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
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.