The prompt for the fic asks what made your character join Starfleet, and so the fic fills out some of Captain Kanril Eleya's Backstory. It alternates between vignettes set in Eleya's past with short segments of her answering unheard interview questions from Jake Sisko (a writer and journalist in the STO timeline, used for A True Story in My Universe in The Path to 2409 and Star Trek Online The Needs Of The Many).
This work provides examples of the following tropes:
- Affectionate Nickname: The USS Kagoshima gets nicknamed "Baby K" by its crew, "Adult K" being the much larger USS Khitomer in the same squadron.
- Alternative Calendar: Dates on the Bajoran calendar go something like "Satar 4, Seventh Era 943, Year of the Unseen Harp." The date by Earth reckoning is given afterward.
- Ambiguously Brown: Eleya's first-semester roommate Jasmine "Jazz" Velasquez has brown skin, black hair, and almond-shaped eyes. Based just on that we can infer Latina and either Arabic or Persian ancestry, but then we get to the part where she's had ancestors in uniform going back to the American Revolution (meaning she most likely has Caucasian ancestors as well).
- Arms and Armor Theme Naming: The two Excalibur-class starships featured are the Ulfberht and the Szczerbiec.
- Auto Erotica: Eleya loses her virginity with a platoon-mate in the back of an infantry fighting vehicle.
- Bittersweet 17: Viewpoint character Kanril Eleya is seventeen when the main narrative begins. In short order she breaks up with her high school boyfriend over him wanting them to go to a religious college together and her intent to enlist in the Bajoran Militia; her father thinks her grown-up, her mother still tells her she's "still just a seventeen-year-old girl" as she boards her flight to boot camp. From there she loses her virginity, earns a medal for valor in combat, and ultimately attends Starfleet Academy and finally becomes captain of a starship.
- Call-Forward: Eleya's Academy boyfriend Jerrod Dalton is a bit of a Canon Immigrant, an NPC from the Star Trek Online Foundry mission "The Interwarp Experiment". He reappears in Two Sides of a Coin, a novelization of said mission set several years later.
- Continuity Nod:
- Closest Thing We Got: Eleya ends up the acting captain of a light cruiser by dint of everybody senior to her being dead or badly wounded. She ends up having to use, among other things, a conn officer who's actually from the Operations department. Apparently he plays a holodeck simulation of Operation Return a lot.Eleya: (facepalm) Fine, we don't have time to be picky. Ahead full.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Eleya takes out a Borg probe by neutralizing its shields with her own and beaming a photon torpedo aboard.Captain Jay Yim: Lieutenant Kanril, are you insane?!
Eleya: It worked, didn't it?
- Deadly Force Field: Eleya orders her chief engineer to adjust USS Kagoshima's Deflector Shield waveform until it is precisely 180 degrees out-of-phase with the shields of a Borg probe, which lets her ram their shields together so they cancel each other out and open a hole she can beam a photon torpedo through.
- Don't Call Me "Sir": Tess Phohl mistakenly calls Eleya "sir".Eleya: I’m not a ‘sir’, Phohl. I’m a former NCO, I work for a living. ‘Captain’ is fine, ‘ma’am’ if you want to be formal, Hell, call me by my first name, even.
- Enlightened Self-Interest: Eleya's of the opinion that the Federation had a fairly obvious ulterior motive in providing humanitarian aid on demand to Romulan border worlds during their third civil war in as many decades (between Taris and Sela). Sure, they do it because they're the good guys, but if they can sneak a few planets away from the Empire by doing it...?
- Epigraph: The first four lines of "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
- Extreme Omnisexual: Jazz's hookups, according to Eleya. She goes for both male and female (at least once both at the same time), non-cadets as often as not, species other than human more often than not, and rarely the same partner twice.
- Fantastic Fighting Style: Eleya compares the Cardassian-derived "military boxing" she learned in the Militia to the krav maga taught in Starfleet.
- Fantasy Contraception: Eleya refers in passing to being glad she got her contraceptive implant renewed the first time she sleeps with Jerrod Dalton.
- Fictional Political Party: The second interview section mentions a few Bajoran political parties, the Socialists, Nationalists, and the Conservative Association. In 2401 the Socialists and the Conservatives together outvote the Nationalists to shut down the Bajoran Militia Space Arm on budgetary grounds, which leads to Eleya transferring to Starfleet because she doesn't want to leave space.
- Field Promotion: Captain Jay Yim makes Eleya a brevet lieutenant commander during the battle at Vega.
- Fourth Wall Psych: The fic starts out with what seems to be Eleya directly addressing the reader. But the second time she jumps out of the Backstory narrative, it turns out she's actually talking to Jake Sisko.
- Framing Device: Jake Sisko interviewing Eleya.
- Going Down with the Ship: The captain of the USS Mosul.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Eleya refers to her reasons for joining Starfleet as "nothing really Bajor-shaking ".
- Humans Are Insane:I scoop up my glass and start to tell the barman to open a tab before I remember that Earth doesn’t use money. Humans, what can I say? They’re weird.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Eleya describes herself as "screaming aloud" the first time she sleeps with Jerrod Dalton.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: A noncom informs Eleya that she is a transporter operator, not a soldier. Eleya informs the noncom that the Borg probably won't care one way or the other.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: A reminder, Eleya isn't human. As far as she's concerned the only functional difference between Earth and any other Class M rock is that she has to pay taxes to it.
- Macross Missile Massacre: After the fleet brings down the shields of a Borg cube with massed phaser fire the killshot comes in the form of "half a hundred torpedoes".
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: During boot camp Eleya loses her virginity in the cargo compartment of an infantry fighting vehicle.
- Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: A briefly mentioned Noodle Incident where Eleya had sex with two Klingons and woke up "with a cracked rib and several bruises in embarrassing places".
- Mercy Kill: Eleya Boom Headshots a crewmate who's been assimilated by the Borg.
- Military Brat:
- Eleya denies that the fact that her father and grandfather fought in the Bajoran Resistance was a factor in her choice to enlist in the Bajoran Militia.
- Eleya's Starfleet Academy roommate, Jasmine Velasquez, apparently has had family in uniform going all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
- It turns out that Commander Tesjha Phohl, Eleya's XO in the present day, is from a family with a long history of service in the Andorian Imperial Guard. She decided to be contrary and join Starfleet instead.
- Name Order Confusion: Dalton mistakenly calls Eleya "Sergeant Eleya", and she corrects him that Eleya is her given name, not her surname.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Eleya mentions taking a side trip to medical upon arriving on Earth to get some immunotherapy against Earth pollen.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Another ship in the USS Kagoshima's formation is disabled by a parting shot from a dying Borg cube.Acting Captain Kanril Eleya: Prophets… T’Shar, drop facing shields and lock onto life signs! Anyone we can bring aboard, get ‘em!
Petty officer at sensors: Captain, I’m picking up an imminent core breach in the cube! We don’t have time!
LTJG. Tess Phohl: You’re relieved!
- Noodle Incident: Eleya once woke up "with a hangover next to two passed-out Klingons with a cracked rib and several bruises in embarrassing places". The author commented that "tequila was involved".
- Orbital Bombardment: There's a mention of the USS Khitomer demolishing what remains of the Vega colony with a torpedo bombardment after the survivors are rescued. Eleya also says that during the Occupation the Cardassians blew the top off a mountain with a battleship's main disruptor to make an open area for a freighter port. Nowadays the Militia uses the area for boot camp.
- Percussive Maintenance: Colonel Karryn Retta, CO of the Kira Nerys, smacking a light panel to get it to stop flickering.
- Recruiters Always Lie: Kanril Eleya is asked by Jake Sisko why she joined Starfleet and dishes on the ads' truthfulness.The lifestyle? Oh, Hell no! Let's face it, it sucks a lot of the time. The "strange new worlds" they show you in the recruitment vids are the good days; the rest of them are "woohoo, another average star with a bunch of dead rocks orbiting it".
- Regional Redecoration: Eleya narrates that the Cardassians blew the top off Mount Bahatan with a battleship's main disruptors so they could use it as a landing site for ore freighters. In the present, the site is a Bajoran Militia training base.
- Scars are Forever: After the first Time Skip Eleya's mother wants her to have the veterans hospital remove the scars left over from the boarding action against the Kira. She keeps them around as a reminder that she isn't immortal.I may have popped my cherry in the back of an armored vehicle, but I didn’t lose my innocence then. That’s what the scars mark: The first time I killed, and the first time I nearly died. The first time I looked Death in the eye. The first time he blinked.
Someday he won’t.
- Semper Fi: The Bajoran Militia uses US Marine Corps lingo and ranks (e.g. "gunny" for gunnery sergeants, "ship over" for reenlisting), which the author said was an artistic decision to draw a contrast with the less-militaristic Starfleet (something like a Translation Convention).
- Sexiled: Eleya comments that she got driven from her dorm room at Starfleet Academy due to her Extreme Omnisexual roommate Jasmine Velasquez at least once a week. Usually she spends such evenings studying in the library, but one night she decides she Needs a Freaking Drink when Jazz brings home both a girl and a guy—and ends up going home with a new boyfriend herself.
- The account of how Eleya lost her virginity is based on the same thing happening to Ziva David from NCIS.
- Eleya borrows a line from the Babylon 5 episode "GROPOS", saying that her drill sergeant used to say, "Soldier goes into combat and he ain't scared, he's either dead or stupid."
- Eleya's comment on the usual Borg "resistance is futile" spiel is "I'm getting really sick of hearing that."
- Small Town Boredom: Eleya joins the Militia because she wants to get out of Priyat (she feels the town is dying) and have an adventure before she settles down. The fact that she'll get a full ride to college afterwards doesn't hurt.
- Starship Luxurious: Sergeant Eleya favorably compares vids she's seen of Federation starship interiors to the secondhand Breen-built frigate Kira Nerys. The bridge has twelve people crammed into a 5x4 meter room, and "what passes for Colonel Karryn’s ready room must’ve been a broom closet in a former lifetime."
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!/[Verb] This!: Eleya throws an overloaded phaser into a group of Borg drones and traps them with a blast door. Kaboom.Eleya: Adapt to that, you son of a whore.
- Three-Way Sex: Eleya states that Jazz once brought home a girl and a guy (which led Eleya to Need a Freaking Drink), and she refers to a Noodle Incident where she woke up with a hangover next to two Klingons with a cracked rib and "several bruises in embarrassing places".