Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140525

Location: SS Astraios

YES! I can scarcely believe it but SS Astraios OPs just called me with the news. The USS Neil Armstrong has reported in! Apparently they are 55 light years coreward, near the Bena'al System, and have sustained some damage from using a transwarp conduit, but they are in one piece. They also have LT Isis Gaelyth aboard, so their mission to find and rescue her was successful - although she is reported to need medical care at the Colony. I'm just so thrilled to hear that Genny, David, Karl, Dolfke... oh, all of them - are okay.


Commanding Officer's Log: Supplemental

The Armstrong came across Icarus and some escape pods - all from the USS Prophetic! They have Wolf, his children, and his few crew members aboard. They are on their way home and will be here by Saturday. Capt Foulsbane requested permission to rendezvous with one of the ships currently searching for the Prophetic as he doesn't want to just return to Astraios. I gave permission, of course. The Foulsbane children will return with the Armstrong and remain under our care until Wolf gets back.

What a day! Some good news at last.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140522

Location: SS Astraios

I began today with an early briefing, 0630 instead of 0700 as we had a lot to get through before I issued new orders to the fleet. We have several ships patrolling the system and we have set up a blockade that stretches from Astraios to either the Sector border or the Takaar Nebula on every side. There is no word from Wolf, the Prophetic, or the USS Neil Armstrong for that matter.

This morning was also our Monthly Town Hall, held in the Amphitheatre whenever weather permits. I like to see the sun and feel the wind on my face, and I imagine the crews do too. We had a good discussion about several items, including protocol at informal affairs and the current Academy requirements for Cadets. Afterward some went to the Orbit Club for a noontime dance, while others, like me, returned to duty.

I took a break from the Astraionian Council chamber, sending my Yeoman in my stead to record the Thursday session and summarize the salient points for me tomorrow at our usual briefing. Instead, I spent the afternoon in Mission Control, discussing the fleet movements and assignments with my Senior Officers and Colony Chiefs.

I had barely seen Hars since Sunday so after all the meetings were over, I walked with him in the Colony gardens and told him all I knew. The sun was setting. It was good to talk to someone who is rather outside all that is happening, and get his objective view. He's so wise. I felt much better after that chat. Now I am having a cup of Earl Grey before retiring. I can't quite bring myself to sleep down on the planet. I am in my quarters on SS Astraios, so I can be close at hand should something occur.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140520

Location: Astraios Colony

Our normal events continue, although security is tight and everyone is a bit on edge. We held our weekly "Boogie" at the Shuttle Bay Club at lunchtime and several officers came, but it wasn't as jolly as usual, especially when the civilians noticed the armed security officers. I had gone as I felt it is important for people to see me carrying on as normal, and be there to answer questions or calm frayed nerves.

I then had to steel myself for the afternoon Council meeting. I begin to dread Tuesdays because of this. I wish to be on the bridge of a fast ship travelling at the speed of light, helping to find Wolf and the Prophetic, not sitting and listening to dreary politics where people never say what they mean and saying it takes forever. The one good thing is the meeting never ever runs late, as the Astraionians permit someone to speak as long as they like, there is no agenda and the thing just continues again the next time.

Dinner was a quick fruit salad before a tactical meeting to discuss security measures at the Colony and station, and to receive further reports on the technology used to steal the Prophetic.

We remain at DefCon 1.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140518

Location: Astraios Colony

The past few days have been a blur of official duties, council meetings, discussions with architects and landscapers, and attending diplomatic functions. Thankfully I did not need to leave Astraios Prime but I did travel by shuttle to two different events on the same day, rather exhausting and I will have to have a word with my yeoman about that.

But the most pressing, and depressing news, is about the USS Prophetic. I received word this morning that she was gone. She had disappeared while on a short test flight. Initial reports were vague as to what happened but as the investigation carried on it became clear the vessel had been stolen while still in the system. How this happened with all our security, tactical and operations personnel on duty and our technology primed to alert us to all movements in the sector... is still beyond our understanding.

From what we have been able to determine, the ship passed through a cloaked transwarp gate which then exploded, leaving us no trace of the ship or where she might have been taken. We are examining the debris. Questioning of crew and engineering teams on the ground have led us to this conclusion: the Captain, several bridge officers, and the Foulsbane children, are all missing and presumed to be still aboard the ship, wherever she may be.

I have issued an alert to the Colony, the Fleet, and the Astraionian Civilian Authority. We are now at DefStat 1.

Investigation into the technology used to infiltrate the Sector and steal a Starfleet vessel continues. The fleet has their orders. A message has been sent to Starfleet Command to advise our situation. At this point, nothing and no one is safe.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140514

Location: Astraios Colony

I slept last night in the new quarters provided for me in the Colony Commander's Residence... it's mostly reception areas and has a yet to be set up roof garden that will be quite lovely... it's quite close to the ocean and I enjoyed the view very much.

Yesterday's Council meeting went as expected, the Dosi still holding the floor for the entire afternoon. It makes no sense to me that an outsider is given all the privileges the others have, including the right to hold the government decision making process up for days. I think he recounted the entire history of Dosi and Dosi trading in the Quadrant. He did finally finish and a council member from the Northern Province is next to speak.

Today I spent the morning observing a simulator training class with some of our newest cadets. A few bumps in the road but they performed well and I look forward to seeing their progress in the coming months.

The weather has turned quite warm and I see our engineering team has finished preparing the beach areas for recreational use. Perhaps I'll take a walk there after sunset, to watch the moon rise near the temple of Norite. It always feels so... ancient and special when I walk there, knowing others have done so for centuries, looking up at the same moon as I. Makes you wonder about the mysteries of life, and seems odd that I, an outsider from another planet so far away, ended here, walking on the beach at Astraios, lit by the silver rays of Questi, in the footsteps of so many beings.

We have so much to learn.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140512

Location: SS Astraios

This morning's breakfast meeting with Senior Officers did not go as well as some others. Oh, I suppose it was alright but I found myself in disagreement with LTcmdr Bradford over Colony security. To wit: she proposes that a large fence of stone or wire be built around the Colony proper, and equipped with sensors to detect any nearby movement. I understood all her reasons for suggesting this as a way of protecting the Academy, Majel Community Hospital, our shipyards, etc. And she is right, in a way. It would make things easier to build a wall to keep everyone out and avoid any possible trouble. But she forgets something very important: a wall built to keep people out also fences them in. Not only physically, but in other ways as well. Most especially, it causes a separation in the population that I would be loathe to establish.

Maybe it's my experiences of the past, and my dislike of feeling hemmed in within walls. But I think it's more than that. I feel that we must keep our Colony and infrastructure open to the world. We can scan, use sensor alarms, have eagle-eyed teams on the ground, etc. When we start closing ourselves in, we close out the world around us. We isolate ourselves. For the sake of community, for the sake of tolerance and transparency, even if we run the risk of sabotage or more, it is vital we invite people in. That's what open borders are, in space, and in the outposts which we are invited to establish by various species throughout the galaxy. We must trust, knowing that trust will be broken by some, but accepting that as part of our way of being in the world, and part of what it means to be who we are... Starfleet.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140511

Location: Astraios Colony

Today was a quiet day. After my morning run and usual briefing, I met the Engineering Chief working on our current Colony building projects and toured the facilities, including the new Astraionian Council Chamber. In addition to this are new reception rooms for Colony Command with private areas above, and lastly, some wonderful landscaping and provision of facilities along the beach front here, all looking quite lovely. I think our Cadets and off-duty crews will enjoy the recreational areas. I asked that an area of the accessible beaches be left wild, and the rest gently prepared for use without damaging the ecosystem. An excellent job so far but then, I expected no less.

Then a casual lunch with a large civilian family in town, Hars and I attended, and sat in their garden chatting about nothing very important until one of the young daughters began to ask me about Starfleet and my duties. Mindful of the cautious looks of the parent, I was tactful in my replies, careful not to encourage a yet unformed mind to dream too much of life beyond her present world.

We walked back then, a long walk, and whether it was the heat or the lingering sense of darkness I have in my heart, it seemed longer and more tiring than expected. When we reached the Colony I excused myself to go lie down in the quiet of my room, my window open to the fragrance of the blooming flowers and the sea breeze, letting my mind wander and my heart feel its pain. Perhaps it is the illness I had a little while ago, still not quite gone. Perhaps it is the worry about the Neil Armstrong, her crew and her officers, so long without word... or perhaps it was that small, eager face looking up at me with interested eyes, reminding me again of my loss.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140510

Location: Shuttle T'Pan

I interrupted my early morning run around the Colony to take in the new Council Chambers, the infrastructure is up already. It's an interesting design and I hope will bring more light and more oxygen to the long-winded meetings of the Astraionian Council.

At 0700 I held a breakfast meeting in the Operations Briefing Room on SS Astraios to discuss current fleet operations pertaining to the issues at hand:
-investigation into the expansion of the Takaar Nebula which, if it continues, may affect nearby systems adversely;
-the continued medical quarantine of Keratophyre province and the pathogen that has now been dubbed the 'KP virus' by the media;
-the issue of the sabotage of the USS Prophetic, the questions of why and who still have not been answered to my complete satisfaction;
-the question of the pressure by the Klingon Pegh and the Dosi traders upon the Astraionian Council in order to obtain land and governmental privileges;
-and last but not least the long absence of our flagship, the USS Neil Armstrong, 1,153 people sent on a fool's errand by me to try to find one missing officer. Oh I didn't put it like that, but the tactful comments in the briefing and the voice of my own heart make me question myself.

I dismissed everyone at 0849 and went to the shuttle bay. I needed to... well I needed some time alone. I went to the far far north where spring is still absent and patches of snow are on the ground. I had given the story that I was looking for clippings of a certain bush that grows in that climate... but I really just wanted to shed being a Captain and a Commander for an afternoon.

She thought then of how she had landed the shuttle and scanned for life signs, no sentient beings for miles. Opening the door, she stepped out and breathed the fresh, cold air. The sun shone weakly over the tall mountains. Nearby a lake, fed by glaciers, gleamed deep blue. She went back inside and stripped off her uniform... squatting to the ground, she closed her eyes, breathed deeply, and let her mind focus on the image in her mind. Two minutes later a large black wolf stood at the door of the shuttle, sniffing the air. In another moment, she had disappeared into the forest.

I will be landing the shuttle shortly, SS Astraios Operations has acknowledged my signal. Hars also left me a message to say he has a quiet dinner waiting in my garden. I had a... nice afternoon but regrettably did not locate the flowering bush I was seeking. Another time.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140509

Location: Astraios Colony

Today I was in the province of Syenite, attending a spring festival and also meeting with the Syenite Agricultural Alliance, who sponsor this event in order to advertise the fresh organic produce they grow as well as raise funds for children without families. They have set up several residential schools for these children. The festival was held at the largest farm in Syenite, which also has a school that houses 111 children of all ages. After the introductions, we all sat down at long tables while children, dressed in flowing garments with garlands of flowers in their hair, played the Astraionian wood flute, danced, and sang for us. The smallest hardly knew what to do but were so cute, they brought joy to my heart and perhaps also a tear or two for the youngling I lost. It was a sweet moment caught between beauty and pain, as I watched them. I left a sizable donation before beaming back to the shuttle to return to Astraios. I checked in with OPs and Security and then went off-duty, I have been feeling slightly unwell and decided to rest for the remainder of the day.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140508

Location: SS Astraios

Breakfast meeting with my Senior Officers over a delicious meal of fruit and fresh bread, coffee or Raktajino for most of them, Earl Grey for me. I had it served in my ready room. Questi was high and visible through my window, I had the computer dim the lights to 80 percent so everyone could see it. How many people have breakfast by moonlight?

During the meeting we discussed a variety of topics with regard to security, medical, astrometrics, engineering. Several expressed concern about the influx of more aggressive attitudes to the Colony... probably a polite way of saying there are too many Klingons on Astraios Prime. I suggested we have some training simulations on how to deal with Klingons and Dosi, who view aggression as strength and assertion as weakness.

Overall the station is running well. We might need to adjust the orbit slightly as we move into summer, the planet will be passing closer to the sun and there is more potential for solar storms.

The Colony is also well managed, we have these difficulties of diplomacy and the presence of unfriendlies but I think that is natural in this line of work. We have a good relationship with the Civilian Authority and they know we will stand by them through think and thin. It's the politics that are less easy, so much subterfuge and jostling for position.

We also looked over the plans for the Astraionian Council chambers, which will be build in the Colony proper so we can provide security for the delegates.

We concluded our meeting at 0849, all smiles until someone asked about the USS Neil Armstrong and I had to report again that there is no news on that front. The USS Marco Polo is now 177 LY coreward of Astraios and has been doing extensive sensor sweeps for warp signatures or... debris.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140507

Location: SS Astraios

Yesterday's Council meeting was... frustrating, to say the least. The Dosi had the floor and they must have picked the meekest, mildest, slowest talker from among them. He spoke for three hours and forty-two minutes. The information imparted during this time was: where they are from, that they are merchants, and that they have trading arrangements with several large organizations on Astraios Prime and Treman. We all knew this already, so it was a total waste of time. But they still have the floor, and will continue on 140508.1400. If I drank, I'd have a few before that meeting. Perhaps he'll talk about the evolution of wheatgrass as it relates to quadrant-wide trading.

I spent this morning with LTcmdr Bradford, touring the Colony proper and discussing security arrangements for our upcoming military ball planned for 140601.1200 as well as the additional forces we have in place to prevent further sabotage.

After lunch, a medical briefing on the Keratophyre situation, which continues, however, Science and Medical teams worked together to discover a vaccine and this treatment is now being distributed to avoid further infection. They still need to come up with a treatment for those already infected. Currently 666 have died, and 2,049 are suffering with the virus. The worst will be placed in stasis until a cure can be found... if we can supply enough stasis pods. I have engineering teams working on that. We have not lifted the quarantine yet, as we need to be satisfied that everyone has had the vaccine and that it is working. We also discussed how to deal with further outbreaks... we will need to introduce the vaccine to our officers and crew as a standard item I suppose.

After the final briefing of the day with my yeoman Mr Farrell I will return to the surface for dinner with friends, and hopefully a little time in my garden before the sun sets.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140506

Location: Astraios Colony

I awoke again before the computer was set to wake me, and was down on the surface for my run before sunrise had begun. Everything is quiet at that time, although I know that above the planet, the station is humming with life. Duty shifts changing, routines maintained, ever present alertness on OPs deck, ships being dispatched and others being resupplied. I heard we had a new baby in sickbay as well, one of the junior officers I had the privilege of marrying last year had her first child, a boy.

As I ran my mind nibbled at the problem of the USS Prophetic sabotage. Was it just a one time thing, local protesters against Starfleet, or military, or perhaps even an alien presence on their world. Or was it something more... must be something more if the perpetrators came from areas outside our home sector. The Klingon Pegh could be involved but I sense Klingons are more in your face. The Dosi? No. Tremanites I could believe, although what they hope to gain isn't clear. Wolf's messages suggest.. well it's alarming. I hope he returns soon with all the details of what he's learned so I can put his theory into context. In the meantime we remain at defstat 3 but privately I have spoken to the acting Colony Chief security and special teams are in place around our sensitive areas, including our shipyard and spacedock.

This afternoon is the dreaded Tuesday Astraionian Council meeting, today the Dosi have the floor. They again have a chance to make their case and, given their aggressive nature, I expect there will be some verbal fireworks.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140505

Location: Astraios Colony

Today has several meetings to prepare for tomorrow's Astraionian Council. Morning briefing, a visit to OPs deck, then down to the surface to touch base with Security, and then beam over to Micrite for a quick chat with Mr Pookara of the Civilian Authority. Tackle a couple of Councillors. Mr Aplgahrt I have invited for lunch in the lounge of SS Astraios. I know he has an interest in space and our table will have a fine a view of Questi, the moon. Later, over "afternoon tea", a discussion with Ms Quirtez, this time on the surface, on a sunny day in the shade of a tree in the garden by our Banquet Hall. Both meals provided by our SS Astraios chief, Mr. Marrxa. After all that, a long walk around the Colony and then home to my own garden and Hars.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140504

Location: Astraios Colony

0513... I awoke again before the computer alarm. In a moment I shall go to the transporter room and beam down to begin my run. As it is, for us on the station, a "Sunday" it is a light duty day, with shorter shifts so everyone has a chance to visit with family and friends, or have some extra time off to rest and relax. I feel it is important to do this, most especially I like to see my crew on the planet surface and not sequestered on the station for days at a time. Of course we all sign on to Starfleet knowing we may be deployed on a ship for months... still, while there is a chance to give them all a little freedom from duty and care, I want them to have it. I know how hard they work... and how dangerous that work can be sometimes.

0700... I had a good run around the perimeter of the Colony and the outlying lands. It's a good way for me to keep a finger on the pulse of what's happening on the surface... I see the building, I see the maintenance, I see the preparations for deployment, the Marines doing their drills, the officers walking with their families to the beach, the shuttles landing with visitors... all from a distance as I move through and around the infrastructure. My favourite part is the path that skirts the hills to the north... it's wilder there, and as I go up the first hill I get a great view of the entire settlement... and the air seems cooler, fresher. I feel alive.

0730... SS Astraios mess hall. Mr. Marrxa had prepared breakfast for the Senior Officers, it was set up as a buffet. He feels strongly that as we are in orbit of a planet our crew should, when possible, eat 'real food' harvested locally. There is some scientific merit to this. Certainly eating plants or roots grown here means we ingest pollens or other materials, making us more immune to possible allergies. It took me a long time to like replicated food. It's not tasteless or anything... it's just sort of like the difference between a fresh baked bun and one that's two days old. It's okay to eat it, but it's not quite the same.

0830... Operations Deck, receive morning briefing in person.

0930... attend wedding rehearsal in the Chapel

1030... an hour in my office with Mr Farrell, going over reports and the schedule for the week. The Council sits again Tuesday. We set up meetings with four of the Councillors I need to speak with soon, as the vote on the Pegh and the Dosi will occur later this month.

1200... attend a lunch reception at a school in Dacite. The food was all prepared by students, they had carved ices to decorate the tables. The cooks all stood behind the buffet as we moved through, I chatted to several, so young but so talented.

1330... arrived back at SS Astraios and contacted OPs for an update on communications and a report on station readiness, then handed the comm to the duty officer and went off duty.

Now for some time in my garden, a long chat with Hars, and a dinner of fresh vegetables.

As lovely as that is, I cannot smile as easily as I might wish...knowing the USS Neil Armstrong is out there somewhere, unable to report in. They are always in my thoughts.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140503

Location: Astraios Colony

It's Saturday, 0700 hours.... or is it?

One thing I find difficult is the mix of Terran and Astraionian customs, sometimes it feels ludicrous to live on a planet with an eight day week and a 25 hour day, and organize my crew and my schedule by the Terran hours, days, weeks. Starfleet is based on that model and I still, after all this time, sometimes struggle with the time differences.

For Astraionians, this is Sannaite, a special day that begins at their dawn, with a traditional breakfast of fresh breads made from local grains and fresh water, with seeds and fruits baked within it. This is served typically with a kind of tea made of a bitter herb, this is intended to give the drinker strength in adversity. I adore the bread but only sip the tea, and, if no one is looking, I dilute it with hot water. I guess that makes me weak *smiles*

After bread and tea families usually go together for a walk, the most traditional will go to one of the temples to observe the Rite of the Rock. It involves sparking a fire from rock, on rock, and then singing as the smoke of the herb laden woods fills the air. The smoke is not toxic, it seems, just sweet smelling and rather delightful... (the computer tells me this might be similar to something called 'incense' which was burned in Terran temples of old). The singing is always beautiful, sometimes mournful but always... peaceful. I think it represents the soul of the Astraionian to me... at heart they are farmers and caregivers of their planet, she who bears them, feeds them, and protects them.

For outsiders, the temple, made of stone, with three towering rocks placed by a granite altar, looks archaic. But in reality the Astraionians do not worship the rocks. They revere their planet, the third rock, that spins around their sun. And indeed, Astraios is like no other planet... some speak of her as though she has a mind or soul. Perhaps they are right, she has a mischievous spirit - we've certainly experienced that in our time here... but she is also benevolent. And beautiful. I can't think of anywhere I've been in the three quadrants I've been to that has touched me so deeply.

When I think of Astraios and her peoples... I admit I have a great fondness for them. Which makes me worry all the more about the increasing pressures from outsiders. This fragile world... this fragile peace... *sighs*

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140502

Location: Astraios Colony

A disturbing report from Captain Wolfton Foulsbane with regard to the sabotage of the USS Prophetic has reached me over subspace. Its contents were encrypted and at this point I do not wish to speak of it even in a personal log. Otherwise plans are moving forward with the Colony. I suggested to the Astraionian Council that their current chambers, while traditional, also were not made for the increasing numbers of representatives, and that, in fact, this usage is damaging the 1,000 year old council house - and I pointed out how it was impossible to secure it properly without damaging the infrastructure. I proposed that the Colony build and prepare a suitable building made of natural materials from the planet. I was surprised at the reaction, mostly positive, and I am now part of a committee to oversee plans. It will be built by Starfleet engineers and Astaionian engineers, in partnership. I like that.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140501

Location: Astraios Colony

My run this morning was particularly delightful, the spring air was crisp and clean but the rising sun was warm, I felt so refreshed afterwards. I had a lovely piece of fruit and a long drink of clear water before my solar shower, and emerged energized and ready for the day.

Briefing at 0700 contained several items of interest. First and most important, no word as yet of the USS Neil Armstrong, the Marco Polo continues to search for her trail but is travelling at medium warp for fear of missing any clues.

Secondly, the outbreak of an unknown virus on the eastern coast of the southern continent, called "Keratophyre" due to the quartz in the area, continues. Although we have sent medical and scientific assistance, until the virus is isolated and investigated, a inoculation or cure cannot be found. All we can do now is quarantine the sick, investigate how they got sick, and try to keep the rest of the population well. Our security teams and marine detachment are assisting the local police force in calming residents, getting them to stay home, and ensuring that no one leaves or comes into the area. At present all our personnel are wearing light protective clothing and breathing apparatus when on the ground.

A report followed on the Takaar Nebula, I carried with me the data I had collected while on the Colossus and shared what I had learned. A broader report is expected from the USS Uralia when she completes her investigation, in the meantime the data will be sent to the astronomers aboard.

We concluded at 0830 and I made my way to the transporter room. I wished to see the Acting Colony Chief Security, and discuss with her security arrangements for the colony and the upcoming Council sessions which will begin again next week - unless the Keratophyre situation interferes. I could have called her to my ready room, but I like seeing my staff in their work environments. It helps me appreciate what they deal with every day, what kind of atmosphere they create or have to work in, and I think also makes me seem more approachable. I found July in the Brig area, talking with a young Ensign. The new officer was surprised to see me, I think, and stammered a hello, and then remembered herself... jumping to her feet she shouted "Captain on the Deck" which was rather amusing as only myself and LTcmdr Bradford were there. Surpressing a giggle I said, "as you were Ensign," and after a brief introduction Ensign Moss was dismissed. July and I had our chat.

I then took a brief walk in front of the Welcome Centre, nodding to cadets and gardeners as I strode away briskly, hoping not to be caught in conversation, needing to clear my head after the morning briefings. After a few minutes, a beep on my communicator was LTjg Farrell, reminding me of my lunch meeting with Mr Pookara, to be followed by a visit to the USS Davy Crockett, holding a "May Day" event on the ship.

I took Hars with me to meet with Lazuli, it was really mostly a casual thing, chatting over tea, but discussing also the details of the upcoming Council meetings and our strategies in that regard. There are a few council members we hope will remain on 'our side' and these people will also need to be chatted with over the next few days. Laz thinks, as do I, that the Pegh and the Dosi will work together to undermine our position in order to get what they want. This is a given... it's how they will do it that concerns me... the more I can anticipate them, the better prepared we will be to meet their 'attacks'.

Then I was pleased to beam aboard the Crockett and participate in the social event, meeting more of the crew and listening to the music they played in their '3 Forward'. I declined refreshment due to the strict regimen I have now adopted, but chatted with several until I needed to return to duty.

I met with Mr Farrell then to go over the schedule for the next few days, and receive any further reports on the virus situation. I contacted SS Astraios Operations to hand the conn to the duty officer, then declared myself off duty as of 1430.

I have some new seedlings in my greenhouse that are ready to be transplanted, I plan to spend the rest of the afternoon under the sun in my garden, listening only to the breeze and the birds, and smelling the good earth.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140430

Location: Astraios Colony

At my request the Colossus maintained a distance of 500,000 kms from the outer edge of the Takaar Nebula as we cruised it rimward, I spent most of the morning in Astrometrics watching it go by and examining the data received from our sensors, which, as usual, have difficulty penetrating the anomaly, which was then at bearing 301, mark 000. We then moved further away and increased speed to ensure we would be home by sunset.

Upon my arrival I beamed to Sick Bay for a quick chat with the MO on duty, as it had been reported to me that a viral strain had hit part of the population on the east end of the southern continent, with some deaths among the elderly and hospitalization for others severely affected. We have protocols in place but vigilance is always necessary as our officers and crew often come in contact with inhabitants from this world during the course of their duties or social lives. We decided to deploy one of our medical ships to the area, and contacted the local government to request a landing area. Besides medical staff and supplies, we will also be sending marines detachments to help ensure order is maintained and that the quarantine is enforced. All vessels in the area have been grounded and a perimeter set. Besides offering assistance with these vital things, we will also send a crack science team to investigate the pathogen and its source.

After checking in with the Operations Chief I then retired to my quarters with some reports and messages to read, which I did while having a light supper of soup. I am very concerned that the continued diplomatic and community events to which I am invited are going to affect my health, and I have instructed my Yeoman to advise the issuers of invitations of my dietary requirements - not just vegetarian only, but no sugared items, alcohol, breads or buns. Just vegetables and light fruits, and clear water or broth. I may look humanoid but I am not... computer, erase that last sentence, after the word 'broth' [acknowledged]

...after completing my work, which only took about one hour as I had kept up with most of the paperwork and other items while on the Colossus, I beamed down to my garden and met Hars there, and we walked briskly together through the Colony proper, chatting quietly while breathing of the cool night air. I was grateful to be on 'terra firma' again.

Commanding Officer's Log, Stardate: 140429

Location: USS Colossus

I awoke this morning at my usual 0515 and used the ship's holodeck to run along a beach. Our breakfast appointment with the Naasirkhans was set for 0900, quite late for me, so I had a fruit salad after my solar shower and then contacted SS Astraios via subspace to check in and receive the overnight reports. At 0730 I joined Captain Brandon in her ready room for a casual briefing on the Naasirkhan situation. They have apparently decided to apply to be members of the Federation. This will be a rather long drawn out process requiring some visits to their homeworld which is quite distant by conventional warp drive. We also chatted about other news, and broke at 0830 to change for the beam down.

At 0855 we gathered in the transporter room, I carried with me a handmade necklace of Astraionian metals, quite stunning, a gift to be sent to the Naarsirkhan Queen. After beamdown we were led again to the underground world that they have made quite comfortable for living.

Over breakfast I observed again the cultural traditions of their species. It seems the males will act dominant towards any females in the area, subduing the female with a sharp glance if she speaks out of turn. However, it is a matriarchal society, and the head of any family is honoured and respected. So, if a female is submissive to the male as is set in their customs, and then the next day her mother has passed away and she becomes the family leader, then she is now the dominant in the family and all must listen to her, including the males. Knowing this was one of the reasons I sent Capt Brandon and the Colossus. As I am considered head of the Starfleet family at Astraios, I am also accorded the respect of a family leader.

I suppose they must know each other's place very well, for I observed one male supressing his sister with a hard look when she began to answer a question I had asked, but he had to fall silent and nod his head with a smile when the small girl near me spoke up... she is the only female in her family and therefore ranks above all males despite her young age.

I practiced my Naasirkhanish as best I could, and my efforts were well received.

Near the end of the meal, I rose as is custom, and thanked them in flowery phrases for their hospitality, and then offered the gift for their Queen, which they will send with their next vessel travelling home. The lead females then came and spoke to me, reaching to touch my arms with their hands, this gentle touch a sign of respect as well as a kind of gesture that says 'you are with us although you are far'... thus a kind of reassurance to those leaving. I felt rather moved by this, I who have been so private and separate for so many years, to have others reach to touch me and express caring, in my heart at this moment I forgave them for the Argonaut.

We beamed back up to the Colossus and as I returned to my quarters I felt the vibration of the ship increase and I knew that we had set course for home. I know Hars will be waiting for me there with news of the villages, towns, and my garden. But for now I think I will return to the holodeck and spend some time on the beach during this small break from the usual tasks of a Colony Commander.