Part of USS Columbia: Sol Sub Umbra

Four minutes fifty one.

USS Columbia, Beckman's Quarters, Holodeck 5
MD1 - 2030 Hours
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First there was her starbase bound duties, then the assignment to the Europa and now one Willow Andrea Beckman found herself reassigned to the USS Columbia. Yes, the ship was Galaxy-class, yes it was older than she was, but it came with a seriously considerable advantage to the Europa – larger quarters. Not a lavish palace like those on even larger ships, or reserved for senior officers, but even the junior officer quarters aboard such a vessel were an improvement.

“Cripes Wil,” came the voice from the padd in her hand after having held it facing away from her and giving the tour of her new quarters. “My first apartment was bigger than those quarters,” Viv continued as Willow set the padd back down in its angled rest so she could chat her with closest friend. “But compared to your last they’re certainly an improvement.”

“Hey, just because some of us went into space is no need to brag about you planetside apartments. Besides, space aboard a ship is important.”

“Then do everyone a favour and find someone to share that space with girl,” Viv said jokingly. “Seriously, wasn’t your last girlfriend back in the Academy?”

“Viv!” Willow said, blushing. “I’m not going to shack up just to save space or to satisfy your desire for me to have a love life!”

“Shame. Hey, you been working out?” Viv asked, taking the conversation in a tangent.

“What?”

“Because girl I can see those guns in frame every so often. Looking good!” And with that Viv’s face moved out of shot as she stood up and backed away from her comm, turning sideways to show off her baby bump. “Four months along now, bubs is healthy.”

Willow just sat there, watching her friend, her first love, enjoying the early stages of motherhood. Viv had found her Mr Right barely six months after Willow had left Berengeria for the Academy and her and Roger had been trying for a family for a year now. Somewhere deep inside she hurt, knowing she’d never be able to win Viv over like she wanted, but a larger part of her was ecstatic for her friend.

“Oh, Viv I’m so happy for you, truly am, but I’m not going to be able to make it for bub’s birth, or even first birthday even. We’re being deployed to the Delta Quadrant soon. Heck, I’m not going to be able to call as often.”

Viv sat herself back down, her perpetual smile still on her face. “Hey, friendship is stronger than that babe. I’ll still be here when you get back and then Auntie Willow can meet bubs when she can. It’ll be fine! Now I hate to run, but we’ve been chatting for like an hour and Roger needs me to come supervise his gardening before he declares everything a weed and starts going crazy.”

“He’s a dolt Viv, but I love. Give Roger my love and if you see my grandparents around give them a hug for me, won’t you?” she asked Viv, knowing her friend would do it anyway just because Viv was that overly cheerful, bubbly person in her life.

“Of course babe! Gotta run love, take care!”

With that the comm line went dead and Willow then sat back in her chair, slumping somewhat with a sigh that had to be heard in Engineering. She wallowed there for a good five minutes before reaching over, checking the status of the ship’s holodecks and then reserving one. She had some work to do.



She walked into the holodeck in her gym gear, the black bike shorts and baggy light blue singlet that read “COL” on the front and “Beckman” on the back. Of course, since the holodeck had been running with her preselected program, she was walking onto an expertly recreated rendition of Columbia’s bridge., bereft of crew, the expanse of space displayed on the man viewscreen. The arch closed behind her and she knew if she turned around, she’d just be confronted with a turbolift door.

“Computer, obstacle course Gamma Three Heavy,” she commanded as she assumed the helm, tapping in a sequence to bring up her personalised control surface. Instruments popped to life, populated by the information presented as the obstacle course was rendered. An asteroid field with predetermined checkpoints sprung to life on instruments and viewscreen.

“Gamma Three Heavy. Qualification time is five minutes thirty seconds with no collisons. Personal best from 2398 is five minutes six seconds.” She’d not run the heavy version of Gamma Three since the Academy, having focused primarily on Normal and Small, but now she was on Columbia, which while she was rated for all craft in Starfleet, she felt the need to brush up on skills.

The asteroids hung, motionless, not even spinning. The faux-Columbia was equally motionless. All of which would change as soon as Willow tapped the first control that commanded the ship to do something. The timer would start, the ship would bow to her will and dutifully do as it was commanded and the asteroids would begin their own ballet.

It was a ridiculous rendition of an asteroid field to be honest. Only a handful where ever detected as dense as what was presented. No flight officer would, if given a chance, willing fly into such a maelstrom, opting to fly around. But this was a training course and they were duly unfair.

“Five minutes six, let’s do it.”

Over an hour had passed, the course being run over and over again, Willow resetting with each completion, taking a moment to catch her breath, think, calm herself and then throw herself back at the challenge.

“Five minutes one second.”

“Four minutes fifty-seven.”

“Four minutes fifty-one.”

“Four minutes fifty-six.”

That last one hurt. To go from a best score to slipping back five runs. “Reset,” she commanded and everything dutifully did as was asked.

“You know,” Willow heard from behind her, spinning her chair around to face what she presumed was an empty captain’s chair but was instead occupied by a stunningly beautiful science officer, legs crossed and relaxed as if she owned the chair, the ship, the imaginary crew if it had any, “your booking ended three minutes ago.” She exuded the confidence of a command officer, just a shame about the blue collar.

Jamie. The name came to her. Jamie Sandhurst. They’d had a one-night stand on Starbase 72. It was supposed to be a one-night stand at any rate though it could easily have been more. And yet here she was. Silky iridescent ruby red hair, a perpetually tanned complexion, a figure that hinted at strength but with just the right curves, combined with the height that Willow herself lacked. She wasn’t completely pure human stock, but who was these days right?

Jamie stood, carefully, walking from the chair to the helm and the stunned Willow who just watched. “Stunned silence? Where’s the braggadocious flight officer, hmm? To stunned to see me?” Jamie asked as she traced a finger along Willow’s jaw line, hooking a finger under her chin and tilting her face further up. Only the slightest pressure was needed to tell Willow to stand.

She wasn’t quite sure what really happened next, soon enough her face cupped in Jamie’s hands, lips locked together in a brief passionate kiss and then it was over and Jamie was smiling at Willow like she’d just stolen the main vault of the Bank of Bolias and got away with it. “Surprise.”

It was at this moment the agent of chaos known only as Murphy struck, a colossal sense of humour paired with timing being his preferred weapons. Barely had the word passed Jamie’s lips before the actual Columbia had been rocked by something, sending both women to the floor.

Red alert clearly was sounded as the holodeck disengaged, leaving Willow pinned under Jamie on the floor. The larger woman smiled, the whole effect taking over her face. “Lieutenant Beckman, are you trying to set records?” Jamie asked and Willow couldn’t help but blush like a school girl. She could feel her face flushing and she was saved from a proper response by an all-hands whistle.

“Senior Officers to the Bridge,” came Captain Armstrong’s voice over the shipwide and both women were quick to their feet.

“I gotta run,” Willow said by way of a good bye as she jogged towards the holodeck door, turning back to see Jamie still standing there.

“Please do,” Jamie replied, her head tilted sideways. “I’ll be finding you later.”

She thought about a quick return to her quarters for a proper uniform, she thought about making straight for the bridge in her gym gear since she had after all come off shift five hours ago and this was an emergency, right? Warp drives don’t just lurch ships and stop without good reason. She thought about turning back and asking Jamie what the hell she was doing on Columbia and how she found Willow for that matter.

That later thought kept looping as she navigated on autopilot, ultimately the decision regarding uniform made without conscious input as she stepped out onto the bridge of her new home, still in her gym gear and while she wasn’t sweating like she’d just come from the gym, at least had the complexion of someone who had.

Great, first emergency and out of uniform. Fuck it, just do your job and be damn good at it girl.