Resupply and Refit
Location: USS Independence
Valentina Ferrón came to the conclusion of her exercise routine at the barre. It had been difficult to maintain her training regime after she entered Star Fleet especially when she was in the enlisted ranks. Physical trainers and petty officers had put greater emphasis on endurance and upper body strength than on the flexibility and core control that her ballet routine afforded. Commander Hellion had indulged her passion when she became his command yeoman and had offered this dedicated space for mirrors and a barre in the Independence’s gymnasium as enticement for her to join him when he took command. It had taken time and effort to regain the dancer’s limberness and muscle tone she had developed as a child. Getting her feet accustomed to the point shoes again had been the most difficult.
The discipline required for ballet was complemented by the logic training that she had studied in college and during her officer training. By focusing on the exercises, the precise body movements, her brain cleared of distractions and she found it much easier to concentrate on the problem at hand. She would frequently perform an unscheduled ballet routine in the middle of preparing mission profiles to aid in organizing her thoughts, making the mission profiles much more concise and focused as a result.
It was late at night and no one else was in the gymnasium so she did not feel conscious of the eyes of others on her in her leotard and thighs. As she toweled the light sheen of sweat from her face, shoulder and arms, her mind opened itself to other thoughts. She had seen Lieutenant O’Connell departing with the science office, Ensign Devroe earlier. She wasn’t jealous, after all she had been the one to rebuff the Lieutenant’s romantic advances but his response had been predictable and, in her experience, entirely typical. Faced with a woman of intelligence and ambition, he had retreated to seek someone who was less threatening. So much for friendship.
As she was walking along the corridor to the turbo lift, she passed the entrance to one of the smaller holodecks as Lieutenant Lance was exiting. He was dressed in a curiously hooded long coat over a white linen shirt open at the neck, tight breeches, and tall boots that almost came up to his knee. He had evidently had a strenuous workout himself as the shirt was soaked through and clung to his muscular torso.
His expression was one of surprise, as apparently he did not expect to encounter anyone else. Valentina observed him closely and did not fail to notice his expression change to one of primal desire as he looked her up and down. “Good Evening, Lieutenant,” Valentina said as she subtly draped her towel around neck and held the ends such her breasts were covered to a greater degree.
Her movement and subtle emphasis on his rank seemed to pull the Chief Tactical Officer back to a more civilized frame of mind. Valentina thought she caught a hint of embarrassment as he turned to the control panel for the holodeck and begin pressing buttons as he replied, “Good Evening, Ensign”. Valentina wasn’t surprised that he knew her rank despite her lack of insignia. Few men forgot her once they had met.
The discomfort of the situation engaged a natural flight response but logic encouraged her to stand her ground rather than give a predator a chance to attack her from behind. She watched Lieutenant Lance carefully, prepared to defend herself if her strategic assessment of the Chief Tactical Officer turned out to be incorrect.
“What is your assessment of the news out of the Sol System?” he asked, breaking the silence as he finished with the control panel and turned back to Valentia. His face was placid but he avoided prolonged eye contact.
“Troubling,” she replied. He started walking towards turbo lift and she fell into step with him. Logic argued that she needed to keep his mind focused on this other topic rather than the embarrassment of the chance meeting. “The initial environmental reports are that the fires will burn for fifty years.”
Lieutenant Lance grunted his acknowledgement before saying, “The first reports are usually wrong. It could be much worse.”
“Yes, sir,” Valentina replied, “How did Lieutenant Maida take the news?”
“About as well as could be expected,” Lieutenant Lance responded, “I don’t think that the full impact has hit her yet.”
At the turbo lift, Valentina suggested, “You can take the first lift, sir.”
“No need,” Lieutenant Lance pointed to the ladder between the decks, “I’ll walk back.”
“Ten decks and half the length of the ship?” Valentina asked incredulously.
Lieutenant Lance shrugged, “I can use the cool down.”
The doors to the turbo lift opened and Valentina stepped in. Kevin started climbing the ladder as he called out, “Good night, Ensign”.
“Good night, sir,” Valentina replied. Once the doors closed, she relaxed for the first time since the Chief Tactical Officer exited the holodeck. “That was close,” she thought, then aloud, “Deck 6, J.O. quarters”