Captain Jane Burke and her Scissan Science Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Takor, entered the transpod room to welcome the SS Fireball's new crewmembers. Lt. Cmdr. Smythe was - as usual in these instances - behind the controls, and seemed a bit flushed as he fussed with the equipment. His assistant, Kagan, looked dazed. A glance at the open transport pods explained Kagan's reaction, as all the new crewmembers were beautiful and female. But that wouldn't cause Smitty to blush. He doesn't notice female crewmembers. Not as women, anyway.
"Mr. Smythe," Jane greeted.
The engineer jerked, stammered and finally got out, "Captain."
What a strange reaction. I don't have time to investigate just now. Perhaps he'll tell me what's bothering him over dinner, if I can keep MacGregor from pestering him. "Are the arrivals ready?"
The man's brown eyes veered toward the pods, then suddenly returned to the controls, which seemed inordinately fascinating today. But there’s nothing for him to do with them, until time to send the pods back to the station.
"Where's Dr. MacGregor?" Jane asked.
"I believe he's sending Nurse Temple," the engineer stated hoarsely.
Is Smitty sick? Space, I hope not. I can already hear him and Drake arguing over his reading technical magazines while in Sick Bay. "Fine. Let's get started." She stepped in front of the first open pod. "Welcome to the SS Fireball."
The shapely blond nurse stepped out of the capsule and saluted smartly, her blue eyes veering toward the control console. "Request permission to come aboard, sir," she purred, every movement of her body a sexual invitation. "I mean ... ma'am?"
It's always amusing when newcomers forget what to call me. "'Sir' will be fine." Jane glanced at the electronic file the blond handed over. "Elizabeth Monroe, Medic I. Nurse Temple will arrive shortly to collect you."
"Thank you, sir," Monroe purred, but her gaze was aimed at the console. Accepting the return of her electronic orders, Monroe slunk over to flirt with the two men. Smitty ignored her. Kagan nearly melted where he stood.
Burke moved to the next pod. This woman looked AmerInd, long-legged and tall, with softly chiseled features and gold skin. "Welcome to the Fireball."
She stepped outside the pod to salute. "Permission?" she asked softly and offered her file.
Capt. Burke gave her a quick look, wondered if she was surly, a troublemaker or what, for that was not the standard phrase. Perhaps the woman had anticipated that her unorthodox phrase would cause concern, for she stood at stiff attention, to all appearances conforming to the regulations in every other way. Burke turned her attention to the file. "Yeoman Tabi-- Tabin--"
"Tabinistanu Yellow Dog," Takor pronounced.
Burke glanced at the lizard-like officer, but was pleased that it had pronounced the impossible name. With any luck, I need never use her first name again. What a mouthful! "You'll be assigned to Cmdr. Takor, Yeoman," she told the dark-haired woman, with a hand wave in the Scisson's direction. "He has a strong interest in NonLifeSciences, so I hope your Physics and Chemistry are up to the challenge."
Stone-faced, the yeoman nodded and stepped aside. The blond was still flirting with Kagan. Burke moved to the last pod. "Welcome to the Fireball."
The redhead remained standing inside the pod, staring at the men at the console. Jane calculated the aim of the girl's gaze, and decided she was staring at Smitty. No wonder he's embarrassed, if she's been doing that since her arrival. Well, any infatuation she might have won't last long. Smitty’s her superior. Even if he wasn’t, he’d manage to ignore her a little too long, and she'll move on to more eager men. Regrettable, but that's life. In the meantime, she needs to be reminded of her station. "Lieutenant?"
Still no response. Burke shifted her position, placed herself directly between the redhead and the Chief Engineer. The redhead shifted also, just enough to peer over the captain's shoulder to continue staring. Her pale face clearly shows her emotions. Fascinating mixture, mostly panic and interest. Strange. Burke turned to glance at Smitty, who was even ruddier by now. "Mr. Smythe, what's her name?"
Smitty turned a shade darker. "Lt Colleen MacDowell," he answered without looking up.
"Yes?" the girl breathed, though the engineer hadn't spoken to her.
Smitty looked up angrily. "The Captain's talking to you!"
The redhead jerked her head to look at Burke, her white face flushing a deep red. "Well, I blew that first impression," she muttered to herself, then stepped out of the pod and saluted. "Request permission to come aboard, sir." She fumbled a bit as she handed over her file.
The hazards of being young. Burke smiled as she lowered her head to read the information, and whispered back, "Relax, Lieutenant. It happens to everyone once." Actually, she doesn't seem overly upset by her lapse. Is she used to this happening? "You don't make a habit of lusting superiors, do you?"
"Definitely not!" She looked aghast. Then she swallowed and lowered her voice again. "It's just that he ... I ... Well, we are traditionally enemies."
Enemies? Do they know each other? No, I bet this is it. Her file says she's from Gaelund, colonized by the Irish generations ago. I can't have them continuing that ancient conflict here. "Because he's?" How could she know that?
MacDowell looked confused. "Because he's a man."
Now, what does she mean by that? "The men outnumber the women on this ship 3 to 1. If that's a problem for you--"
"Oh, I'm not afraid of them," the redhead stated calmly, then nodded in Smythe's direction. "Now him--" She shivered. "I think he scares the pants off me."
Burke raised her eyebrows. Interesting way to put it. She glanced again at the engineer, who was still fully occupied by the controls. "He's a pussycat. He wouldn't hurt a fly." Hope he never hears I said that. Especially not to one of his subordinates!
MacDowell took a deep breath. "That makes it even worse."
She’s not making sense. And I shouldn't be conversing with her so ... intimately, nor tell her a superior officer is harmless! She cleared her throat. "Lieutenant, you'll find life on the Fireball considerably different than on a tug."
MacDowell threw another glance at the engineer and - a little too flippantly - responded with, "It's bound to be. Sir."
Burke handed back the file, turned and started for the doorway. "I leave her in your capable hands, Smitty."
His head jerked up, his eyes round and face suddenly white. "My hands?!"
Burke turned to face him, surprised by his reaction. "She's your new communications lieutenant."
He looked panicked, then managed to get himself under some semblance of control. "Oh. Yes. Communications." He flipped an intercom switch. "Lt Abdulla, report to Transport Room A." Looking relieved, he turned to address the redhead. Surprised by how close she was - now on the opposite side of the console - his comment died before it was uttered. His face flushed, and he returned his attention to the controls.
MacDowell, looking determined, leaned closer. "It isn't necessarily true, that your kind and mine don't get along."
Jane watched. Didn't she just dismiss that idea?
Smythe stopped pretending to be engrossed in his controls and regarded her for a long moment. "We don't tolerate bigotry aboard this ship, lieutenant."
MacDowell sighed - seemingly in relief - then shook her head and turned to the AmerInd yeoman to quietly complain, "Aboard only ten minutes, and I'm in trouble. Really bad trouble."
"Yes." The yeoman reached over the console and flipped the switch that opened the door of the luggage transport pod, which everybody else seemed to have forgotten. The AmerInd started across the deck toward the now-open pod.
MacDowell followed her. "I can see you're going to be just as much help as another brother!" The yeoman flashed her a smile. "You think it's funny? Wait until I cause you as much trouble as I cause them!"
"Doesn't she ever shut up?" the blond – Monroe - muttered. She leaned on the console and sweetly asked, "Cmdr. Smythe?"
"Lt. Cmdr.," he corrected.
She continued undaunted. "Could somebody please help me with my luggage? I - Be careful with that!" she shrieked.
All eyes turned to the luggage pod in time to see MacDowell catch a black case that had been tossed to her by Yellow Dog. MacDowell put the case down, glanced into the pod. "Come get your things, Blondie. Our stuff is under yours."
"I will get it," the nurse hissed, "when I'm good and ready!"
The short redhead and tall AmerInd looked at each other. MacDowell sighed. "I’ll do it. I'm used to this kind of thing." The yeoman obligingly yielded the pod opening. MacDowell leaned over to grab the lowest black piece of luggage be. With her hand flat under that case, she bent her elbow, then used her other hand to drag out two well-stuffed duffel bags. After lowering the pile of black bags to the pod floor, MacDowell shifted one duffel bag to her shoulder, turned and offered the other to the yeoman at arm's length. The AmerInd took her duffel, but obviously used more effort than her shorter friend. "See you around, YD," the redhead stated. "It's been fun. As much as it could be, I guess."
The hallway door opened. Nurse Temple and Lt. Abdulla entered together. Temple greeted the new nurse and they started for the luggage pod.
"I'm sorry, Mr Smythe," Abdulla stated. "I thought you said --"
"I changed my mind," he growled, and regained his fascination in the control board as the redhead approached.
Capt Burke left the Transpod Room. Why do I get unsettled whenever someone new comes on board? They usually settle in comfortably in a couple days. Hardly any of them are any trouble. But try as she might, she couldn't help feeling that the addition of three totally beautiful and totally different women meant that it would take a little more than a couple of days to become comfortable again.