A Whole Lot Smaller



"Welcome to- err, welcome back to- err, that is, welcome aboard Deep Space 13, sir. Err, ma'am."

Lauren allows for a full second of silence to elapse before she responds to the officer standing before her. One, and. "Thank you, Ensign. 'Captain' will do just fine." She steps off the starbase's transporter pad and looks around the more or less empty room, adjusting the duffle bag slung over her shoulder.

"Yes Captain! I'm Ensign Calloway. It's a pleasure to meet you. Your last command was the Sagan, right? Whole lot smaller than a starbase!"

Lauren nods ahead, "She sure is. I expect there's a lot to brief me on."

"Uh, yes Captain- please, follow me."

The human ensign sets a brisk pace across the promenade towards the nearest turbolift. Lauren steals a glance up the ramp towards the lounge. It looks about the same as she remembers it, but aside from Swifty there aren't any familiar faces, so she carries on after her guide. They reach the turbolift and the ensign steps aside, giving a polite salute. "Deck 001 for your new office, Captain. Lieutenant Tamren will meet you there."

"Thank you, Ensign." Lauren steps into the turbolift. Another officer is already there, a crewman bearing the pipless collar of a petty officer. Her eyebrows pop upwards in surprise at the sight of Lauren, and she snaps off a salute.

"Captain! I had heard you were arriving today. Welcome aboard."

Lauren offers a simple nod, "Thank you, crewman."

"I also heard you used to command a Pathfinder-class vessel, right? The Sagan? My brother serves on one of those. A whole lot smaller than a starbase!"

Lauren glances aside and stares at the officer for a moment, then nods again. "They sure are, crewman."

The crewman exits at the next floor. Arriving at the command deck and the captain's ready room, Lauren steps into the spacious office and looks around her. It is, in fact, about the size her entire quarters were back on the Sagan. The doors swish open behind her to take her from her thoughts, and a Bolian stands in the doorway. He offers Lauren a quick salute.

"Lieutenant Tamren, I take it?"

"Yes ma'am- and you must be the illustrious Captain Varley! I love Pathfinder-class vessels. So small. Much smaller than a-"

"Starbase?" Lauren interjects.

Tamren blinks, and clears his throat with a little nod. "Ah, yes ma'am. I'm here to take you to your preliminary briefing, if you'll follow me?" he half turns to leave.

"Go ahead, I'll catch up in a minute."

Tamren shifts a little uncomfortably in the doorway, "You arrived a little later than we were anticipating, Captain. There are a few briefings lined up today..."

"You're an officer, not an alarm clock, Lieutenant. I'll catch up," Lauren maintains.

Tamren blinks in surprise, then shuffles backwards out of the room and hurries off without another word. Lauren sighs after the doors close. That was crass, she'll have to apologise to him later. But something caught her eye. Stepping over to the corner of the room she rests her hands on a sturdy guitar case, then turns it onto its side and pops it open. The beautifully crafted wooden instrument lies in pristine condition- about as pristine as it was the day it arrived, sent by her father as a birthday gift a few years ago. There's a note tucked between the strings.


You apparently forgot this in your quarters. I hope you don't mind that I took the liberty to have it delivered. I didn't know you played. Should our paths cross again I'd be delighted to hear it- so keep practicing, I wouldn't want to be disappointed.


Lauren huffs with brief amusement. Commander- rather, Captain Etonga- must have found it when he was moving into her old quarters aboard the Sagan. It’s true that despite the virtual lessons her father had sent her, she had hardly played it. But not once in the five years Etonga served as her first officer did she take it out around him or the rest of the crew? Lauren hadn't realised she was so reclusive about it.

So keep practicing

She shuts the guitar case and grabs a PADD off the desk, checking the time. Tamren is right, they're a little behind schedule. Time to go. But before she does, she looks out the nearby window to the stars, and wonders how her old crew are doing. Where they are. Where they'll go next. What troubles and challenges they'll face. It doesn't matter, Lauren reasons as a soft smile creeps onto her face. They have each other now. Keep practicing.