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The Weirdo and the Shrike

Posted on Thu Aug 23rd, 2018 @ 8:25pm by Lieutenant Commander Evan Merlin & Fleet Admiral Blyx Red

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: 241808.23

Being pregnant to the degree that she was left Blyx swollen and a touch grumpy. Add to that the newly resumed duties of running Cold Station Theta and you had yourself one very short, very round, very dry Fleet Admiral of rather epic proportions. The crew knew well enough to give her a wide berth, obey her orders, and remain succinct when giving reports. The normal flourishes that took extra time had no place on her desk at the present moment. Nothing did. Not when she was hell bent on encouraging her daughter to finally take her place in the universe. Two weeks overdue, she was undoubtedly stubborn. A trait inherited by both parents, but her mother was bent on proving that she still had the upper hand and spent chose to dedicate the majority of the morning to consuming large quantities of pineapple and walking up to, and including, taking stairs instead of the lifts when and where she could. She was decidedly too old for this shit, not that she didn't appreciate the chance to bring new life forth (especially to Xander, who had been robbed of Rochelle's birth and infancy and, well, most everything), just too damn old to deal with things that refused to abide by schedules.

"Still no sign of movement?" the Lieutenant, entering with a stack of PADDs. They contained weekly reports from different departments on the station, status reports from various vessels who had something important to report to Cold Station Theta or who thought they had, a lengthy report from the civil section, including a long list of complaints: "There's still an issue with the turbo lifts…" "There's a weird smell in my quarters. Do you think someone is breeding tube worms in the adjacent one?" (added note from Security: "No tube worms have been found.") "There's a hot pocket on the lowest deck of the Promenade, it's right in front of my cafe and that means every one of my customers is hot and flustered when they enter…" The Lieutenant had scribbled a comment in this complaint, 'Suggest the café starts selling ice cream?' And more of that ilk.

An eyebrow quirked up about the same time she glanced down at her swollen midsection, "Still not budging. I even sent a formal eviction notice." Blyx shook her head, returning back to business for the most part with a relatively suspicious look cast in the direction of her rather strange Executive Officer. Aine had liked and trusted him well enough, but Blyx still had yet to find merits beyond the gossip and rumors subjectively surrounding him and a certain Empress. No war had broken out, in fact the lily white star creature seemed rather pleased with life. If he had serviced her Majesty, he'd done a damn good job, maybe even saved the Federation from a war it couldn't win. Good on him. "Something tells me you're entrenched in another stubborn spot yourself?" A hand lifted to gesture to his face and the massive stack of PADDs he bore as fruit before him.

He grinned and placed the stack on the desk. "So it would appear. But regarding yours… I'm not that well versed in the field, but there's something about inducing labour and stuff if I recall." He leaned against the wall and blew a wayward curl out of his face. It promptly slid back.

The raven haired woman was quiet for a second as she considered the thought, "It's on the table if she doesn't decide to make an appearance in the next couple days. Our good doctor prefers to let things run a natural course so long as there isn't any distress. We just have a rather stubborn child on our hands." A brief glance was made towards the window and the light cast by the nebula beginning to turn into view. "Or maybe she's smarter than us and figures she's safer staying in there away from all the bullshit occurring out here."

The Lieutenant raised an eyebrow. "Is that what you've been telling her, that it's all bullshit out here?" He squatted until his mouth was at the level of Blyx's belly button and said loudly: "Come on out! It's brilliant here! Lots more to see than all that red stuff, and lots more to do once you're a bit bigger, too! And don't worry about any baddies out there," he added. "Your mom and dad will keep you safe." Then he straightened and shrugged. "You never know if it helps."

The initial desire to clock the Lieutenant one upside the head was quickly diminished once it dawned that he was doing what he could to help. Harmless, weird, but harmless, Evan Merlin wasn't on the Admiral's shit list... Yet. It would take a bit of time and navigation through her own stubborn sense of suspicion, but there was little doubt that he'd pass her tests and be able to live alongside her in relative harmony. In a way, he was endearing. "We'll see, won't we?" She shrugged, resting a hand over her belly. The child within stretched and rolled as if in consideration of what would avail itself to her on the outside. Maybe there would be progress after all, "For the record, I haven't told her any such thing. She's just heard it all on her own. Most recently a battle between a churro vendor and someone selling funnel cakes." Blyx's eyes rolled.

"Wich just means she'll have to try both to determine which one she'll like best, once she's on solids," the Lieutenant replied. He gave an airy wave with his hand. "Anyway… status reports. Good news for the most part. Everyone has returned safe and sound, nobody has made any further attempts to blow up our station and no new people have gone missing. It's all nice and quiet." He, too, glanced outside at the nebula and added quietly: "I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"I'm sure you'll be right there telling her that she doesn't have to choose sides, either." Without a doubt. There was no way in hell that the man would ever pick a side over something equally as delectable. She'd wager money on it. And then, of course, there was the status report. The Campbeltown had returned, she was vaguely aware of the stealth ship sneaking back into port during the middle of the night and with it had come no emergencies that warranted waking her from a perceived slumber. That was all fine and dandy. "I take it the Ascendancy is pleased?" She had to ask, somehow stifling the smirk that demanded its presence on her face was was justly denied, "If the other shoe was to drop, it'd come from them. The Orions no doubt are licking their wounds and realizing the mistake they made by trying to poach from the Federation." Or so she hoped. The idea of another fight, another explosion, or another distraction of any kind downright soured her.

Some of the life went out of the Lieutenant's face. It was barely perceptible, but it was there. "The Ascendancy is pleased. I don't expect any shoes to be dropped from that side." He shrugged. "I'm not worried about the Orions either, though stars know there are plenty of other organisations out there. What does worry me is that we still don't know who tried to sabotage the station and why. We've tried to take measures against this stuff happening again, but this station is such a weird mix of old tech and new additions that it's impossible to keep track of it all. We're vulnerable, Admiral," he added with a sigh. "More vulnerable than a regular ship, or than a station which has been built from scratch. And with the Romulans on one side and the Ascendancy on the other, we're…" he shook his head. "Not an easy target, as such, but if it politically oppurtune to whichever party to harm us, that could still happen." That included their own, he thought, thinking back to his encounter with Ravnsson. Now there was a man he didn't trust at all. He gave off all the wrong vibes. "Anyway. We'll just have to wait and see, and only worry when we find something real to worry about." Such as what appeared to be the exact twin double of Commodore Rochelle he'd seen a couple of weeks ago? Maybe not. Nobody else seemed to be unduly worried by that.

The Shrike turned from the window then, letting the light of the nebula wrap around her as a sort of halo. It wasn't an intentional act, so to speak, she couldn't have given a crap less how the light touched and interacted with her. "Then we fix it," she all but scoffed, "We tell Commander th'Zarath to bolster and secure this station. If it needs to be fortified, it will be fortified and we won't rest until it is." There was a bit of a dismissive nature to how she waved the air away from her, moving to dig through one of her desk drawers, "I'm not worried as much about the Ascendancy as it stands. I worry about the Romulans and whatever else lays out there lurking and waiting. The point is that we don't know enough about space out here to ever get comfortable. Our scientists uncover a new species or five every single day out on the promenade being peddled as pets or food. If there's that many 'prey items' out there, just imagine how many warp capable species are hiding. We already know the Ascendancy has kept a lid on plenty." Blyx paused only to draw breath and brace her hands against her aching back. Was it her or was the ache getting worse? "So we need to expect the unexpected. Tell th'Zarath I expect it done in a timely manner. We have all the resources in the universe at our fingertips."

As always, the Lieutenant had the facts at his disposal. Without looking it up, he recited: "Last shipment from Starfleet had seventy-six percent of the items we requested. The rest has been 'delayed'. This is actually an improvement. The shipment before last had only seventy-two percent. This includes material and equipment requested by Engineering. That department is still understaffed. Starfleet let us dangle without a CO for two weeks, then appointed you as CO of this station in addition to your other duties, and in your condition. What, they expect you to man this station if a crisis occurs, sitting in Central Ops two hours after having given birth if that's the case? Or-" he smiled bleakly, an expression which looked incredibly unnatural on his usually open and sunny face, "look at me. A Lieutenant, appointed over a month ago as Acting XO. On a station this size."

If this had been on one of the Fleet ships, or a station closer to the heart of the Federation, he would either have been replaced by a Commander by now, or confirmed and promoted. The former far more likely than the other, because there were still a lot of Commanders out there twiddling their thumbs and waiting for a shot at a Command position, and a lot of them with patrons higher up the chain. That didn't matter to the Lieutenant. He liked his current position, but without any ties to anyone, he'd have to climb the ladder on his own – and he didn't even come close to meeting the unwritten, informal requirements. But as long as Starfleet didn't get around to kick a Commander to this deep end of the universe dangling a Command position as bait, he would do the job to the best of his abilities, and learn as much as he could while he was at it. "Resources we may have, Admiral, but we're tail-end Charlie as far as Starfleet is concerned."

"Enough." The Admiral barked, her good humor beginning to fade quickly as he ticked off Starfleet's indiscretions one by wretched one. It wasn't him that had caught her ire, but rather the stupidity lurking and hanging over the entire quadrant, the station especially, like a cloud of bad stink. Her eyes closed and she heaved a heavy sigh. She knew what she had to do, what she had the power to do as the fleet's highest ranking official. Sean Archer may have been Commander in Chief, but she was still Fleet Admiral.

"Lieutenant, I'm promoting you to the rank of Lieutenant Commander with all powers and privileges associated in kind. Beyond that, you are this station's Executive Officer, not acting, not temporary and you know what my orders are regarding the status of this rust wreck." Her lips were a thin, grim line when they pursed back together, "Make it so."

The newly minted Lieutenant Commander grinned. "We'll improvise and prod buttock as needed, like we've always done on this station. Thank you, Admiral." Being on the ass-end of the Federation also had its advantages. If the seat of Sector Command, being this station, needed something which one of the ships could provide, they could commandeer it. Of course, they could protest. Of course, Starfleet could even make their displeasure known. At which point the station CO (or XO, if CO was unavailable on account of having to take care of Fleet matters, or a baby, or both) would nod contritely and do it again the next day if it was necessary. It was not something to overuse, but in case of emergency… "Was there anything else, sir?"

"Just let Starfleet know that we won't take no for an answer. They want to expand into the unknown, then we need to be fortified and not forgotten." She could kill Xander for originally sending her out here, but he did it not as punishment but because he had a vision and wanted things done. For the most part she'd accomplished that vision, but there was still so much left to tie up and complete. It would be done if only because she was determined to see it through. Finishing meant protecting her family. Rochelle included, she thought as she peered back out the window to catch sight of the shadow of a monster ship lurking in orbit.

Now that was one order he'd have no problems following. The grin grew downright impish. "Believe me, Admiral. I won't." He gave off a surprisingly smart salute and walked out.

Once he was alone, he stared at the new half-pip adorning his collar next to the shining ones and shook his head. He didn't really set much stock by ranks, but – together with his confirmation as XO – it would make prodding Starfleet a lot easier. He cracked his knuckles and grinned. Maybe later he'd go down to the Promenade and have himself a celebatory drink. But his next stop would be Central Ops. Then Engineering.

The Admiral wanted results – she would get them.

Fleet Admiral Blyx Red
Commander, Beta Fleet
Acting CO, Cold Station Theta

-and-

Lieutenant Commander Evan 'Weirdo' Merlin
Executive Officer
Cold Station Theta

 

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