Elizabeth was still rubbing the sleep from her eyes following her first night on the Aquarius. In a near zombie-like fashion she shuffled to the replicator and got her a coffee and some toast with some strawberry jam.
She turned to find a seat. It was busy this morning. There was overlapping of shifts so those going into work and those calling it a night had found their way into the mess hall.
Then her gaze fell upon a face she recognized. Bourne? Baker? No, neither of those, she thought to herself. Then the pieces clicked into place. The USS Ajax. She had spent two weeks on the ship with her cousin trying to get home for leave.
His name is Bates. For the life of me I can’t remember his first name, she thought. He was an Ensign then, now a full Lieutenant.
She approached Zane and gave him a warm smile, “Fancy meeting you here.”
Zane was sitting there at one of the empty tables with a bowl full biscuits, few slices of bacon, all smothered in sausage and gravy, along with a mug of Raktajino. He also had a couple pads over to the side and one out in front of him, going over various security protocols, seeing if any of them needed to be updated. However, a familiar voice grabbed his attention that he looked up to see a Lieutenant standing by the table.
“Lieutenant…Kyle? Good to see you, please.” He pointed at the seat across from him with his hand.
Elizabeth sat down across from him and smiled, “You remembered me? It’s been nearly a decade.”
Zane smiled right back, “Photographic memory. Saw your face and your name just popped right up.” He told her before he took a bite of his food, while checking off some things on his padd in front of him then took a drink of his Raktajino to wash the food down so he can speak freely. “So I see we’re the same rank.”
“Uh yeah… so it would seem,” she replied. Where’s he going with this? Elizabeth asked herself. Is he flirting? No, surely not. I’m pretty sure he has a girlfriend. Probably a wife by now. “I honestly thought I’d be a Lieutenant Commander by now. Maybe even a full Commander if I were lucky. But you know how it goes. When we make plans, God laughs.”
He heard the confusion in her voice when he brought that up. He just shrugged, “Just saying, last time I remember, you were at least a rank higher than me when you were on the Ajax for a short while.” He told her with a smirk as he took a few bites while she spoke. He took a large gulp of his Raktajino to clear up once more to speak. “Yeah, I know that feeling. Get into a relationship with a woman who has plans on being Captain, completely ignoring the complications and risks behind it. And then the ship gets called into action against some band of misfit Klingons in the Archanis Sector, get jumped by a squadron of birds of prey, fend off over half of them before most of our systems were taken out. Then a flippin K’t’inga comes in to board the ship but what do I do? Restore power to the weapons terminal and used up the one torpedo in the tube and what energy we had left stored in the phaser array, disabling the bastard, and end up saving the crew. Of course, another ship came in and scared off the rest of the BoP’s we didn’t get rid of. And what do I get? A commendation. What does my girlfriend get? A promotion and a seat to being the new First Officer. And then I get kicked off the ship.” He leaned back into his seat with a heavy sigh. “So, yeah, you’re right. God laughs. If there is a god. All the plans I had went down the shitter.”
He stared at the bowl of his on the table for a moment, if there was to be an awkward moment of silence, that be it. He took a sharp, deep breath and looked at her with a smile. “Sorry about that. Must of been holding it in.” He chuckled and then grabbed his Raktajino and took a long sip.
“It would seem I struck a nerve,” she said sipping her own coffee. “Let me ask you this: if it was you being offered the XO job would you turn it down for her?”
Zane shook his head, “No nerve was struck. Just happen to had the right words to yank that cork out of the bottle.” He chuckled before he took another sip of his coffee when she asked. He shook his head again, “I would have done my damnest to convince the Captain, whom we had served for roughly thirteen years, that we would keep work separate from personal life. And if that didn’t work, then yeah, I would have turned it down.” He grabbed his bowl and finished off what was left inside before setting it back down on the table and used his napkin to clean up.
“But that’s just me. I have no interest in being a Captain. I have enough responsibilities now. Plus, new ship, new possibilities but it does make you think that this must be a small galaxy, because I had no idea you were serving on board this ship.” He chuckled.