“You will miss a most glorious day,” Kron, son of Kator, walked at Eden’s left side, opposite T’Ren. “There is a major sectorwide scientific symposium focusing on star formation within the Valoris Nebula taking place on Lagash next week, and we have arranged for Markan, one of the quadrant’s leading experts on the interactions between polaron radiation and protomatter to visit the station afterward. He will be reviewing our work on that subject.” Eden had never expected to meet a Klingon who was as passionate about science as Kron was, but his zeal for discovery and belief that glory won in the advancement of knowledge was every bit as valuable as that won in combat made him an ideal science officer on the border, and his strategic acumen had made him a natural choice for Second Officer as well. He was also very fun to listen to when he got going.
“Express my regret to Markan,” Eden said. “And I’ll very much look forward to seeing your work on my return.” The turbolift door opened before them, and once they were inside Eden spoke. “Upper transporter pad.”
The lift rose, and T’Ren spoke. “All stations have reported ready for the arrival of the caretaker CO. We will make certain our work reflects well on you, Commander.”
“I know you will.” Eden offered T’Ren a smile, soothing some of the Vulcan’s deeply concealed tension. “I chose you for your job because I believe you the best-suited for it. As for the other task I assigned…”
“I have narrowed the options for our new counselor to an even ten,” T’Ren said. “If you would like, I can have one chosen and likely aboard before you return.”
“I would very much like that.” Eden had spent days considering what she wanted in a counselor, but in the end decided that given how much time she would likely spend as a patient, it might be best to leave the choice of who to bring aboard to someone she trusted. “Thank you, Commander.”
The lift stopped at the uppermost residential level, and another figure entered. Only slightly taller than Eden, young, almost painfully pretty, the single silver pip of an ensign shining bright on her breast. Ensign Li Ling Ailiang an Hark an Jenner, Eden’s yeoman, stood at awkward ease among the station’s most senior staff.
It likely didn’t help that Eden and Ailiang had been friends since the Lagashi woman was a young teenager, that the nearest thing Eden had to a living mother was Ailiang’s birth mother. When they were alone, they had an easy camaraderie that brought out the best in them both. But when in front of other officers, Ailiang was still learning to be comfortable with Eden as her captain.
She, like Eden, carried a travel bag. When Admiral T’Vrell made clear to Eden that her trip to Betazed was to be official, she had taken advantage of that to assign Ailiang to join her. It would be good to have someone else around who knew who she was, someone with whom she could think through problems more clearly.
“Commander. Ma’am. Sir.” Ailiang addressed each of the senior officers by their preferred honorific.
“Thank you, Ensign,” Eden said, then, out of curiosity, asked, “Who will be working with Captain Tatsu while we are gone?”
“Ensign Hawke,” Ailiang said. “I thought it would be good practice for her.”
Kron laughed loudly. “Indeed it will. A very good choice, Ensign.”
The lift door opened, and Eden and Ailiang stepped through it side by side. Eden turned to face the officers in the lift.
T’Ren and Kron had drawn up to full attention, saluting her together, and Eden returned the salute before smiling to them. “Do remember to have a little fun while I am gone.”
“I have set aside three hours per day for fun, as per your recommendation,” T’Rel replied, and Eden thought she felt a hint of mirth under her Vulcan calm.
“Very well. Take care of our home.” The lift door closed, and Eden and Ailiang made their way to the transporter pad. Ailiang spoke.
“Two for transport to Healer’s Hope.“