<116 Telegraph Hill, San Francisco, Pan-American Commonwealth, Sol III. Present Day. >
Kim Dorian stepped out of the rapid-transit stop, pausing to shield her eyes from the setting sun sinking beyond the horizon of San Francisco Bay. As she did, she took a moment to assess the city scene before her, something she'd done more and more in the past 16 months since The Stand.
Her husband of less than three months, Thomas Aidan Dorian, called it 'stopping to smell the roses' time. To her though, it was simply a welcome respite she had become accustomed to since taking up residence in the city by the bay.
Stepping off of the platform, she descended the stairs calmly. No one on the street seemed to take much notice of her. Not surprising, considering that she was dressed in civilian clothes. Kim wasn't sure if that was good or bad, as she made her way up the hill to the modest duplex she shared with her husband.
Kim was pleased that the walk seemed to bring her day back to normal, despite the events earlier in the day. As she walked, Kim looked down at the satchel she usually carried for errands.
She kept walking, but as she moved, she felt the weight of the PADD she'd been given earlier and couldn't resist the urge to slip it out of her bag. As she had at least five times during the mag-lev trip from Starfleet Headquarters, she looked again at the orders that had been the subject of a very special meeting…
From: Fakunakue Kaito, Commander-in-Chief, Starfleet Command
To: Captain Kimberly Dorian
Subject: Command Reassignment
Effective this stardate, upon receipt of this transmission, you are hereby assigned to Galaxy Exploration Command. Pursuant to executive order, you are further ordered to report to McKinley Station within 24 hours, where you will receive command of the USS Republic, Luna Class Cruiser, NCC-81371.
In compliance with the above order, you are further authorized to recruit or retain the command staff of your previous posting. Should any of these personnel be unavailable, the resources of PERSCOMM have been placed at your disposal, as Starfleet Command considers this mission to be of the highest priority.
Congratulations. The office of the Commander In Chief expects that you will comport your new duties with your customary standard of excellence, and wishes you every success in the mission ahead.
Republic's newly re-minted Captain was lost in thought for the few blocks that led to her townhouse door. She was so preoccupied with the orders from Admiral Kaito (no doubt by way of President Kostya, she also felt herself add) and everything that they implied, that she wasn't even aware of opening her door, or stepping inside the house, or the fantastic smell that was coming from her kitchen.
“Hun, that you?” came a voice from the dining room, where Tom Dorian was setting the table. He too was dressed in civilian clothes, though his much more casual than hers. Barefoot, he wore a pair of loose-fitting slacks and an all too faded workout shirt bearing the logo of the Federation Judicial Services softball team that had been his outfit of choice when the urge to 'experiment' in the kitchen hit him. He was setting down a dish of garlic-sautéed green beans when he spotted Kim turn through the foyer and into the sitting room that served as the couple's mutual office space.
Kim didn't nod, didn't speak, didn't even acknowledge her husband's presence in any way. She walked into the bright, airy room, set her satchel in it's usual place by her workstation, and eased back into her chair. A few seconds later, Tom appeared in the doorway with a dish-towel over one shoulder.
“Hey, Earth to Kim…” he offered. When she didn't look up, he took a step closer and asked, “You okay in there?”
The captain's eyes blinked as she shook her head. “What?” She looked at her husband blankly, then smiled. “Sorry…” She offered. It's been an… interesting day.“
Tom Dorian nodded and questioned, “Chinese interesting?”
“I'd say so,” Roth replied.
“Hoo boy.” He commented as he glanced over his shoulder at the kitchen to check that the main course wasn't going up in flames. “Did you get Court-martialed?” He asked mockingly.
Kim shook her head. “Worse.” She paused for effect. “Promoted.”
“Really?” Tom asked as he clapped his hands together. “In that case, you can tell me about it in the kitchen. Dinner's almost ready.”
Rolling up her sleeves, Roth followed her husband into the kitchen, her spirits buoyed by the love they shared.
“I just never expected this…” Roth admitted, as she removed the plates from the china cabinet and set them on the table.
“Expected what?” Tom asked, his focus on his new bride and his eyes on the dish he was stirring atop the stove.
“Most captain's who lose their ship don't get offered another. I've lost two.” Kim explained, retrieving two wine glasses to go with the night's beverage selection, which Tom had already chosen to compliment the meal.
“You're not most captains.” Tom added with just a bit too much charm, turning off the stovetop and bringing the sauce for his chicken Marsala to the table.
“No,” Kim corrected, “I've been court-martialed and been in the stockade for negligence.” She clarified, sitting at the table. She took a moment to observe the master in his element, truly surprised at the joy that Tom Dorian seemed to take in the art of cooking and serving home cooked meals.
For a moment, Tom scowled as he stopped dishing out the beans. “That's not doubt I hear in your voice, is it Mrs. Dorian?” he asked her directly.
Kim shook her head. “I don't doubt that I CAN do the job,” she explained, “but how can I not wonder if I SHOULD do it again, after everything that's happened?” Kim asked, stopping to pour herself and Tom a glass of wine.
“Okay then,” Tom sat down, pushing his chair closer to the table. “Is there anything you'd have done differently in the moment?” He asked her. “It's not as if you, personally, could have prevented the attacks…” he offered.
Kim took a sip of her wine, and then stopped for a moment, pausing to consider her answer. “I could have listened to my gut. Could have seen through my doubts about Kostya rather than look the gift horse in the mouth.” Her tone was firm, but not angry, as though she was simply evaluating the facts of a situation, careful to stay objective about the situation. “I could have looked for the big picture he and people like him saw.”
Tom stopped as he raised a forkful of chicken to his mouth. “Not even they could have predicted what happened. NO ONE saw it coming.”
Ignoring her food for moment, Kim continued. “Not specifically, no. But they knew SOMETHING was wrong. They knew that the Federation was vulnerable. That we where being naive. That every action we take has consequences and that there are people in this galaxy without the same belief in the sanctity of life who'll do anything to uphold the righteousness of whatever truth they see.”
For a moment, silence hung in the space between the two newly weds. Tom could see the logic in Kim's position. Hindsight being 20-20, it was hard not to see that Kostya and the hawks had been right all along. There HAD been forces waiting in dark hidden places across the galaxy. Just none of the ones the Hawks had suspected, or even planned for.
Tom set down his fork and took a sip of wine instead before asking the question he'd wanted to ask for a few minutes already. “So are you going to take it or not?” He finally asked, his voice quiet, almost fearful.
Kim leaned forward, lacing her fingers together, then placed her chin on them. “I don't think I have a choice.” Kim explained. “This isn't like last time. This isn't a second chance for me. I've got nothing to prove to anyone. Not anymore. Like you said, there was nothing anyone else could have done, and given the circumstances, I'm think this puts me in the right place, with the right people, if something does come out of the blue again.”
Tom offered a bittersweet smile, taking a long-awaited bite of dinner. “Good answer. ”
Hoping to bolster the mood a bit, Roth playfully sat back, taking the wine glass in her hand again as she asked. “Trying to get rid of me, Mr. Dorian?”
Equally playful, Tom responded, “Quite the opposite. I'll miss you.” He said simply. “More every day than the one before it.” He reached his hand across the table, and smiled at her when she took it.
Kim looked thoughtfully at her husband. “You know, my orders are pretty far-reaching.” She offered. “I can appoint anyone I want to the new ship. You could come with me.”
Tom, taking a drink, “In an ideal world, you know I would…”
Kim nodded, finishing the sentence. “But this world isn't ideal.”
Dorian nodded in agreement, “No, it isn't,” he offered grimly. “If Kostya wants you on a ship, that's where I think you should be. I'll be busy enough sorting through all the new intelligence we're gathering anyway. Besides, we're big boys and girls,” he offered. “We knew going into this they might pull us in different directions now and then. That's what life in Fleet is. We'll make it work.” His voice was certain enough on that point. “Besides”, he flashed his smile again. What would I do on a starship besides be the Captain's arm candy?”
Kim arched her eyebrow and chuckled almost mischievously. “Oh, I can think of ways to keep you busy…”
Tom rolled his head back, laughing out loud. “I'm sure you can, Mrs. Dorian-Roth. And if I where 30 years younger… boy would I like to try.”
Roth favored her husband with a look of mock confusion and accusation, “If you where 30 years younger, I'd be 10.”
Tom scowled. “Right. I keep forgetting I'm a dirty old man, and MUCH too old for a young thing like you.”
Roth rolled her eyes. “Young? Hardly.” she chuckled. “I'm just not a doddering old geezer like you.”
“Yet.” Tom added, shaking his fork in her direction before stabbing another bite of chicken. “And why did you marry me again?” He asked the question, knowing the answer.
Kim put on a face of mock outrage, doing her best (and worst) southern accent. “Why, for your money of course, Tom Dorian.”
Tom laughed. “This is the 24th century my dear, no one has any money.”
Roth fanned herself as she stifled a giggle. “Oh, fiddle.” Then she batted her eyes. “I guess I'm just up the creek without a paddle then, aren't I?”
“I reckon so ma'am.” He offered, tipping an imaginary hat. Then his expression turned serious for a moment. “There's one thing… does this mean we put our plans on hold?”
Kim nodded regretfully. “I think we may have to. At least while I'm still on front-line duty, but not forever. I promise.” She looked at Tom tenderly as she took his hand again.
Tom kissed his wife's hand. “I'm holding you to that, Captain.”
<0900 Local. Utopia Planitia Shipyards, Sol IV>
Kim Roth-Dorian took a deep breath as she stepped off the transporter pad. She glanced approvingly to her left shoulder, where she could see Smoke happily swaying as he shifted his weight to match her stride and stay perched on her shoulder as she walked. His red eyes blinked and he “bleaked” softly.
“I know stinker.” She commented with a nod. “I'm glad to be back in space too, but you're going to miss Tom as much as I will.” The animal bleaked again. Kim nodded at a passing lieutenant who stutter-stepped as he gave smoke a second look. Roth-Dorian suppressed a chuckle as she rounded the corner.
The hall opened out to one of the station's observation bays, a long lounge area with enormous transparent aluminum bulkhead panels, which afforded a fantastic view of what was still called `the yard'. From there, she could see the great number of semi and all-but completed ships in various stages of construction. As she had been briefed, there were many smaller ships in the births, and where once she would have expected to see the massive silhouettes of Discovery, Galaxy, or even Sovereign class starships, now the station's work areas seemed like a beehive of activity with dozens of ships preparing to set back out into space.
It was over a year ago that many 'in the know' declared the back of Starfleet broken, that the Federation's great peacekeeping armada would only ever be a shadow of it's former self. Kim Dorian felt her jaw tighten and her resolve strengthen. Those people were wrong, and Kim would be one of a new generation of captains and crews that would have a lot riding on their shoulders; maybe more than any class of graduates or captains before them. Kostya's landslide election mere weeks after The Stand had given the Federation a new vision. Now, this `leaner, meaner' Starfleet would have to make it a reality.
Despite the seriousness of the moment, Kim felt her face break into a smile as she spotted the sleek, low-slung outline of the ship that was about to be hers. There was no doubt that things would be different this time, but somehow, Kim also couldn't help the feeling that they would also be better, because failure was not an option.
Kim straightened her posture and tugged on her uniform tunic as she made her way to the station CO's office. “Look alive, Stinker.” she chided smoke casually. “Here we go again.”
Capt. Kimberly Dorian
USS Republic, NCC-81371
(Joint Moderator Post)