"A Running Start"
Hello all. This is my first time posting any fanfic, here or anywhere else.
This is essentially a "snippet" from the middle of what is intended to be a larger storyline, centered on my original ships and characters and set roughly two decades after the end of the Dominion War.
This was inspired by January's "New beginning" challenge theme. The story ended up being far too long to enter in the challenge, but since I had completed it, I thought it'd be a waste not to post it at all, so here it is. It'll be split up into six posts. There is one instance of PG-13 language for anyone concerned about that sort of thing. :)
A Running Start
Last Portal Station
Stardate 73071.9 (January 27th, 2396)
Yuri watched as the docking levels far below her slowly drew closer and closer, as the lift sped downward along its track. The metal framework lining the tube could be partially seen speeding by through the large windows that dominated three of the lift’s four sides.
Her gaze swept across the closer of the two docking levels, observing the small dots that would soon be visible as actual people, as well as larger objects: cargo crates, lifters, workbees. About half of the berths were occupied by ships at the moment, with the others empty. On this level, the berths were sized for smaller ships: civilian transports, cargo haulers, and the like comprised all of the vessels she could see at the moment. She peered past the edge of the level, which was just coming into view, and tried to get a better look at the lower docking level, which was where any larger vessels would be. Several starships were just starting to become visible, as-
“Starships! Starships, look!”
The sudden exclamation caught Yuri’s attention, and she looked over to the other side of the lift, where a small child was leaning up against the front window, her hands pressed up against the transparent aluminum sheet, a look of utter delight on her face. She looked to be perhaps five or six years old. Just behind her, a man – her father, Yuri surmised – came up to her, placing a hand on her shoulder, chuckling slightly. “I see them, honey. And they are very impressive.”
“Will we be able to get a closer look?” the child asked, turning her head to look at her father, though she didn’t remove her hands from the window.
“Oh, absolutely,” he replied, bending down next to her. “You see those gray, rectangular structures there?” He pointed down and forward, toward a row of the objects in question that lined the edge of the upper docking level; Yuri recognized them as cargo routing stations. As he spoke, they grew in size more rapidly. “We’re going to be right next to those when we go to see Uncle Van, and there’ll be a really great view from there.”
“Really?” she responded, clapping her hands together and looking back out the window again. “I can’t wait. I wonder if I’ll get to ride in a starship one day…”
“You never know,” her father replied.
“Approaching: Upper Docking Level. Cargo collection and distribution. Last non-restricted level. Please confirm your authorization status before…”
“Okay pumpkin, here we are,” the man said, pulling his daughter away from the window as the lift slowed, then stopped. Immediately, the double doors in the back of the lift parted. The little girl hopped down off the bench, giggling as her father held her hand and they made their way out of the lift.
Yuri chuckled as the doors closed, leaving her alone in the lift as it once again began its descent. Cute kid. And loves starships, apparently. Maybe she’ll become an engineer or join Starfleet one day. Her thoughts abruptly turned away from the amusement of watching a delighted child, to something much darker. Assuming anyone even survives all this. She sighed, shaking her head, deciding she didn’t want to explore the thought of her own potential death – or that of children like the one she had just seen – in any great depth at the moment.
Yuri returned her attention to the front window. With the upper level now above her, she had a much better view of the ships arrayed before her. A Sovereign was docked to the upper slot, far to her right, and below that, a Klingon cruiser occupied the next slot. She looked to the left, and her gaze passed across an Akira. Almost immediately, she felt a severe pang of what she could only describe as homesickness. Home… I guess it really was home… It had only been two days since she had disembarked the U.S.S. Leviathan, her assignment for nearly the last three years. And now, just the sight of another Akira-class ship was bringing back all the memories, and all the doubts she’d had about leaving.
She closed her eyes, leaning forward slightly. I wonder how they are all doing. She actually laughed lightly at herself, out loud. It’s only been TWO days. They’re fine, and they aren’t even doing anything different than the last time you were with them: sitting around at starbase 228. Get a grip, Yuri… She took a slow, deep breath, before righting her posture again, opening her eyes. And then she saw it, and found herself overtaken by other feelings.
Past the slot in which the Akira was berthed, was the U.S.S. Dauntless. My new home… She felt a mix of awe, excitement, and apprehension as the sleek lines of the large, majestic ship came further into view. She had, of course, looked up information on the ship. She’d already seen images of it, she knew her specs and profile, but that was nothing compared to seeing the ship in person. Yuri felt a strange sensation, something that she’d heard some of her Human friends refer to as “butterflies in the stomach.” She’d never understood that, until she’d taken the time to look up and understand what a butterfly was. The visual of how they moved as they flew somehow caused the expression to make sense. Of course, it wasn’t something she could recall experiencing herself more than once or twice in her life; Yuri wasn’t easily fazed by much. But now, she’d swear that an entire colony of butterflies had just hatched inside her. Not that it wasn’t understandable, really. On its own, the reality of a promotion not only in rank, but also in position – going from Assistant Chief Tactical Officer of one ship to Executive Officer of another – would be enough to give most people butterflies to some degree. But to add to that, she was also being asked to step in and take the place of someone who had died, under difficult circumstances from the reports she had read. This was someone whom this crew had served with for years, and then she was abruptly taken away from them… and Yuri was going to replace her. It was, she admitted to herself, a somewhat unnerving prospect. What if they don’t accept me? What if they HATE me? What if I can’t-
“Ghaaa!” she exclaimed aloud, to the empty transport interior. She placed both hands on her head, running them through her short, green hair briefly, trying to get all of her emotions under control. Get a GRIP! Seriously, I mean it this time!
She stared at the floor for a moment, taking several deep, calming breaths. A moment went by, and she began to feel a bit more settled. She continued staring at the floor, trying to – for just a moment anyway – clear her thoughts, and just relax-
“Approaching: Lower Docking Level. Starship berths, Starfleet management facilities. Restricted level. Please have authorization documents ready when disembarking the lift.”
The calm, feminine voice of the computer nearly caused her to jump out of her seat. Swallowing hard, she blinked several times, took another deep breath, and finally, gathered her travel bag up on her shoulder. She gave the ship a long look through the front of the transport, then tore her gaze away from it, turning to face the double doors as they opened.
Once past the first security checkpoint, she slowed her pace as she walked along the docking area. Around her, other officers moved about, conversing with one another or reviewing information on PADDs as they walked along. Cargo movers and antigrav sleds could be seen making their way across the metallic surface of the docking level, at times crossing her path several meters ahead. Yuri saw and heard none of it. She continued to walk in a straight line, slowly but inexorably drawing closer and closer to the ship – the largest ship there – her ship. It was a number of different things for her now, whereas if she had simply encountered it while still serving on board the Leviathan, it would have been just another Starfleet ship, albeit a rather new and interesting one. But now, she found herself sizing it up, trying to reflect on what she knew about the ship, as well as what she had yet to find out, and trying to make sense of all of that in the context of this ship being her new assignment… her new home. She found it difficult to process.
She slowed her pace abruptly, looking around as she realized that she was approaching the second checkpoint. Already? But I only just passed the first one- She turned her head, looking back, and was genuinely shocked to see the first checkpoint behind her… about four-hundred meters behind her, more precisely. She stared back along the deck for just a moment. I’ve been walking for nearly five minutes… I was barely aware of any time passing at all. She shook her head, trying again to clear these feelings of uncertainty. Alright, this isn’t such a big deal. It’s another assignment. I accepted it, and Starfleet wouldn’t have even offered me the promotion if they hadn’t thought I was ready for it. Taking a deep breath, she walked forward.
Unlike the first checkpoint, this one was unmanned, consisting of an ID scanner and a heavy set of doors, beyond which lay a covered walkway which led directly into the airlock hatch on the side of the ship. She placed her hand against the scanning panel.
“Identify confirmed. Commander Yuri Rienne, Starfleet. Executive officer, U.S.S. Dauntless. Access granted.”
A brief chirp followed the computer’s declaration that she could enter, and the doors parted before her. The walkway, which was in fact just over three meters in length, suddenly looked much longer to her. Yet, she could somehow feel that her apprehension was fading, and being replaced by something else. She stepped through the doors, and they closed behind her. The covering over the walkway was partially transparent, and she continued looking over the hull as she traversed the last bit of distance separating her from the ship. Printed above the airlock hatch, in the familiar Starfleet lettering, was the ship’s identification.
UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS
She felt a slight chill run down her spine, and she shuddered… and then suddenly, she grinned, as she recalled the words of the computer from a moment ago. Commander Yuri Rienne. Executive officer.
As she stepped through the hatchway, planting her feet upon the deck plates of the ship for the first time, she realized what it was that had replaced her apprehension and fear. Pride, and excitement. A number of thoughts suddenly ran through her head as she walked through the small airlock room. Starfleet is trusting me with this. They’ve looked to me and said, “Here, go to this ship, support her captain, and manage this crew.” I’m now responsible for not just a department, but almost eight-hundred officers and crewmen. And there’s only one person on this entire ship who outranks me. That last realization, in particular, brought about a strange combination of renewed apprehension and an almost giddy, lightheaded feeling. Alright, alright, enough goofing off, she thought suddenly, collecting her various wandering thought processes and pulling them back into the present.
It didn’t take her long to find her quarters on deck five. She didn’t intend to stay long, as she had really only come to drop her bag and steal a quick look in the mirror before going to meet the captain. She noted absently that the quarters were quite sparse, with none of her belongings present, indicating that they were still in the process of being loaded onto the ship. Tossing the bag onto the bed, she strode past it to the washroom, and stopped in front of the full-length mirror between it and the closet. Uniform is straight, pips are straight, hair’s straight …ish. Her hair fell to the middle of her neck, and she wore it in a loose, simple style befitting her casual and laid-back personality. Nodding slightly, she turned to go… and paused, her gaze zeroing in on the reflection of her collar. For a moment, she was actually surprised to see three solid gold pips there, and to see red, instead of gold, around her neck. She shook her head. Think that’s gonna take some getting used to…
“Computer, location of Captain Parrin,” she said, as she walked back out into the hall.
Re: "A Running Start"
She turned left after the short hallway. This room had no doors, so she simply stepped past the wall, entering the large, roughly rectangular room. A lone figure stood at the opposite end, staring out of the large windows in front of him. These windows faced outward on the ship’s port side, and currently overlooked the station’s docking levels, giving Yuri an excellent view of the area she had been walking through not ten minutes prior. She walked up slowly. She was reasonably certain that she had the right person, given that the computer had told her she would find the captain here, and the Bolian man standing before her fit the description – from the back, anyway. “Captain Parrin?”
He turned to his right, glancing back to see who had spoken, exposing a view of his collar, which confirmed for Yuri that she had indeed found the captain. “Yes?” he asked in response, and then his eyes lit up in recognition. “Oh, yes! Commander Rienne, it’s good to meet you in person,” he said, stepping forward and extending his hand to her.
“Likewise,” she replied, nodding slightly and shaking his hand firmly, before dropping it to her side. She stood in a relaxed state, attentive, but not at attention. It was her nature, when such formalities weren’t expressly called for, to ignore them, and in this case, it was also a good way to gauge how her new CO felt about such things. If he had a problem with her semi-casual stance, he wasn’t showing it, so far at least.
“Just arrived?” At her nod, he smiled a bit. “So you haven’t yet taken the time to explore the ship, then?”
“The thought crossed my mind, but I figured it would make me look better if I checked in with you first. Sir.” She grinned slightly.
He laughed in response. “I would have understood fully if you had, in all honesty. She’s something special, this one,” he said, looking to his right, back toward the windows for just a moment. “Still, it’s never too early to start trying to impress the boss, eh?”
She laughed then, nodding slightly. “That’s my philosophy.” She felt relief at finding out that he had no trouble with her rather off-beat sense of humor, and in fact, seemed to appreciate it.
“No wonder you’ve made Commander already, then,” he said with a chuckle.
Of course, this isn’t exactly an official meeting… this is basically off-time for both of us anyway. Still, it’s a good sign. She studied her new commanding officer a bit as she mulled things over. She had seen him once before – or his face, at any rate – during their subspace communications, but that was different than actually meeting someone in person. He was of roughly average height for a Bolian male at about 175 centimeters, which made him about 10 centimeters taller than she was. He had a slightly stocky, somewhat rounded build, which was typical of many members of his species, and a quiet, relaxed presence. He struck Yuri as being a bit less reserved, on the whole, than Captain MacFionn had been.
“So, anything interesting to report from your trip here?” he asked, as he took a step toward one of several couches placed irregularly throughout the room, gesturing for her to sit down.
“Not really, which I should probably be thankful for,” Yuri replied as she took a seat. Captain Parrin sat down on a smaller couch situated opposite hers, allowing the two of them to converse face-to-face. “As strange as it is to hear myself saying this, I think I’ve had my fill of ‘interesting’ for a while.”
“I know how you feel. I keep thinking I’m hearing a comm line opening, bringing me more bad news, or another crisis to attend to. I have to stop and listen every now and then to make sure it really is just my imagination.”
Yuri nodded absently, knowing precisely what he meant. “It has been one crisis after another, hasn’t it? Still, we’ve achieved a lot. Just the fact that the Tarnath Corridor is secure again, that we’ve managed to mostly hold things together...”
“Just that much is a huge victory right now,” he finished for her, echoing her thoughts. “And certainly, the Leviathan has distinguished herself a number of times during recent events.”
She smiled in response. “That’s thanks to an outstanding crew. And, the same could be said of the Dauntless.” A slight sigh escaped her lips, and she looked away momentarily, an action that didn’t go unnoticed by Captain Parrin.
Looking at him again, she opened her mouth to speak, then closed it, reconsidering her words. Finally, she shrugged. “I do worry, I have to admit. I wonder how they will get on without me.” She laughed then, realizing something. “That must make me sound incredibly full of myself.”
The Bolian man smiled, leaning back slightly. “Not at all. I know the sentiment well, in fact. It’s not about you believing your abilities to be superior, it’s about you not being there anymore, not able to stand with the friends you’ve made on that ship.”
She looked up at him. “Yes, exactly.” She was impressed at how easily he articulated what she had been thinking. “I suppose it’s not an uncommon sentiment for an officer in my situation. Of course, it is partly just me. It’s in my nature to fret about those around me a little bit, to always want to jump in and take care of something myself.”
"That’s not exactly a bad thing,” Parrin replied, sounding slightly amused. “Having both the desire and the ability to get things done yourself is an asset for a command officer. As long as you can balance that with knowing when to step back and allow those under your command to do their jobs. And since you’re here, now, in that red uniform…”
“I must be doing something right,” Yuri put in, chuckling a bit. She paused, and her face took on a more somber expression when she continued. “Although… I won’t lie, I know that I have been doing a good job, and I’m not much for false modesty,” she explained. “But I have no illusions that my performance is the only factor here. Things have been rough, and I’m sure Starfleet is being a bit more… lenient, than usual, when it comes to promotions, especially in cases where…” She paused again, and her face fell. She realized that what she had been about to say was rather insensitive, at least in tone, if not in concept, and struggled to reword it before continuing. “Where, um… there is…”
“A void that must be filled.” Parrin’s voice surprised her, finishing the thought that she had been unable to.
She regarded him for a moment, then nodded. She smiled slightly, not her usual, playful grin, but a softer smile, one that conveyed her sympathy. “I was trying to figure out a less harsh way of saying it, but… yes.”
Parrin nodded. “It may be harsh, but it is the truth." His face was set with a sort of grim determination as he spoke, yet he did not try to completely hide the sadness in his eyes. "Alison Myra was a damn fine officer, and… an exceptionally kind person. Her loss has been difficult, for all of us."
Yuri said nothing, feeling like there weren't any words she could provide that would be adequate as a response. She knew what it was like to lose someone, of course, but...
“In any case, what you say about Starfleet wanting to promote qualified officers to important positions due to our present circumstances may be true to some extent, but I’ve seen your record, Commander. You fully deserve this, as far as I have been able to tell.”
Yuri shrugged. “Captain MacFionn said the same thing.”
“There, you see?” Parrin said, stabbing a finger toward her as if to underscore his point. "MacFionn seems like she would be a good judge of character. I met her once at a conference several years ago, though she was a Commander herself then.”
“It’s hard to imagine the woman I knew as captain for over three years being the same rank that I am now.” Her face scrunched up as she tried to picture it. “Then again, Commander Xerin said the same thing about me, when I told her about the promotion. Told me it was weird trying to imagine me being the same rank as her.”
Parrin laughed. “When you know someone long enough, those adjustments can be hard to make sometimes. Xerin… I’ve not met her personally, but I’ve certainly heard the name. She has, ah, quite the reputation among several of the Admirals in this sector.”
Yuri’s grin widened. “Would that be the reputation for getting things done and being able to think outside the box, or the reputation for mouthing off to Admirals when she thinks they are being unreasonable?”
“Well, both, really,” Parrin responded, shrugging slightly. “I must admit, I’m not sure what to make of her, though I suspect that might be because I’ve never met her. One certainly can’t deny that she’s an extremely capable officer.”
Yuri nodded. “And in her defense, I’ve never seen her say anything out of line when she didn’t have reason to be absolutely certain that her position was the correct one. Still,” she added quickly. “Though I probably won’t be the most formal officer you’ve ever served with, even I wouldn’t call an Admiral a dumbass to his face without a REALLY good reason.”
“I find myself trying to figure out what a ‘really good reason’ to do so would be, now that you say it. But that’s good to hear. Honestly, the impression I’ve gotten is that the Admirals who are truly unhappy with her are a rather vocal minority. The others don’t seem to care. They value her skills too much to push for any kind of real disciplinary action, much to the chagrin of… certain flag officers. One in particular.”
“Fleet Admiral Montaldo?” Yuri asked almost immediately, not missing a beat.
Parrin couldn’t help but laugh. “That’s the one. It seems that Admirals Daikara and Leavins simply don’t see the huge problem with her continuing to remain an XO, no matter how many times he tries to convince them otherwise.”
“I’ve spoken with Admiral Daikara several times,” Yuri replied. “He always seemed a bit more… reasonable.” She chose her words delicately, as she didn’t want to come off like she was badmouthing Admiral Montaldo… at least, not too much. “In fact, he was my contact during my promotion and transfer here.”
“Yes, he was the one who initially brought you to my attention, as well,” Parrin said, nodding. “I appreciate that he has a sense of humor, and little trouble using it. Some of the other admirals could take pointers from him,” he added with a chuckle. His face took on an odd expression then; he looked almost perplexed. “In fact, he poked fun at me a bit when we were discussing your assignment here, at least I assume he was poking fun. He wondered if I had decided to take you on simply because you and I both happen to have blue skin,” he told her, raising an eyebrow.
Yuri couldn’t tell whether or not Parrin was at all upset about the remark, or was simply amused and playing up his reaction. To be on the safe side, she attempted to stifle the fit of laughter that the comment had brought about, and had minimal success. She covered her mouth, laughing into her palm. “That’s, um… I don’t even know what to say to that, in all honesty.”
“Neither did I. I just gaped at him for a moment, then finally shook my head and told him he was crazier than a screen door on a starship.” He grinned at her.
“Well, I believe that was probably the most appropriate response, under the circumstances. Sir.”
“I thought so. Speaking of that, I have to admit to being curious… We do have another Casserian on board, actually. But her appearance is… different,” he explained, gesturing with his hands as he spoke. “Her skin tone is quite far removed from yours, for example.”
“Pale off-white, I’d imagine?”
“Precisely,” he replied. “Her eyes have a different structure than yours, as well, and her ears… They are almost like Vulcan ears, only longer and straighter. And mechanical, of course.”
Yuri nodded. “It’s just how our physiology works.” She absently brushed several strands of hair back across her own ears – or “hearing units”, as they would be called among Casserians – which appeared as two black, flat rectangles, about three centimeters thick, running horizontally along the sides of her head in the same position as the ears of most fully organic humanoids. “For the eyes, ears, and skin color, it’s essentially a binary differentiation. One type or the other. According to our historical records, there used to be two distinct races, one fully organic and one made up of sentient androids. The bio-mechanical Casserian species that exists today takes traits from both.”
“Interesting,” he replied with a smile, rubbing his hand along his chin. “I never really took the time to learn more about the Casserians, or to ask Sil about her people.”
“Well, if it’s any consolation, I can’t say I know very much about Bolians either,” she said with a smirk. “And if you want more details than that, you’ll have to consult someone else, or the computer,” she added, holding up her hands in front of her, as if in defeat. “My understanding of the technical side of how our physiology works… is rather limited.”
“Fair enough,” he replied, chuckling.
“Sil is the Casserian you mentioned?”
He nodded. “Lieutenant Sil Farren. She’s in Security, and took Commander Myra’s death… very hard. Perhaps your presence will help her, actually. She’s been through counseling, of course, but I think she’s still hurting.”
“It just might help,” Yuri mused. “I hope so, anyway.”
“Well, I should probably attend to some things,” he said then, standing up. She followed suit, and he smiled to her, nodding. “I look forward to working with you, Commander. I think we’ll be getting on well together.”
“So do I,” Yuri said, nodding. “Think I’ll explore the ship a bit, like we discussed… wouldn’t be a bad idea to begin meeting other members of the crew, too.”
“Absolutely. Just… give them time,” he cautioned gently. “They’ve been through a lot, and you’re… well, you’re fully aware of what’s being asked of them in regard to your presence.”
She nodded. “I know. And thanks. I’m sure it’s no surprise that I had my doubts about coming here, even though I’m the one that accepted the promotion. But after speaking with you, I feel like this might just work out.” She grinned at him.
He returned the smile. “Good. I’m glad I could help. I’ll be attending a meeting this evening, but would you care to join me and some of my senior officers for dinner tomorrow night?”
“I’ll be there.”
“Excellent. Well, I’ll leave you to your exploring, then. Enjoy it; she really is a fine ship.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Yuri replied, and turned, beginning to walk toward the door. She flashed him another grin then, this one decidedly more crooked than before, throwing off a mock salute with two fingers. “Here’s to Team Blue, then.”
Parrin laughed heartily as she walked out.
Re: "A Running Start"
Stellar cartography had always intrigued her, despite the fact that her expertise leaned more toward tactical and security considerations. She was no scientist, but she was fascinated by some of the work they did, hence the large, cylindrical room was her first stop. The main system was powered down, which meant that the series of wall-mounted panels and holoprojectors were, at the moment, inactive. She was slightly disappointed by this, though hardly surprised. To conduct any major work using these facilities while the ship was undergoing a maintenance cycle at a starbase would have been fairly unusual. Still, she had actually heard a great deal about the new SC systems that were being used on the latest ships, including the Dauntless, so she knew she would have to come back again when it was in use.
She traversed the curved walkway as it circled up the side of the room, with platforms leading off to work areas set every few meters. She was almost halfway up the center column when she realized there was someone else nearby, after all. She followed the faint sounds of an active computer station, until she reached one of the work areas near the top. Sitting at the station was a young woman, Human by the looks of her. She was tapping away at the keyboard in front of her, but she looked like her mind was light-years away. Yuri paused, still several meters from the woman’s position, and considered that it might be better to simply turn and leave, rather than disturb her. But, before she could make that decision, her presence caught the woman’s eye, and she turned her head slightly, glancing over at her.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, turning to look fully in Yuri’s direction. “Sorry, I didn’t see you there. Can I help you?”
Yuri took several steps forward, closing the distance between them so they could talk more easily. “No, it’s okay. I didn’t mean to disturb you, or disrupt whatever work you were doing,” she replied, gesturing toward the workstation.
The woman shook her head, rising to her feet and stepping away from the workstation. “It’s alright, you didn’t, really. And I’m not doing anything all that crucial anyway,” she explained, with a faint smile. “Just some minor diagnostics that I’m taking care of since I have nothing better to do at the moment.” Her expression changed to one of uncertainty as Yuri drew closer. “Um, Commander,” she added hastily.
Yuri got the impression that the woman – a Junior Grade Lieutenant, now that she was close enough to tell – hadn’t realized her rank until just then, and was worried that her tone might have been overly informal. She smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it, Lieutenant. We’re off duty, the ship is in a semi-inactive state… the only reason I even used your rank just now is because I don’t know your name.”
The young woman blinked several times, then flashed that same faint, subtle smile. “Well, that problem I can help you with. Samantha Sainar, with Operations.” She was a bit taller than Yuri, possessed of a petite build and very fine features. Pale skin was paired with reddish blonde hair that fell loosely around her shoulders, and light brown eyes that held unmistakable traces of a tired sadness.
Yuri nodded to her. “Yuri Rienne. I’m…” She paused then. This would be the first person outside of the captain that she had interacted with directly. “I’m the new executive officer,” she told her plainly, keeping her voice level.
She said nothing for a moment, then blinked, looking away. “Oh, I see. Well, I should have known that sooner or later, Starfl-“ She cut herself off abruptly, looking back up again, and Yuri was surprised to see the woman’s eyes meeting her own. “I… I’m sorry,” she said hastily. “That probably sounded a lot like I don’t want you to be here.”
Now it was Yuri’s turn to respond with a moment of somewhat stunned silence. She wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the signals she was getting from the other woman. “Ah… that’s ok,” she said quietly. “I understand. I mean… I would understand, if you didn’t want me here, considering the circumstances.”
Samantha stared at her in response, looking uncertain. Finally, she sighed, turning away, and sitting back down at the chair in front of the workstation. “I wasn’t expecting you to say that,” she said quietly. “Frankly, I was expecting you to react badly.”
“Well, I mean what I said. I would understand.” She took a couple of steps forward, leaning against the side of the station.
“That’s… good to know, actually,” the Human woman told her, smiling a bit. She looked up at Yuri then, and the pain was evident in the young woman’s eyes. “It wasn’t just Commander Myra. That whole mission, there was so much that just… went wrong. And, afterwards, there was…” she trailed off, shaking her head.
“I know,” Yuri said softly, staring down at the floor. “I read the reports.”
Samantha nodded, taking a deep breath. “It’s… it’s going to take some time.”
“Of course, I didn’t expect everyone to get used to my presence overnight.” The green-haired woman smiled slightly, a bit of her customary humor returning, though she had to admit to herself that she was forcing it, just a bit. “Well, I’ll let you get back to your diagnostics. I’m going to do some more exploring, familiarize myself with the ship. It was good to meet you, Samantha.”
“Likewise. And… thanks, for being… understanding.” Her voice was quiet, subdued.
Yuri looked at her for a moment, unsure of what to say. “I hope… I can live up, to…” She trailed off, knowing that the Lieutenant would take her meaning. She nodded to her, and turned to leave.
She could hear the console humming to life again behind her, as she quickly made her way down the walkway.
Her thoughts were unsettled as she made her way into engineering. To some degree, she had expected something like that. She knew the crew would need some time to adjust, and she knew that many of them would still be grieving. Still, coming face to face with it… She shook her head. That’s part of my job, part of why I’m here. I can’t just hope they’ll get through it, I need to help them get through it. They’re my crew, now.
She made her way past the center work table and the doors leading to offices to the left and right, and came around to stand near the warp core. It was powered down at the moment, as she ship rested in an inactive state, with all needed power being supplied by the station. As far as she could tell, any damage incurred during their last mission had been repaired. The core, and the entire engineering area, looked spotless, and the main room was empty of personnel. Or so she had thought.
“Hey down there!”
She looked up, toward the source of the voice. Taking a few more steps forward, she cocked her head, shooting the dark-skinned Human a curious look. He was leaning halfway into a maintenance enclosure on the second level, and grinned when she looked up at him. “Your timing is fortuitous, whoever you are. I just realized I actually need something in that toolkit I left down there.”
Yuri blinked several times, and then shrugged slightly. “At your service, then. What’d you need?”
“The hyperspanner,” he replied. “I thought I brought it up here with me, but…”
She opened the kit, and found the item in question easily. Holding it up, she looked at him again. “So, you want me to come up there, or…”
“Just toss it up here,” he said confidently, holding his hands out.
Grinning, Yuri swung her arm back slightly, before hefting the spanner into the air. It sailed upward, and the man caught it easily.
“Thanks,” he said, looking down at her. “I don’t think I recognize you. But we do have a crew of almost eight hundred, so forgive me if I’m mistaken.”
“You’re not,” she answered, appreciating the lightness of his tone, as well as his tall, lean build. A thin layer of black hair complemented handsome, strong features and dark eyes. The patch at his collar identified him as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. “Yuri Rienne. I just arrived about an hour ago.”
“Ahh, yes, our new XO! Welcome aboard, then. I’m Jason Rhodes, and this room is where you will find me bossing people around and trying to keep the ship from falling apart.”
Yuri raised an eyebrow. “So… you’re the Chief Engineer, then.”
He smirked down at her, raising the spanner in a questioning gesture. “Isn’t that what I just said?”
Laughing, Yuri shook her head before replying. “Just clarifying. My first day on the job, so I want to do everything I can to not make a fool of myself yet.”
“Hm, I see. Well, so far, you’ve shown me that you know what a hyperspanner looks like, that you have an accurate throwing arm, and that you can take a joke.” He shrugged. “I’m sold.”
Yuri found herself unable to suppress a wide grin. “Excellent. If the captain chews me out tomorrow, I’ll remind him that his Chief Engineer thinks I’m awesome.”
“Absolutely! I’m sure that will help, a lot.”
“So, how prone IS the ship to falling apart?” she asked, still grinning.
“Actually, not very. She’s held together well through all the crap we’ve dealt with lately. I’ve always been wary of prototype ships,” he explained, making a face. “Sure, you’ve got cutting edge technology, but…”
“You also have to deal with all the cutting edge bugs?”
“That is the best way to put it that I’ve ever heard,” he told her appreciatively. “Cutting edge bugs. I’m going to use that myself from now on. Anyway, I’ve been surprised at how few issues have come up with this one.” He rapped the hyperspanner against the side of the bulkhead, producing a reverberating clang. “Starfleet seems to agree with my assessment, since they’re already building more Dauntless-class starships.”
Yuri nodded, crossing her arms under her chest. “So, once they’re commissioned and flying around out here… allies, or competition?”
“Why can’t they be both?” He laughed, shaking his head. “You’re fun to talk to, but I’d better get back to this. I’ll see you later, I’m sure.”
“Are you having dinner with the captain tomorrow night, by any chance?”
“Actually, I am,” he replied with a nod.
“Then I’ll see you there,” she told him, still grinning as she gave him the same two-fingered salute that she had given the captain earlier, before walking past the core, continuing to the rear of the engineering section.
It made sense to her that Rhodes was coping with the loss more easily, more quickly. He’d been in Starfleet longer, had seen more, whereas Lieutenant Sainar looked to be fairly young. At that age, it’s hard to even… She sighed slightly, clearing those thoughts away as she continued her exploring.
Re: "A Running Start"
She was surprised, in a way, that it had taken her this long to end up on the bridge. She had simply let her feet take her wherever they wanted after leaving engineering, and they had meandered around various other sections of the ship before coming here, to the place where she would be spending the majority of her on-duty time. She’d spoken with several other members of the crew during her exploring, and came away from those encounters with mixed feelings. Some reacted like Lieutenant Sainar had, others were more cold, seeming slightly uncomfortable around her. Most were, in fact, grateful for her presence, but even so, there was a lingering melancholy, a layer of grief that had yet to be completely tapped, permeating the ship. She felt for them, and though it was difficult, she remained committed to her decision to accept this assignment. She could handle it.
The bridge was clean and elegant, like most Starfleet bridges, and dominated by medium grays and blues. Overall, it was roughly the same size as the bridge on the Leviathan, perhaps just a little bit larger, and where the Akira-class ship’s bridge had generally resembled a variant of Galaxy-era bridge designs, this one harkened more to the Sovereign in terms of the layout, size, and configuration of various stations. She walked slowly forward, past the tactical console situated just behind the command area, until she was standing near the captain’s chair… and roughly a meter to the right of it, hers. She felt a chill run down her spine. She was REALLY here, and that was REALLY her chair. The first officer’s chair. She shook her head, grinning stupidly. By the red star’s fall, I think I’m finally figuring out that this isn’t a dream.
The other set of doors opened, and another officer strode in from across the bridge, PADD in hand. Yuri looked up, straightening her posture, startled out of her thought process.
The Lieutenant looked up as she approached Yuri’s position, slowing her pace. Immediately, Yuri could see that she was Casserian, and was thus fairly certain she knew who she had just encountered. Still, she didn’t like to make assumptions, and decided to allow the woman to introduce herself. “At ease, Lieutenant…” she said, trailing off as she walked across the command area, approaching the Lieutenant.
“Farren, sir,” the other woman replied, her tone measured and formal. “Sil Farren.”
She had never really given it much thought before, but now that she did, she could see why Parrin had been curious about Casserian physiology. Growing up with her own people, she had always associated the various distinctions as normal, but it wouldn’t surprise her if someone who had never met a Casserian were to wonder if she and Sil were even the same species. Where Yuri’s skin was a light, royal blue, Sil’s was a pale, whitish tan, and her hearing units were long, slender, black rectangles, pointing up away from her head. Even aside from the idiosyncrasies of Casserian physiology, their physical features were markedly different from one another. Sil’s hair was quite straight, falling to her mid-back in a ponytail tied high on the back of her head, and its jet-black hue caused the icy blue of her eyes to stand out. She was nearly as tall as Captain Parrin, and while both women possessed an athletic physique, Sil had a slim, lithe build, in contrast to Yuri’s shorter stature and curvy, busty figure.
That she was strikingly beautiful didn’t escape Yuri’s notice, and under just about any other circumstances, her instinct would have been to begin flirting with her, and see where it led. Yuri had no problem whatsoever with the reputation she’d earned over the years as someone prone to shamelessly hitting on anyone she found remotely attractive. Today, though, she had found those instincts tempered. It would still be some time before this crew was used to her, and she to them, to say nothing of the lingering sadness she was acutely aware of. She had every intention of tabling some of her more outgoing traits until she felt it was appropriate to do otherwise.
“Can I help you, Commander?” the Lieutenant asked calmly.
Yuri paused, unsure of how to respond. There was something about this woman, something in her tone that just seemed off. The weary sadness she had observed in Samantha Sainar’s eyes earlier didn’t seem so disturbing when compared to the utterly flat, emotionless expression Sil wore. “No, I was just familiarizing myself with various parts of the ship, now that I’m stationed here. I’m Yuri Ri-“
“I know who you are,” she cut in abruptly, her tone still level, almost uninterested. “You’re… the replacement.”
Yuri said nothing. She was completely taken aback by the sudden interruption, and the wording. No one had used that term, and for good reason; she herself had been avoiding it, as it seemed disrespectful, even if it was technically correct. “I… suppose I am,” she replied slowly. “It looks like you did your homework on me, Lieutenant.”
“Yes sir, I looked up your file as soon as I heard that Starfleet had chosen a replacement.”
Another pause. The captain said she’d taken Myra’s death hard, but… seems like there’s more to it than that, somehow. “Well,” she said finally, choosing her words carefully. “As I said, I just wanted to get a feel for my new posting. Didn’t mean to interrupt whatever it is you were doing. Just, one thing, since you’re here. Never was too fond of being called ‘sir’. So you might as well start getting used to calling me something else.” She smiled, hoping that a bit of easygoing friendliness might diffuse this… whatever it was.
“Since you’ll probably be interacting with my CO much more than with me personally, I doubt it really matters much. Sir.”
Yuri stared at the other woman, her green eyes narrowing slightly. She didn’t miss the infusion of actual malice into Sil’s last word. She met her gaze, trying to read what she could from the Lieutenant’s expression, from her eyes, and found only the malice. Some officers might have simply excused themselves and tried to get a fresh start with this woman later, but that was far too indirect for Yuri Rienne. “Have I done something to offend you, Lieutenant?” Her tone was level, but one could hardly call it pleasant.
Sil appeared to ponder the question for a moment. “No,” she said finally. “Not since meeting me in person, at any rate.”
What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? Two years ago, she would have said exactly that, without question. Some small part of her bio-mechanical brain realized that such a change in temperament no doubt contributed to Starfleet’s decision to promote her. “Something from before we met, then?”
Lieutenant Farren sighed, and to Yuri’s surprise, she began to walk past her, toward the tactical console. “Commander Myra is dead. You’re here to replace her. So you do your job, I’ll do mine, which at the moment requires me to access this tactical station, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to get started.”
Yuri watched her carefully as she walked by. The tension in the young woman’s voice had been obvious, and Yuri suspected she was barely holding herself back from hurling far harsher words at her, and at much higher volume. As Sil began entering data on the console, Yuri took a step toward her, not ready to drop it just yet. “I’m not responsible for what happened,” she said quietly. “I’m not going to tell you not to feel however you feel toward me, because you have the right to deal with her death however you need to. But I am the executive officer on this ship now, and if there’s going to be a problem with-“
“NO, sir!” Sil’s voice rang out across the empty bridge as she swiftly brought her eyes back up to meet Yuri’s. The blue orbs were full of fury. “No problem at all! I will continue to serve as the assistant chief of my department to the best of my ability, sir. And I will carry out any orders you give me, sir. That is all anyone can reasonably expect, and no amount of bloviating is going to get me to LIKE you, because that is simply not required of me. Now, I really must get back to work. Sir.”
Yuri’s expression was at once stunned and angry. Several retorts came to mind, but she ignored them all, surprising herself in the process, and opted not to burn this particular bridge just yet, though it was clearly already beginning to smolder. “Fine,” she said icily, and turned, walking toward the turbolift. Sil made no attempt to stop her.
“Deck… deck, uh…shit, where am I even going,” Yuri muttered once the turbolift doors had closed. She shut her eyes, placing her face against her palm momentarily, rubbing her fingers over her forehead as she tried to clear her mind. “Deck seven,” she said emphatically, as soon as she settled on a destination.
Re: "A Running Start"
She exited the lift, walking purposefully down the hall to the double doors at the end. Originally, she had planned to have a look at the primary security station before coming here, but given the incident on the bridge, and what it had done to her mood, she decided that relaxation was in order… and a drink. “I hope this place isn’t closed during the repairs,” she said aloud to no one in particular as she walked up to the doors.
Ever since the lounge on the Galaxy-class had become known as “Ten-Forward”, other ships had begun to follow suit. These days, any similar shipboard facility usually ended up with a similar name, thus, Yuri found herself in “Port Seven.” Of greater importance to her at the moment was the fact that a few of the tables and barstools were occupied, and a quick glance to her right as she entered confirmed that the bar was indeed staffed.
She strode up to it, taking a stool amidst several empty ones, thinking it best to avoid striking up any other conversations with the crew for the time being. She sat with her arms folded on the countertop, staring at nothing, her expression both contemplative and frustrated.
“Well, you look a little stormy.”
Yuri looked up at the sound of the voice in front of her, and saw that the bartender had walked over to attend to her. Before she could reply, the tall, dark-haired Bajoran woman spoke again.
“I know just the thing for a mood like that. You’re not on duty, are you?”
Yuri frowned – or, more accurately, turned her frown of distress into one of confusion. “Well, no, not at the moment, but-“
“Excellent, just a second.” With that, she walked a few paces away and began pulling out a bottle from under the counter.
Yuri raised an eyebrow, giving her an odd look, though her sour expression remained. “I haven’t even told you what I want. How do you know I’ll like whatever it is you’re getting there?”
“Oh, you will. Call it a hunch,” she replied, pouring the pale green liquid into a medium sized glass. She replaced the stopper in the bottle, placing it back under the counter before walking back over to stand in front of Yuri. “Here you are,” she said pleasantly, placing the drink in front of her.
Yuri turned a skeptical eye toward the drink, and then the bartender. “What is it?”
“Just try it. Trust me.” She flashed a radiant smile, beginning to move off as she saw someone else sit down at the other end of the bar. “If you need anything else, just give me a shout.”
Yuri watched her walk away for a moment, then looked down at the drink again. Shaking her head, she picked the glass up, staring into the semi-opaque liquid. With a slight shrug, she brought it to her lips, taking a small sip.
The flavor was unfamiliar, but very pleasant. She swallowed, enjoying the distinctive bite that this particular drink seemed to have. Somehow, that crazy bartender’s hunch really was right, she thought, unable to keep a small smile from her lips. “Thanks,” she whispered, making a mental note to thank the woman properly when she came by again. She took a slightly larger sip, as she pondered just what she was going to do. She knew that technically, she could write Lieutenant Farren up for insubordination and improper conduct, but she didn’t really want to do that. It wasn’t her style, in a situation like this; she would only take that kind of action if she felt it was truly warranted. I’d much rather figure out what got her so upset. Obviously, I’m not going to be her favorite person right off the starting line, but there was more to it than that… She sighed into her drink, keeping her arm huddled around herself as she let her head lean forward, looking straight down at the countertop. What have I gotten myself into? I’m no counselor, I don’t know how to read the kind of grief I’ve encountered today… how to get past it. Maybe this was a mistake after all.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d been lost in thought when she realized that someone was speaking to her. Blinking rapidly, she turned on the stool, angling herself to look at whoever was standing behind her. “I’m sorry, what?” she asked, having registered a voice, but not what it said.
Another member of the Dauntless crew – she presumed, anyway – stood before her. She looked to be of a similar age to Samantha and Sil, and her gold collar was adorned with the pips of a junior grade Lieutenant. She was somewhat shorter than Yuri, with a trim, feminine figure. Long, turquoise-colored hair framed a cheerful face and dark blue eyes. Just below her left eye were two dark brown markings, running in a vertical line about halfway down her cheek. “I asked if you were Commander Rienne,” the young woman said.
“Oh.” Yuri felt very disconcerted by what had just transpired. She was used to being more aware of her surroundings than most people, not less. That she was flustered to such a degree did nothing to help her mood. “Yes, I am,” she said simply. “And you are?”
“Lieutenant Rana Tsinasha, systems engineer. I just thought I’d introduce myself to our new XO.”
Yuri opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. With a slight sigh, she turned back to face the rear of the bar again. “Let me guess: you understand that I’m here to do my job, but you’re still depressed about it. Or, you basically don’t want me here at all, and will do your best to follow my orders so that the ship continues to function, but no one said you have to like me. Or perhaps you want to remind me that I just need to give everyone time.”
She regretted the outburst immediately. This woman had said nothing, done nothing, except walk up to her and say hello. It wasn’t fair to assume her reaction would be similar to what she’d encountered so far. And she couldn’t bring herself to really question any of the reactions she’d gotten today – even Sil’s. On some level, she understood it. Slowly, she turned to face Lieutenant Tsinasha again. “I’m… I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.” She paused, a bit surprised to see that the utterly pleasant expression had still not left the other woman’s face.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked suddenly, gesturing toward the stool to Yuri’s left.
Yuri shifted her gaze toward the stool for a brief moment, the surprise evident on her face. “No, but-“
“Good!” she exclaimed, bounding across the short distance between herself and the stool, sitting down on it before Yuri could utter another word. She folded her hands on the counter, turning to Yuri, a cheerful smile covering her face.
Yuri simply stared at her for a moment. “Suit yourself,” she said after a moment. “What I was going to say was that, as you just saw, I’m not exactly the most pleasant person to be around at the moment.”
“That’s ok. We all have our off days.” She looked toward the bar, to the drink Yuri held with both hands. “What are you having?”
“Oh, this? It’s, um…” She held the drink aloft, peering into the glass as she had before. She realized that she never did ask the bartender what it was. So, she shared the only information she had. “It’s green. If you want more details than that, you’ll have to ask her.” With her right index finger, she pointed past the glass, in the direction of the bartender. “It’s tasty, though.”
“Oh, that looks like Aldeberan Whiskey,” Rana replied, nodding.
Yuri looked at her, and then back at the glass. “I’ll take your word for it.”
“It almost matches your eyes and hair,” she commented brightly.
Yuri couldn’t help but chuckle at that, despite her mood. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
Rana smiled. “Before I answer that, can you tell me if it would be against any kind of regulation to tell a superior officer that she’s cute?”
Yuri actually laughed. “I doubt it. If it was, I surely would have run into it by now.” She turned to her. “Thanks. I don’t know if it was your intention or not, but you’ve helped lighten my mood a bit.” She shook her head. “I knew coming in that things would be difficult, given the situation, but…”
“It was worse than you expected,” Rana supplied, her tone gentle, sympathetic.
Yuri pondered her response for a moment. “No… not worse, exactly. I think it was more a matter of me not being as prepared for it as I thought I was.” She looked forward again. “If you don’t mind discussing the topic… you seem to be handling it quite well.”
“Well, I went through my share of grief, of course. It’s been a difficult time, for all of us,” she said quietly, looking down for a moment. “But, somehow, I’ve found a way to manage it, I guess. A large part of that was… was Sil.”
Yuri’s eyes tightened momentarily. She said nothing, waiting for Rana to continue.
“On more than one occasion, she helped me through some… rough spots, in my life. Things that I had to do, or see, as part of this crew, that I didn’t handle well. She was always there for me. Without her, I’d…” She paused for a moment, thinking over her next words. Yuri looked over and saw her sigh before continuing. “I’d still be a broken mess, weeping in a corner somewhere. She’s possibly the kindest, most gentle person I’ve ever met. When she wants to be, anyway… she has this uncanny ability to just fit in, no matter what the social dynamics around her are like.”
“Sounds like someone I’d like,” Yuri commented quietly, taking another sip from her glass. “Doesn’t sound like the person I met, though…”
“Try… try not to think ill of her,” Rana said, and suddenly, her tone was more urgent, more serious. She turned to face Yuri fully, placing a hand on her arm. “You have to understand, she was very close to Alis- to Commander Myra. And she was with her when she died. It’s been especially hard for her.”
Yuri raised an eyebrow. What Rana was saying made sense, but she was wondering something. “Did you talk to her? About our, um… encounter, on the bridge? Is that why you came to find me?”
Rana paused, then nodded slowly. “Does that upset you?”
In response, Yuri smiled slightly, much to the shorter woman’s relief. “Nah. Was just wondering. It seems like the two of you are very good friends.”
“Definitely. Sil is… well-liked, in general. Everyone seems to find her endearing,” she said with a giggle. “At least, normally.”
“I’m not sure what to do,” Yuri blurted out. There was something about this woman, the quality of her voice, which made her feel as if she could speak freely about her troubles, despite having just met her. “I would rather find a way to patch this, rather than just tolerate one another. The captain even suggested that my presence might comfort her, since we’re both Casserians, and since I came up in security. Things kind of went the opposite way, though, and I’m not sure if I know how to make it better. And it’s not just Sil, really. Some other crewmembers I’ve met have been… distant, or just so depressed…” She ran a hand through her hair. “As I said, I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.”
Rana looked up, thinking. “Well, maybe there’s some kind of common ground you could find?” She shrugged slightly. “It’s really too bad that Commander Zakurin is away. That’s our Security Chief, Sil’s CO. I think she’d be able to act as a bridge between the two of you, and maybe help everyone adjust.”
“Oh yes, Rhea’s sister,” Yuri remarked absently. She saw Rana’s expression change out of the corner of her eye, and when she looked back over, she was met with a look of confusion. “Oh, sorry. I served with Rhea Zakurin on the Leviathan.”
“Oh!” Rana exclaimed, nodding. “She’s mentioned Rhea before, but I didn’t realize the Leviathan was your former posting.”
“Rhea’s a good friend,” Yuri commented. “For some reason, I’ve gotten along well with Lysians whenever I’ve served with them. Case in point,” she added, gesturing toward Rana.
“Was it the hair, the stripes on my face, or my demeanor that gave my species away?” Rana asked playfully.
“All of the above, really.”
She giggled in response. “Well, the Commander will be back in a few days, so hopefully your streak will continue. I think you’d like her, anyway. She’s really energetic, loves being around other people. Bit of a party girl.”
Yuri laughed. “Sounds like… me, honestly. At least, normally,” she added, echoing Rana’s earlier words. “And really, I’ll take all the help I can get,” she added glumly.
They continued to talk for several minutes, chatting easily. Yuri was pleased that she had made at least one solid friend this day, and she also took the opportunity to find out more about Lieutenant Farren, as she tried to figure out how she was going to approach a second meeting with her.
“Rhodes to Tsinasha.”
Rana blinked, looking up as she tapped her combadge. “Tsinasha here.”
“Sorry to bother you during your leave time, Lieutenant, but those fluctuations in the starboard power coupling are cropping up again.”
Rana’s face fell. “Again? If this keeps up, we’ll just have to replace the thing…”
“We just might, before too long. I’m afraid I need to ask you to come down to help figure out what’s wrong with the damn thing THIS time.”
“It’s no problem, Chief. I’ve had enough downtime for now, I can handle it. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Thanks, Rana, I appreciate it. Rhodes out.”
Rana tapped her badge a second time, closing the channel, before looking at Yuri. “Well, I’d better go. It was good to meet you, Commander.”
“Likewise. And… thanks. If nothing else, you’ve given me an opportunity to vent, and maybe get a little perspective.” She smiled at her.
Rana returned the smile, nodding as she slid off the stool. “I think you’ll figure something out,” she said confidently. “I’ll see you soon.”
Yuri nodded, watching her go for a moment. “Oh! One more thing, Rana.”
The Lysian woman stopped, looking back toward the bar. “Yes?”
“For future reference, when we’re not on duty, please just call me Yuri.’” She grinned.
Rana laughed lightly. “Duly noted.”
Re: "A Running Start"
Yuri walked aimlessly along the corridors of deck five. She had no specific destination, she had simply wanted to spend some time thinking things over, and had always had a hard time doing so when simply sitting still.
“Common ground, common ground…” she mumbled, drawing an odd look from a passing ensign. She mulled over what Rana had said, trying to think of some way…
She looked up, coming to a stop. Well, that’s one thought… she is in Security, after all. Quickly, she returned to her quarters, accessing her computer and looking up Sil’s Starfleet records. It didn’t take her long to find the information she was looking for. Perfect. Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself for what would no doubt be a difficult endeavor. “Rienne to-“ She cut herself off. “Computer, cancel comm channel and tell me the current location of Lieutenant Sil Farren.” Better to do it in person…
“You want what?” Sil’s voice held none of the animosity from earlier; her initial reaction to Yuri’s proposal conveyed mainly surprise.
“To get in a little sparring,” she said, repeating herself. “According to your personnel file, you have quite a talent in unarmed combat. You breezed through Starfleet’s self-defense training, having already studied Casserian martial arts for years.”
Sil blinked several times, and then her antagonism returned, though it was less powerful than before. “Yes, I took Anlashu.”
Yuri nodded. “Specifically, the Arel-Marva sub-school, correct?”
Sil sighed. “Correct.”
Yuri grinned broadly. “Me, too. Thus, some sparring is in order. I always welcome a new challenge, and from what I’ve read and heard, so do you.”
Sil glared at her. “I… must decline, s-Commander.”
Aha. You’ve rethought that, at least. Yuri shook her head. “Chalk it up to lingering security officer instincts, then. I’d like to see what you can do, to know the skill level of someone who might very well have my back one day.”
At that, Sil visibly stiffened. She said nothing for a moment , and when she did reply, her words were measured, slow. “I would rather not, Commander.”
Yuri wasn’t smiling anymore. She stared into the other woman’s eyes, studying her. “I really think it’s a good idea, Lieutenant. Look at it is as more than a suggestion, if that’s what it takes.”
“You’re ordering me to the gym, then?”
“Yes. As I said, I need to see what you can do.”
“I don’t think that really qualifies as a justifiable reason for an order, coming from-“
“And I don’t think I will need to report your borderline insubordination earlier,” Yuri said flatly, cutting her off. “Nor recommend that you need further grief counseling. That is, if I get a proper chance to evaluate you for myself.” She didn’t like pulling rank, but she sensed an opportunity to get through to her, and wasn’t about to let it go. Before Sil could respond, she spoke again. “It’s your decision. If you wish to take me up on it, meet me in the gym in ten minutes. And I’d suggest something a little more suited to sparring than your uniform,” she added, turning to exit the security station.
She stopped in the open doorway as she heard – barely – Sil’s voice. “Because I’m stubborn as hell. And I’m not giving up on you. Not yet.” And she walked out into the hall, letting the doors shut behind her.
Yuri was halfway through her stretching routine, when the door opened, revealing Sil. She walked in hesitantly, her face a nearly unreadable mask. “Glad you could make it,” Yuri commented idly.
Sil said nothing, walking over to the mat in silence, beginning a similar set of stretches. Like Yuri, she was dressed in white training garb, consisting of a sleeveless top, tied at the waist with a dark gray belt, and simple, loose pants, with her feet bare. “”I’m still not sure I see the point of this,” she finally said, her voice low, uneasy.
Yuri shrugged. “In addition to all its practical purposes, sparring helps me unwind. It’s just… fun. Don’t you think so?”
Sil looked up at her, and for the briefest of moments, Yuri could swear she saw the beginnings of a smile. But the taller woman simply shrugged. They continued their warm-ups, in silence.
Finally, they took up positions near the center of the mat, standing a little over a meter apart. They bowed to one another, and almost simultaneously, spoke a single word in Casserian, signifying the beginning of the session. “Tanley.”
Yuri dropped into a loose fighting stance, putting most of her weight on her back leg. Sil did as well, though she somehow appeared less sure of herself. Yuri waited patiently, preferring to let the other woman advance first. She did so, at last, looking somewhat reluctant. A pair of quick attacks were dodged easily; Yuri barely even had to move. She immediately advanced as soon as Sil had pulled back, moving quickly toward her. Sil retreated– too much, in Yuri’s estimation. She was giving ground, instead of holding it. It was poor form, and Yuri was sure Sil knew it. Yuri’s own attacks were also half-hearted, as she felt there was nothing to be gained by pummeling Sil while she was holding back. “Come on, Sil,” she said. “I know for a fact that you’re better than this, unless your Starfleet file is faked.”
Sil blinked, her expression surprised. “I’m… I don’t want to hurt you,” she said, sounding more unsure of herself than ever.
Yuri laughed, moving lightly on her feet, dancing in and out of range momentarily. “Give me a little more credit than that,” she said, some of her usual playfulness seeping into her voice.
“No, it’s not that,” Sil replied, shaking her head. “I just… I don’t know, I just don’t know if I can do this.”
Yuri sensed she was on to something. The implications of her words reached beyond this sparring session. “Can’t do what, Sil? Fight?”
“No, not that.”
Yuri sighed. The simple, muted response was slightly frustrating, but she couldn’t deny that this was at least progress, after a fashion. She pressed on. “Then what? You’re afraid of something… of hurting me?” She dropped her arms slightly, her eyes widening. “No, not of injuring me yourself, but… of letting me get hurt. You’re afraid, that…”
Sil’s expression had become pained. She tried to hide it, but she couldn’t. She shook her head, saying nothing, beginning to move away.
Yuri rushed up to her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Wait! Tell me what you’re afraid of, Sil!”
She flinched away from Yuri’s grasp, a strangled, soft grunt escaping her lips. “I can’t…! I can’t be your friend!” she blurted out finally. “Because, if I… if I fail, again, then…” She shook her head again.
Yuri took a step closer to her, though she didn’t make any further physical contact for the moment. “Fail again? To save me, if I’m in danger?” She paused. She didn’t know what kind of reaction this would get, but she felt she had to say it, now that she was this close. “Is that what you think happened before? That you failed to save Alison? Is… is that what she would say happened if she were here?”
A moment passed. The silence hung in the air like a fog.
Suddenly, Sil whirled, sliding toward Yuri, her eyes filled with tears, her face full of fury. Yuri barely had time to raise her arms defensively, sliding back as she deflected Sil’s elbow strike as best she could. She gritted her teeth as pain shot through her forearm. She had been caught off guard, and her block was less than adequate, but she did manage to read Sil’s next move, and snapped off a quick punch before she could execute it. Sil turned, taking the blow to her side as she slid away from Yuri. She turned the motion into a high kick, catching Yuri in the shoulder with the flat of her foot as the green-haired woman ducked and tried to get a better position.
Back and forth they went, arms and legs moving with lightning speed. Several minutes passed before either of them gained a clear advantage. They were the only ones in the gym, but had there been others present, they surely would have drawn a crowd.
Sil realized her mistake too late; she had left herself vulnerable, falling prey to Yuri’s feint, and committing to a blow that missed cleanly. She tried to pull her arm back, to stop her forward momentum, but to no avail. Yuri ducked down, pivoting as she swept her leg out, catching the back of Sil’s shins. She pulled her leg forward, sending the Lieutenant tumbling onto her back. Immediately, Yuri moved over to her, and as Sil began moving her legs, preparing to rise, Yuri knelt down next to her, grabbing both of her wrists and pulling her closer. Sil fought against her grip momentarily, and then simply sat there, staring at the other woman with wide, almost terrified eyes.
“Tell me!” Yuri exclaimed, her face only inches from Sil’s. She poured all of her passion, all of her energy, all of her kindness, into her next words. “Why, Sil! Why are you pushing me away? It’s not because I’m replacing Alison, is it!”
Sil struggled in her grasp again, briefly, again beginning to stand. And then, her resolve left her, and she sank back to the floor, releasing air from her lungs in a deep sob. “No!” she admitted finally, closing her eyes. Tears streamed down her cheeks, making barely audible tapping sounds as they fell onto the mat below.
Yuri sighed heavily, letting go of the other woman’s arms. Slowly, she reached up, placing both hands on her shoulders. “It’s what I said before, isn’t it?” she asked softly. “You’re afraid you won’t be able to protect me, and that I’ll die, just like her.”
“Yes,” she said, almost in a whisper, avoiding Yuri’s gaze.
“Sil, you can’t assume reasonability for everyone on the ship, all the time. I can take care of myself.”
“So could Alison Myra,” she responded bitterly. “She wasn’t weak, or helpless. But she was vulnerable, in that moment, because she was so caught up in what she was doing, so determined to finish it. And she did finish it, and she saved so many people, but I couldn’t save her. I tried, I TRIED!” Her near-whisper became a scream, a sudden outburst of raw emotion contained in that one word. “But, I couldn’t…”
Yuri said nothing, waiting patiently, sensing that the young woman had more she needed to say.
“Do you know? Do you know what it’s like?” she asked between sobs, her voice shaking. “To have someone die right in front of you? In your arms? To carry them away from the crisis? To…” She nearly choked on her next words, coughing briefly. Yuri moved one hand to the side of Sil’s face, gently reassuring her. Sil looked up, managing to meet Yuri’s eyes with her own. “To watch, as the doctor tries, desperately, to revive her, but then… he moves away, and he knows… he knows he can’t save her. I can see it in his eyes… and…” She trailed off, looking away again, as more tears followed.
Yuri held her gaze, feeling the beginnings of tears welling up in her own eyes. “Yes, I do know what that’s like,” she said, plainly and honestly.
Sil’s face snapped up, looking into Yuri’s eyes again. “How?” she asked desperately, her voice strained and hoarse. “How do you go on? Knowing that you… you didn’t save them?”
Yuri sighed heavily, averting her own gaze for a moment, before looking at Sil again. “I don’t know if I can explain… how, exactly. And I won’t lie to you, and say that the pain will ever completely go away, or that you will forget about this one day. But you do move on, eventually. Your life continues. And you have to live it, otherwise, the sacrifices of those who… who we couldn’t save, become meaningless.” She shook her head. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Sil. I’ve heard about what kind of person you are, what kind of officer you are. And what you’ve shown me, since I came aboard… isn’t that person. You’re not living, you’re… you’re not Sil. And I don’t think Alison Myra would be very happy about that.”
Sil stared up at her, her eyes wide. Fresh tears still slid down her cheeks, but they were less numerous, now. Finally, after what felt like several minutes, she spoke. “You… you wouldn’t make… a bad counselor,” she said quietly.
Yuri relaxed, letting herself fall into a sitting position, keeping one hand on Sil’s shoulder as she laughed lightly. “I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not,” she said, grinning.
Sil sighed heavily, looking straight up at the ceiling for a moment. She wiped at her eyes, then turned back toward Yuri. “But, how did you do that?” she asked. “You’ve barely just met me, and somehow, you managed to cut… right to it,” she said, sounding slightly amazed.
Yuri shrugged. “I tend to approach everything head on. I just said what came to mind, really.”
Sil nodded slowly. “Th-thank you. And, I’m sorry… for what I said earlier. I was awful to you, there’s no excuse for-“
“Hey,” Yuri said softly, squeezing her shoulder. “Forget about that. I have.”
Sil stared at her. “B-but… after how badly I treated you… not to mention how inappropriate it was, since you’re my super-“
The rest of her sentence was lost, as Yuri abruptly leaned forward, wrapping her arms around the taller woman’s midsection, hugging her tightly. Sil tensed for a moment, surprised, her instincts running through several possible reactions, before settling on one. She relaxed, accepting the embrace, placing her own arms around Yuri and hugging her back. She felt Yuri’s hand on the back of her head and leaned forward slightly, resting her cheek against the offered shoulder. She was, to some degree, utterly baffled by this woman… but she couldn’t deny that she felt more at peace, more comfortable with herself, than she had in weeks.
“So we got off on the wrong foot, and stumbled a bit at the starting line,” Yuri said quietly. “That’s in the past. For the present, I think we’re off to a running start.”
Re: "A Running Start"
That's your first attempt at fanfic!?
It's a fantastic piece of work that is very well written, descriptive and nicely-paced so it moves along well. Very impressive for a first attempt.
Re: "A Running Start"
Colour me impressed too. A very interesting introduction here to the crew of the Dauntless. You don't give much away about the various crises Starfleet has faced in recent times but it hints towards more to come in the future. For now, Yuri is settling into her new post and it seems there is a lot to contend with in trying to fill the shoes of someone else. It served as a really neat way to introduce some of the characters and hint at some dynamics for the future.
Though I have to say, what really impressed me was the opening section, with Yuri travelling in the elevator through the ship yard and seeing the various ships before sighting her own new berth. That was magical and fantastically written. I was struggling with a new story introduction and had something like this in mind but I couldn't quite get it to work right. Reading your introduction, I've deleted mine! Back to the drawing board. You made it seem effortless yet conveyed the scene and the feelings of the new XO about her new assignment all in one. Super job. (yes - I am envious)
Welcome to the fanfics boards. May your stay be a long one with lots more stories to come.
Re: "A Running Start"
Agreed, it does capture the wonder of boarding a brand-new starship perfectly. I also like the era in which it is set - far enough into the 'future' without going too far.
Despite my unwarranted reputation as the scourge of the fanfic forum I have no problem heaping praise upon those who deserve it, and this has impressed me greatly.
I look forward to reading more of your work Saito.
Re: "A Running Start"
:alienblush: Thanks for the positive comments! Wow, I didn't expect it to be this well received somehow, haha.
And yus, this is my first finished and posted fanfic, but I have been writing for many years, and I do almost no fanfic writing outside of Trek. Hard part is actually finishing stories; I get a lot of ideas for plotlines, characters, settings, etc... but actually writing out the story is what kills me. This month's challenge theme made me think of this scenario, which I already had planned (the basic events anyway, not the details), but had never attempted to write out.
Now, as for these comments:
As I said, I've been writing for a while, but have completed relatively little. I started planning out these Trek stories (the Dauntless, along with a few other ships/crews, including the Leviathan) years ago, partly for running Trek RPs, but certainly with the intention of writing the stories out for their own sake as well. Since then, I've written up a lot of plot outlines, and I have bits and pieces of actual story, but mainly due to just not having had a lot of time for writing in the last couple of years, I haven't made much real progress (on Trek or anything else, outside of NaNoWriMo).
More recently, I've rethought the idea of putting a lot of time and effort into Trek. I really like the setting, but... it's not mine. I do want to possibly publish something someday (I know I know: I have to finish some stories first :lol:), and publishing Trek... is really not in the cards, for a number of reasons. In addition, there's another sci-fi world I've been trying to develop, that more recently has taken on a shape that would allow me to "transplant" the Trek stuff that IS entirely mine (my races, some characters, some plotlines, etc) into it, thus enabling me to use them in a setting that's actually my own creation. So I had decided to mostly table Trek in favor of wholly original works.
Then this challenge inspired me to write up this sequence. So as for writing more Trek... I dunno. I had fun writing this, but I do worry that I'm taking time and creative energy away from my original stories if I write much more. So I'm just not sure.
tl;dr version: I'm torn between writing more Trek, and spending that time on original works.
Thoughts on that as well as on the story itself are welcome, and thanks to anyone who reads the above for indulging my little woe is me moment there. :p
Re: "A Running Start"
Saito S, this is absolutely fantastic work! You've taken what, in a lesser writer's hands, might have been a tedious introduction to the series characters and turned it into a fascinating and touching story. :)
You've brought all of them to life in short order, and invested your readers in their lives.
Re: "A Running Start"
I'm a total sucker for great characters and dialogue and you gave us both in spades in this story. You are clearly quite talented and I would love to read more on these characters or others.
I do understand your dilemma about what to write. My suggestion is to focus on what you enjoy more. Writing fan fiction is really nothing more than a guilty pleasure for the love of the genre. It won't make you a serious author. But if you can manage it, there's nothing to say you couldn't work on both. Focus your efforts on your original work and write your fan fiction on the side. A lot of people do that. And don't worry about not being able to post entire stories at a time. Most writers here only post in segments anyway which makes it easier to mange time, both as a reader and a writer.
Either way, you should definitely not stop writing. Like ever.
Re: "A Running Start"
You did good. I liked it. I'd like to see more of your work.
Re: "A Running Start"
I appreciate the kind words. Incidentally, I recently read the first two parts of Gibralter, and came away very impressed! Very dark, well-realized situations that Gibralter's crew find themselves in. Excellent pacing, some unexpected plot twists, and vibrant characters.
At the same time, as I mentioned, I've got this other sci-fi world... it's undergone several revisions in the last couple of years (it was sort of floundering before that, I had an interesting concept to set up the world, but not much else), and suddenly it's just perfect to "house" several elements of my Trek stories that are entirely my own, and could easily jump ship, so to speak. So sometimes, when I come up with an idea for a Trek story, I end up going "Wait wait... am I using this within Trek, or the other setting?" :lol: It sort of makes things more complicated, in a way. I'm mulling the whole thing over. I would like to post something more in the future, whether t's snippets of original fiction or snippets of Trek fic... We'll see.
Re: "A Running Start"
I enjoyed it. :techman:
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