When the Stars Call
1,082 words; about a 5 minute read
Mission 1: House of The Dying Sun
Location: Starbase 84
Carrying his mug, a cortado that he had ordered from café eighty-four, Captain Aven LaCroix found himself pausing by an observation area where he noticed a woman in uniform who likewise had stopped moments before him. Her gaze cast outward at an aburn planetoid with a dense astroid belt encircling it.
Joining at the woman's side he too transfixed himself at the sight. There was a mineral composite amongst the asteroids that gave them a certain affect. "Beautiful sight," Aven said to the woman. She had the gaze of scientist and Aven naturally felt a sense of unspoken comradety with the woman.
Sipping his coffee, he looked at her. "Makes me want to arrange for a shuttlecraft and have a closer look" commented Aven. If only he could. He had a starship to inspect and a crew to assemble.
Until the unexpected interruption, Aria Winters had been quietly admiring the somewhat unique view offered from the observation window. Beauty was subjective, of course, but to her mind there was something to be appreciated in what they could see before them. What cosmic forces and events had conspired to create what they were now witness to? Over how many centuries?
“It emits a highly radioactive isotope, you may not want to get too close,” she advised with a rueful smile, “at least not for long. Apparently, it causes some communications issues on the station from time to time. Although other rumours blame the ghost on Deck 14. Is that coffee? I miss coffee…”
Aven nodded, a response to the coffee inquiry yet also in agreement with her astrological assessment. "Yes," he added simply to both. "Cafe 84 is just beneath us. If you haven't been, I'd recommend it."
Half turning, she offered a warm and friendly smile as her gaze shifted from the cup to the owner of said cup. Almost immediately her expression changed to one of recognition. This face she new, not from a previous encounter but from the studying she had done on her new assignment. “Aria Winters. Sir.”
"Winters..." he paused a moment. "USS Eclipse? I'm Captain LaCroix, I believe you will be serving under my command if I am not mistaken" he added with a friendly smile. "Impressive knowledge of the asteroid belt, Commander Winters. Good cautionary advice, but it will take more than radioactive isotopes to keep me from poking about. Though the mountain of paperwork required to get the Eclipse crewed and cleared for departure is a whole other obstacle."
“You are indeed correct, Sir,” Aria confirmed with a smile. She nodded towards the asteroid belt with a grin, “how about I create the distraction and you can find us a shuttle to take out? It sounds like a far more interesting way to spend your time. With what little experience of command I’ve had, I often find myself wishing for a black hole to take care of all the reports so you have my sympathies. Exploring an asteroid belt is far simpler.”
A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Unfortunately, I will have to take a rain check on that, dear. Though I suspect this won't be the last asteroid that we get a chance to inspect closer. As it is, we are set to disembark in two day's time, though Starfleet Command is likely not going to be pleased with my decision to forgo selection a First Officer for the time being. None of the ten individuals they had me looking at tickled my fancy."
“I’m sure you will find someone,” Aria assured him. “My mother always said things like these cannot be rushed. When you know, you know. In the meantime, I will make sure the science department doesn’t cause any headaches at least.”
Aven chuckled and pleasurably sighed. "Only the best of headaches," he commented. "A scientific explorer should have good headaches from the science department. In the meantime seeing as I have no First Officer, feel free to run any requests or reports to me directly."
“Of course,” she nodded. “Have you already been aboard?”
"I have not," he replied and looked at her. "Have you? I know they just returned the other day from a shakedown cruise."
“Officially, no…” Aria replied, glancing around before adding in a low voice, “unofficially, I believe you will be very impressed. I arrived on the starbase a few days early, my curiosity got the better of me.”
Aven knew a true science officer could not resist, and he ached a bit that he had not done the same. Have they done it? Have they taken the science officer out of me? the pondering left him with a bittersweet nostalgia for his days before command. "I look forward to being impressed. This will be one of the smallest starship's I have served on, but her scientific abilities intrigue me greatly."
“They’ve packed a lot into eight decks,” she confided, “and all is the newest equipment. That saying about size isn’t everything? It seems appropriate for the Eclipse.”
"The Oberth were quite serviceable in their prime years. The Nova class shall carry on that spirit in this modern era" Aven said in agreement. "She may be small, but she will out science some of those behemoths."
“That is the plan,” Aria agreed before adding with a playful tone, “and if we happen to take a few detours to satisfy the captain’s curiosity then who can argue with that?”
A small chuckle came out and Aven smiled. "Not a soul," he quipped. "Not a soul. Captain's prerogative. If it does not interfere with a mission, we may as well stop to smell the nebulae."
“I had a CO who used to make the Bridge crew listen to Klingon Opera to, in his words, broaden our horizons,” Aria confided, “your way sounds much better.”
"I have to be in the right mood for Klingon opera," Aven confessed. "That's few and far between. I prefer my music, opera included to be a bit softer to say the least" he explained. "If you get the opportunity to get back aboard before we are scheduled to board, I'd appreciate you giving the science labs a thorough inspections, let me know how you want to utilize them and if we need any additional materials that they did not supply us."
“Consider it done “ Aria assured him.
Aven nodded. "I'll leave you to it," he said with a nod, a casual dismissal.