TUE: USS Ranger - Awkward Bedfellows

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    U.S.S. Ranger NCC-2254
    Docked, Star Station Bravo

    Stardate: 2387.7 (May 22, 2325)

    Lieutenant Commander Xanthe Palmer stood in the airlock, waiting impatiently. Her hands were clasped firmly behind her back, to keep herself from fidgeting, and she kept her feet welded to the deck plating, to resist the urge to pace. The childish game was just what she’d come to expect from Lieutenant Rafael De Souza, and that was one of his least offensive character traits, which was one of the reasons why he was being transferred off. She had tried to give him a chance to become more than a series of reprimands and misconduct reports, but he wasn’t willing or able to do his part and work hard to make a start on putting it behind him.

    It wouldn’t look good on her part either, replacing her second officer after barely six weeks, but his insubordination had tested her limits and his continued presence on the U.S.S. Ranger risked turning morale toxic. For the good of the ship and crew, he had to go. Her request for a replacement was with the Second Squadron’s personnel officer and she was waiting on receiving information of suitable replacements.

    From down the curved corridor she heard footfalls approach, causing her to straighten her back and grit her teeth in anticipation. Ensign Threpp stepped into view and she breathed a sigh of relief as she blinked at the assault her eyes were under. The Denobulan tactical officer was in a skin-tight bodysuit of multiple clashing colours in bold geometric shapes.

    “Captain,” he said with a respectful bow of his head.

    “Have a fun time, Mr Threpp.”

    “I’ll try, sir,” he replied as he stepped into the docking port connection bridge.

    She watched him go finding it hard not to look at him, despite his garish civilian attire—he definitely wouldn’t be able to keep a low profile. But whilst her attention was elsewhere she never noticed De Souza’s approach until he was almost at the entry hatch, giving her little chance to psyche herself up for her last official interaction with him.

    “Lieutenant Commander,” he sneered, as though he had a bad taste in his mouth. He was the only person who addressed her by her rank instead of her title, just another little dig he always had to make.

    “Lieutenant,” she stated politely, struggling to keep her body language calm.

    “Permission to disembark.”


    Before she could say anything more, he turned away and stomped off the Ranger. As with Threpp, she watched him go. She had wanted to help the man, to give him a chance to prove himself and what he could do, but after this latest posting she doubted he’d get offered anything other than tender duty—assuming he didn’t resign his commission.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, she reminded herself.

    With a heavy sigh, she turned away from the airlock and headed for the wardroom. The corridors were quiet, two thirds of the crew were currently off the ship enjoying thirty-six hours of liberty before they shipped out once more, and she suspected most of the rest would be joining them shortly. With the ship safely docked, she had decided to use the time and catch up on the mountains of administrative tasks that never seemed to ease up—not for the first time she seriously considered enquiring about getting a yeoman assigned to the cutter.

    As the doors of the wardroom opened, the heavenly smell of bitter coffee and rich chocolate filled her nose. Stretched out at the table, her jacket over the back of another chair, boots perched on the edge of the table with her ankles crossed, sipping from a metallic mug, was Lieutenant Oka Saygen.

    “Is that—”

    “Rigellian-blend mocha,” the chief engineer confirmed. “After that fun little task, I knew you’d need the good stuff.”

    “Oka, you are a godsend!”

    “I know.”

    She went to the sideboard, poured herself a steaming hot mug of chocolatey-coffee and held it in both hands inhaling the heady brew. She savoured the smell for a long moment, the anticipation making her salivate, before finally taking a sip.

    “Sheer bliss,” she moaned.

    “Do you two want to be alone?”

    Palmer chuckled and sat down at the table opposite her friend. “You know, I wouldn’t need to feed my caffeine addiction if you just agreed to be my second officer.”

    “My complexion in that colour of shirt, no thanks. I’d look like a sheet of paper.”

    Saygen was Alkarian, whose pale skin wasn’t far off the white turtleneck that denoted the command division. Of course, she had her own reasons for turning down the offer, preferring her domain down in engineering than being stuck on the bridge for one, but still Palmer had to try.

    “Any word yet on potential candidates?”

    Palmer shook her head. “Not yet, I’m not holding out much hope for a large pool to draw upon, so we might just have to make do with whatever is offered to us and hope for the best.”

    “It can only get better from here though.”

    “Here’s hoping,” she admitted.

    Saygen held out her mug and Palmer brought hers in closer and tapped them together, before they both enjoyed another indulgent sip.

    * * * * *

    The administrative section of any Starfleet installation was always one of those surprisingly busy places, with small teams working day in and day out to keep all the minutia of fleet operations running smoothly. As such, Lieutenant Jyr Kalon sat in the waiting area subtly watching everything that was going on around him—years spent as a covert intelligence officer had meant honing his situational awareness, as he worked alone and would typically have to rely on himself in order to survive some of the trickier missions he’d been given.

    That was also the reason he was waiting patiently. Having spent years working undercover on one assignment or another across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, he hadn’t put in a lot of starship time, so if he wanted to remain certified in a number of fields he needed to spend time on a ship. This would rubber stamp him, assuring he met the standards the fleet set, which would keep him on operational status and also help with career progression.

    Posing as an Orion trader he rarely got a second look whenever he crossed borders, though if he ever did a bribe quickly saw him waved through, so he was able to slip into the Bajoran Sector, pinpoint Cardassian fleet deployments and installations, and get out without being noticed. Of course, he covered his tracks, this time going through the Badlands and re-entering Federation space as far from Cardassian reconnaissance probes as possible—which meant skirting a little too close to Tzenkethi territory than he would’ve liked. Once back in the Federation, he checked in with his handler who told him about his need to recertify ASAP or lose his active status. Star Station Bravo had been the nearest base, so he’d headed there to get his name on the transfer lists.

    “Lieutenant Kelon?” a petite young yeoman called.

    He was on his feet in a heartbeat. “Yes.”

    “Lieutenant Commander Collins will see you now.”

    He flashed her a smile and noticed her blush and coyly look away though, as he passed by, he could feel her watching him. Before he entered the commander’s office he looked back at her and winked, which only made her cheeks redder. He’d learned long ago to use the allure of being a green-skinned Orion to his advantage.

    Collins was a pinched faced man, balding on top and greying at the temples, a heavy scowl on his face from years spent dealing with bureaucracy. He suspected (rightly so) that his charms wouldn’t work in this instance, so he sat down and listened intently to what the personnel officer had to say.

    “You’re fortunate, Lieutenant, a suitable posting had just become available when you submitted your request. Though your record is woefully light on non-classified content, your superiors have informed me that you have the necessary qualifications. Six to eight weeks aboard, so long as you put in the necessary legwork to get fully recertified and put in the time needed for approval, then you can get back to doing whatever it is you usually do.”

    “That sounds ideal, sir. What’s the posting?”

    “Second Officer onboard the U.S.S. Ranger. She’s currently in dock but scheduled to depart at twelve-hundred hours tomorrow. I’ll need to inform the CO and process the necessary paperwork, but all that should be good to go by oh-eight-hundred for you to report aboard.”

    “Thank you, Commander, I’m looking forward to it.”

    * * * * *

    Palmer had finally heard back from the personnel office, though it wasn’t quite as successful as she had hoped. With no other cutters currently in dock and no one on the station looking to transfer, there was only a single option available—she could either take it or try and cover the opening with the officers she already had. Fortunately, Lieutenant Jyr Kelon was only a temporary substitute, whilst he covered the open position for a few weeks Lieutenant Commander Collins could put together a few more options for a permanent replacement.

    Not ideal, but it was better than nothing. Unfortunately, a computer glitch on Bravo had meant that they wouldn’t be able to get his personnel file transferred across, so she knew nothing about the man, other than his career had been spent with Starfleet Intelligence.

    She’d arranged to have a staff meeting first thing, to welcome him aboard as well as brief all the senior officers about their next assignment. Lieutenant Taras would meet him at the airlock and take him to the wardroom, via his quarters, giving her time to prep for the meeting. There was still no word on if the remote trackers from the ghost container had been detected yet (there wasn’t even a guarantee if they were that she would be told about it), so Commodore Attyx had decided to send the Ranger into the Outland Expanse. She hadn’t expected to be going in quite so soon, thinking they’d have a few more weeks patrolling the Expanse’s boundary or the border with the Tzenkethi Coalition.

    The wardroom still smelled of the delectable Rigellian mocha from yesterday, but she’d opted for just a straight-forward Jamaican blend this morning—there was such a thing as too much of the good stuff. Saygen was already at the table, sitting upright this time and chuckling at Lieutenant (j.g.) Narr glasch Aal over the top of her datapad. The Tellarite clutched a large glass of water and looked a little green around the gills, clearly suffering from the night before. Lieutenant (j.g.) D9 Blue skittered from the sideboard to the chair beside the chief engineer, carrying a bowl of fruit and cup of tea in one set of pincers and a couple of PADDS under another pair of arms. Rounding out the staff present was Chief Petty Officer Noah Lien, who always looked uncomfortable when seated in the wardroom—which acted as their primary meeting room as well as the officer’s mess. The chairs to her immediate right and left were vacant, awaiting Taras and Kelon.

    They didn’t need to wait long.

    Taras entered first, the size of the Pandrilite making it difficult for anyone to walk beside him in the Ranger’s narrow corridors or doorways. She got to her feet and readied a polite smile for the newest arrival. Taras stepped to the side.

    “Captain, this is Lieutenant Jyr Kelon,” he began, his deep voice always remarkably gentle.

    Her eyes went from Taras to Kelon and immediately doubled in size in a combination of shock, horror and embarrassment as she looked at the ruggedly handsome Orion. Though the name meant nothing to her, she knew the face, a face she’d never expected to see again in any circumstances, definitely not in a Starfleet uniform stepping onto her ship. Somehow, she managed to keep her jaw from crashing through the deck as well as maintain her poise as she stood at the head of the table.

    On his part, Kelon stopped as soon as he saw her, the look of surprise fleeting on his olive-green features, before he flashed that familiar smile and stepped forward and extended his hand.

    Somehow, she managed to find her voice as she took his hand, rough from plenty of manual labour, and tried not to think about the way they’d felt elsewhere. “Lieutenant Commander Xanthe Palmer, welcome to the Ranger, Lieutenant Kelon.”

    “Thank you, sir, it’s a pleasure to be here.”

    “Please,” she said gesturing to the seat on her left, whilst Taras took his place opposite him and next to Saygen—who Palmer made a point of ignoring, dreading what her reaction would be.

    She sat back down, finding herself perched on the edge of the chair otherwise she’d slump as far back into it as she could get and hope it was swallow her up. All her preparing for the briefing now eluded her, so she focused almost exclusively on the tablet before her and ran through their new orders. She highlighted the known hazards on the course they’d been given, asked them all to double check their supplies as they’d be out for longer than four weeks this time. As she went through all the points, quicker than she usually did and barely making eye contact with anyone around the table, she could feel a questioning tension in the air—all of them could no doubt feel that something was a little off.

    “If there’s nothing else,” she finished up with, placing her hands on the tabletop and using them to push herself to her feet once more, making it very clear the meeting was over. Wisely, none of the assembled crew spoke up. “Good. I’ve got to finish the status reports. XO, will you make introductions and get Lieutenant Kelon up to speed. Thank you.”

    Fighting the urge to bolt, Palmer collected her PADD and walked out briskly. She hurried to the nearest turbolift and ordered it to deck two. Inside the carriage she slumped against the wall, her head hung forward as her cheeks burned. She brought her head up and rested it on the bulkhead, looking up at the ceiling. “What were the chances of this ever happening to anyone else?” she asked the cosmos.

    The lift stopped and she headed for her ready room, where there was a stack of reports on her desk needing her thumb scan, but she ignored them and stood by the single viewport, trying hard not to think about that night on Starbase Earhart two years ago. Though with the physical embodiment of that memory now only a few decks below her it was hard not to remember it.

    She’d been science and second officer of the U.S.S. Polaris then, they’d stopped at the station to resupply before heading out on a three-month survey mission. She, Saygen, Doctor Mwanajuma and Lieutenant M’Verr had gone out for a “ladies’ night” and enjoy all the Bonestell Recreation Facility had to offer, all out of uniform and looking to have fun together. During the course of the evening, after sampling a number of potent beverages from across the quadrant, they’d encountered a ruggedly handsome Orion trader with an alluring smile.

    Palmer was no prude; she had no hang ups about casual dalliances or sex, it was a fundamental biological urge and, if she was honest, it always helped her think better. So she’d flirted with the merchant, found him to be enticing and charming, and was more than happy to accept his invite back to his guest quarters. What had followed had been one of the most memorable nights of her life, of course the following day she was teased about it mercilessly by her friends. And so, the “Orion gigolo” story was born.

    Of course, back then he’d introduced himself as Aethar and never made any mention of Starfleet. Granted, neither had she but that was beside the point.

    The enunciator sounded, pulling her from the memory. She knew exactly who it would be.

    “It’s open, Oka.”

    Saygen stepped through. “Well, I wasn’t expecting that!”

    “That makes two of us,” she admitted, feeling her shoulders drop. “This wouldn’t have happened if you’d not turned me down and just taken the damn job!”

    “What? And miss that hugely awkward moment? You’ve got to be kidding me!”

    “It’s not funny—”

    “It kinda is.”

    “You’re no help.”

    “Didn’t come here to be helpful,” Saygen retorted with a grin a Denobulan would’ve been jealous of.

    “I can’t exactly reject him simply because we slept together, but it does seem hugely inappropriate to have him onboard.”

    The chief engineer finally showed a modicum of sympathy for her friend and captain. “Come on now, Xan, it’s not the end of the world. There are no regs about a CO fraternising with a crewmember—if there were then James Kirk would’ve commanded an all-male crew—so what’s the harm? It’s not like you’re going to start seeing him again…or are you?”

    “No. We hooked up once when I was on leave, it was fun, but no, I’m not going to be entertaining that as an option. I’ve already screwed up one second officer, I don’t need another—and yes, I know I said ‘screwed’, how old are you?”

    Saygen chuckled. “Then there is no issue. So long as he does what he’s here to do, assuming he isn’t a gigolo on the side, and you do what you’re meant to then all will be fine. For the next few weeks, you just have to deal with the fact that your second officer knows what you look like naked.”

    “Still not helping.”

    “Still not here to help. Now, I better go properly introduce myself to the new Lieutenant and help him get settled,” she finished as she sauntered out the door, her tail flicking.

    Palmer groaned and rested her forehead on the viewport. The transparent aluminium was cool and sent a chill down her spine. Saygen was right about one thing, he would only be onboard for a few weeks, a couple months at most, if she could get over the initial shock then she’d be able to deal with it—it wasn’t the first time she’d served with men she’d had relationships with, though it would be the first time as Captain.

    She remembered her mantra from back at the Tragan Surplus Depot and how well it had worked for her there. It’ll be fine, I’ll get this sorted.

    * * * * *

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
  2. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    [Sulu] "Oh myyyy!!! [/Sulu] :alienblush::alienblush::alienblush::D:D:D
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  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    That was as funny as it was awkward. And this line slew me: "I’ve already screwed up one second officer, I don’t need another—and yes, I know I said ‘screwed’, how old are you?” :guffaw:
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  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    It helps when you have a dirty childish mind that can turn pretty much anything into an innuendo :)
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  5. Grim Grinning Ghost

    Grim Grinning Ghost Captain Captain

    May 22, 2004
    Cobalt Frost in Phineas & Ferb's backyard
    Loved the story! Well done as always.

    (note to self: don't read other entries before submitting your own, lol.. this is twice in a row where the idea I had was remarkably similar to the others posted)
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  6. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    Great minds think alike :bolian:
    Grim Grinning Ghost likes this.