(( Officer’s Mess, USS Veritas ))
:: Now that he’d had time to rest and reflect on his experience commanding the Veritas - if only for a few days - Evan had been questioning many of the decisions he’d made. Chief among them: Should he have fired at the Ohanze planet’s surface? From what he could tell, nothing in this timeline had changed since their return to the present. The data they’d retrieved from the surveillance probe they’d left in orbit of the planet cut off only a few hours after Veritas had left the Shahrazad System, but it was clear that the atmospheric disturbances caused by the detonations could have been enough to destabilize the entire planet’s ecosystem. Could his actions have been what led to the planet becoming the barren rock that it was now? ::
:: He felt guilty. Not that that was anything new for the Vulcanoid. Still, he’d returned to Starfleet because he wanted to protect the people of the Shoals. Because he thought someone who actually understood a little bit about what it was like to live out here should have a voice. He couldn’t help but feel as if a part of him had betrayed that by following through with the Omega Directive. ::
:: So, it was these dark thoughts that he forced aside as the rest of the senior staff began to assemble in the Officer’s Mess. This was the second time in only a few weeks that they had all gathered here. The first, was to welcome four members of the crew home. Today, they were giving another member of their little family a proper send off. ::
Rahman: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. Today we celebrate your achievements as well as congratulate and wish well Commander Blair as he begins his tenure as first officer of the USS Constitution.
Mei’konda: Very well deserved, Commander Blair.
:: The captain welcomed Blair to where she was standing before the rest of them as a server walked between them offering champagne and sparkling cider. Evan took one of the former. ::
Rahman: Any parting thoughts, commander?
Delano: Congratulations, Alex. I know you’ll do great on the Constitution.
:: Evan felt a bit awkward using the man’s first name, but “Commander” felt a little informal for the compliment he was trying to offer. ::
Rahman: If they give you a hard time over there, commander, you just let us know. I'm sure we can set them straight.
Mei’konda: And I haave something here for you to rememberr us by, Commander. It’s a paiinting. Sort of, anyway.
:: Evan had helped put together some of the pieces Mei’konda used to create the artistic rendering of the Veritas, which had been mathematically constructed using an image from a probe and a semi-randomized pattern based on the changes of the Tetryon fields during the time that Commander Blair had served on Veritas. Evan had been skeptical about how it would look at first, but the result - subtly saturated with hues of red and purple - had turned out to be rather handsome, if a bit eccentric. ::
Mei’konda: I expect we’ll see a picture of it haanging in your new quarters in the next few weeks, Commander.
:: There were some laughs, including from the captain, and then she called their attention by speaking again. ::
Rahman: Everyone, I'm also delighted to announce we have more congratulations in order.
Rahman: Lt. Commander Delano, will you come up here? And please bring your husband, too.
:: Evan was a bit surprised at suddenly being made the center of attention, but he stepped forward, pausing only to set his champagne on a small table. He and Mei were soon standing together. As the captain gave the first officer a small wooden box, and Mei then stiffened, Evan suddenly realized that this wasn’t going to be a medal. ::
Rahman: Lt. Commander Evan Delano, your recent actions against the Borg have not gone unnoticed by Starfleet Command. It is but the latest accomplishment in a long list over the course of your career. As such, Starfleet Command has granted me the authority to promote you to the rank of full commander, effective immediately. Congratulations, Commander.
:: He swallowed, looking to the captain, the box, then Mei. ::
Delano: Thank you.
:: He felt like he should say more, but he’d never been much for speeches. Rahman didn’t seem to mind, though. She nodded to Evan’s husband, who efficiently removed his half pip and replaced it with another gold one. ::
Mei'konda: Congratulaations, Commander Delano.
:: Evan gave Mei a private smile. ::
:: The formality soon dropped, and there was a modest, but still appreciated round of applause as Evan tried to process what had just happened. There was a lot for him to unpack, but he resolved to let it wait and to enjoy the moment as much as he could. Reaching the rank of commander before 30 was a major achievement, and Evan wasn’t about to let his self-doubt completely ruin that. ::
:: Mei kissed his cheek, and by the time he fell back, Evan felt like he’d finally recovered from the shock of it all. ::
Rahman: And now, for your first act as a full commander, I would like you to lead the rest of the ribbons ceremony, since they were your crew as acting captain.
:: This, at least, was something Evan had been expecting. He’d made most of the recommendations for the decorations he was about to give out. ::
Delano: My pleasure, Captain.
:: Evan nodded to a pair of workers nearby who quickly moved a small table to his side. There were a number of elegantly decorated wooden boxes laid out in neat groups. ::
Delano: I hope you’ll all bear with me if this is a little rough around the edges. This kind of formality has never been my strong suit. That said, I wanted to start by giving all of you who were with us during our little misadventure my personal thanks. Starfleet has always asked a lot of us, but I don’t think it’s out of line to say that the Shahrazad System really pushed our limitations. All of you performed admirably, and I’ve never been more proud to say I’m a part of this crew.
:: He paused long enough to retrieve his champagne flute. ::
Delano: So, I hope you’ll all join me in raising your glass in appreciation of everyone else in this room.
:: There were a few clinks of glasses and a polite few seconds of drinking from those who were partaking. That done, Evan set his glass down again. Smiling, he turned back to the crew. ::
Delano: Now that that’s done, there are some of you I especially wanted to recognize. Since he’s already on the spot, let’s start with Commander Blair.
Delano: Commander, despite my asking a lot of you throughout the crisis in the Shahrazad System, you continually impressed me. In particular, your timely shield modulations are what gave us the ability to overcome the Borg probe. Your innovative ‘gravity bomb’ also helped us escape the system without having to engage with the Ohanze. For that, I’m pleased to recognize you with the Legion of Merit. ::
Delano: Next, would Commander Kelrod and Lieutenant Dugoras please join me?
Delano: Your actions in the heat of the battle with the Borg Probe were particularly harrowing. I’m told that you saved more than a few lives by helping to evacuate personnel from at-risk sections of the ship, even though it put yourselves in danger. As such, I’m pleased to recognize both of you with the Gold Lifesaving Ribbon.
Delano: Don’t go anywhere yet. Lieutenants Moonsong and Thoran, would you please join us?
Delano: For directly facing the Borg threat, and the hostile alien life on an unknown and dangerous planet and performing with distinction and achieving the goals of your away mission, you will each be receiving the Good Conduct Ribbon.
Delano: Mr. Thoran, your senior officer during the away mission praised your personal bravery in his report, and stated that your actions were essential to the success of the mission. Such praise deserves formal recognition, which I’m pleased to offer in the form of the Captain’s Commendation.
Delano: Finally, Mr. Dugoras, I wish to recognize the personal sacrifices you made to accomplish that mission by awarding you with the Purple Heart.
:: There was quite a bit of applauding and a few audible notes of congratulations as the ribbons were being distributed to the officers. When it was done, Evan released them to return to their seats. ::
Delano: Mr. Galven. You’re next, if you please.
Delano: Your determination and perseverance in helping to liberate Mary Audron from the Borg Collective was also an important part of us eliminating the Borg threat both on and off the ship. For that, you will also receive the Captain’s Commendation.
:: Evan handed the box to the Denobulan science officer, then joined the rest of the room in applause for the ensign. ::
:: As Galven returned to his seat, Evan offered a warm smile towards the captain. At least he wouldn’t be the only one put on the spot today. ::
Delano: Captain Rahman, would you step forward please?
Delano: From your perspective, it must all seem like a long time ago, but I wanted to make sure you received recognition for the actions you performed as a Lieutenant Commander assisting in engineering during our battle with the Borg ship. In particular, you selfless act of volunteering to perform dangerous, off-the-cuff modifications to the ship’s deflector may well have saved all of us. As such, Admiral Washington has approved my request to honor you with the Distinguished Service Ribbon.
:: More applause followed as Evan presented the award to the captain. ::
Delano: :: under his breath :: Surprise.
:: He gave a quiet laugh before letting her return to where she’d been watching. ::
Delano: Finally, it’s been noted on the records of every officer who participated in the mission that you will receive both the Galactic War with the Borg Service Medal and the Defense of the Temporal Flow Ribbon.
Delano: It’s been my privilege to serve with each of you, and to have served on this ship for the last two and a half years. Thank you for making the Veritas such a special place to call home.