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Part of USS Republic: Secrets and Celebrations

Secrets and Celebrations – 1

USS Republic, main shuttlebay obvervation lounge
August 2401
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“Got to say, don’t think I’ve ever been invited to a catered conspiracy meeting before,” Matt Lake announced as he sat himself down at the small table in the main shuttle bay’s observation lounge, eyes firmly on the plate of baked goods before the others already present.

Not exactly the largest of spaces aboard Republic, the lounge was occupied by just a couple of tables with a few chairs each and a couch at either end, its primary purpose was as a lounge space for the ship’s small craft pilots and crew. Hence the remarkable windows looking down on the main shuttlebay and practically nothing else.

And right now it was devoid of any of the normal ruffians that might be taking a break or avoiding work and instead was occupied by a decent gathering of the ship’s senior staff. The two tables had been pushed together into a single and at the head of it was Blake Pisani, bedecked in her usual lab coat over her uniform. To her right sat Revin, prim and proper, looking like an officer despite her Services grey uniform. Evan Malcolm was seated opposite Revin, eyes slightly squinting at her, arms crossed but otherwise just looking his normal sullen self. The only person who wasn’t completely out of place in this space reserved for a subset of the ship’s crew was Cat, who’d perched herself not on any of the seats around the table but the window sill, her back to the shuttlebay below.

“I aim to please,” Revin replied with a slight nod of her head and a subtle little smile seen more around her eyes than her lips. “Lemon tarts, chocolate stuffed croissants and something new I was asked for – bradj.” The pause around the word and her careful pronunciation hinted at her actually saying the word and not just letting the universal translator handle her native Romulan.

“I think I can deduce who asked for that,” Matt continued before reaching out to grab himself a piece of the date biscuit he’d just been informed about. “So, Doc, what’s up?”

“Yes, please, enlighten us,” Evan grumbled from his seat.

That earned a slight glare from Blake before it evaporated and she smiled mischievously at everyone else. “Surprise birthday party.” Three words, each said as if a sentence in and of itself and each aimed in different directions, one to either side of the table before her and the last towards Cat at the window.

Evan’s groan was masked by Matt’s immediate ‘Oooh!’ and Revin’s visible perking up at the idea further added to distract Blake. Even Cat went from looking into the middle distance to looking straight at Blake.

“Who’s?” the pilot asked, left eyebrow raised.

“Mac’s,” Blake answered. “We’re throwing him a party, it will be a surprise and if the surprise is ruined, well…”

“Best not dwell on it?” Matt finished the implied threat with a smile and a chuckle. “Alright Doc, what do you need from us?”

Evan shook his head and sighed, arms uncrossing as he prepared to stand. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to excuse myself from this affair. I’ve got better uses of my time than running around behind the captain’s back to organise a party.”

His attempt to stand however was countered by Cat’s hands resting on his shoulders and giving him a gentle push back into his seat. “You don’t want to be the only senior officer not involved in sorting out the captain’s surprise party,” she said, leaning down to speak. “Just for once Evan, could you not be a grump?”

“Lieutenant, take your hands off me,” Evan countered, his demand met immediately as Cat removed her hands from his shoulders and then threw herself into the empty seat next to him.

Cat’s elbows met the table straight away and leaning forward she locked eyes with Blake, ignoring the chief engineer completely. Her smile and the glint in her own eyes matched Blake’s own. “As Matt said, what’s the plan?”

Before she continued, Blake locked eyes with Evan, who stared her down for a handful of seconds before shaking his head and throwing up his hands in defeat. Cat’s threat about being the only one out of the loop had done its work and he submitted himself to what was to come. He made it abundantly clear with body language that he wasn’t going to be happy about it.

“I need a birthday cake,” Blake started.

“On it!” Revin answered straight away with no hesitancy at all. “Questions later about what the captain likes. So many cake recipes!”

“Glad you volunteered,” Blake continued, reeling just a touch from the enthusiasm. “Work with Trid, keep it secret from everyone and I do mean everyone.” Revin’s nod was all the answer Blake needed to continue.

“I need a venue. Somewhere we can decorate and set up without any chance of Charles accidentally finding it, or anyone else on the crew. Evan, any chance you can help with that?”

“You want me to find a space aboard ship for a birthday party? Why not just use the Pnyx?” His head shake told everyone his thoughts on the matter. “Fine, fine, I’ll find somewhere aboard ship we can use. I’m sure I can come up with some sort of reason for why a compartment is out of bounds.”

“Love to hear it. Oooh, check with Selu and see if she’s got any ideas. Or reasons we could use. And yes, she’s already been briefed on the party.” Evan’s eye roll and eventual nod let Blake continue. “Need a distraction for a few days, something to keep Charles’ attention. Matt, ever thought about taking some command courses?”

“Uh, no,” the scientist said, recoiling at the seeming non-sequitur. “Why?”

“Willow just applied to take a series of command course papers as the next part of her career. I know for a fact it’s taking up a decent portion of Charles’ mental bandwidth right now getting her all set up for it. So, let’s throw a wrench into the works and have you ask him some questions. Maybe tag along with Willow for the start of some of her papers, see if it’s something you want to do.”

“That’s a pretty big ask Doc,” Matt said. “I mean, what if I actually want to do that in a few years? This could upset things then.”

“Well, if you’ve got something else in mind, happy to hear it. Meet up for drinks later and talk it out?” Blake asked.

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“And me?” Cat asked, the last in the room and presently without a task.

“Need someone to go and pick up a birthday present. There’s a Ferengi trader nearby who’s holding position for a few days. He’s got a certain something special onboard I’ve arranged payment for, just need to send someone to go get it.”

Cat nodded her head, then rolled side to side for a moment. “You know, the XO is overdue for a flight qualification exam. Like a decade and a bit overdue.”

“She thinks she’s a good pilot,” Revin chimed in, “but she really isn’t. Please, don’t be kind.”

“Break her heart so she goes running home to her lovely wife?” Cat teased, laughing when Revin smiled and nodded her head a few times in agreement. “Gives me a chance to take one of those Delta-class runabouts out as well. Been meaning to try them out.”

“Shouldn’t be any problems from Grem, but if there is, don’t think it’s anything you and Sidda can’t resolve.” Cat nodded in agreement. “Swing by sickbay in an hour, I’ll have the details ready for you.”

“Sounds good doc.”

“Right, now, we have two days to sort all of this out. Keep it a secret, don’t let anyone get suspicious and absolutely don’t let Charles suspect a thing. Got it?”

With a round of agreement, save from Evan, Blake turned on the engineer followed by everyone else.

“Got it, geez,” he conceded. “Don’t ruin the surprise. Understood. Wait,” he looked to Matt suddenly, “why am I taking orders from a lieutenant?”

“You aren’t,” Matt answered with a smile. “You’re taking orders from the captain’s girlfriend.”

“Damn straight,” Blake said. “Now go! Things to do folks!”