nothing, Valya." Abby quickly said at a normal volume.  "So, you're my new boss. How'd that happen? Aren't you to supervise the rest of the nova-class upgrades?"

The Admiral smiled, "Honestly, a Task Force command is the next step in my career.  DS13 was the opportunity, and I was given the chance to choose my Captains. I chose you, Abigail.  As for the Nova upgrades, the USS Rhode Island's refit is already planned. The ship is on long-term assignment and once it returns, work will begin in earnest.  The Mark Miller will be a testbed of sorts for some of them. While you discover the… idiosyncrasies of the new upgrades, the reports will filter through me and I'll inform Starfleet of my recommendations."

Abby nodded, it made sense.  She could keep an eye on her baby, as well as be close to herself.  To Valya, she guessed it was a perfect assignment. "How much of a say do I have in my own crew?" she asked.

"Sadly, not a lot," Valya said.  "Your XO is on his way now, and most of the others are already waiting at DS13.  The rest will be assigned while we are enroute."

Abby sucked her teeth, but she figured that was a side-effect of needing to completely crew up a ship on short notice.  It wasn't an ideal situation, but she was flexible. She'd make it work. "So," she said, leaning forward a little, "What's next?"

"I suppose the next step is to show you your new command."

"Back to the transporter room, then?"

"Oh, no, there's a much better way."


Captain Abigail Rhodes
Commanding Officer
USS Mark Miller

Rear Admiral Valentina Petrovich
Station Commander
Deep Space 13