It was a great leviathan of space; a vessel of such extraordinary power and fortitude that it was legend amongst the in the know of Starfleet. Suddenly the behemoth banked sharply as it received a call and turned its deadly maw back towards sector 001. The thousand strong crew members were nothing to do with the sheer brutal strength of the ship, there was an active compliment of Marines on board it was true. There were several ground force tanks as well as light troop retrieval vehicles. Four nacelles were arrayed in a similar configuration to the Prometheus class, only they were much longer and wider, powered the ship. It took the total of four nacelles to push the beast through space. It wasn’t the fastest ship in the fleet at a high cruise speed of only Warp 8. But then if it was there then it was before the emergency happened. No less than three large-scale planetary defense phasers were situated on its hull. There were lines of normal phaser backs crisscrossing its hull. Quantum Torpedo and other more classified high yield torpedo banks littered its outer skin.
It was simply a vehicle of military might that most didn’t even know existed. It was a battle ship that could lay waste to a planets force, single handily obliterate a small fleet of cruisers and even the mighty dominion had feared it. Designed for war against the Borg it had rotating shields of a new design and tested in war. There were few in the fleet send to the more dangerous borders. The captains of these ships were not mere captains, in its belly a dreadnought contained a single Defiant-Class, it was enough too ensure that a Captain, had to be a Commodore to even command a dreadnought. Most didn’t want to, a dreadnought was against the Federations doctrine they said, but not all there were some who believed that the Federation needed to have protection but were not so stupid to think that it should be at all cost as Section 31 recruits tended to be.
Commodore Arial Williams was not what one would expect, she appeared to be too young to be a Commodore, yet she was one of the deadliest foe an enemy could ever hope not to come into contact with. Every single battle that she’d been sent into she’d won, with no exception; she was tough as nails and twice as sharp. Her long auburn hair was cut to a somewhat rakish style, her eyes flint blue. When she smiled, she was as beautiful as an ornate sword but she was still just as deadly. Her mind was a steel trap of tactical information and plans. She was truly formidable, as were all the dreadnought commodores. Her ship was said to be so mighty under her command that it was said that she had blown a Borg cube to bits in the neutral zone. That wasn’t true, there wasn’t enough left to be called a bit, and it was a sphere.
The order had been short and concise, it basically amounted to haul ass back to earth and you’ll be briefed. It wasn’t the first order like that she’d received and she was sure it wouldn’t be the last. She had navigated her crew through several nasty battles and she had no intension of letting any of them down, ever. She was the daughter of Starfleet, her father and mother, both in the fleet; her two brothers, both fleet; her sister Anna was dead, Wolf 359 aboard one of the ill-fated armada that Loqutous had obliterated with very little pause.
Arial Williams had found quickly that she seemed to have a knack for tactical situations and had taken the very unusual route of marine, a section of the fleet that was necessary but not widely thought to be in the interests of the Federations peace ethic. She had worked hard, fought hard, pulling her team out of a highly dangerous situation during a skirmish with the Romulans, and then again with the Cardassian’s. She got a reputation for not leaving a man behind and then as she progressed through the ranks her mind was given the canvas on which it could draw out plans and tactics that had commanders twice her age scratching her head. A tactical genius wouldn’t be going too far. Then she’d shifted into a more normal command track, taking a position on a heavy cruiser and finally taking the command. Neychaev had been watching her progress with interest by this point. So when the Dreadnought class came into operation, the then, Captain Williams was promoted and placed in command of the first to set sail.
Neychaev had been vindicated in her decision several times over ever since. Only the Breen had been able to give the mighty ship and Commodore pause ever since. Janeway had taken over as her commander on her promotion and the two found a kindred spirit in the other. Williams was much harder and tougher but both women were strong and capable commanders who had got promotion on their own merit and not used other methods that still worked even in the 24th. Both experts in their fields albeit different ones and both with such a gritty determination that was rare in any gender or race.
So as the Draconian, an aptly named ship considering its destination, reached maximum warp Commodore Williams turned her mind to what could have prompted Admiral Janeway to request a recall. Although it wasn’t as if they were being given a lot to do with the Cardassian’s at the moment, they were not really in a position to put up much of a struggle and she was seriously bored. But a dreadnought hadn’t been back to earth, well ever since they had not been built at Utopia Planetia. To take one into the main shipping lanes was to engender a lot of idle gossip and they had been told to reach earth the quickest way. Williams would have to take that course, if it had been up to her she would have taken a more circumspect route and arrived a little later but with less chatter. Apparently, though, speed was of the essence.
The large bridge of the Draconian was dark by design, which she hated, and had for some reason an almost throne like chair in the middle that she was supposed to sit in. Her backside barely ever touched it except for communications and in battle situations. Normally she walked around the bridge, it would appear she was micro managing but her crew knew her better than that and she knew her crew better than to have to. She just kept abreast of the overall situation by glancing over people’s shoulders, whispering a few words of encouragement or advice. Sometimes she would do a walk around the entire ship knowing that the specially designed turbo lifts would reach the bridge in a flash if she were needed. Walking helped her to think, she found, so she walked. Miles a day on the huge ship, she knew the crew by name and they saw her on a regular basis. Some ships crews in the fleet weren’t even sure what their captain looked like, but the lowest crewmen knew Commodore Williams by sight and often had a smile for her and she for them. Her crew didn’t love her because she was far too hard for that; she was respected, which she thought was the better of the two.
“Commander” Admiral Cove said indicating that his guest should take a seat.
“Admiral.” Dee said neutrally.
“I've called you in for a quite update and to give you some new orders. Things are changing rapidly in the fleet at the moment. A time capsule was forced open this morning that has turned the admiralty on it's head.”
Dee rose an elegant brow and waited for her command to continue.
Dee in her shock cut in, “Sorry Sir. I think you mean Lieutenant Harris.”
Alex Cove smiled mirthlessly, “I only wish I did.” he said tonelessly. “And I'd thank you not to interrupt me.”
“Of course sir, sorry sir.”
“Commander Harris has been given somewhat of a surprising promotion and that pain in the neck Admiral Janeway was only to happy to back him. Surprisingly Captain Picard also lent weight to the issue.”
“What does Captain Picard have invested in this sir?”
“As far as I'm aware nothing, though we do have footage of them talking at the Voyager party.”
“Strange.” Dee noted.
“Indeed it is. There's more. A special task force has been created called Vita Force. Even I can't find out all the details of their Operating instructions yet. I only know they are classed as Omega Black and that ...” Cove actually took a moment to shake his head, “Commander Harris has been placed in charge of the task force.”
“This seems highly irregular.”
“What ever was in that capsule has scared the hell out of Starfleet Command and even the Federation council is backing this plan. How the devil they were persuaded to give this Harris rank I will never understand.”
“I can see that sir. Are my mission parameters the same?”
“Mostly. I want you to stay close to him. That means staying in deep cover for longer than we'd imagined. Find out what he knows about this new threat to the federation and extract mission details to me. I'm arranging OpTech now that will allow you to do this.”
“You're on his task force. The only damn concession I could arrange through our friends on the council. So how are we doing so far?”
Dee let out a breath, “I'll admit he's being more difficult than I'm used to but I'm making steady progress.”
Cove looked at her askance, “That is a surprise Lt. Commander, you are not slipping are you?”
“No sir, he is remarkably well self-contained for a man of his age. I am certain he is attracted to me, but so far he has maintained professional aloofness at all times.”
“You'll need to get on top of that as soon as possible.”
Dee smirked slightly, “It'll be a pleasure sir.” she said, then her face went back into a blank mask as Cove looked at her steadily.
“You're dismissed Lt. Commander. You'd better get ready. I understand Vita Force has it's first mission in a few hours.”
With only a raised eyebrow Dympna Amara left the Admiral's office.
Admiral Cove let out a sigh, things were becoming more and more difficult. Why would the Federation trust such a person as this Harris. What on earth had been in that time capsule that had everyone so scared?
He tapped his desk on the LCARS display and a connection was made to his secretary, “Janice, get me my daughter.”
“Yes Sir.” was the swift reply. There was a pause and then, “I'm sorry sir she doesn't appear to be at home.”
“Strange” Admiral Cove murmured then shrugged it off. He knew his daughter as a capable young woman, who unfortunately liked men. Unfortunate for any that hurt her in any way shape or form.
Xander's Apartment, SFC
“How long till you leave?” Gabriel asked his new found friend.
Xander shrugged, “About two hours, I'm debarking on the USS Prometheus.”
“She's quite a ship, new class that's pretty deadly in combat.”
“Yeah I've seen the specs” Xander said with a smile.
“Another alternate dimension moment?” Gabe asked quietly so as not to be overheard.
“Exactly. By the way there's a Dreadnought coming in within the next day or so as well. You may want to take Judy into a higher orbit.”
“Dreadnought. Big bad ass of a ship, enhanced sensors among other things, so just to be safe.”
Captain Masters nodded, “Good thinking ... Commander” he added the last with a smirk.
“What, it's quite the honor. You've broken Riker's record.”
“Yeah I know, do you think he'll be happy about that? I don't. We used to be friends damn it!”
Gabe winced, “I'm sorry I didn't realise”
Xander shook his head, “It's okay I'm sure Riker will be cool about it. He's a pretty cool guy. Though I don't think he's forgiven me yet for taking a sword undetected onto the Enterprise.”
Gabriel smirked, “Yeah that would piss me off too.”
Xander smirked back, “Better not tell you I always have it on me then had I?”
Gabriel frowned, “Do I even want to know how it's possible?”
“Hell. No.” Xander replied with a full smile.
“What are you two whispering about” K'Thall asked. Then continued with a half smile. “I have found when looking at historical archives that two humans whispering is never good for the Klingon Federation.”
“There isn't a Klingon Federation anymore 'Thall”
“My point exactly.” she said, giving Xander a slap on the back that almost took him off of his feet.
Gabriel laughed. “She has a point there.”
“My point is that now it's a Klingon Empire. But never mind. We were just talking about a few logistical things 'Thall. So you ready for your first mission as part of Vita Force”
“That's another thing I want to know. How the hell did you swing that.”
“I hacked the LCARS network and inserted K'Thall into it, creating a background for her that meant when I was asked to choose people for my team she'd make it on.” Xander let out a breath, “Man that was a long sentence!”
“How... You know what, never mind I don't want to know.” Gabriel said throwing up his hands with a laugh.
“Where's the other member of our team I wonder.” Xander said, “She's Borg, so doing her hair is likely out of the question.”
The door chime chose that moment to trigger Xander into saying, “Come In”
The door slid to one side to show Seven dressed in a fleet uniform in operations yellow. “Wow” Xander said. #These uniforms can surely cut quite a figure.#
#What? Look at her!#
#I am aware she is attractive. I merely continually wonder what possessed me to choose you over hundreds of millions of others!# Q told him with a laugh in his voice.
#But, well Damn!#
Gabriel shouldered him, none too gently, bringing him back to the here and now. “Oh hey Seven great to see that the fleet finally realised that you were worthy.”
“I think you have had a lot to do with that Xander.”
Xander glanced at her neck, “Well apparently they had room for a Lieutenant” he told her indicating his own pips.
Seven's only response was a slight widening of her eyes and stepping into the apartment proper. “Congratulations on your promotion Xander.”
“Yeah” Xander said without a hint of excitement.
“I would think you'd be pleased.”
“Being in the fleet has advantages for sure.” Xander said slowly, “But at the same time I'm not a huge fan of rules either, now they've given me a command. Which reminds me, I must shout at Janeway a lot when I next see her.”
“That would certainly fix you promotional problems” Gabriel commented wryly.
Xander paused, “Huh, hadn't thought of it like that. But I need the advantages; like I was saying. So I'll have to take the good with the bad.”
“So where are your... Slayers?” Seven asked.
“Out training with Maria. Except 'Thrall here. She's with us.”
“What time do we depart?”
“Just under two hours now.” Xander told her, “We're waiting for the last of the starting team.”
“Starting team?” Gabriel asked.
“There are a few positions open. So interested in joining the Fleet again Captain Masters?”
Gabriel shook his head, “Hell no, thanks but no thanks. I'll do my part free from the machinations of the fleet and Section 31”
Seven frowned, “What is Section 31”
“Something I'll tell you all about, but not while right when we're expecting a visitor...” Xander said leadingly.
Seven nodded her agreement, “Very well.”
The door chime went off causing Xander to smile, “Talk of the ... well not actually but talking of visitors.”
“You're a very strange guy at times” Gabriel commented.
“Oh I know, I know” Xander commented.
“Come” he added almost as an after thought.
The door swished in that way all Federation doors did and showed Lieutenant Commander Amara in her command Red uniform. Xander, in his younger years would've shut down at the beauty in the room with him at that moment, but he had grown up in many ways since arriving in the twenty fourth century. His experiences had given him a tougher exterior for one thing and the ability to remain verbal around beautiful women. Though he'd had a good start with all his friends back in the 'dale. “Lt. Commander” Xander said with a smile, “Just in time for our little briefing.”
“I was happy to hear of your promotion Commander.”
“Please, call me Xander.”
“Then especially now, call me Dee.” Dee said and looked around the room. There was Seven of nine who she had briefly met before a good looking man in his thirties and a Klingon woman who went of the charts threat rating wise. An interesting mix of people this new commander had surrounded himself with. There was something niggling at her about the dark haired man though. She just couldn't place it yet.
“Dee I'd like you to meet Seven Of Nine, who tends to just go by Seven these days. K'Thall and Gabriel Black he lives nearby and is just a friend of mine. In fact I believe he has to leave?”
Gabriel nodded, “I can take a hint” he said with a smile, “Good luck with whatever it is you're doing Xander” he said with a friendly voice and expression. Making it appear that they were just friendly.
As he brushed past Xander he whispered, “Very funny”
Once Gabriel had left to meet up with Judy and get ready to follow the Prometheus on her first real mission Xander indicated that everyone should take a seat. He had erected a table with chairs for the occasion and all the practice equipment for the slayers had been packed away. He drew out a chair and plopped down into it and looked at the members of his team so far. An ex-Borg, an ancient Klingon and a current Section 31 Agent. A very interesting mix, and strangely he'd managed to surround himself with women again. Of course, unofficially Gabriel was also a member of his team so that evened up the ratio a little.
“So, this is weird huh?” Xander said with a smile.
K'Thall let out a roar of laughter.