Anything Else, Sir?
Location: USS Exeter, spacedock, Castor System Shipyards
“Rita, I’m afraid I have to recall what’s left of shore leave.” Michael began gently. “Recall every crewman nearby to report within twelve hours. Also, get a precise estimate from Mr. Ragez about the warp engines, Lieutenant Marcus should have left things in good standing. We may be returning to Earth sooner than expected.”
Michael knew Rita would want an explanation, but he wasn’t going to give her one over a standard comline. “One final thing..” He added. “...status of our security personnel? I know we have phaser rifles aboard and I want to know just exactly who are permitted to use them.”
These words of course brought about an immediate negative reaction which the second officer managed to maintain internally. Really? AGAIN with this? Every damn time he has to rush us out of wherever the hell we are? Nossir, not this time. Whatever the emergency it can wait til the damn ship has been properly assembled. What is it with you always cutting and running, Stuart?!?
“With all due respect, sir, a refit really isn’t something to be rushed, and I was down in engineering this morning- there is still a LOT of work left to be done. The crewmen on Risa can’t get back to the Exeter in less than 19 hours by shuttlecraft, so 12 hours will create a lot of AWOL crewmen.” There was the pause, then in a slightly lower tone she pressed on with her point. “I’m not saying that you have cut short every leave and liberty then rushed the ship out of dock at a rate that some might consider reckless every single time sir, but...”
Pausing at that, Paris left the rest unsaid as she let that sink in. Because if he reviewed, he would recall that he had done just that every single time now. Rita had collected the dark circles under her eyes from lack of sleep every single time, too, and could nearly recite the preflight checklist for the Exeter by heart at this point after having been stampeded through it so often. And she doubted cancelled shore leaves for the third time in a row now were going to serve as particularly healthy morale boosters. Just because she personally had no life didn’t mean that whole crew wanted to work themselves into early graves.
“You’re right Commander, I have been too pushy. Forget what I said about cancelling Shore Leave,” Stuart conceded. “We’ll take our sweet time...this time around.”
It was good of Rita to keep Michael in check from time to time. He may not have said it much to her, but he was grateful for her ‘by the book’ stylings. It made her a competent and efficient officer.
“On behalf of the crew, thank you for your largess, sir,” the second officer intoned graciously and gratefully. As for the security personnel, Chief Morganstern has been managing in the absence of an officer in direct supervision over the Security department. He sends me daily reports, drills the men and seems to have a stable grasp on things. As for phaser rifles...” Paris paused as she signed out a worker bee then climbed aboard to scoot back over to the Exeter and get in some docking practice on deck six even as she juggled her communicator.
“As I understand it sir, Security controls the armory on deck seven, though there are a number of holdouts and type 1 personal phasers about the Exeter. Anyone of lieutenant rank or above has permission to possess a phaser as their personal sidearm- beyond that there are numerous stations that are codelocked by authorization codes across the starship, three of them on the bridge alone. I could get you exact figures and a list of whom has access to what sort of phaser weaponry, sir.” Paris paused, then pressed her question having answered the question. “Might I inquire as to just what this is all about, Captain?”
“All I can say right now…” Stuart began. “...is that I had a call from one of our friends in 31. I think they may try to sabotage the Reunification ceremony. I’m not 100% sure Commander, but I’ll explain more as I’m aboard.”
It wasn’t much of a vague answer, but if he knew Rita that tiny bit of information most likely raised an eyebrow, if not both.
“Then again, there may be nothing.” Michael concluded. “I’ll drop by in an hour or so to see how things are. Stuart out.”
Michael closed his communicator and finished his lunch. Pushing aside his worrying thoughts and concentrating on his job, the tasks that he had to accomplish.
“Ah, yessir... we’ll, ah, prepare for inspection. Anything else sir? Captain...?” It seemed he had hung up on her- captain’s prerogative she supposed. Closing the communicator thoughtfully, Rita flipped the small craft about to bring it in line with the airlock the docked on the port deck six airlock, opposite the umbilicus which currently tethered the Exeter to space dock on the starboard deck fourteen airlock. When maglock had been achieved and the doors whooshed open, she flipped open her communicator again.
“Paris to comms. Pinpoint point of origin of the last call routed to me?” She ordered, striding through the saucer section to the access ladders to slide down to deck eight, where she needed to check on the main torpedo room.
“The call originated from a relay station on Risa ma’am. Did you need it narrowed down further than that?” The comma officer asked even as Paris checked the duty roster to see just whom she was addressing.
“No, Ensign Montoya, that won't be necessary,” the curvaceous commander replied. “Paris out.”
If Captain Stuart planned to be on deck within the hour he was either planning to catch a transwarp transporter beam or a starship moving a lot faster than the shuttle service running between the Castor system and their nearest neighbor one light year distant. Somehow Rita doubted she would be seeing the Exeter’s master and commander anytime soon, so she continued with her list of duties and fires to put out.
Though she did dash off a quick message to Chief Ragez that his ‘be prepared to leave port faster than anticipated’ plan might want to be sped along a bit more if possible, and that as promised she had secured more assistance than he had requested.
The reunification ceremony was nothing she’d heard about, and she had no idea what 31 meant, but apparently that information would be forthcoming. For now it fell to her to keep the fires stoked and the ship ready for when her commander gave the word.
That was when her communicator chirruped again. Flipping it open she took a deep breath so that when she spoke she would sound professional.
“Lieutenant Commander, we got a situation in the kitchen on deck three. A science experiment gone wrong or a maybe an alien lifeform- it’s a big blob of jelly for now, but it’s growin and movin on it’s own. Uh, could you please advise ma’am?”
It dawned on her that since the captain had asked about security and the armories, kill two birds with one stone. “I’m on my way.”
Clapping the communicator closed Rita Paris eyed it, then the tablet in her hand. Could her calls not be routed through the PDD? Clipping the communicator to her back using the hidden belt the second officer began tapping away at her tablet screen, sending orders to Chief Morganstern to meet her there with a security team immediately, and to science to get their best xenobiologist to deck three for some unusual scans. As she walked along, eyes darting ahead to her path as she moved for the turbolift once more the leggy lieutenant send Morganstern a memo to review his personnel as well as inventory the armory and to update access rosters and responsibilities for whom had access to what.
Captain wanted to know, she’d find out.
The starship was not underway and the state of it was something of a disaster at the moment. Dollars to doughnuts Adler was still enjoying a tropical vacation in paradise, she was no fool. Emangu too... Marcus had run off to sulk apparently. Somehow Paris doubted the Deltan pilot was anywhere but planetside where she was likely having a ball. Hell, even the captain had called her from somewhere on Risa. Any sane person would be following such a course.
Meanwhile there was a blob trying to take over the kitchen, and she was on duty. Smiling as she raced to catch the turbolift, Lieutenant Commander Rita Paris realized she wouldn’t have it any other way.