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Three Years Ago

Federation "Skunkworks" Main Complex: Caleb System

Stardate: 52355.8

It was "damn peculiar," as her idol would say. Her new boss was supposed to arrive on the 0900 transport from the Earth, but after waiting over half an hour at the airlock, he was nowhere to be found. She then spent the better part of two hours scouring the entire facility only to find out from a clerk in the headquarters office that he had arrived the night before. Then, he had the gall to request guest quarters on the station rather than heading straight for the hull that would soon become the USS Pershing.

Annabeth knew that the future ship was by no means luxurious in its half-built state, but it had atmosphere, gravity, and she had made sure that the plumbing was working in the captain's quarters. She had done all this extra work for the sole reason that she thought he would want to get onboard his new vessel as soon as possible. The fact that he wasn't willing to spend even one night in austere conditions truly worried her. They were, after all, heading to the front in three months and she didn't have time to babysit a captain who couldn't handle a little hardship. When she found out that he was lounging on the station's holodeck, her concerns transformed to anger.

Annabeth stood outside the holodeck doors and was soon surprised to find out they weren't locked. She stepped inside and immediately found herself in the middle of a warzone. The rocky plains of a desert planet lay covered in sand, dust and blood. Mountains of dead Dominion soldiers were piled high all around. Ten meters to her front, a lone warrior stood grappling with a fire team of Jem'Hadar. Annabeth was immediately confused. Even though this man was wearing Klingon armor and wielding a bat'leth, he seemed to be human. She double checked her notes to make sure she was in the right holodeck.

Two Jem'Hadar swinging kar'takin battle axes charged straight at him. The man ducked down and swung his sword around in an arc that slashed both their stomachs open in a single blow. Another Jem'Hadar sprinted forward with a bayonet leveled straight at the warrior's heart. He leaned backward just enough to let the point of the enemy's blade fly right past his neck. Then, he locked the Jem'Hadar's wrists tightly in the inner arc of the Klingon weapon. With a twist of his wrists, the Jem'Hadar's hands were neatly sliced from his forearms. The Dominion soldier shrieked with pain before a strike to his neck caused his spiny head to join his severed appendages on the ground.

The last two Jem'Hadar took a different approached. From opposite sides they attacked simultaneously. One raised his disruptor to take a shot straight at the man's head. The other readied his kar'takin to strike if his partner's aim wasn't true. The warrior saw the trap and reacted. He drew a Klingon d'k tahg from his belt and threw it straight into the first Dominion soldier's heart. The second was so surprised by the accuracy of the warrior's knife work, he paused just long enough for the man to shoulder roll towards him before thrusting the end of the bat'leth right into the Jem'Hadar's gut.

After silence descended over the battlefield, the warrior ripped his sword out of the fallen enemy's guts, rose to his feet, and then collected his d'k tahg.

"Are you sure you're in Starfleet?" Annabeth called out. The warrior turned to look at her and smiled.

"Until they get tired of me," the man chuckled as he returned the dagger to his belt sheath. His happy expression seemed very out of place in these grisly surroundings. Now, Annabeth was concerned about her new captain for a completely different reason: he was batshit insane.

"You don't approve of this?" he said noticing her nervous expression.

"It's not the killing Jem'Hadar part that worries me. It's that using knives and swords part I find a little out of place in the 24th century. There are far better ways of engaging the enemy these days."

"Like what?" the warrior asked resting the tip of his bat'leth on the ground.

Suddenly, another Jem'Hadar warrior dropped his cloak and appeared less than five meters away. The soldier held up a bayonet and charged straight at the man. Before the warrior could even raise his bat'leth, Annabeth drew a hand phaser from a hidden holster beneath her uniform jacket, aimed, and shot the fiend right between the eyes with a beam of energy. The creature fell backwards dead.

"Like that," she said re-holstering her weapon.

"Point taken," the warrior said with an impressed look. "Computer, freeze program."

The world around them stopped.

"Computer, Towel," the warrior said holding out his hand. A white piece of terrycloth appeared in mid-air which he then used to wipe his hands and face free of gore and sweat. "I was told the Pershing's holodecks weren't working yet and I had to get my daily workout in. I regret if you were inconvenienced by my change of plans."

"You could call it that, Sir," she said not even trying to hide her annoyance. "I lost over three hours today trying to find your ass."

The man burst out laughing.

"You think it's funny to mess with your XO?" she said incensed.

"No, I think it's wonderful that you've never met me before, and yet you're confident enough to call out a captain when he does something stupid. majQa'."

"I don't speak Klingon. I don't intend to ever learn it either, Sir," she said.

"Too bad," he said. "Well, I do apologize, but I did have to see what type of first officer you were."

"What?" she said halfway between bemused and insulted.

"In my experience," he explained, "there're two types of first officers. The first type is afraid of their captain, so they do whatever they can to avoid them. That type would have let me stay on this holodeck alone until the war was over so they could run the show. Now, the second type, that's much rarer. They understand that the ENTIRE crew, including a ship's captain is there responsibility. So, when their captain suddenly goes missing, they drop everything and track them down."

"In the future, Sir," Annabeth said pursing her lips, "I would appreciate a heads up when you're trying to test my integrity. I'm a busy woman and I would prefer not to worry about you if I don't have to."

"Noted," he said with another smile. "The rest of our senior staff should be arriving over the next few days. Have you had a chance to meet any of them yet?"

Annabeth's face suddenly dropped.

"I know our Chief Medical Officer from a previous assignment. We were on the Atlantis together a few years back."

"I detect a bit of apprehension. Is that going to be a problem?" he asked.

"No Sir," she answered firmly. "I won't let it be." Annabeth quickly changed the subject. "I've also met our science officer, Ensign Amira. She was already working on the new sensor array when I arrived last week."

He grumbled something. Annabeth could only make out the words "damned baby pollywog," a less than subtle allusion to ancient Earth naval slang. She knew that Admiral Murphy had selected her for the position over the captain's objections.

"Funny," he finally spoke, "she's the only one besides you I haven't had a chance to meet yet. What do you think about her?"

"She seems…eager…Sir."

"But?" he said raising an eyebrow. Annabeth couldn't hold back a chuckle.

"But, it seems like a stiff solar wind would blow her right over."

"Qu'vatlh," he mumbled. Annabeth didn't know what that meant, but she figured it wasn't a compliment.

"Leave her to me, Sir," she said confidently. "I'll make sure she stays as far away from you as possible."

"I know you will," he said stepping forward and holding out his hand. "Captain Dan Tigranian. I look forward to working with you, Number One."

"Commander Annabeth Geist, Sir," she said shaking back. "It's good to finally meet you."

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