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Posted on Tue Jul 5th, 2022 @ 11:01pm by Captain Jack Cunningham Jr & Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic & Cadet Freshman Grade Gazo Daw

Mission: Academy Days
Location: Rolor Nebula, USS Valkyrie
Timeline: 13 March, 2399


"Ensigns Gazo and Djokovic!"

The voice boomed out over the landing pad, Daw waived at the lieutenant, a Klingon with a chest as broad as Daw was tall.

"Your shuttle is next up," the lieutenant said, looking down at his PADD. He frowned. "It says you two are piloting the shuttle, alone, to the USS Valkyrie. That's highly irregular."

Daw glanced and Gia. After graduation, he'd been incredibly pleased to be assigned to the same ship. During their time together, especially in the competition, he'd come to trust and even like her. It also didn't hurt that it was going to be nice to be on a Sovereign class ship and have at least one friendly face.

"Uhh, I think that the honor graduate," Daw said, nodding at Gia. "Gets a few extra perks, sir."

This moment was a mixture of elation and butterflies. Gianna Djokovic was beyond proud of what they had accomplished during their time at the Acadamy and she had been very much looking forward to getting back out into the stars. As she had already gushed to Daw at graduation, she was so thankful for his friendship and was convinced she would not have made it through officer training without him. He had truly become like a brother to her and now she flashed him a smile at his words. "I think," she added to the lieutenant, "we're a rather extraordinary team, so highly irregular sounds about normal. That one?" She asked rhetorically as a Type-6A shuttlecraft was tractored next onto the pad in front of them.

The lieutenant nodded and watched the two of them walk away. He made a notation that the shuttlecraft had been properly signed out of Academy property and transferred to the USS Valkyrie courtesy of Ensign Djokovic. Once the task was complete, he scanned the landing area for his next task.

"Let's do this," Gia hoisted her singular duffel bag more securely onto her shoulder and marched off to the awaiting shuttle ramp. Efficiently stowing the bag in the back compartment, she then took one of the forward seats and strapped in. "This does not feel real yet. Alright," she tapped the console, bringing the instrument cluster to life as the shuttle powered up. "Preflight checks."

Daw had followed Gia, his own duffel bobbing against his side as they walked into the shuttle. As he stowed his duffel, he was amazed by the newness of the craft. It had been a stroke of luck that the Valkyrie was bringing on a new shuttle right when they were graduating. Otherwise, they would have had to wait at DS9 until the ship could have picked them up. He settled into the co-pilot's chair, letting out a cleansing breath and thanking the Prophets that his hard work had paid off. He felt a calm fall over him as Gia called for preflight. Finally, something engineering related.

"Aye, captain," he said with a grin, being careful not to look at his friend. He quickly flew through the engineering and environmental preflight, leaving flight controls and propulsion to Gia. "Everything is green on my board. Ground control has already cleared us on vector one seven seven." He thought of his parents and how proud of him they'd been at graduation. He hoped that he would continue to make them proud.

She turned only slightly red when he called her captain and double-checked the vector after he confirmed it, "One-seven-one locked. Lift-off in three... two... one."

The shuttle lifted a meter off the ground and eased forward smoothly from the pad on its thrusters until it had cleared the facility's large overhead structures. Then, like a bird set free from a cage, it banked upwards into the cloudless, blue morning sky. Gia rechecked the readouts to ensure they were on the correct course and the shuttle was responding as expected. Within a few short moments, the sky fell away behind them and they were surrounded by the velvety blackness of space.

Gia shifted in the seat slightly, still paying full attention to the helm and navigational clusters while still at impulse, but allowing a bit more casualness in her posture. When Spacedock cleared them for warp, she entered the rendezvous coordinates and set the cruise speed; space outside distorting into a blur of passing stars. "Remember Meveth? Astrometrics?" She cleared her throat and did a fairly passable impression of the older Benzite instructor. "Rolor Nebula. Tell me what you know about Roloooooor Nebulaaaaa."

Daw snickered. The Benzite had actually been one of his favorite instructors but he had been notorious for stopping a cadet, anywhere on campus, and asking an obscure question unrelated to the current curriculum. He'd once been ambushed by Meveth coming out of the shower and asked what he knew about the thermodynamic effects of a pulsar wave amplified by a magnospectric blast. Daw had failed the impromptu exam badly.

"The Rolor Nebula is located between the Bajoran system and the Dreon system, home to their colony on Dreon 7. The nebula is somewhat famous on Bajor as it is said that the Emissary's wife, Captain Yates, often operated her freighter nearby," Daw said. "That makes it a destination for some Bajorans who seek to visit anything related to the Emissary. Despite its nearness to Bajor, the nebula has been largely unexplored. Probably because of the more dynamic Badlands and the Dominion War. The Valkyrie is supposed to be exploring the nebula and is in dire need of two outstanding ensigns." He realized he'd been rambling a bit, something he was not really used to, and trailed off.

"I did not know about the Emissary's wife. Bonus points for you," Gia praised with a little golf clap before she turned her attention back to setting up the autopilot. "It should be a pretty boring, 14-day trip. I hope you brought cards. I'm thinking maybe 'dire need' might have been a bit of an exaggeration... wish we could have caught a ride on something faster than a dorm room with nacelles." They'd both done extended flight simulations in tighter quarters, but those simulations hadn't been out in space, unsupported, for two weeks.

"Yeah that doesn't sound great," He said and fell silent as his brain was working. "You know, there are lots of bugs in a new shuttle. One could easily cause us to divert to DS9 for a day for a diagnostic. For safety, you know." He wasn't sure how Gia would respond to the idea but he couldn't resist the thought of a short stay on DS9 and a chance to walk the Promenade again. "Or we could just take turns in the pattern buffer. Slightly more dangerous, especially with the effects from the Badlands and the nebula."

"Look, if you want to scramble your molecules you might as well just beam yourself into an ion cloud, but I'd really miss your ugly, wrinkled face." Gia shook her head mockingly. "Okay, I wasn't going to bring this up, but look at this." She pulled up a holographic star chart overlay across the forward window. "You're right. The established, approved route to the badlands does take us not too far from Deep Space 9, but I've been thinking about a shortcut. If we went around this way," a line diverged on the map from their current location headed directly galactic west, around Tzenthethi territory, through unclaimed space. "It's a much more efficient route, a little higher risk. I think I can cut three, almost four days off the trip."

Daw looked at the star chart and immediately understood what Gia was saying it was a much more efficient path to take the alternative route. He went back to his own screen and began tapping. He didn't know much about the Tzenkethi Coalition but after a minute of reading, he was nodding. "Your route looks like it is the most efficient," he said and sighed. "We should probably try to arrive early rather than late. We do want to make a good impression after all." So, he thought, only ten days in close quarters. "I actually did bring some cards. And some excellent books on emerging propulsion systems that I've been meaning to catch up on."

"Then it's settled," Gia said with a tiny smirk of satisfaction as she laid in the new course with light finger-work. "I'm also sending the new flight plan to Valkyrie, but given their location, it could be several hours before they can confirm." She tapped out more commands into the interface.

After double-checking everything, she looked over at Daw with something of a sympathetic look. She knew how much the station would have meant to him, he wouldn't have proposed bending procedures otherwise. "We'll get to DS9 sometime. Promise." Then she rolled her eyes in an overly-dramatic fashion, "And of course, I knew you brought cards. Do you remember when I taught you euchre during the Inter-stellar Ethnology lecture? You haven't gone on a trip since without bringing them," she laughed.

Daw laughed. It felt good to be finished with the Academy and on his way to a new start. Having Gia along made things even better. "And yet I still can't beat you," he said. "Let me get them from my bag and I'll lose to you again."

The shuttle flew on as the two friends laughed their way across the quadrant.


Ensign Gianna Djokovic
USS Valkyrie

Ensign Gazo Daw
USS Valkyrie


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