Episode 1.1: Sidetracked - Kanso and the Captain
Episode 1.1: Sidetracked
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: Shortly after Battlestations
Having been busy with departing dock, making sure the Aeon got to the rendezvous point in good time, and then going through the simulated combat; Estrad hadn't had time to make acquaintances with the first ever Kalan on-board a Federation starship. Now he had some peace between all the action, he had a chance to finally catch up with his new chief at the helm.
"Dagan to Ensign Kanso. Can you report to my ready room please?" he asked.
Marla tensed as she heard the Captains voice. Her whiskers bristled and she tried not to sound as nervous as she tapped the commbadge "Aye Captain, I'll be right there."
The ensign had been hoping to spend her downtime in the airponics bay. She enjoyed the gentle hum of the climate control systems and the peace and quiet was a welcome change from the days earlier excitement on the bridge.
But, having only just walked through the airponics bay doors, Marla about turned and set off for the captains ready room. Her stomach felt like it was tying itself in knots as she walked briskly along the Aeons corridors.
It seemed likely that the captain wanted to officially greet her as the first Kalan serving aboard a Starfleet ship. The first Kalan to graduate from Starfleet. The first Kalan to serve as a bridge officer (a position Marla was still unsure how she ended up with fresh out of the academy).
No pressure then! The knot in her stomach twisted again. Grandma would find this priceless she thought to herself and made a mental note to call home as soon as communications were restored.
Stopping outside the ready room Marla pressed the door panel to let the Captain know that she had arrived.
"Come," Estrad called, turning off the monitor in front of him as the doors opened.
When it revealed Marla, he grinned, stood and offered his hand. "Ensign Kanso," he said.
"Good evening, Captain" said Marla, shaking Estrad's hand warmly. Even after her time at the academy, it still caught the Kalan off guard shaking a hand with no fur.
"Please be seated," Estrad motioned towards the chair on the opposite side of the desk, before sitting down himself.
"Thank you, Captain." replied Marla, making herself comfortable in the chair; then, realising that she should be seen to be more formal, sat up straighter. Still trying to remember how to sit normally she asked "You wanted to see me, Sir?"
“At ease, Ensign,” Estrad leaned back and studied Marla. “Indeed I did. How are things?” he asked.
The Ensign let out a breath she hadn't realised she been holding ,"Good, thank you." Marla smiled, pleased to be able to relax a little. Captain Dagan himself seemed more relaxed (thankfully) than some of the officers she'd encountered at the academy. He had a calm presence that a lot of the higher-ups in Starfleet lacked; maybe it was a joined Trill thing? "Though I never thought I'd be in a simulated battle before I'd unpacked my bags!" she chuckled "I also never imagined I'd be at the Conn of a ship straight out of the academy either…" Marla scratched an ear distractedly.
"I can understand that," Estrad smiled, his thoughts drifting back to the earlier conversation he'd had with Marla's grandmother. "Tell me, how are you settling in with dealing with the added paperwork that comes with being head of department?"
"Oh the paperwork's fine at the moment, Sir. I'm just happy to see the back of my academy dissertation. Writing about crew and equipment is a nice break from "The interrelationship between electromagnetic storms and temporal anomalies." she cringed internally at the thought of it, "I thought it'd be easy writing about a topic so close to home but apparently not." She leaned forward "You know what it involved a lot of?"
"Do tell," Estrad replied, a grin slowly forming.
"Maths." She said with a deadpan expression, "Now Cadet Epos got a commendation for his dissertation on tachyon decay rates; it was like mathematic poetry… apparently. Didn't stop him from denting not one, but two test shuttles during training." She chuckled before realising the answer she should have given was "Yes Sir, thank you Sir." Maybe it was better to have authoritarian commanding officers, this Trill made it too easy to feel chatty and at ease. She coughed to try and alleviate her feeling of awkwardness. It didn't work.
"Indeed, so I have read," Estrad picked up a PADD, stood and walked around the back of the desk as he continued, his eyes looking out at the view into space his ready room offered. "I'm glad to hear you are settling in well, Ensign. Your grandmother was rather concerned."
Marla's stomach felt like it had fallen to the bottom of her feet. The first time Grandma Cassie had spoken to a Federation officer she'd taken one look at his Starfleet uniform and promptly complimented him on his "fine taste in bedclothes". Marla did not want her Grandmother even knowing what her Captain was called never mind talking to him, she'd probably ask if Captain Dagan was feeling all right and did he know he was developing a spotty rash either side of his face.
"She has a subspace comlink now does she, sir?" Marla ventured. "I hope she didn't take up too much of your time?"
Estrad turned back to face Marla. "Not at all," he said, slowly walking back behind his desk. "And she definitely has a subspace comlink set up. In fact, the lieutenant who was making it happen managed to beam himself right into the middle of a herd of giant birds."
Estrad sat down and handed her the PADD he was holding, which contained a signed bill for forty seven Makkim eggs, addressed to none other than Captain Estrad Dagan himself.
Marla's ears dipped in horror as she stared wide-eyed at the title on the PADD:
"BILL FOR LOST EARNINGS DUE TO STARFLEET INCOMPETENCE. FOR THE ATTENTION OF CAPTAIN E. DAGAN."
It was worse than expected. It was even worse than the time Cassie had challenged a Vulcan tutor to an arm-wrestling match at her graduation. Marla hadn't thought it was possible to top that embarrassment. She read the title again and wondered whether you could get demoted if you threw-up on the Captain's desk.
Marla looked back up at the captain, "Sir, I'm so sorry! She gets a bit… enthusiastic about the herd and the laying season's just started and" she stopped for breath, "I'll sort this out, I'll call and make her redact it and you can take it out of my crew credits in the mean time and-"
"Ensign," Estrad interrupted gently. "Starfleet has already dealt with the matter, so the issue at hand is already closed. As for your grandmother, I'm sure she was just looking out for you, so no harm done."
Estrad paused and contemplated the young Ensign in front of him. "And there was something else we discussed that I was going to let you into regardless. The reason that you are on this ship, as head of department, is because I requested you here. You were top of your class at the academy in piloting skills, and received great praise from your tutors for having good spirit and potential leadership qualities. And having now met you, I can tell my trust in your abilities was well placed."
Ensign Kanso blinked, she had been wondering why she was a bridge officer ever since the details of her post had arrived a week ago. She had assumed that it was a mistake and had been too embarrassed to mention it; maybe, she thought, there were two Aeons in Starfleet and she was supposed to be piloting a 15 year old runabout rather than a state of the art Luna class ship.
Meeting the Captain's gaze she realised she'd not answered him. Her mouth was dry, she didn't know what to say. A Captain was trusting her with his ship; with this ship. The responsibility for guiding 3 million metric tones of Starfleet engineering and 350 souls safely through space was hers. She listened to the low hum of the ship. What are you supposed to say, she thought, when someone gives you that privilege?
"Yes, Sir." she said, her chest beginning to swell with pride, "Thank you, Sir!"
Estrad smiled. "Now, is there anything else you wish to bring to my attention?"
"Not that I can think of, Captain."
Estrad nodded. "Very good, Ensign. You are dismissed."
Still beaming, Marla bowed her head slightly then turned and headed out of the ready room. It took all of her concentration not to let her tail wag until the doors had hissed shut behind her.
Captain Estrad Dagan
Ensign Marla Kanso
Chief Flight Control Officer