((Captain's Mess, USS Veritas -- Docked at Star Station Esperance))
Ensign Kivik stood among the other Officers who had been summoned for this final ceremony under Captain Rahman. The occasion weighed heavily on Kivik, tugging at nir emotions as ne tried to remain composed. It felt as if ne had only just arrived aboard the Veritas, only just begun to feel at home amongst this crew, and now they were going their separate ways - some, for six months, others indefinitely. The future was wide open, full of wonderful possibilities, but it also meant an end to Kivik’s time aboard nir first posted Starship - and ne couldn’t shake the heartache that accompanied the thought of saying goodbye.
Nonetheless, ne looked to nir friends - Ensigns Thorne and Reade, Lieutenant JG Wong, and nir other fellow officers whom ne had come to respect and admire - and could not help but smile. It was a pained smile, but a genuine one, for felt bursting with gratitude to have entered Starfleet among such excellent people.
Rahman: To the officers of the USS Veritas, it has been my distinct pleasure to serve as your commanding officer. I've never been one good at saying good-byes, so instead I'd like to begin with celebrating your achievements.
The Captain turned to Commander Ukinix, who took on the duty of presenting the ceremony’s secret purpose - the rumoured ‘surprises’ that Captain Rahman had in store for her crew.
Rahman: First, Lieutenant Wong, Ensign Reade, and Ensign Thorne: for holding off a Klingon boarding party using the power of holoprogramming, I hereby award you the Innovation Ribbon.
Rahman: Next, for fighting off a Klingon boarding party and defending this starship from capture, I award Ensign Reade and Lt. Commander Ukinix with the Good Conduct Ribbon. Well-done, gentlemen.
Kivik applauded as the ribbons were awarded, along with the other assembled officers. It was somehow mind-boggling to think of the missions which preceded nir arrival aboard the Veritas - to think of the ship and its crew fending off Klingon invaders.
Rahman: Commander Blake, Ensign Thorne, Lieutenant Wong, and Lt. Commander Allison-Parker, I hereby also award you the Good Conduct Ribbon for your actions escorting our guest Kallo Ver to safety.
Rahman: Finally, I'd like to recognize Lieutenant Wong's efforts in organizing and championing a mental health week in the wake of the conflict with the Klingon separatists. Lieutenant, I hereby award you the Unity Ribbon.
Rahman: Next, I'd like to award the officers who accompanied me to locate the lost shuttlepod of the Earth Starfleet ship Endeavour. Besides myself, Ensign Reade, Lieutenant Wong, Lt. Commander Parker, Ensign Thorne, and Ensign Kivik are hereby recognized with the Scientific Discovery Ribbon. Congratulations!
At the mention of nir name, Kivik’s eyes opened wide. Ne blushed, realizing in that instant how little ne thought of nir own contributions to the Veritas’ recent history in comparison to those other named Officers. Ne recalled the recent wisdom ne had received from Counsellor Toliver and Lieutenant JG Wong and did nir best to graciously accept the offered ribbon.
Kivik: ::To Ukinix, accepting the ribbon from him:: Thank you Commander. ::Turning to Rahman:: And thank you, Captain. It meant a lot to me to be included on that mission.
Rahman: Next, I'd like to award the Defense of Temporal Flow Ribbon to Lieutenant Toliver and Lt. Commander Ukinix for finding a way to get an undermanned Veritas out of a temporal loop. Acting Ensign Tracey Townson is also recognized in abstentia.
Rahman: And finally for our most recent mission, I'd like to recognize several parties. First, for helping keep alive the miners who were trapped deep within the Russell River Dilithium Mine, I hereby recognize Ensign Reade and Lieutenant Wong with the Captain’s Commendation.
At the mention of Wong and Reade’s harrowing time trapped beneath the surface of Antor II, Kivik held back a swelling of tears. Ne still felt a great deal of pride in the Veritas crews’ rescue mission - but it was impossible not to think also of those few miners who had not escaped the collapse… or the harrowing hours spent wondering if nir friends would survive.
Rahman: Next, I'd like to recognize Commander Blake, Lt. Commander Ukinix, and Ensign Kivik with the Innovation Ribbon for creating a modified prototype of Tristam Core’s MST project to rescue those miners trapped deep underground.
Again, Kivik’s eyes went wide. Ne didn’t know what to think!
Kivik: I… I’m speechless, Captain. Thank you very much.
Rahman: And finally, for the entire crew who worked together with the Antor II government and first responders, you all are hereby recognized with the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
A general applause broke out in the room and Kivik found nemself swept up in it all, clapping along with everyone else as they cheered for their comrades.
The captain smiled and nodded as she applauded. But there were still a few more boxes left.
Rahman: Before we depart as a crew, there is one final manner. Ensigns Reade and Thorne, Lieutenant Wong, will you please step forward?
Rahman: As my last act as your commanding officer, I am pleased to promote you all to the next rank, effective with the start of your next assignment. Lieutenants Reade and Thorne, your service to this ship has been commendable, and I wish you both great success in your next postings.
The captain nodded and then looked over at the blond Klingon PA. She shook her head.
Rahman: It's been an interesting tour to say the least, Lieutenant.
Rahman: Well, I've spoken to your supervising physician Dr. Sampi. He wished for me to forward some news to you. You've been accepted into the emergency medicine fellowship for physician assistants back at Starfleet Medical. Furthermore, upon completion of your fellowship, you will be eligible for appointment as a chief medical officer at your next assignment. Congratulations.
The captain took the pips from Commander Ukinix and walked over to each of the three, adding the new solid pip for Reade and Thorne and then replacing Wong's second hollow pip for the solid pip for a full lieutenant. She handed the hollow pip back to him, placing it in his palm.
Rahman: Keep this as a reminder of all that you have learned here.
She then turned to the rest of the officers to address them one last time.
Rahman: I heard from many people before I took this assignment five years ago that the Shoals changes people. Out here where resources are scarce and we are often the only ones we can count on, it's easy to get cynical or frustrated... maybe even disappointed.
She walked down the line, looking at Blake's face, then Kelrod's, Parker's, and Vanlith's.
Rahman: But over these past years, I've seen you all and those who came before you on this ship step up to the challenge to provide services for the colonists who call this region home.
She smiled as she exchanged a glance with Orrey.
Rahman: And for a brief time, it was our home as well. The Shoals may have changed each of us, but each of you has also changed the Shoals--for the better.
As Rahman passed Kivik, the two exchanged a glance that seemed to communicate a lot - at least to the Ensign. Ne thought ne could read in the Captain’s face a sense of pride, excitement, perhaps even a little fear - an expression like one might expect a parent to make as they send their child off into the world as an adult. Kivik grinned back at the Captain, nir smile shining brighter than the ribbons pinned to nir uniform.
oO I’m going to be just fine Oo ne thought, hoping the Captain would understand somehow how ne was feeling. The next six months - well, in truth, the next few years - would be challenging, but Kivik felt more ready for that challenge than ever before.
Rahman: Your time on Veritas has prepared you well for any assignment that awaits you next. I can't wait to see what that will be for all of you. It's a big fleet out there, but you'll be surprised when you might cross each other's paths again.
She chuckled softly.
Rahman: Now go, enjoy your leave.
The captain of the USS Veritas nodded one last time at her crew and clasped her hands together.
Rahman: That's my final order.
With that, the congregation of Starfleet Officers broke out of their ranks and began saying their goodbyes, congratulating one another for a job well done, and talking excitedly of their plans for the next six months.
Kivik worked nir way through the crowd to find Scotty, Lilith, and Ikaia closely grouped together.
Kivik: Congratulations - all three of you! You must all feel such pride. Well deserved pride, I might add!
As the celebration died down and Officers began going their separate ways, Kivik headed for the docking bay. Ne had a long journey ahead - it would take nearly nir whole leave to travel back to J’naii and return in time for nir rendezvous with the Thor, which would carry nem and nir fellows to the Delta Quadrant and Amity Outpost. Looking ahead to the next six months - and beyond - Kivik knew that the adventure had only just begun.