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Part of Endeavour: Where Angels Fear To Tread

Late Night Snack

Endeavour NX-06
Saturday 14th May, 2157
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As a starship operated all day, every day while deployed, the concept of night and day became more theoretical than practical, days just becoming a larger time-keeping unit after hours. All of this conspired such that for one Xiang Shu, 0230HR was in fact early evening, punctuated by the half-picked at dinner in front of her, the glass of some sickly sweet carbonated beverage slowing fizzing away the last of its entrapped gasses and the six padds of various sizes spread across the table.

One of them, just marginally larger than an A3 piece of paper, was propped up by an included stand, the back of the padd proudly stating ‘If found return to Engineering immediately’. The others ranged from the normal handheld padds for getting information in front eyeballs to the slightly larger paperwork workhorses. All of them held Shu’s attention as she flitted between the smaller padds, then the largest one, fingers tracing something on the screen, then tapping commands, reading a small padd, back to the large one. Occasionally a sip, maybe pull at her dinner, but always back to the padds and the arcane information held within.

If there was any creature that kept hours comparable to the engineer, it was the scientist. Which meant soon there was the faint clearing of the throat to herald Katya Leonov stopping before the table, her own tray holding some food and more tablets in-hand. “Command Xiang.” A beat, and Leonov tilted her head. “I am going to join you. Because if you want to talk, I’d be amenable to hearing how you’re settling in. And if you don’t, we can sit in silence, read, and work, and nobody at this hour is going to dare to interrupt what will appear to be two senior officers meeting in the mess hall.”

Without waiting for a response, Leonov slid into the opposite seat and set her tray down. Cool eyes met Xiang’s, seeming honest with her options, curious on which would be taken.

“Some of these wartime repairs are bonkers,” Shu said in reply to the earlier statement and query about how she was settling in. “I go looking into why there’s an odd rattle in the wall of my quarters and I start unravelling a series of questionable repairs. Then I start looking at more critical systems and,” she trailed off slightly shuffling the padds, then spinning one and sliding it towards Leonov. “I get it, I truly do, and it makes sense in the context of the situation it was done in, but no follow-up remedial repair, no mentioning to a dockyard team. If that power channel blows, it’ll wipe out three bunk compartments and a science lab.”

Then she stopped, took a breath and rubbed at her face with her left hand. “Endeavour humms differently. And frankly, my last experience on an NX-class didn’t end exceedingly,” she answered more directly. “Engineering is in order, quarters sorted, found everything. Guess it’s like moving into a new apartment, you never sleep right the first week or so till you get used to the weird noises.”

“Even on different NXs – or Columbias – the engines always sound different. Normally I blame the engineers for that,” Leonov deadpanned. She took a slow sip of the tea she’d picked up, light on caffeine at this late hour. “You have to view the wartime maintenance and repair regime as liberating. Out here, it’s impractical to adhere to dockyard standards in work or record-keeping. You can run the ship as you see fit, because you have to run the ship as you see fit.”

“Oh I get that,” Shu agreed. “But when you’ve got something like this that could be life-threatening or any of the dozen others I’ve found, and down time to do remedial work in, it should be done.” She sighed, then pulled the padd back closer to her, reaching to tap at the button to turn the screen off. “I’m reviewing the entire work schedule for Engineering and getting some of these solved just so I can get a decent night’s sleep. Maybe even fix the weird warble I hear when on C deck around 1800HR every day.”

Another sip of tea from Leonov. “You seem very detail-oriented, Commander. Even by the standards of an engineer.” She leaned forward. “I’m familiar with what happened to the Atlantis, of course. Losing her from the front line for a time while the Columbia refits were underway forced us to rush shakedown on the Buran, pushed the Phoenix out perhaps too fast. I wasn’t aware of any engineering shortcomings in the Battle of Tau Ceti.” Whether Leonov thought there had been other Starfleet shortcomings was unclear.

“You’re as familiar with it as I am,” Shu said, tapping the side of her head. “Took a good whack to the head, near the start of the fight and that’s all I remember. Chief Holmes said I was coherent and making damn good calls up until an explosion threw me across a corridor and knocked me out.” She shrugged, looked at the padds and started to absent-mindedly stack them, the largest at the bottom. “The engineering shortcomings at Tau Ceti were to many of them, not enough of us and they could distract us by lobbing nukes at a planet that we had to stop.”

“That sounds like a rather universal shortcoming,” Leonov observed drily. “The Endeavour has had less direct confrontation with the Romulans in recent months. Their routing at Vega has made them rethink their approach, I suspect. If all goes well on our next mission, you should have opportunity to familiarise yourself more with the ship before we end up in combat conditions.” All going well was perhaps an optimistic suggestion, but it still lay within the bounds of possibility.

“Here’s hoping,” Shu said, her smile starting off as an imitation before becoming real, involving her whole face. “Speaking of the new mission, what are the details you’ve heard? Anything you can share?”

Leonov’s smile was tight. “We have some information gathering in our immediate future, but beyond that, I’m sure Captain Campbell will share the details when the time is right. All going well, we shouldn’t see any encounters with the enemy.”

“Well, that’s a shame, I was hoping for something more. Guess we’ll have to wait till the Captain gives us more to work with. Looking forward to avoiding Romulans for a bit, that’s for sure. But just in case they stick their nose in where it’s not wanted, I’ll make sure Endeavour is ready for it.”

“Do that.” Leonov sipped her tea. “Make sure our engines are running with no excess emissions. I’m sure the captain will tell you that soon, but if we can run as quiet as possible for the next while, that will serve our needs. We don’t want any unexpected conversations.”

“I’ll also make sure the Armoury has all the power they want, should we end up with those conversations and find we need a big stick,” Shu smiled, finished stacking her padds and looked at her half-finished dinner, then over to where food was set out for the crew. “Didn’t happen to see any chocolate pudding or cake did you?” She slowly got to her feet, collecting her plate to return it in exchange for a dessert she truly didn’t need but sorely wanted. 

“It’s a mousse,” Leonov said with a certain desolate tone. “It tastes mostly of air that’s been shown chocolate.” She looked up, expression going wryly amused. “I’m very sorry, Commander. Welcome to Endeavour.”