Edited by Capt Tyra Crawford, Star Date 21906.02 @ 03:14 (03:14 AM).
Everyone Loves a Surprise, Right??
Posted Star Date 21906.02 @ 03:13 (03:13 AM)
Posted Star Date 21906.02 @ 19:17 (07:17 PM)
==After Mission, also post Double Trouble subplot==
Benjamin sighed as he walked up to the little meeting. sh'Thanis, Caorn, and Whitby were all standing around one of the consoles, fussing over the screen. "I'm telling you," the Tellarite was saying, "there's no way this will work!"
"But you came up with it!" sh'Thanis replied, more than a little incredulously.
"So I should know!" he retorted with a snort.
"Why won't it work?" Benjamin said as he walked up, setting a hand on Caorn's shoulder and being rewarded by the man jumping halfway out of his boots. He had to fight not to smile, but was successful. Don't take pleasure in upsetting your subordinates, he reminded himself. "I assume we're looking at repair procedures for that premodulating thermal matrix I asked you about a couple weeks ago."
"Yes, sir," the group replied almost in chorus, before Midshipman sh'Thanis picked up the thread. "Crewman Caorn brought it to me a while ago, and I think he's on to something, though it's still dangerous."
"Simulations have nearly a 30% failure rate, with some of them being catastrophic," he interjected before being stopped by a withering glare from the Andorian.
"Like I was saying, still dangerous." She walked Benjamin through the procedure they had come up with, which had required bypassing the part and making sure that the thermal matrix was cooled enough to be handled - not an easy task, considering - and getting it done quickly before the bypass failed.
"You've got a good idea here," he said once they were done with the presentation. "The failure rate is still concerning, but this is supposed to be an emergency procedure. If I have to choose between a 30% failure rate of the repair procedure or the 100% chance of a catastrophic failure of the original part, I know which I would choose." He pointed to the diagram. "I see you're using the emergency valves here and here to build your bypass. Did you consider bypassing further out from the part? Might help regulate the flow a little better."
"We tried that," Caorn said with a bit of a huff. "The flow was better, but we just had too many connections at that point. It was a trade-off, and working in closer to the matrix made it easier to control."
"Did you consider borrowing a couple of antigrav lifters from supply?" Benjamin queried again. "Since we're not concerned with salvaging the part at this point, they would let us get the part out a little quicker since we're won't be directly handling it. We would simply need to get the connections cooled quickly so we could get it out."
sh'Thanis nodded. "Isolation suits and cryo-projector extinguishers should let us disconnect it sooner. We just need to work on some procedures." Benjamin smiled and nodded.
"And that's what we're here for." He turned to Whitby, who had been silent throughout. "Have we had any change in the matrix since we talked last, Crewman?"
She shook her head. "Not really, sir. The readings fluctuate, like usual, but I haven't seen a definite rise in mean temperature. It's held steady at around .01, .015 above the standard temperature."
He smiled at her and nodded. "Good work, guys," he told them all. "Try that new modification and see if the failure rate improves. We'll reconvene at the end of the week to see it it helped." A chorus of agreements followed him as he turned away from them and looked back through the engine room.
He would say he was surprised to see Cera and her purple-shouldered uniform weaving through the sea of gold, but since she went most everywhere through the ship it wasn't incredibly surprising. She seemed to be looking for someone or something, though, so he walked on over to her. "Hey," he said, smiling. "Looking for Commander Thrace'Saimara? I don't think he's on shift right now, if I could help out."
Posted Star Date 21906.07 @ 23:43 (11:43 PM)
Posted Star Date 21906.08 @ 03:59 (03:59 AM)
Benjamin chuckled along with her at the shot at his DH's name, but he was quickly caught a little off guard. "No, I was actually looking for you," she said with a bright smile. "I actually wanted to ask you something but this isn't exactly the most appropriate place for such a thing, so..." she trailed off, looking around and letting an engineer pass by before she continued, moving just a little closer to him.
He took a moment, trying to read her as she waited. She seemed a little off. Normally she was confident and sure in everything she did, with little in the way of hesitation once she'd decided on something. This time, there was just the slightest hesitation, something in her face that said she wasn't as sure of what she wanted to do. He didn't quite know what to make of it, but as quickly as he saw it, it was gone and she plunged ahead.
"Would you be willing to drop by when you get off shift? I'll make you dinner for your trouble but I promise you won't regret agreeing," she said with another smile he couldn't help but return.
The smile hid a touch of panic. Is she asking me out? a part of him wondered. It wasn't like they hadn't shared meals together before - after all, he'd taken her to dinner in thanks for the gear for the rogue planet mission - so why be worried about it? And why shouldn't we? he challenged back. It wasn't like he was married anymore, despite the ring he still wore out of sheer habit.
"Yeah, not a problem," he replied before he could think anymore about it. "I've still got an hour or so left on shift, call it two from now and I'll be there?"
She nodded, and he smiled and excused himself, as there was still more work to do. Unfortunately it was mostly paperwork in this case, which failed to provide much in the way of distraction, especially since he didn't have an office to do it in. He wondered what she wanted, that she offered to make him dinner in exchange? Meeting up in 10 Forward, sure, that wouldn't be too out of the ordinary. But fixing dinner at her place? That just begs questions.
"So you and Cera, huh?" Whitby smiled as she walked by him. "I'd heard rumors after our last mission, but nice to see it anyway."
"We're not dating," he said more harshly than he'd intended. "I'm not dating anybody."
"Who said you were dating?" she countered. He shot her a look, letting the padd he was working on clatter to the console and making her hold up her hands defensively. "I'm sorry, sir," she said. "Just making conversation."
"I'm sure you have other responsibilities," he told her, and she walked off quickly.
Fortunately, the rest of his shift went quickly. He went back to his quarters - Nathan was already in and was doing some light exercise - and hopped in the shower. "Don't take long," Nathan called. "I'm just about done here." Benjamin grunted in acknowledgement as he got into the shared bathroom, washing off the stress and dirt of the day.
He had enough time, though, to worry about tonight. He still wasn't sure what to think about Cera's offer. A large part of him was glad and happy she had asked him to dinner. There was also that loud, vocal part that wanted to know what he was thinking. It tried to remind him about Iris, about how sweet she had always been and how she would never do something like this. No, he reminded that part, she'd just accuse me of cheating and divorce me. He didn't owe Iris anything.
There was a knock on the door. "You done?" Nathan called, and pulled Benjamin back to the here and now. He quickly rinsed off and dried off before relinquishing the room to his friend and heading back to his own half of their shared quarters. He stood in his room for a moment, trying to decide what to wear before deciding he was seriously overthinking things and grabbing a clean pair of jeans and a tee shirt. He looked at the models on his desk, trying for a moment to decide exactly how he wanted to go about the next stage of painting before chiding himself for stalling, too. Seriously, he told himself, stop worrying and just go see what she wants.
He stepped out of his room just in time for Nathan to step out of the shower. "See you later," he said, and walked out of the room and headed for Cera's. It wasn't far, fortunately, and he knocked on her door earlier than he'd anticipated. Hopefully I'm not too early, he thought, and waited for her to answer.
Posted Star Date 21906.17 @ 01:38 (01:38 AM)
Posted Star Date 21906.20 @ 01:45 (01:45 AM)
They say that some of the most visceral memories you form are triggered by smells. The smokey heat of a wood fire burning, the cool crispness of a snowy pine forest, the salty brine of the sea breeze; all can make you remember events from years previous better than even a holograph will.
When the door opened to Cera's quarters, the warm, sweet smell of baking bread wafted out and for a moment, just a moment, he was a kid again. He couldn't have been older than five or so, and he remembered walking into the kitchen as his mother was baking. She was in the habit of every year at Christmas, baking bread and cookies to give to family friends as gifts. It was non-stop for weeks leading up to the holiday, and the smell permeated the walls by the end of it. Sometimes you could still smell the faint aroma of warm bread months later. More than that, though, was the smile on her face while she did it. It wasn't a chore or a task. It was just pure joy for her. He would sneak in and get a small spoonful of cookie dough, or on occasion get a slice of bread when there was a spare loaf. He could still hear her laugh, even though he hadn't heard it in over twenty years.
He must have taken a step forward, because he heard her call out to him. "Welcome to Casa Morgan," she said, a warm smile on her face as he pulled himself back to the here and now. He was a bit surprised at how large her quarters were, but remembered that she was technically a department head and so must rate her own room. She had done a great job of breaking up the neutral gray and beige that made up Starfleet's idea of interior decorating, with plenty of colors from the flowers and art to the couch itself. It was all very modern and fit the same aesthetic of the rest of the ship, but the colors were definitely much, much better.
"I hope the rest of your shift was lovely or as lovely as the engines can be," she continued. "Can I get you a drink? I have wine, bourbon, water...anything the replicator can manage."
He joined her laugh and smiled at her as he walked across the room towards her. "I'll just have whatever you're having," he said. "Dinner smells amazing, as well." He walked over towards the kitchen, and leaned against the countertop near her. "I don't know what I've done to deserve steak and fresh-baked bread, but please tell me so I can do it again," he laughed, only half joking as he took his glass from her. "Anything I need to do to help out for supper?"
Posted Star Date 21906.25 @ 02:05 (02:05 AM)
Posted Star Date 21906.28 @ 01:41 (01:41 AM)
As she swirled the wine in a glass for him, she smiled at him. "I didn't have you pegged for a wine drinker," she said, "but this is from the region of Betazed that my father comes from. It's a drier wine but it has a lot more of a fruity hit than most Terran blends. The captain calls it a 'wine for the non-wine drinker,' though that's not fair because I definitely drink wine."
Benjamin chuckled with her, and took a sip of his glass as she did the same. It tasted pretty much exactly as she'd described, a much softer alcohol than he was used to, but definitely flavorful and an excellent choice. "Well," he said as she turned to take care of the food, "you had me pegged right; I'm not much for wine, but I figured 'when in Rome,' you know?" He smiled and took another sip. "Besides, you seem to have excellent taste," he added as he gestured to the rest of the room, "so I figured you wouldn't steer me wrong."
He was about to say more when he felt something against his legs. He nearly jumped, glad that Cera hadn't poured him that full of a glass, and looked down to see a cat. More correctly, he saw a blur, which terminated at the bookshelf in a cat-shaped orange ball of fur, the piercing green eyes fixing him in place. The orange was broken by black stripes, giving the quick impression of a tiger perched on the shelf, though it was much too small to be one. The look in the eyes spoke volumes: Who are you, and what are you doing here? The he meowed, voicing much the same thought.
"Oh, that's Ches," Cera said once she noticed the cat's appearance, "short for Cheshire. He's been my faithful companion since he was given to me." She started to pull plates from a cabinet and serve food onto the, as Ches complained again. "You've eaten," she replied pointedly, drawing a chuckle from Benjamin. She went on to talk about him some more, adding "But if he didn't like you, though, he would be stealthily stalking you instead of making his annoying presence known.
She took the two plates, piled with steaks, veggies, and bread, and turned around to face him, a triumphant smile on her face as she motioned for him to grab her wine and follow her to the table. He picked it up dutifully and followed; the smell alone would have pulled him anyway, but he followed as requested. "Hopefully it tastes as delicious as it smells!" Cera said, and they both sat down.
"I'm sure it will," he said, and picked up the knife and fork to dig in. It did, in fact, taste as delicious as it looked and smelled. The meat was a touch gamey, but it was delicious nonetheless, and the wine complemented it well. The vegetables were excellent, and the bread... The bread was divine. Or maybe it had just been ages since he'd had a good, homemade bread. Or maybe both. "And I was right," he breathed after a sip of wine. "This is fantastic. The last time I had a meal like this..."
The last time you had a meal like this, you were married, he thought. His hand sagged for a moment, the knife in his hand falling to point at the plate, and the food suddenly felt like a weight in his stomach.
Yeah, he shot back, and now you're not. So get over yourself and enjoy dinner.
He took another sip of wine to try and cover it, but he was sure she'd noticed. He cut off another piece of the steak and chewed on it for a moment, trying to collect himself. "So," he said to change the subject, "you'd sounded like you wanted to ask me for something back in Engineering. And after a meal like this I'm sure I owe you." He smiled at her as he took another sip of the wine. "So how can I help?"
Posted Star Date 21907.28 @ 02:48 (02:48 AM)
Posted Star Date 21907.30 @ 02:35 (02:35 AM)
It came as a relief when Cera smiled, resting her fork and glass back down. "You mean you didn't think this was a thinly veiled attempt to get a date out of you?" she teased. He tensed a bit - calm down, he told himself - but she was obvious enough that he smiled along with her.
"Well," he said, "I figure that if you really wanted someone, there are likely dozens of more suitable choices on a ship this big." Rumor had it she was definitely one of the more desirable targets for the affections of those dozens, though Benjamin had always assumed that many of them simply talked a big game and didn't actually have the courage to approach her. Cera, despite her obvious beauty and other charms, was definitely someone you didn't cross, and didn't take lightly.
"I was hoping," she continued, "that you could help me with an idea I have - an experiment, so to speak." She stood and retrieved a padd from the bookshelf he had seen Ches on not too long ago. "A dear friend has a birthday coming up and I'm tired of buying her alcohol for every birthday so I thought something a little more original and tailored would be appropriate.
She slid the padd across the table, and he could see what appeared to be a weapon. It looked like an old-school gunpowder firearm, though from the schematics he could tell it was meant to be an energy weapon. The schematics were crude, though; several design elements went unlabeled, the assembly diagrams were nowhere close to scale. It had potential, but it would take time to even sort out where to start. He heard her talk about the designer, and wasn't surprised to hear that she wasn't exactly the top of her field.
"I thought that I know a much better engineer that I can probably convince to help me design and build it," she continued, "... maybe? I know you're busy so if this is too much, I can always see if the armorer in security wants me in his debts."
"No, no," Benjamin said quickly as he flipped through the file. "I think I can make this work." He kept flipping, and eventually located some reference sketches, along with an old schematic of, apparently, the weapon this was based on. "You wanted to make an updated version of this?" He asked, turning the padd back around to show her. "Definitely an ambitious idea, and this friend of yours must be someone truly special to want to go to this much effort."
But he couldn't let the idea go. Armaments wasn't exactly his normal area, but he could see how this one should work. It was going to be a complex piece, but several of the mechanisms could be streamlined to make the overall complexity manageable. He'd need some time to do some research, and get some prototyping done... "So," he asked, a smile on his face and all awkwardness forgotten in the face of a challenge, "when does it need to be done?"
Posted Star Date 21907.31 @ 20:07 (08:07 PM)
==A few weeks later==
==Casa Neuva Elias y Ramius==
Benjamin sighed as he finished getting cleaned up, a smile on his face. It had been a long few weeks, but he felt like he had finally figured everything out, at least for the most part. It had required several late night consultations, some letters back and forth with very important people who sometimes proved less than helpful even when he could reach them, and had even required him to locate some knowledge that to some was not just illegal, but immoral. But he had finally gotten everything together and had made the breakthrough he needed.
At least, I think I have, he hedged. That's what tonight's for and should hopefully prove.
But first, he had to get dressed and meet up with Cera. For once, he wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to wear. Some part of him wanted to get a little more dressed up than normal; it was a big night, after all, or had the potential to be. But he knew that that was a terrible idea. After all, what happens if something goes horribly wrong? A nice shirt like he wanted to wear could wind up being a safety hazard. Finally, he just grabbed a tee and a pair of jeans, like he normally did. Why go against the grain now?
Clothed and otherwise ready, Benjamin walked out into the common room. "Computer," he called, "lock the hallway door." He waited for the acknowledgement for just a moment before stepping over to the replicator. He pulled off the lower panel to reveal his still, and pulled out the finished product. Pulling a bottle from the shelf, he poured the gin he'd made into it before stoppering it again and putting the bottle back with it's companion. I'm going to need to get another empty bottle soon, he thought, putting the receptacle back under the replicator and checking the still over to make sure it kept working.
That was a problem he hadn't had in a long time, he noted. Since joining Star Fleet, he had kept his stills deliberately small, just enough to give him roughly a bottle a week. Since his habit was orders of magnitude smaller than it had been on the Longshoreman - due in no small part to his counselors at the Academy and general recovery - that was enough to keep him in a steady flow of gin without letting him fall to temptation on the darker days. The fact that he had two full bottles stored now... He wasn't entirely sure what to make of it.
Fortunately, he didn't have time to think about why things had changed right at the moment. He had a reservation and needed to meet Cera there soon. He replaced the panel and unlocked the door; a quick stop in his room let him collect everything he needed and head back out the door. The turbolift picked him up and deposited him at his destination. He wasn't one to visit here often, but it was exactly where he needed to be for all of this.
He set down his case and began setting up. "Elias to Morgan; I'll be set up soon. Whenever you're ready, feel free to come on down to the armory." It didn't take him long to set up his test stand and the prototype. He just hoped it worked like he planned.
Posted Star Date 21908.04 @ 17:23 (05:23 PM)
Posted Star Date 21908.07 @ 14:49 (02:49 PM)
Cera, as always, had impeccable timing. He had just finished setting everything up and squared away the detritus when she walked in, smiling at him. "Ben! Are you ready to see if we're on the right track?" Somehow, she looked amazing even after a full day's work; it seemed to be another of her talents. Whatever her self-care routine is, maybe I should take notes.
He couldn't help but smile back at her, leaning on the bench as he waved a hand at the test stand. "I think we are. It may not be pretty, but I think the mechanisms are there, at least enough to give it a test." The device on the stand looked odd, like a slightly oversized revolver with a lot more high-tech circuitry embedded than would be strictly required, at least if it was still a gunpowder weapon.
"Now," Benjamin said as he went into demonstration mode, "the original plans your friend drew up were interesting, and helped as a starting point, but after we went and looked at the original that you wanted it based off of, I decided to go a different way." It had been a very weird evening, socializing with the captain over her gun collection after hours, but it had been interesting and enlightening both for the project and in how to interact with Crawford. He'd had fun, he was surprised to discover afterwards, and she had demanded to see the prototype before they delivered it to its intended recipient. Of course, he needed to get it finished first.
"The original was a heavy handgun, and while the original plans kept that form, they were really just a standard phaser in a different form factor. The revolving portion cycled after every shot, firing a beam using the trigger to determine duration--" he cut himself off with a wave of his hand and shake of his head. "It had the form, but it didn't have the same type of function, and after handling the original I realized that both were going to be important.
"So, back to the drawing board I went." He continued on, realizing he was probably over-explaining but he was on a roll. "I had the idea that doing a bolt-style shot was going to be important for the feel, and so did some research. The mechanisms we use in modern phasers to make them pulse is just too bulky to put into the revolver's frame, which is why the original stuck to a beam. However, I managed to get the schematics of several types of disruptors, and found a way to make that work with a phaser's nadion-based tech."
He pointed at the revolver mechanism itself. "Instead of putting the actual power cells here, I've got a standard rechargeable and replaceable power cell in the handle, and the revolver is actually a series of capacitors. If I've done my math right, this should allow for a more rapid discharge through the emitter crystal, which is shaped to fold the energy back in on itself and produce a single bolt." He chuckled as he turned back around towards his audience, who he was sure he was boring to tears. "Now, this does lose a lot of functionality; it's nowhere near as versatile as a standard phaser, but it'll still do stun and kill so it's useful on a regular mission."
He took a deep breath, and walked over to Cera, still smiling at her. "But now, we get to see if your faith in me was misplaced or not. If you'll step this way," he said, waving her over to the far side of the armory, where a blast shield had been set up, "we'll get started." Once they were in place, and he'd handed her a set of safety goggles, he gave her the last item over there: the remote trigger. "Care to do the honors? We need to do at least a full cycle through all seven capacitors to test the mechanism."
Posted Star Date 21908.16 @ 21:22 (09:22 PM)
== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
Posted Star Date 21908.17 @ 18:50 (06:50 PM)
"Here goes!" Cera said, and Benjamin couldn't help but smile as she pulled the trigger.
A smile that quickly fell away as nothing happened. She pulled it again, which made him even more nervous. Oh no, he thought, wondering what went wrong and trying to look at the gun quickly from where he was. Cera turned to him, a frown on her face as she asked "Did I--"
And that was when it went up. There was a loud BOOM, and before he knew what he was doing Benjamin grabbed Cera and tried to get himself between her and the gun. She had grabbed his arm with her free hand and was gripping tightly, managing to hold on to the remote trigger with the other, as the fire suppression system kicked in and fired a spray of foam at the gun.
What are you doing, Benjamin? he asked himself. He'd set up safety glass for them to be behind, and there was plenty of distance between them and the gun. They were as safe as they could be from any issues like this. And if we get in a situation where that's not enough, you putting yourself between her and it wouldn't help anyway.
"Well," she said with a grimace, pulling him out of his reverie, "I guess I didn't totally break it?" She burst with a fit of nervous laughter, cheeks flushed. Probably adrenaline, he thought, feeling his own cheeks warm. Right. He realized he still was holding on to her and let go, hands falling to his side uselessly. "Experimenting is a grand adventure, right?"
"Right," he said with a smile. "Right, it is." He turned and looked back at the mess and sighed. At least it only fired a single burst of foam, he thought, glad that the mess wasn't as bad as he'd feared. "Of course, now we have to figure out what happened." He took off his glasses and walked around towards the weapon, or what was left of it, and started to clean off the foam carefully.
Luckily, it seemed like the damage wasn't as bad as it had first appeared. Once he had managed to clean the area, it really just looked like the capacitor had blown, the exposed component having bloomed open at the firing end. A disappointing event, but not a catastrophic one. This is what I get for using makeshift components, he thought, chiding himself for trying to use what they had on-board rather than looking for the actual best options.
He pulled out the revolving portion and brought it over to the bench, where Cera had waited. "Looks like I shouldn't have rushed to get the prototype done," he said. "I'd planned to find some more dedicated components once I'd gotten a proof-of-concept done, but looks like that was a bad call." He pointed at the exposed internals of the capacitor as proof of his point. "These are the capacitors I got from you, and while they're great for work in EPS relays and the like, they evidently aren't up to this task. I should've known better."
He sighed, and set the assembly down on the bench, leaning against it for a moment himself. "All of my simulations say this will work," he told her. "The problem is just getting the proper components. I've got a lead on some better capacitors and an ideal emitter crystal, but with us being on a time crunch, I don't know that I can get them here in time to assemble, test, and deliver." They only had slightly over a week left, after all. "And that's assuming there's not an even worse problem that I didn't find," he added, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he spoke. "I still need to go over the rest of the data to make sure the failing capacitor was the only issue with this test."
Posted Star Date 21908.18 @ 15:15 (03:15 PM)
== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
Edited by Capt Tyra Crawford, Star Date 21908.18 @ 15:26 (03:26 PM).
Posted Star Date 21908.18 @ 21:42 (09:42 PM)
She reached out and squeezed his arm reassuringly. "Let me help," she said. "Give me a list of exactly what components you need and I am willing to wager a very, very expensive bottle of whiskey that I can acquire exactly what you need." Her smile almost seemed devious, but it was too genuine for that. She pulled a padd from a pocket on her leggings as she kept going. "It might take some finagling -- is that the right word? -- but I have quite the network of connections, both in uniform and out. They have yet to let me down and I have gone looking for some bizarre things before..."
He chuckled with her before nodding. "Well, it's worth a shot," he said and pulled out a padd of his own from the case on the bench. "You find them all and we pull this off, we can split the bottle." He listed off all of the components, transferring the schematics to her as he did so. "And maybe you can tell me about some of those bizarre things."
As she settled onto a stool to start navigating through her network of contacts, he started in on the high speed footage and the rest of the data he had gathered. The high speed, while not entirely useful, did show that the point of failure was at the capacitor and it's discharge point. Watching it flower from there was beautiful, entertaining, and depressing all at once. He had considered doing a low-power test at this point, but had thought that the components could handle it, at least for a one test even if they couldn't handle being the full-time components.
He glanced up at Cera every once in a while as he worked the rest of the data, watching her tap her way through her contacts in a flurry of movement or just sitting and waiting for a response. It was interesting to watch her work on the problem; he wasn't that good at working with people, preferring a mechanical problem he could get his hands into. He wasn't sure where she had gotten her expertise in it, but he knew she was good at getting people to get her what she needed. She got you to help with this, didn't she? he thought with a smile as he bent back to his work.
Fortunately, the rest of the data was promising. It looked like the charging system worked just fine, imparting the charge as predicted to the capacitors. The discharge function worked as expected; it was simply the capacitors that didn't work right. He leaned back, chin in his hand as he thought about the problem some, but came to the same conclusion: unless Cera could come up with what they needed, they were sunk.
Evidently reaching a lull of her own, Cera turned to him. "Did you always want to be an engineer?" she asked. "I can't imagine you thought you'd be working on secret weapons projects when you were in the Academy," a chuckle punctuating the comment.
He laughed with her. "No, no," he said. "I can't say I did see this one coming." He wasn't entirely sure whether he was talking about the gun or just... all of this, whatever it was, but he pressed on before he could think about it.
"But yeah, I have always wanted to be an engineer, because I've been on for as long as I can remember," he said. "Growing up in a mining town, there aren't many things you can do with your life, and working on the machines there seemed like the best I could do." He smiled softly, memory taking him. "I remember Dad and the foreman getting so mad at me one time when I was, oh, I had to have been twelve or so. I'd taken apart one of the antigrav units to figure out how it worked, and didn't quite get it back in time for the start of the first shift.
"I did manage to get it working better than before, though," he said. "Stupid thing hadn't been maintained in far too long, so they couldn't be too mad when they got it back."
He turned and looked at the tiny blonde dynamo, smiling as he leaned back against the wall. "What about you? Quartermaster doesn't seem like the type of job someone aspires to, no matter how good they are at it."
Posted Star Date 21908.20 @ 01:34 (01:34 AM)
Posted Star Date 21908.20 @ 22:05 (10:05 PM)
Benjamin couldn't help but notice the slight pause between him asking the question and Cera answering. It wasn't much, but it was there, though with a chuckle it was gone. "No, I don't think five year old me imagined I'd be in charge of a cargo bay of expensive supplies or of keeping a ship running in top order," she said. She kept on, saying she wanted to be an artist and travel, an admirable goal he thought. She sat up a bit more before continuing. "Not a very realistic desire, in hindsight, but dreams aren't meant to be mundane. Then, I guess you could say that life happened..."
She laughed at her comments, but Benjamin couldn't help but frown. He was a down-to-earth kind of guy, his only real desires growing up being to get out and see the stars, and for his family to succeed in their dreams. And he'd done those; his sister's band was doing well, and his brother had a successful career in politics going. His own path, admittedly, was a little more twisty than he'd wanted, but he was still out here, exploring.
To hear that she'd essentially given up on her dream was simply sad. He was about to say something to encourage her when her padd signaled and she was distracted by it again. She surveyed it for a moment before she smiled broadly. She'd found what they needed, and could have it as early as tomorrow. "And then, you can build a masterpiece!" she laughed, winking at him.
He broke out in a grin, her enthusiasm infectious. "I'm sure this is exactly the type of scenario your recruiter told you about to win you over to the black and gold. 'Son, join Starfleet Engineer Corps and you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll be making cool but slightly impractical weapons as gifts at the behest of your Quartermaster. It happens to all the great engineers!'" she joked, her nose wrinkling as she spoke.
He laughed with her for a moment, though a bit awkwardly. He looked down at his hands, still smiling though it was smaller now. For a moment, he wasn't sure how he should answer. It's not exactly a secret, is it? he challenged himself. And she had just opened up - a bit, at least - about her childhood. Return the favor.
"Yeah," he said, "that's not exactly the pitch I got." He chuckled for a moment, though he was sure it sounded a little forced. "It was more of a challenge, or maybe a plea bargain would be closer to accurate. I... I was in a bad place after my wife... well." He stopped for a moment, eyes closed. His fingers worried at his ring without him even thinking about it. A breath later, he opened them again, looking into Cera's dark eyes. "Long story short, I got rescued by a ship, the Philadelphia, and her captain gave me a challenge: do something useful with my life, or stay in the bottle I'd crawled in for so long."
He smiled again, genuinely this time. "I think I made the right choice," he said. "I just wish I hadn't wasted so long getting here."
A sigh, and he looked around awkwardly. "Well, I guess there's not much more we can accomplish tonight," he said, and waved a hand at the mess he had made. "I've got to get this cleaned up, or else the range officer will take it out of my hide later. I can take care of it if you need to go and do something; seems like you've always got something to keep you busy."
Posted Star Date 21908.26 @ 02:29 (02:29 AM)
Posted Star Date 21908.28 @ 18:19 (06:19 PM)
Benjamin couldn't help but be pleased. He hadn't really wanted her to leave, but he hadn't expected her to stay and help, either. It was his mess, after all, so it was his to clean up, but then it was good to have company, too. And he had been enjoying their discussion, despite the turn to the awkward there at the end. But who's fault is that? he chided himself as he turned to start clearing the foam away from the prototype. Yours.
He picked up a bucket and towels as he listened as she kept talking about her family, confessing that she was the only member in Starfleet, and her own less-than-selfless motives to join. He was a little surprised that she considered it an act of rebellion - an odd characterization for service - but he understood it some, as well. He hadn't exactly been following what his dad wanted for him when he started working independent freight; going to college like his brother and sister had was what he'd had in mind. But he'd simply wanted to get on with his life without the pressures he'd felt from helping raise his siblings.
He heard her pause and he looked up to see her looking at him. "My father was adamant that I either work towards taking over the family's very large corporate undertakings or I join him in Betazed's diplomatic circle. I couldn't think of two worse things to do with my life but I knew if I pursued being an artist, my father would find a way to drag me in one way or another. Starfleet was an obligation that even his influence couldn't undo at his whim." He nodded, unsure what to say. The foam was nearly gone, soaked up and moved by the towels, though he'd managed to get some on his shirt anyway, and he set the bucket aside as he looked up at her again, a sour expression on her face as she was briefly lost in memory.
She went on. "Fortunately, his influence isn't much of a match anymore and I'm not very helpful to him. Captain Crawford might have a great deal of pull in certain arenas but with the retirement of her husband, they are no arenas that interest my father...thank goodness too." She chuckled at that last, though it didn't have much in the way of mirth. She shrugged, and returned the last of the tools to their case and snapped it shut. "I guess you could say that, fortunately, I got nothing but my eyes from my father."
Disconnecting the power leads to the weapon, Benjamin grabbed it and brought it over to the bench. He placed it in the case - or as best as he could with the ruptured capacitors - and closed it, all the while trying to decide what to say. "I can't imagine having that kind of relationship with my dad," he finally said. "Not that I had much of a relationship with him in the first place.
"Mine work is hard work," he continued. "He tried his best to be there for us, but there's only so much he could do, y'know?" He shrugged, a wan smile on his face. "He's a good man, but after mom died, he was too busy trying just to keep our heads above water. I haven't even talked to him since... well, since Iris left me." It wasn't entirely true - he'd left a message for him before the left for the rogue planet - but was close enough for now. "My siblings," he continued, "went off and have done some great things - Mary's got a band touring right now, and David's in government service somewhere. Actually, he's getting married soon, though I don't know exactly when. Haven't gotten the invitation yet."
He went back over to finish cleaning up where the gun had been mounted and pick up the last of the detritus there. "I guess you could say running off and being a freight engineer was my own act of rebellion," he joked. "Running away from responsibilities, from family, starting off fresh. Too bad it didn't quite turn out like I'd wanted. Maybe I should've tried harder to stay in touch with them."
Posted Star Date 21909.01 @ 03:58 (03:58 AM)
As Ben had spoke about his father and siblings, Cera had paused in her cleaning and had leaned on one of benches, a dirty rag held loosely in one hand. Her dark eyes had stayed on him, watching the flickers of emotion change as he spoke of different family members.
She found the way he spoke of his siblings interesting -- he cared enough about them to keep track of them but he clearly wasn't close to them, seemingly a byproduct of his choice. It was something Cera couldn't relate to; she'd grown up an only child in a family that seemed to value one child per family unit. However, she'd seen how close some other siblings were, like the captain and her own siblings, and Cera, herself, had made a significant effort to remain close with her new half-brother as he grew older, partially attempting to mimic the successful relationships she'd witnessed since she had no experience of her own.
"I guess you could say running off and being a freight engineer was my own act of rebellion," he joked, though it sounded about as genuine as her previous joke. "Running away from responsibilities, from family, starting off fresh. Too bad it didn't quite turn out like I'd wanted. Maybe I should've tried harder to stay in touch with them."
The blonde tilted her head, idly twisting the rag between her hands. "In my experience, it's never too late to try to close the gap between people. It can be a little awkward but family, whether biological or the family you choose for yourself, is usually worth the growing pains," she encouraged.
"Your brother's wedding? Are you planning on attending? I think that would be a lovely first step to reconnecting," she suggested, though she suspected that he had no intentions of attending, not given his apparent hang up on his own marriage.
"If not, maybe you should see if your sister's band will be touring anywhere accessible. She'd probably love to have family at a show," she said with a genuine smile.
Then, she shrugged a little, setti g the rag down on the bench. "But I understand how easy it is to drift apart from family, especially in this field. It's hard to explain everything we see and experience to civilians and often times, calling home just feels weird..."
Posted Star Date 21909.02 @ 00:06 (12:06 AM)
Cera tilted her head, idly twisting the rag between her hands as he finished speaking. "In my experience," she said, "it's never too late to try to close the gap between people. It can be a little awkward but family, whether biological or the family you choose for yourself, is usually worth the growing pains."
Benjamin smiled, thinking about the family he was growing here on Artemis: Nathan and Eli, of course, and the rest of the crew he was trying to get closer to. It was wonderful, and definitely worth the pain. Well, most of the pain, he thought, getting a twinge in his shoulder as he thought about Pomn. She continued, talking about his brother and sister for a moment before adding, "But I understand how easy it is to drift apart from family, especially in this field. It's hard to explain everything we see and experience to civilians and often times, calling home just feels weird..."
He sighed and smiled. "Yeah, it can be," he said. "I'm not even sure how to talk about that rogue planet with my family," he said, chuckling as he added, "though to be fair, I'm not sure how to talk about it period. That was just... something else." He finished wiping down the bench and folded up the mount he had been using as he continued.
"I got to see Mary and her band back on Earth just before we launched," he said. "They're actually pretty good, assuming you like Irish/Celtic type music." He wasn't actually sure what type of music she liked, now that he thought about it; they hadn't really talked about it. "Actually, met David's fiance there, a nice Trill woman who's name completely escapes me right now.
"And yes, I had planned on attending," he added quickly as he walked back over towards her. "My only problem is that my brother, in his abundant enthusiasm, didn't actually sent me an invitation. He instead sent me a message saying he'd put me down for me plus one, and that they wanted their family to be in the wedding, so I get to be a groomsman." He laughed for a moment. "I've got a gift planned out already, and it's fortunately in the middle of our shore leave so there shouldn't be a problem getting there. Now, I just get to figure out who to con into going with me." He chuckled. "I haven't reached the desperation point yet, but if it comes down to it I figure Nathan owes me a favor. Of course, that would only add to the rumor mill, and I'd really rather avoid that."
Of course, the biggest problem with the wedding was going to actually be talking to his father for the first time in years, but there wasn't any point in going in to that here. No sense in making her worry about that, he thought, though why she would worry he wasn't sure. He pressed on.
"What about you?" he asked. "You mentioned your mother and uncle earlier, sounded like they were more accepting of the life you chose. Do you talk to them often?" He didn't ask about her father for obvious reasons, and wasn't sure if she had siblings. She hadn't talked about them, at least, and it felt like she would have by now, so he assumed she didn't have any.
Posted Star Date 21909.03 @ 03:01 (03:01 AM)
Cera had given up all pretext of cleaning up as Ben answered her. She carefully wiggled her short frame onto one of the room's stools as he expressed difficulty explaining their last mission to anyone, a feeling she had heard expressed multiple times by different parties. While she hadn't been on the ground, she had seen to what the horrora had done on the people that had been on the ground.
I'm not sure she'll be free of nightmares for a while... she mused as he turned the conversation back to his family.
She smiled as he spoke of seeing his sister and her band play before launch. She wasn't exactly certain what type of musical category Celtic/Irish music fell into but like styles of art, music was something she enjoyed exploring. She'd even been able to appreciate Klingon Opera, albeit in small increments. She wondered if she could convince Ben to take her along next time, if for no other reason than to experience a new environment.
"I haven't reached the desperation point yet, but if it comes down to it I figure Nathan owes me a favor. Of course, that would only add to the rumor mill, and I'd really rather avoid that."
An offer to accompany him to the wedding was on the tip of tongue when she swallowed it whole. It wasn't that she didn't want to accompany him -- she loved weddings and was certain she could be pleasant company -- but she considered Ben to be a fragile deer in the headlights, capable of fleeing at even the slightest push out of his comfort zone. And it was a miracle that being in the room with a woman wasn't enough to cause such a flight.
So instead, she laughed, a genuine smile curling her lips. "I'm sure you two would be an adorable pair... the rumor mill certainly thinks so," she teased, punctuating her words with a wink.
"What about you?" he asked. "You mentioned your mother and uncle earlier, sounded like they were more accepting of the life you chose. Do you talk to them often?"
She found herself nodding almost immediately. "I do."
"My uncle is only about ten years older than me so he's always been more of a brother to me. He's actually who suggested I consider Starfleet as an option and loves to remind me that he was right every chance he can get," she chuckled.
"My mom... we had a stretch where we didn't talk much after she left my dad. It's a long story but she got re-married about eight years ago and her new husband was adamant that we make amends. Even though I was an adult already, he's always treated me like his own, even after they had a child -- I think he actually cried at my Academy graduation -- and that's helped me get closer to her again," she explained.
"She's a psychologist though so I definitely tell her edited versions of everything. Otherwise, I'll have a constant stream of 'and how did that make you feel?'. And I just can't handle that..." she said, her tone amused.
"Then again, those are mild compared to other topics she likes to pry into," she said with an exaggerated eye roll, "but that's a topic for a different setting," she added when she realized she was toeing the line of a topic that might make the deer flee at a high rate of speed.
"Do you feel like you're settling in on the Artemis? You certainly seemed to have made fast friends with the captain's thorn, as the rumor mill has duly noted, but I know that new ships and crews can be difficult."
Posted Star Date 21909.06 @ 00:51 (12:51 AM)
Benjamin was happy that she felt comfortable enough to talk about her own family; they could be a tough subject, as they'd both noted before, but it was good to hear about them. Her uncle sounded like an interesting man, and the drama surrounding her mother was interesting, if a little typical. Most of the women he'd met had issues with their mothers, it seemed.
It did get more interesting, however, as Cera continued: "She's a psychologist though," she said, "so I definitely tell her edited versions of everything. Otherwise, I'll have a constant stream of 'and how did that make you feel?'. And I just can't handle that..."
Benjamin couldn't help but laugh at that. "Oh, I couldn't imagine that," he said. "Getting analyzed every time you speak to her. I don't blame you for editing that."
"Then again, those are mild compared to other topics she likes to pry into," she said with an exaggerated eye roll, "but that's a topic for a different setting." He raised an eyebrow at the quick shift, wondering where exactly she'd been going with that before realizing the most likely culprit. Her dating life, he thought. It wasn't really something he'd considered before, at least beyond hearing the rumor mill talk about her scaring off most of the eligible men on the ship. His complete lack of one left him blind to it, sometimes. Deliberately so, he thought, and stilled his hand from trying to reach for a drink that wasn't there.
Fortunately, that topic change came quickly.
"Do you feel like you're settling in on the Artemis?" she asked. "You certainly seemed to have made fast friends with the captain's thorn, as the rumor mill has duly noted, but I know that new ships and crews can be difficult."
"Now who's the psychologist?" he asked in turn, though he added a grin to it to take the sting out. "But seriously, it's going pretty well, I think. Nathan may be a pain in the captain's neck, but he's a good kid who earnestly tries hard. I don't know how much you know about when we boarded during the Getty's last mission, but he made one mistake, and is paying his dues for that.
"I guess we became roommates for the same reason, really," he continued. "Same rank, came on board at the same time. It was just easier to stick us both in a room together. But it's been fun, and has definitely made the transition to Fleet life a little easier for me." He refused to think about what would have happened if he were given his own quarters as soon as he came aboard, and how far down a bottle he'd likely be.
"Eliana has also been a great friend," he added, "helping me try and fit in and keeping me grounded. It's not been easy, but between just getting into the rhythms of the new ship and spending some time with friends, it's not been so bad."
He turned from where he'd been leaning against the table and grabbed a chair of his own, sitting down backwards with his arms over the chair's back. "What about you? Promotion, new position, and a new ship all at once? That's gotta be a little difficult."
Posted Star Date 21909.08 @ 00:08 (12:08 AM)
Posted Star Date 21909.08 @ 20:06 (08:06 PM)
Benjamin couldn't help but smile as she talked about her new position on the Artemis, and how realistically, there wasn't any major change from before. He hadn't realized she had served with the captain through three ships - though he couldn't say he was surprised, given how much Cera seemed to fuss over her - but he was glad she had the continuity. It helped to have at least something to ground you, keep you stable, given the uncertainties of military service.
He also noted that she didn't seem very fussed about the promotion, noting that it was either for the future - "dynasty change," as Cera put it - or just to give her the authority she needed to get done what she needed to. He could just imagine some station-side bureaucrat trying to give her grief or just ignoring her requests. He could also picture that person regretting that quickly between Cera exacting some measure of revenge, and Tyra backing her up on it too. I almost wish I could see that one, he thought, but was glad she didn't have to worry about that as much anymore.
"It's definitely keeping me very busy and I guess I'm at a point in life where I can definitely appreciate the distraction," she said, her tone still light. But there was something in the way she said it that made him question it. He wondered if maybe she was a little more isolated than she let on; given the workaholic tendencies he'd noticed, it wouldn't surprise him, but it wasn't his place to say, or even ask. They were just barely friends at this point - he'd known her for a matter of months at this point, and he could count that number on one hand. Still... maybe she needs more than she lets on, he thought.
She had hesitated, but then picked back up quickly. "All the same, I think the position will work well in the end. I'll be in a better position to make the ship run more efficiently instead of having to bounce over the Quartermaster's head like I've done in the past and well, I'm sure I could be convinced to make parts more readily available for engineering... or certain engineers at least," she teased, and he couldn't help but smile with her just as her padd beeped.
Before he could even ask what that was, she told him that the rest of the parts had just been found, but she had to get them quickly. "I'll need to change unless I want to be catcalled by a hundred dock rats..." she said quietly, and Benjamin couldn't help but look at her again. He'd noticed how nice she looked earlier, but he'd been distracted by the thought of the upcoming test. Put in this different context, though, he couldn't help but notice how pretty she was. Did she get dressed up... to see me? he thought.
Fortunately, she hopped down from her stool with a purpose and kept going, bringing him back to the moment. "I'll make sure the parts get to you once I have the crystal tomorrow morning and just let me know when you are ready for test run numero dos," she said with a smile. "And it was really nice getting to talk to you, Ben." She headed to the door and paused just before it opened, looking back at him. "And if you don't want to make the rumor mill go insane because of your brother's wedding, let me know... I could probably be enticed to take Ramius' place as payback for all of this trouble," she waved to the room at large.
And with that, she left.
He wasn't sure, later on, just how long he stood staring at the door. It felt like hours, but probably couldn't have been more than thirty seconds. He considered taking her with him, and didn't immediately dismiss it. No! part of him yelled. You can't do that, Iris--
Iris left me! he yelled back at it. When will you accept that?
The argument went back and forth for a while, his artificial eye twitching as he just stood there. There were so many positives to the idea: Cera was a remarkable, interesting woman, and beautiful besides; she was definitely someone he wanted to stay on the good side of, and it would help quiet the rumor mill (which somehow persisted despite Nathan and Michelle being an item); and like she said, she did owe him a favor.
What will your sister say? he asked himself. He knew she'd be happy, but all the questions he knew would come from his family, combined with the amount of time a trip like this would have them spending together. He wasn't sure he could do it, as much fun as it seemed the trip would be.
At this point, he noticed that he was walking down the hallway, case in hand, and entering his quarters. He grabbed a bottle from the top shelf, grabbed a glass, and headed into his room. Tomorrow is going to suck, he thought as he poured himself a glass. But that's tomorrow's problem.
Posted Star Date 21909.14 @ 00:47 (12:47 AM)
Posted Star Date 21909.15 @ 01:26 (01:26 AM)
"For the last time," Benjamin said as he made notes on his padd, "if Whitby is causing a problem, then you need to either talk to her yourself - you're her superior, after all - or make it a formal complaint. I can handle her if you need me to, but it'll definitely be an official action at that point."
sh'Thanis sighed. "I hate to do that," she said. "I know that's what needs to happen, but--"
"No buts this time, Midshipman," Benjamin said, trying to be as stern as he could. "If you catch her daydreaming again, you need to either write her up, or deal with her yourself. If it's as big a problem as you say it is, then it's got to be handled, and you're not doing her any favors by not doing something either way."
"She's just so nice, you know?" the Andorian said.
Benjamin chuckled. "Yeah, that may be, and she does good work, too. But if she spaces out at the wrong time, then we could all be in trouble." He put the padd down and sighed, looking her in the eye. "Look, if you want me to handle it, I will. But you need to decide either way. Catch me first thing in the morning with your decision; if you want, we can talk talk to her together, but it's up to you."
sh'Thanis nodded. "I'll let you know," she said with a grateful smile. "You're leaving in a hurry," she said. "Got a hot date?"
He stopped for a moment. Not more than a couple of heartbeats (which had suddenly gotten quicker, he noticed), but it was definitely there. "No," he said quickly. "No, of course not." He chuckled nervously. "Why would you say that?"
She grinned at him and turned to leave. "If I told you that," she said over her shoulder, "you'd definitely have to get on to Whitby tomorrow."
Now, what's that supposed to mean? he thought as he watched the woman walk off. Fortunately, he didn't have any time to think about it. He was supposed to meet Cera in... dammit, he thought as he checked a chronometer. He definitely didn't have the time to think about it, and turned to exit engineering as well.
If I hurry, I can still get a quick shower before I head off to meet her, he thought as he rode the turbolift to his quarters. Just enough time to do that. He had hoped to be able to get a little work done on his models before he had to leave, but an unscheduled drill had put everything behind today, especially after a couple of issues cropped up that needed to be addressed immediately. As a result, most of the work he had planned to do during the day was still undone, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Paperwork can wait.
When he finally got back to his quarters, he realized it was going to be even worse than he thought. He could hear the shower running, and Nathan's door was slightly ajar. Dammit, he thought, and headed on into his room. "So much for a shower," he muttered to himself, and stripped off his sweat- and oil-stained uniform. He grabbed a towel and went to the mirror, trying to make sure that at least his face was clean. He finished getting ready as best he could, putting on a clean shirt and jeans and combing his hair. At least I can make sure I don't smell, he thought with a chuckle as he put on his shoes and headed for the door, grabbing the small case with the prototype as he went.
As he rode the turbolift once again, he couldn't help but think about what Cera had said nearly a week ago now. They hadn't really spoken more than a handful of words to each other since - an unfortunate necessity of the pre-launch preparations - and so he hadn't had a chance to discuss it with her. Do you want her to go with you? he asked himself for what had to be the hundredth time. Inevitably, the answer came back both yes and no. He let out a frustrated sigh. Why can't you be a normal person, he thought, and just decide something! It's a simple question! He wanted to, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to admit it, even to himself.
Somehow, he was going to have to make a decision, though. The wedding was only a few weeks away at this point, and if she was going to go, she needed time to get ready for it. At least, from what I remember Iris doing, he thought, though he immediately regretted bringing her to mind.
Finally he arrived at the the conference room, and stopped just outside. He took a deep breath, trying to push all the other thoughts away. We've got a project to take care of, he reminded himself, and stepped inside.
She was sitting at one end of the table, a padd in hand and a steaming cup of tea close by. "Working as usual?" he joked as he walked in, trying to keep the mood light. He walked down beside her and set the case down, being careful of the tea. Seeing it there reminded him that the last time he'd had anything to eat or drink was... was it breakfast? he thought. The drill had disrupted his lunch schedule, and he'd been too busy to grab anything more than a quick drink of water the rest of the day. "Sorry I'm late," he added, trying to cover up his stomach growling. "You know how crazy things get around this time."
He turned the case towards her and opened it. Inside was the finished weapon, though it was completely unadorned. "I took it to the range a few days ago, and everything worked just fine. As you can see, though," he said with a gesture, "I wasn't entirely sure how it should look. I didn't know what you had in mind, whether you wanted something that stuck close to the original, if you knew of something that might make it a bit more personalized, or what."
He sat there beside her, looking at it. He was an engineer, not an artist. And this part needs an artist's touch.
Edited by Ens Benjamin Elias, Star Date 21909.15 @ 01:31 (01:31 AM).