Location: USS Exeter, Deck 14, Main Engineering
The pleasure planet Risa, as it turned out, was a colossal bore if you were a workaholic who was missing their partner and didn’t really have any friends. Thus five days into the two week shoreleave found Lieutenant Commander Rita Paris on a shuttle bound for the Castor shipyards, and on the sixth day she was back onboard the USS Exeter as she rested in spacedock while refits and repairs were performed.
Running through the list of things she should be handling, at least according to her own internal logic of working herself into an early grave, the leggy lieutenant was going over the crew rosters seeing who was on leave, statuses and so forth, when she noticed that Chief Engineer Lieutenant Commander Amaan Ragez had checked back into the command the day before, and was back on active duty. On the one hand it made sense, seeing as how the repairs and refits were his doman. On the other hand she was curious as to why he would have come back so soon.
Gabriel Marcus had been an enigma to Paris- sullen and furtive, he answered in the briefest of replies when spoken to and she couldn’t seem to get him to open up. While she herself was the type of girl engineers tended to like, she’d made no headway with Marcus, who had apparently requested a transfer after the confrontation with the dreadnaught class Conquest.
Thus there was a new chief engineer, and thus Rita Paris was determined to try again.
Clutching her ever-present tablet, Paris rode the turbolift down to deck fourteen, where she delicately picked her way through the construction looking for the jolly green giant she had met once already on Risa.
“Okay I think we're ready to fire this thing up.” The large Orion Chief Engineer pulled himself out from under a system status display console. He had spent the last few hours on his back under the console next to Crewman Kal’K, a taciturn Rigellian that truthfully had a slightly minty odor about him. The much shorter quasi-amphibian simply nodded, making a final connection that was followed a fraction of a second later by a shower of sparks and whining duotronic circuit boards.
Amaan cursed under his breath in gutter Orion. “Okay, okay,” he said. The Rigellian cut the power and the light and sound display ended. “Looks like this console will need replacing.” The Engineer picked up his personal tablet and keyed in the requisition request. “Now all we need is…” Amaan stopped in mid sentence. He was about to say that he needed a member of the Executive staff to approve the requisition orders before forwarding them to Castor Shipyard Operations...when Lieutenant Commander Paris appeared on the deck, almost like an answered supplication to the Gods of Fortune. He waved his large hand in the air, hoping she would see him. If not, he could always whistle again.
Picking her way over cables and ducking conduits was new for engineering, but a refit was a lot of work and restructuring. Rita was spending a lot of her time focused on her footing, nearly stepping on a pair of black-clad legs protruding from under a console as the sudden movement of the chief’s hand caught her eye, and she grinned. In a sea of red it paid to stand out in gold.
“I hope I’m not interrupting chief?” Paris called out as she continued to pick her way across what was to her dangerous footing in those 3” chunky heeled uniform boots.
“Of course not Sir,” said Amaan playfully. He wasn't sure if Rita preferred Sir or Ma’am so he decided to err on the side of protocol. “I was just about to query the Computer to see who in management was on board. I had some coffee sent down, if you'd like a cup…?” Amaan gestured toward the small alcove he used as an office.
“Coffee would be amazing, Chief- thank you!” Paris picked her way toward the engineer’s office, sniffing as she moved. “Smells ozone-y... something just cook?”
Amaan came into the office behind Rita and picked up the coffee pot. “ I'm afraid my time on Earth turned me into a bit of a coffee snob. This coffee is from the highlands outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico.” He poured two generous sized cups and passed one to the Navigator. “We just tried to restart the main system's display console after extensive repairs. Needless to say, that's why it smells like burned polymers in here...the console is toast.” He took a short sip and gestured toward a chair in front of the desk. “Feel free to take a seat if you like,” said Amaan as he rounded the desk and sank into his larger-than-regulation chair.
Accepting the large mug of exotic coffee, Paris paused to bring it to her nose and take a long sniff, even as she savored the warmth from the cup in her hands. The scent was sharp and strong, and she half-tasted what was in store for her taste buds. Smiling serenely the leggy lieutenant settled easily into the chair, setting her tablet on her lap before crossing her legs with practiced ease. The chunky bang of blonde hair fell a bit forward and she lifted the coffee to her lips to take a sip, savoring the rich flavor.
“You are the very first man on this ship to call me ‘sir’. I was going to correct you since we’re equal rank, though I believe you have time in rate on me. But second officer makes me exec not just chief, so you nailed it in one. Chief, you can call me sir with no correction,” Paris smiled cheerfully and raised her cup to the expansive engineer.
“Some ladies are uncomfortable with that terminology,” said Amaan, returning the salutation with his cup. “Commander Chavez on the Mayflower insisted upon Ma'am and made it a standing order for the whole crew. She was a saucy one, that woman.” Amaan took another drink of the coffee. “If you like the coffee, you can feel free to request some from my private reserve in the galley. Just ask for the ‘Island Blend’ coffee.”
“Thank you, I will. I am a coffee plebian, so I will cheerfully accept the advice of a coffee snob.” Sitting back in her chair the navigator studied the Orion engineer. “May I ask you a potentially inappropriate question, chief?”
Amaan set down his cup and leans back slightly in his chair. “Ask away. If we're going to be colleagues and hopefully friends then there should be no walls between us.”
“I’m rather hoping we can be friends, Chief. We’re going to be shipmates and we’re going to have to work together quite a bit, and I’d rather we have a good working relationship,” Paris leaned forward a bit and cocked her head slightly before speaking. “My question is that I read the Orions don’t call themselves that, they are the Kolari? Is this correct or am I getting bad information from Fedepedia?”
Amaan steepled his fingers in front of his face. “Technically, you are correct. They do refer to themselves as Kolari.” The engineer exhaled deeply through his nostrils. “My mother only taught me a limited amount regarding Orion culture. She wanted to imbue more Federation values into me than anything. Although she did teach me how to swear in Common Kolari.”
“Soooo, my shot at avoiding humancentric racial insensitivity kinda backfired a bit there?” Paris was chagrined, but not bashful. If she’d erred she was up for taking responsibility.
“Not at all,” said Amaan with a crooked smile. “My mother just didn't want me exposed so much to a culture that allowed her to be sold into slavery in her mid teens.”
The smile on the face of the buxom blonde slowly turned into something of a rictus grin.