Red Tape - Part 1

The ready room was dark when the chime rang, but Captain Evlyn Lahn lay on the couch wide awake. The orbit of the Systems Defense Craft Sonja Hull left the planet Trill hidden behind bulkhead and hull, while the lone viewport let the starshine of the outer system and the Alpha Quadrant pour into ready room and give it a faint glow. The chime rang again, a courtesy in case the first had not roused the Captain, then the door opened on its own.

The lights came on dimly, enough for her first officer to negotiate her way and neatly set the heavily laden silver tray on the sparsely populated desktop. Lahn propped herself on her elbows as the light graduated itself to full brightness. Biscuits and Tea. Her last breakfast aboard the Sonja Hull. She stretched, and rolled herself to a sitting position, running her fingers through her hair to get her bangs into a semblance of order.


First Officer Maria Bellam didn’t look up from pouring the tea into a delicate cup as she rattled off her report crisply. “Systems are nominal. Thirteen cargo ships scheduled out of system last shift. The freighter Telois had impulse engine trouble, fixed by engineering. Communications picked up chatter between the freighter Axis Align and the system boat Justicar betting on tomorrow's Velocity match.” She added a small bit of lemon juice to the syrupy brown tea. “I believe Ensign Lars finally managed to beat Lt. Sorrenson in chess. Avery and Daria may have gotten back together after their fight last week. Lt Shara and her husband has a baby girl. Almost 4 kilos. My orchid’s bloom is progressing nicely and will be in full bloom in four days.”

Captain Lahn took the teacup and saucer in one hand, a biscuit in another. Another busy shift in System Defense.” Had Lahn her own way, she’d have replicated her own breakfast, but that would have offended the ships chef and broken nearly decades of protocol in the Trill Defense Force. Replicators were for emergencies, and there were *never* emergencies in the Trill Defense Force. Captain Lahn could, at least flaunt tradition and serve herself. However, Lahn had made sure in the little over a year on the Sonja Hull that these indiscretions were a matter of informality and not impatience. especially since, as per yet another tradition, her First Officer was also her bodyguard, dedicated to preserving Lahn’s life with her own.

“A baby girl? Please convey my congratulations, Ms Bellam. “And invite Ensign Lars for a game of chess. I want to see how much his game has improved.”

“Yes, Captain.”

She sipped her tea, watching as the ship came about, brightening the viewport with the dayside of the emerald and azure ball of Trill, streaked with white clouds, asking “Which orchid?”

“The Blue Aryais, Captain. Her first officer said and smiled primly a pleasant action that accentuated the fine laugh lines around her eyes and making her seem far more serene and harmless than she was.

“I would appreciate a holo, if you can.” Captain Lahn said, using the request to remind the Commander that Lahn *wouldn’t* be there for the blooming, but instead back on Earth Spacedock, being re-integrated back into Starfleet.

Her first officer said nothing, placidly sipping her own tea and being pointedly engaged in re-arranging the breakfast biscuits. Lahn found herself disappointed that her first officer wouldn’t discuss the transfer with her. The deference unjoined Trill gave to joined Trill was vexing to Lahn -- more so recently, since joining with her latest host, Evlyn Yasal. Yasal’s memories were freshest as well as her style of blunt, direct communication that even mellowed by integration with Lahn, put her at odds with the more gentle sensibilities of the Symbiont Committee.

Yasal's stubborness punched through, tempered by Lahn's years, turning an intemperate phrase into something more polite. “I remember...not this host, but two back..she loved orchids. I regret I won’t see yours bloom.”

*That* provoked a brief look of worry on the normally serene face of her first officer, and sent a corresponding chill through Lahn. The realization something was wrong crept up on her even as her first officer set down her teacup. “Captain, perhaps you haven’t checked your messages...”

Lahn went back her desk, punching buttons on the terminal while her first officer slid silver saucers and bowls out of the way. Her eyes skipped down her messages, until she found one from the transfer committee...she read it quickly, the stream of bureaucratic double and triple speak, which Lahn boiled down into one soft whisper.

“Denied. My transfer has been denied?”
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