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Part of USS Lafayette: Old Dog, Same Tricks

The Ship’s Keeper

Main Engineering - USS Lafayette
MD02 - ~0930hrs
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Abby was waist deep in the dilithium relay console muttering to herself. She knew that everyone ran their departments a bit differently from everyone else, but this was a travesty. She could see the logic in why it was done the way it was, but she couldn’t understand why anyone would use that particular logic. But failing to see the logic in the logic was something that had been her trademark move since she joined Starfleet. 

Her initial days in her Engineering courses at the Academy were rife with people telling her that she was doing everything wrong, but she struggled to make sense of some of what they wanted her to do. It wasn’t until she met an Instructor named Murdock that saw where she was coming from that she found her stride. She’d spent her days on the street fixing things with other things that didn’t belong together. To Murdock, it was no surprise that she was looking at everything differently. He let her run with it. She had to make up for it over a couple of years in the Academy, but she did, and was one of the only third year cadets to ever cause a significant change to SOPs in Starfleet regarding several engineering systems. All it took was people realizing she wasn’t doing things wrong, just differently. 

As she sat under the console reordering isolinear chips, she heard the door to main engineering open. In walked an older man in command red. He walked straight up to the guard rails around the reactor pit and stared up at the pulsating core with a ghost of a smile on his face. 

Abby smiled as he looked at him standing there, like a kid at Christmas. She slipped out of the console and sauntered over, “She’s a beauty, huh Bossman?” She said, beaming. 

“Bossman?” The man replied, turning to look at her, the Commodore’s pips glinting on his lapel. 

Abby’s eyes went wide as she realized she’d dropped into the same familiar cadence she’d had with her former CO without even getting to know this one, “I… uh… Commander… CAPTAIN. UGH! COMMODORE! I’m sorry! Sorry, sorry! SIR! Sorry, sir!” She sputtered, snapping to attention and saluting sharply. 

Pete let out a guffaw, “Relax, relax!” He said, reaching out and putting a hand on her shoulder, “Bossman is fine. I liked it, I wasn’t mad about it,” He told her, giving her a smile. “I’m not one to get angry over protocol,” he explained. 

“Oh good,” She said, visibly slumping in relief. “Would hate to start a new assignment on the wrong foot,” She offered, giving him a relieved smile. “What do you think of her?” She asked. 

Pete smiled at her and looked around engineering, “She’s… she’s perfect.” 

“Yeah, she is,” Abby replied, her voice dreamy. “My last ship was a Norway class,” she explained. “This girl is… magical comparably,” She said. 

Pete smiled, “Don’t like the smaller ships?” 

“Oh, no sir. I love them. The Norway was old, but she had character. Ship that size you could know every conduit, every Jefferies tube, all of it,” She said happily. “But these big girls… they are so amazing. Every system has it’s own personality, every section has it’s own quirks, and yet some how all of it works together in this amazing symphony of perfection that lets us travel the stars,” She said. 

Pete chuckled a little, looking at her with a bit of odd admiration, “You’re… not exactly wired like everyone else are you?” He asked, playfully. 

Abby chuckled, “Story of my life, sir.” 

Pete smiled and noticed the mess of tools and isolinear chips by the console Abby had been working in, “We got a busted console already?” He asked with a wry chuckle. 

Abby followed his gaze and laughed a little, “Oh, no sir. It just wasn’t configured right,” She explained. 

Pete looked back over at her, looking concerned, “Not up to Starfleet Standards?” 

“No, sir,” She replied. “Not up to mine.” 

She took a deep breath and gave him a smile that looked a little forced… might as well tackle the elephant in the room now while he could dump her on the Starbase. 

“Sir, I don’t do things… by the book. I have my own way of running a ship, and it’s as good as Starfleet’s, if not better sometimes. If… if you can trust me… If you can trust me, sir, I’ll be the best damn Chief you’ve ever had, and I’ll make this big girl hum. I promise you I will,” She told him, earnestly. 

Pete narrowed his eyes and regarded her for a moment, then slowly nodded, “The way I see it, Chief, is that you’ve earned the rank of Lt. Commander, and you’ve earned the right to be stationed on a massive ship in the fleet. So long as you keep this ship in good order and our people safe, you have my trust,” He explained. “I trust you.” 

Abby smiled at him, “Thank you, sir. I won’t let you down, I promise.” 

“Of that I have no doubt,” Pete replied, giving her another warm smile. 

Abby watched the CO look around for a moment before she spoke again, “Sir… Can I ask a personal question?” 

Pete looked back at her and nodded, “Sure, I’ll give you a freebie,” He said. “Gotta earn the next one though,” He teased.

“Why?” She asked. “Why not take a cushy desk job and call it done? Commanding a star ship is a hard job, sir. It’s dangerous, keeps you away from home and friends and family… ” She asked, earnestly. “I’m not meaning to be disrespectful, but… why not just… relax for a while?” 

Peter laughed, “Ah… the question I’ve heard a million times since I made the decision to come back,” he said, giving her a smile. “I’m just… not done yet, Commander. I’ve got one more adventure left in me,” He said, earnestly. “My heart’s still in the stars.” He explained. 

Abby regarded him for a moment. That answer resonated with her on a level she couldn’t quite put a finger on. ‘My heart’s still in the stars’ sounded like poetry in her ears. And she understood it. After all those years on the street, she never thought any place would feel safe, but… out here, it did. 

“I get it,” she replied. “I couldn’t imagine ever not being on a ship. Maybe in the future, maybe one day… but not for a long time,” She said. Then a smile crossed her face, “I’m good with that, answer sir. Let’s go have an adventure,” She said, happily. 

Pete’s smile grew and he nodded, “Commander, that sounds like a fantastic idea.” He straightened up and gave her a nod, “I’m going to go check out the rest of this beauty. I’ll leave you to your console, okay?” 

Abby chuckled, “Yessir! Sweet spot is between deck 13 and 14 just past junction 5 in Jefferies tube 8… if you’re into that sort of thing,” She offered. 

Pete chuckled as he headed out the door, “I’ll keep that in mind, Commander! Thank you!”

Abby stood smiling for a moment after the doors slid shut behind the CO, recounting the interaction in her head. So far, so good. It seemed like this CO was deftly able to deal with her eccentricities, and that was a very good thing. It had taken her far too long on other ships to find her stride and be who she needed to be. It was something that she was used to after all of these years, but something that still ate at her. She knew she was awkward and a little different from the rest of the crew members, but not a day went by that she didn’t wish she wasn’t. 

Readjusting her hair back into a tight bun at the back of her head, she turned back to the console and started humming a song. She was going to have this ship in tip top shape. 

She was always in the mood for a good adventure.