A Late Meal
E1 Only The Beginning
Location: USS Magellan; Lounge
Timeline: MD09 2000
It had taken too long for command to decide to let the Senior Staff off duty, though Tim had somehow gotten stuck with Delta shift. This gave him barely enough time to eat, take a quick nap, and get back to the bridge. Tim arrived in the Mess Hall, where everything seemed to be quiet, at least for now, to grab a bite. He ordered a bowl of beef stew and took it to a table near the window.
Across the room, Kiara happened to pick that moment to look up from the game of chess she and Hannah had been engrossed in for a good half hour now , long ago having digested a three-course meal complete with appetizers and, at Kiara's insistence, a couple glasses of red wine. Right now, they were just cooling their jets, waiting for a convenient moment to go see Commander Parker about some quarters. "That's him," she said.
Hannah looked up distractedly from where she'd been contemplating her next move. "Who?"
"Commander Parker," Kiara said. "He just walked in and sat down by the window with a bowl of ... something."
Hannah shook her head. She didn't bother to turn where Kiara was looking. "Can't be. He's second officer. He should be on watch for at least another 4 hours. Besides, how would you know? Have you met him?"
Kiara smiled. "No. But I like to look at pictures, especially of attractive men. And let me tell you, Commander Parker ..."
Hannah groaned, but took a closer look at the man by the window who'd just sat down. "That's ... a sentence I'd rather you never finish in my presence. But now that you mention it, could very well be him. He's got the right number of pips and the right color shirt, at least. So what's the plan here? We just ... go bother him in the middle of his dinner?"
Kiara shrugged. "I don't know. You're the one who has to be on duty in four hours. I'd think you would welcome a place to rack out for a while."
Will had been burning the mid-night oil with his senior engineering team, that had been running checks on the nacelle that had been damaged. Also they were working on plans contingency for the Magellan Incase something unexpected happened. As he had dismissed them for the night and allowed the Delta shift to come on a bit earlier than normal, he walked into the messhall of a nice light salad. It had seemed like ages ago since he had eaten, as he got his replicated meal he saw Tim sitting near the window. Picking up his utinsils he approached the Ops officer. “Burning the midnight oil Tim?” He said as he shoved a mouthful of salad in his mouth.
Tim scoffed, gesturing to the seat across the table. "You could say that," he remarked, stirring his stew just a bit to get it to cool. "Captain's got me monitoring Delta Shift tonight as we plunge deeper into the unknown. What about you? Working late yourself?"
Hannah sat there and watched as the newcomer took his place at the Commander's table. "Nah. He's got company," she said. "Now we definitely can't go bother him."
Kiara just barely did not roll her eyes at that. "What are you, afraid of anyone who wears one more pip than you do? Just go talk to him already! Or don't. If you'd rather just sit here until midnight, and then fall asleep on watch in the middle of your first shift, hey, that's fine by me. I only have duty at noon tomorrow. I've got all the time in the world to get some sleep."
“Yeah we’ve been burning the midnight oil,” Will said across the room, as he shoved another fork full into his mouth. “We’ve been monitoring that damaged nacelle closely, along with coming up with any back up plans to anything that might crop up unexpectantly. I’ve hated working night shift bridge duty myself. How have you been?”
Tim didn't answer immediately as he'd placed a spoonful of stew in his mouth. He held up a finger to indicate the Chief Engineer needed to hold on a moment before a sufficient answer could be provided. Tim continued to chew for a few moments before finally swallowing. "Well enough," he replied. "Between all of the crew transfers from the Gisborne, and keeping as many resources funneled to the sensors as possible, it's been busy. Not to mention trying to give that nacelle of yours a little extra from the SIF generators."
"I appreciate that," Will said as he took his fork and stirred the salad around a bit and plunged deep into a tomato and a white onion. "I know we did field repairs on the nacelle, but when we get back to a starbase I'm going to have them take it apart and put back together again." Will took another bite of his salad and he savored every bit of the taste. Granted it might have been replicated, but it was the best salad that he had tasted in a good while. "Yeah I know the extra people from the Gisborne can be quite something. Let me know if you need my engineers to remove a few labs and suites and put up additional quarters. It would give them something else to do but monitor systems since we are at yellow alert."
Tim grunted, not relishing the thought of taking apart the nacelle. "With the Alrakis Pact and their promise to evict Starfleet from the Expanse, I don't think there will be any time to properly repair the nacelle. If anything, we'll be lucky to weld some additional plating to reinforce the skeletal struts."
Will chewed on Tim's thought for a moment. Also because it was quite rude as his mother frequently said to have food fly out of your mouth. "Honestly I never thought about adding additional plating to reinforce the struts, that would make the nacelle that much more stable. Of course the SIF would have to be slightly recalibrated with the increase of mass from the plating. Hmmmm," pondered Will for a bit as he took another bite of his salad. "That sounds like a real viable idea, thanks Tim really; speaking of the Expanse, I wonder what Captain Terax has planned for whatever we encounter out there," motioned Will as he pointed his fork at the window into the vastness of space.
"It's hard to say," Tim said with a shrug. "We're only just now starting to see something suspicious. I don't know the Captain hardly at all. I can imagine that if he's plunging deeper into the Expanse, he's got a good reason why. I just hope we don't have to fight our way back to the Federation."
"I agree with you, I might have been baptised and grafted in warfare; but I still believe in the ways of peace. Like Teddy Roosevelt said 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' and right now I am hoping the Magellan is that big stick that reminds people of the option of peace."
Tim chuckled, unsure why exactly he found humor in the engineer's response. "You sure you're not a security or intelligence specialist wearing an engineering collar?" he joked. "The Magellan certainly is a big stick. A Steamrunner or an Excelsior or a Saber or even a Diligent would have been well suited for our mission. With the Alrakis Pact announcing their intent, I'm fairly certain Starfleet knows what it's doing sending a Galaxy on a courier mission."
"I think so as well," he said as he took another bite of his food and eventually swallowing. "As far as tactics go, I did a couple of years in the Academy going in the intelligence direction; however i switched gears and focused on engineering. I've found it to be more rewarding than the later. As far as the Pact goes," he said as he mixed more of his salad together as it was now thinning out due to consumption. "Their development seems sketchy at best; who would have thought a collection of those governments would come together? Could it have been the shift in Cardassian politics that covered this?"
"I'm sure that's part of it," Tim said in between bites of stew. "Cardassians climbing over their borders and annexing systems at will. The Expanse sits between the Tzenkethi and the Breen. The Federation's only been in it for a year or two, and who knows what both powers are hiding in here. And you're also talking about a bunch of reclusive powers that don't like having a magnifying glass on them. Is something up?" Tim stuck another bite in his mouth and shrugged as he chewed.
"I guess Starfleet knows best then," he said as he took another bite of his food and slowly chewed on it. "Well I don't think Starfleet is taking the helm on this one, it has Federation Council written all over it. First the destruction of a starbase what's going to be next, search and seize of Federation property?"
Tim shrugged again. "Only time will tell, I suppose," he offered. He took another bite and chewed it, waiting a few seconds for his mouth to clear before speaking again. "It's going to be hard to see what happens next. Starfleet's just been exploring the Expanse. There's no colonies. I can't see Starfleet just pulling out altogether. It's not like us to simply stop what we're doing and walk away. Take the Gamma Quadrant, for instance, when the Dominion first revealed themselves."
"You do have a solid point there, Starfleet does have a habit of staying put in an area where the welcome isn't as friendly," he said as he took another bite of his salad. "I've often wondered, how many times has Starfleet used the shroud of exploration and scientific study to push forth their own personal agenda? I know it might sound disloyal, but I wondering if we put ourselves in situations that most wouldn't put themselves in?"
"And what exactly do you see that personal agenda being?" Tim continued to consume his meal, noticing that he was nearing the end of his stew and that he'd barely touched his drink. "Conquest? Expansion?"
From behind the chess board, Kiara sighed and stood up. "OK. Looks like, if I'm waiting for you to go talk to them, we might be here until we run out of warp plasma. Don't know about you, but I would like to get settled some time this century.
She turned and started moving towards the table where Commander Parker was sitting. When Hannah didn't move, she looked over her shoulder. "You coming, or what?"
Only then did Hannah get up, but not before grabbing both her bag and Kiara's. She stayed well behind the other woman as they made their way towards the table.
"Not conquest but certainly expansion," replied Will as he took another bite of his salad and slowly chewed it. He thought about his continued follow up answer. "I wouldn't call it Empire building either, more so like the Romans did without all the blood shed." He was about to continue when he was caught off by a young ensign who was speaking with Tim.
"Excuse me, sirs," Kiara said. "I'm Ensign Hansen, fresh off the Gisborne an hour or two ago. You're Commander Parker, right? The Captain told us to talk to you about some quarters."
Will had heard that their were some transfers over to the Magellan.
Tim fought the urge to sigh, and somehow managed to keep himself from looking upward at the two new arrivals. He just couldn't catch a break this evening, and he was going to need two hypo's worth of stimulants to make it through delta shift. "Who's to say blood hasn't been spilt?" he asked Harris before turning his attention to the two women standing over them on the table.
"Quarters?" he asked them. Tim didn't have a padd handy, but since he'd spent nearly a week juggling the entire crew around per the Captain's directive, Tim knew the available rooms like the back of his hand. "There's a pair of quarters available on Deck Six, rooms..." Tim closed an eyelid and arched an eyebrow as he tried to mentally verify what remained. "Three and four I believe."
Hannah stepped forward, rather hesitantly. "I'm ... sorry for interrupting your meal sir, but ... I do believe the administrative details were taken care of even before we got aboard. My transfer orders mentioned something about room 42 on deck 7. Of course, deck 6 would be fine too, sir, it's just ... either way, we'd need our access rights established before we can officially move in. I believe that's what we need you for, sir. Or someone in your department, at least."
Kiara didn't add anything, but thought silently: 'Well. Only three sirs in five sentences. I do believe we are making progress, my dear Hannah.'
Tim raised an eyebrow. He wasn't used to an ensign correcting him, and Tim knew the quarters listing by heart, or so he thought. "Do you have a padd handy?" he asked the ensign, needing it in order to verify her claims.
Hannah nodded and fished a PADD from the side pocket of her duffel. She brought up her transfer orders, complete with quarters assignment, with one touch to the screen - she'd had that ready just in case.
"Here you go, sir, " she said, and handed Commander Parker the PADD. "Was there some kind of miscommunication?"
"I wouldn't say that," Tim said, accepting the padd and quickly syncing it to the Magellan's computer network. "Between emergency repairs, long shifts, and having to shuffle the entire crew to different cabins all around the ship, I'd just say my memory is not sharp at the moment."
He tapped away on the padd, logging into the operations manifest in order to check the cabin listing. "Hansen, right?" he asked, looking up at her trying to remember the correct name to look for. "And you are...?" he asked the other woman.
Hannah swallowed. "Yes, sir. Sorry sir. I mean, I know what that's like." She thought back to the months on the Galileo after her father had been killed, probably due to a mean gravimetric distortion not much different from what the Gisborne and the Magellan had been dealing with lately. Although, the true cause of the tragic events on the Galileo had never been fully clarified. Hannah had still been a child, but even she had chipped in wherever she could, with more than a quarter of the crew dead and an entire deck unusable, while they limped their way back to a star base for repairs. Years later, she'd heard that the ship she'd called home for the first ten years of her life ended up being used mostly for scrap metal. "Good luck with that, sir."
She paused, listened back to her words in her head, shook herself, blinked, and tried again. "Eh ... no matter. My name is Ensign Peeters, sir. Hannah Peeters. I'm supposed to be on Delta shift. I know we're catching you at rather an inconvenient time, but I would appreciate a nap and a shower before I go on watch, if at all possible."
"Being a senior officer means that sleep is a luxury," Tim remarked, finding himself frustrated. The frustration was not with the women, but more in the fact that he hadn't a moment to himself over the last few days. He hoped his time on delta ship would be less than eventful and give him some time to recharge in the quiet.
Hannah nodded. "I know, sir. My father was the Captain of a science vessel when I was growing up. Being on call 24/7 can be brutal, at times."
Tim turned his attention back to the padd, scanning for their names on the deck seven manifest as Hannah had indicated. "You're right. Room forty-two on deck seven it is." He entered several commands in order to start the process to complete the assignment. He then handed the padd back to Ensign Peters. "Both of you need to enter your authorization codes to complete the process. Hand that back to me when you're done."
Will hadn't taken a bite out of his salad, as he was watching the interaction between Tim and the two ensigns; who were obviously nervous. Will chuckled to himself lightly, he just hoped that when they got to their quarters everything worked perfectly. "Delta shift is usually a needed inconvenience. Needed because anything can happen like an attack from a Tzenkethi warship, inconvenient because you usually go without sleep."
Hannah shrugged as she accepted the PADD back from the Commander. "In my experience, it's easy to get used to, unless your shift changes day to day. I suppose that happens fairly often if you're senior staff, but as green as I am, I've been lucky to have had a fairly stable watch schedule my entire time on the Vindicator. The only downside is you never really get to know the people on the opposite shift form you, since they're sleeping when you're working and working when you're free. But I suppose that watch stander merry-go-round is just a standard part of shipboard life."
Hannah entered her credentials and handed the PADD to Kiara, who read it, frowned, and looked up at the Commander. "Eh, sir. It looks like you're assigning us both the same quarters. Is there any chance one of us could have one of the free rooms on deck 6? We'll happily make it work if not, as we did on the Gisborne. But I think both of us would appreciate some privacy." Otherwise, Kiara thought, they might as well start blocking off time in their schedules for daily spats about such mundane matters as how many times one is supposed to wear the same uniform before recycling it.
Tim held out his hand to request the PADD back. "As soon as you enter your credentials so I can officially add you into the management system, I'll set that up. I believe room forty-three is available next door."
Kiara quickly did as she was told, and then laid the PADD in his outstretched hand. "That will be fine. Thank you."
The Chief Operations Officer took the padd back and entered a few commands in order to make the appropriate adjustments. "All right..." he said, dragging out his response as he logged out. Handing the padd back to Hannah, he added, "Sorry about all of the trouble. You both should be good to go now."
"No trouble, sir," Hannah said to Commander Parker, "I'm glad we've gotten this over with. I would have felt awkward coming to you on the bridge or during a senior staff meeting, but on reflection, perhaps that would have been better than bugging you at the dinner table. My apologies, it's just … I suppose we arrived at a somewhat inconvenient moment."
"Also ensigns," said Will as he watched Tim work his magic. "Should anything not be working properly in your quarters; just submit an electronic request ticket. One of the duty engineers will make sure that it gets looked after," he replied as he took sip of water.
"I'm sure everything will be fine, sir," Hannah said, "But thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Sorry again for disturbing your meal. Enjoy the rest of your evening!"
Kiara looked like she might be about to say something else, but Hannah turned and made her way to the door without waiting to hear what it might be. She needed a nap.
"Carry on, ensigns," Tim said with a nod before turning back to the rest of his dinner.
Kiara took the hint, and trotted out a few paces behind Hannah.
Will returned to eating his salad as well glancing every now and then outside of the window.
Tim finished the last bite of his stew before nodding to the Chief Engineer across from him at the table. "I think I'm going to catch a quick wink before I take on delta shift. Enjoy the rest of your meal, Harris."
"See you later Tim," he replied as he polished off the last bit of his salad, and downed the rest of his water. One thing was for certain, everything was not as it seemed; one thing about Starfleet adventure was sure lurking around every corner.