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Part of USS Themis: You Changed The Ending

You Changed The Ending – 9

Cockpit, USS Rubenstein
August 2401
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Lieutenant Nune offered no reaction to the sensor alarm flashing on his science station.  He sat still.  He held his breath.  He swallowed his excitement at the opportunity to see something exceedingly rare – to see it with his own eyes.  If anything, what caught his attention most was the decorative teal band circling the cuff of his uniform sleeve.  He watched the way it folded while he worked the LCARS interface.  Seeing it now, in this time, something about it offended his space.

After taking a steadying breath, Nune said, “Commander Perez, may I suggest applauding your science chief?”  Despite the hint of whimsy in his choice of words, he put no humour in his tone.  He made the suggestion meekly as if it might be immediately discarded.

When he spoke, Nune looked near her.  He effectively nodded at Perez, who was sat beside him in the pilot’s seat.  He made every movement that would be expected of him in polite society.  He showed respect, he showed engagement, except he only looked near her.  He didn’t look at her.  He hadn’t done, not even once, since boarding the runabout Rubenstein.

“They’re here, commander,” Nune reported.  “The negative particles Doctor Irlina needs to recharge her paradox machine are less than fifteen lightyears away from our position in this parallel universe.  Back in our own timeline, there were no negative particles to be found outside the Galactic Barrier.”

“Understood,” Perez said as she altered their course and engaged the runabout’s warp engines. “We should arrive within the hour,” she added. Pushing a stray lock of hair back behind her left ear, she turned to Nune. “so, are we going to remain professional throughout this entire mission?”

Although he could feel a greater meaning beneath her words, Nune feigned otherwise when he said, “Of course, commander.  Professionally is how I would be expected to respect the chief engineer of the Themis.”

Placing the ship on autopilot, Perez couldn’t quite believe how formal Nune was being with her. “Leander, are you honestly going to come back with that?” She asked, without giving him a chance to reply. “We worked together for over two years. You were one of my most promising officers under me at Starbase Three-Ten.”

“What I’m hearing you say is that I was typically unprofessional when we worked together on Starbase Three-Ten?” Nune asked.  It wasn’t fair, he knew.  He was nitpicking her words, he knew.  But there was a lot of emotion radiating off of Perez, and nitpicking was easier than the other thing.

“Oh my god, is this to do with that performance review I gave you before you left for Starbase Seventy-Two?” Perez challenged him. 

“No, it’s not that,” Nune said.  He could hear how defensive he sounded, but that accusation had genuinely caught him by surprise.

“Leander, I cannot believe you’ve kept that at the forefront of your mind for so long!”  Perez said, astonished at his response. She returned her focus to the controls before her. “You were one of the many engineers under me that I had come over to my home almost every night for a home-cooked meal. In fact, you once helped my son with his science fair assignment. Why would you think I thought differently about you when we worked so closely with each other?”

Nune insisted, “It’s not the performance review.  It was never the performance review.  But I do think you think differently about me.  You see me differently than over those dinners.  I don’t want that.”

“Oh, Leander, do you honestly think that one time I gave you pointers on improving your performance as an engineer and a Starfleet officer? It does not completely reflect what I thought about you back then.” Perez questioned with astonishment. “Now look at you.” 

“What do you mean by that?” Nune asked.  He posed it as a question, but it was clearly an accusation, too.  “What now?”

“Well, I mean you’re a science officer on one of Starfleet’s newest explorers, that’s a…” She paused as she considered her words. “A surprising achievement.”

“That’s what I was afraid of,” Nune emphatically said. “That right there.  When you call it surprising, you mean…?”

“I mean, I’m surprised you’re not the chief engineer,” Perez responded. “You had a strong talent for it, and when I heard you had picked up that gig on the Sarek, I was proud of you. It was one of the reasons why I eventually left Starbase Three-Ten and joined the Themis. I needed to get out here and explore.”

“Yeah, I never thought you would leave Three-Ten,” Nune said, far more softly.  “Themis is a beaut, but you were leading an entire complex and shipyard on the base.”

“Well, with both of my two now grown-up and making their own choices, the nest at Starbase Three Ten seemed empty,” Perez explained. “Plus, Bexa made a good plead.”

Nune averted his gaze again.  “Taes made a good plea for me to lead engineering on Constellation.  I’m the one– I didn’t want it.  I almost didn’t come on this away mission because I was scared you’d think less of me.  Scared you’d be disappointed in me for walking away from engineering.”

“Less of you? No, certainly not,” Perez answered. “Disappointed you didn’t carry on…I just hope you’re not missing out on career opportunities.”

Shrugging, Nune said, “If I miss out on opportunities, then they were never really mine.  I’m not owed them.”

“You were one of the finest engineers, Leander, there weren’t many I knew who could keep their cool when trying to by-pass an EPS conduit that was close to exploding,” Perez stated. “Are you sure you want this?” She asked sincerely.

“I did want it.  I did.  At the time,” Nune admitted.  “I spent so long not knowing my own mind, I took great strength from knowing something I did want.  Even if it didn’t make sense, even if it wasn’t a progression.  I did want it at the time.  I don’t know if I want it now.”

  • Ramona Perez

    Chief Engineer
    Third Officer

  • Taes

    USS Constellation
    Commanding Officer