Thursday, May 15, 2014

"The Proposal"

By Christina Moore

October 2, 2376
Starfleet Field Office
Office of Commodore Markham

“Be careful what you wish for” was an adage said many times in many ways—and in the tongues of many different species. Although she had long ago come to understand what the saying meant, now Valerie Markham was living it.

She had been on Cardassia Prime seeing to the 11th Fleet’s operations for precisely two weeks now, and while she had believed herself capable of performing the job (still did, of course), no amount of reading up on the situation in the Cardassian Union had prepared her for the reality of it. She’d been at it non-stop for fourteen days straight, and the demands on her time did not appear to be lessening anytime soon.  Her desk was littered with PADDs containing reports from the various ships in the fleet, from Sanctuary, and the field office base commander himself, awaiting her review and confirmation before they could be downloaded into the fleet database. Her communications inbox was inundated daily with requests for meetings with various Cardassian officials. And then there was the fact that she had her own reports to make and file.

It seemed her work was never done.

Yet as daunting as the task at hand was proving to be, as tired as she was when she went to bed at night, Markham had realized was in her element. Much to her surprise, she’d discovered that she knew how to play the politics game, and she played it with a deft hand. Thus far her relationship with the New Detapa Council and Natima Lang in particular seemed to be flourishing, or at the very least building a solid foundation, because she knew when to yield and when to be unyielding. The transition from Admiral Tattok’s command to her own had taken some getting used to on the part of the Cardassians, some of whom—most of them men—thought her not up to the job of looking after both the 11th Fleet and Cardassian interests. So far she’d done a damn fine job of proving them wrong, if she said so herself.

Her time in the top chair might be temporary—it had been made clear that Tattok was expected to return—but she would make the most of it. Though so many of her peers were content to remain in the captain’s chair for the majority of their careers, taking over for Admiral Tattok, even for an interim period, had made clear to Markham just how much she wanted to do this kind of work all the time. It was certainly not lost on her that if she did a good job while holding the 11th Fleet’s reigns, it would make for an impressive feather in her professional cap. She might just receive her own little fiefdom…er, fleet, she mused with a smile…to command in the near future.

She was just signing off on a report from the Kongo when her commbadge chirped, and the lilting voice of Adrienne Carmichael issued from it.

Carmichael to Markham.”

Markham tapped her commbadge to respond. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

Commander M’Benga is here to see you, and the representative from the Sisters of Hope is here for your appointment with her.”

Markham looked at the clock on the wall, noting that Sister Jessup was early by ten minutes, as was her norm. She allowed herself a small smile as she thought of the septuagenarian’s punctuality. “Send the commander in, Adrienne, and make sure to offer Sister Jessup something to drink while she waits.”

Though she hid it well, Markham could hear a chuckle in the younger woman’s voice as she replied, “She’s already a steaming cup o’ chamomile in her hands, Commodore.”

Her smile broadened. “Thank you, Lieutenant,” she said, and tapped her badge again to close the comm line.

The door chime rang then, and she called for her visitor to enter. The tall, handsome visage of Commander Roderick M’Benga appeared, a PADD in his hand as he approached. She assumed this was his weekly intelligence report, which he always preferred to give to her himself.

Markham offered him a pleasant smile as she clasped her hands together on the desk and looked up at him. “Good morning, Commander.”

M’Benga nodded. “Commodore.” He held out the PADD. “My report—I recommend you pay special attention to paragraphs seven through ten.”

The commodore raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?”

He nodded again, his dark eyes alight with anticipation. “Oh yes. I’d say we should discuss it right away, but you’ve an appointment waiting, so I’m afraid I must as well.”

She regarded the dark-skinned intelligence officer carefully. “Does this matter require my immediate attention, Commander? If so, I’m sure Sister Jessup won’t mind rescheduling her appointment.”

“There’s no immediate threat to us or the fleet, despite the fact that we still don’t know where thirty of the remaining Cardassian warships have disappeared to. It’s just something I think you should be aware of. I’ve spoken with Alok on Sanctuary since he knows this area better than I do, and he’s confirmed the matter with his contacts,” M’Benga told her.

Markham stifled a sigh. “Very well then, Commander, though I must say you’ve definitely piqued my interest. I’ll be sure to read your report as soon as I have a free moment. Dismissed.”

“Yes, Commodore,” M’Benga replied, turning smartly on his heel and exiting her office.


It was another two hours before Markham had a chance to read M’Benga’s report, as her appointment with Sister Jessup had been followed by a meeting with her chief of staff (she’d seen fit to promote Amber Stone, Tattok’s aide, to the vacant position), and then the representative from Support for Sentients. All the meetings had gone well, and she’d garnered an increase in medical supplies from the Sisters and more foodstuffs from SFS.

Stone had come by to report that the upgrades to Tattok’s ship, the Aerie-class U.S.S. Naxovah, had been completed. While Ambassador Sanbo had seen to having the ship outfitted with three phaser banks on the dorsal, ventral, and forward surfaces for Tattok, Stone and Wayne Hollis—the admiral’s personal security attendant—had insisted on the addition of phaser banks to both the port and starboard sides of the ship, as well. When she had at first resisted sparing the resources, the two had pointed out that it was their job to see to her safety, whether on the ground or in space, and additional phaser banks would give her a greater margin of that safety when she was onboard the Naxovah, which had returned from dropping Tattok off on Bajor to be available for her use should she need to travel. Markham knew that the real reason was their devotion to Admiral Tattok, who in his tenure had been the victim of an assassination attempt, a kidnapping attempt, and an actual kidnapping—so she had relented.

After all, she was fond of the admiral too.

Hollis had wished the engineers on base could have installed turbolifts as well—the Aerie-class design hadn’t included lifts even during the “second wave” of the class’ production, which had both begun and been abruptly halted in 2373, when the war broke out. At the time, civilian transports were simply not a priority, and as such, most shipbuilding materials were allocated toward fixing up or finishing larger starships in the fleet. Turbolifts were a luxury, and to add them would have taken at least a month’s work of renovating the ship. Markham just couldn’t agree to that one. She also could not agree to the fitting of torpedo launchers, as that would have meant renovating an entire deck, and possibly taken until the end of the year. The man hours and materials for either job would be put to better use elsewhere. Phasers would have to do in the way of weaponry, and there was nothing wrong with a good walk, be it straight down a corridor or up and down a flight of stairs.

At last she was sitting down to a late lunch in the commissary, the PADD containing M’Benga’s report in her hand. Though he had said she should pay special attention to paragraphs seven through ten, and she was eager to see what those paragraphs contained, Markham made herself read through the report from the beginning. When she reached those paragraphs, her eyes widened over the rim of her glass of tea, and she set it down so that she could scroll back and read the paragraphs again. The news was not good, and would raise questions with the Cardassians as to just how helpful Starfleet and the Federation really were.

“Damn it,” Markham muttered, rising quickly and carrying her half-finished salad and tea to the replicator for recycling.

As she was exiting the commissary, Lt. Tao Na-Wen, the base communications officer, was walking down the corridor. The Asian man stopped and nodded politely when he noticed her. “Commodore.”

Her response to his greeting was a curt nod. “Lieutenant, I need you to get back to the comm center. I need to talk to Admiral Haywood on a secure channel as soon as possible.”

“Of course. I’m actually on my way back to my post now, and will contact you when I have the link.”

With that, he gave another nod and started away, but turned back after a few steps, saying, “Begging your pardon, Commodore—but you are aware that there is a ten hour time difference between Cardassia and Earth, correct?”

Markham, who’d turned in the opposite direction to head back to her office, stopped and looked at him, a frown on her face. “I know, Lieutenant. But I’m afraid it can’t be helped.”


As she was stepping past Adrienne Carmichael to go into her office, Markham informed her administrative assistant to hold all calls and appointments until she told her otherwise. Carmichael acknowledged and turned back to her work. By the time Markham had settled behind her desk, her commbadge chirped.

Tao to Markham.”

She tapped her badge. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

I have Admiral Haywood for you, Commodore. Secure channel, as requested.”

Markham took a steadying breath. “Patch it down to my office, Tao. And thank you. Markham out.”

Reaching over to switch her monitor on, Markham saw first the symbols of the United Federation of Planets and the 11th Fleet, both of which were quickly replaced by the slightly haggard-looking face of Admiral Elliot Haywood.

“Commodore Markham,” he began slowly, his mild South African accent not lost to her ears even across the distance between them. “I assume you are aware of the time difference?”

She nodded; she was aware that it was closing in on midnight back on Earth, at least in San Francisco. She was also aware that Haywood was still in full uniform, though he’d lowered the zipper on his collar. “Yes, sir. I beg the admiral’s pardon, but I believed it crucial to speak with you at once on a matter that has come to my attention.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “And what particular matter would that be?” Haywood queried.

“Sir, my intelligence officer handed me a report this morning which I was just now able to read. The Klingons have taken Wertden—that’s the fifth planet they’ve annexed in as many months, despite Chancellor Martok’s assurances that he would put a stop to it. They’ve already set their sights on planet number six, Admiral, one which happens to be a planet the intel report says the Romulans also have their sights on. It would be their sixth planet as well, should they take it before the Klingons, and if they both try to take Kota at the same time…”

Haywood suppressed a sigh, though just barely, a subtle sign that she was stressing an already stressed man. “I’m aware of the situation, Commodore, as I’ve been in contact with the Intelligence Director, and I agree it is unsettling news. It is also not unexpected news, given the propensity of our friends for taking advantage of those weaker than they are.”

“But sir—what are we going to do about it?”

“At this time…nothing.”

Markham felt her mouth drop open, though she closed it quickly. Blinking rapidly for a few seconds in order to contain her shock, she drew in a breath before saying, “Forgive me, Admiral Haywood, but how can we sit by and do nothing when the people who signed the armistice agreement with us, pledging to help the Cardassians rebuild their infrastructure, are doing the exact opposite? How am I supposed to explain Starfleet’s ‘hands off’ policy to the Detapa Council—you know they’re going to ask me these same questions.”

He fixed her with a firm stare, forcing her to realize that for the first time in a long time, she was letting her emotions get the best of her. At the same time, she knew she couldn’t exactly help herself, because whenever she found a cause worthy of her full attention, she not only gave it that, but she put all her passion into it too. This mission in Cardassian space was one of those causes—helping them despite the fact that they had been enemies not long ago—because it was simply the right thing to do. Hearing that Starfleet was not allowed to intervene was very disturbing. She was practicing some quiet breathing exercises to help calm her rushing blood as Haywood spoke next.

“Believe me, Valerie,” he began, “I understand the untenable position we are placing you in, and for what it’s worth, I am sorry. However, the situation is, at present, out of our hands. The Federation Council will not allow us to take offensive action against the Klingons or the Romulans until the location of those thirty Cardassian ships is uncovered. Their concern is that the Cardassians are amassing those ships into a fleet of war. The fact that they’re not even taking action against the Klingons or Romulans themselves doesn’t bode well for that belief being false, and the problem therein is that we not only don’t know where those thirty ships are, we don’t know what the hell they’re up to. And until we do know, I’m afraid Command’s hands are tied.”

Markham reluctantly agreed that the Federation Council was right to be concerned—not knowing where the Cardassian warships were or what their plans were didn’t sit well with her, either. It didn’t sit well with any of the captains under her command, considering that the number of missing Cardassian ships was almost twice their number. Natima Lang, the leader of the Detapa Council, swore she knew nothing every time Markham asked her about the ships; every council member and New Cardassian Guard officer she asked claimed to know nothing. But someone had to know something, because it just wasn’t possible for thirty ships and thousands of soldiers to simply disappear.

Swallowing, the commodore asked, “What about defensive action, sir?”

“If any ship in the Eleventh encounters a Romulan or Klingon vessel actively engaged in forced actions against the Cardassian people, or if they are disrupted in their service to the Cardassians, then—and only then—are they permitted to intervene,” Haywood replied. “Unfortunately, after the Ansaris Incident, they’re being more careful about getting caught by us, and we’re only hearing about it after the fact. Until such time as we catch them in the act, the Klingon High Council can claim plausible deniability.”

The expression on Haywood’s face told her his feelings in that regard matched her own—that it was a load of bull.

“Sir,” Markham began slowly after a moment. “What about the Cardassians who are displaced by the occupations? What do we do about them?”

“I’m afraid the only thing you and your fleet can do is the same thing you’ve been doing,” he replied. “Give them food and medical care where you can.”

“But what about homes? These people need places to live, Admiral. Sanctuary’s about reached their occupancy limit, which Captain Natale says is difficult enough to deal with when they’re so understaffed. Where are the millions of homeless people going to go?”

“There are other planets in the Cardassian Union they can go to,” Haywood pointed out. “As you well know, there is just so much we can do without a formal resettlement program in place.”

“Then perhaps it’s time we came up with one, if the Cardassians won’t. Or can’t,” she amended quickly, reminding herself that she actually liked Natima Lang and that the Cardassian woman was just as swamped with demands on her time as she was, of not more so.

Haywood nodded. “Perhaps,” he agreed. “If you should find yourself with a moment of free time, draft a plan of action. And think large-scale, Commodore. I’m not about to put the entire burden on the Eleventh—we’ll get other ships involved in this too.”

Markham felt the stirrings of a smile at the corners of her mouth for the first time since their conversation began. Despite everything she still had yet to do that day, her mind was already turning ideas over as she apologized for disturbing the admiral so late and thanked him for his time.


October 3, 2376
Starfleet Field Office
Fleet Command Briefing Room

Markham and her staff met at 0730 the next morning for their usual daily meeting, and it wasn’t until each had given his or her report that she brought up the newest project on their collective plates.

A moment of silence fell before Alan Redfern, her Logistics Officer, spoke up. “Please tell me this is not all on us,” he said. “I mean, I know the Cardassian Union is the Eleventh’s responsibility and all, but we’re barely able to keep up as it is—especially with the influx of refugees from the occupied planets.”

The commodore shook her head. “Don’t worry, Commander, it’s not. Admiral Haywood told me to think large-scale and that he was definitely going to get other ships involved. I can’t tell you how many, but any help is better than none.”

She looked at each of her people in turn as she sat forward, her hands clasped together on the table. “What I want from you are some ideas on how to make this happen. Obviously there are a large number of inhabited and uninhabited planets in Union space to choose from. Certainly some of the refugees are seeking new lives on the inhabited planets already, but if there are going to be new colonies on previously uninhabited planets, we need estimates on what they need to get started and how long it will be before they are self-sustaining. We need to know which planets are suitable and which aren’t.”

“Are we limited t’ the Union in our scope, Commodore?” asked Adrienne Carmichael.

“Surely you’re not suggesting we resettle the Cardassians on Federation planets, Lieutenant,” said Wayne Hollis. “Don’t you think Federation citizens are gonna protest that?”

Although she colored slightly, the young Scot didn’t shrink from his challenge. “No, Chief Hollis, I’m not,” she said, placing subtle emphasis on the older man’s rank. Markham silently approved her method of reminding him he was speaking to an officer. “I was just thinkin’ that if it were me, startin’ o’er again and all, I think I’d want t’ do it somewhere beyond the reach of just about everyone. No Federation, no Cardassian Union, no Romulans, no Klingons.”

Markham looked over at the younger woman. “What are you proposing, Miss Carmichael?” she asked.

Carmichael swallowed nervously as she looked back at her. “Well, I was just thinkin’ that it would be nice if we could get back t’ what Starfleet is really all about—exploration. New stars, new planets, new life—all that lot. If there’s anyone really wantin’ t’ start from scratch, or just wantin’ t’ start o’er somewhere new, we can combine the two objectives. Resettlement and exploration all in one.”

The commodore studied the lieutenant’s eager expression, which had become more animated as she spoke. She found herself mulling over the idea in her head, weighing the pros and cons, and then she found herself smiling.

“Lieutenant Carmichael makes a compelling argument,” spoke up Amber Stone. “Such an initiative is, however, bound to be fraught with difficulties, not the least of which would be how to select the candidates for resettlement.”

“A lottery,” proposed Redfern. “I think the only fair way to do it would be a random drawing.”

“Agreed,” Markham said. “And I think that such an endeavor is likely to catch on both with the Cardassians and the Federation, so there’s every chance that the latter will want to do more than just take the former some place new. There may even be Federation citizens willing to relocate.”

She turned to her administrations officer again. “Adrienne, this is your idea—I want you to run with it. Start looking at the star charts to find an unexplored area of space that will be relatively on their own but also not too far from help. In the mean time, Lt. Commander Redfern, I want you looking at the star charts as well for planets in Union space that can be utilized for resettlement. There’s bound to be several the Klingons and Romulans haven’t stolen yet. If there’s nothing else, you’re all dismissed.”


Adrienne Carmichael nervously patted her hair to make sure it was tucked into place, then reached for the key to ring the chime on Commodore Markham’s office door. Just ninety minutes ago, at the staff meeting, she’d made what she’d thought of at the time as a preposterous proposal. She’d been serious of course—had even gotten excited about the idea of sending a ship or ships out to explore unknown space after all the devastation of the war.

But she hadn’t really expected the commodore to take her seriously. There was simply too much else that needed to be done, both in the Cardassian Union and in the Federation. Resources were already stretched about as far as they could go, and the old Starfleet creedo “…to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before” was simply not on anyone’s priority list right now. She knew and understood why that was, knew and understood that the infrastructure and economies of the Federation and their allies needed to be stabilized before they could get back to doing any serious exploring.

Yet exploring was exactly what she had proposed. She supposed it was because the chance to see something no one else had ever seen was one of the reasons she’d joined Starfleet, and while she wouldn’t be going along on this new expedition—if the commodore could get it approved, that is—she could still get excited about the fact that it had been her idea. One day in the future, she’d go and see what had been borne of that idea.

For now, though, she had to present her selection for the expedition’s location to Commodore Markham, who’d just bade her enter. It was a crazy idea, she admitted to herself as she stepped through the door, and was likely to get shot straight down—which was why she had made sure to select several other possible locations for a combined resettlement/exploratory mission. But her hope was that by some miracle her crazy idea was the one the commodore went for, because it would just be too bloody brilliant.

“Miss Carmichael,” Markham said, looking up from the PADD she’d been reading. “I take it you have something for me?”

Carmichael nodded and held out a PADD. Markham set the one she’d been reading aside on a pile of more of the devices and thumbed the new one on. She swallowed nervously again as the woman across from her read her proposal, and it was several minutes before Markham looked up or spoke.

“You certainly are an ambitious one,” she said.

“Well, um, you said on their own but not too far from help. Technically, Commodore, that’s right on the other side of the Cardassian Union,” Carmichael replied.

“Indeed it is,” Markham said slowly. “It’s also on the other side of the Maw, a region of space so charged with electromagnetic energy it’s all but impossible to cross. Word has it that flying through the Badlands is easier.”

“I know that’s why all attempts t’ cross previously have failed, Commodore,” Carmichael told her. “I know all about the EM currents and radiation and the lot, but with modern shield harmonics, I believe it’s possible. Might take twice as long t’ cross a sector even at top speed, though.”

“A colony located on the other side of the Maw would essentially be on their own,” Markham said. “We’d not only have to send enough supplies to last a couple of months, but more than likely leave the transport ships there for some time,  to see to the health and safety of the colonists.”

Carmichael nodded. “Aye, but Commodore—wouldn’t that be basically the same situation facing a colony on an unknown planet on this side of the Maw?”

For a moment Markham only stared at her, and she was just beginning to fear she’d said the wrong thing when the commodore’s expression broke into a wide grin.

“I actually really like this idea, Lieutenant,” she said. “This is fabulous work, and you’re right—it’s about time we get back to what Starfleet is all about. If Command goes for this, I’ll see to it they name the colony after you.”

The red-head laughed. “Oi, no need for that. I’d settle for a mountain or a river.”


After her admin returned to her desk, Valerie Markham read over the younger woman’s proposal again. She’d obviously put a great deal of thought into it even though it hadn’t even been two hours since the staff meeting; she’d brought up all the same points she herself had and had countered them with reasons why and how it could be done. Her attention to detail was one of the reasons Markham had wanted Adrienne Carmichael on her staff, and so she’d “stolen” her from the Veritas’ Ship’s Services department, where her talent was going to waste.

After checking her schedule, pleased to see that she had some time before her next meeting, she called down to the communications center and told them she needed to speak with Admiral Haywood. She also ordered them to get her in contact with Natima Lang as well, knowing that if she was going to sell Adrienne’s idea, she would need both of them to agree. If Haywood and Lang were to give it their approval, the Detapa and Federation Councils would surely follow.

After several minutes’ wait, Markham was facing both her commanding officer and the head of the Detapa Council on her wall screen, laying out Carmichael’s proposal for crossing the Maw and colonizing a system on the other side. She finished her speech by saying she also had people working on a plan to resettle a number of planets in Union space as well.

“I must admit, I have long wondered what lay on the other side of the Maw,” Lang said after a moment. “I can’t say I’d not be envious of anyone going on such an expedition, and there are sure to be a number of our scientists who’d want to study the Maw’s effects on warp travel, communications… there are so many things to study in the Maw alone, not to mention whatever’s on the other side.”

“Indeed,” said Haywood. “There are untold opportunities for scientific study in this plan. There are also untold risks involved, one of which is that this colony would essentially be cut off from assistance in case of an emergency. Help would take weeks to get there.”

“I understand, sir,” Markham replied. “But in a way, that’s precisely the point of this particular expedition. Cardassian and Federation citizens alike who are looking to start over from scratch would certainly get their bottom credit’s worth.”

“And what if—at risk of sounding indelicate—the Federation citizens do not want to share a colony with the Cardassians?” the admiral pressed.

Markham looked between him and Lang, who did not seem to have taken offense at his words. She believed she’d gotten to know her well enough in the last two weeks to know that she was probably thinking the same thing.

“Then we have two colonies,” she replied simply. “We send a survey ship or two through the Maw to scout for suitable M-Class planets. The two groups can either share one planet or each settle on one of their own within the same system.”

“And who do you propose would be in charge of these colonies?” Lang asked. “Who would see to their safety?”

Markham looked at her side of the split-screen. “Well, Madame Lang, I would imagine that, for the first few weeks, perhaps a few months, Starfleet Security or Federation Marines would handle the security of both, unless you would wish for Cardassian Guard officers to handle the security of the Cardassian colony. I’m certain that could be arranged. As for who is in charge, I suggest that each group select their own leader.”

Haywood was nodding. “Someone with organizational skills, who has proven themselves in a leadership role would be my suggestion,” he said.

“A wise idea, Admiral,” the Cardassian agreed with a nod. “And though it would be my hope for all who go on this expedition to live together in one place so as not to put a strain on what resources can be spared, I know there is yet too much enmity between our peoples to hope for any kind of harmony in such an endeavor. My own people may even insist on separation.”

“And that’s if we can even get the approval of both our governments,” Haywood pointed out.

Natima Lang smiled. “I have no doubt I can sell this to the Detapa Council, Admiral. As a former political refugee, I more than most can see the potential here, and had I not been selected from among many to lead my people from the ashes of war, I would be one of the first to sign up.”

Haywood nodded again. “I don’t doubt that this expedition proposal will appeal to many who just want to get back to simpler times,” he told them. “It’s going to make the selection process something of a nightmare, but you’re both right—there’s a lot of potential, and it’s too much to be ignored. I’ll speak to Admiral Necheyev and hopefully someone on the Federation Council and get back to you, Commodore. But no matter what is decided, you are to be commended.”

Markham smiled. “Thank you, sir, but it is Lt. Adrienne Carmichael who deserves that recognition—the idea was hers.”

“Then she’ll have it,” he said. “A Commendation for Original Thinking will be in her file by the end of your business day. As for you, Ms. Markham, good work on getting on top of the relocation efforts as quickly as you have…and thank you for not waiting until midnight to call me.”

Chuckling, she replied, “You’re welcome, Admiral, and thank you. I’m glad to be of service.”

Lang was still on the screen as Haywood signed off. “I also want to thank you, Valerie, for all your hard work. I was afraid that the transition from Tattok’s departure would make for a difficult few weeks or even months, but you’ve handled yourself marvelously, and you’ve done so much to help me help my people rebuild.”

Markham inclined her head politely. “You’re very welcome, Madame Lang. I’m happy to help.”

When she had said goodbye to Lang as well, Markham glanced at the clock and noted that, amazingly, she still had a whole ten minutes before her next scheduled meeting. She decided there was nothing better to do with that time than celebrate, so she walked over to the replicator and ordered two slices of cheesecake topped with strawberries. Carrying them both out of her office, she startled Carmichael when she set the second plate and fork down in front of her.

“What’s this for?” Carmichael asked, looking up at her.

“It’s a small victory celebration, Adrienne,” Markham answered as she moved around the desk to lower herself gracefully into one of the visitor’s chairs. “Councilor Lang and Admiral Haywood both went for it, like I knew they would.”

“Blimey, did they really?”

“They did—and you’re to receive a commendation for your idea.”

Carmichael’s eyes went wide at this. “No way! I’m really getting a commendation for that lot o’ nonsense?”

Markham laughed. “It’s far from nonsense, Lieutenant. You did good work on your proposal—the idea may have been a little off to the side, but then I like people who think that way. Not only are we going to be helping some homeless people get a fresh start, we’re taking the first steps toward getting back to Starfleet’s roots. That alone is worth celebrating.” 

The younger woman grinned and picked up her fork. “Well then, let’s get started before the next wave hits!” she said, putting a bite of cheesecake into her mouth. Markham laughed at the exaggerated look of bliss on her face, then did exactly the same thing. 


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