Michael Stanton would never admit it to anyone else, in particular Alex, his boyfriend, but he was starting to enjoy being on Challenger as its chief engineer. He found himself tinkering more with various things that he would ever had with the opportunity back at Starfleet Training Command. On top of that he found himself being happier in more social situations. He felt that in some ways Captain Burton’s influences and attributes that were brushing off on him and their developing friendship was also a helping factor too. In spite of all of this he now found himself working alone, something he enjoyed a lot. His own mind was engaged with the puzzle before him. The solution was within his grasps. This was the stuff he was born to do. Currently he was working on trying to restore power to the Mayflower’s port thruster assembly. Alone in this tight maintenance tube with just his thoughts and broken circuits to fix was a welcome change of scenery for the engineer.
Or so he thought.
The engineer sighed to himself; he recognised the owner of the deep British male accent in an instant. “Down here captain!” He replied.
“You got a moment?” Captain Burton asked from where he stood at the entrance of the tube’s hatch, bending to look down the horizontal access tunnel.
“Yup,” Stanton replied by popping the ‘p’ “One second sir.” He added as he closed the work he was doing down and crawled his way out of the tube to come face to face with his commanding officer.
“How’s it going?” Burton asked, indicating towards the work he had just pulled his engineer from.
Nodding with pride after wiping the sweat off from his forehead with the back of his right hand, Stanton answered. “Ahead of schedule sir, all primary systems are back up and running. We’re just finishing off the last bits.”
Lloyd’s eyes grew in amazement. They had been working on both colony ships all day and it was now evening time. “Wow, that’s impressive.”
“Well we’ve got the finest engineering crew in the fleet working with the Mayflower’s crew who know this ship inside and out.” He stated. “Plus Sub Commander T’Plau’s teams have been extremely helpful too.”
Nodding in admiration of their work, Burton continued speaking. “That’s good to hear, well done Michael.”
“Thank you sir.” Stanton said and noticed the captain holding a tablet in his hands. “I assume you didn’t come over to speak with me about repairs though?”
“I’m afraid not.” Burton said as he gestured for Stanton to sit down on the edge of the hatch as he squatted down on the deck himself. He passed what he was holding over to his chief engineer and second officer. “We’ve got an issue with our helm department.”
“Ezrah still not up and about?” Stanton asked with a concerned tone.
Burton shook his head and whispered what he said next, not wanting the pilot’s medical status to be shared with anyone from Challenger who may walk past them. “No not yet, but he is awake. Kefira is worried that he now may be suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He woke up quite angry over his injuries and began to blame himself for what had happened. She had to give him a low-level sedative to calm him. She believes the multiple combinations of what happened on the Orion ship, with the news of his father and this accident, may have pushed him over the edge. She’s not convinced he is mentally fit for duty at the moment.”
Stanton looked shocked now. He seriously thought the pilot was slowly coming to grips with what had happened in his kidnapping. He had spent many nights talking it through with him. “What is she suggesting we do?”
“She’s relieving him of duty, effectively immediately and placing him under close psychiatric observation.”
“Relieving him of duty will surely make things worse for him? Ezrah said to me going back to work was helping him come to terms with what happened with the Orions. It was a source of strength for him.”
“I understand what you’re saying Michael.” Burton remarked while nodding in sympathy and keeping a low voice too. He knew the engineer had taken the pilot under his wing in a sort of brotherly way. “But it could tip him in the wrong way. No one can predict how someone will react when they’re dealing with such traumas.”
Stanton looked down at the tablet and read the file that was active on it. It read John Michael Conrad II – Service Record. He recognised the surname but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. “So who is this?” He wondered looking back at the captain, trying to work out where Burton was going with this.
“Unfortunately with Ezrah being relieved of duty it means we are a pilot down and there’s no way Angela could cope with pulling double shifts in the long term. Kefira doesn’t know how long Ezrah will take until he is fit for duty.”
“Are you sending him back to Earth?” Stanton quickly asked, interrupting the captain in mid-flow.
Shaking his head in response, Burton explained his train of thought. “No, not unless Kefira feels she can’t support him out here. She feels she can and I would prefer we help him unless he requests to return home.” He leant forward and tapped the tablet in Stanton’s hands. The service record came to life and showed an image of a man in a Starfleet cadet’s uniform alongside his entire biographical information. “This is John Conrad, he’s the Raven’s pilot and engineer. He should be a Starfleet officer; however, almost four years ago as he was about to graduate he pulled a stunt that got him booted out of the service. Since then he has been flying the Raven.”
“You want him to replace Ezrah?” Stanton said, finally understanding what his superior was considering. He felt a bit annoyed that the captain was contemplating going with this guy instead of Alex. On the other hand he understood that there was no way that Alex could get out here in time to help them compared to this John Conrad.
“It’s a possibility…a temporary possibility.” Burton answered. “I have filed my request to have Alex transferred before you ask, but Admiral Gardner said it could be weeks for Alex to be with us if the transfer was accepted. However, Mister Conrad is here and could join us temporarily while Ezrah is recovering and while we wait for confirmation about Alex. I’ve left this with Nicole to consider too, but I want you both to think it over and let me know your thoughts on the idea.”
“Conrad?” Stanton said to himself as he stared at the image again before looking back at the captain. “In fact I think I met him earlier today. However he didn’t refer to himself as John but as Jack.”
Burton chuckled. “Yeah Ned said the same thing. His friends and colleagues call him Jack instead of John.” At that point Burton’s communicator beeped at him. He pulled down on the zipper on his arm, yanked out the device and flipped it open. “Burton here.”
“Sorry to disturb you sir.” Spoke Ensign Hennessey. “But we’ve received a message from Voyager.”
“Voyager?” Burton repeated in confusion at the mention of his sister’s ship.
“Yes sir. They report that Romulan ships have entered the Archer system and are taking what they believe to be an aggressive stance. They’re requesting our help along with any other allied ship in the area.” Hennessey reported.
At the mention of the Romulans, Burton and Stanton both stood up. Burton indicated with a jerk of his head for Stanton to follow him. “Understood ensign. Call back all of our officers, inform the other captains in the convoy of the situation and for them to standby for my orders.”
“Even the Vulcans sir?” Hennessey questioned.
Burton sighed, “Do it as a request and in a diplomatic way if possible Ned.” He pleaded with his communications officer.
“Commander Stanton and I are on our way back to Challenger now. Have the rest of the senior crew on the bridge by the time we arrive.” Burton quickly closed his communicator as panic began to fill him.
Challenger NX-03, en route to Archer IV
Hennessey had been extremely efficient; by the time Burton and Stanton had reported to the bridge, everyone was there ready for them. Now they were all stood around the table in the situation room, aft of the bridge reviewing the message from Voyager. Before them sat the last sensor scan the ship had taken of the four incoming Romulan Birds-of-Prey against a map of the 61 Ursae Majoris system, also now known as the Archer system. Four green dots on the edge of the system pinpointed where the Romulans had dropped out of warp while two blue dots indicated the last known location of the starships Voyager and Essex in orbit around Archer IV.
Burton lent in further to study the map of the system. The Archer system had a yellow dwarf star and nine planets in it. It almost resembled the same setup of the Sol system except the first three planets were closer to the sun and were not suitable to be inhabited. The fifth planet was almost like Mars where it could be easily terraformed and adapted to become Minshara class. There were two gas giants while the last two planets in the system were pretty much frozen rocks. Three asteroid fields inhabited the star system too.
“What is the most probable course of action that Captain Burton would take?” Sub Commander T’Plau asked as she stood behind Burton’s left shoulder with her hands grasped behind her back.
Burton smirked for two reasons; one of them was that hearing someone else being referred to as Captain Burton on his ship was strange. The second reason was he knew how Madison thought and what she would do in such a situation. “Madison is smart enough not to engage them, especially with the odds being two-to-one.” He answered. “She knows there’s no way she would be able to win with those odds. Knowing my sister as well as I do, I would think she would have retreated to a safe harbour to await reinforcements.”
“A logical course of action.” T’Plau said, almost applauding the notion coming from the captain’s sister.
“So what do we do?” Commander Levesque asked from the other side of the table. “We’ve got three civilian ships with us and a Vulcan combat cruiser.”
“Plus the Republic is incoming too.” Major Yu added from her position standing next to Levesque, pointing to the lone travelling dot being shown on the display.
“Obviously we help them, but we can’t do it with the Mayflower, Haig and Raven with us.” Stanton said from Burton’s right side.
The captain pondered their dilemma with some more thought. They couldn’t leave the three civilian ships out here to defend themselves in case the Romulans attacked them. On the other hand he couldn’t let Voyager and Essex be destroyed or for them to lose their foothold on the Archer system. He tapped on the image of Archer IV and brought up another image of the two moons that orbited the planet. He tapped on one of them and again all the information of the moon appeared next to it. “The second moon in orbit of Archer Four has a para-magnetic core.”
“Indeed.” T’Plau said as she began to join the captain with his train of thought. “Such a thing can mask energy signatures.”
Burton looked up the Vulcan officer and gave her a smile. “Also, Archer Four itself has an ionised atmosphere in the southern hemisphere, above its southern pole. This again is a great place to hide in. If my sister has followed what she would normally do then my money is on them hiding in one of these locations, hoping for us to turn up or for the Romulans to move on after being bored of having to wait.”
“I wouldn’t count on them giving up that easily.” Levesque remarked.
“Exactly so this is what I suggest. If we continue with the convoy to the Archer system then the Romulans will detect the massive subspace distortions that our combined warp engines are creating. So we need to get the civilian ships past them and into a hiding place without being seen. This,” He said pointing to the second moon, “Will be their hiding place.”
“Okay so we hide the colony ships and the Raven. How do we get them to pass the Romulans?” Yu asked as she crossed her arms against her chest.
“We do two things.” Burton explained. “One we create a diversion. Challenger and T’Paal enter the system with a high warp profile. That will get the attention of the Romulans and hopefully the Republic, Voyager and Essex will be able to join us as we drop out of warp. The second thing we do is send them into the Archer system at different entry points at warp one and with only barely minimum power for those systems they really need.”
“Then we engage the Romulans?” Yu probed, trying to see Burton’s strategy.
The captain winced. “If we can avoid a confrontation then that’ll be better, but the sight of our four ships as well as the Vulcans might be enough to persuade them not to bother fighting us.”
“That is unlikely to happen Captain.” T’Plau said in a deadpan approach. “However your plan is adequate to ensure our success. The numbers are in our favour.”
“High praise.” Levesque sarcastically said as she crossed her arms against her chest.
Burton smirked at both women. “If anyone else has an idea I’m open to it.” He offered looking at them all. They all said nothing or silently shook their heads. “Very well then. Sub Commander T’Plau can you inform Captain Sortak of our plan? Commander Levesque let Captain Choudhary know too. Ensign Hennessey get me Captain Montague of the Raven, tell him I have a request of him. The rest of you prepare the ship for our departure. Dismissed.”
The communications officer just nodded as he moved off from the group, as did T’Plau, Yu and Ben-Ami. Levesque and Stanton had looked at each other when Lloyd had mentioned making a request to the Raven. Once everyone was away from earshot both commanders spoke up to their captain.
“Sir a moment.” Levesque said, stopping Burton from walking off.
“Sure.” He said, noticing the concerned look on both of his officer’s faces. “What’s up?”
“Are you going ahead with getting this Conrad guy here?” Levesque asked.
“If you two support it, then yeah.” He answered honestly. “I don’t think we have any other choice now.”
Stanton nodded. “I’ve got no issue with it sir.” He said and looked to Levesque who agreed with her own nod. “But do you think if he agrees to it then throwing him in to the deep end as we’re about to engage a hostile enemy is the right choice?”
“Ensign Hathaway would be up to the job sir.” Levesque added.
“Angie has been at that helm all day.” Burton said, pointing towards it where the young red-haired Scottish woman sat before continuing. “She looks exhausted and in all fairness she may have tested well in the combat simulations on Earth, but compared to Conrad who has done the same thing as well as having four years dodging in and out of scrapes on an old rust bucket under his belt. Conrad may be quicker at reacting then Angie.”
“Understood sir.” Levesque said after giving Stanton a worrisome look.
Leaning over to put an assuring hand on both their shoulders, Burton spoke. “Anyway it’s not as if I’ve asked the man yet. He could turn us down and he still has to pass every exam that Kefira can throw at him.”
“If there’s time before we reach Archer Four sir.” Stanton reminded him.
“There’s lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ Commander when it comes to deciding the outcome of our travels in deep space and we can’t be sitting around pondering about them forever. We need to act now.” Burton said, dropping his hands. “I need this crew and ship ready. Both of you get it done.” He ordered.
They both replied with “aye sir”, but neither of them appeared convinced. Lloyd sighed inwards as he watched them leave him, hoping he had just made the right decision himself.
Captain Logan Montague had never expected that he would hear from a Starfleet captain that he would be responsible for being part of a military operation. That said he had rarely spoken to any Starfleet captains in his life, but this Captain Burton chap was rubbing off on him. He was now working his way through each cargo module on his ship, inspecting the work his crew were currently engaged with ensuring the cargo and supplies they were delivering to Archer IV were tightly secured for the upcoming move to get them to the new Earth colony. He had passed several food containers when he heard a voice coming from the one person on his ship he knew would want to find him right about now.
“Cap’n!” The voice shouted from one end of the module to where Montague stood. Montague turned around to see the familiar cheeky disposition of his chief pilot and engineer: Jack Conrad.
“Jack, what can I do for you?” Montague replied with.
The pilot held up a data-tablet in the air and once he was close enough to the captain he answered. “What’s this?”
Montague took it out of his hands and read its contents briefly. “Looks like transfer orders to me.” He said and returned the item back to Conrad before carrying on with his inspection.
“We’re not in Starfleet!” Conrad exclaimed in an over the top manner.
“You were.” Montague corrected as he peered over the top of some crates. “And I can’t deny Captain Burton’s request here Jack.”
“You could have spoken to me first.” Conrad replied, sounding a bit hurt. “After the past four years I thought I would have at least earned that much sir.”
Montague stopped what he was doing; he had already planned what he was going to say to the pilot about this. “Jack right now we’re in a sticky position and for this to succeed we need to put some faith in Starfleet doing their job right and playing our part too. Captain Burton’s top pilot was injured in that attack we witnessed as we approached the Mayflower. Burton’s second pilot doesn’t have much experience in dealing with combat situations, so right now Burton needs the best at his helm. Plus this is your own fault!”
“My fault?!” Conrad protested in a high pitch voice, realising everyone around them had stopped to look at them. He lowered his voice. “How is this my fault?”
Montague pointed his finger at Conrad. “You blabbed your mouth off to Burton’s communication officer when you picked him up. How amazing you were back at Starfleet Training Command, and you know what Jack, you are amazing. In fact you’re bloody brilliant and for what Burton has planned to succeed then I agree with him in having you flying his ship. He is risking a lot taking this chance with you as well.”
“What if I don’t want to go over? Hmm?” Jack remarked while crossing his arms.
Montague laughed out loud. “Jack, you and I both know you want to return to Starfleet. You deserve this my friend.” He said by grabbing the younger man by both shoulders. “This is the second chance you rightly deserve Jack and this temporary transfer may turn into something permanent for you.”
Conrad slumped his shoulders as he sighed. “Shouldn’t I be here flying the Raven? Especially if whatever we’re about to do is so dangerous!”
“Jack you’re forgetting something, you’re talking to the man who flew this old bucket of rust before you did. Who taught you all those tricks you know? We’ll do fine with me at the wheel, I promise.” The captain said as he let go of Conrad’s shoulders. “Son,” He said while placing his right hand on Conrad’s left cheek. “Do this, make me proud.” He finished.
Jack nodded. “That’s unfair.” He quietly said with a small smile. “You know I can’t say no to you Cap’n.”
Again the captain gave out a belly laugh and pulled the young man in. “That’s why you’re going to do this not only for me but for yourself.” He said in a fatherly manner. “You’ll do great sport, I know you will. Now go pack your things as Captain Burton wants to see you in an hour.”
Jack hugged the man, the man who had been a father figure to him for the past four years. “I promise not to screw it up for you.” He said as he let go.
“Not for me Jack, for you.” Montague said before giving him a wink and a smile showing his pride in him.
Jack nodded in agreement and soon left, heading to his quarters to begin packing to head back to a life he once knew; the return to Starfleet.
After he left the captain’s company, Montague’s first officer and chief medic walked over to him, joining the captain in starring as Conrad walked away. “So he’s going?” Ghita Sharma asked.
“Yeah.” Montague remarked before looking at the Indian woman. “What’s up Number One?”
She smirked as she passed the captain a data-tablet and spoke. “We’ve had a request to take in those injured and who are now recovering on Challenger. I’m quite happy that we’re able to cope with the extra load and deal with their treatments.”
“Sounds fine with me Ghita.” He said as he put his arm around her and they walked in the opposite direction to prepare for their new guests and the mission that Captain Burton had briefed them on earlier.
Ben-Ami walked through the doors to sickbay with her hands clasped gently behind her back. As she entered the medical ward, she was confronted with the sight of those left from the Mayflower and Haig that would require further observations and treatments; the only other patient that grabbed her attention was Ensign Alcott. This would be one of her greatest challenges in her medical profession. She had yet to deal with such circumstances that surrounded his case on board a deep space assignment. The middle-aged doctor felt she could help him, in fact she firmly believed it was their responsibility to help the young officer come to terms with what had happened to him in such a short period of time. It had been some time since she had to deal with such a severe psychiatric case, however in the years since joining Starfleet she had kept herself in what one could call the psychiatric arena by engaging with fellow colleagues with similar qualifications, in particular those involved in the IME program. She had considered getting in touch with some of them to give her their opinion on the case and consult them on possible ideas for treatments.
“Ro-fa.” Interrupted Nurse Stewart. “All of our patients from the colony ships are responding well to their treatments and are making excellent recoveries. Do you want me to have them transferred back to the Mayflower and Haig?”
Ben-Ami looked at the younger officer and shook her head. “No, we’re about to undergo a crucial mission that I don’t think we’ll have time to transfer back in time. Plus, the colony ships don’t have all the adequate facilities.”
“What about the Raven?” He suggested as he passed her the data-tablet with their patients’ latest charts.
“The cargo ship?” She threw back as she read the tablet.
Stewart nodded. “Their medical facilities may not rival ours, but they are designed to deal with all sorts. They’re a lot better than the colony ships too. Aren’t they heading to Archer Four as well?”
The Israeli doctor considered the idea for a second. “Have you spoken to anyone else about this?”
“No ma’am.” He responded as they walked over to the side where the small sickbay laboratory sat. “Do you want me to?”
“Let me clear it with the captain and if you can get in contact with the right people on the colony ships and Raven then let’s get it underway. I’ve got a feeling we may need to have these beds free.” She advised.
“What about Ensign Alcott?” Stewart looked over at the pilot. “He’s in a stable condition now.”
“Has he woken up yet?” Ben-Ami asked as she led them both to where their patient lay on one of the recovery beds.
“He stirred for some time while you were in the senior staff meeting.” Stewart stated before continuing, knowing what she was going to ask next. “He asked where he was and what was happening. I briefly spoke to him and he was pretty calm. He had a drink of water before he went back to sleep.”
“It might be prudent to release him to his quarters. Familiar sights, sounds and smells may help him.” She advised and went round to stand by Alcott’s side. She leant slightly in and gently shook him to wake him. “Ensign Alcott, can you hear me?” After a few murmurs the Coloradan pilot slowly awoke. She continued to speak to him. “Ezrah, how are you feeling?”
“Tired, my face still feels a bit sore.” He explained as he pushed himself up on to his elbows and looked between the doctor and nurse to him. “Niall told me your decision to relieve me of my duties.”
The doctor nodded solemnly, she had guessed he would ask her that as he had expressed an interest in knowing her decision before their last session got out of hand. “Right now we want to help you Ezrah and we can’t do that while you’re sat on the bridge flying.”
He remained calm as he spoke. “No, I understand that now.” He paused. “I wanna say I’m sorry for the way I reacted last time Ro-fa, I didn’t mean any of what I said to you or Niall.”
“Thank you Ezrah, I appreciate the apology.” She said coolly.
“Is Angie really flying the ship now? She can’t do it by herself. Neither Cristiano nor Adrian are experienced enough. Plus Angie has said that she gets nervous in battle conditions.” Alcott worried.
Ben-Ami placed a gentle hand on Ezrah’s chest to calm him. “Do not worry Ezrah.” She assured him. “The captain has the situation under control.”
The pilot just nodded, showing he trusted her with what she was saying.
“You need to focus on getting yourself better so you can show them how to do it.” Stewart added with a small smile.
Relaxing back down on to the bed, Alcott nodded again. “Yeah, you’re right Niall.” He said as he took a few breaths. “Perhaps the captain can find someone to cover for me in the meantime.”
Ben-Ami smiled at the calmer approach he was now taking and pleased he was remembering the breathing techniques she had showed him to do to deal with his anxiety from their previous therapy sessions. “That sounds like a good idea Ezrah, that way they can deal with it all of those helm matters and you can concentrate getting yourself back on track so when you’re ready, and if you want to resume your duties you can.”
He nodded. “Okay.”
“Good.” She said with a genuine smile. “Now how do you feel about returning to your quarters and resting there?”
Alcott sat up slowly. “Can’t I stay in sickbay? I mean, don’t you need to keep me here for a bit longer?”
“We can Ezrah, but returning to a place which is your own private space may make you more comfortable. On top of that we need to prepare sickbay for the possibility of more casualties.” Ben-Ami stated in a low tone, trying to avoid alerting him.
“Are we answering another distress call then?” He asked, and sat up straight.
“Challenger is going to respond to a call of assistance from two other Starfleet ships. We don’t know what to expect, so the captain will be placing the ship at tactical alert once we get underway.” She explained. “I think it’s best you head to your quarters to rest there.”
He smiled. “You want me out of the way?”
“No Ezrah, it’s not like that. It’s just fortune hasn’t dealt us with the best circumstances to help you with your recovery. On top of that your body still needs to fully recuperate from the trauma it went through.” She clarified, knowing she had to be careful not to tip him back to where he was.
Alcott chuckled as he pulled himself around on the bed, allowing himself to sit up properly. “I’m kidding Ro-fa, I understand I’m off duty and just need to relax in my room like a good boy!” He joked. “But I am famished, am I allowed to eat?”
“I’m sure we can ask Chef Lawson to whip something up but I would suggest you avoid large social gatherings. Little steps Ezrah.” She reminded him. “I’m sure Ensign Stewart can walk you to your quarters and make sure you have everything you need.”
“No way, I’m not allowing him to do that especially when he has a date with Private Jenkins!” Alcott explained with a smirk on his face looking at Niall.
The Irish nurse just looked dumbfounded, he blinked a few times and gazed between the two of them. “Err…umm…” He stumbled out with.
Alcott sniggered a bit more. “Don’t worry Niall, I promise not to tell everyone about you two.”
Ben-Ami had already known about Ensign Stewart being romantically involved with the young MACO soldier. Stewart had turned up to his shift this morning explaining how embarrassed he was from being caught making out with Jenkins by Captain Burton in the corridor. “I’m sure Private Jenkins won’t mind waiting for Ensign Stewart.” She said.
“Yeah, that’s fine.” Stewart remarked, trying to keep his cool and not come off too embarrassed, “Do you want to go now, Ezrah?”
Alcott smiled and nodded. “Let me get changed into some normal clothes not that wearing medical gowns isn’t attractive, but I do have a reputation to maintain!”
Ben-Ami laughed at his joking around and placed a gentle reassuring hand on his shoulder. “That’s good to hear Ezrah. Go home, get something to eat, rest and I’ll visit you tomorrow.”
“Thanks Ro-fa.” He said sincerely and leaned in to hug her.
She hugged him back. “You’re welcome Ezrah.” She whispered back before letting go of him.
“So where you taking Liam tonight?” Alcott asked as he and Ensign Stewart walked down the corridor of E deck towards his quarters.
Stewart just moaned inwards. “Can we talk about something else besides my romantic life?”
“So it is romantic between you?” Alcott quickly said.
“We’ve only seen each other for less than twenty-four hours.” He replied with a sigh. “I don’t know what it is.”
“Sounds like love as well as fast work!” Alcott replied as they passed Ensign Hennessey escorting a civilian towards the lift. “Who was that?” He asked to check out the guy with their communications officer.
“Some civilian, maybe Hennessey is helping him out with a communication problem?” Stewart guessed as they turned down the junction and approached Alcott’s quarters. “Here we are.” He said.
They entered the room and Alcott almost seemed apprehensive about going in, however he soon stood in the middle of it checking it out for any dangers.
“What do you want to eat?” Stewart asked, interrupting him out of his thoughts.
Taking a breath in, Alcott stopped looking around and focussed back on his escort. “You know what,” He started. “I’m more tired than hungry, I can call the galley at some point and see if there’s anything they can put together for me.”
Not wanting to push his patient any more, Stewart just nodded. “Okay, I’ll tell Chef Lawson and her staff to expect a call from you at some point or to at least put something aside for you.”
“Thanks Niall.” Alcott said with a smile. “Now go find Liam and have some fun with him before the captain places the ship at tactical alert again.”
“If you need me, give me a call.” Stewart said one more time before leaving Alcott. The pilot sat down on his bed after Steward had left, and the door had closed. Lying back, he looked up on the ceiling and sighed. Wondering if he could make any sense to what had happened to him and why.
In the silent confines of her office Major Yu was updating her daily log when the doorbell went off. She reached out for the almost empty cup of coffee next to her cupboard and responded to the chime before taking a sip. “Yeah, come in.” She shouted, still focussed on proofreading her report. The door parted open, allowing for the light from the MACO briefing room to bleed through the almost dark room. A silhouette appeared at the door and stepped through the threshold.
“Sorry to disturb you Major but Staff Sergeant Iyer wanted me to pass this on to you.” Spoke Private Jenkins in the doorway.
Yu kept her focus on what she was reading and just waved for him to come in further before speaking. “Thanks Liam.” She said in a casual tone. In all fairness she was meant to be off duty but with the recent call from the captain’s sister’s ship she was preparing herself to return to active duty once the ship got underway.
The young soldier passed her a data-tablet. “He said all of our units are on assignment and ready. He mentioned you would know what that meant.”
She took the tablet in the hand she had used to wave him in with and looked at the title of the document saved on it. It contained their current deployment of the MACOs across the ship. She already knew what the plan was as she had created it herself. “That’s great Liam, nice work.” She remarked as she stopped staring at her computer screen and looked over her shoulder at the young soldier. “In fact I’ve heard great things about you in the past forty-eight hours, Private Jenkins. Not only from your efforts on the Mayflower, but your hard work helping out in sickbay. I hear you’ve requested to finish your training to become a field medic?”
“Yes ma’am. Ensign Stewart has agreed to it if you’re happy for me to take training under him.” Jenkins replied and then realised what he said at the end. “I mean for him to help me to study for the final exams I didn’t pass.”
Yu smirked at his fumble. She pulled the chair that was nearby over and gestured for him to sit down. “Liam, sit down.” She instructed. Hesitantly he did and remained rigid in the chair. “Relax will ya?” Yu insisted. He did so. “Now look Liam I’m not one of those leaders that gets involved in their people’s private lives but I want to offer you some advice, from someone who has first-hand experience of a career impacting on a relationship.”
“Okay.” Jenkins said nervously before taking a gulp.
She placed a reassuring hand on his knee. “Seriously Liam, chill out. This isn’t a lecture and this isn’t me telling you off. In fact look,” She paused as she stood up, took off her uniform jacket. “I’m not Major Yu now, I’m just plain Vicktoria Yu. Alright?”
“Okay ma’am.” He replied back.
She rolled her eyes, finding the young man’s response pretty adorable. “Liam do you know why you were picked for Challenger?” She realised she needed to calm his nervous disposition before actually sharing her advice.
Yu relaxed back into her chair, she crossed her legs over each other and placed her hands in her lap. “Well Captain Karim and I were talking a lot before I took my posting here and before her death. When she sent me the files of who she wanted on the MACO unit yours was on top with the simple note attached to it that said: without a doubt.” Yu recounted. “When we spoke she said to me she was so impressed with the number of letters from your training officers. Colonel Horayne at Jupiter Station said even though you didn’t pass your field medic exams you had a lot of potential. Captain Karim and I were both impressed by the fact you wanted to better yourself. That’s also why today Captain Burton has placed a commendation in your file.”
“What?” Jenkins replied with shock. “He did what?”
“A commendation for your fast response in helping those on the Mayflower. Now back to what I was originally going to say, some advice. I think it’s great you and Ensign Stewart have struck up a close bond and I encourage you to have a healthy relationship, but don’t rush into anything. Take it one step at a time and enjoy learning from him about becoming a medic. That’s coming from someone who placed their career before a loved one. It can mess it up if you rush in to it all. Can you promise me that Liam?”
He nodded with a sense of keenness. “I can ma’am. I promise you that and thanks for the advice.”
“Good and do me a favour, don’t get caught out by the captain again even if you are off duty!” Yu said with a cheeky wink as she gestured for him to leave.
He stood up and nervously laughed at that one off. “I’ll do my best, Major.” He turned round to leave the room.
Yu turned round to look back at her screen and stopped to look over her shoulder and called Liam back. “Oh and Liam,”
He stopped, turned round and looked back at her. “Yes ma’am?”
“Well done for bagging a cutie!” She said with a cheeky smile and wink.
While at the same time blushing Jenkins laughed and before he left Yu’s company he responded, “Thanks ma’am. He is pretty cute!”