Part of USS Achana: Far from the Raptor’s Wings

Chapter 4: First Day on the Job

Paulson Nebula
February 6, 2400
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Captain’s Log, Jimena Zelenko, Stardate 54868.6

And so begins our first morning aboard the USS Achana. The crew spent much of the past two days settling into the vessel, learning how best to keep her in top form and how to work alongside each other. After a late-afternoon castoff and a short rendezvous with the USS Charybdis yesterday, we are making our way deep into the Paulson Nebula.

Our mission is simple for the time being: operating alongside a flotilla of four other Ravens, we are to inspect worlds that were ravaged by the ion storm and, should they be found suitable, deliver supplies needed for re-habitation. The Achana should arrive at a moon known as Szerenth III, our first destination, within a few hours. While inflicted by some of the nerves one would expect when leading an operation for the first time, I remain confident in my abilities – or, at least, I fake it well enough to fool myself.

 

Tallera’s eyes fluttered open as her alarm went off. With a yawn, she rubbed her eyes, flicked on the lights, and stretched, her shoulders popping as she reached her arms back behind her head.

Fvadt, she couldn’t believe how big this room was. Tallera had assumed that the generous personal quarters she’d been allowed on Mellstoxx and SBB had only been that size due to being planetbound and on a space station, respectively, but this was clearly not the case. Even this tiny little corvette had rooms that put any Romulan junior officer quarters to shame. She even had her own bathroom.

Speaking of which, Tallera hopped from her bed and gathered her uniform, hoping that a morning sonic shower would wash away the lingering guilt she had from serving in such luxury. Thankfully, the previous days had been quite busy, and she’d had little time to ruminate on that. She’d met the remaining three members of the Achana’s crew; the first officer was a stuffy Caitian male that, like Dreval, seemed to know Commander Zelenko from a previous posting. The science officer was a chatty Human male that seemed a bit exhausting to interact with, and the crew medic was an intimidatingly attractive Andorian woman that didn’t look much older than Tallera herself was.

Before long, Tallera, clad in her tactical-red uniform, was stepping into the ship lounge for breakfast. The science officer and medic were already there playing some kind of game involving bumping balls around a table with sticks. They didn’t work on quite the same shift as she did; the pair must’ve been on some kind of break.

“Morning!” the science officer called out to Tallera, the medic giving her a friendly wave as well.

“Good morning, Lieutenant Travers,” she responded with a polite nod. “Lieutenant Vahl.”

“I didn’t think your shift started for another half an hour,” science officer Travers continued with his distinctly twangy accent, spinning one of the game’s sticks in his hand as he spoke. “Early warbird gets the worm, huh?”

“Sir?”

“Sorry, human idiom, featuring a bad pun. And no need to call me sir, that just makes me feel old.”

“Understood, Lieutenant.” With that, Tallera made her way over to the replicators and flipped through the menu. They didn’t have any conventional Romulan cuisine, but Zelenko had recommended something called a breakfast burrito to her, and she’d made that her morning regular.

She was only moderately surprised when Travers made his way over to the table as she was eating.

“Hey, Ensign. So, me and Rysana are planning on getting a few more games of pool in. Since you’re up so early, you want to join us? There’s always room for one more.”

“There’s a… pool on this ship?” Tallera asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No, no,” Travers responded with a friendly laugh. “Pool is what that game we’re playing is called. It takes some practice, but anyone can play it.”

“Yeah, let me train you, and it won’t be two shifts before you’re kicking Vic’s ass,” Lieutenant JG Vahl called out. 

Vic personal name, Travers family name, Tallera thought to herself. Not many Romulans had two names, and she was still sort of getting the hang of them. Rysana personal name, Vahl family name.

“Uh, no, thank you, Sir. I mean, Lieutenant,” Tallera said between bites. “I’m trying to get to my shift early.”

“Suit yourself,” Travers said with a nod, then returned to his game with the very very pretty Andorian.

 

“Ensign Tallera, reporting for shift,” Tallera announced as she strode onto the bridge, snapping to attention as she spoke. Zelenko was already there, rather casually manning the conn position with a mug in one hand and padd in the other.

“At ease. Good morning, Tallera,” Zelenko turned and gave the ensign a warm smile. “Would you like to take over the conn?”

“Happy to, Commander.” 

Zelenko stood and spun the chair around for Tallera before taking a seat at one of the auxiliary consoles.

As was practice for assuming control of a position, Tallera immediately went about a systems check, with everything rapidly coming back as a-okay. Yes, the ship was still on-course, arriving at Szerenth III in a little over two hours. Yes, the warp core was purring happily. Yes, the weapon systems were ready to go hot at a moment’s notice.

Raven corvettes were almost blindingly simple to operate. The conn position was really the only one of absolute necessity on the bridge, with the other seats mostly there to take over control of certain aspects of the ship if the mission required it.

“So, Miss Tallera,” Zelenko called out from her station a few meters away. “How have you been settling in?”

“To the ship, or Starfleet life in general?” Damnit. Stupid question, Tallie. When a commander asks how you are, you say ‘good!’

“Either. I enjoy hearing about your perspective, it’s naturally quite unique.”

“I’ve been settling in well, Commander,” Tallera said with her standard  polite, deferential tone. “Nothing negative to report.”

Zelenko nodded before returning to her console.

Tallera considered the exchange for a moment. Had Zelenko expected her to talk more? Or would doing so be impolite? In retrospect, Tallera doubted the latter would be the case. The Federation’s starfleet had proven itself far more laissez-faire with rank interactions than the Republic’s… and after all, Dreval had said one of the benefits of serving on a Raven was getting to know superior officers.

“Commander,” Tallera spoke up, having thought of a subject to begin a conversation. “Are Human names organized with the family name first, or the personal name first? Apologies for the question, most Romulans only have one name.”

“I feel like I’ve been saying this often: an apology is not needed, Tallera,” Zelenko said with that same stoic yet friendly smile. “As for names, it depends on the cultures that the particular Human came from. Most don’t only have two names, either. My full name is actually Jimena Ivanovna Zelenko Garcia. That includes a personal name, two family names, and a patronymic.”

Tallera must have looked at her with an expression resembling terror, because the commander let out a slight chuckle. “Don’t worry, Ensign. You don’t need to remember my full name.”

‘That’s… good to hear,” Tallera said with a small sigh.

“Most humans write their name as personal first, family second in Starfleet for simplicity’s sake,” Zelenko continued. “That’s generally how translators interpret most alien languages with two names as well. Bajorans are the major exception.”

“Got it. Thank you, Sir.”

“Of course. Feel free to come to me if you have any questions about Humans, I’ll be happy to answer. I’m sure Lieutenant Travers would as well.”

“Well, I’d probably get more than just an answer from Travers…” she joked, then immediately regretted it. What is wrong with you, you can’t mock a superior officer to your Commander!

To her surprise, Zelenko laughed. 

“Yeah, Vic’s a bit of a chatterbox, isn’t he?” she said. “Though to his credit, it doesn’t seem to be out of egotism. If Travers is talking your ears off, it’s because he’s curious about you.”

“I’ll try to remember that, Sir,” Tallera said with a smile and a slight nod.

 

The next hour or so was spent mostly silently working and monitoring. A few words of conversation were shared between her and Zelenko on occasion, until she eventually went on break and was replaced by Lieutenant S’Geras, the stuffy Caitian XO. He seemed to have no desire to chat whatsoever, which suited Tallera just fine. 

After the second hour had passed, S’Geras leaned over the ship’s intercom. 

“All hands, be advised: the Achana will be entering orbit of Szerenth III in five minutes. Should the moon be found inhabitable, we will be heading groundside. Begin final preparations for landing and ops.”

It was less than a minute before Zelenko and Travers stepped onto the bridge, the latter still straightening his science-blue blouse as he sat down at the science console. 

“All planetary sensors ready to go,” he chirped.

“Ensign, are you comfortable taking her down if we need to land?” Zelenko asked as she stood in the bridge’s center, hands on her hips.

“Yes, Sir.” Tallera was no flight control officer, but this little ship was no harder to drive than a shuttle.

Within moments, the Achana dropped out of warp, a greyish-green moon zooming into view. A massive blue gas giant took up all space on the viewscreen behind it.

“Hell of a view,” Travers said with a whistle.

“The sensors, please, Lieutenant,” smirked Zelenko.

“Righto, sorry Sir.” Travers plucked away at the console, and Tallera saw indicators on her own console that the sensor suite was hard at work, probing every detail of the moon it could find.

“Biosphere’s looking green across the board, sir,” Travers announced. “The terraformed atmo held up just fine against the storm. No unusual radiation, seismic activity, or magnetic field fluctuations. Perfectly habitable. Found us a nice landing spot near the main settlement, too.”

“Excellent work, LT,” Zelenko said with a smile and a nod. “Ensign Tallera: bring us down.”

“With pleasure, Sir.”

Comments

  • Once again - solid storytelling from start to finish. We get glimpses of our various characters in passing and moving through the ship, but only enough for us to be interested in reading more and more. It doesn't feel contrived - we get a layout of the ship, we get an idea of each person and how they're going to have to work on working with each other. Really enjoying the pace and process of your writing and the characters. Nice work!

    July 17, 2022