The Weary Traveller, Commercial Zone
Starbase 200, Tregor System
The pub was bustling with activity. Elak th’Shaan gripped the three glasses tightly as he weaved and squeezed his way through the throng of people back to his table. The mix of people included off-duty personnel, station residents, freighter crews, traders and merchants, tourists and the various other transients that passed through starbases. He found it odd to be outnumbered by civilians, on star stations the dominant patrons in similar bars were Border Dogs. The wider mix of people gave the place a different feel and energy, not unpleasant but just different from what he’d enjoyed in the last seven years he’d been with the Service.
Bypassing a couple of portly Pakled, he finally got to the table where Master Chief Syva and Senior Chief Henry “Hank” Mitchell were sitting. He set down their drinks, a Vulcan brandy and a beer respectively, before sitting down again to enjoy his Arkturan Fizz. The frothy drink he held brought a puzzled look to Mitchell’s face. Th’Shaan sighed to himself, knowing what the older human was no doubt thinking, and readied himself for the conversation he’d had more times than he could count.
“Just ask what you want to ask, Chief?”
A lopsided smile appeared on Mitchell’s rugged, tanned face. “Ah was just thinkin’ it’s been a long while since ah last had a Fizz—not since Suz and ah were on Risa,” he stated in his Texan drawl.
Mitchell laughed. “Ah guess ye weren’t expectin’ that?”
“Most people ask why I always order them. They can’t seem to understand why I like them.”
“Not the kinda drink they’d associate with a rough-tough Dog.”
“What can I say? I like my alcohol sweet and sparkling.”
“Mighty strong from what ah recall—though that day is kinda fuzzy.”
Th’Shaan couldn’t help but laugh. Before their trip started a little over three days earlier, he’d only every had a few brief conversations with the Squadron Quartermaster about supplies and equipment, but after spending only an hour with the non-com aboard their Star Stallion he’d come to like his relaxed manner and quick wit. Of course onboard the Silverfin
the hearsay and rumours touched on Captain Leijten and Chief Mitchell and their relationship. Usually, th’Shaan didn’t pay much attention to idle gossip—especially when it regarded the Captain—but she was happier than he’d known her and everyone onboard was pleased to see the shift, after all they had been through in recent years.
“I know what you mean, I can’t remember a thing about the graduation party we had.”
Mitchell laughed whilst Syva looked between the two men, eyebrow slightly raised.
“I have never understood the enjoyment other species take from being so inebriated they cannot recall any details,” she said, taking a small sip from her glass.
“The activity itself is enjoyable, the morning after not so much,” th’Shaan told his shipmate. “Helps people to bond, share their woes, express joy.”
That made her pause to think. “Perhaps you should try Vulcan port, a former CO of mine told it ‘knocked his socks off’.”
“Ah reckon he wer just a lightweight,” Mitchell decided after a swig of beer.
“I am afraid you are in error, Mr Mitchell. Tellarites have a much higher tolerance to alcohol than most other races.”
“A Tellarite said that?” th’Shaan asked, to which she nodded in confirmation. “Wow. Ok, remind me to stay away from Vulcan port.”
“Same here,” Mitchell added, raising his bottle.
Th’Shaan raised his glass and they tapped them together lightly before having another drink. The easy banter continued between the three of them, even sharing a few funny stories about their experiences in the Service—Syva included, though she herself didn’t laugh at any.
It was on their second round that Mitchell perked up, his steely blue eyes watching someone weave through the crowd (which had doubled in size). Th’Shaan followed the other man’s look and spotted who he was watching, a petite redhead, in uniform with Lieutenant JG pips on her gold collar. She didn’t look old enough to be a freshman cadet, let alone an officer of active duty, what with her ginger hair in two braided pigtails, wide green eyes, and dusting of freckles on her pale cheeks and button nose. One thing was obvious though, she was heading their way.
She reached their table and looked from face to face, settling on Hanks. Th’Shaan noted she was carrying a large PADD that looked twice its usual size in her small hands.
“Senior Chief Mitchell?” she asked tentatively.
She breathed a sigh of relief. “Lieutenant Rose Acker, Supply Officer to Starbase 200.”
“Pleasure to meet ye, ma’am.” He gestured to each of them. “This here is Lieutenant Elak ko’Parr th’Shaan, Silverfin
’s engineer, and Master Chief Syva, her COB.”
“Lieutenant, Master Chief,” Acker said by way of greeting. “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to contact you sooner, things have been pretty hectic here these last few days.”
“No worries ma’am, ah know how tough it can be.”
She flashed him a quick smile that only made her look younger. “I bet you do, Senior Chief. I’m just grateful you got here so quickly to take these launchers; otherwise they’d just be taking up valuable space in one of my holds. Which hanger are you in?”
“Hanger four, bay two, pad D,” th’Shaan told her as he’d been the one who’d flown into the station and landed the Star Stallion.
Acker made a quick note on her datapad and frowned slightly. “The cargo transporters are down for routine maintenance in that section. I’ll have to get a loader to take transfer them,” she explained, tapping on the touch screen surface. After a moment the frown relaxed. “I can get a loader to you at 0715.”
“Sounds good to me. Lieutenant?” Mitchell asked, looking at th’Shaan.
“Me too. That’s earlier than we expected.”
“I know, sir, but we’ve got a trade delegation arriving at 1000 hours tomorrow, so I need to clear as much space as possible by then.”
“It’ll suit us better, as it means the less time the Silverfin
has to spend in dock. We’ll be ready for you.”
“Thank you. If anything changes, I’ll comm you. Have a pleasant evening.”
“Thank you,” th’Shaan replied before she turned and slinked back through the crowd. He turned back to Hank. “Is it my imagination or are officers getting younger these days?” the twenty-nine year old Andorian asked.
“Acker is a war cadet, lost a year o’ trainin’ to get her into the fleet faster.”
“She couldn’t have been very old when she enrolled, she barely looks out of her teens.”
“That may be, but she’s better than other supply officers ah’ve known who are twice her age.”
Th’Shaan conceded, knowing that there were many officers across the fleet who were in the same boat as Lieutenant Acker, who were missing a year of training but were in important posts and duties across the Federation—even the Silverfin
had a couple onboard.
“Well it looks like we have an early start tomorrow, so we’d best get back and get some sleep.” The other agreed and the trio quickly finished off their drinks. As they were getting up from their table, he suggested, “How about, after we get the Stallion loaded, I treat you both to breakfast?”
“Sounds good,” Hank stated with a broad smile.
* * * * *