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Cold Heart.

Posted on Mon May 6th, 2024 @ 1:02am by Lieutenant Faith Hawkins & Ensign Willa Baker

1,315 words; about a 7 minute read

Mission: Fortuna
Location: Main Engineering.
Timeline: After "Adverse Events".

Alpha shift. 08:00 to 16:00. The end was near for another day. A surprisingly normal day. Maybe Britannic was finally behaving itself. Maybe it was her lucky day. Or maybe it was luring Faith into a false sense of security. She’d soon find out. The chief “ship doctor” came to a stop at the barrier surrounding Britannic’s blue, beating heart. Her hands rested on it. A moment for reflection, as Faith looked up. That moment became two, three. She became mesmerised. “Faith?” a pause. “Faith?”

“Sorry.” replied Faith. She accepted the proffered PADD. It was from the hand of Lieutenant Hennessey, one of her few experienced journeymen. They went way back. Along with Gosling, Petrenko, Williams, he and Faith were the last five engineers still alive after Arundel’s near destruction. A huge explosion in engineering killed the rest of them. That Cardassian cruiser was responsible for so many deaths that day. Including Meredith’s father and Faith’s brother-in-law. Faith was glad Jerrod was around. The others too. The quintet were a band of brothers, sisters.

“Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

Faith sighed. “Not again. I fixed that yesterday.” Another power related issue. The intermittent loss of ancillary systems on Deck 12 which Faith investigated, fixed yesterday. Or thought she had. “It’s fine, Jerrod. I’ll go and look at it.”

“You sure? I can take Niamh.” said Jerrod, referring to Williams. “we’ll have it sorted in no time. You’ve done enough these past few days. You look exhausted.”

“I signed it off.” responded Faith. Frustration, fatigue in her voice. “It’s on me.”

“Nonsense. Niamh and I will sort it. You should go and rest, I’ll lead the morning briefing tomorrow. Don’t make me find a doctor to make that an order.”

Jerrod Hennessey was like an older brother. Maybe even her best friend. Faith already had an older brother. Joseph. But she’d never felt close to him. He was his mother’s favourite and she’d always made that crystal clear. Jerrod had taken Faith under his wing from day one. He was a kind, thoughtful man. Faith often wondered why he’d settled for being her deputy again. “Thanks, Jerrod.” replied Faith. She, Jerrod, Niamh, Oleksandr and Maija always used their first names to address the other. That was the level of respect they had for each other.

“You got it.” replied Jerrod, placing his hand on Faith’s shoulder. “Catch you tomorrow.” Taking his leave, he privately worried about Faith. Whatever was bothering her, he would let her tell him when she was ready. After the reaction last time, he knew better than to get Faith to open up. He grabbed his tool case, found Niamh, and set off. While Faith and Niamh had a very similar understanding, close friendship, Jerrod chose not to share his concerns about Faith. It was for Faith to disclose if, when she was ready. No more than a minute had passed, and Faith was again mesmerised by the warp core. To many, an inanimate object formed of many, smaller inanimate objects which powered a starship. To Faith, a beautiful, beating heart. She’d lost herself in this one, Arundel’s many times. The latter’s, not quite as aesthetic, warm. Radiating. But still beautiful in its own way. It was almost a form of meditation. It was the only time she ever got to think with a clear mind.

The familiar voice of Willa Baker conversing with a colleague brought her to again. Faith decided to bury the hatchet, or try to. But how? It wasn’t something she’d done much of. Either her pride got in the way, or the person had been killed in combat before she had a chance. Pulling herself away from the barrier, Faith walked over towards Willa, Ensign Austin. “Ensign Baker, may I borrow you for a minute?”

That voice was one Willa had started to dread. Faith’s tone was unchanged. It wasn't cold, but it lacked warmth. It made her feel like she did after being called to the principal’s office for starting a food fight in high school. Fortunately, Willa’s previous good behaviour meant she only got off with a warning. A stern warning. After a pause, a look at Sophia, Willa turned around. “Okay.” she replied. Faith walked towards her office, Willa followed. The door opened, Faith entered. A hesitant, full of dread Willa followed. The door closed behind them.

“Ensign.” said Faith, not sure how to do this. Her lack of experience in this situation showing through once again. “I appreciate the timing is…overdue. But I wanted to speak to you one on one.” a pause, gesture to sit. “You did well the other day. I don’t think I would have diagnosed that fault as quickly as you did.”

Willa, arms crossed, stood. She wasn’t buying it. “You’re only saying that because Lieutenant Rouen had my back.” she said, perhaps thinking she’d engaged her mouth before her brain. A bad habit.

“Believe it if you wish.” replied Faith. She turned her console on.

“I do. All you did the entire time was make me feel this small.” said Willa, her left thumb and index finger millimetres apart. “You made me feel like a naughty school child. All Lieutenant Rouen tried to do was make conversation. Make me feel valued. What have I actually got to do to, Lieutenant?” another pause. “I do my best, but all you do is put me down. Not just me either. Everyone fresh out of the Academy dreads being on the same shift as you.”

Faith raised her eyebrow. “Asked them, have you?” Underneath, she was seething. The implied accusation was one Faith resented. Although, Willa was probably right. She worked her team hard. Especially those who’d just left the Academy. She simply didn’t believe in mollycoddling. Willa, the rest of her fellow graduates weren’t at the Academy any more. They were in deep space. The real thing where they couldn’t tell a computer to end the simulation and start again. This was where the real learning began.

“Read the room.”

The chief nodded. “Okay.” she said. Hands clasped on the desk. “You want to prove yourself. How about you lead Beta shift for a week? I’ll swap everyone around. That way, everyone who hates working on my shift can work on yours instead. I’m guessing one of them is Ensign Austin, who else?”

Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. “You can’t be serious?” replied Willa.

“You want to prove yourself, don’t you?” asked Faith.

Again, Willa was beginning to feel small. Faith was trying to set her up to fail. Put her in her place in the hierarchy that was Faith Hawkins’ engineering department. “What, by setting me up to fail?” she replied. “No.”

She’d not been like this before. With anyone. Faith felt Willa had questioned her authority, and she didn’t like it. Would she be setting Willa up to fail? Possibly. Willa was good. Very good, in fact. She was a diamond in the rough. A little polishing, and she’d be in Faith’s shoes in a few years. No question. But she wasn’t ready to lead a shift on a Nebula class. Yet. “Well, you asked for the chance to prove yourself. If you don’t like the opportunity…request a transfer.”

“You know something, Faith?” replied Willa, after a pause. Her confidence, assertiveness suddenly growing. Out of nowhere. Standing at her full height. All five feet and four inches. She extended her right arm, pointing her index finger directly at Faith. If this is how things were between her, Faith, she now had nothing to lose.

“You’re a bitch.”


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