No Place Like Home
Episode 1: The Maelstrom Awaits
Location: Deck Three / CO's Ready Room
Timeline: Day 3 at 1700
CJ dumped his bag in his quarters, putting out three photos (his mother, his sister, and a fun one of him and his three Academy friends) before heading straight for the Bridge. Someone, presumably a member of his new team, had left a PADD giving a summary of the department's current status. He knew that he would have to report to the CO, and wanted to get her priorities, her command intent, before he went to work with his new department. He also wanted to meet with the XO and, critically, Ops. He frowned as he struggled to recall their details; with much of the crew still assembling there hadn't been much in the way of pre-joining reading. He absorbed the details of the PADD as the lift sped to the Bridge.
As the turbolift doors parted with a strained hiss, CJ froze; what was he supposed to call Captain Azulas? He knew that some female COs had been known to prefer a traditional 'Ma'am', while some preferred 'Sir'. Realising that two crewmen were staring in open bewilderment at him, he snapped himself out of his reverie and, determined to use an egalitarian 'Captain', strode to the Ready Room door.
"Come!" The voice answered from the other side of the door, in response to the door chime.
CJ walked in, rather stiffly, and initially looked beyond, rather than at, his new CO. "Lieutenant Matero reporting for duty," he said formally.
Nilani was in the middle of reading some mission reports from along the Romulan border when the door chime went off. She hadn't been expecting one at that time of the day, especially considering the change in shift schedules while in dock meant she wasn't on duty, even if she was at work. Still, she couldn't ignore whoever it was.
Once the newcomer walked in, she knew instantly who it was having recently read his profile and approved his transfer to the ship. "Sit down, Lieutenant," she finally spoke after he had introduced himself. "I trust your trip was uneventful?"
CJ sat down awkwardly and immediately engaged in his usual overthinking of where to place his hands. Settling for gripping the PADD provided by the department, he appreciated the effort to set him 'at ease'; he frowned at the memory of the Talwar and her tense, uneasy crew. "I am glad that the journey is complete, Captain," he said slowly, "Deneva to DS5 is not the straightest of routes when the ship transporting you is not a happy one." He decided to get to the point, she was a newly arrived CO and didn't, he believed, have time to waste. Her letter to her officers, which CJ had read several times, made it clear that guidance was available. And so...
"I apologise for disturbing you off duty, Captain, but I wanted to get your priorities for my team before I brief the department tomorrow morning." He gestured to the PADD. "I note that we're still on umbilical support from DS5 with a cold reactor," he said with a frown.
Straight to the point, eager to get started. She wasn't used to being asked her opinion these days, she was more used to asking others for theirs. "The umbilical support is sporadic, depending on what systems we are testing and working on, but ideally I want us back on our own power as soon as possible. You should also liaise with D.J., sorry, I mean Lieutenant Jecia. She's the new Chief Operations Officer and has a handle on what's in the pipeline," the Captain advised before adding, "I would appreciate it if someone could get the galley working. I'd love a good, proper meal before we head out," she smirked. If her mother had been there, she would have told the Engineer that the good Captain always did her best work on a full stomach.
CJ found himself mirroring the smile; of all the things that he had anticipated, the galley had not been among them. But the immediate benefit to morale was obvious and he should have realised it; he scored a point against himself and in the CO's favour.
"Of course, Ma' er, ah, Captain," he said in a rush. "I'll give you an ETBOL - ah, I mean, an Estimated Time Back,-" he stopped, remembering too late his CO's engineering background; she did not need a translation. That prompted another thought. "You, XO and Ops will get an update in twenty four hours when I've gone over the key systems and prepared my plan. But, Captain," he paused, noting the CO's interest. "You're always welcome in your engine room." He said that with feeling, half rising in anticipation that the meeting was over.
"Actually Lieutenant," the Captain called out, indicating that the meeting wasn't yet over. "We are due to depart in one week. I need everything working in the next seven days. Anything not working by then will have to be done en-route to Deep Space Twelve, and I would rather that didn't have to happen."
After a slight wince at the faux pas CJ offered a single nod. "I understand, Captain, thank you for the direction," he said simply. He was pleased to have that insight - it would shape his management of the team over the next few days. "Then," he began slowly, "I will endeavour to see that that does not happen."
"Excellent," the Captain grinned. "Now, how about we go check out the bridge together? It's a new module and I'm told that everything is done, but I'd like a fellow engineers view, if that's ok?" she enquired as she, too, rose to her feet now.
CJ nodded; when he had travelled up for the joining call he had noted the new Bridge design, a curious blend of features from the Galaxy, Nova and early Sovereign modules. "Of course, Captain, I am intrigued to see the 'pit' concept." He paused to let the CO lead the way, "although I accept the logic in grouping the Ops and Science teams together, I did wonder if that was a wise choice; a lucky hit or outage could do serious damage. I'd also like my junior engineers to get up there for an acquaint when the trials are completed. I want the engineers to see what it is that they're supporting."
Nilani led the engineer back on to the bridge, nodding along to his statements and request. He was right, to a degree, and it was something that she had given some consideration. Once they reached the command rail that surrounded the command pit, she gestured for the man to investigate the engineering pit at the back of the bridge. It was a unique design, unseen by her eyes anywhere else in the fleet, but it sort of just... worked.
CJ sat at the Engineering console and nodded. A quick appraisal revealed that it would suffice; central to everything was power generation and distribution, so the matter/antimatter reaction assembly and the power transfer conduits featured heavily, as did the emergency measures to save Nogura from catastrophe. He was pleased to see the Emergency Annular Containment system easily accessible. For impulse, the IPS command coordinator looked particularly detailed. This would do, he thought.
"Yes Captain, this is an impressive improvement upon the first batch of Sovereign bridges; I'm just not yet," he said this with a frown, unsure of how much to reveal, "sure how much I'll be up here. There'll be times, many times, when my place will be down on Deck Sixteen." He got up and looked around the rest of the pit. "But when you need your specialists and advisors, this is a very promising improvement."
"You are free to visit the bridge whenever you see fit, Lieutenant. But I've issued standing orders for the stations to be manned at all times during mission operations so we have a liaison to main engineering. Whether that is you or someone else, is up to you," the Trill advised as she ran a finger across the elegant, glass MSD on the aft wall of the bridge. "I do miss those days..." she whispered, loud enough so only the Engineer could hear.
CJ smiled, with a subtle nod to his new CO. This was starting to feel like home.
Realising where she was after a split second of day dreaming, the Captain smiled sheepishly at her new Engineer as she slapped him gently on the shoulder whilst walking past him. "I'll leave you to get acquainted with your ship, Chief. If you need me, I'll be in the ready room."
CJ offered a stiff, formal nod, waited for the CO to enter her Ready Room, and made for the turbolift.