There's an aspect to life aboard a starship that I always felt was missing from the episodes of TNG. The episode "Lower Decks" was an amazing exposure to the other side of the coin and I never forgot how they made those ensigns seem so dynamic in light of being on board a ship with what would become living legends.
And for the most part, I guess I understood why: there's a finite amount of time for episode length, and actors are contracted to have so much screen time/lines/etc in order to satisfy SAG rules. That doesn't leave a whole lot for lower deck activity.
So, as part of FSA, it is my intention to introduce some stories that involve the junior officers.
I start that thread with a scene between Greg Aspinall and Ensign O'Day.
A warning: Some of the conversation between these two can get a little PG-13-ish, but there's nothing explicit other than expressing fantasy. Btw, an acknowledgment to Peter David, who showed me the way ("Q-in-Law").
Gregory Aspinall ran his fingers through his hair as he lay back on the bunk in his stateroom. His hands moved behind his head and interlocked as he enjoyed the spaciousness of a double stateroom by himself. Being a junior grade lieutenant had its advantages, he decided. "So, what do you think?" he asked his visitor.
Ensign Thomas O'Day frowned. "I think this sucks."
Greg rolled his eyes. "Are you kidding me? I hope we never have to go home. My own room is beyond what I could have hoped for. And besides, adventures in the Beta Quadrant? This is what I signed on for."
"I'd rather go home and see my family."
"We've been away from them for a whole eight hours... we were going to be doing trials for two days! You're already homesick?" Greg clicked his tongue at him. "I think Starfleet might've been a bad choice for you."
Tom sighed. "It would've been a better two days if it were inside Federation territory... or at least within shouting distance."
Tommy O'Day was a fresh-faced graduate of Starfleet Academy, and it was his very first assignment after taking his summer leave. Greg felt a pang of guilt for not remembering that, but he shook it off. "Captain Leone's one of the best. I'm sure she'll find us a way home."
"Is she better than your mom?"
"No one's better than Mom," Greg assured him. His mother, Joy, was a rear admiral serving at the commanding admiral of Starbase Eleven. But before that, she was a starship captain of good repute. "There's a reason she urged me to sign off with Captain Leone."
"Because you're a legacy, and she's a legacy, too?"
"More than that. She's a friend of the family."
"Well, great. You use your inside hookups to get all the plum assignments, while little Tommy O'Day has to make do with being the first member of his family to join Starfleet," he said, throwing up his hands. His tone betrayed the fear he felt. "And what happens to him on his first assignment? Some wackjob steals the ship and sends it clear to the other side of the galaxy!"
"Calm down, Tommy. You're going to give yourself hives," said Greg in a mutter.
"What are hives?"
"I don't know. It's just something my grandma used to say."
"Oh. Anyway, whatever you may think of Captain Leone, I honestly doubt she's going to magically whisk us back to Federation space."
"You obviously underestimate the power of a starship captain, my young friend."
"I put more faith in Lieutenant Bartlet," affirmed Tommy. "She is a..."
Greg's interest in his friend's words was apparent as he looked for an apt adjective.
"Brilliant officer. Smart, and funny... she's really nice and cares about people who serve under her."
"Didn't I tell you not to get crushes on your superior officers?"
"What about you and Commander Elannis?"
Greg blushed. "That's different."
"How do you figure?"
"I don't go gushing all over her."
"What the hell. You do, so. Last night, before we launched, you were talking about how disappointed you were that Starfleet redesigned the uniforms, because you would've killed to see her... rear end in a one piece jumpsuit."
"Oh, man, I so would."
"No, it's different. When I look at her, I see a well-toned drop-dead gorgeous specimen of womanhood," Greg's voice turned soft. "If looks could kill..."
"You'd be dead by now? I'm not that lucky."
Greg slapped Tommy on the shoulder. "Asshole."
"You just lust after her. Lieutenant Bartlet deserves better than that from whoever she dates. She's not to be the subject of some pervert's wet dream."
"Commander Elannis... no, Ariel... she's not up on some pedestal. She's real. Attainable."
"I suppose you think Captain Leone's lustworthy, as well?"
"Uh... not really."
"Why not? She's pretty attractive. Red hair, green eyes, fair skin, great body. Especially after having a kid."
"A surrogate had the kid. She was on-duty when Dom was born."
"Still, she's quite a babe in her own right."
"Then you date her."
"I've got my own goals, thanks. But you still haven't really answered my question."
"Then actually ask one."
"What's wrong with the captain?"
"It's wrong! She's like my older sister."
"But she really isn't."
Greg blushed again. He mumbled a response.
"I'm sorry. What was that?"
"She... used to babysit for me."
Tommy threw his head back and laughed. "Oh my God, that is priceless!"
Greg sat up and pointed at him, angrily. "Don't you dare say a word!"
"I can't, I'm laughing too hard!"
"I never should've said anything."
"I can't believe she was your babysitter! That's hilarious!"
"Her dad and my dad are old friends," explained Greg, realizing that he wouldn't be able to do anything but. "When I was young, she would come over and watch me while our dads would go out. They would beam all over Earth, while our moms were serving."
"Okay," said Tommy with a nod, still letting the odd giggle out. "Keep going."
"She came over a lot. In fact, we spent a lot of time together. As much time as a young, impressionable boy such as myself might think that one day we were going to be more than just friends."
"Greg, was Captain Leone a hot teenager?" asked Tommy in a playful accusatory tone.
"Holy Kolker," breathed Tommy. "I can see that, totally. With the freckles and the red hair in curls, maybe... in a thin t-shirt on a hot summer's day..." The ensign's voice trailed off as the mental image formed in his head.
"Anyway, she went off to prep school for the Academy. One of those schools that requires you to board at them, so you get used to the experience that the Academy has to offer." Greg continued his story, knowing that perhaps Tommy was lost in his fantasy world. "I was twelve years old, and I didn't know what was going on, except that she was sixteen and I stupidly thought she was my girlfriend."
"Did she like bathe you?"
"Maybe she climbed in with you?"
"Did she ever wear like a low-cut shirt and bent over to pick up a toy... and you were like all excited but you didn't know why, and she wasn't wearing a bra?"
Greg stared at him, dumbfounded. "For your sake, I sincerely hope the Beta Quadrant has a place like Risa, so we can pop that cherry of yours and be done with it."
"I can't hear you. In my mind right now, Captain Leone and Lieutenant Bartlet are promoting me to lieutenant, in the nude," said Tommy with his eyes closed.
"God, I want to go home, now," said Greg in a barely constrained scream.
"See? I knew you'd come around."
---- Scene Change ----
Petra sat in front of Captain Leone's desk within the ready room. "In short, warp drive is available for all flight modes, sir."
"Nice work," said Leone. "What about the rest of the damage when we passed through the anomaly?"
"That's going to take a little longer, sir. We did take some outer hull damage, and that will require hull patching."
"Which we could do out here, but we would have to find someplace that was safe for EVA ops."
"I wouldn't recommend trying to perform repairs on the hull while at impulse power."
"Goes without saying. Weapons?"
"Fully operational, sir."
Leone nodded her understanding, and leaned back into the seat. "This isn't how I imagined my first command going," she admitted. "I had hoped for smooth trials and then on to Starbase 310 to patrol the border."
"I think we all did, sir," replied Petra. She smiled at her encouragingly.
"I'll get us back there. Rest assured."
"I don't doubt that at all, sir."
"Thank you. Would you be kind enough to send in Ariel on your way out?"
"Of course, sir."
Petra left as quietly as she entered, and Ariel entered with a grin.
"So, are we in it or what?"
Leone pressed her lips together in annoyance. "Gods, Ariel! At least wait until the doors closed to start spouting off."
"You haven't answered my question."
The captain sighed. "We have to make repairs, and we're going to need some coverage while we do it. Our choices are to engage warp drive and get the hell out of here, start a long journey home and take our chances."
"We go to the Kasui fortress, make repairs there, get ourselves a new alpha device and get ourselves home."
"While at the same time, involving ourselves and the Federation in a war without authorization."
"What does the book say?"
"The Prime Directive keeps flashing like a big warning sign in my face. Non-interference in the internal matters of another culture." Leone shook her head. "I can't imagine this not qualifying."
Ariel sighed. "I figured that pesky little General Order Number One would come into play, sooner or later. However, I think you missed a class or two at the Academy about its application."
"What do you mean?"
"We're already involved, Krys. We destroyed a Tristnor vessel, and undoubtedly they got off a transmission to the home base since then."
"Something about that's been worrying me, actually. We've been cruising at full impulse through their 'core' territory and we haven't seen so much as a shuttle running around, here."
"Saleb said something about their belief in manifest desinty. Maybe the subjugated races don't believe in-"
"Captain to the bridge," said Nieves over the intercom.
Leone spat, "Damn. We just jinxed ourselves, didn't we?"
Ariel smirked, and followed her out to the bridge.
"Incoming transmission. Long-range, very powerful, but I can't get a lock on the source. It has the same communications protocol as the Tristnor vessel, so I can only assume..." he stopped talking, eyeing his console. "It's a wide-band alert. For us."
"Let's hear it."
"It's a text message, sir. It took the universal translator some time to work on the written form of their language, but it reads, 'USS Farragut NCC-60597, destroy on sight.'"
"Great." Leone settled back into her seat, while Ariel occupied the executive officer's seat to her right. "Wilson, have security bring Mister Saleb and Mister Belkis to the bridge."
Nieves did not hesitate. "Aye, sir."
"Helm, lay in a course for the Kasui fortress and engage at warp eight."
The helmsman turned to look at her in confusion. "Sir?"
"You heard me, Ensign."
"Aye, sir. Course laid in. Engaging warp engines."
"To answer your question; yes, we're in it."
Ariel showed her pleasure with a large grin. "Yeah, I figured."
Something I added to Act III of the first episode that's at HopeStation.net and not here: Ariel Elannis is half Orion, half Terran. A fact of which will become clear in Acts IV and V.
Thanks for reading, and again, I hope to see you guys at HopeStation.net. Any of you United Trek authors need a home, please feel free to use it. It's a great site with no ads.