A bit of calm before the storm
Episode 5: Better Angels
Location: Officer's Lounge, USS Defiant
Timeline: MD5 Evening
The stars streaked by the window next to Captain Reynolds' seat, creating an entertaining little light display in the glass she had set before her. In theory, she was hear to try and get some reading done, but that hadn't exactly been the way the day had worked out. Instead, she'd opened the book and proceeded to stare off into nothing, Knowing what tomorrow would entail had made it hard to concentrate on her book. She gave a slight swish to the glass, allowing the lights to appear to swim about before settling back into their old rhythm.
Ensign Pierce entered the lounge and headed to the bar and got himself an ale. He looked around the room and saw that the captain was sitting near one of the windows. She had a book with her, but she didn't appear to be reading it.
He walked over to her table. "Good evening captain. Hope I'm not interrupting you."
“Ah. Good evening, Ensign. Please, have a seat,” Reynolds said, gesturing to the chair across from her. “You’re not interrupting much. I can’t seem to focus tonight.”
Pierce sat down on the chair. "Are you concerned about tomorrow, captain?"
Charlotte gave a subtle nod. "It'd be hard not to be," she said in a quiet tone. She didn't need to spread her apprehension to the crew. Half of her reason for heading down to the lounge was to preserve the appearance of normalcy. "But I'm optimistic. Our crew is talented and creative, and the parasites are operating bodies that don't necessarily have a lot experience aboard a starship. We're at a disadvantage in weaponry. But guns aren't everything."
"Which English king once walked amongst his men in disguise the night before a big battle? Was that Richard III?" Pierce took a sip of his ale. "We have the training, we have the experience, we have this ship...and this ship will fight to the end with every bit of her energy. I am confident that we will prevail to see the next day, captain."
"I appreciate the optimism," the captain said, returning a genuine smile. "What about you? If the Klingons let us have an audience, are you still willing to challenge the one we believe to be infected? I won't hold anything against you if you back out. Provided they agree to hear us, it will be likely be on Qo'nos, in front of a great many of their men."
Pierce looked at her with a serious expression on his face. "I will not back down. I will face the enemy...anytime...anyplace. I am ready to face him, and I will defeat him."
"I believe you," Charlotte said, taking a sip of her drink. "So what are you up to tonight? Obviously, you aren't pretending to read since you haven't brought a book to stare at." She poked a bit of fun at herself to lighten the mood.
"I sometimes like to just stand or sit and look out the window at the streaking stars...their almost hypnotic as they flash by. If I stare at them long enough, I almost enter a meditative state." Pierce sipped his ale. "When I'm done, I feel refreshed."
Charlotte’s eyes drifted to the stars streaking past, bathing the room in brief fleeting flashes of light. “I know exactly what you mean. I almost feel like it’s that way by design. A calm respite from the chaotic action that happens when you drop out of warp and deal with the world. But maybe that’s me getting melodramatic.”
She turned to address the officer. He was stoic, always appearing ready for the next challenge. But what happened when they didn’t have a next challenge? “So what do you do on your off time, Ensign? When you’re not being a security officer? If all goes well and we end this war, we won’t be needing to shoot people too often.”
"I train, captain, every day." He drained his drink and put the glass on the table. "Even after this war, we'll always have enemies to fight. But I do have one vice...I read, mostly historical novels."
“I’m not sure reading counts as a vice,” she teased, lifting her own book. She pondered her response for a moment. “Ensign, there’s an old Earth proverb: ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ I definitely appreciate your readiness for duty. But you’ve gotta let yourself live a little too. Color outside the lines every once in a while.” She gave him a compassionate smile. “If you’re considering historical novels a vice, you’re not giving yourself enough slack.”
"I believe, captain, that a security officer is on duty 24/7. I have to be able to respond to any threat to the ship, the crew and you." He looked at her. "So, 'letting myself live a little' isn't an option, ma'am. So if I'm not on duty, I'm at the gym, exercising and practicing hand to hand combat and weapons training. Remember, ma'am, you may need me soon in peak condition for battle...if I don't continue to train, I will be of no use to you."
"I don't need to be reminded, Ensign," Charlotte said a little briskly. She didn't like having to ask a crew member to take on risks she couldn't to begin with. Getting abrupt with him wasn't necessary. She chided herself internally before continuing.
"I'm not saying that you should shirk responsibilities or stop training. But maybe have other things you do too. There are many security officers, on this ship and throughout the fleet, who are not on duty 24/7. If you are only ever on watch, you're not on your best. Your senses dull. You lose perspective on what is and is not a real threat," Charlotte said. She lifted a small knife from the plate she'd discarded and held it in front of her as an example. "A blade that is always in use loses its edge. It needs to be sharpened and cared for. In order for your guard to be useful, you need to let it down every once in a while. All I'm saying is make sure to take a night off every now and then. Go play pool in the lounge. Let yourself have a hobby. Or read those historical novels, if you prefer."
"I have trained all my life, captain. I have trained myself to go without sleep for 48 hours. I not only train my body. I train my mind as well. Sometimes a hobby can be distracting......I prefer not to be distracted....unless you're making it an order, captain." Colby looked at her.
"No, it's not an order," Charlotte said with a laugh, finishing her drink. "Just looking out for the wellbeing of my crew. Mental and emotional wellbeing included."
Colby smiled at her. "Captain, you will probably find me the most mentally and emotionally well balanced person on the crew."
"I don't know...," she trailed off comedically. "You did call reading a vice." She shot him a teasing look.
"Perhaps I misspoke, captain," Colby said.
"Regardless, I'm going to try and indulge myself a little bit longer. But maybe from the comfort of my quarters," she said, patting the book.
"Then I will leave you with your book, captain." Colby stood. "Excuse me. Goodnight."
“Goodnight, Mr. Pierce,” she said with a smile and nod, before heading out of the lounge.