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Episode 1: Palingenesis
Location: Deep Space 21 Docking Ring - Upper Pylon 3
The USS Excelsior, the very same Excelsior II Class vessel she had been admiring from afar at Starbase 308 had been the very same vessel to transport her to her new posting, something she didn't feel comfortable about given the Command had been her own adoptive son's but also she had never Commanded a station before. Research divisions yes from her office at Starfleet Command in San Francisco on Earth but to actually be heading up a Federation facility was something different.
Even now as she stepped through the rolling pressure door into the reception area behind the airlock of Upper Pylon 3 she could feel his presence, the station was his and being of the same name would be hard on her but most of all the crew who had come to respect the man that she had been so proud off.
She could see a tall Vulcan waiting for her in command red and sporting the rank pips of a Commander. This must be the stations first officer so she made a beeline directly for him.
Sensing her before he saw her, the tall Vulcan in question turned his head to greet her. "I am sorry for your loss ma'am," he spoke quietly, even before introductions could occur. He didn't offer his hand in greeting, keeping it locked inside his other hand behind his back. "I wish circumstances that lead you here were different, but sadly this is reality. I am Commander Peter Horn." He knew his name often caused raised brows as it was very Human and contrary to his Vulcan appearance.
His instant condolence caught her off guard and the tears had once again pooled in her eyes but she reigned it in quickly. Composing herself and offering a warm smile, even if it was still tinged with sadness.
"Commander Horn. Keiben spoke of you fondly" she adapted to his formality quickly, knowing that Vulcans preferred no direct contact. "How is the morale on the station?"
"Low," the Vulcan answered without pause, "aside from the alien infestation that infected both your son's as well as a lot of others, we had a virulent and extremely deadly virus to deal with as well. The virus especially hit those with copper based blood harder." He paused, his expression tight. "I nearly lost my youngest child," he added in a near whisper. "We lost a few to the virus but those that did survive are all recovering or have already recovered."
She nodded, not really knowing what to say to him. They had all been through so much and yet this station was a thriving centre despite its remote location hidden in a less than desirable region of space.
She started forward, wanting to take the conversation out of earshot of the civilians around them in the embarkation room. She found the turbolift quickly enough and boarded it, Horn on her heels.
"Could we look at reducing the manning on all shifts for a few weeks. Give people the time they need with minimal duty shifts. Command have already said they will deploy an extra contingent of crew to bolster the station... I just want to make sure everyone has the time they need!"
"That is something we can look into," Peter agreed, "minimal staffing and shorter shifts for a few days to weeks. Perhaps additional leave to the planet below?" He paused briefly. "I was also going to plan a memorial service for Keiben and all others who succumbed. However, I was looking into turning it into a celebration of life. I am just not certain how to do so. The crew needs... a party? Something positive?"
"I may not be the person to consult, he was my son..." her voice broke as she became overwhelmed with the feelings of loss. She brought a hand up to cover her eyes and she bowed her head down slightly so he couldn't see the tears.
Her breathing was slow as she forced three long deep breaths in and out before she finally brought her focus back to him.
"Could I ask you to coordinate that please Commander!"
"I will make some inquiries," Peter promised, "we do have other Betazoids aboard that may assist. Commander Sommers-Yoshida has offered to ask his wife." He paused, studying her before gently reaching out to steady her while steeling himself at the inevitable mental brush. "Perhaps you would like to rest first?" He offered, "I can understand this must feel very overwhelming."
"Just a little" she said, squeezing his hand gently knowing he would not be happy with the touch but she made it the briefest of moments before righting herself.
"No, I need to be seen among the crew. My own needs can wait... for a short time at least!"
"If you wish," the Vulcan relented, finally pulling his hand back when the barrage of emotions became almost too much to bear. "Shall I escort you to his - your quarters? Or do you desire different quarters?"
"Too soon... Different quarters please." she took a breath knowing that she would need to speak to Mel, see if there were any of Keiben's belongings that she would want. If she could get hold of her.
"As you wish. Even so we will move all of his possessions to storage. Doctor D'BrooNi has left and noone knows where she is. Starfleet may end up considering her to be AWOL because there are no known transfer orders or requests." He gave her a concerned look. "New quarters may take a few hours, perhaps you would like to meet with the senior staff and explore the station in that time?"
"I've already tracked her down Commander... She is heading back to Starfleet Command for new assignment".
"Well that saves us the trouble then. I can understand her leaving, but not the how she did it." Peter gave a nod in acknowledgement.
"She lost her husband and father to their unborn baby. This place holds too many memories for her. For me, I need those memories, that sense of familiarity that was my nephew... My son!"
Her words were pained and again she had to blink back tears.
"I think this place, although completely out of my comfort zone, it will be good for me!"
"This place is home," Peter suggested, "you have your family here, this is home. You are home."