SIM:Nicholotti Perfect Alignment

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((Officer's Banquet Hall, Executive Tower, Starbase 118))

::Plates were cleared and conversations began again with renewed fervor. The food hadn't lasted long, which was a testament to the skill behind the man who had choreographed it all. Kali shot him a smile as Jaxx moved beside her. For a moment, she wondered if something was wrong, but she soon realized that he was simply standing to reveal his purpose for being there. Finally, her questions were to be answered. Tapping a fork on his glass of water, it didn't take long for the room to calm and all attention to be turned his way. As was his way, he commanded their attention, but paused to allow them all one more moment of questioning before diving in. As soon as he had taken a sip, his voice rang out through the now voiceless room.::

Jaxx: It is great to be here with you all tonight. I want to thank you for your hospitality, ::looking to David:: and your great food. I also want to thank each of you for coming...::smirking:: though it is not like you had a choice. ::chuckling slightly:: I am sure the rumors have been flying around...on the way to dinner I overheard a crewman say we were here to check security for the President's upcoming visit. The deities only know what else is circulating.

::There was another pause and the sound of shuffling as the officers reacted. He took another sip of the water before he continued. As eloquently as ever, perhaps a skill he learned as a child being brought up among the royal houses of Betazed, the man focused on her First Officer.::

Jaxx: Whatever is going on outside of this station can wait until tomorrow. Enjoy tonight, for you never know when you will have another one. ::turning to look at Ben:: Our lives matter, and they matter to more than just us and StarFleet. Many officers get married, have kids...and it is never easy. Sometimes those officers are faced with choices that not only affected their lives, but those of their families. Ben Walker chose to resign his commission to be with his family. There is nothing more commendable than that. Eventually, he made the choice to come back to StarFleet. The former Captain was reinstated at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. In some circles, this was thought to be unacceptable. Each ship, or station for that matter, has a crew that functions like a family and it is the highest priority. Why should that change when you do not wear the uniform? ::looking at Ben once more:: Ben, will you join me?

::No words were spoken, but the man in question moved from his seat towards Jaxx. For a moment, Kali thought she saw a strange something in his eyes, but it disappeared as he rounded the table with a smile on his face. She turned her attention back to Jaxx.::

::Kali immediately knew what was coming, and though the road had been difficult according to the paperwork and the file she'd poured over more than once, she knew that Walker deserved this. Smiling at him as he stood and made his way to Jaxx, she did her best to convey the pride she felt in the man who had just recently joined her. He'd proven an invaluable resource so far; now she just had to get to know him better.::

Jaxx: Lieutenant Commander Walker, you are hereby promoted to the rank of full Commander oO Again Oo, with all rights and privileges that accompany said rank. ::extending his hand:: Congratulations.

Walker: Thank you Captain Jaxx, for your words as well.

::And now it made sense as to why Jaxx had come. At least that was what she thought as Walker returned to his seat. It wasn't until she realized that Jaxx was still standing, and had more to say, that she found herself confused once more.::

::Turning fully towards him in her chair, she was far from prepared for what came next.::

Jaxx: Starbase 118 has always been a beacon shining into the darkness of space. A beacon of strength, a beacon of hope, and a beacon of inspiration. When I turned over command of this station, I gave it willingly to a person that exuded those precise qualities. Commander Nicholotti ::glancing to Kali:: is one the brightest officers I have ever served with in my entire career. She is a rock, even when she does not want to be. When things crumble around her, she remains. When the darkness comes to devour everything else, she shines. Without her courage, and undying sacrifices, the Federation would not be what it is. I owe my life to her. During an away mission, I was unaware that I was in the sights of a Hirogen blade. In one swift move, she put herself between that blade and me. That blade cost her the heart in her chest. But it lives on in spirit. There may be machinery pumping blood through her veins, but to this day she has the biggest heart I have ever seen. She gives relentlessly, she inspires everyone every single day. Just like the station she commands, she is a guiding beacon calling out to those of us in the darkness. ::smiling at Kali, doing all he could to keep the tears from building in his dark eyes:: Commander Nicholotti, it is with honor...and more pride than you can imagine, that you are hereby promoted to the rank of Captain. May you continue to serve as inspiration for us all, to be better than we can even imagine.

::Somewhere near the end, where she saw the raw emotions building within his dark eyes - eyes that seemed to hold the depths of the universe itself - she slowly stood from the chair and moved next to him. Now it was clear why he, and the others, had come, but in that moment she could only concentrate on what she could see in the eyes of a man she considered closer family than blood would ever allow. He smiled at her, and she looked up at him as she so often had in the past, as the fourth pip was put on her collar.::

::It had been an extremely long road, but he had been with her just as he had promised. He was more than a guide and mentor; he had become a brother, a protector, and a teacher. He looked at her collar before catching her eyes again, and in that moment of silence, the entirety of their past flashed through her mind.::

((Flashback, Lavon, 238606.20))

Nicholotti: Sir, may I speak to you...alone?

Jaxx: ::sarcastic tone:: I'm all ears...

::Moving into a small room.::

Nicholotti: Lt. Llewelyn has just informed me that there was trouble with the other team. Apparently the Zalinian security and Charlie team decided to try a war game to test the defenses of the hangers... ::She paused. Taking a deep breath, she continued.:: Something went wrong, sir, and we are now down one marine and at least 5, if not 6 Zalinians.

Jaxx: ::puzzled look:: We are not talking down as in we won the is down as in....

Nicholotti: Down as in...dead sir.

::Jaxx rolled his eyes and stepped back his blood boiled to the top of his head. His face was as red as it could get. He stared down at the Marine standing in front of him. He looked at her uniform and his thoughts went straight to his mouth, bypassing his brain.::

Jaxx: How irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous can you people be? I mean doesn't take much more intelligence than an early Earth primate to be a Marine, and you would think that not killing the stinking people we are here to help, would cross through their freaking minds!!

((End Flashback))

::Jaxx, she had learned soon before that, hated the very existence of the Marines within Starfleet. And with those that seemed to surround him, she didn't blame him. For the briefest moment, she thought of the Marines that now served under her command. She had worked hard to ensure that they were nothing like those she had met in her early days aboard the Resolution, and that work had been a great success. Of course, her own impressions, left on Jaxx, had proven that such work was possible; not everyone in a green collar was of the old 'killing machine' mindset.::

((Flashback, USS Resolution Cargo Bay, 238607.13))

Jaxx: ::smiles:: May I have this dance?

Nicholotti: I don't see why not. ::She smiled. The last time she had heard that voice was in the middle of her nightmares...::

::He took her hand and brought her to the dance floor. For the man he made himself out to be, his hands were gentle, and Kali was kind of surprised. It didn't take an expert to note how good at dancing he was either, and soon she found herself trying to keep up.::

Jaxx: I never had a chance to thank you.

::Kali looked up at him suddenly, not knowing quite what to say. It had been her job, sure, but as a Betazoid, he probably felt the deeper meaning she held for her actions.::

Nicholotti: No thanks needed. ::Her voice was quiet.::

Jaxx: It says a lot about your character. You knew how I felt about the uniform you wore, and still chose to save my life. ::pauses:: And if it were anyone else I would commend them for preserving the chain of command, but when you jumped in front of that knife, I felt something were saving me, not the First Officer. I felt the pain you did, as you did. ::sighs:: I guess what I am trying to say, is that you are...unique, like nothing I have ever seen. A Marine with a passion for something other than destruction and death is rare. I may not like the uniform you wear, or colleagues you serve with, but I owe you my life and at the end of the day, Marine or not, you.

::Kali stared at him, completely speechless now. He had a reputation that proceeded him, and she never expected something like this. Her heart ached as she forced the memories of that fateful day from her mind, and she tried to find a way to put her thoughts into words. She would do it all, relive it all, in a second, without a second thought. Words...she needed to find the words... It wasn't working...the blade, the blood, the horrid nightmare flashed around her, preventing her from thinking straight. It was all she could do to remain standing, trying to shove the memories away.::

oO How do I tell you... Oo

::Jaxx could sense her struggling with the memories of that day. He openly sensed everything in that moment, her thoughts of the attack, and the feelings those thoughts produced. It was clear to him that she was not only physically hurt, but there was mental damage as well. He could sense her nightmares, while in Sickbay. He sat by her bed all night the first night. Though dreams are not as clear as thoughts, he was able to sense the emotional damage. He paused and looked at Kali.::

Jaxx: You don't need to, Kali...I already know.

((End Flashback))

::And in a way, she knew, despite her lack of telepathy and empathic ability, what he was feeling. Having been as close to him for as long as she had been, she could read things in his eyes that no one else could. It seemed like the moment lasted far longer than she expected as every milestone flashed before her own eyes, all culminating in a final leap that lead her to the command track. He had some kind of intense faith in her that, perhaps, she hadn't had in herself, and in asking her a simple question - to jump off a cliff - he had put her entire life on track to this very moment. Though it would separate them, it would certainly bring them both, as well as everyone who was around them, to heights never before imagined.::

((Flashback, Captain's Ready Room, USS Victory, 238806.11))

Jaxx: Not about what you have done, but what you can do. ::pausing, he tilted his head slightly:: That thing I need you to do for me...

Nicholotti: That thing?

::She smiled and raised an eyebrow towards him. He knew that she would do just about anything he asked; she knew that he had tons of responsibility on his shoulders and even if he ordered her on a suicide mission, she would go willingly. No one wanted to order anyone to their death, but she understood the reasons and if it ever came to that, she would follow through. Thankfully, that wasn't what he asked; not exactly anyways.::

Jaxx: ::leaning back in his chair:: I need you to jump off a cliff for me.

::A new look seemed to overcome his face; one of pure seriousness. She knew he didn't mean that she should go really jump off a cliff, but the task that he was about to saddle her with would require her to go to extreme measures if necessary. He was asking if she was prepared to do just that. Still, the details were fuzzy, and she wanted to know more.::

Nicholotti: Sir?

Jaxx: The Victory is being placed on hot stand-by at StarBase 118. Commander Braddock has been promoted and has been given command of the Iroquois. For tactical reasons, and growing tensions in the sector, and along the neutral zone...I have been ordered to StarBase 118 as the new Commanding Officer.

::It was news to her. A starbase? That was a huge jump from the little Intrepid class vessel they all currently occupied. Of course, there was always the chance that they would never see the Starbase, but they were Starfleet, and they would act as if they were going home until it was totally clear that they would not be. Some would see it as an optimistic move, but any scientist would tell you it is what it is. The glass is always half full; with water or with air it didn't matter.::

Nicholotti: And MacKenna?

Jaxx: Commander MacKenna will be stepping down. Needless to say, I have been keeping her tied down in a position she does not want...and honestly is the wrong fit.

::Kali watched as he moved from his chair and looked away. Perhaps the blackness of space outside would give him insight, or perhaps it was calming for him. Either way, Kali could see that he wrestled with the thought and the idea that Ash had not been the right one for the job. Sure, the two complimented each other. One was a genius in science, and the other was top notch when it came to tactical issues. But knowledge alone was not enough to make someone a good leader.::

Jaxx: There are 156 souls on board, 159 if you count our guests. ::clasping his hands behind his back, he gazed out of the window:: Not counting the Admirals and their staffs, I will now have command of over 118,000 officers and enlisted men and women. 18,000 just in officers alone. There is no way I will ever learn their names. ::pauses, then sighs:: I will need more moving forward. I have given this a lot more thought than I did last time. When we reach StarBase 118, I would like you to serve as my Executive Officer.

::And there it was. Kali smiled and nodded, without missing a beat.::

Nicholotti: Where's the cliff?

((End Flashback))

::The cliff had been right there; jumping into a role that changed not only her outlook and path in Starfleet, but one which had changed her very soul. As a doctor, she had cared for the people, but as a command officer, she found that horizon both broader and more intimidating. It was a great amount of power, the possibility of corruption as they had seen with Admiral Murlow, and an even greater amount of responsibility. At the diplomatic cusp of two of the most powerful races in the galaxy, having command of this particular station was something that could make, or break, a command officer. Yet, with Jaxx there to show her the path and light her first steps, she had arrived right where she needed to be.::

((Flashback, Captain's Office, The Hub, Starbase 118))

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 give us charge of such a large responsibility. By the time you get that fourth 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.

((End Flashback))

::It was hard without him there now to hold the light, and the fear of missteps haunted her, along with the momentary blasts of weakness that old nightmares brought with them, but seeing his face in this moment seemed to shine the light brightly once more, chasing it all away. Sure, it would dim as time went on, but for now, she could see, to some extent, how he felt and she knew that he could sense how she felt.::

::And for a moment, it seemed as if they had all arrived in a single moment of perfect alignment.::

Jaxx: Ladies and Gentlemen...Captain Kalianna Nicholotti!

::Kali looked out over her senior staff and smiled. War was coming, but tonight belonged to her and she didn't intend on wasting a moment of it.::


Commander Kalianna Nicholotti
Commanding Officer
Starbase 118 / USS Victory

Return to Kalianna Nicholotti.