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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 7: The lost ship of Atlantis

8 – Bug & Rhea

USS Wellington, The Hideaway
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“Shuttle Waihou, this is USS Wellington, please acknowledge.”

“Did they say Wellington?” Tikva asked as she flew the shuttle Waihou through the orbital traffic of Peridot, which normally wouldn’t have been an issue around any other world if not for a ring system that forced ships to congregate in lower orbits and tighter to each other. “The Wellington?”

She was aware of Adelinde tapping at controls and turning to face a monitor just off to her side, high enough that she could make out a face in her peripheral vision, but that was it. “Waihou here Wellington,” she responded with professional ease.

“Bug,” came a voice and name that got Tikva’s immediate attention as she turned to face the screen, “Bay 1, now.” The woman on the screen smiled, gave a wink and then closed the comm channel just as collision alarms started to chirp away their very early and gentle reminder that ‘something big is in front of you’.

Directly in front, an Odyssey-class ship was rising into their flight path, its primary shuttlebay doors wide open and approach lights around the bay opening blinking their welcome.

She turned her attention away from the console, once the alerts were silenced, back to Adelinde. “What did you do?”

“I paid attention to a local fleet dispatch about ship movements, noticed the Wellington was nearby and heading for the Cardassian border. Then I remembered you said one of your friends was XO aboard, so I called to ask for a lift to Beta Antares. Two days stuck in a shuttle, or a little under a day hitching a ride.” Adelinde shrugged, stood, took the step she needed to kiss Tikva on the forehead and walked towards the back of the shuttle. “I’m going to get a jacket. Want anything?”

“Yah, my big boots so I can kick you and Rhea!” she shouted back as she set the Type 11 shuttle on its way. “Could have just told me!”

“Surprise!” came a muffled response. “And Rhea?”

“Rhea. As in ray, sunshine of,” Tikva clarified as she set the Waihou on its new course and then acknowledged a request from flight control for tractor assistance, essentially handing control of the shuttle over. Automatics engaged she turned around to see Adelinde had dutifully brought out her service boots, not the tramping ones she’d been clomping about in.

“These should be a bit quieter on the deck plating.”

“What if I want people to hear me approaching?” she countered.

“Then that’s up to you.” Adelinde’s attention turned to the controls momentarily, a curious look at Tikva when she spotted the autopilot, but didn’t question it as they entered into the shuttlebay, small tractors moving the shuttle to a parking bay and even turning it around for departure. “Did Commander Garland call you Bug?”

“Ugh, yes. Yes, she did.” She could feel the amusement radiating from Adelinde, which always reminded her of blueberries. The association with emotional states and food, her mother warned, was an early one apparently and she had her dad to blame for blueberries. Overexposure to his delighted amusement as a baby whenever he fed her blueberries apparently. “Seriously, everyone is like twenty centimetres taller than me at least.”

This statement was born out just two minutes later as both Tikva and Adelinde crossed the cavernous shuttlebay, to be met by none other than one Rachel Garland, the most junior executive officer of any Odyssey-class starship in the fleet. While she didn’t carry the same physicality as Adelinde Gantzmann, she was at first glance an equal in height and towered over Tikva.

“Rachel Garland,” she introduced herself to Adelinde with an extended hand. “Welcome aboard.”

“Pleasure to be here ma’am,” Adelinde responded with a dutiful smile. “And thank you for accepting my request.”

“All in all, it’ll be about a three-hour detour off of our original course to go pick up Captain Perkins anyway.” Rachel’s hand now free she turned to Tikva and her smile completely took over her face. “God I’ve missed you Bug!” And before Tikva could respond she was swept up in a very unprofessional hug which she returned, both women giving their best to try and squeeze the other to death seemingly before she was set down, though Rachel’s hands clasped Tikva’s upper arms. “Sorry, Captain Bug.”

“Damn straight!” Tikva answered, the infectious grin taking over her face. “How yah been Rhea?”

“Oh, chasing you,” Rachel responded as she turned her head slightly, bringing her collar front and center and the now clearly evident four pips, which elicited a gasp and another hug.

Tikva’s eyes went to Adelinde as she held her friend, mouthed ‘thank you love’ and gave her a wink before she was let go.

“Right, well now that I have guests aboard that I need to entertain, shall I take you lovely ladies on a tour of this here ship, culminating in a sampling of some fine beverages in one of our many fine lounges?” Rachel asked, a flourish of her hand indicating the doors into the ship proper.

“Thought you’d never ask Rhea,” Tikva answered, hooked a hand inside Adelinde’s elbow and started walking. “So, how’s what’s his name?” she asked as they passed the doors.

A few hours later, many questions asked, much walking and talking had, all three found themselves in a lounge named The Hideaway. The entry door had been rather unassuming from the outside, just another door along a corridor of the ship, leading into a space not much bigger than twice Tikva’s old quarters. A small bar took up a short wall, shelves behind housing nigh-uncountable bottles of all sizes, shapes and colours. Couches and seats were spread around the space seemingly haphazardly forming little knots of space for intimate gatherings while leaving tight walkways for those moving about.

The lighting was dim, mostly provided either by the trailing starlight outside or faint orange lights hanging from the ceiling over each of the knots of seats. The darker tones and warm colours used throughout all combined to give the place a mellow, hushed and laid back atmosphere.

“Wine for the refined tastes,” Rachel said as she handed a large glass of white wine to Adelinde, then. “And a Sunshine Surprise for the simple tastes,” she said with a smirk as she handed over a glass that was faintly shimmering orange, fading to red as her fingers left the glass, to Tikva.

“Oh, come on, I like it. Doesn’t make it simple,” Tikva protested, the drink now fading to a dark blue, its shimmer lost. Only then did she take a sip, an approving sigh following. “Perfect as always.”

“A play on a Samarian Sunset I take it?” Adelinde asked of both. “But in reverse?”

“Took Rhea here three years at the Academy to perfect this.” Tikva’s grin at the joy of the drink in her hands was absolute. “And I’m only having the one!”

“Never said I was making you another,” Rachel responded, her attention turning to Adelinde, who she saluted with a glass of her own. “Samarian Sunset is more like an inspiration. First, imagine it in reverse, then make it happen.”

Adelinde chuckled briefly. “I imagine the second step is the hardest.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe it,” Rachel answered. “So, now we’ve got drinks in hand, we’re away from the rest of the prying ears aboard this ship,” the lounge, she confirmed with another twist of her head, being empty, “I’m just going to come out and say it. Tik, dear, love, friend, you have a type.”

“Oh really?” Adelinde responded as even in the dim light they could both make out Tikva’s blush. “Do tell.”

“Tall, broad-shouldered amazons have always been Tikva’s type. She hates being looked down on, but just loves a strong woman.” Rachel’s smile took on a decidedly evil slant as she shifted in her seat to lean in Adelinde’s direction. “Let me guess, you had to ask her out, didn’t you?”

Killing her is always an option. Slowly. Painfully.

No, it’s not. She is our friend. Best friend even.

Just a little bit? Stop her talking? Maybe a broken jaw?

No! Besides, Ade would stop us.

Oh! More reason to try!

Shut up Primitive-Tikva! You don’t get to vote!

“She invited me to a training program actually and passions were somewhat elevated,” Adelinde answered, somewhat clinically, though with a slight smirk on her own face. “I had noticed her rather unsubtle glances for a few weeks before then. Suffice to say I made a move and we retired to more intimate settings.”

“And you haven’t torpedoed it yet Bug?” Rachel teased.

“I insisted we have couples counselling since it’s a command relationship after all,” Adelinde answered. “And to help keep the lines of communication open at all times.”

“Damn Bug, you found a keeper.” Rachel took a sip of her drink, leaned back with one leg crossed over the other and looked both of the other women over. “Don’t ever let her go, I like her,” she said with a finger pointed at Adelinde.

“Wasn’t planning on it,” Tikva said with a smile. “Gonna fight whoever issues orders to break us up.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that,” Rachel said.

Both Adelinde and Tikva looked to each other, then back to Rachel, almost in unison saying “What have you heard?”

“Nothing I’m allowed to divulge at this time, but…” Rachel drew it out, even sipping at her drink again before continuing. “Beta Antares is a shipyard sweetie, and the entire Atlantis crew, plus a few hundred other personnel lately have all had orders to get themselves there in a week’s time. The same day, same time. Seems coincidental don’t you think?”

She couldn’t hear anything said by Rachel or Adelinde as her own mind raced away with that tidbit of information, putting together all sorts of combinations from the few pieces she had. She knew her crew were assembling there, which had hinted at a new ship possibly, but more personnel helped solidify that idea.

It’s a new ship.

Has to be.

Nothing else makes sense. Well, aside from a task force of smaller ships. A constellation of Novas? A rattle of Sabers? A river of…

We get it, thanks for that.

We just made captain not too long ago, they aren’t going to give us a task force. It’s a single ship.

Hundreds of people? So not another light cruiser then. They’re pulling out a cruiser seat at a minimum.

New ship? New big ship?

Yes Excitement, new ship.

Yes!

“Love?”

“What?” Tikva snapped back, as Adelinde was reaching for her. “Sorry, lost in thought.”

“You still talking to yourself Bug?” Rachel asked with a raised eyebrow.

“What? No!” she snapped back quickly. “Ade…it’s a new ship. Cruiser at least. Century? Luna maybe?” She downed her drink with little thought. “I need another drink.” As she stood, Adelinde’s hand caught her arm and she smiled. “New ship.”

“I heard you,” Adelinde said calmly. “Just, save the celebrating till after it’s confirmed perhaps?”

“She’s right Bug. They could be giving you a garbage scow,” Rachel added. “Save the real celebration for what comes, yah?”

“Fine, fine.” She still departed for the bar to make her own drink, to spend some time looking over the varied labels and bottles, pulling up a cocktail list to find something to drink with what was on offer. But as she left, she couldn’t help but hear one question that helped inform her choice for something strong. Her oldest, dearest, pain in the ass friend and her girlfriend were talking and that wasn’t good.

“So,” Adelinde had started. “Do you call her Bug because of the height thing, or because Tikva easily shortens to Tik?”

Comments

  • Old friends! I love how informative old friends can be. The easy repartee between Bug and Rhea is enjoyable to read, but I especially love reading between the lines of the dynamic between Tikva and Rachel, and seeing where Adelinde fits in, and what they reveal of themselves unintentionally. The back and forth was effervescent between them all. (“What if I want people to hear me approaching?” is a fun line too!) I also really enjoyed Tikva's gradual understanding that she would be receiving a new command and possibly a more impressive one to boot. There's something so satisfying about reading her deductions, the way she pieced the clues together, and put her whole heart into wishing for new adventures. I'm dying to read what's waiting for her at the Beta Antares shipyards.

    May 12, 2022