After a night of drinking and then being half-carried to guest quarters, as she recalled it anyway, Tikva had slept like a log. Stirring groggily from sleep she found a large glass of water and two white pills waiting for her on the bedside table. Someone else was already up and about clearly, from the sounds of movement out in the lounge space.
Taking what had clearly been set aside by Adelinde, she waited for the anti-intoxicant to kick in, helped no doubt by the water in which she could taste the dissolved electrolyte solution that had been added. A minute passed, then another before she got to her feet and stumbled in the direction of the door, taking note but not caring for her current state of dress in just her underwear and a black shirt that simply read ‘TRA’ on the front. After all, only Adelinde should be there.
Which of course meant that the universe was being cruel to her when she found Adelinde and Rachel both around the table, both in uniform and both clearly conspiring with each other over something. Her displeasure at that minor discovery was instantly set aside at the scent of coffee and she stumbled over to the empty chair and sat herself down with but a grumble to both, then another that vaguely sounded like ‘thank you’ when a cup was set down in front of her.
“Seriously Bug,” Rachel started in on her, “how can you still be this terrible in the morning?”
“Ah, so it’s consistent then?” Adelinde asked as she stood, planted a kiss on Tikva’s cheek and went to the replicator.
“Her mother told us all she’s always been terrible in the morning. Two years as her roommate confirmed that for me without a doubt.”
“Leave me alone,” Tikva grumbled over the cup of liquid ambrosia, attempting to attain her normal lofty self via imbibing the nectar of the gods themselves. “Too early for murder.”
“That’s not changed then. Came to have breakfast with you and Adelinde here and surprise surprise you’re still in bed.” Rachel set her cup down and stood herself. “Few more hours before we arrive at Beta Antares hun,” she said with a hand resting gently on Tikva’s shoulder. “Come up to the bridge when you’re ready, want to catch up with my girl yah?”
Tikva patted at Rachel’s hand a couple of times, then it was gone, the taller woman offering her salutations to Adelinde and departing just as breakfast was set before her.
“Your friend seems a bit…casual with you.” The emotions that came with that statement got Tikva’s attention and she looked to Adelinde as she sat back down. She couldn’t place them and Adelinde’s expression didn’t help either. She hadn’t realised how comfortable she had gotten knowing at least her partner’s emotional state, a confusing signal like this was off putting.
“Are you worried? Concerned?” she asked tentatively, concern clearly on her face.
“I…I’m not sure,” Adelinde answered. “I don’t rightly know how I feel about it, to be honest.”
“Oh love,” she said with a smile, setting the coffee down. “Rachel is just…gregarious. And she’s always been one to express comfort with physical contact.” She stood, moved around the table and made a deal of getting Adelinde to scoot back so she could sit in her lap, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “You have nothing to worry about with her.” And with that, she gave Adelinde a slight squeeze before kissing her on the cheek, then below the ear, to her neck.
“Not your type?” Adelinde asked, wrapping her arms around Tikva.
“Hmm…nope. Never even crossed my mind. Tall, lanky, blonde…nope,” she answered, a few more kisses for good measure before she delivered one to Adelinde’s lips, staying there for a few moments of eternity before parting. “She’s an old friend, nothing more.”
Those words, her actions, they all seemed to have settled Adelinde back to her normal state of quiet happiness, with just a touch of…before she could place the emotion the hand was on the back of her neck, pulling her in for another kiss. She melted into it, into Adelinde’s hands as they went for the hem of her shirt. But as quickly as things started, they petered off as she pushed herself off of Adelinde with giggles spilling forth. “Don’t! I actually need to start my day and we don’t have time.”
“We’ve got hours,” came the reply as Adelinde reached out, not seriously though, just teasing, offering.
“Let me have a shower, then breakfast,” Tikva said with a pointed finger at the bowl of food that had been brought over for her. “Then I’ll reconsider.”
“Yes ma’am,” Adelinde said with a smirk.
Oh, come on! No need to reconsider!
She does look good in a uniform. And that kiss.
She stopped at the door to the bedroom, hesitated a moment, then stripped off her top, whistled and threw it at Adelinde as she slipped around the door. The footsteps behind her said the message was received.
It would be over an hour before Captain Theodoras and Lieutenant Gantzmann both arrived on the bridge of the USS Wellington. Calling it a bridge was technically true, but the bridge of an Odyssey-class starship was more like a control center than a starship bridge. Spacious, well lit, perhaps overly so in both of those categories. Tikva had stopped as soon as she stepped out of the turbolift, eyes roving the bridge, taking in all the…shiny.
Okay, it’s not bad.
Not bad? It’s gorgeous.
Get fit going from station to station though. It’s huge. Ostentatious even.
Well yeah, but it’s meant to be showy.
“Took your time,” Rachel said from the center seat when she spotted them both. “Perkins, you have the conn, I’ll be in the ready room.” She waved both newcomers to follow and soon enough they had left the overly impressive bridge for a ready room far more Tikva’s speed. Still large, still expansive, but not large enough to hold a dance competition within.
“Another hour,” Rachel started as the doors closed and she took the single-seat behind the desk, “and we’d be getting ready to throw you overboard.”
“Really? Are you seriously running this ship flat out to get rid of me so quickly?” Tikva asked, taking a seat.
“Aw Bug, I’d bring the ship to a halt if I thought I could steal you away for a few days to catch up. Heck, I’d go rogue if I could meet up with Matt and Zillia, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.”
“Why? What’s up?”
Rachel smiled, grabbed a PADD, brought something up on it and slid it across the table. “Matt’s gone and got his own ship. Been assigned to the Tamarian border even. Goodwill missions and all that jazz. And no, we’re not running flat out for you. Wellington’s orders changed slightly last night and we need to hurry along to pick up Captain Perkins as quick as we can.”
There was no message to the Fantastic Four on the PADD, just an official dispatch from Command announcing new captain assignments, Matthew Dayton’s name highlighted on it. USS S’lun – Commander Matthew Dayton. A file photo confirmed it was him.
“He’s always wanted a diplomatic assignment. S’lun, that’s an old Vulcan diplomat yah?”
“Negotiated one of the early Vulcan-Andorian treaties,” Adelinde added. “I believe it lasted all of three months, but for its time was remarkable.” She shrugged when both Tikva and Rachel looked at her. “Pub quiz question once.”
“Geez, everyone learns weird shit that way, don’t they?” Rachel said with a chuckle.
“Don’t remind me,” Tikva said around chuckles of her own. “We got asked to stop showing up at what, four pubs, all for winning to many times in a row?”
“Five?” Tikva echoed.
“Remember that little joint out in Oakland, had the beer garden with the holographic sky because of all the tall buildings around it.”
“Oz?” Adelinde asked, getting an affirmative from both of the other women. “That was your team that got kicked out of there? They told stories but never gave much in the way of details outside of ‘Starfleet brats’.”
As the hour passed old friends were given the chance to just sit back and talk, reminisce about good times, discuss plans for the future, and give details to missions not recorded in official logs, those they could discuss with Adelinde present that is. But eventually, all things must end, their time heralded by a chime at the door and a lieutenant dutifully informing them they’d be dropping out of warp in ten minutes.
“I’d come see you off Bug, but then I’d probably jump ship with you,” Rachel said, then wrapped her arms around Tikva for one last hug in the privacy of the ready room. “Miss you so much.”
“Miss you too Rhea,” Tikva responded. “Just keep being awesome yah?”
“I will.” Rachel turned Tikva loose, then without any warning pulled Adelinde into a hug as well, shock on the younger woman’s face for a moment before tentatively returning the hug. “You take care of my Bug, won’t you?”
“I promise,” Adelinde replied.
“Good.” Rachel held on for a moment longer. “She clearly deserves you.” With that, she turned Adelinde loose with a warm smile. “Right, you two, get off my ship.”
Ten minutes later, with the Waihou once more free and clear on its own, Tikva watched as the Wellington’s running lights flickered in a unique pattern before the ship jumped to warp. “Thank you, love,” she said, still staring at the empty spot in space where a ship had just been.
“For doing that. I haven’t seen any of the Fantastic Four in person since the Academy and you gave me a few hours with Rhea.” Tikva shook her head, wiped at an eye and then inputted a course, sending Waihou towards the Beta Antares Shipyards.
“No worries love.” Adelinde smiled, catching the upturn of Tikva’s own lips in profile. “I’ll let the station know we’re inbound.”
Much like a week earlier for other parties, flight instructions for the Waihou had been delayed, then confusing in their complexity. Unlike previously neither Tikva nor Adelinde challenged them. If Flight Ops around one of the busiest shipyards in the Federation wanted to send you on a scenic tour of the slipways, who were they to challenge that?
“Must be some admiral wanting to meet me in person who’s currently inspecting some construction,” Tikva chipped in as they abided by flight rules and pathways, slowing all the way down to thruster rated speeds as they fell in behind a workerbee hauling containers of equipment.
“Slipway 91 is dead ahead. Looks like our friend here is going there as well,” Adelinde added.
“Geez, look at all this new construction.” Tikva was sitting forward in her seat, craning to look out the forward windows at the new ships, most of those in sight looking complete from an outsider’s perspective. “Luna, Luna, Century, Sovereign…” She sat back down. “Oh boy, always wanted to tour one of those.”
“Now’s your chance.” Adelinde’s fingers tapped at a flashing light before her. “Waihou here.”
“Waihou, slipway control here. Please slow to ten kph and prepare for tractor assist,” came a rather bland, if not bored sounding voice.
“Waihou acknowledges,” she replied as Tikva slowed the shuttle even further, the distance opening between them and the workerbee.
“Wonder what ship this is,” Tikva stated as she once more sat forward, craning to catch the ship’s registry and name on the inside of the starboard nacelle. “NCC-90562,” she said confidently. “Why is the name always so small on the nacelles?”
“Registry is more important,” Adelinde responded.
“No…No!” Tikva exclaimed, a hand covering her mouth. “Fucking yes!” she shouted a mere moment later.
Right there, just above the registry number on the nacelle, in much finer print, though each letter was easily the height of a person up close, simply read: