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Graduation Day

Posted on 08 Apr 2017 @ 12:55pm by Vice Admiral Zachary O'Connell & Captain Harvey Geisler & Ensign Quinn Mackie & Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Ensign Kelly Khan & Senior Chief Petty Officer Mila Rasputin & Ensign Aidan Crehan & Ensign Elisha Cherno

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: New Bajor
Timeline: August 31, 2388

Many lives had been impacted by the Consortium, including the fifty cadets who were granted permission to take their cadet cruise in the Gamma Quadrant. Though the Battle of Deep Space 11 took place a week before the official graduation on Earth, the cadets had to be subjected to all of the same debriefings and examinations as other enlisted and officers. This caused all of the cadets to miss the ceremony on Earth. Thankfully, instead of just informally commissioning each person, Starfleet granted permission for a small graduation ceremony on New Bajor, even though it would be at least another week before they could all be dismissed and/or returned to service. As a band from New Bajor played, all of the cadets filed in.

The fact that Kelly had been battlefield promoted to Ensign didn't mean she didn't have to attend the small graduation ceremony on New Bajor, but she wished it had been on Earth where her parents and siblings could have attended. Still, she had managed to acquire a holo recorder and had the graduation filmed so she could take it back home to show them. She looked down at her dress uniform - the official dress uniform of a Starfleet officer instead of a cadet. She wanted to jump up and down and shout in a manner that would make a first year cadet blush.

Elisha was sad. She felt like things were changing too fast. She had no idea if her friends would end up on the same ship as her or if she'd even ever see them again. The fact that she was missing several months of memories didn't help in the least. In fact, it made it many times worse; she felt like she should still have several months left to adjust to this idea.

She sighed and checked her uniform one last time. She had been tempted to offer her resignation and travel with her brother as his tour manager, but realized that that was a really stupid plan. So, instead, she got into her dress uniform- which she secretly loved- put her hair into an intricate braid that circled her head, and, with a deep breath, headed out to the ceremony.

The formal dress uniform fit Aidan a little on the tight side. But he wasn't going to complain. It was his Academy graduation. Well, the ceremony for the Academy graduation. But how many Cadets, Ensigns, could say that they graduated in the Gamma Quadrant? A smile crept across his face as he imagined the look on Mila's face. He couldn't wait until it was official.

Cherno. Crehan. Khan. Quinn sighed. Mackie. Though there were fifty cadets that were going to go through this ceremony, he'd be the last of the "Fantastic Four" to graduate. Sure, they didn't brand themselves after the twentieth-century pop culture group, but Quinn had adopted the term for them all the same. They'd literally been to hell and back over the last few months. There were still a few items he, and Quinn assumed the others also, hadn't been able to finish, but according to Captain Geisler, the Academy only set a foundation. The real learning didn't take place until they were commissioned and serving among the fleet.

Even now, Quinn tugged at the cadet dress uniform. The garment was terrible. An officer's dress uniform wasn't much better, but at least it appeared to be more tasteful. At least so he thought at the sight of the only white-and-blue garment among the cadets in the lineup.

Kelly looked over to where Quinn was and headed over since people hadn't been called to attention yet for the ceremony. "Stop tugging on it, Quinn," she said softly. "Only I'm allowed to rip your clothes off, Tiger."

Quinn blushed, unintentionally of course. "Who said anything about ripping?" he replied in a hushed tone, much lower than what Kelly had used. He wasn't embarrassed being with her, but a bit embarrassed still at her candor in this official capacity. It was one of their differences, and he loved her for it.

* * *

Chief Petty Officer Mila Rasputin stood in the visitors section with a holo recorder. She had taken several pictures of Aidan before their arrival, but she wanted one of the ceremony itself. Chow stood on a small leash beside of her eating from a bowl of pistachios as she didn't want her dress uniform to get dirty. She looked over at Joey and smiled. "Today is being great day for ceremony," she said.

Joey stood next to Mila in her dress uniform with her hands clasped behind her back. She didn't have the chance to wear it often as not too many opportunities called for such formal attire. In fact, she hadn't attended a graduation since her own eight years ago, so seeing a new class sworn from her vantage point as a spectator was pretty incredible.

On either side of her were Rico and Pequeno, leashes attached to their collars and sitting still despite all the people milling about. She looked toward Mila and smiled. "It is, and everyone down there has accomplished something they can be extremely proud of."

"Remember when we were graduating?" asked Lieutenant Carmichael. He, of all of the Black Hawk crew, didn't have to be there, but with all of the help he'd provided to Elisha over the last few weeks to catch up, Charles felt the need to support her. Besides, this was likely the last time he'd see his colleagues from the Black Hawk. Of the group standing there, only he had been with Captain Geisler since he took command. They'd seen a lot together, and this event seemed to bring an excellent closure to their service.

"We?" Captain Harvey Geisler replied, standing next to Rico. He would have preferred to stand directly next to Joey, but the canine seemed to have other ideas. "Mine was about twenty years ago. I have to say though..." Harvey tugged at his all white dress uniform, straightening a couple creases. "I would have paid a lot to wear a dress uniform like this instead of those old things."

Joey moved Rico over to her other hand where he nuzzled the little pup before settling down again. "I suppose these uniforms are a bit more forgiving, and up until seeing the cadets in theirs, I'd blocked it out. Now I remember trying to stuff myself into it like a sausage. The whole time I thought I was going to pass out."

Harvey chuckled, unable to help himself from imagining that sight. "I always thought they wanted us to suffer as Cadets. Starfleet isn't easy, that much we all know, regardless of officer or enlisted."

"You pictured it, didn't you?" Joey asked, unable to keep herself from laughing as she cast a glance in Harvey's direction. Even she couldn't let the mental image pass. The entire ordeal involved a lot of jumping, tucking and pulling... something she was grateful was over now. "We were being prepared for what was to come, and the cadet dress uniforms were just the beginning. Of course, our four graduates have definitely been through the wringer, but there's nothing quite like hands on experience."

"Picturing it is very hard when imagination is not that big," Mila quipped quietly from the other side of her. She focused the holo recorder as everyone turned to focus on Commodore O'Connell and the ceremony prepared to begin.

* * *

Ahead of everyone, on the platform, the New Bajor band finished their song. Commodore Zachary O'Connell rose to his feet and took his place at the podium.

A boatswain, standing at attention on the outside edge of the platform, blew his whistle to summon the Cadets to attention.

"At ease," ordered the Commodore, instructing the party to assume the position of parade rest. "As commonly said while at the Academy, the Academy can only prepare you for service. We can do our best to train you, to simulate conditions in the unknown, but it's always the first year away from the Academy that will truly define the mettle of an officer. Red Squad... Nova Squad... these elite clubs can't even compare to the vigors that awaits every soul that ventures into the unknown.

"Ever since the Enterprise squared off with Khan Noonien Singh in the Mutura Nebula in the 23rd Century, Starfleet has encouraged the cadet cruise. All of you have been subjected to the test of life, first faced by those trainees. Their outcome, the near destruction of the Enterprise, is something all of you can now relate to. The Consortium disrupted our way of life, destroyed many of our starships, and claimed the lives of many of our friends.

"But you, the class of 2388, remain standing. While your classmates back on Earth are departing for their first assignments, you already possess more experience than all of them. Today, you will rejoin them among the stars, but this time as officers. Congratulations."

With that, Zachary took a step back and nodded to his yeoman, Warrant Officer Tanika, to being reading off the names. As each cadet was called, applause came from the gallery as the seasoned cadet arrived on the platform to have the ensign pip affixed to their collar.

The first of the Black Hawk crew to be summoned was the one who had spent the last few weeks trying to catch up. "Cadet Senior Grade Elisha Cherno," called Tanika.

Still feeling as if the whole thing were very abrupt, Elisha stepped forward. She glanced nervously at the small crowd that had gathered to watch the ceremony and spotted Carmichael. She was going to miss him. She offered him a brave smile and stepped up to the platform. It was time for that rank to change.

"Congratulations, Ensign," Zachary said softly, removing her four pips in a single smooth motion with his thumb and then affixing a shiny new gold circle to her collar. With a smile, he held his hand out to give her the pips that were once on her collar.

"Thank you," Elisha muttered, accepting the old pips. She would give them to her mother and they would probably end up in a scrap book.

"Cadet Aidan Crehan," announced Warrant Officer Tanika.

Aidan walked up to where Elisha had once been. He knew that somewhere out there was Mila and he hoped that she had been able to secure some sort of device to record the ceremony. His parents would want to see it for certain. And he might like to watch it some years down the road as well. The El-Aurian came to stand in front of Commodore O'Connell

"Mister Crehan," Zachary said, quickly removing the cadet pips from the man's collar before affixing the new officer's pip. "Congratulations," he said with a nod as he handed over the now invalid rank insignia.

"Thank you, Commodore," said Aidan. He slightly nodded his head in respect to the man and his rank. Aidan accepted the Cadet rank and held it in his hand until he was off to the side. At that point, he put it into his pocket. He walked over and stood next to Elisha, scanning the crowd for Mila. He doubted he could find her in the midst of it all, but he still wanted to try.

A few more names were announced before the Warrant Officer called out, "Cadet... Ensign Kelly Khan."

Kelly took a breath and headed up to the stage and stopped before Commodore O'Connell. She had seen the Captain's Yeoman, Lieutenant Corwin and others in the guest area and knew that someone was recording the ceremony. She hoped she would be able to get a copy of it and what the Commodore was going to do since she already had been promoted before graduation.

Somehow, it didn't dawn on the Commodore until Ensign Khan stood before him that she wore a different kind of dress uniform. "Somehow, I think a real commission will feel quite more comfortable than the battlefield commission you've been operating under." He then noticed the pip on her collar. It was scratched, worn and dull in color. He held up a shiny new one as he prepared to replace it.

A noise like a Targ being strangled came from Kelly's throat and she stepped back as if the Commodore had tried to bite her. "No disrespect, Sir, but Captain Geisler gave me this from his own collar when he promoted me. I'd like to keep it if I may."

"Harvey gave you that?" he asked her, the question rhetorical. "You are free to do with it as you wish. This..." Zachary said, holding up the fresh insignia, "is what you have earned over the last four years. It's yours just as much as the one on your collar."

Kelly gasped and a bright smile light her face as she realized she was being promoted to full Lieutenant. She took the fresh insignia and added it next to the scratched, worn and dull one that Captain Geisler had given her. "Thank you, Commodore!" she said. "I don't know what to say..."

Zachary chuckled nervously as he reached up to catch her. "Just the pip, Ensign. Not the rank. Save Geisler's for the duty uniform and this one for the dress."

"I'll save it for when the actual time comes for that promotion, Sir," Kelly said as she lowered the pip to her side. It was worth a shot she told herself. "Thank you, Sir," she said before she turned to head off the stage so the next cadet could go up.

Zachary shook his head at the Ensign, admiring her determination and boldness. He knew nothing of her doubt, just only what her record showed. He then nodded to Tanika to continue.

And continue she did, reading name after name, until finally, "Cadet Quinn Mackie."

Quinn took a deep breath, taking the short walk to the side of the platform. He adjusted his dress uniform as he climbed the short staircase and stood in front of Commodore O'Connell.

The Commodore smiled at the young cadet, taking note of another young man who's innocent face had been spoiled by recent events. Days like these tested their mettle, refined dross from gold and silver. They were tough, sure, but Starfleet was anything but easy. These cadets had learned more in a couple short months than years at the Academy. Zachary, using his thumb, swiped the cadet pips off of Quinn's collar and replaced them with a single gold pip. "Congratulations, Ensign," he said, handing the freshly-minted officer his expired insignia.

"Thank you, sir," Quinn said, nodding at the Flag Officer before abandoning the stage.

The rest of the cadets were summoned one by one to be graduated into the officer ranks. Finally, Commodore O'Connell traded positions with Warrant Officer Tanika at the podium. "To the class of 2388, I have only a few words." He paused and surveyed the new Ensigns in front of him. "Congratulations, and godspeed." With that, the band struck up a tune, beginning the celebration.

After the last cadet had received their pip and congratulations, Mila stopped recording. "To the class of 2388, I am wishing you congratulations!" She yelled at the top of her lungs, only to be echoed by many more who were there. She moved through the crowd towards Aidan with tears of happiness in her eyes and threw her arms around him. "Congratulations, my Ensign Knight," she told him before she gave him a kiss.

Aidan hugged her tight. "Thank you, my Printsessa," he said, after returning her kiss. He looked down at her and smiled. "Tears of happiness. Yet, no matter what their emotional source, I will always wipe them away." He brought his hands up and dried the tears off her cheeks. "I would like to get a copy of your recording to give to my parents when we see them."

"You are now outranking me," Mila said with a smile. "And you may certainly have copy to be giving to them."

Aidan chuckled. "Only in uniform, my dear. And thank you for the copy. They will enjoy watching it.

"Come," Mila said as she took his hand. "Let us to be joining others."

From the crowd a short little red haired woman emerged. She spent the entirety of the ceremony standing on a chair with a holoimager in hand, and now that the official side of things was over, she waited until she could make her way to the cadets to find the one she was looking for. She didn't think she'd make it in time to see her cousin graduate, but just
minutes before things kicked off, Mackenzie made it. Fate was on her side

Kelly turned to go see Quinn and nearly ran over the only person there who was shorter than her, even if it was by a few inches. She stepped back and looked, then gasped in shock. "M-m-mack?!"

"Hey, Squirt," the short woman said, moving over to Kelly and wrapping her arms around her. The fact her young cousin stuttered didn't go unnoticed, either. "Congratulations!"

Kelly returned the hug. "Thanks, Pipsqueak! How did you even get here? The wormhole hasn't been open that long and we just spent weeks waiting." Of course, she couldn't tell her cousin why they were waiting for anything to do with the Consortium business until it was cleared. "And....I actually became an Ensign a few weeks ago."

Mackenzie smiled. She was completely oblivious to all things Consortium. In fact, all she knew was the wormhole was open once again. "I knew you'd do something spectacular and get promoted before you graduated. I've been on DS9 for the last six months. When I got your messages, I decided to make my way over. I can't stay long, though. We're heading back to Earth in a couple days."

"All it took was commanding a Intrepid class ship up against a Romulan Valdore," Kelly said as if it weren't anything, even though she still had nightmares about it. "Come on. I'll introduce you to my boyfriend before you have to take off." She grabbed Mack's free hand and plowed a way through the crowd with a flurry of "Excuse me's", "Coming through's" and "Down here's!" before she made it to where Quinn stood.

"Quinn! Quinn!" she called as she tugged on his sleeve to get his attention since he was facing the other way.

"What?" Quinn asked, looking around to find Kelly. He looked above her head for a moment, before looking down to see Kelly standing there with... a friend? "Hey!" he shouted, embracing Kelly immediately.

Kelly returned the hug. "Quinn Mackie, this is my cousin Mackenzie Bergman. Mack, this is my boyfriend Quinn."

"So, this is Mack?" Quinn asked, having seen a photo or two of the short redhead, and the occasional story. "A pleasure."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Quinn. Congratulations," Mack said with a smile. "Kelly has written me about you, though I haven't gotten them until recently. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to read them all."

"If she's as prolific with the word, then I'm sure you have a novel or two waiting for you," Quinn remarked.

Kelly laughed. "Actually, a full series," she said.

Kelly looked around and spotted Aidan with his girlfriend nearby. "And this is Grandpa Crehan and the Captain's Yeoman, Senior Chief Petty Officer Rasputin."

"It's nice to meet you both," Mack said, offering them both a smile.

"A pleasure," said Aidan. "Though, it's acutally Aidan Crehan," he said, grinning at Kelly. "The 'Grandpa' is a nickname I was given at the Academy."

Mack couldn't help but laugh. "That sounds a lot like Kelly," she said, looking to the young lady.

"It is being pleasure to meet you," Mila said. "You are having fine relative in Ensign Khan."

"Thank you," the redhead said with a smile. "She is pretty terrific, and I couldn't be more proud of her."

Elisha made her way through the crowd to where she had seen Carmichael earlier and without preamble, threw her arms around his neck in a hug. "I'm going to miss you!" she exclaimed.

"I'll miss you too," Charles told Elisha. Only a few years separated the Ensign from the Lieutenant, but he still felt like a father or an older brother to the memory-challenged officer. "I'm proud of you, incredibly so. Any ship that gets you is lucky."

Truth be told, Elisha sort of thought if Carmichael as an older brother. It could be the fact that she hadn't seen any of her brothers- with the exception of Joel- for a couple of years, but thinking of him this way had been a comfort to her. "Thank you so much for everything you did for me," she told him as she pulled away. "I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate it."

When the band had begun their song, Harvey left his vantage point to seek out the cadets who had served under his command. Thankfully, in the middle of the crowd, the four had stayed rather close together. He smiled as he pushed his way through the crowd to get to them.

"Congratulations," Harvey said. His smile was as bright as could be, even though he had a feeling he wasn't going to see any of the four again. He didn't know yet what Starfleet had in store for the Ensigns, much less his own future.

Kelly smiled up at the Captain. "Thank you, Sir," she said. "It's been an honor and I hope to serve with you again, Captain Geisler."

"I hope so too," Harvey replied. He considered asking her about what happened on the stage with the pips, but that was probably a story best left to ask Zachary about. "Wherever you end up though, I'm sure you'll do well."

"I've had an offer," Elisha blurted before she could stop herself. And then, in true Elisha fashion, her eyes widened and she clamped a hand over her mouth.

Aidan looked at Elisha and smiled. She was still the same Elisha that he had met that night at karaoke. He then turned his attention to the Captain, albeit briefly. "Thank you very much, Captain. It has truly been a pleasure serving with you this last year." He looked to the one that he still had his arm around and gave a gentle hug.

"You're leaving us?" Kelly asked. "That's not cool, but I wish you the best wherever you go, Elisha."

"Yeah," said Elisha sheepishly. "The Ganymede is heading out past Telino space- the fringes of the galaxy. They need a good Stellar Cartography team and apparently someone sent their captain a glowing recommendation." She eyed Carmichael suspiciously.

"To be fair," Charles remarked, "I put a recommendation in your file. I had no idea you'd be picked up so quickly. If anything, you deserve that credit."

While everyone was talking, Joey moved away from the larger crowd with Rico and Pequeno. She'd shown the Black Hawk's graduating cadets her support, but now she needed to be by herself for a while. There were still some things weighing heavily on her mind, and sadly, she hadn't talked to anyone about them. Maybe someday, but today wasn't the day. Tomorrow didn't look very promising, either.

Mila looked around to see where Joey was and saw her moving off, and frowned. She knew things had been going badly since the raid on the station, but she had yet to get her sestra to talk about it and made a note to see what she could do later.

Harvey noted that Joey had withdrawn from the crowd. The last few days had been major for all involved. He himself, now that the graduation was over, had a few matters to attend to. "Again, congratulations all. Wherever you wind up, I know you'll do well. Godspeed everyone."

 

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