“That’s on the house, sweetie.” Zira Behr, manager of Cozmo Coffee, slid the newly-refilled flask across the counter with one of her easy smiles.
Lieutenant Rob Callahan gave a half-smirk in return, though it did reach his eyes. “You can’t charge me here. Everything’s on the house.”
“Then think of my joy to see you and good jokes as like free sprinkles.”
“I will, just as soon as I get a good joke.” But he winked, and took a quick gulp of coffee. It wasn’t just a shift break that took him into Cozmo, which in his opinion had the best blends on the deck. With wood panelling on the floor and walls, and slightly mismatched wooden furniture, it had a cosy, homely atmosphere that helped dim the illusion one was on a giant, floating pile of metal. But the coffee shop was also highly favoured by the newcomers to Starbase Bravo pouring off the adjacent commercial docks, and that made Zira, with her welcoming manner and sharp eyes, always someone to keep on-side. “How about the latest gossip?”
“Shouldn’t you be working?”
“When it comes to knowing who’s fresh off a boat, your gossip is my professional inquiry.”
“Honey, please.” Zira was petite and unassuming, but had been on Starbase Bravo since it was built, and its predecessor for ten years. “If something really important happened, I wouldn’t wait until you’d got a fresh cup of coffee.” She across the counter. “I’d have gone to someone way more important than you.”
“Then how about ‘moderately important,’ if that’s fit for my grade?”
Zira opened her mouth to make a comment, then her eyes flickered to the entrance. “Relevant and fresh off the boat? Look around you, sweetheart. I think someone’s looking for you.”
Callahan frowned, then turned to face the gold-shirted ensign who’d come in and seemed to have clocked him. He had no idea how Zira knew – or had perhaps guessed – her to be a new arrival, but she at least didn’t seem familiar with Cozmo. With hundreds of venues on Bravo, that didn’t mean anything, though. Still, he headed over with a swagger to his step, and took a stab on the off-chance Zira was right. “Fresh meat for the grinder of the Promenade Precinct?”
Sonja had been trying to get her bearing of the station it was still a lot to try and remember and she had even got lost on her way to her room. She was looking for another member of Security she had been told would be a good guide for a newby. Sonja usually could pick things up, but this station was a behemoth and not something that was easy to navigate.
After about five different inquiries she was told that the Lieutenant was in Cozmo Coffee. She made her way there and stepped into the entrance seeing the lieutenant she looked straight at him. She walked up to him “Sorry Lt Callahan I was told to come see you, as you would be a good guide for a new officer on the station. I am Ensign Sonja Thompson.”
He just about managed to not preen, reasoning that ‘welcome wagon’ was not the most prestigious of jobs. Still, it didn’t hurt to be known as someone others could come to for knowledge, and he remembered his first days aboard Bravo. After a few years serving on a Spacedock, he’d thought he’d known big. But ‘big’ as a word had nothing on a Guardian-class floating city like this. Callahan stuck his hand out for a firm shake. “Thompson, right. Welcome aboard, then, Ensign. Are you just fresh off the boat, or fresh off campus?”
Sonja shook his hand and smiled “Thank you, I am fresh off campus this is my first assignment, though I am not sure why I got stationed on a Starbase.” She said with a bit of disappointment in her voice.
He gave a small smirk. “A starship might sound more exciting on paper. The reality for an ensign is that you’ll spend days patrolling somewhere inhabited by perfectly well-behaved Starfleet officers, hours and hours training, and once in a blue moon have to fight your colleagues for a routine away mission – because they gave the exciting ones to the chief. Starbases? That’s where people live. You can’t beat people for keeping you occupied.” Callahan turned to gesture about the coffee shop, speaking with authority even though he’d never, by choice, served on a starship. “Especially down here on Deck 400, right next to the commercial docks. You never know what problem’s going to step off the next boat.”
Sonja listened to the words from the lieutenant and realized he made some points she had never even thought of, but than again she had never served on a station. “You make some good points! I think I will settle in here just going to be getting used to it. I need to find the gym at some point so I can get back into my weightlifting.”
Callahan nodded. “There are a bunch of gyms aboard. If you want somewhere quieter, odds are good you’ll be better off trying near your quarters. Otherwise, there’s a gym near the main security offices where a lot of the department works out. If a bit of esprit de corps and the occasional rampant competitiveness is your thing.” He shrugged, then glanced over his shoulder at the coffee shop. “But we should probably stop taking up floor space in here. So, this is Cozmo’s, one of the nearest coffee shops to the commercial docks. It gets a tonne of brand-new faces a day coming through, so I make dropping by part of my routine in case the staff here have noticed someone or something noteworthy, you know. Also does great coffee if you want a brew -” He stopped himself mid-sentence, then jerked a thumb at the promenade beyond the tall front windows of Cozmo’s. “That is, you need a full run-through of the beat, or are you just doing some recon ahead of your shift?”
Sonja smirked “Sometimes the best thing is a little competitiveness. It makes me laugh because people think I am joking when I challenge them due to my small stature.” She looked at the shop “I will have to remember this is here a good cup of java can always make the day a bit better.” She took a mental note of the mans reason for coming down here. She knew that was a good action and would have to get into a groove of where to check around the station. She looked at him and shook her head “I am not on duty per se, but as Security aren’t we always on duty. I am just trying to learn some pointers as this place is huge. I want to be the best officer I can be and make sure I show people that Security here is one of the reasons the station is so nice.”
“Keen of you,” he said with a wry, but not disapproving tone as he led them out of Cozmo’s and back into the hustle and bustle of the lower promenade. “You’ll find this place never gets dull, as this close to the docks, people are coming in off ships which arrive at all hours. So that takes some getting used to – you’ll pass somewhere mostly serving a breakfast crowd, and then a bar where it really feels like it’s in the mid-evening swing.” He gestured to a few venues as he spoke. “You don’t really get high-end trouble, of course. We’re still deep in Federation territory. We’re mostly here to help out if some troublemakers show up. So it’s good to know the regular faces – sure, it helps you notice if something’s out of place, but it helps the people who live here feel safe if they know you.” He spoke with more confidence, but plainly could hold court on his experience and thoughts for some time if permitted, emboldened by the mere handful of years of service he had on her.
Sonja felt the man was confidence, but was he trying to brag about his time in Starfleet compared to hers? She shook the thought off as he talked about the area. She wasn’t quite sure where she was going to be stationed, but she knew with his notes she would be set for this area anytime she was to patrol it. “It would make sense we don’t get any huge crimes here, but if I learned anything it is that we never discount such an action occurring even on a station so close to the Federation border.”
“You’re right,” he said with a faint frown. “Trouble can kick off anywhere, and if it does, we’re going to need more than knowing coffee shop owners to take care of things. Which you’ll drill for with your security team, over and over, ’til you could defend this place in the dark.” Callahan turned back to her, eyebrows raised. “So that’s the one-oh-one of security down in this section, Thompson. What else have you got left for settling in?”
She shook her head “Not particularly anything I do appreciate the tour. Is there anything I can do to help you?” She knew it seemed like a stupid question from an Ensign, but maybe it would be the right thing.
Callahan grinned. “I’m good. We’ve lost a few hands down here to the starship assignments, so it’ll be good to have some fresh faces around.” Something occurred to him, and his expression shifted for one of guarded amusement. “I assume you haven’t met the Old Man yet?”
Sonja gave him a look of confusion “Nooooooo…I haven’t” She said slowly.
“You’re in for a treat. Don’t call him that, though.” At her expression, his grin widened. “Commander Vaughn, Director of Promenade Security, AKA the Old Man, AKA the Dragon if you’re really on his wrong side. Likes to be hands-on with trouble in the promenades – and you better hope it’s not trouble you made. You’ll have the pleasure soon enough, no doubt. Just be on your best behaviour, shine your boots and everything, and you’ll be fine.” From his smirk, it was perhaps difficult to tell how much he was giving a sincere warning, and how much of this was a wind-up.
Sonja frowned it sounded like this Commander needed to learn how friendly people can be. She wasn’t going to let his reputation scare her away. “Sounds like I need to pay this Commander a visit.”
Now Callahan laughed. “That’s your takeaway? Alright, well, Thompson, it was nice to know you.” He took a gulp from his flask, eyes dancing. “Assuming you survive the experience and make it to a duty shift, hit me up any time if you need something. This place can feel like a maze – and I don’t just mean navigating it physically – until you get used to it.”
Sonja nodded “It takes a lot to intimidate me so I do not react how most would. I will remember that and I appreciate your help Lieutenant. If you ever need a lowly Ensigns help let me know.” She smiled as she departed.