Episode 5: Better Angels
Location: Observation Lounge
Timeline: MD 4: En Route to Qo'nos
Located just above the sensor dome at the base of the saucer section, the observation deck was opulent by design. It’s wide, panoramic window afforded a view of the space around them, and of Defiant herself depending on where in the ring-shaped room you stood. Tables and lounge seating had been arranged around the room. The inner wall was a dark reflective surface, making it seem as if space was in either side of the occupants. Lighting was present, but kept to the necessary minimum, other than reading lights at the tables. A small mess station served drinks and small plates to those in the room. However, the fact that the room circled the sensor suite itself also made it oddly private. The curvature of the room prevent one side from seeing the other. One end could host a gathering of friends, while the other served as a workspace. It was one of the rooms on the ship that fully embraced the majesty of their location.
Captain Reynolds had settled into one of the taller tables by the back of the ring shaped room, looking back toward Defiant's neck, nacelles, and the space beyond. She'd kept her uniform on, but added the mission jacket, for a slight sense of relaxation. She'd just ordered herself a cocktail and was staring off into space (literally), trying to stop thinking about the situation they were headed towards.
Jace had taken the opportunity of his first off-duty period on board the ship to mostly explore. The ship was much more massive than he had imagined. He'd only known of military starships as compact, confined vessels where every reasonable space was used in some fashion to serve a particular purpose. But this ship - and those of its class - seemed capable of affording a more spacious interior. Larger, and a little more luxurious.
Eventually he found himself wandering the corridors towards the observation lounge, which was yet another example of something not critical to the core function of a Starfleet vessel, yet designed and built somewhat lavishly for the crew to enjoy.
He had entered the lounge in rather casual civvies - a plain grey tee underneath a raw-hem denim jacket. Skinny black jeans, suede Chelseas. Having not met most of the crew yet, he hadn't quite expected to spot the CO also enjoying a drink. A cocktail of sorts, fancier in both colour and presentation than his icy glass of mixed spirit.
"Ma'am," he walked up behind her, noticing that she was in fact alone.
The woman turned away from the rippling streaks of light outside to face the man. "Ah, Doctor Eldridge. Long time no see," Charlotte joked as she nodded in greeting. It'd been only a few hours since the man had come aboard. Hours that the Captain had barely noticed passing as she prepared various contingency plans. She gestured to one of the chairs at her table, offering a seat if the man wasn't here to meet someone. "If you have no other plans, feel free to join me."
"Thanks," Jace said offering a small smile. He sat down, settling his glass over the table. "How's it going?" he asked, rather casually.
Charlotte laughed, not entirely sure what kind of answer to give. "Oh, about as good as you can imagine given the situation. Thought I'd give myself a brief respite from the worrying. Are you all settled into sickbay?"
He gave a half-shrug, half-nod. "Yeah, mostly. It's very similar, yet very different to the sort of work I'm most used to doing. Not particularly busy at the moment, but I presume things will get a little more intense soon. Been spending much of my time preparing the department for whatever might hit us."
Charlotte simply chuckled. "You should have seen it they day before you arrived. We offloaded almost all the injured. But it's good you're getting some breathing room. There's a good chance we're going to have some injured very soon."
Dante walked into the observation deck, seeing it for only the second time, dressed in a nice pair of white jeans, and a well tailored shirt that was a deep navy blue, with splashes of color from a geometric pattern that was embroidered into it. He scanned the room and saw that only a few people were there, which suited him fine. He hadn't come looking for a party, but more to just experience the room as the ship flew through the void on their way to meet their destiny, as it were.
Stopping by the small mess table he ordered a drink, a long island iced tea, and then took it in hand, letting the chilled glass, and the beads of condensation to tingle against his skin. He saw the captain, and the ship's new CMO in conversation and decided to wander for a bit, not wanting to be a bother. Settling off to one side of the saucer, with a nice view both fore and aft, he stood, drink in hand, looking out at the starfield streaking past them, distorted by the warp bubble they flew within.
Upon entering the lounge, Niamh made short work of heading to the bar. Given her urgency, she hadn't made much of an effort to spruce up. She wore a pair of black skinnies, a white tank top covered with a dark green shawl cardigan, and a pair of grey, worn, vans. She hadn't bother with her hair beyond throwing it up into a ponytail.
After getting to the bar, she ordered herself a mojito and a soda. She liked to savour her drink and knew after the week she'd have she'd be on a second mojito in no time with the soda. As the crew drew closer to the indomitable, their anxiety levels rose and being that she was the sole counsellor Niamh had her hands full. She loved her job though and felt no bitterness towards the circumstance, she just needed some her time.
Sipping from her drink, she spied a semi familiar face in the spot she usually favoured and headed directly to Dante, "Fancy a bit of company?" She asked, she'd never been afraid to be direct.
"Always, Counselor.", Dante replied with a smile as he turned to face the new arrival. "How are you holding up?", He asked, doing to one thing most people never bothered to do, inquiring how the ship's psychiatrist was dealing with the stress of dealing with everyone else's stress.
"I admit, I've never been so busy in my life," Now my shared as she took a sip from her drink, "unusually, most of that is my own doing. All I've done is run from one end of the ship to the other offering my aid; this crew has gotten used to an absence in my post, I'm having issues-" before Niamh the pair found themselves distracted.
As the two began to talk, one of the serving staff approached with a smirk. "Pardon me for interrupting. The woman in gold said you're welcome to join her near the back of the ring if you'd like. She's ordered some appetizers."
"It appears we've been summoned," Niamh joked with Dante, gesturing for the man to lead their way to Charlotte.
Dante stood up with a chuckle, "Yes, it does appear so," he replied. "Shall we, ma'am?" he asked, starting off towards the small group of people.
As they approached he noticed that it was a just the captain, and the ship's new CMO, and that there was, indeed, a platter of various appetizers laid out. Noticing that one of his favorites was there he scooted into a seat and picked up one of the deep fried pickles, dipping it in the creamy ranch dressing sitting next to them. "Thanks for the invitation, Captain! And thanks for the appetizers as well," he said with a smile as he licked a tiny bit of the creamy dressing off his thumb.
"Captain, Doctor" Niamh introduced with a nod, "Nice to see we all appreciate the need for relaxation" she joked as she took a seat.
Jace had already had the chance to taste a bit of the finger food available. He recognised the counsellor, but not so much the man in the bright-white jeans. He gave the stranger a respectful nod, wiped off the small bit of grease from his fingertips with a napkin, extended a hand and offered his greeting. "Hi, I'm Jace," he said.
Reaching across the table Dante took the other man's hand. "What's up, man. I'm Dante. Welcome aboard," he replied with a smile.
Jace matched the firm grip. "Thanks," he said. "I'm the new CMO. And you are...?"
"Helm," Dante answered, looking around. "I'm still just blown away by this area of the ship. I've never seen anything like it on any ship I have ever served on," he added.
The doctor let out a small chuckle. "I've... never really been on a ship this big before... or even been off-planet for anything longer than a few days," he said, suggesting that his new experience was perhaps more striking than just finding an observation deck that was more lavish than those on other vessels.
"I've been off-planet for so long I'd feel weird trying to live on a planet again..." Dante replied.
The Captain chuckled at the exchange. "I prefer it up here honestly. I've always struggled keeping my feet on the ground, probably due to my upbringing. I feel more at home while at warp than I do planetside."
Niamh got herself comfortable on a chair close to the captain and placed her drinks down, "I've served planetside, stationside and shipside and I always find myself more at home on a ship. Defiant more so now I've discovered this lounge," she said with a grin.
"I'll admit, it feels a bit like a hotel in space," Jace suggested. "Although I'm sure our enlisted colleagues would say otherwise, or are you guys about to tell me that they get single quarters as well?"
Charlotte gave a conciliatory nod. "Our junior officers and higher rank NCOs all have private rooms with a shared living space. But you are correct. Many of the lower ranking enlisted crew do share quarters. Honestly, though, even those are pretty nice compared to other ships in the fleet. Defiant's size gives a lot more room for amenities than on other ships." She gestured around the room. "The ship itself is meant to represent our best foot forward. Obviously, it's still very down to business in most places. But they've certainly made the quarters and lounge areas pretty nice."
"Well, this place could give the bars on Arcadia a run for their money," Niamh compared, "None of them offered these kind of views," she said, gesturing towards the large bay windows that separated the lounges occupants from the vacuum of space, "Now all we need is a garden" she joked.
"If you ever get permission to start one, let me know.", Dante replied to the garden comment. "I grew up helping my parents set up and maintain community gardens. I always found it incredibly fulfilling.", he added, taking a sip of his drink.
"I'm not sure it'd be an easy feat, but I'd love that if it was possible," Niamh agreed, "I know of at least one other officer who would appreciate it," She was sure Maralen would prefer an actual garden over the hydroponics bay. "What do you think, Doctor, Captain?" Niamh asked curiously.
“Sounds good to me,” Charlotte said, putting her hands up. “I haven’t got a botanical bone in my body, so I won’t be much use to you. But we have a hydroponics bay. Why not put it to use? I think it’d be good for morale too.”
"Fantastic!" Niamh exclaimed, "In its current state, the hydroponics bay is a little too functional in its aesthetic. If we turned it into a garden, I could see it being a brilliant asset for crew members visiting the medical area, the bay itself is on the very deck we operate out of," she explained.
"Get with me when we are done with the mission, I'll help you start planning and get started as soon as we can," Dante replied, draining his glass and signaling for another.
Jace had been quietly observing the interaction amongst what was the more senior of the ship's crew, enjoying the camaraderie that seemed to be evolving. "What's about an olympic-sized swimming pool?" he suggested, partly as a joke. "Have we got one of those?"
"No. Haven't had one of those on a ship since the Halifax incident," Charlotte said in a somber tone. "Gravity went out and killed a dozen officers. It was pretty bleak." She took a drink to suppress the urge to smirk, not sure if the doctor could tell if she was lying.
Jace made a frown. The story sounded a bit far-fetched. "A swimming pool on a ship killed twelve people?" he winced.
Charlotte's face was unreadable. "Yeah. A body of water that size when gravity goes out? Basically a death trap. You'd have no way of getting out of it."
The doctor narrowed his eyes. "You're lying."
The captain cracked a smile. "I am. But that is also the reason we don't have a pool aboard. If someone could figure out a way to not have people drown if the power goes out, then we can talk about a pool."
"I mean, I can certainly see how that's a bad thing, but people drown in pools all the time on the surface of planets, so really it's no more or less dangerous.", Dante pointed out. "It just seems like it because it sounds so horrifying when you say it out loud like that.", he added, taking a sip of his drink.
"Now, enough of what just turned into an incredibly morbid discussion, anyone here have any hobbies that might be a little odd, or off the wall?", he said.
"I collect one item that expresses the culture of and planet I visit. First contact, or Federation, it doesn't matter. Each item represents my journey through the milky way" Niamh shared easily.
"That's a pretty awesome way to keep track of the places you've been. I like that," Dante said with a smile. "For me, my weird hobby is tarot cards, and other forms of divination. I have a small collection of cards, a Ouija board, and a few others things. I even have some cowry shells like that ones used by my ancestors in the Yoruba areas of Africa, but I have never used them. You have to be a special type of priest to do so and I don't want to be disrespectful to the traditions," he added.
"Sports count as hobbies, yeah?" Jace asked. "Unfortunately not a whole lot of outdoor sports could be done whilst on a ship. I do a bit of mountain biking, a bit of surfing. Anyone else?"
“Old school manual sailing,” Charlotte answered. “Like the kind where you manually operate the mast and rigs and everything. I haven’t done it too many times, but I’ve always loved the feeling of the wind catching the sails. Not exactly a hobby I get to pull off every day though.”
Dante chuckled at that, "No, I imagine it's not. But I've heard they might be making some strides on holographic technology, so you might get to one day.", he replied.
Charlotte's communicator chirped loudly. With a well practiced motion, she retrieved it from her belt and flipped it open with a single wrist flick. "Reynolds here."
The voice of one of the junior comms officers came through. "Captain, incoming message for you from Starfleet Command."
"Understood," Reynolds replied, flipping her comm shut. "Unfortunately, duty calls. It's been nice having a few moments to chat though. I'll catch up with you all later."