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Idle Thoughts

Posted on Fri Feb 21st, 2014 @ 1:30pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Photons Everywhere
Location: Bridge
Timeline: MD2, 0045

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Vanora drummed her fingers on the console. It was the loudest sound on the mostly silent Bridge. Gamma shift was often quiet this way, and Vanora did not like that one bit.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

She had left the part before it had wound down completely. Vanora was not a grouch, but for some reason, that much festivity all at once had pushed some strange buttons for her. The alcohol neutralizer she got from Sickbay had kicked in quickly, and, unable to sleep, she thought it best to busy herself with work.

The problem was, the work was not busy.

Her father had told her once about an inevitable moment in a one's work life. It didn't matter what the kind of work was. It could be research and academic-focused like his own. It could be about politics and governance, like her mother's, the day to day management of a clan. It could be medicine, like her sister Peri's work. It could be running a starship. But it was inevitable, this moment. Or, more accurately, this period of time. And what this period of time was, her father had explained to her, was the period of "Hurry Up and Wait."

Vanora hated "Hurry Up and Wait."

That was what she was stuck in now. Here on this brand spanking new, fresh out of dry dock and not even a week-old heavy cruiser, where she, a former hauler of cargo, had managed to land a plum assignment as Chief of Operations. Here she was, responsible for making sure that the ship's primary systems were running as intended, that the crew had what they needed to do their jobs, and that the ship's various parts were talking to each other. Here she was, responsible for all that, and yet, she still found herself doing a lot of waiting. True, there had been a lot of periods of frenetic action, the kind of pace that she thrived on. Especially right before launch, being as she was one of the last department heads to come aboard and yet still had to make sure that all the departments had what they needed before they left Sol system, toward a region of much fewer resources. There were meetings and requisitions and hustling, all the sorts of the activities that had drawn her into Operations in the first place. She was good at all that.

But she was bad at waiting.

Tap. Tap.

Perhaps this was one of the reasons that she had been assigned to this ship. By all accounts, a Sovereign class was an assignment that there should be a long list of officers who were promotion eligible to be fighting over. Except, perhaps Starfleet realized that on a brand new ship, more things went right than went wrong. The best and the brightest, perhaps, were put on those ships that needed their brilliance, their ingenuity and expertise. It was where things were the worst that the best are often sent. Was that Sun Tzu? Vanora could never keep these Earth philosophers in order.

All the waiting was making her think too much. Doubt too much. She hated all this idle thinking and doubting. She had chosen a career path that was supposed to be about action, making decisions, creating definitive plans that she would execute, improving efficiency and cutting out the nonsense. But now, on this shiny new Gladiator she was left with absolutely nothing to do at the moment except wait for the two dozen diagnostics she was running to finish. Almost certainly, most of them would come back clean. And then she would just start again.

"Anything come up yet on that scanner array software upgrade?" she asked the ensign sitting at the Science terminal.

"No, sir, nothing yet," the Tellarite responded.

"How about the magnetic field manipulation coil stress tests?"

"Nothing on that either. Sir," he responded shortly. The blue collar at least told Vanora he was a real flesh and bone officer and not a holographic one. Vanora wasn't sure, however, whether a hologram might actually be a better conversationalist.

"I though Tellarites liked to argue," Vanora said teasingly.

"That is an offensive stereotype and overgeneralization, Lieutenant," he grimaced. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do?"

"Fine, fine. Just trying to make conversation." Vanora looked back at her console. Still nothing.

Tap.

It wasn't wholly accurate to blame her dislike of idleness on just the doubts that crept in. There were other, more dangerous thoughts that the operations officer avoided at all costs. Memories and feelings about Tang. Why, exactly, had he disappeared in the middle of a fire fight with the Ferengi marauders? It seemed at first that the most likely explanation was that he was vaporized. The pirates were known, after all, to use disruptors set to maximum. But in those first few days, she had figured out that that was one theory she could discard. Those first few days, when she was in denial and it was all that Captain P'Trell could do to keep her from stealing a shuttle to go hunt for Tang. He had eventually calmed her down enough that she was able to enlist his crew's assistance in performing forensic analyses on the Lady of the Lake. They had swept every corridor, and after they were done, she had gone through and redone all the tests and scans herself. There was no residue, no sign that he had been killed or even wounded in the fight.

The only other explanation was that he had been captured. P'Trell had agreed that that was the most logical explanation, and under the supervision of his Security team, he had allowed her to finally take out a shuttlecraft and search out potential raider havens. He had, at the same time, put out inquiries and even called in Starfleet Intelligence to assist. But as days turned into a week, and then weeks, it became less and less likely that Tang was taken hostage. Ferengi, after all, have little interest in slaving and are much more interested in the quick and guaranteed profit that comes with demanding ransom. Yet, no ransom message came. The raiders who had escaped were captured, and interrogation revealed no hint that they had ever had Tang on their ships. The point of their capture would have been another typical point for the Ferengi to reveal that they were holding a hostage, as leverage for freedom or a shorter sentence, but there was nothing there. Vanora went on searching for several more months, even after Starfleet had declared Tang presumed dead. She might still be searching to this day, if the Bouzid had not come under attack by a Romulan Warbird. In spite of her grieving, she hadn't been about to let another ship and crew perish, even if it was a crew full of strangers.

These were not memories she wanted to recall, because these memories made her wonder whether she had made a mistake. Whether she should have kept looking. Whether she should still be looking now.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

Vanora sighed, and went back to waiting.

 

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