Literary Challenges : The Library Computer
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Full of Stars
06-11-2011, 08:41 PM
Title: Full of Stars
It was a peaceful night. The Admiral had left a few hours earlier to “relax” and left his first officer in charge. Commander Oleina Junud was dutifully reviewing the logs. She reclined on the couch in the ready room, reading her PADD. As a Betazoid she was acutely aware of the many admiring looks from the male contingent of the crew and she preferred the comparative silence of the ready room to the crowded thoughts of the bridge. The door quietly chimed and she granted access to a nervous Andorian male ensign. Idly she wondered if Orion women had this much trouble with adoring males.
“Ma’am. I am sorry to disturb you but I am receiving a priority one transmission for the Admiral.”
The ensign shifts uncomfortably. Mentally, she sighs, there is something bothering him apart from the transmission. She smiles to put the young Andorian at ease. “I will take it for him, Ensign. Please patch it through.”
“I am sorry, Commander Junud. It is marked for the Admiral’s eyes only. I am not authorised to patch it through to the First Officer or to any other member of the command staff.” Again his weight shifts and his eyes avoid hers.
“Well then, you best get the Admiral on the Comm.”
“Ahhh… that’s the problem Ma’am. He isn’t answering his Comm. The computer says his comm-badge is in his quarters. I ran a biometric scan to locate him and…”
Here it comes, she thought.
“And?” She phrased it delicately, sweetly even. She knew where this was going even if the young man before her didn’t.
“And… the computer says he is not on the ship. I... I…. uhhh… I can’t locate the Admiral Ma’am.”
There was fear in the young Ensign’s eyes. He was afraid for the Admiral. He was afraid for her and he was afraid for himself over what he perceived to be his failure.
“It will be alright, Ensign Kor. You have only just joined the crew and you are not familiar with Admiral Sheppard’s idiosyncrasies. He does this on a semi-regular basis. Don’t fret. It’s not a test. He just wants some quiet time now and then. Since it is a priority one transmission, I will go get him.”
“Ma’am, if I may ask, where is Admiral Sheppard? All shuttlecraft are accounted for. Even though we are stationary in deep space I checked and there has been no transporters on or off the Relentless.”
“If you wish, you may think of this part of tonight’s events as a test. The Admiral greatly enjoys his time alone. He gets so little of it. Come back and see me when you think you have worked out for yourself where the Admiral has gone. I will be back shortly. In the meantime, please awaken Commander Dyesane Gonulkla and advise her that she is in command.”
Command Oleina Junud turned on heel and started to leave. Unexpectedly she paused, turned and handed the stunned ensign her comm-badge. “Please keep this safe until I return.” She was determined not to give the Ensign any short cuts by tracing her comm-badge.
Leaving the stunned ensign in her wake she left the bridge. As she swept through the corridors, the crew melted aside from her glowering visage. She long blonde hair flew wildly from her head as her long legs swiftly strode down the corridor. She reached out with her mind, “This isn’t funny, Markus. I was enjoying the quiet. Where are you?” There was no reply. Wherever the crafty devil was, he was clearly shielding his thoughts. That being said, there were limits to where he could be and at times he was very predictable. She headed to the Fabrication Workshop.
Arriving in short order, Oleina approached Commander Owdg-or. The tall stick insect of an alien acknowledged her. Oleina had noted when she arrived that the Admiral’s micro-hopper was still on-board so that limited his possible movements. “What did he take this time Owdg-or?”
The alien regarded Oleina without emotion. “What did who take?”
Oleina composed herself. She brushed the errant hair from her face and adjusted her tunic noting with annoyance that once again it had become unfastened towards the neck. She was used to playing this game. It inevitably led to the same place: the Admiral was somewhere outside. And no matter how you approached it “outside” was a big place. She could save herself a lot of time if she had an idea of where to look. She tried a different tack.
“Was it a quick trip?”
Owdg-or looked her up and down. Oleina could almost hear the alien’s mind scanning her form, running calculations, measuring her and mapping out fabrication “opportunities”.
“No,” Owdg-or said simply, “He left several packages for you. You may change in there.” With that Owdg-or gestured towards an impressively stacked array of boxes and crates. They were arranged quite deliberately. There were also clear hazard warnings and signage. These were apparently designed to discourage casual exploration. Within the arrangement there were alcoves and little nooks and crannies – all hidden from prying eyes. Oleina had to admit that the Admiral was getting better and better are sneaking off.
Shortly after stepping into the labyrinth she found the packages. One usual package and one not. The smaller package was delicately wrapped. Curiously she opened it and her eyes widened. “You have got to be kidding me”. Now at least she understood Owdg-or’s gaze. The alien had been checking measurements.
A few minutes later Oleina was finishing the seals with the usual item: a custom EVA suit. Owdg-or arrived to lead her through the maze to the very well hidden maintenance hatch. Oleina turned to Owdg-or as the door was closing, “He went to a lot of effort this time, didn’t he?”
This was met with a nod and then Owdg-or gestured for Oleina to seal her helmet along with the hatch. The tall alien then turned her attentions to the various environmental controls. The air rapidly withdrew and the outer hatch slide aside to reveal the depth of space. Reaching out, Oleina carefully tethered herself to the outer hull. Around her the stars shone in a myriad of colours.
The hull of the Relentless provided her some gravity and gave a sense of “down”. She paused to compose her thoughts. Port or starboard? Fore or aft? After a few moments of thought Oleina narrowed it down. Where ever he was, the Admiral would have avoided being seen through the windows – the last thing the crew want to see is their Captain and Admiral wandering past on the outside of the hull. That left two possible paths: one quite long and the other not far. The “quick trip” question earlier was code for “did he travel light?” and Owdg-or said that the Admiral did not travel light. With that in mind Oleina set course for the nearer of the two possible destinations.
As she crested the rise of the hull she saw it: a survival bubble carefully and solidly anchored to the hull with multiple tether points. She quickly moved over to its surface. As she approached, she noted that it was of a non-standard design. It had exceptionally large viewing ports and a small airlock. There was a figure inside.
With practised ease she entered the cramped airlock. As she removed the EVA suit she noted its twin carefully hung on her left. With a gentle hiss the inner door opened. Nervously smoothing her clothes, she self-consciously entered.
“Well, hello there. I was wondering when you would arrive?” That was her greeting, along with a laconic smile. Admiral Markus Sheppard was reclined in a casual suit upon a small rug. Next to him was a wicker basket, some glasses and containers of food.
“Markus…” Her planned chastisement died in her throat. “Are they Uttaberry crêpes?”
“Good nose you have there.. pretty too. That looks very nice on you by the way.”
Looking down before she could stop herself, Oleina again admired the new dress that was left for her next to the EVA suit. She had to admit Owdg-or was one of the best artisans they had ever encountered and the dress Oleina now wore was of breathtaking beauty.
“You know this can’t go on forever Markus. It breaks too many regulations to list. When Starfleet finds out that we are together…”
“Firstly,” he gently cut across her protests, “it is
they find out. Second, Starfleet have permitted couples to serve on vessels for over a century.”
She felt she had to try again, “But I do not recall any serving as Captain and First Officer.”
Markus gently led her to sit on the rug. “I went to a lot of effort to set this up and I will need to break it down again in a few hours before we warp out. Let’s just enjoy this temporary little haven while it lasts.”
“Yes, about that. You have a priority one message waiting and I realise you went to a lot of trouble but it won’t wait”
He poured the wine, “I know. I sent it. How else was I going to lure you out here?”
Now he was just being clever. Oleina tried one last valiant effort. “Dyesane and the others will suspect….” Her protest drained away as it was met with a sly smile, “… unless they were in on it from the start… Dammit, Markus! Fine. You win.”
He reached out to her face. “Don’t be mad. These moments are few. Let me enjoy my two most favourite things in the universe: being with the stars and out of all of them being with the one star that shines brightest of all.” He lifted her chin and eyes to the view port.
She took in the full majesty of the view. “My god. The universe. It is full of stars.”
And for a while it was peaceful.