Day 1 (cont)
Lt Cmdr Smythe
As Smythe emerged from the lift, Ryan looked up from the navigation console. "Mr. Smythe." The engineer paused, having a pretty good idea what was on the younger man's mind. "The new crewmembers. What are they like?"
Smitty sighed. "You'll meet them soon enough, Ryan. Abdulla's showing one to her quarters, and then the bridge." The thought of that particular new crewmember made him uneasy, so he turned to the engineering ensign and the problem he had left for her to solve. "How are you doing, Andrews?"
Andrews withdrew her nose from the E17 access panel. "I thought I had it, Mr. Smythe. I was sure it was in this area. But I can't pinpoint it." She glanced back inside the equipment, then bit her lower lip, whether from frustration or embarrassment, he couldn't tell. "Could it be one of the minor reflux transistors?"
He beamed, happy she considered the possibility. It isn't, but it’s good she consider everything. "It’s not very likely. You keep working here, and I'll check the transistors."
"Thank you, Mr. Smythe," she smiled, and returned to her open access panel.
He went to the opposite end of the engineering console and knelt to remove access panel E21 from the lower section. He climbed into the opening, lay on his back and gave a cursory glance at the minor reflux transistors - all glowing cheerfully. He would spend several minutes in this position, pretending to check equipment that was operating perfectly. Andrews has made good progress. She's much more organized in her thinking and doesn't get nearly as frantic as she used to.
He could still see a portion of the bridge, by looking along his body through the access opening. Not that there's much to see, just Bugalu at the helm, and Ryan beyond him. Bugalu will make a fine captain some day. I doubt if Ryan will get far. He's too easily distracted by the thought of a pretty girl. Bugalu likes the girls, too - he dates a different one every night - but when he's on duty, he's on duty. He didn't ask what the new crewmembers are like.
He heard the lift doors open, and the laughter of two women entered the bridge. In his mind's eye, he could still see the new one; short, redheaded, very well rounded ... absolutely gorgeous. She'll be the most popular woman aboard. Could have her pick of any man. Have to beat them off, not that she will. Look how brazen she was with me! Even worse than that nurse, who at least shared her flirtations with Kagan. The redhead acted like no one else even existed. Every man wants to be the only man in a woman's life, so she acts like they are. It's a good trick, but it can only last so long. She won't find me so easy-- No, of course not. I'm her superior officer, and even if that means nothing to her, it does to me.
Look at Ryan, practically drooling over her milky skin, bright hair, and that fantastic body poured into a too-short, too-tight, too-low-cut uniform! A man can't think straight with a uniform like that next to him! What idiot designed them? A tunic and pants - or coveralls, like the techs wear - would be far more functional!
Abdulla caught her breath. "I think you made that up!"
"No, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it." Bugalu straightened in his seat, turned around to stare in shock.
"You sound like you know how to have fun, Colleen," Abdulla stated.
"Mac," came a gentle correction.
"You actually let people call you that?"
"I insist on it. Think of it as a family heirloom, if you like."
"Your family must have some unusual traditions."
"You have no idea," came the soft answer.
Abdulla returned to business. "Here's the bridge. Bigger than a tug, but similar."
"Similar, yes. In fact, there's a face that's familiar." Smitty heard her footsteps, saw her walk over to lean against the helm console. "Hello, Bugs."
The black man still stared at her. "What are you doing here?"
She grinned. "I've been assigned here."
He looked confused. "I didn't think we were getting a new tech." He glanced at her uniform. "How in space did you manage a stripe?" he demanded.
She frowned. "You make it sound impossible."
"Improbable," he returned. "I know you, and-" He grabbed the navigator's hand just before it touched the redhead's knee. "Don't try it, Ryan."
"I wanted to see if she was real." Ryan pulled his hand free.
The redhead had watched the exchange without emotion. "You haven't lost your touch, Bugs."
"It's been years, I'm rusty," he returned. Someone cleared their throat, and the helmsman glanced around, stared at Smythe's legs. "Sixteen hundred," he told the girl. "Deck 7. We'll have supper."
Her smile was a mixture of joy, rapture and satisfaction. "Anything you want, Bugs." She whirled and started back for the communications console. "Being the newest aboard, I assume I'm D shift, so when do I report for duty?"
The question forced Smitty to make a decision, and he climbed to his feet.
"No, not D,' Abdulla answered. "It turns out Chang likes working relief, and I was happy to oblige him. And Hamilton won't leave the ship for 4 days, so you'll be--"
"Reporting to me," Smythe interrupted.
The redhead turned, and her face lit up in joy and animal-- "I'll be directly under you?"
How brazen! "0800 hours," he told her. "Right here. We'll be re-wiring the auxiliary bridge." Such a beautiful face. I wonder what it means when it goes all stiff and pale like that? "It will give me a chance to see what you're made of. Understood?" First she's white, then red, then white again. That can't be healthy. It's a good thing she'll get her medical next.
"Oh, no," she muttered, and her gaze veered, momentarily, toward the helm. "I mean, yes. Understood. I'll ... see you then." She bolted from the bridge.
She didn't wait to be dismissed! His wounded sensibilities were somewhat mollified by the realization that nobody had noticed. Or at least, they're going to pretend they didn't. Except Bugalu, who's staring at me like I've got four heads.
"Umm, Mr. Smythe?" Andrews! Gratefully, he turned back to training an underling.