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"A New Dawn... A New Star Ep. 8"

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Keelah stood attentively at the front of the room. Was he going to shake hands or salute? She could feel her palms grow sweaty with anxiety. Why am I nervous? It's not like I've never conversed with the Admiral before. This is not logical dammit, get a grip on yourself!. She could feel her heart racing at warp speed, beating so hard it felt like it was trying to escape her chest as she watched the Admiral with a sideways glance as he gave his preparatory speech, "The Captain's ranks gain some great officers today...The Commander rank, looses the same. So, Commanders and Lieutenant Commanders, be ready to step up... Publish the orders."

She continued to watch the Admiral move with a sideways glance, too rigid in her attentive stance to even turn her head to watch as he approached, Oh, heavens he's coming to me first!

"Keelah Se'lai is hereby promoted from the rank of Commander to Captain." He spoke reaching in and gently attaching the fourth pip to her collar. Keelah could not help but show a proud smile briefly as he stepped back and faced her. No hand shake, please no hand shake... damn, my palms are so sweaty still! He's not going for it... right, salute it is!

"Congratulations Captain." The Admiral said with that ever authoritative tone as he returned the salute. What should I say, do I give a speech. Must come out with something deep and meaningful, dammit woman this is your big moment!

"Thank you, Admiral" Was the best she could manage. Well... not exactly one for the history books, but at least I didn't shame myself!

In the hours that followed Keelah received confirmation of her new assignment; the U.S.S. Valley Forge. Captain Forrester and the Dawnstar were set to depart for the alpha Quadrant, seemingly being reassigned to DS9's sector - at least until he appointed a new XO. But Keelah's mind was on one thing, and one thing only; the Valley Forge. Her debrief told her that it was an older Sentinel class cruiser that had just undergone a significant refit at Utopia Planetia, the ship was already out of drydock and en route to DS13 to rendezvous with it's new commanding officer.

The following morning, Keelah awoke early. Though it may be more accurate to say that she did not really sleep, her mind racing too quickly to afford her the luxury of rest. She knew that the Valley Forge had been scheduled to dock overnight and was sitting in it's berth all but empty, save for a skeleton crew from the fleetyards which delivered her. This trip had not been an official maiden voyage, but rather more of a final test run. It was still early, had she been planetside at this hour it would still be dark; but that mattered not, for she could wait no longer. Where's the logic in laying here staring at the ceiling? If I'm not sleeping I may as well be making fruitful use of the time!

Having made up her mind, she jumped out of bed and promptly slipped on her crisp new uniform before collecting an armful of PADD's on the way out of the door to her and T'Rara's quarters. Perhaps if Rara wasn't away now, I would have been more settled. She made her way out to the docks and chartered a shuttle to fly her out to the Valley Forge, "Why not simply beam over there, it would be must more efficient?" asked the Officer of the Watch, to which Keelah simply smiled in response, "But then I wouldn't get to see her now, would I!"

If she was smiling before, she was positively beaming as the Valley Forge came into view. Whilst not having the sheer presence of the Odyssey class Dawnstar, the Valley Forge was no shrinking violet either; at around 2/3 the overall size of the Dawnstar, and with it's newly upgraded hull plating gleaming in the distant sunlight she looked suitable proud. That's one beautiful lady!

Keelah walked the long, dim and barren corridors leading from the starboard shuttlebay to the bridge. She was in no rush now so avoided the turbolifts as far as possible, though having in mind that she would complete a full tour once her senior staff were on board for now - she just wanted to enjoy the ship.

As the lift doors hissed open she stepped onto the bridge... her bridge... for the first time, and her eyes momentarily widened with marvel. She slowly encircled the room, gliding a stray hand over the curve of the consoles and the horseshoe which seperated her from her officers. A single command seat, how retro, I guess I was spoiled as the Dawnstar's XO Her introductory tour of the bridge spiraled inwards until she was stood face to face with her new station; the Captain's chair. She felt a familiar sensation in the pit of her stomach, not dissimilar to that felt the night before when the Admiral pinned that new pip on her collar. She idly ran a fingertip across her four pips as she stared at the chair. She was no stranger to command having lead multiple missions both on board the Dawnstar and the various starbase defense vessels. But this was different, she was not covering someone else's command now or leading a single missions. this was her chair... her bridge... her command. Drawing a deep breath Keelah lowered herself into the chair she would come to know as home... and frowned, shifting uncomfortably. I miss my old chair! Gradually she twisted and fidgeted around until settling into a more comfortable posture, resting her palms on the armrests she looked around the bridge from her command station... and a contented smile slowly formed across her lips as she tapped on the armrest.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 92792.2;.... 'Captain's' Log, the words still sound foreign to me, this is a pivotal moment in the history of the Valley Forge. Over the centuries the name has been proudly carried by a multitude of vessel's ranging from the 20th Century Earth Naval aircraft carrier, to the Excelsior class vessel who bore this ship's registry up until her demise during the Dominion War. This Valley Forge has already seen many years of service, and served the Federation as proudly as it has it's own heritage. If nothing else during my tenure of command; I aim to ensure that we do not let either of these slip. This Valley Forge is like a new ship now following the refit, we have a lot of work ahead to fully test the integration of new systems though I have no doubt in my mind that the ship and crew will live up to this task and achieve it to the highest of standards. She is a tall ship, now all she need's a star to steer her by."

Following some hours of familiarizing herself with the ship and it's systems, the crew arrived on board and set about their duties. One by one they drip fed onto the bridge to be greeted warmly by their new Captain. Everyone busied themselves making preparations for her official launch, and as the awaited time grew closer the bridge slowly transformed into a hive of efficiently organised activity - a far cry from the empty room Keelah had entered only a few hours earlier. The department heads began calling in readiness checks, departure clearance would confirmed with station Ops. This was it; their course was laid in, all crew and systems reported ready for departure then... the order came from Ops, "Valley Forge you are cleared for departure. Godspeed and smooth sailing". Her moment had arrived, the entire bridge crew turned to face her as she she pushed up out of her seat, tugging her overly crisp tunic straight as she did. Keelah stepped forward looking around her officer's with a proud smile before turning to the front, "Helm, take us out; let's give them the show they've been waiting for!"

Keelah closed her eyes a moment as she felt the subtle shunt of the Valley Forge's engine's firing up and the intertial dampener's taking their grip. The ship gracefully eased forward from it's dock before entering a slow bank into it's departure vector. As the ship began it's turn, the sendoff party all waved emphatically from the viewing ports on the berth and marvelled at their handiwork as the sunlight sparkled back at them off the ship's glistening new hull plating. Then the Valley Forge launched a spread of fireworks into it's immediate flight path and swing into a celebratory barrel roll through the midst the celebration before settling into her find flight path and accelerating to warp. And so our voyage begins!

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