That smile was long gone by the time she returned to her quarters.
It had quickly become apparent that Rahul had already attended most of the duties she had planned to carry out that day and she suddenly found herself with little to nothing to do. Glover had told her to slow down and if that was what he wanted form her, than that was precisely what she was going to do. Unfortunately it was becoming more and more obvious that the quiet Efrosian was much too efficient to allow her to just slow down. At this pace she was going to find herself without anything to do at all.
Raeger’s warning echoed in her mind as she removed her uniform jacket and threw it carelessly on her bed not noticing that it began to stir slightly after it had landed on top of her bunched-up bed sheets.
Instead she headed for the washroom, deciding that a long relaxing bath was exactly the right thing to distract her from her growing thoughts of becoming redundant.
“You have an incoming message.”
Upon hearing the computer announcement she returned to her lounge and sat down in front of her desk, activating the computer screen.
She smiled upon seeing the familiar face. “Joe, what a surprise.”
“Hello there, kid,”
said the white-haired, middle-aged man with a slight African accent. “How have you been?”
“Not too bad. How about yourself?”
Joseph Akinola nodded. “You know how it is. Still trying to keep the universe in order. Still chasing around Orion pirates or rescuing foolhardy freighter crews who think they can outrun ion storms.”
“Never be a shortage of those, I suppose.”
“You look good, Maya. It’s always difficult for me to believe that you are that same little thing that used to run around a border cutter like it was your personal playground.
She rolled her eyes in a dramatic fashion. “Just how I can’t believe how you manage to bring that up every time we see each other.”
“Which by the way is not nearly often enough.”
“No argument there,” she said. “What’s the occasions?”
“I don’t need an occasion to speak with my goddaughter, do I?”
She gave him a suspicious look.
“Bluefin just happened to be in the sector while we’re transporting a few prisoners to Starbase 74 and –“
“Joe,” she said, interrupting the skipper. “We both know that the fastest way from Star Station Echo to 74 is through the Mutara sector.”
Akinola shrugged. “What can I say, we’re taking the scenic route,”
he said and then smirked when she noticed the unconvinced look on her face. “I’ve spoken to Cicero and Shelia last week.”
She nodded as if she had known all along. “And how are my folks these days? Enjoying their retirement, I take it.”
“Damn fools is what they are. Border Dogs have no business hanging up the uniform so early,” he said sternly but Amaya was well aware that he held no serious grudges against her parents who he considered to be amongst his closest friends even if they had decided to give up on the service and raise Amaya on Earth instead of schlepping her around the dangerous frontier from one assignment to the next. “But seeing that we’re out here and they’re back in their cozy Bayou home, they have asked me to check in on you.”
“I see,” she said.
“You don’t talk to them nearly as much as they would like.”
“I write to them every month,” she protested.
“But what’s the last time you visited them?”
“I’m rather busy here,” she said, knowing full well that it was a flat out lie considering that the exact opposite was now the case. “I’m trying to run a space station and I’m the adjutant of the most senior officer in the sector.”
“You are wasting your time.”
She looked at him big-eyed.
“Don’t give me that look,”
he said, admonishingly. “We both know that you need to move on. And I keep telling you, there are plenty of opportunities right here in the Service. You could command your own cutter within months if you wanted to.”
“Here we go again.”
He continued as if she hadn’t even spoken. “Not to mention that it would mean the world to Sheila and Cicero if you were to follow in their footsteps. An officer of your caliber, with your legacy –“
The sounding chime to her quarters caused her to turn around. “Hold on a sec,” she said and went over to see who was there.
The doors slid open to reveal a slender, black-haired man with noticeable bulges at the side of his skull, hinting to his advanced telepathic skills. He had a concerned expression on his face, which made him look significantly older than his thirty-six years.
“Vej,” she said and then suddenly remembered. “We were due to meet today,” she said, pointing a finger at him
“Are you alright?” he said with genuine concern evident in his voice.
She frowned. “I wish people would stop asking me that.”
The counselor smirked. “It’s kind of my job to ask that.”
“Come in. Hope you don’t mind if we’re meeting at my place,” she said and stepped aside.
He stuck his head into her quarters, looking carefully left and right before setting foot into it.
She knew why and smiled. “Don’t worry, he’s sleeping.”
He nodded with fake bravado as if it wasn’t really a concern of his, causing her to suppress a chuckle, before he walked inside.
“Take a seat and I’ll be right with you,” she said, pointing to the sitting area, “I just have to finish up with a call.”
Seconds later she sat in front of her desk again. “Sorry, Joe, I forgot that I rearranged my weekly session with Vej to today. I promise I’ll contact you again before Bluefin
leaves the sector.”
He slightly shook his head. “I never understood how anyone would want to have their heads examined by a shrink voluntarily.”
“Didn’t you know? We’re all softies over here in the Regular Fleet.”
“I believe that.”
“Listen, tell my folks not to worry and that I’m perfectly happy where I am.“
Akinola was about to protest but she cut him off.
“And I really can’t see myself in Border Service. And definitely not commanding my own ship. Trust me I have to deal with those people everyday and they drive me nuts. No offense.”
“I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Take care, Maya. Akinola out.”
And with that the image of the veteran skipper disappeared from the screen and Donners turned in her chair to face the station’s counselor who had made himself comfortable on a large sofa underneath a slanted window into space.
“Your friend doesn’t have the highest opinion of my profession, does he?” Vej asked after she had come off the comm. channel.
“Joe? He’s an old school Border Dog through and through. Worked himself up the ranks all the way from a lowly ranking. Last I heard he doesn’t even allow a replicator on his ship. Suppose the man doesn’t have much use for modern amenities.”
“Is that was I am? A modern amenity?”
Amaya left her desk and instead dropped herself onto one of the two comfortable chairs facing the couch and shrugged.
“You want to tell me what’s bothering you?” he said.
“Why would you think something is bothering me?” she said and then threw him a dark look. “Are you reading my thoughts?”
He looked positively hurt by that accusation. “You should know me better than that.”
“Here’s why I know you’re not fine. I’ve known you for four years during which we’ve had countless sessions which pretty much makes you one of my most regular patients and I like to think that after all that time I can tell when something is bothering you. And if I couldn’t, I think I’d be pretty lousy at my job.”
“Patient? I don’t think I like that word.”
He leaned slightly towards her. “How does friend sound?”
“Then as a concerned friend: What’s wrong? Any chance this has anything to do with our newest second officer?”
She looked straight at him, which made it perfectly clear that that was in fact exactly what had been on her mind. She forced herself to relax in her chair when she realized that she had given herself away. “People seem to think that he’s after my job.”
“And what do you think?”
“I can’t imagine the Admiral wanting to get rid of me. He’s never once complained about my work and we’ve always gotten along very well. But I can tell that there is something he’s not telling me.”
“Do you ever think that maybe it’s time to move on to other, greater things?”
She leaned back in her chair with an annoyed grunt. “Don’t you start as well. I am perfectly happy right here, why can’t people accept that?”
“Maybe it’s not about what you want but rather about what you need,” he said.
She sat up. “You’re saying I don’t know what’s best for me? I’m not a child. I’m perfectly capable to make my own decisions and figuring out what’s right for me and what’s not.”
“I think you’ve become to comfortable here. No matter what you tell yourself, I believe you’re not the kind of person who could ever be truly satisfied by being second-in-command.”
“Are you saying you know me better than I know myself?”
He smirked. “Yes.” And then with a more serious demeanor: “There are people who join Starfleet because they simply want to serve the Federation. There are some who join because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves and others who are looking to fulfill their desire to take on tough challenges. Many want to explore new worlds and meet new civilizations and some are out here just for the adventure. But just a few join to become masters of their own destiny. Not to become a follower and certainly not to get those admiral pips but to one day have a command of their own.”
“And you think I fit into that category?”
“Then you’re wrong,” she said flatly. “And clearly you don’t know me as well as you would like. I can’t stand starship captains so why in the world would I want to be one myself? They are arrogant, full of themselves and think the universe revolves around them. Take Michael Owens. A close friend of mine I’ve known since the Academy –“
“Just a friend?” he said with a knowing look.
“Yeah,” she said quickly even though perhaps that wasn’t entirely the truth. “Anyway, ever since he got his own command he’s become damn near insufferable to be around. He’s not saying it of course but you can tell he suddenly thinks he’s above us mere mortals.”
“I’ve never said you should be a starship captain,” said Vej. “All I said was that you need your own command. There is a galaxy of opportunities out there just waiting for you. But you have to go and make them your own.”
“Nicely put. What are you a poet now?”
He shrugged. “I moonlight a bit.”
“I don’t need a whole galaxy of opportunities and I certainly don’t need my own command. I’m practically running this station,” she said defensively.
“It’s not the same and you know it.”
That’s when Vej’s eyes grew wider, his skin paled and he became noticeably uncomfortable. His body tensed and he sat up straighter on the couch.
Amaya turned her head to see what had caused her friend’s sudden change.
Cosmo had awoken.
The four-legged green and yellow wildcat was perhaps the size of a young terran tiger and similarly built with four powerful legs and a long colorful tail. The creature was most noticeably Vulcan by its large upward pointing ears. Le-matya’s
were generally vicious predators which preyed on animals and Vulcans alike but Cosmo was of the still imposing yet much less dangerous domesticated kind. His teeth were shorter and less sharp than those of the wild le-matya
and his claws were retractable and not poisoned.
Amaya had had Cosmo since her father had found the cub on an Orion raider when she had been a child. Without any real friends, the creature had become her only constant companion. Much to the concern of her fellow colleagues.
Cosmo was leaving behind a trail of clothing and sheets as he emerged from her bedroom and strode towards Amaya, his yellow eyes looking over Vej as if to determine if he was friend of foe.
He ultimately hissed at the counselor before he placed his front paw onto Amaya’s lap. When he had been smaller he had simply jumped on her but since he now weighed almost as much as she did, they had both learned that that was no longer practical.
“Don’t mind, Cosmo,” she said as she began to scratch him behind those long pointed ears, causing him to purr with pleasure. “He’s just grouchy because he hasn’t eaten yet.”
Cosmo pulled closer to her face and tried to lick it. Amaya managed to hold off his head before she could be subjected to a wet tongue bath.
“Alright,” she said. “Let’s get you your dinner.”
Cosmo immediately jumped back down and trotted to the replicator, looking eagerly at the device.
“It never fails to surprise me how a person as gentle as you could have ended up with such a ferocious beast as a pet,” said Vej while Donners replicated Cosmo’s food and placed it in front of him.
“He’s hardly a beast,” she said, stroking his head while he was busy devouring the replicated meal.
“Maybe not but he knows exactly what he needs and how to get it. And he knows how to tell you.”
She looked up. “Are you implying that Cosmo is smarter than me?”
He shook his head with a grin. “I’m saying that you should take a page from your pet. You need to take charge of your life. And I’m not just talking about getting your own command, which you insist is not something you want. You have a problem with Commander Rahul? Don’t keep it to yourself. Tell the admiral that it’s bothering you. I’m sure you have deserved that right. Starship captains getting to you? Put them in their place. You said it yourself. You are running this station.”
“You want me to be somebody I’m not,” she said as she walked back to her seat.
“No, I want you to be more than what you are. I’m convinced it would make you a more complete person. And just maybe it will make you see that you need … that you want more out of your life.”
“Raeger to Donners.”
Amaya tapped her combadge. “Donners here, go ahead, Christine.”
“You’re not going to like this but the
Cuffe just signaled. They’ll be making an unscheduled stop at the station. She’ll arrive within the hour.”
“I hate when he does that,” Amaya mumbled. Yet another reasons she had a problem with starship captains was that they seemed to be of the opinion that they could come and go whenever they pleased, not realizing that it would cause major headaches for her and her crew when they decided to show up announced. And one particular captain had seemingly made it his mission in life to cause her headaches. “Prepare docking port five. I’ll meet Captain Glover there when he arrives.”
There was a momentary pause, which Amaya thought to be odd, after all her orders had been quite clear.
“Commander Rahul has already given the order to prepare docking port two and said he’ll be welcoming Glover onboard,”
said Raeger in a regretful tone.
Amaya rolled her eyes. “Then why are you calling me?”
“I just thought you wanted to know.”
“Of course, sorry,” she said, suddenly feeling guilty for snapping at her like she had. “Thanks for letting me know. Donners Out.”
She could sense Vej’s eyes on her before even looking into his direction. “I was a bit rude there, wasn’t I?”
He merely shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Somebody else may have been annoyed that Rahul has decided to meet Glover instead of deferring to you first.”
“It’s not a big deal. In fact, he’s doing me a favor.”
“Really?” he said and gave her that suspicious look again. “Forgive me if I’m wrong but haven’t you made it a point to meet every visiting starship captain when they come onboard?”
“Yes. But it’s hardly required protocol.”
“More like a tradition?”
“One that Commander Rahul will now carry out instead.”
She had no immediate response to that. Then she slapped her combadge. “Donners to Raeger.”
“Lieutenant, tell Commander Rahul that I
will be welcoming Captain Glover on board.”
She couldn’t see it but she could clearly imagine the large grin on the communications officer’s face when she spoke. “I will tell him.”
“Good. And one more thing.”
assigned to docking port five.”
“Number five. You got it.”
She pointedly looked at Vej. “Is that enough taking charge for you?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “How do you feel about it?”
She gave that question a few seconds of thought and then a smile spread over her lips. “I kinda feel good about it.”
* * *