“The captain will see you now.” The receptionist looked up from the desk.
Alex nodded and entered Captain Mortcombe’s office. The man sat behind his desk but didn’t rise to meet Alex.
“Commander… Benson, is it?”
“Yes sir,” he said, taking a seat across from Mortcombe.
“Commander, you will be assigned to the… Cantabras? Not the most fitting for your service record, but it’s a good start. You’ll be assigned a strike team of four members, including yourself.” He handed Alex a PADD, “You’re to report to the Siteran government. They’ll instruct you further on the situation.” A long pause, “You’re dismissed, Commander Benson.”
Alex took the PADD and walked out of the office. “He’s not one for chit-chat. I respect that,” he said to himself. He made his way through the enormous starbase to the shuttle bay and was directed to the Cantabras. “She doesn’t look like much, but it’ll do.”
He walked up the gangplank and onto the bridge. In the Conn seat was a man sleeping. “Working hard on those system diagnoses?”
“The computer does most of the work,” the man said half asleep. “Anyway who are you to-? Sh-!” His eyes widened and he scrambled out of the chair. “You’re Commander Benson.”
“And you’re Ensign Carter. Now that’s out of the way, is anyone else here?”
Logan eased himself back in the seat. “The Chief Engineer is here. He’s wound up pretty tight, wanted to get right to work.”
“I’m glad someone on this crew does.” Alex said, “You’re the only dedicated bridge officer, that means you’re pulling Ops and Conn duties. Act like it.”
“I understand sir.”
“I’m going to talk to Ensign Mear,” Alex said, walking away. “Wheel’s up in 10, Carter. Commodore Jalian will be mad if we paint the walls of the shuttle bay with the Cantabras,” he called over his shoulder.
Before he reached Engineering, Alex already heard Ensign Mear hard at work. The Trill man’s head was darting back and forth between the readout and intermix displays.
“I don’t think it changed from the last 10 seconds you looked,” Alex said, leaning against the doorframe with a smirk.
Priam turned his head away from the displays to the sound of the voice. “Oh, Commander!” He stiffened up with a salute.
Alex chuckled and waved away the formalities, “As you were, Ensign. Please, continue.”
Mear sighed and released the tension in his body. “Sir, if you think my time could be better spent elsewhere…”
“Not at all. If your record’s to be believed, you could fix this thing with duct tape and a wad of bubble gum. I’m going to refer to your judgment.”
“I don’t understand the reference, sir, but thank you for your trust.”
Alex turned to leave, “By the way Ensign, have you seen Commander Veva?”
“I don’t believe so, sir. But I arrived shortly after Ensign Carter, she may have come after.”
“All right, thanks.” Alex walked out of Main Engineering. “Computer, locate Lieutenant Commander Veva.”
“Lieutenant Commander Veva is in the Astrometrics Lab.”
Entering Astrometrics, Alex found a woman hunched over a console. “I’ve always found it beautiful in here. You’re able to be amongst the stars without the whole lack of oxygen thing.”
“I’m learning more about the Sitera system. I’ve never been in the area.”
“I guess being on a Nova-class vessel, spending months studying a planet’s every rock and leaf for 17 years, doesn’t get you around the galaxy much.”
“It’s far better than turning a wrench 8 hours a day for 11 years.”
“Seven hours,” Alex said.
“What?” Tani looked up from her console.
“Seven hours. We had an hour lunch. When you’re done with your research,” he motioned toward the astrometric display, “see if you can find a better attitude out there.”
“I’ll do that, right after I find a better commanding officer.”
“I knew I’d like this assignment,” Alex said sarcastically and walked out of Astrometrics.