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Part of USS Mercy: Mission 1 – “Life as a House”

Engineering a Plan

Starbase Bravo / USS Mercy
August 9th, August 10th, 2400
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8.9.2400 – Starbase Bravo – Quarters – 1330

Neva was in her quarters, munching on a peanut butter and banana sandwich and reading a book on her PADD. She had tucked herself into her bed, leaning against the wall. She wore her most comfortable clothes-fleece, pajama pants, and a t-shirt her dad had given her that said “Forget Lab Safety…I want Superpowers.” She had a fluffy blue knitted blanket over her legs that she’d made herself. Yeah, even engineers had a hobby.

So deep was she into the plot of the story she gave a small “Holy hell! What the-?” when the PADD chirped and displayed a message over her page. Chuckling silently at her reaction, she tapped the message. Her eyes widened as far as they could go as she read. oh…my…GAWD! “Your application to transfer to the USS Mercy has been accepted pending an interview with Captain Leopold Halsey.” That simple sentence pulled an almost ear-deafening squeal out of her, causing her to throw off the covers and spill her sandwich onto her bed to dance around the room.

She’d forgotten she’d put in for the transfer. She’d been so busy getting back to her duties after the recent crisis, that the request was all but a dying ember in her mind. She rationalized she’d never get it, but it never hurt to try. Many of the crewmen she normally worked with said as much, so she had. What did she tell them now, she mused silently. Neva squealed again despite her best efforts to calm down. An “ohmigod” tumbled out of her lips, her eyes full of worry and shock. “WHEN do I have the interview?” she asked the room. She scanned the message once more. 1100 hours…TOMORROW???

Her fingers danced over the tablet, checking her schedule. She was off-duty, thankfully. The breath she held hissed out of her like a balloon. She clasped the instrument against her breast, eyes going to the ceiling. “Oh, THANK you!” Her gaze lowered to scan the room without seeing anything. What to do now? She made herself take a deep, calming breath. Think, think think…

Snapping her fingers, she returned to the bed and laid the PADD on the shelf behind the head of it. She scooped up the remnants of the discarded sandwich and all but hopped over to the replicator to dispose of it. Spinning around, she danced from one foot to the other once more with nervous energy. She lifted her head to the ceiling and said, “Computer, what time is it now?” The usual chirp was followed by “The current time is 1400 hours.” Neva’s shoulders sagged in relief. Plenty of time to get some sleep and be ready for the interview. “Now to let Emma know!” She grabbed the communicator from its place by her PADD and set it in its usual place on her chest. “Neva Cordon to Emma Walters. Oh my god, girl, you’re NOT going to believe this!”

8.10.2400 – Starbase Bravo – Quarters – 0830

Neva sat straight up when the chronometer chimed and buzzed on her wrist. It was TIME! She all but jumped out of bed, something she really NEVER did on any given day. She swooped into the shower, singing off key. Dressed in a new and clean uniform, Neva grabbed her usual coffee-honey and cream to taste. She sipped it, both hands clasped around the cup. She paced the room, making lazy laps as she thought through her reasons for wanting this transfer. 

No “just wanted a change” was going to cut it on this one. WHY was she wanting to hone her skills on a MEDICAL ship? Engineers were needed there as well as any other ship, right? What could SHE contribute? She was quick and efficient with any task set to her. Her tendency to “think outside the box” had served her well, especially with the recent crisis. She felt a surge of pride at how she handled working with senior officers. The way the doctors and other medical staff treated her with respect despite her rank was a surprise. Though truth be told, THIS was what Starfleet had taught her. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. Neva smiled. Daddy had shared an old movie that she thought she’d heard that same mantra in it. Whatever. She HAD to nail this interview!

USS Mercy – Transporter Room – 1045

Neva stepped off the transporter and looked at the crewman behind the console. “I’m Lieutenant JG Neva Cordon. I’m supposed to meet Captain Halsey for an interview for a potential transfer to the Mercy. Can you help me get to his office please?” 

He held out his hand, gesturing to her PADD. She handed it over, biting her lower lip. He handed it back to her almost as fast as he took it. “Just follow the map. Doc will be in his office waiting for you.” 

Neva cocked an eyebrow. “Doc?” 

The ensign smiled. “Yeah. Nickname. Guess it’s cuz he is one.” He shrugged. “Just follow that map, and you’ll be fine. Good luck.” 

Neva nodded and waved. “Thanks. I’ll need it!”

Ready Room – 1055 Hours

Neva stood in front of the doors to the Captain’s Ready Room. She lifted her hand to hit the chime but stopped just before it. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “Ok…here we go! No turning back now!” She finished her motion and waited, hands clasped around the PADD.

Halsey looked up from his desk.  The mess that had taunted him earlier was becoming less chaotic and more orderly as the day continued.  The chime at his door let him know that his latest command crew had arrived.  “Come on in.”

The Lieutenant, JG, walked in, and the captain welcomed her, “Welcome to the USS Mercy, Mr. Cordon.”

“Thank you, Captain.” It felt weird to hear “Mr.” before her name, but ancient protocols seemed somehow…right…

Halsey gestured to the replicator, “Old habits die hard.  The tradition of calling an officer mister.  Drink?”

A smile, both nervous and relieved, greets his offer. She nodded. “Coffee, honey, and heavy cream.” The nervous smile wavered. “My Daddy had a neighbor that HAD to play his music SO loud in the wee hours of the morning the day before I shipped out to Starfleet Academy.” She took the cup when he gave it to her and continued. “I started drinking coffee out of self-defense.”

The CO sat as the engineering officer did the same.  “Coffee as self-defense – that’s not the worst metaphor I’ve heard regarding the stuff.”  A small smile crossed his lips as he tapped his PADD, “You’re application was in the system for a bit – you had applied for a general transfer no matter the ship.”  He took a sip of his iced tea lemonade, “Why?”

Neva set her PADD and mug on the Captain’s desk. She sat forward and put her folded hand on his desk as well, liberties she hoped he wouldn’t object to. “Sir, I joined Starfleet not to only continue a line started long before me, to hone my ‘amazing skills’ as my Daddy would say,” she made air quotes. “but also to make a DIFFERENCE, Captain.” She sat back but stayed on the edge of her chair. “After the Romulan Crisis, I saw how I could make that difference.” 

Halsey continued to listen, taking notes as she spoke.  She was passionate, and he made a mark in his notes.  You could look at an officer on paper, but until you sat them down and looked them in the eye, you never really knew if they’d fit in the gallery of the crew.  He was feeling hopeful about this one.  Her demeanor turned less convicted, once more nervous. “I don’t.…” she sighed to steady herself and went on. “I could transfer to an Exploration Ship, a Fighting one, or whatever. NO ONE sees that a Hospital Ship would need my skills. I do!”  Neva banged her fist on the arms of her chair. “This ship…YOUR ship, I mean, needs a touch of Engineering I BELIEVE I can give! Of ANY ship, Captain, yours is going to need MORE than just keeping the ship running. You’ll need modifications, tweaks…” she swept an arc with one a over her. “JERRY-RIGS! I can do that! When I helped make emergency modifications for the Crisis, I felt NEEDED…” she slumped back, “I felt…Smart…” 

There was something inside the officer that was becoming clear to Halsey.  She was young, there was no doubt.  Yet this engineer was full of energy and ideas.  He’d seen plenty of applications from others that barely moved the needle on his sixth sense – this one was pushing the red line in a strong and capable way.  He continued to take notes and listen.  

Neva looked down at her lap, twiddling her thumbs for a long moment. “Captain, I know I’m young,” Black eyes looked into his. “But I…I know deep in my heart that this ship NEEDS me. Yes, my request for transfer was general, but I had a small hope I’d get on a Medical Ship. Please, sir, let me be part of your crew. In ANY capacity!” She sat ramrod straight again. “If you want to buck me down to Ensign to be part of your crew, I’ll take it. But give me a chance, Sir. I’ll prove I’m worth the choice.” Sighing long through her nose, she relaxed back to an at-attention posture, looking down again. She grabbed her cup, now cold, and held it in both hands. She didn’t drink but held it before her with a tight grip. She waited, unsure of what to do or say next.

Captain Halsey met her eyes, “Well, first thing’s first… nobody is getting demoted today so shake that idea off.”  He leaned forward on the desk, keeping eye contact with the officer, “I’ve known my share of engineering officers in my career, Mr. Cordon.  Most of them were cut from the same cloth – they cared deeply for their ship and crew.  Passion is one of the more important elements in an engineering officer.  Your cup of passion overflows…and I’d be a foolish captain to ignore that.”  He tapped at his PADD, “You make finding the right piece to our puzzle easy today.  I don’t have a Chief Engineering Officer at the moment.  I’d like to propose something to you, lieutenant.”

Neva cocked her head into what her crew-mates and she called “Dog Look #5.” She stood up, setting the coffee mug down and grabbing up her PADD. The thing was going to be her constant companion; she just knew it. “Sir?” 

He stood, “Follow me.”  He walked out of the door with Cordon behind him.

Engineering – 1055 Hours

Halsey entered engineering with Cordon.  It was smaller due to the more automated features of the Olympic class but it still felt alive.

Neva scanned the area with childish wonder. Engineering…it was BEAUTIFUL! Without registering it, she closed her eyes. She could feel the heartbeat of the Warp Core thrum like her own heartbeat, pulsing with power to the ship’s systems. The scent of electrical charge was an aphrodisiac to her. She felt a contented smile cross her face.

After a minute or two, she popped her eyes open in shock. “Omigosh! Captain, I’m so sorry! I couldn’t help it, Sir. She…she…” she swallowed a lump that had formed in her throat and her fingers to her lips in embarrassment. “Please excuse me.” She looked up at him with her nervous smile. “She’s beautiful, sir.”

The captain chuckled, “Every engineer takes to their ships differently, lieutenant.  Meeting her for the first time you’re bound to have some feelings.” Leopold gestured to the room, “I’d like to assign you as Assistant Chief Engineering Officer.  You’ll have a field promotion to Interim Chief of Engineering for this mission…with the goal of getting you promoted to full lieutenant and Chief Engineering Officer of the USS Mercy.”

Neva’s eyes became saucers. “You gotta be kidding me!” the words tumbled out in a rush. “Sir, excuse me, but…Assistant Chief? Me?” She stumbled a step or two back before catching herself. “Field promotion also? Sir…I’m just…wow.” She drew out the last word like a kid. Shaking her head, she let out a long puff of air. “Sorry, Sir. I…I..I won’t let you down, Sir. She’ll be in good hands with me taking care of Her, Sir.” She dropped her head, shaking it in silent reproach. ‘CAN I do this?’ she mused silently. ‘I HAVE to! She’s MINE now!”

Leopold put his hand on her shoulder, “Mr. Cordon, The engine room is yours.” He turned to the door, “As we go, I’ll schedule a meeting once a week or so with myself or the XO, Commander Sorek, to check on your progress.  Welcome aboard the Mercy, Lieutenant Cordon.”  He stepped through the double doors, leaving Cordon to her thoughts