Ashok guided the structural support into place, directing the robotic anti-grav drones as they carefully released the duranium beam.
Lar’ragos watched the work as the engineering team painstakingly rebuilt the interior volume of the saucer where Sickbay had been. He monitored their progress via a visual scan he’d called up on the Master Systems Display board in main engineering,
He turned to examine Shanthi working at an auxiliary console, sorting through millions of lines of programming code with the assistance of several intuitive algorithms. “Any luck?” he asked, breaking the young officer’s concentration.
To his credit, Shanthi merely paused his analysis, and turned to address the captain. “I’m starting to make some headway, sir, but it’s slow going.”
Lar’ragos cocked his head. “Would a dedicated programming team be of assistance?”
Shanthi’s eyes widened a fraction, his gaze growing expectant. “Yes, sir. Tremendously. However, when I inquired with the station I was informed no experts were available.”
A thin smile alighted on Lar’ragos’ lips. “Admiral T’Cirya has granted us priority resource allocation for our refit. I’ve arranged for two programming specialists to report aboard in half an hour.”
“Thank you, sir. The extra hands will be helpful, but given the size of the task, it’ll only shave a fe--”
“They’re Bynars, Lieutenant,” Lar’ragos added.
“Oh,” Shanthi said, falling silent. A dawning expression of surprise blossomed. “Ohhh...” His subsequent smile was radiant.
“Bridge to captain,”
his combadge called.
“Go ahead,” he answered reflexively.
“Commander Wu is scheduled to come aboard in five minutes, sir. Transporter room two.”
“On my way,” Lar’ragos responded, patting Shanthi on the shoulder with one hand as he deactivated his communicator with the other. “Make good use of them, Lieutenant. I’ve decided to keep the transwarp drive, provided we can get it to work. We’ll need every advantage we can get if we’re going looking for the Amon.”
* * *
Lar’ragos was standing by when Iris Wu materialized atop the transporter pad.
The blue-white beam dissolved as the petite Asian woman stepped down from the transport pad. She carried a large duffel over her left shoulder and wore the uniform vest rather than the full jacket. With a small isolinear optical chip clenched in her right hand, she came to an attentive stance and proclaimed, "Wu, Lieutenant Commander Iris Aileen Ming-Yue, reporting for duty, sir. May I have permission to come aboard?"
“Permission granted, Commander,” Lar’ragos responded, stepping forward to offer a firm handshake as Wu descended from the dais. “Welcome aboard Europa.
She transferred the small chip to her left hand to accept the handshake with her right. Lar'ragos practically towered over her small stature, so that she needed to angle her neck up to meet his gaze. As a result, the black hair that tended to cascade around her face draped back to her shoulders. "Thank you, Captain."
Lar’ragos led her into the corridor, deftly side-stepping a repair team scuttling past with a bank of neural gel-packs atop an a-grav carrier. The El Aurian put on his best apologetic smile. “Sorry about the mess, we’re still picking up the pieces.”
Wu's eyes scanned the corridor in all directions before she followed him. Every noise given brief but silent investigation with a quick glance, every movement was accounted for. "Understandable, sir," she replied flatly, once she caught up to him. "I've taken the liberty of attending a quick technical briefing of our current status by Captain Lo before coming aboard, and I've absorbed the specifications and diagrams of the Luna
-class once I learned of my transfer. I will use the next few days to gain some practical knowledge of the ship while I have this rare opportunity to do so."
Lar’ragos mused silently that Wu lived up to her icy but highly competent reputation. “Excellent, Commander. Unless I can assist you with anything further, we’ll have a senior staff meeting at oh-seven-thirty tomorrow, followed by the funeral service. The rest of my day tomorrow will be spent in strategic meetings with my replacement as StratOps. I have every confidence you’ll keep on top of our repair schedule.”
Wu nodded once. "Rest assured, sir, that we will meet or exceed expectations. With your permission, I would like to be excused from the memorial."
Lar’ragos quirked an eyebrow at the unusual request. "Unless you’ve something more pressing, I feel it’s important for the crew to see the new XO standing alongside the captain during the service. I’ll gladly let you skip the reception tomorrow night in the rec lounge.”
She pressed her lips together in a very slight expression before returning to her standard look. Lar'ragos had to observe closely to see if her mouth moved as she spoke, as it looked close to a ventriloquism act as she replied softly, "Very well, I will attend at your insistence, sir."
“Thank you, Commander.” Lar’ragos paused, allowing her wait there for just a second longer. “I’ll leave you to get settled in.” With that he pivoted smartly on one heel and departed.
* * *