Star Trek Hunter
Episode 22: Sacrifice
Scene 1: The Crew
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22.1
The Crew
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"I am maintaining my command until I am formally decommissioned, but as I will be on shore leave for the next several months, Commander Dolphin will effectively be in command of the U.S.S. Hunter."

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Justice Minerva Irons was addressing the Hunter's crew, who were gathered in the large conference room in Starbase Eleven. A portable holographic emitter array had been erected in the conference room so that Hunter, Dr. Kim and Dr. Raj could also attend along with the rest of the crew.

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Behind Irons was the mural of the Hunter's former crew members: Lt. T'Lok Smith, Flight Specialist Joey Chin, Investigator Lynhart Shran, Lt. Commander Sarekson Carrera and the Hunter's previous tactical squad - Tactical Specialists Jarrong, Belo Rys, Belo Garr and Belo Cantys – the four of whom were currently on Ocean serving as lifeguards. A new painting – also by Lt. Napoleon Boles and in the same style, displayed Heroic Heart caricatures of the late Commander David Pepper and Lt. Commander Tauk. Boles had depicted Pep in Klingon armor, seated in the command chair of the giant first officer's last command – the klingon bird of prey, I.K.V. 'Iw Hov - with Tauk standing next to him.

The U.S.S. Hunter was once again in dry dock, undergoing extensive repair to the hull, which had been damaged when a layer of ionized iridium had been burned off, creating micro-fractures in the aluminum from which vital oxides had been leeched.

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"I will be taking terminal leave and will retire from Star Fleet at the end of that time," Irons continued. "Since I have chosen not to give up my command, regulations require me to serve my last two weeks on active status onboard. I do not plan to return to this ship until then. Until then, Dr. Dolphin will operate as acting captain and my quarters will be his quarters. We have a number of other crew changes, which I will call on my Executive Officer to commemorate. Kenneth?"

Commander Kenneth Dolphin stood up, surveyed the crew, some of whom would be departing immediately following this meeting for new assignments. Others were newly assigned to the Hunter. "Let me start by again commemorating our friends, Commander David Pepper and Lieutenant Commander Tauk, both of whom gave their lives in the line of duty. We have already celebrated their lives and their service, but at this meeting, because we are talking about changes to our crew, it would be impossible to even begin to describe those changes without taking another moment to miss them and acknowledge the giant hole the death of each of them has left in our lives."

Dolphin fell silent for a few moments. He observed the reactions of the crew members and was once again grateful for the exceptional artistic talent of Napoleon Boles. The comic/heroic poses of Pep and Tauk in Napoleon's painting of them somehow captured the best part of their spirits and helped the crew realize that their friends were not entirely lost to the universe. A part of them remained and their likenesses would continue to be seen and (thanks to Napoleon's talent) admired by Star Fleet crews stationed at and passing through Starbase Eleven.

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Seventeen seconds. For most other Federation species, a moment of silence could be longer, but for humans the optimal amount of time was seventeen seconds. And most of the Hunter's crew were mostly human.

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Dolphin took a deep breath, looked up. "I want to congratulate Chief Flight Specialist Dewayne Guth, who, after 20 years of service, is retiring from Star Fleet and has taken an assignment as ambassador to the giant waterbirds for the City of Pern on Cun Ling. Dewayne, I could not be more proud and we are all happy for you. May I be the first to say congratulations, Ambassador Guth. I want to express all our best wishes for this next chapter in your life. In helping to ensure the survival and welfare of an entire intelligent species and their culture, you have already become a hero among our people, and you have admirers in the highest levels of Star Fleet and the Federation Council. You may well be the longest remembered of any of our crew."

There was sporadic, then growing applause for the Hunter's veteran shuttle pilot. With some prodding from his fellow pilots, Guth stood up. Only those who knew him well could tell that he was blushing - the subtle spots from his trill parentage stood out just a little more than usual against his dark skin.

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A tall, skinny, teenaged girl with pale skin and short, mousy brown hair was sitting at the front of the room. When Dolphin gestured to her she stood and turned to look at the Hunter's crew – and to be seen by them. She looked far too young to be wearing a Star Fleet uniform.

"I want to introduce our new primary shuttle pilot, Jennifer Hopper. Following basic training, Crewman Hopper has spent the past six months on the Earth-Mars route. I am transferring her from Star Fleet Space Command to the JAG Office and promoting her to Flight Specialist. The U.S.S. Hunter will be her first deep space assignment."

Next to Jennifer Hopper was a green-skinned klingon with bundles of coal black hair. She stood up and turned and smiled sweetly – despite her klingon features, she was clearly also part orion, which seemed to account for her pleasant demeanor as well as her skin color. "Navigator Auqa'rh'lth* will replace our friend, the debonair Eli Strahl, who has taken an assignment with the navigation department of the U.S.S. Ark. Eli, I hear there are more than 150,000 women, both Star Fleet and civilian, who will be serving on the U.S.S. Ark – on behalf of our crew members who will very much miss your attentions, may I just say – happy hunting…"

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The room exploded with laughter. Eli was well known for his well-received dalliances with several female members of the Hunter's crew.

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"Dr. Chrissiana Trei has taken a promotion to serve in the medical department of the U.S.S. Ark. I am pleased to announce the promotion of Midshipman Sif to Ensign – Ensign Sif will be staying with us. And we have a new Forensic Specialist, Midshipman Kunto Wekesa – Dr. Wekesa…" Dolphin gestured to an impossibly tall, thin young man seated in the front row. Midshipman Wekesa had jet black skin – even darker than Gaia Gamor.

"In our engineering department we also have a number of changes. First, I am happy to announce the promotion of Yolanda Thomas to Chief Flight Engineer. Yolanda will remain with us, but Midshipman Tammy Brazil – newly promoted to Ensign and Transporter Engineer K'rok – newly promoted to Chief Transporter Engineer – will both be leaving us for assignments on the U.S.S. Ark. Please allow me to introduce their replacements: Midshipman Carlos Datsun and Transporter Engineer Dragomut."

Carlos Datsun was clearly of Japanese descent. Transporter Engineer Dragomut had an oddly shaped head and it was impossible to determine his/her gender. Subtle crenellations below the eyes were offset by stronger layers of ridges above the eyes leading to an elongated forehead that tapered back to a long, high, cone-shaped skull. Subtle variations of yellow, purple and blue on the engineer's forehead created a crown-like appearance. Dragomut's skin appeared supple, but somehow also had a shell-like quality. Neither male, nor female, Dragomut radiated a knowing sexuality that was sexually stimulating to nearly every member of the Hunter's crew. Uncomfortably stimulating.

Dolphin registered this discomfort and had prepared for it. "Just so that all of you can feel a little more comfortable, I talked with Dragomut and our new transporter engineer agrees with me that it would be a good idea for me to make a few things clear with respect to language usage. Dragomut is an imoginette. I don't know what you might have heard about these people, they are members of the Federation, but rarely seen outside of their homeworld. Imoginettes do not have gender the way most of you are familiar with the concept - their gender changes with their mood. You may use either male or female pronouns, but please do not use the pronoun 'it' when referring to the imoginettes as this translates to an inanimate pronoun, which Dragomut's people consider to be a grave insult. My recommendation is that you avoid using pronouns entirely. This could make grammar a bit tricky, but I think we would all prefer awkward sentence structures to awkward silences."

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Dolphin looked about, waiting to be sure his crew worked all of that out before continuing. "Both Dr. Tali Shae and Lieutenant Commander Mlady will be taking leave here, on Ocean, for at least the next month," said Dolphin. "In light of which, Dr. Boles will continue in his role as acting Chief Operations Officer and Dr. Jazz Sam Sinder will stand in as acting Medical Director."

"Also, I have two more promotions to announce. Napoleon, Gaia, please step forward."

The Director of Flight Operations and the half-bolian epidemiologist both stepped forward.

"As you know, hollow pips often come with a history. Napoleon, this was Midshipman Sif's pip." Dolphin attached the pip next to the two full pips on Dr. Boles' collar. "Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Boles. Gaia - this pip came from Tauk's collar. It was once on my collar, and before me, Dr. Tali Shae wore it." Dolphin attached the pip to Gamor's collar. "Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Gamor."

"Finally, I want to thank Rear Admiral Burton for facilitating the repairs on our ship. It will be ready in ten hours. At that time I want all hands at duty stations, ready to launch. Dr. Tali Shae and Mlady will be remaining here on Ocean, but we need to deliver Dewayne to Cun Ling, then we have another delivery to make. So if you want to hit the waves down on Ocean, you have nine hours. Get going! Dismissed!"

* Auqa'rh'lth (roughly pronounced "Ah-khah-rrruh-ulth." The apostrophes in the Klingon language indicate glottal stops.)

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