The footsteps were louder than the alarms blaring through the hallway. Maybe it was just his nerves, as he knew with every step toward shuttle bay three, brought about more dreadful anticipation of what he was about to see. The red lights flashed throughout the ship as Captain Ethan Blake continued quickly down the corridor, stepping over downed officers, some covered in blood and bruises, others covered in a black oily substance. He pressed on through the horror scene until he came upon the large doors to the shuttle bay.
The doors hissed and squealed as they struggled to open. The room was very dim except for the off and on flashing of red lights. As Ethan stepped into the shuttle bay, a woman appeared from the darkness and grabbed on to him as she was falling toward the ground. She pulled herself up to his face level, revealing who she was.
“Korina!” Ethan exclaimed as he grabbed her tight and assisted her to her feet. “What did you do!?”
Korina weakly looked up at Ethan and weakly smirked, “Welcome to real life, brother!” She began to hysterically laugh as a black substance oozed from her hairline and down her face, all the time laughing and tightening her grip on Ethan’s shoulders. “FEEL WHAT I FEEL, ETHAN!!”
“Ethan!” A man loudly spoke, waking Ethan from his sleep. As Ethan opened his eyes wide and quickly sat up, the man added, “Ethan, how are you feeling?”
Ethan took a deep breath as he tried to brush off the nightmare and just slowly nodded to the man, “I’m fine, I just wanted a nap after we finished setting up that last shield generator. Is he here then?”
The man gave a nod and replied, “He is downstairs in the mess hall, trying out some of our finest, Krenim cuisine.”
“Ah, well good,” Ethan replied. “He will see what you have been putting me through the past few years and offer me the cushiest job in Starfleet.” Ethan smiled at the man as he stood up. “Really, Jonox, I will miss this place. You and your family have been more welcoming than anyone could ask for.”
Jonox returned the smile and replied, “You are family, Ethan. You will always have a place to call home here with us, should you ever feel the need to return. You helped build this colony, I’m sure there are many more that feel the same as we do.” He grasped Ethans hand for a handshake and then pulled him close for a brief hug.
When Ethan walked into the mess hall, he immediately spotted the Ambassador. Ethan approached the table and sat down across from the Ambassador. “Jiro, it’s been a long time. I can’t say I’m surprised this is the place you wanted to meet.”
“You know me,” Jiro Sugihara replied with a smile. “If I’m not talking, I’m stuffing my face, right?”
Ethan slightly cringed and responded, “You know, when I said that, I was just having a bad d–”
“Ethan,” Jiro grinned as he quickly interrupted. “Let’s let the past be the past, I know what you went through would test even the strongest willed Vulcan. I know you may not want to hear this, but your sister, Korina, has been requesting you visit her for the past year and Admiral Quinn says he can arrange th–”
“Let me interrupt you, Jiro,” Ethan firmly remarked. “I do not have a sister. Korina Williams is a Federation traitor, a murderer, and she deserves no attention from anyone but her Warden. You came here to talk about a job, let’s talk about that. We can catch up on personal matters another time.”
Jiro nodded to Ethan as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Very well, Ethan. As usual, straight to business with you.” Jiro pulled a padd from his coat and slid it over to Ethan and continued. “Admiral Quinn has authorized me to offer you the following assignment. Now, it will require some lengthy deployments at times.”
“The USS Armistice? You want me to be a diplomat?” Ethan smirked a bit. “I suppose it would be a big change from the wars Starfleet has had me in since graduation. I have to say I’m a bit surprised though.”
Jiro looked at Ethan curiously and asked, “Why is that?”
“Another large ship with a large crew? After those months with the evaluation board, I didn’t think they would give me more than a Miranda class if I ever came back.” Ethan remarked.
Jiro shook his head and stood from his seat and placed a hand on Ethan’s shoulder, “The council knows what happened wasn’t your fault and the actions you were able to take saved over a hundred lives. Ethan, you have a good heart and a special way of connecting with people, we need you and much more, but I know your contribution to the Federation will be a good start. Most of these missions are purely diplomatic tasks with advanced species we have noted to be technologically advanced and whose friendships could greatly benefit the security of the Federation and the Alliance.” Jiro smiled at Ethan and began to pace back and forth as he continued to talk. “In fact, have I ever told you about my negotiations with the Undine after that whole fiasco at ESD? It was just like during the war…”
Ethan took a deep breath as Jiro’s voice just faded off behind his own thoughts. Jiro could go on for hours and hours, so Ethan just looked over the information on the padd in his hands as Jiro continued to talk about himself. Ethan looked at the specs of the Odyssey class, USS Armistice which was currently at Earth SpaceDock just getting the finishing touches on its construction. As he pulled up the crew manifest, he was surprised to see a familiar name, Lunah, a commander from the KDF who served as a liaison on his last ship, was now assigned to be his first officer.
“And you know,” Jiro was still speaking as he paced, “This story also reminds me of the time at Khitomer when–”
“Jiro!” Ethan finally interrupted as he sat the padd on the table. “I already planned on taking the assignment, you can stop the used shuttle salesman routine. I am ready to depart.”
Jiro smiled and clapped his hands together, “Great! Well let's get you to that new ship then! Welcome back, Captain Blake!” Jiro tapped the Com badge on his chest, “Enterprise, one to beam up.” Jiro looked again at Ethan, “Join me on the ship when you are ready.” Jiro was then beamed away.
After spending a few days on the Enterprise while enroute to Earth, Ethan was constantly briefed by Jiro, Captain Shon, and an Admiral of Starfleet's 7th fleet, to which the USS Armistice would be assigned. When the ship dropped out of warp and would soon approach the docks at ESD, Ethan saw his new command from the windows of the mess hall, and he knew all the long briefings were worth getting back to this point. This time would be different. Exploring would finally be his goal, not fighting Klingons, Undine, Iconians, or even traitors within his own family. It was now time to start anew, move on from the past, live for the present, and aim to make a better future for all the peaceful civilizations of the galaxy.
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