The Sacrifice of Agamemnon
by Michael D. Garcia

Author's Note: It is highly recommended that you read the first story of The Quarterdeck Breed series, entitled Agamemnon. It provides a short story to get familiar with the setting and characters.

Chapter One


NCC-11638 (USS Agamemnon)
Docked at Starbase 510
Stardate 54338.5
Cabin 3-P20

Personal Log of Nuhir t'Aimne
Stardate 53448.5

Recorded under security lockout t'Aimne-Gamma-hwi-rhi-the-mne.

I have received my response from erei'Enriov tr'Khnialmnae with respect to my request for an extension of my assignment aboard Agamemnon. He assures me that the recommendations received by the Galae from Starfleet were posted to my file, and based on the permission from the Tal Shiar, my request for an extended assignment has been approved.

In the short time that I have come to serve aboard this vessel, I have also come to understand my former enemy. Perhaps, with time, more of my people will understand as much as I have, and instead of fearing the threat, would embrace the genuine friendship. I do not foresee that happening anytime soon, but I would like to believe that my presence here would help promote that. And if not, then it's possible that my information would assist my people if we should find ourselves in arms against the Federation again.

t'Aimne pushed back from the desk within the cabin assigned to her. Within the close confines of the chair's arms, she felt the waist of her uniform jacket compress against her skin. She often wondered how much longer she would subject herself to the little annoyances in serving aboard a Starfleet vessel. The annoyances began to weigh heavily upon the Rihannsu Galae officer; the differences between the two military organizations grating upon her like paper cuts would across her skin. In spite of her discomfort, she embraced the opportunity to understand the Federation. It was in the purest wisdom to understand your enemy, thus making it easier to defeat them, but the myriad of talents available to the multicultural base of the Federation presented a unique difficulty for the Rihannsu. While her people were of a single mindset, the diversity within the Federation was its strength. She recalled the attempt by certain colleagues to try to divide the Federation: by subverting the unification attempt by Ambassador Spock into an attempt to conquer Vulcan. It failed because of the Federation's intervention, most specifically by the Enterprise.

Since the early days of the Federation/Rihannsu involvement, the name Enterprise was practically a curse within the Rihannsu language. From the multiple skirmishes in the Neutral Zone to the intervention at Narendra Three, each incarnation of that name represented a thorn in the side of the Rihannsu Galae. Whenever victory seemed within reach, an Enterprise would often snatch it away from them. James Kirk, John Harriman, Rachel Garrett, and now Jean-Luc Picard; each of them personified what seemed like a mythic force come to life. The truth was, though the Enterprise was infamous for its abilities, she realized only recently that it was not a unique quality. Aboard the Agamemnon, she was not only a witness, but contributed to the mission of the diverse team. Though the crew was primarily human, and led by a human captain and executive officer, there were members of other races aboard. Rihannsu arrogance predicted that the difference in culture and mindsets would present a conflict against achieving major goals, but the truth behind the propaganda was that while "afflicted" by its own diversity, Starfleet disproved the supposition every time. Rihannsu doctrine was a racially arrogant one; drilled into each of its citizens from childhood. It was very difficult for her to interact with the crew when they wished to interact beyond duty; forcing herself to be personable. She would not admit, even to herself, that she was beginning to find the idea personally appealing as opposed to a simple professional curiosity.

Upon her arrival aboard the Starfleet patrol light cruiser, she was offended by the forward nature of her commanding officer, Commander Henry "Call Me Hank" Grayum. He conducted himself in a manner she found to be repulsive; placating, patronizing, and generally disrespectful by Rihannsu standards. His executive officer, on the other hand, she respected. Lieutenant Commander Richard James initially regarded her with disdain, and it was only later, after she had proved her worth, did he begin to treat her with a modicum of respect. Commander James' attitude towards had been something Nuhir not only understood but approved; respect was something to be earned, not automatically dispensed upon arrival. Later, when he demonstrated his intelligence and offered Rihannsu-like courtesy, she returned that respect. He had enough presence of mind to respect her cultural background, though his understanding was not entirely the reason behind his behavior. In his words and actions, he reminded her of a great many of her colleagues. His sense of discipline rivaled that of a Galae officer. He commanded his subordinates with an understanding of their talents and capabilities, not pressing them beyond their individual envelopes.

When Grayum earned his promotion to Captain, Nuhir found immense pleasure in his decision to retire his commission. It prompted her to seek an extension of her stay, knowing she would have the opportunity to see how Commander James handled his new command. Not all Starfleet officers carried themselves as distasteful as Grayum did. She was looking forward to seeing how a true disciplinarian would take such an unruly command like Agamemnon and turn it into a prime example of Starfleet's military leadership.

Nuhir looked around at her quarters, once again finding the cramped and Spartan nature of them to be insulting of an officer of her rank. Even on the smallest of Galae naval vessels, her rank and noble position would demand quarters typically reserved for important guests. To be absconded within anything less aboard a Galae vessel insulted her, but she understood that the design of the Agamemnon prevented any such accordance for her rank in the noble arena. In Starfleet, she was just another commissioned officer.

There was an adjustment to that simplicity, though something told her that Commander James was fully aware of her nobility, the one and only time he responded to her as 'milady'. Referencing the term within the Agamemnon's computer, she discovered it was a term of addressing nobility. Perhaps he was simply being charming, or perhaps he recognized her status. The prefix of her name betrayed her as easily as her rank did. A Lady of the House of Aimne; in fact she was the second daughter of that house. Her father was a respected name within her local community, having served many years in the government as a senator.

Rihannsu society knew her title and rank well. Her political and familial ties defined the amount of deference she received in the course of her duties. She received none of that deference here. She might have felt liberated by the separation of her status from her skills, if it were not for the fact that she reveled in her status as both a political and military presence. Nevertheless, she made those sacrifices for the good of her people, just as her superiors expected her to do at the beginning of the mission to Breen territory.

She rose from her chair; feeling better about her appearance as her uniform jacket was allowed to return to its rather imposing width. Nuhir inspected herself as she walked by the mirror provided for her use next to the bunk. From the neck up, she could be mistaken for a Vulcan, were it not for the racially characteristic bone structure of her forehead. With her jet-black hair cut in a bowl-like fashion, it framed her obsidian eyes and regal cheekbones. Hidden beneath the bulky uniform was a lean and muscular frame, but it was her uniform that gave her a sense of pride about herself and all of her accomplishments since she was a fledgling Erein aboard her first assignment. As she realized that she would remain aboard, she made a decision to try to assimilate herself better within her assigned environment.

Lieutenant (jg) Jesara Hedri adjusted the weight of the large garment bag over her shoulder as she walked down from the central core of the space station and into the docking hub. Her final destination was to be the starship USS Agamemnon; her first assignment after having graduated from Starfleet Academy's advanced tactical training program. The program added another two years to her time at the school, but the promotion to junior grade lieutenant was automatic upon matriculation. During her studies and physical training, she built a reputation for herself amongst her instructors as a rising star in Starfleet Security. At first glance, she was nothing of what one would come to expect from a security officer. Her size was petite, but athletic. She kept her black hair cut in a pageboy cut, to prevent strands of her hair from falling into her eyes or obstructing her as she worked the mats and studies the various forms of hand-to-hand combat at the Academy.

Jesara was proud of her record and marks earned, but somewhat confused over the assignment she had received from the Bureau of Personnel (BuPers). When it came time to make her service area preferences known to BuPers, she placed her first preference expressing her desire to serve under the umbrella of the Exploration Command. Her intention upon joining Starfleet was to seek an officer's berth aboard an explorer vessel and make her contribution to the Federation by helping to explore the galaxy. Her Academy advisors informed her that getting such a berth would present very little difficulty. Armed with that information, she stated her second and third preferences with less conviction.

It was unfortunate that BuPers opted to place her assignment with her third preference, which was with the Border Patrol. Instead of making her displeasure known to the Detailer, she decided to carry out her orders and report aboard the Agamemnon. After spending three weeks aboard various transports from Sector 001 to Starbase 510, she had been reluctant to acknowledge that despite the nature of the assignment, she was eager to be only a short distance away from her destination.

As she entered the wide tunnel that served as the gangplank into the Agamemnon's airlock, she heard conversation and laughter from within. When the source of the noise came into view, she noticed that four people appeared to be congregating within the avenue. Other officers and enlisted persons seem to give them a wide berth. Jesara was annoyed by this, as the gangplank was supposed to be cleared for other foot traffic. Where was the gangplank officer and why had they not been told to move along?

The reason why became clear when she caught a glance at the different rank pips pinned to their collars; a male Captain, a male Lieutenant Commander, a female Lieutenant, and a female Petty Officer Third Class. The captain appeared to be in good spirits, and thinking she could take advantage of the situation, she presented herself to the group with a smile. "Sirs," she nodded.

The Lieutenant Commander looked toward the junior grade lieutenant with a question in his eyes, "May I help you, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, sir. I was ordered to report to Commander Henry Grayum for duty," Jesara replied.

The Captain chuckled, speaking in a drawled tone, "Well, I'll let you get on with your duties, Rick." He extended his hand toward the Commander. "Don't be a stranger, y'hear?"

Lieutenant Commander Rick accepted the hand and shook it a few times, "I won't, Hank. You and Missy have a good time."

Captain Hank grinned. "We will. You take care of my ship, Rick."

The Lieutenant embraced the Petty Officer Third Class and smiled at her, "Take care of him for us, Missy. And let us know when the wedding is."

Petty Officer Third Class Missy accepted the embrace and then stepped back, blushed, and smiled, "I'll do my best, sir."

The affection shown by the lieutenant surprised Jesara. She tried not to open her mouth in surprise at the scene playing out before her, and kept quiet. Captain Hank placed his arm around the shoulders of the petty officer, and they walked in the direction Jesara had come from.

Lieutenant Commander Rick turned his attention back to Jesara, "Your orders, please?"

Jesara reached toward the PADD tucked away neatly in the bag over her shoulder, and handed it to the Commander without any further comment.

"Rick," said the Lieutenant, "I'll be in the mess hall if you need me."

Lieutenant Commander Rick nodded, "All right, Halley." When Lieutenant Halley ducked back into the airlock and the ship, he seemed to have completed reading her orders, "Welcome to the Agamemnon, Lieutenant Hedri. I'm Commander Richard James, the acting commanding officer."

"Thank you, sir." Jesara blinked, not quite understanding, "I was informed that Commander Grayum had command, sir."

He looked her up and down, as though to size her up for an opinion. She had the characteristics of a Trill; her "freckles" appeared at the sides of her head and ran down in front of her ears and onto her neck, disappearing beneath the gold turtleneck of her uniform. According to her service record, she was unjoined, which meant she did not enjoy the benefit of having a symbiont within her, nor was she in the running as an initiate. That struck him as being a little odd, as their society seemed to pressure the younger members into applying to the Trill Symbiosis Commission, the first step in being joined with a symbiont. This young woman made no such effort or application. Jesara Hedri's record appeared to illustrate the very modicum of a security officer. Well-trained in starship tactics, small unit tactics, she even had an open invitation to transfer her commission into the Starfleet Marine Corps.

"Captain Grayum just retired from active duty, Lieutenant," replied James, placing an emphasis on the change in rank. "I was his exec, and so now until they send us another CO, I'm it." His eyes fixed themselves upon the PADD's tiny display once more, "Even as a junior grade lieutenant, you are the senior security officer. Unless that changes in the near future, consider yourself acting chief of security."

Jesara nodded, "Understood, sir. Should I report to the acting executive officer?"

"Normally I would say yes," James said. "But the fact is that I haven't yet appointed an acting executive officer."

She once again nodded her understanding, "Then what should I do, sir?"

James took a deep breath and returned the PADD back to Lieutenant Hedri, "Go find Ensign Low, and tell him that I sent you up there for a cabin assignment. Get yourself settled in. I've got to go appoint an acting exec."

"I miss Hank already," said Lieutenant Halley Gage in a dejected voice. She and Chief Petty Officer Heather Munoz sat across from one another within the wardroom. Halley took a sip of her raktajino, a favorite Klingon drink among Starfleet officers for their alerting effects on the human nervous system.

Chief Munoz agreed, "I remember the first time I met Hank. No matter how hard he tried, it always seemed like something would break or go wrong during a patrol or a mission. After four years, it seemed like we were just getting it together." She walked to the dispenser and retrieved herself a mug of coffee. "Now we have a new captain to break in," complained Heather, after she returned to her seat.

Upon completion of the Breen mission, Commander Hank Grayum received a promotion to the rank of Captain on the recommendation of Rear Admiral Davies. It was all Hank wanted out of life, earning his fourth pip and promptly retiring his commission at that pay grade. Following the completion of a trying mission into Breen-held territory, the crew celebrated Grayum's promotion to Captain. At that party, Captain Grayum announced his retirement and engagement to his yeoman, Petty Officer Melissa Davies, the admiral's daughter.

Lieutenant Commander Richard James, the executive officer, assumed the responsibilities of commanding officer immediately after Grayum retired from active duty. The ship's officers and crew speculated as to the admiral's choices. It had been Halley and Heather's supposition that they would promote James to full Commander and appoint him in permanent command of Agamemnon.

Halley shrugged and said in distracted tone, "I don't think we'll need to break him in as much as you think."

"Oh?" This intrigued Chief Munoz. "What a difference a party makes, huh?" she asked in a tone that suggested there was more than the lieutenant was letting on.

Halley smirked. "Shut up. We talked it out. He's a good guy, Heather."

"Oh, I'm sure he is, Halley," said Heather in a patronizing tone. "He's pretty easy on the eyes, too." Heather eyed her for a moment, thinking aloud. "Or perhaps it's ambition? You would be next up as executive officer, wouldn't you?"

Lieutenant Gage was the ship's chief engineer. Prior to Commander James' arrival, Captain Grayum asked Halley to perform double-duty for a few months before Starfleet assigned another officer to the ship to perform in that capacity. She did so, but because of the added stress, she allowed many of the lesser duties to fall by the way. Those duties included cataloguing inventories and making sure the ship's records and reports were properly filed and transmitted to Starfleet. When James reported for duty, he was in a state of utter shock over how much catch-up work he had to do to bring Agamemnon up to date.

Halley replied in a softer tone, "No. As a matter of fact, t'Aimne would be next in line."

"t'Aimne?" Heather said, her tone expressing her amazement. "I thought she was going back to her side of the border."

"I think that's still up in the air. In the meantime, since we're short-handed after so many people have transferred off, we're getting some fresh blood," noted Halley, looking away from Heather to notice a few new faces wandering in as she spoke the final words of her sentence. "Speaking of which…"

Chief Munoz twisted around in her chair to eye the trio of newcomers, all of them commissioned officers. She sighed inwardly, knowing each of them would most likely try to assert themselves over her in the next few days. All the new pips tended to get a feel for their own authority by pushing around those under them. Heather was not looking forward to those confrontations, but at least she was experienced enough to know how to handle it without it escalating into something far worse. "Wonderful," she said in a tone that clearly indicated the opposite.

The tallest of the trio was a thin Vulcan man. Wearing the pips of a junior grade lieutenant upon the engineering gold turtleneck of his uniform, he wore his hair in the same fashion as many other Vulcans they had seen in the past. Scanning his surroundings with his eyes, he walked into the wardroom with his hands clasped behind his back.

Halley mumbled to Heather, "That must be my new officer." She called out from the table, addressing the Vulcan, "Lieutenant Setik?"

The Vulcan's gaze moved from the replicators to Halley. In a deep bass tone, he replied, "I am Setik, sir."

Halley smiled, "I'm Halley Gage, chief engineer. I'm glad to see you made it aboard."

"I assure you, sir, that I was never actually in any danger of being tardy in reporting for duty," replied Setik. In spite of his very mature voice, he looked young, even by Vulcan standards.

Gage tried not to roll her eyes at the response. "Of course not," she said, turning to share a knowing glance with Chief Munoz. "Uh, this is Chief Petty Officer Munoz. I'm sure you'll be interacting with one another during your time aboard."

Heather joined Halley and Setik. She gave a curt nod to Setik in greeting.

Setik gave the chief a quick acknowledging nod, before returning his attention to Halley. "Sir, I have reported in to the bridge and sought quarters," he informed her. "I am ready for duty."

Halley smiled. "Great. That kind of attitude might earn you the assistant chief job." Rising from her seat, she said, "Let's go down to engineering to introduce you to the staff. Then we need to make preparations for departing the Starbase in a few hours." She turned to Heather and asked, "Care to join us?"

Chief Munoz shook her head. Looking into her mug of coffee, she replied in a tired tone, "I'm going to sit here and finish this off, then I'm going to have one more."

"Suit yourself," said Halley. She gestured for the Vulcan to follow her into the corridor and waited until they were alone in the turbolift to continue. "Don't mind the Chief. We just got back from a long trip and she's pretty tired."

Setik inclined his head. "I have found that most chief petty officers are a wealth of knowledge and experience. Two such non-commissioned officers offered their wisdom to me as an ensign in my previous posting. I was grateful for their guidance."

Halley tried to think of Heather as a mentor, and failed. "Chief Munoz is a good NCO, and she knows the transporter systems better than anyone aboard the ship." When Setik glanced at her in question, she quickly added, "Except me, of course."

"Of course," agreed Setik. "May I inquire as to our next mission, sir?"

"Go right ahead." She grinned. "Let me know if you find anything out."

The summons from Commander James to join him in his quarters brought a bit of hesitation to her reply. Under other circumstances, it would have appeared to the casual observer to be nothing short of a proposition.

Because the official word from Starfleet Command to assume permanent command of Agamemnon had not yet arrived, James continued to use his quarters as his office. The internal organization of the Apollo-class light cruiser made no allowances for any extravagances, such as a captain's ready room; space being a valuable commodity aboard a compact vessel. This age of the Apollo-class predated the Constellation-class frigates, but not quite the Excelsior-class battlecruisers that had become the mainstay of Starfleet.

khre'Arrain t'Aimne found the cramped nature of the acting commanding officer's quarters to be more claustrophobic than her own. It was not because of the actual space between bulkheads, but the fact that he had apparently unpacked his things. t'Aimne kept her personal quarters Spartan in appearance; not putting any personal effects upon the bulkheads or shelves, because she had not brought any such items with her. It was against Galae policy, inasmuch as they had policy when their officers would serve on an exchange program. In all honesty, she would have preferred to bring something along with her, now more than ever.

James seated himself at his desk, which faced the bulkhead. t'Aimne stood at attention nearby, looking directly ahead at the viewport, patiently waiting for him to acknowledge her enough to offer her a seat. His eyes continued to scan the desktop computer terminal screen, browsing the information contained within. He stole a couple of glances toward her, noticing that she wore the Galae uniform of the day; the bulky gray overcoat with the broad shoulders and the external straps. Her rank insignia was on the collar of the coat, in a small ovular design.

Her eyes briefly glanced down toward the screen, and though the screen's angle made viewing difficult from her position, she recognized her service record photo.

"It was kind of the Galae to transmit your service record to us, khre'Arrain," James said, after finishing his once-over. With a brief motion of his hand, he offered her a seat to the immediate right of his desk against the bulkhead, which she accepted and seated herself. He was the only member of the ship's crew that seemed to have enough of a grasp on her native tongue to pronounce her rank without mutilating it. In her short time of service aboard the Agamemnon, the rest of the crew decided to addressed her by the Starfleet equivalent of her rank rather than attempt otherwise.

Commander James had credited his understanding of the Rihannsu language to his service with Galae officers during the Dominion War, but t'Aimne held her reservation on whether that was the whole truth. She suspected he had studied her language far more closely than a few phrases here and there, due to his superb accent. She reported her opinion to the Tal Shiar, as instructed.

t'Aimne responded, "Yes, sir. Once I had received permission from my erei'Enriov, I requested that my record be released to Starfleet for the duration of my tour of duty."

James nodded, understanding. The erei'Enriov she referred to was most like the Galae admiral she was detached from when she reported aboard in addition to the use of the cloaking device. They used the cloaking device during the reconnaissance mission in Breen territory. t'Aimne joined the crew of the Agamemnon to monitor the device's usage and prevent the technology from falling into Federation hands illegally. Upon completion of the mission and the ship's return to Starbase 510 for crew rotation and supply, Starfleet ordered the cloaking device removed. Based on the information provided at the beginning of the mission, the removal of the cloaking device signaled the end of t'Aimne's assignment. "Of course," he replied. "I'm pleased that the Galae saw fit to allow you to stay. It's a step toward improving relations between our governments."

The permission she received from her admiral regarded her request to remain on duty with the crew of the Agamemnon. Starfleet, of course, offered to modify her tenure into an exchange program. The Rihannsu government decided to accept that offer from the Federation, and while t'Aimne would continue in her duties aboard a Starfleet vessel, a Starfleet officer of equivalent rank volunteered to serve aboard a Galae vessel. Commander James realized the magnitude of this decision, and though he felt honored by the exchange program's inception and inaugural location, he could not help but feel that she had not been entirely straightforward with Starfleet in her desire to stay.

"I agree, Commander," t'Aimne said. "If I may, I would like to inquire as to your recommendation to my duties aboard ship."

James kept his expression neutral as he replied, "I'm afraid that your future duties are still in question, as are mine. I have not yet been appointed in permanent command." In addition, it was still up in the air that he would remain aboard Agamemnon. There was still a chance that his recent promotion to full commander was nothing more than the first step to transferring him to another command. The fact was that Guardian Six, the codename for the flag officer in command of the Border Patrol, did not anticipate Captain Grayum's retirement so soon. "However, in light of your experience and rank, I'm naming you as the acting executive officer until further notice."

She expected as such, for the same reasons that he pointed out. "Very well, sir. How can I help?"

"First, we need to prepare this ship for departure. Admiral Davies has asked us to return to Deep Space Four, and subsequently ordered me to report to her for orders upon arrival," James explained.

This piqued her curiosity. She replied, "I'll see to our departure immediately after we're through here, sir. Has there been any speculation as to what the admiral may discuss?"

James sighed, "I'll admit to some preoccupation with that meeting, but to be honest, I haven't a clue. The admiral may wish to reassign me somewhere else and bring in another officer who has been waiting in the wings for a chance at command."

She raised both eyebrows in question, "Is the likelihood of that high?"

"It is just a possibility, khre'Arrain," he said. "It's about as likely as her making my current position a permanent one."

t'Aimne said nothing in reply, waiting to hear the second point of the conversation.

"Secondly, we have some new officers coming in," James continued, seeing that she had no further comment. "One of them, Lieutenant Hedri, has already checked in with me and should already be unpacking in her quarters." He touched the terminal input, calling up the other display listing of officers beginning a new tour of duty with the Agamemnon.

Officers signed onto ships for tours of duty of four years, while enlisted personnel would find themselves attached to a duty station for two years. It was rare for officers and enlisted to serve consecutive tours with the same ship unless it was required. Even starships under the Exploration Command's authority would find themselves at one of the Deep Space stations to transfer officers and crew as the tour of duty ended. Within Starfleet, those officers who served more than four years aboard a single starship would find their careers growing stagnant. There were always some exceptions to that rule, the most notable being the Enterprise.

"What kind of arrangements shall I make for the other officers, Commander?" asked t'Aimne.

"Three more officers are due to arrive later today," read James from the communiqué on his screen. "Lieutenant Reginald Winslow is the frontrunner for chief of operations, unless we get a more senior or higher-ranking officer with his kind of training." He handed the PADD to t'Aimne, with the service record in question upon the display.

She looked at the record, scanning over the details and committing them to memory. "I would agree he is the likely choice for the position you mentioned. Who are the other officers?"

James leaned forward to call up the information on his desktop terminal, "Lieutenant Victor Sandoval, science officer. In addition, Doctor Brown's transfer to Ajax means we are getting a new medical officer by the name of Weston. I think we can safely say she'll be our new chief surgeon."

Upon the PADD, t'Aimne quickly called up the other two records and studied them for a moment, before returning her gaze to James. "With your permission, I will see to their berthing arrangements, and then stand watch on the bridge."

"Oh, thank you for reminding me," said James.

t'Aimne tilted her head, "Sir?"

"Start a port watch, as soon as you can," James ordered. "I'd like to start getting this crew back on track insofar as regulations. With all due respect to Hank Grayum, so long as I'm in charge, we're going to put ourselves back in proper discipline."

"Doctor Weston?"

Lieutenant (jg) Rebecca Marie Weston, M.D., turned her head to look at the source of the voice. "Yes?" she answered, giving her attention toward the summons.

"Hi," said the young officer wearing the single pip of an ensign. He wore his dark drown hair in a shaggy style, his bangs coming down long enough to barely cover his large dark brown eyes. She immediately recognized that prominent characteristic of the Betazoid race. "I'm Ensign Rittian Low, from the Agamemnon. You requested some assistance?"

Weston smiled, "Oh, thank you!" Within Starbase 510's primary cargo facility contained the various medical cargo containers that she appeared to be keeping company. Surrounding those containers were several members of the starbase's security forces. "This ensign," she said, indicating the only officer among them, "appears to be giving me some difficulty in transferring my supplies to the ship."

Low sensed that despite her pleasant nature, she was truly annoyed. Though it did not take a telepath to sense her forced smile and demeanor. He looked at the woman in front of him, instantly finding her attractive. She kept her light brown hair long and within a single braid that seemed to reach down to the middle of her back. Her voice was a very mature alto tone, and he suspected that with a voice like that, she could carry a tune expertly. Inwardly shaking himself to return his attention to the problem at hand, Rittian returned her smile. "Oh, sure," he replied, immediately. "What's the trouble with the containers?"

The security ensign appeared to be annoyed herself. "We're not trying to be difficult, Doctor. We have procedures that must be followed; paperwork on these containers have not been properly submitted to my superior, and until they are, these containers aren't going anywhere."

"All right…" Rittian allowed his voice to trail off as he tried to come to a compromise. "Listen, Ensign. Were due to depart for Deep Space Four in about four hours. Is there any way I can have you move these containers aboard ship and then transmit the paperwork to you afterward? I know you have a job to do, but if these supplies are necessary as the Doc says, then we can't rightly leave them here." He sensed the ensign was beginning to see the reason in that, not to mention that she was attracted to him. "You have my word we won't leave you in the lurch."

"I don't know…" said the ensign, uneasily.

Doctor Weston watched the exchange with interest.

Rittian broadened his smile, "If we don't transmit your beloved paperwork to you in at least twenty-four hours, I'll give you permission to hunt me down and force me to buy you dinner."

This drew curious glances from everyone, especially Weston, who appeared to be enjoying how Rittian was handling the situation. The ensign in question appeared shocked by the proposition, but then her expression softened when she determined he was being sincere.

"Twenty-four hours, Ensign. Not a minute more," smiled the ensign. She was beguiled, but not falling for the line or the offer of dinner. "Oh, and if you're late, you can forget eating anything. I'll be personally seeing to it that you'll be drinking all the rest of your meals," she threatened. "Am I understood?"

With a nervous chuckle, Rittian inclined his head toward her in a small bow. "Understood, ma'am. Very much obliged." Nodding to the security enlisted still standing around, he ordered, "Lend a hand and get those containers to the transporter pad."

The bridge of the Agamemnon reminded Jesara of a Defiant-class bridge design, without the small briefing table in the back. It had the same consoles to port and starboard, as well as the semi-circular console that combined flight control and shipboard operations. Lieutenant (jg) Jesara Hedri drifted over to the tactical station, on the port side of the bridge, to enter her identification code and activate it.

The ship's central command center, to her surprise, was void of any personnel. Starfleet regulations required at least one officer and one crewman to stand watch while the ship was in port. In an emergency launch, at least someone should have been on the bridge to alert the captain of that circumstance. Jesara thought the lack of attention highly irregular.

Her console alerted her to an incoming transport. She checked it against the posted schedule located within the ship's computer, and found that the transporter had begun beaming over the medical supplies from the Starbase's cargo hold. The signatory for authorization had two names: Lieutenant (jg) Rebecca Weston, and Ensign Rittian Low. She checked the names against the ship's manifest and found them. Relaxing slightly, she leaned back in the chair provided for the occupant of the station.

After unpacking, Jesara felt cooped up within her assigned quarters. She felt as though perhaps she needed a little excitement to acclimate to starship life. Maybe not anything as dire as a security breach, but perhaps something a little less mundane than filling out her name across several reports to submit to the Border Patrol for cataloguing. She introduced herself to the security personnel aboard, and planned to hold a few meetings of the staff once they were underway. Jesara learned the names of the two ensigns in her division, as well as the senior non-commissioned officers. It was the NCOs who she would come to rely upon for assistance, and she felt it important to open proper lines of communication with them.

Most of her security staff were already running patrols or were enjoying the last few hours on the Starbase to relax before the ship pulled out of dock. According to the captain's published schedule, the Agamemnon was supposed to be en route to Deep Space Four within four hours. She shook her head once more. Even if things were so casual, someone should be up on the bridge to monitor the communications channels. She began to reconfigure the tactical station to suit her needs, before reading the ship's log to gain an understanding of the ship's last mission.

Jesara heard the portside hatch door slide open, and to her shock, a Romulan stepped onto the bridge. The Romulan moved for the captain's chair and sat down, accessing the panels to either side. Somehow, this intruder managed to gain access to the ship's computer, and flaunted that in front of the ship's new security chief! Stammering, Jesara reached underneath the tactical station and retrieved the type -two phaser located there before leveling it at the Romulan and stating, "Get out of that chair."

t'Aimne looked nearly Vulcan as she raised her left eyebrow upward in surprise. "I beg your pardon, Lieutenant. I do not know you."

"You'll be begging for me to stop in a moment, if you don't do as I say," said Jesara, her shock melted away into stern authority. She called out to the computer quickly, "Intruder alert, main bridge. Security team alpha to the bridge, immediately." The computer gave the acting security chief an acknowledging chirp and then responded with the appropriate sirens and vocal announcement.

"Lieutenant," said t'Aimne, as she slowly rose from the chair, "cancel that alert and lower your weapon."

The Romulan had the temerity to speak as though she held rank aboard the ship! "Who do you think you are?" asked Jesara in an incredulous tone.

"She thinks she is the executive officer," informed James, stepping through the starboard hatch on the heels of Lieutenant Hedri's question with a PADD in his right hand. A male lieutenant wearing the same gold turtleneck as Jesara entered behind James, but he was not carrying a weapon and she did not recognize him. "Please secure from intruder alert, and put that weapon away."

Jesara Hedri sputtered, "Executive officer?" She could hardly believe her ears, but the stern tone James used made it clear she should quickly obey him. She lowered her weapon and cancelled the intruder alert by accessing the station behind her. Trying to think of a good way to explain all this, she looked at the Romulan officer in confusion.

"My apologies," said James. "I should have informed you that we had a Galae officer aboard the ship. She's part of an exchange program." He walked to t'Aimne and introduced her by name.

"I'm so sorry, Commander t'Aimne," said Jesara, wincing inwardly at the memory of her holding a phaser. "Please forgive me."

"Under the circumstances, Lieutenant Hedri, I believe you acted to expectations," replied t'Aimne, while casting a sidelong glance at James. "A… pleasure… to meet you."

"While you're at it, this is Lieutenant Winslow," said James, turning to gesture toward the lieutenant with his hand. "Lieutenant, may I present chief of security Jesara Hedri, and executive officer, khre'Arrain t'Aimne."

Lieutenant Reginald Winslow looked at t'Aimne and smiled. "Ah, please forgive me, but I don't want to butcher your rank or title…" He looked back to James for assistance in pronunciation.

t'Aimne responded before James could, "My equivalent rank in Starfleet is that of a lieutenant commander. You may address me using your native rank, instead of mine." She looked at James as she continued. "Commander James has a unique talent for speaking my language."

Winslow held his smile. "I understand. Nice to meet you, Commander t'Aimne." He looked to Hedri and nodded to her, "Lieutenant Hedri."

Jesara smiled at Winslow. "Sir."

"Lieutenant Winslow has been assigned as chief of operations," announced James. "khre'Arrain, will you see to his berthing, and bring him up to speed?"

"Already done, Commander," replied t'Aimne, who had returned to the center seat and began entering in commands as she had done previously. "Lieutenant Winslow, you may join me."

James gestured for Jesara to follow him out into the corridor, as t'Aimne began briefing Winslow on the mission that had just transpired. Once out in the corridor, Jesara began to speak.

"Sir, I'm really sorry about that," said Jesara in a sincere tone. "I had no idea that there was an exchange program." She made a mental note to return to the security office and make mention that a Romulan exchange officer would be atop the list of things to discuss with the new security chief.

Commander James tried to hide a smirk, but failed. "In all honesty, Lieutenant," he replied, "I share the khre'Arrain's sentiment. I think you reacted to the circumstances appropriately. I would hate to think you would let unauthorized persons have unfettered access to the bridge, just because they're there."

"Thank you, sir," she said with a nod. Inwardly, she felt relieved by the compliment.

"That being said," James continued, looking down the corridor toward the turbolift, "I'd like for you to continue to remain vigilant where she is concerned."

"Sir?" she questioned, not quite understanding what he meant by that.

"I think we can safely assume that in spite of her demeanor, she's still a Galae officer presented with the opportunity to see Starfleet technology and procedures up close and personal," remarked James. "It's very likely that she's reporting information back to the Tal Shiar, and it's a foregone conclusion she'll be debriefed by the highest levels of their intelligence community."

Jesara nodded her understanding. "How can I be of assistance, sir?"

"Until further notice, I'd like to place her communications under observation. I'll grant you security clearance high enough to get it done, but if there's anything suspect, I want to know about it," he said, keeping his voice as low as possible. The corridor remained deserted. "If I'm reassigned to another ship, you will want to meet with the new CO, privately, and provide this information."

She nodded. "Of course, sir."

James appeared satisfied that Lieutenant Hedri understood his intent. "Good." He turned to leave, but stopped short and turned back around. "By the way," he began, before the ship's intercom system interrupted him with an alert. Keying the channel open, he spoke, "James, here."

"Commander," said t'Aimne from the bulkhead speakers, "this is the bridge. There is an incoming communication from Admiral Davies for you on subspace."

"Understood. I'll take it in my quarters. James, out," he said to the air. Returning his attention to Jesara, he smiled. "We'll continue this later."

As the commander walked back to the turbolift, she stepped through the hatch and back onto the bridge. Jesara looked at t'Aimne and Winslow as they hovered over one of the auxiliary stations as she returned to the tactical station. She leaned back in her chair, and wondered what she got herself into aboard the Agamemnon.

Personal Log of Nuhir t'Aimne
Stardate 53448.5

Recorded under security lockout t'Aimne-Gamma-hwi-rhi-the-mne.

Rear Admiral Elizabeth Davies, the current Border Patrol commander, has appointed Commander James in command of the Agamemnon. Subsequently, Commander James made all of his officer appointments permanent, including mine as the ship's executive officer. Although my assignment here is as an exchange officer, the level of trust and authority granted me will allow me to demonstrate by example the level of training the Galae invests in its officers.

Commander James, though he is referred to as "Captain" in spite of his rank, has informed me that Admiral Davies has diverted from the Federation Neutral Zone to the border near the Black Cluster, on the other side of the Federation space. Our port of call will be Deep Space Three. According to the ship's computer, it will take approximately one-week's travel at cruising speed to arrive on station for patrol.

Presently, I am awaiting the return of discipline to the officer corps aboard ship.