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Family Ties

Posted on Wed May 31st, 2017 @ 10:19pm by Captain Liarra Von & Lieutenant Erin Whitlam PhD

Mission: Shadows and Whispers
Location: Promenade

Erin was immersed in her data analysis chores and had already snoozed several insistent reminders that tugged in vain at her attention. Although the data from the Mnekora Nebula was far from thrilling, even seemingly mundane data could sometimes yield astounding discoveries. What she first thought was a recording error had turned out to be a genuine spike in gamma radiation upon closer inspection.

"Where are you coming from?" she murmured to the unhearing data on her terminal before she delved in deeper.

That was two hours ago and she should have finished this data packet an hour ago, but she was still hunting those gamma rays. It was 18:05hrs and she was late, though she didn't realise it until another reminder chirped away insistently. She slowly turned to the PADD on the benchtop next to her and casually tapped the snooze control. As she turned back to her data, the realisation struck home.

What was that reminder for? she looked down at the PADD, which was now blank, then up to the chronometer on the bulkhead and saw the time. "Dammit!" she cursed and rushed out the door.

Elliot Drake was not used to having to wait. He was especially not used to having to wait on a newly minted Lieutenant Junior Grade. And yet here he was, sitting alone at a cafe on one of this station's many promenade decks, waiting for such a person. On one hand, he should have been incensed that such a young officer was making a starship captain wait. But then this wasn't the first time that he had had to wait on Erin Whitlam. He knew how the young girl, well, young woman he supposed, could get distracted by her work. He smiled a little at the thought. She really wasn't all that different from her father, even after all of these years.

Captain Drake finished off the last of his third cup of Raktajino, which a Klingon colleague of his had recommended some time ago. He put aside the PADD he was reading, and was just about to call it when he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"I'm so sorry I'm late, Uncle Elliot!" Erin said as she weaved through the tiny cafe tables to the one where the solitary Starfleet captain sat patiently waiting. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek, genuinely happy to see him after she couldn't remember how long. "Feels like years since I've seen you," she said, smiling as she took her seat.

"Well, I did want to get to your graduation, but I got tied up a bit in the Tychus sector." Elliot gave her a warm smile. "I have to say, you look like you were born for that uniform. Your father would have been proud. So, tell me. How do you like serving on the station so far?"

She smiled and looked down at the tabletop briefly at the mention of her father. She was used to hearing people say how proud her father would be of her, but somehow, every time she heard it from Drake, who knew her father better than almost anybody in the galaxy other than her mother, it really meant something. Smiling, she switched gears and focused on the question he put to her. "Oh," she shook her head and sighed. "They do things differently to what I'm used to, that's for sure. I'm banging my head hard against bureaucracy already!"

"Well, you'll have a little bit of bureaucracy to deal with wherever you go. But a station is like a city. It's going to be tough for everyone to be as close knit as they are on a starship. You're going to have to send stuff up the chain of command a lot around here, I'm afraid." Elliot gave her a smile. "But I'm sure you'll get used to it. Just keep in mind that you're going to get projects coming in from dozens of ships, not just your own. So try not to think of it as a bureaucracy, and instead think of it as lots of opportunities. Do you think you would rather be on a ship, or is it too early to tell?"

Erin let out an exasperated sigh; he was right, of course. That didn't mean she had to like it. "A starship would be great," she said. "Being on a five year mission, that would be really cool. But right now, I think here will be good. I'm just ... adjusting at the moment. But here on this station, it's ... it's the centre of the entire sector! Beyond even! Everything that every ship discovers or learns out here comes back through this station and our labs. That's pretty exciting, alone. Plus there are the garrison ships that can go out and do some of our own research." She paused a moment, then added with a laugh. "I just have to figure out how to live with the bureaucracy."

Elliot grinned. "I think you'll manage. You think the bureaucracy is tough now, just wait until you have your own command someday. Your direct superior is telling you one thing, while the regional commander is telling you something else." He laughed a little out loud, though it was mostly to himself. "But don't worry about that for now. You have a year or two before you have to worry about that."

She chuckled and shook her head. "One day, but I'm probably going to need more than a couple of years to get in that chair," she said with a beaming smile.

"You never know. I say give it a few more years, and I may be taking orders from you."

"I'd have thought you'd had enough orders from Whitlams over the years," she replied with a wry smile. "But when that day does come, I promise, I'll only give you the easy orders."

Elliot chuckled, his grin still ear to ear. "I appreciate that. In my old age, I might not be able to handle the hard ones."

The waiter arrived as they laughed and took their orders. When he'd left, Erin asked, “So, what’s brought you down this neck of the galaxy? A nice, easy cruise I hope.”

"It may end up that way. We have a supply run to an outpost closer to the Gorn border, but we should be away from the fighting. Then it's off towards a new pulsar about fifty light-years passed that. Could be interesting. Could be boring. But we won't know until we get there. That's part of the fun."

"How can a new pulsar ever be boring, Uncle?" Erin shot back instantly with an excited smile. "It sounds fantastic! Play your cards right and they just might name it after you. Drake's Pulsar has a nice ring to it."

Drake chuckled again. "You make a valid point. That is why we're out here, after all. Not so they'll name stars after us, but for the discoveries." Elliot grew quiet for a moment. "You know, the Manoora was supposed to head this way on her maiden voyage. But of course we were pulled away before we ever left spacedock. Who knows how many stars would have been named after your father had circumstances been different. Maybe someday they'll be named after you instead."

Erin smiled and felt a pang of sadness at the thought of her father and the mission he never took. The war took him away from her, but it also took everything away from him before that. He didn't want to be a warrior, but galactic events thrust that tag onto him. Whatever he wanted to be, whatever he could have been, he died a hero. She wished he was still alive. She wished she could play her violin for him again and see him smile and applaud despite his congenital amusia making it impossible for him to appreciate the notes. Every day she missed him.

She took a deep breath, feeling the familiar sting in her eyes, and shook her head. "I'll still name them after him."

Lieutenant JG Erin Whitlam, PhD
Science Officer
Starbase 332

Captain Elliot Drake [P: Von]


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