((CO's Office, The Hub - Starbase 118 - 0753 Hours))
::Jaxx was in his office making sure everything was in order. Ensign James had done a good job coordinating the packing effort. He actually wished he had time to do it himself, perhaps as a way to close the chapter. There was something about packing up your things in the place you have called home for so long. It went beyond the ship, and her accommodations. It was more than the dining places and hot activity spots on the promenade. It was the people you serve with, the faces you see every single day. Those are the ones who have touched your life the most, and you can only hope you have touched theirs as well. Their smiles, laughter, and tears...that is home. It was more for Jaxx. Everything they felt, he felt. In their worst moments, he shared their feelings. He shared in the joys of their greatest achievements. He felt his eyes begin to mist over as he looked at the empty office preparing for his successor.::
::Jaxx was so very proud of Kali. She had grown beyond anything he could have ever hoped. She was a beacon shining light to the place where all hope is lost. Most of the man he had become as a captain was inspired partly by her. He only wished he served her crew half as well as he knew she would. Walking to the window, he stood hands clasped behind his back. It was a normal pose, and most likely the last one from that particular window. He used to think of it was a window to nowhere. A location in space that had no view, and no stars whipping past. He would not trade away a moment of his time on the station, or serving with the crew. Letting his hands unclasp slowly, he pulled his hand to his face to wipe the first tear to fall. Rolling his eyes back into his head, he tried to keep the rest from advancing their position. It was not as easy of a task as his nose decided to join the mutiny. It took a moment, but he finally was able to gather himself. Leaving a slight puff and perhaps some redness in his eyes, he moved toward the desk. Before he completed the task, he spotted Kali as the doors to the office slid open. He did not want to think about how this would be the last time he would see her for a long time. The thoughts of who he would talk to when he needed an ear were being subdued. Right here and now, there were his orders. Glancing at the clock, he smiled. 0800...::
((Deck 471, Outside Flight Deck 7, 0330 Hours))
::There was a huge observation window just outside the flight decks that allowed flag officers and special VIPs the chance to view special flight demonstrations and starship flybys. Five decks tall, and in a restricted area, only certain officers had access. Most of the time it was devoid of life, which made it the perfect place to go and think. Kali had found the viewing window on accident not too long ago while reviewing some new fighter designs housed in the flight decks. It had been, perhaps, the most awe inspiring thing, to her, that she had come across yet on the station. With a wholly unobstructed view of the stars, and the complete blackness of the space between them, it seemed to make things seem much less complex; much smaller than they may have originally appeared.::
::Perhaps it was that appeal that drew her there so early in the morning.::
::The day prior had gone by much faster than she would have liked. She never understood why time went by so slowly when you wanted it to pass, but so quickly when you were dreading something. It was as if the universe was toying with the very reality they all lived in. A frustrated sigh echoed through the chamber as the raven haired woman paced slowly for a spell, then stopped to look out the window again. All she wanted was to get around the feeling in the pit of her stomach; to avoid the dread of what was coming in the morning. She was running, but the hours continued to slip on by. Time, despite her desperate pleas, simply marched on.::
::For a moment, she stood there in at the window, seemingly surrounding by the stars. When the tiny white specs began to blur again with her tears, she returned to pacing.::
((CO’s Office, The Hub, Starbase 118 – 0800 Hours))
::Kali, in a perfect uniform, didn’t stop to tap the chime that morning. She knew it was redundant at this point, but she had thought about it. Concerned that she would break down before she even stepped into the room, however, she decided against it. Enough of her tears had fallen in front of the giant window in the early morning hours; she had taken the time to really cry, and now it was time to pack the emotions away. She was a Starfleet Officer and she had orders to follow. Her eyes caught his as she moved to the desk and smiled her warmest smile.::
::Taking up her post on the opposite side of the desk where she had so many times before, he began as if it were any other day.::
Jaxx: Good morning, Commander.
::Nodding slightly in his direction, she held the gaze for a moment. It was one of those moments when you didn’t have to be a telepath to know what the other was feeling. The eyes told the whole story. She, of course, responded in kind, just as she had most other mornings since they had been assigned to the station.::
Nicholotti: Good morning, Captain.
Jaxx: ::smirking then transforming into a sly look:: Sleep much?
Nicholotti: I tried for about ten minutes before giving up. ::She smirked right back.:: How about you, ‘dad’?
::An amused grin played on her face as she recalled the events just two nights prior and she wondered how well he was settling in to having two brand new babies around.::
::Smirking, he thought of his two bundles of joy. It was funny to him that she called him dad, and to get away with it was further proof of how he looked at her as an equal. He was no longer a superior officer, merely a higher ranking one. It would not be long before her collar would mimic his and he could not wait.::
Jaxx: You have no idea how at peace the children are when I am near. I would have thought projecting a sense of tranquility to your child would be hard. Usually our women are much better at it. ::raising his eyebrows:: I did have my concerns, but it turns out I am a natural...they slept like a log...in between feedings and all. But that is not my department.
Nicholotti: ::Laughing slightly.:: It’s no wonder why every woman in the universe doesn’t find a Betazoid of their own.
Jaxx: They can look, but the deities broke the mold. ::winks::
::For a moment, Kali almost forgot what she was there for. They had started the day as if it were any other in the course of their time together and nothing, save the emptiness of the office, seemed to be out of place. Choosing to ignore that emptiness for a little while longer, she pushed the conversation on as if nothing had changed.::
((CO’s Office, The Hub, Starbase 118 – 0821 Hours))
Nicholotti: ::Grinning again.:: So, I have to say, vacation was one of my better ideas.
::She had come up with her share of ‘not so good’ ideas. This, however, was not one of them. In fact, the time spent at Echevar had become so much more than she had planned; it had become the last hoorah for friends before everything changed. They just hadn’t know that walking into it.::
Jaxx: ::smiling:: I know, right? And the timing was good too.
::It was funny he would mention timing. It was something he tried to avoid, much like its comrades fate and destiny. His gods gave him the strength to walk down the path that he made. There was no path laid before him, but the place his path has led. He never talked about his religion, it was a taboo. At the same time, he was familiar with many cultures on many worlds and it was rarely a topic of conversation.::
Nicholotti: We’ll always have Echevar. ::She smiled fondly at the good times and great moments she had been given the chance to experience there.:: Sure was one heck of a way to go out.
Jaxx: We sure made some great memories...::smiling::
::He did not want to go, but the runabout had been scheduled to depart minutes ago. There was urgency behind the need for Jaxx on Mars. He knew Kali would be only a subspace call away. In the back of his mind it was a comfort. If he ever needed her, she was a call away. He only hoped she had come to the same conclusion.::
::An uneasy silence fell over them for a moment. Kali looked at the time and found that they had pushed the end to its limits. With a heavy heart, she looked up at him. This was it. The moment had finally come. A strange calmness came over her and she reminded herself that this was not goodbye.::
Jaxx smiled at Kali and followed it with a sigh. He was about to hand her the access to reports that would blow her mind. Policies and procedures she had never thought possible. In the next few hours, she would gain more inside access to StarFleet then she could ever have imagined. He picked up the padd and looked at it. Keeping the smirk intact and with another sigh, he looked at Kali.::
Jaxx: I suppose you have a job to do, Commander.
::It was time. They had procrastinated as long as they could. It was time for her to no longer feel weird about sitting in his Ready Room chair. It was about to become hers. He knew she would love the view from his side...anyone would.::
::As he stood there with a confident smile on his face, Kali stood up and faced him squarely. In an almost steady voice, she did what she had come there to do.::
Nicholotti: Captain Andrus Jaxx, by order of StarFleet Command, effective at 0800 hours, I am to relieve you of command of StarBase 118 and the USS Victory.
::The words echoed through his head. This was it. The Intrepid Class Victory, and the mammoth Trojan II Class Spacedock was no longer under his command. She was now in the hands of another very capable officer. The moment was strong and he shared in her feelings. She was a strong woman, and to be a command officer, strength was required. She knew when it was time to let it out, just as he did. The station, ship, and crew would be just fine. Perfection.::
Jaxx: ::nodding:: Computer, transfer command of StarBase One Hundred Eighteen and the USS Victory to Commander Kalianna Nicholotti, authorization JaxxLima Echo Echo Tango. ::as the computer chirped he smirked at Kali:: I stand relieved.
::And in mere seconds, it was done. This was it. With the words he spoke came the end of a very successful chapter in both of their lives. The next chapter would no longer hinge on each other. There was only one more thing that she had to say.::
Nicholotti: Thank you, sir.
::Her expression became almost stoic as she fought her emotions for control, barely winning in the end. Somehow she managed to plaster half of a smile on her face as they stood there for another moment just looking at each other.::
::He wanted to give her another hug, he wanted to make sure she would be fine. It would have been redundant. He was telepathic...he knew in the back of her mind, she would be just fine. He wanted to give her some sort of idea of why he was recalled specifically. Now that she was about to read about it, he could give her a hint. He was under strict orders, but offering cryptic signals was always fun for him. If his officers were smart enough to pick them up, that proved they could keep up with him.::
::When he spoke again, he was already moving towards her from the other side of the desk. Closing the distance, he handed her a padd. It was the key to her future, and an invitation into the highest calling of Starfleet. The task she was taking on was monumental; the responsibility overwhelmingly huge. She suddenly felt inadequate. Why her? She would have served under Jaxx for a few more years; on the station or anywhere else, before taking her own command. But that choice hadn’t been offered.::
::And she didn’t know if it was because he had kept the choice from her, or if he had been ordered to. She could only glance down at the padd before looking back up at him. None of that mattered now.::
Jaxx: You know...sometimes we wonder what it was we brought to the table, that made us so valuable..to give us charge of such a large responsibility. By the time you get that fourth pip...you will know yours. ::handing her the padd:: Required reading. The most interesting one I found when I got promoted was the Omega Directive...definitely worth a look.
::He spoke as he walked around the desk. It was no longer his perch. The station and all of her glory was now in the hands of Kalianna Nicholotti. It was her perch now. Any moment her staff would pop through that door. Another day would start and this time, with a new set of eyes. The Trinity Sector was in good hands.::
::Kali took his words and processed them. There was a deeper message there, but she would have to wait until he was gone, and she had a chance to read the padd he had given her, before she would be able to figure it out. Committing it to memory, she nodded.::
Nicholotti: I’ll put that at the top of the list of things to review.
::Another moment of silence descended on the empty room. There were so many words that she had left to say, but time had run its course, and now it was gone.::
Jaxx:::extending his hand, simultaneously placing the other on her shoulder:: Safe travels, Captain.
::Kali met took his hand and shook it one more time and, with her mind exploding with thoughts and emotions, smiled through it all.::
Nicholotti: May you find fair winds and following seas, sir, wherever you’re going.
::With a nod the Betazoid set out toward his next command, the Achilles Class, USS Apollo. Before he got to see the beauty he would need to be crammed into a runabout for the trip to Mars. It was a shame he would be in the Sol System and not have time to visit Sisko's. But he was a Captain...and there had to be a crewman that could grab take out.::
::Then, with one final reassuring smile, he turned and left. In the ensuing silence, Kali looked out after him as he disappeared around the corner and out of sight for the last time. It was only then that the complete realization hit her. From that moment on, things were never going to be the same.::
::Kali sighed heavily and retreated to the side of the desk he had just left. She looked out the window to the stars, and then down to the empty chair. Only minutes before this had been his, but now, somehow, she was supposed to just take over. These were huge shoes to fill, and she suddenly began to have some serious doubts about her ability to do what he had left her to do. And, for the next ten minutes, she argued with herself.::
::Reluctantly, she sat in the chair and dove into the padd he had given her. He had faith in her; it was the least that she could do to try and make sure that faith was not misplaced. It wouldn’t be long before the remaining senior staff assembled and the day would really begin for her. Terrified, and still feeling somewhat lost, she put her mind to uncovering the Omega directive as he had suggested in an attempt to hide from her feelings until they arrived.::
::Only minutes later, the door chime rang, and after she called them in, a yeoman entered with another padd in hand. Kali looked up. The day had started.::
Yeoman: The Picasso is away, sir.
::Slowly, Kali nodded as the words sunk in. He was gone.::
oOSee you later, Jaxx. Oo
::Taking a deep breath, she forced the thoughts from her mind as best she could and regained her composure before looking back to the crewman.::
Nicholotti: Alright. What’s next?
Commander Kalianna Nicholotti
Starbase 118 Ops/USS Victory
Captain Andrus Jaxx
USS Apollo, NCC-71669