Kiri Drehl simply shook her head in in exasperation. She'd been Chief Engineer of the U.S.S. Archon for several years now, and was constantly amazed at how stubborn the Captain could continue to be.
Kiri was small for a Bolian female. At 1.5 meters, and with dainty features, she appeared to be more of a delicately sculpted figurine at times. That was typically when she would speak, and remove any semblance of an illusion of delicacy.
She stared at the gangly legs, and the brush of his tail that were sticking out from underneath the tactical console. She leaned against the bulkhead casually and tapped her communicator.
"Sir, do you think you're finished doing my job yet? Or are we going to play 'Fry The Kitty' a little while longer?"
Kiri's comm erupted in a growl of half humored, half irritated statements. "Ha. Aha. Oh... my sides... hurt from laughing. Not. It's just about ready, go ahead and cycle the power through the panel once more, I think it's done.
Kiri knew how this was likely to end, flipping the power and watching the Captains feet. One second, two seconds, three sec... a loud snap and buzzing came from behind the wall mounted console. Rhax's feet and tail flailed wildly. Again. She could hear him screaming "SHUT IT OFF!! SHUT! IT! OFF!" and she did so obligingly, but not without a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Rhax half crawled, half flung himself out from under the console and regained his feet nimbly. He was nearly half a meter taller than Kiri, but she noticed he had a habit of somehow bringing himself down to her level whenever they were speaking. She had always respected him for that, and only now became conscious of it.
The black fringe of his tail contrasted against his white fur starkly. He noticed Kiri staring at the tip of his tail and he simply stood gawking at her.
"... What?" he stated with a growl of irritation.
Kiri giggled without thinking. "Nothing.. I was... I just wanted to see if there was any smoke coming from your tail this time."
"No." He denied flatly. "I think most of it was coming from my face, this time."
Kiri's demeanor became serious all of a sudden. "Look, Captain I get that you want to have a full grip on EVERY system in your ship... and that you are frustrated when you can't resolve issues yourself. But that is why I'm here in the first place..."
"And you shouldn't be... you should be on Argo, attempting however lamely, to follow my orders and take advantage of the little..."
"Yeah, yeah..." she mocked. "...advantage of the little shore leave we're going to have because we could all be flying into the face of the Klingon Armada any moment now..."
Rhax simply looked at her with his "annoyed" face.
Kiri moved up to face off against his... well his chest, and she backhanded his abdomen. As he doubled over with an overly enunciated "OOF" sound she smirked at him.
"We had major overhauls of virtually every system in this ship. You think I am just going to bail without finishing up the system diagnostics and the power cycle trials? You dream... oh how you dream."
Rhax made an overly pronounced Edwardian style bow to Kiri.
"Ah beg your pardon, Ma'am!" Whenever he exaggerated his drawl, she would squint at him and stick her tongue out.
Rhax's grin fell off shortly after this. "All joking aside Kiri... I hate feeling like I have nothing to do. The wait is just making me nuts."
Kiri nodded, understanding his dilemma. He was a hands on Captain in every sense. He felt the burden of his responsibility very keenly and hated when he couldn't contribute usefully even in some of the smallest of issues. While she respected him for caring as much as he did, she also wondered if that was going to come around and bite him hard one day.
"You need..." she retorted "...to go find a holodeck and distract yourself with some down time of your own. I have my own ways of destressing... one of which is fixing the stuff you go around breaking."
"Seriously Rhax, didn't you say you were eager to try the airboat sim in the Everglades?"
While Miami was still a fairly populous area, Rhax was likely one of the only Caitians raised there from the time he was a yearling cub. His adoptive parents had tried to help him adjust the best they could... but he always felt like an outsider, regardless. So Rhax learned very early on to lose himself in solitary pursuits. Hunting small animals in the woods, fishing, tracking animals in the Everglades, surfing (he'd been tormented about his hatred of the water as a cub, so he forced himself to learn to enjoy it on his terms), sailing, airboats... if it was a physical activity, and involved him challenging himself in some fashion... he could usually be found doing it.
Rhax looked at Kiri pensively "Yeah I suppose I should. I won't have the luxury of holodeck time once the ship fills back up and we're on the 'hunt'."
As outwardly cool as Rhax treated the upcoming actions for Mercury Squadron, inside he was nervous. He knew the likelihood of coming out of things unscathed was, at best, an extremely slim chance. He had faith in his own abilities, and in his crews... but this was a lot of area to cover... and given the scope of the operations and how they were to proceed, he knew the pertinent approach was to be realistic about it.
"Alright, Commander. I will take your advice."
"That's not advice, Mister Captain, Sir..." she smirked at him again "That... is an order."
Rhax chuckled throatily as he walked himself into the turbolift, his tail twitching casually behind him "Well then I better get to it before you have a fit and turn bright orange or something unbecoming a Bolian."
As the turbolift door closed, Rhax and Kiri both stood where they were for a moment, perfectly still... all humor drained from them in a stark display of trepidation. They both knew instinctively that the banter was a deliberate distraction... and that facing the silence of reality alone, the thoughts of what was to come hovered out in the mist of the unknown. Waiting. Watching.