“I think it would be unlikely,” Neytiri replied, “Why would any of my rivals seek to challenge me? I have been an Alpha rank since high school. Sure, I have been challenged once in a while, but I am yet to see who can beat me in my own game,” the airlock opened to show the docking bay, “ I doubt any female in Starfleet, much less Cait, could beat me one-to-one.”
“Would that be in a pitch battle or an ambush?”
It was a female voice, but it was not Caitian. The pitch and tone was that of a human, clearly that of a senior and authoritative figure.
Clearly an Alpha. One out of Neytiri’s league.
The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony (Chap 13)
There are few names that can be associated with the USS Voyager.
Pilots would talk of Tom Paris. Medical officers would consult the Emergency Medical Hologram known as the Doctor. Chief engineers would read the manuals and findings that B'Elanna Torres published alongside interested Klingons. Borg experts and researchers would look to Seven of Nine’s next lecture within the Daystrom Institute. And Starfleet graduates would wonder on the thoughts and actions made by the then-Ensign Harry Kim, who’s first assignment was aboard the Voyager.
There was one name who stood above them all. She never thought she would lead this crew into the Badlands only to find herself on the other side of the Milky Way, kicking off perhaps her greatest odyssey that lasted seven years. By the time she reached Earth, she and her crew would have made more first contacts, discoveries and combat actions across the Delta quadrant than any other serving ship at that time. Their triumphant return home, at first a relatively quiet moment of celebration so soon after the Dominion War, would be the spark that launched a new phase of technological advances throughout the Federation, much thanks to the knowledge gained and technology developed from the Delta Quadrant.
In the generation that grew up following Voyager’s return, Admiral Kathryn Janeway saw what would have made her journey across the Delta Quadrant incredible turn into something more feasible within a career in Starfleet. Once where the most deep space assignment would be just outside Federation borders, there were ships now exploring the Delta Quadrant as part of their five-year assignments. She even saw how the Federation became interconnected thanks to the transwarp technology she acquired from the Borg, a vital piece of technology from the Federation’s most feared enemy that brought her home.
She was now an Alpha within Starfleet. A senior one but still one with bite. Clad in a Starfleet uniform more commonly seen at the turn of the 25th Century, her age had not worn down her steely determination nor her authorative aura. In fact, such was her reputation that many who liked to trump their Alpha status would likely think twice in her presence.
Captain Neytiri, who had expected a Caitian rival at the airlock, was floored by the presence of this venerable Starfleet veteran standing in front of her. The admiral’s calm demeanour gave way to satisfaction as Captain Neytiri and Lieutenant Rimba quickly snapped to attention.
“Admiral Janeway,” Neytiri cried aloud, “It’s an unexpected honour to receive you.”
“At ease officers,” Admiral Janeway replied. Neytiri and Rimba relaxed a little before the admiral continued, “I understand that you did not expect my arrival and visit, but there are some things that need to be attended to... upfront and personal.”
“I understand Admiral,” Neytiri replied, “To what do we owe the pleasure to meeting you?”
“I am actually at Cait to oversee a developing situation,” Admiral Janeway replied, “I was informed of you imminent arrival, and thought I ought to pay you a visit first.”
Admiral Janeway’s attention turned to Lieutenant Rimba. She scanned the young officer from head to toe, “I suppose we met before...”
“That’s correct Admiral,” Rimba replied, “You personally met me as I was shipping to the frontlines three years ago.”
“Ah yes, you were part of the pilot acceleration programme,” Admiral Janeway then noticed the rank on his collar, “Congratulations on your promotion.”
“Thank you Admiral,” Rimba replied. He was not comfortable with the compliment. It had much to do with what he said next, “Captain Kim wrote the recommendation himself.”
“Ah... Harry. How much I miss him,” Janeway seemed to entered memory lane for a moment, “Voyager was his first assignment. Much like mine on the Al-Batani...”
“I believe he was jealous of my rapid rise through the ranks.” Rimba remarked, “Considering that he spent being an Ensign for seven years serving you...”
“Oh no... Harry is better than that, “ Admiral Janeway interjected, “Being with me and Voyager had much in making him into the Captain that he is today,” she put a hand on Rimba’s shoulder, “He knew what you had to do at the Romulan Neutral Zone.”
“That place was a mess...” Rimba’s eyes opened with disbelief, “We could have done more...”
“There was nothing you could do,” Janeway assured the younger officer, “That colony had no chance to survive that disaster.”
“I cannot believe he would still recommend me after all this...”
“You deserve it,” Admiral Janeway said it with a tinge of sobriety and sympathy, “along with countless others.”
“Thank you Admiral,” Rimba replied, “Is there anything I could assist you owing to your presence?”
“I am actually here to meet the Captain of this ship,” Admiral Janeway replied, “I gather you are going on leave?”
“That is correct Admiral.”
“That being said, you are free to start your leave,” Admiral Janeway gestured magnanimously, “Feel free to excuse yourself.”
“Thank you Admiral,” Rimba then turned to his captain, “Permission to disembark?”
Neytiri nodded, “Permission granted,” then smiling she added, “Send my regards to your family.”
“I will, “Rimba then offered his hand, “It’s an honour to serve you.”
“The honour is mine Lieutenant,” Neytiri took his hand to shake, “See you on the other side...”
Admiral Janeway and Captain Neytiri looked on as Lieutenant Rimba left the airlock to proceed into the space station. Then, as soon as he left their thoughts, Admiral Janeway turned to the latter, “So.. that leaves you and me.”
“I guess that is the case,” Neytiri replied, “I take that Starfleet has been informed on the situation on Cait concerning their dispute with the Ferengi. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here to visit me personally.”
“More than you would know,” Admiral Janeway smiled, “I arrived about ninety minutes ago to oversee the developing situation.”
“Considering the Ferengi don’t exactly stand by the principles of the Federation, you would understand how... important it is to offer the Fengi an offer they cannot refuse. After all, we cannot afford them trading with an enemy of the Federation in times like these.”
“”I agree on the framework you presented,” Admiral Janeway said, “But I am also aware that your priority is to maintain Caitian trade relations with the Ferengi without compromising the internal cohesion within Caitian society.”
“It seems that you have indeed read up on the situation,” Neytiri was surprised yet again by the Admiral’s deep study of the Caitian situation, “I fear the Ferengi would take advantage of our - position in order to get a better deal - at our expense of course. To that end, I am expecting to meet with one of my elders to attend to the problem myself. Within my family, I have been entrusted with the responsibility that even my elder siblings could not take up.”
“I see,” Admiral Janeway said, “I happened to met an elder called Hehos, who was expecting you. He briefed me on what has been happening and asked if I could assist.”
“I guess that means that we would be working together to deal with this situation?”
“Not exactly. You see, I happened to have brought along one of the most capable captains for this situation.”
“How would this captain assist us in the dispute?” asked Neytiri, “Is he a diplomat with experience on Cait or Ferengar?”
“Well... you would be surprised. He actually making progress in the dispute as we speak. Come...” Admiral Janeway beckoned Neytiri to follow, “You would be surprised who is having issues now.”
It is now 1832 hours aboard the Starlight Pony. The senior staff of the ship was in the briefing room where they stood or sat as they briefed Commander Fludicus on the situation at hand.
“We got no real casualties from the incident,” Dr Armaat reported, “The Cardassians got some scratches and a few flesh wounds, but nothing worse than that.”
“The damage done to the ships are extensive but not fatal,” Chief Engineer Thron reported, “Repairs are already underway.”
“Sounds like that our shootout was all that we expected,” Fludicus remarked, “So much for the disaster we imagined.”
A ring came from the entrance to the briefing room, “seems like our guest has arrived,” Mirra said.
“Let him in,” Fludicus requested, “You all have your orders. Carry on.”
(Author's Note) Sorry for the long delay. RL was a real drag...
Here's to the next chapter. And maybe a new story to come.