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The Nickel Tour

Posted on 31 Jan 2019 @ 7:35am by Captain Abigail Rhodes & Commander Gerald Wainwright III

Mission: Prologue
Location: Utopia Planitia Drydock


Abby leaned back in her chair and glanced around the ready room.  She had taken the past couple days to arrange the small office and her quarters the way she wanted.  A bit of replicated accoutrements and select personal effects made all the difference.  A large stylized painting of the Mark Miller hung on the opposite wall - the standard commission with every starship.  A small case held models of Sovereign, Sabre, Intrepid, and Nova-class starhsips - exemplars of their Task Force.  Under it was a compartment, hidden to the casual observer, that was currently empty.  She had plans to fill it as soon as she had a chance to spend some quality time on the starbase's commercial sector.

Her quarters held all of her personal effects.  A few artifacts of her childhood, and select photos of family and friends.  She didn't own much, in all truthfulness, preferring to live off of the replicator.  Thinking of the photos inadvertently triggered a tertiary memory from her meeting with Admiral Petrovich.  The Admiral had a similarly spartan sensibility, but her office sported a few photos.  Most were of her and her own family; one Abby recognized as the Admiral's oldest grandson.  He would be about twelve now... very nearly the age her own child would have been.

Abby's mood immediately soured at the unbidden memory.  She regretted, then, not having the foresight to bring contents for her little storage vault right away.  She harrumphed and stepped over to her replicator.  "Whiskey, neat."  The computer obliged, materializing the ordered beverage.  It wouldn't have the effects of the real thing she was looking for, but the bite to the back of her throat would have to do.  She didn't get two sips down when her comms chirped at her.

Abby sighed and set her drink down, "Yes?"

"Captain," her comms officer had the grace to ignore Abby's shortness, "you requested to be notified when your XO was comin aboard."

"Ah, yes.  Thank you," she said before tapping the botton on her desk that would close the channel.  She set her drink down and stood, tugging her uniform tunic taught.  She glanced in the darkened transparent aluminum window that served as a makeshift window to ensure she was still put toether.  Satisfied, she strolled towards the transporter room.

His personal project shuttle stowed safely way in the shuttle bay (such as it was), Gerry stepped out into the corridor and winced for a moment when he realized that the length of this entire deck of the ship was smaller than some of the narrower parts of Starbase 49.  No time for such concerns, a ship of the line was a ship of the line.  He hadn't gone 10 feet when he saw the Captain approaching towards the transporter room.

"Commander Gerald Wainwright III, Executive Officer, reporting in, sir," Gerald spoke, stopping a few strides short and snapping to attention.

Abby offered her new XO a smile and extended hand.  "Welcome aboard the Mark Miller.  At ease, please."  She tried to parse his name again since reading the order.  "What should I call you?"

"My friends and people who I depend upon call me, Jerry," he smiled as he spoke, the younger officer seemed keen and he hoped that they would get along.

"Jerry it is.  When it is just us, you can call me Abby."  Her first impressions of the man gave her a bit of a 'dad' vibe.  Whether it was the fact he was at least a decade older than her, or the way he carried himself, she wasn't certain.

"Let me give you the nickel tour," she offered, leading him to the turbolift.  "You've seen the shuttlebay.  The rest of the ship is similarly sized.  Cozy, one could say."

"She seems small, and if I read the history right, she's been sitting around unused for a while, are the efforts along the front going that poorly, or is there something I haven't been told?"

Abby nodded briefly.  "It had been in drydock for some time after its last crew left.  Undergoing a minor refit.  We are a testbed for some advanced capabilities to the upcoming Rhode Island class.  An upgraded computer core, and a more powerful warp system.  The sensor suite is already the best in Starfleet." As she spoke, they entered the mostly deserted Main Engineering and she pointed at the gently glowing core.

"I'm definitely interested in the warp core modifications, I was a warp field engineer before I entered the command track.  In fact, I'm not sure if you've seen it in my personnel file, but just prior to here I was training young officers in advanced warp field theory."

"I have," she replied.  She had glanced over his packet before he arrived, and there were a few things she was interesed in learning more about.  "I'm sure your experience was not a small factor in your assignment.  The Admiral will value your input as we throw the system through it's paces."

They didn't spend long in Engineering - there would be plenty of time for detailed exploration later.  She led him to the turbolift again, heading up to the next deck where most of the science laboratories were.  "Most of the deck space in the M&M is reserved for science," she said, breaking the silence.  "Which follows, I suppose, being a research vessel."

Gerry nodded, looking for a moment at his hands, which were beginning to show the first real wrinkles and swelling that comes with age.  The turbolift ride was smooth, Gerry had always preferred ladderwells himself, but they were far from practical on most modern ships, and in a ship this size even the Jeffries tubes had to be a tight squeeze.

"I've glanced over our mission brief, looks like we're going to be in the thick of things once we get to our station," Gerry commented.

She gave a noncommital shrug, "Potentially.  We're on the frontier, so lots to see and do.  Whether the Klingons cause trouble is up for debate, but yeah, they probably will.  Can't really worry about what may be.  The scientist in me is just excited to see what's out there."

"A tall ship, and a star to steer her by... words of old but somehow they seem more fitting now than ever," Gerry commented after giving his new boss's words some thought.  The turbolift stopped and the doors opened.

She smiled, "Those old nautical traditions just don't die, and somehow always apply even out in the black.  A good ship and a good crew, and you can do anything."  Her eyes took in the deserted deck, save for a lone, scurrying technician.  "Well, the crew is still To Be Determined," she added with a chuckle.

"I understand that, it's not easy these days to crew up a whole new ship, or even a recycled ship as it may be."

Sickbay looked about as Gerry would have expected.  He looked about, touched a surface or two of the work benches, not wanting to contaminate or leave fingerprints on any of the therapeutic surfaces or equipment.

"Will we be staffing a medical team or is this going to be one of those EMH situations?" Gerry asked, turning to his younger boss.

Abby ran a hand along a biobed absently, considering the question.  "I prefer to have a full team, but space is at a premium.  The EMH systems have been proven in the field, so we could forego staff entirely."  She clicked her teeth briefly, "I suppose a balance is best.  A small, dedicated team, with the EMH as support."

Gerry nodded, either seemed a good idea, both perhaps would be the better option.

They rode the turbolift mostly in silence to deck 2, Gerry thinking for a moment that when his CO was graduating from the Academy, Gerry was already well on his way to Chief of Engineering.

The balance of their tour was mostly quiet, but Abby didn't mind.  It was a short tour, after all, and small talk got awkward after a while; after you hit the primary beats.  "And here you are," she said, extending her hand in a small flourish at the otherwise non-descript door.  "The Quartermaster, when we get one, will fabricate your name plaque."

She entered a code and the door swished open to her command.  As they stepped in, the lights blinked on automatically, showing a surprisingly roomy, if spartan, suite.

"The ship is small, but I'm surprised at how well-appointed the quarters are.  Most of my belongings are still in the Alpharetta, my shuttle project."

"Oh?  A personal shuttle project?  Color me intrigued," Abby said with a small smile.

"It's an old shuttle from a Constitution Class that I traded a Ferengi for a few years back.  I'm still in the process of refitting it in my spare time."

"Constitution-class?  Wow, you go right for the classics."  She chuckled amiably.  "Might as well check out the best part then," she said, "The Bridge will be where we'll be working most of the time."

Gerry nodded as they made their way back to the turbolift for the coup de grace.  They rode to the bridge and as the doors opened, Gerry gasped for a moment.  It had been over 4 years since he had been on the bridge of a starfleet ship.  The starbase operations center was less like a bridge and more like a giant conference room.

Abby grinned briefly at his response.  It was a common reaction, though usually more for those who hadn't been up here, or those accepting their first command.  She didn't dwell on what it meant, for that answer was in his packet.  "Welcome to the operations nerve center," she said, backing into the room and extending her arms to encompass the entire thing.  "One of the most state-of-the-art in the fleet."

"I can tell, it all seems very shiny and new, I'm eager to get back to work on a ship of the line, for sure," Gerry spoke, pausing momentarily to think as he ran the fingers of his right hand back through his hair.  "Of course we'll have to wait a bit to crew up."

"We won't have to wait long.  We're to take on a skeleton crew for the journey to DS13; most of which will transfer off there.  Our crew will be awaiting us.  I imagine most are either enroute or already waiting."  She lowered herself into the Captain's Chair and motioned for him to take the XO's next to her.  Her legs crossed and she leaned a bit to the side.

She paused a moment, waiting for him to take his seat.  Once he was comfortable, she started the query that had been burning in her mind since reading his packet.  Something that gave her pause and would determine what kind of XO he would be.  "There was something else I wanted to discuss now that the tour is concluded.  I'm sorry to bring it up, but I have to know... The incident-" she paused as she could see he was ready for it.

"Yes, I figured that would come up sooner or later.  It was a horrific mistake and not something I hope to ever see repeated.  But I've had time to learn to cope with it, and I will do my best not to let you down," Gerry winced before answering, but gained confidence as he spoke and finished strong.

Abby nodded, seemingly satisfied.  Time would tell, though.  "I'll hold you to that," she said with a smile.  Noting his minor discomfort, she added, "Do you want a drink?  Normally I wouldn't imbibe during shift, but..." her hand extended to the otherwise deserted Bridge, and the dock frame taking up the entire viewscreen.

Gerry looked around the empty bridge conspiratorially and then grinned.  "Since we're all alone, in honor of the mother of my children, why not some cold sambuca and a splash of tonic water?"

Abby nodded and briefly entered her ready room to retrieve their beverages.  She reappeared with two glasses; one clear, the other a dark amber.  "We'll have to do with replicated drinks for now.  When we get to DS13 I'll have to see about acquiring the real stuff." She sat in her chair again and handed him his order.

Gerry accepted the drink and held his glass outward to tap against his new skipper's.  This would be okay, he would make sure that it would.


Captain Abigail Rhodes
Commanding Officer
USS Mark Miller

Commander Gerald Wainwright
Executive Officer
USS Mark Miller


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