Starbase 72 - Minos Korva System
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The Original Mandate

Posted on Fri Mar 15th, 2019 @ 2:31pm by Admiral Zachary O'Connell

Mission: Task Force Operations
Location: Admiral O'Connell's Office
Timeline: 30 June 2389

Commander Yulin Rael was eager to meet the Admiral. He'd read about the Admiral's time as CO of USS O'Carroll and Starbase Unity. Now, this man had apparently requested him to command the newly-built USS Atlantis.

He and his wife Cassandra got their first glimpse of the ship only two hours earlier, when their shuttle brought them aboard Starbase 72. Beautiful, if not entirely online yet.

Now, here Yulin was, being escorted to the Admiral's office by a young woman whom he assumed was his yeoman or adjutant.

The two arrived at the Admiral's office, the door sliding open. "Commander Yulin Rael to see you, sir, as you ordered," said the yeoman.

Admiral O'Connell, as was customary the last few months, hovered around a bank of monitors displaying sensor readouts from the Inconnu Expanse, as well as several other details pertinent to his attention. He wasn't used to the voice of the yeoman temporarily assigned to him as he'd approved a short furlough for his regular yeoman, Petty Officer Tanika, to attend to family matters.

"Thank you, Yeoman," Zachary said, waving in the Commander. "Welcome to Starbase 72."

“Thank you, sir,” Yulin replied. He followed the Admiral’s wave into the office. Under ordinary circumstances, he would have a PADD in his hand containing his orders to report in. But Admiral O’Connell was the source of those orders, and Yulin felt a PADD containing the man’s own words and signature would be an inappropriate thing to give him.

“Your staff are very helpful and courteous,” Yulin said as he approached. “They accommodated my request to see my ship from the docking bay. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see it from the outside.”

The Admiral nodded as he gestured towards one of the chairs in front of his desk as he himself moved from his vantage point to his customary seat. "We do what we can," Zachary said with a small smile. "As a former engineer and CO, I know exactly what it means to get to know a new vessel, both inside and out. The better I can equip new COs in the Task Force, then we all have better chances of success."

“Agreed, sir,” said Yulin, taking a seat across from the Admiral. “I’m looking forward to beginning our mission. I’m up to date on the situation with the Alrakis Pact. I understand why it requires Starfleet to devote so many resources to heavily armed ships. But I’m a firm believer in Starfleet’s mandate to explore and discover, and am glad I’m being entrusted with a science vessel.”

"I think you'll find that I am a strong supporter of Starfleet's mandate," the Admiral replied with a soft smile as he took his seat behind the desk. "Despite the Dominion War, despite the Consortium and despite the Alrakis Pact, if we can't hold true to our mandate, then what good is Starfleet?"

"Well said, sir," Yulin agreed. "We seem to be on schedule to launch in eight days. Several members of my senior staff will be arriving in the coming days. A few senior positions are unfilled, but qualified Petty and Warrant officers are preparing to serve in Acting positions. Our first few months won't take us particularly far from Federation space, so if Command can find some officers to spare, please send them our way."

"I can talk to Commodore Chai," the Admiral replied, using the name of the starbase's actual commander. Zachary simply operated the Task Force from several levels in the base. "I'm sure she can find a person or two to spare. That is, if Task Force Operations doesn't snatch them up first." He reached over and picked up a padd he had waiting. A quick check of the display confirmed that it was such. "These are your operating parameters, as well as a collection of recent briefings you would have been privy too."

"Thank you, sir," Yulin said, taking the PADD. He began speed-reading through it. It was all there. The area of space that Atlantis would be operating in. Standing orders on a few priority areas. Briefing notes on some major issues that they might come across.

"Sir, I suspect this is all detailed in the notes, but can you elaborate on what's happening with the Alrakis Pact? We'll be operating well outside the Inconnu Expanse, but if we come across any issues we'll need to know everything we can."

Zachary recalled the meeting aboard the St. John Talbot a few weeks ago and resisted the urge to shudder at the memory. "Uneasy," he simply replied. "We still have the ability to explore, but do your best to not leave materiel behind at each port of call or exploration corner. Alrakis powers will likely shoot any probe on site, for example. Let's try to avoid the waste."

"Understood," said Yulin. "We also wouldn't want our advanced probes getting in the wrong hands. My wife told me about something called the Campsite rule: 'leave a place cleaner than you found it.'" Yulin smiled.

"That's a sound rule," the Admiral confirmed with a smile. "Despite the political woes, we are very interested in the Inconnu Expanse's unique properties. Any information you can collect would be welcomed."

"We won't be in the Expanse for long," Yulin said. "Our primary staging area ought to be just rimward of the Expanse and Talarian space. I understand Starfleet is pulling out the Expanse, but we ought to be clear of it before the deadline. We'll keep long-range sensors up and running the entire time we're in the Inconnu, and investigate any anomalies along the way if it's safe to do so."

"Something to drink, Commander?" Zachary asked, as he moved towards the replicator. "That's right. The Atlantis would be heading for the Carnwenann Corridor. You'll have to forgive me, I've been so focused on the Expanse these days."

“Not a problem, sir,” Yulin said. “And I’ve love some ginger tea, please. And I understand. The Expanse and the Pact have been on everyone’s mind these days.”

O'Connell gave the instructions to the replicator and returned with two cups of tea, one ginger and the other a sweet peach. "The Expanse. The Pact. The Legion." Zachary shook his head as he retook his seat. "I suppose we'll be hearing from the Ratarians next or some other unexpected endeavor."

Yulin smiled. “Hopefully not, sir.” He took a sip of his tea and nodded agreement with the drink. “Well hopefully we’ll find something extraordinary out there that will let us tell a good news story for once.” He took another sip. “And we’ll avoid stirring the pot with our enemies. I grew up on a ship not unlike Atlantis. Small civilian science vessel. We all thought of each other as family, and in some cases we were. And you don’t subject your family to unnecessary risk.”

The Admiral smiled, pleased to hear that statement. "Do you have a family, Commander?"

Yulin nodded. "I'm married. My wife is coming aboard to serve in the science department. She's a botanist. We don't have any children, though." He decided to leave out the fact that he couldn't conceive. Not something Admiralty needed to know. He kept his face impassive on the subject of kids. "What about you, Admiral? Spouse? Little ones?"

"My wife and son reside on the Starbase," Zachary stated. "She's an engineer by trade, and Starfleet let us serve together for several years now, even as her Commanding Officer on the USS O'Carroll. Yes, it's a remarkable sense of humor putting a Captain O'Connell in command of a ship called O'Carroll. She recently transferred into the reserves so that she can focus on Scott. She was pregnant during much of the Consortium crisis, and gave birth about six months ago."

"Well, belated congratulations, sir!" Yulin said with a smile. He took another sip of his tea. "Well, sir, I should be getting in contact with Captain Drayton of the Nogura. I understand I'll be attached to his Task Group as we venture rimward after Carnwennan. A place called The Wastelands."

Somehow Zachary managed to keep himself from raising his eyebrows in surprise. He had left it to Captain Drayton to assemble his Task Group with Commander del Carlo, the Task Force Strategic Operations Officer, and Commodore Espersen, the Task Force Operations Chief. He hadn't yet heard from Drayton the final word, but he knew that Drayton couldn't scrounge up more than a handful of vessels since his resources were still stretched thin. "I know it well," he stated. "Believe me, Commander, we'll be watching your progress closely."

Yulin nodded politely. He understood that, as a first-time CO, he was already under increased scrutiny. Add to that the fact that he was taking his ship into unknown territory on a mission that was of a fairly high priority to Starfleet. He didn't have all the details of the Wastelands yet, but hopefully they would provide ample opportunity for scientific discovery.

"Thank you, sir," Yulin said. He finished the last of his tea. "If there's nothing else, we have a lot more work to do before launch if we're to make the eighth. Did you know that it was July eighth, 2011, was the launch of the final mission of Earth's space shuttle program? That final shuttle was the Atlantis." He beamed with pride.

The Admiral had plenty of tasks to perform as well. After all, being in charge of a task force meant that there was little free time, if he got any at all. He did not finish his drink, but he did indeed rise from his chair. "I was not aware at all," Zachary replied, "but that is a fantastic anniversary. I implore you to keep it, and I wish you the best of luck." You might need it.

Yulin nodded. "I appreciate it, sir. Good day." With that, Yulin stood and made way for the door. There was indeed a lot more to do, and so many senior staff positions he had yet to fill. But Yulin knew getting the Atlantis launched on time was important. Not only for him and his career, but for the Federation. Because if they could not continue the scientific and exploratory mission of Starfleet, its original mandate, even more important than their miitary duties, then Starfleet had truly lost its way. But he was certain that was not the case. The original mandate was still in effect, and Yulin intended to follow it.


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