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Lt Zola & PO3 Komasch - "You Got More Than You Paid For"

Posted on 2020-12-24 12:23 by Petty Officer 3rd Class Rao Komasch & Lieutenant Zola

Mission: Toys in the Attic
Location: USS Joshua Norton, Mess Hall

Rao entered the mess hall and glanced around tentatively. How much longer, he wondered, would he feel he was not supposed to be there? Out of place.

He ordered a bowl of spiced, boiled grain and beans with a side of balled melon and then looked for a seat among his new colleagues in Engineering.

And then he saw her. Zola, the Ferengi who bumped into him at the wharf – who had recommended him to the Admiral. He grinned and let out a single breath of a chuckle. Had it all been an interview? An audition? One of the first lessons he learned in intelligence was: there was no such thing as a coincidence.

"It seems I've been assigned to join you, sir," he said to her. "Is this seat open?"

Zola looked up and a wide grin full of small sharp teeth greeted Rao. "Fancy seeing you here. I'd dismissed Joel's raving about what you'd done to his computer as him not knowing anything about its internal workings." Zola winked and gestured toward one of the empty seats at the table.

"You really didn't think I'd make it?" Rao laughed and took the seat. "I'm hurt. No faith, no faith at all." He smiled and dug into his meal.

"How is Joel?" he wondered. "Do you think... he would want to stay in touch?"

"He's too lazy to go through the channels needed to reach us on ship, and he doesn't like the idea of some pencil pusher in HQ maybe reading the messages before they get forwarded." Zola rolled her eyes. "I even tried to teach him how to encrypt his message so he'd feel better, even though HQ could just decrypt it anyway but he didn't need to know that– but he's told me he likes you, so he'll happily catch up whenever you're on Earth." Zola took a sip of her thick mint green beverage.

"Right. Right," Rao nodded. He was familiar enough with the difficulty communicating with the outside while assigned to an intelligence vessel. He tried his best not to show his disappointment and resumed the meal. After all, she had said Joel liked him.

A little smile returned.

"Are you enjoying the new ship?" he asked.

"My R & D lab is much improved compared to the last ship. I love the defiant class, don't get me wrong, but it's cozy and harder to make suitable for long term deployment. It's nice to have a purpose built lab now, instead of a retrofitted cargo bay."

"Cozy is a nice way to put it! Cramped is more like it, I'd say." Rao chuckled. "The Gral always somehow seemed bigger on the inside. Starfleet really maximized the working space inside the Intrepid class."

"Bigger on the inside," Zola repeated the phrase with a thoughtful look. "Waterhouse always has a smirk on her lips when she says that phrase. I think I overheard her asking Fen to program the holocloak to look like something called a TARDIS after saying it once." She shrugged. "Defiant class is only cramped for you because you're easily twice my size. But I agree the Intrepid is a good compromise in size vs long term deployment. Defiant wasn't designed for that sort of utility, it was designed to fight the Borg after all — short term heavy combat deployment. As we've seen a lot less Borg in recent years, the defiant class has had to find other utility or face mothball. Intel scooping up a number of them for retrofit and proof of concept on this assignment type–" Zola gestured vaguely around her to indicate the whole ship.

TARDIS, hm? Rao filed that name away to be looked up later. Along with Fen, if they were a holographer.

"Better to reuse than to lose, of course," he said. "And better not to have any Borg to worry about, too."

"Have you finished all the familiarization and diagnostics you wanted to run on your new equipment?" Rao asked.

"I've started cataloging and adjusting the set up to my needs... but even though I did provide the shipyards with my height and reach measurements, they did not adjust the benches and equipment for my small stature. I've been wearing the uniform boots with heels to try to help until I get everything corrected, but it only does so much. I also replicated a step stool." She sighed. "You'd think with the range of stature in the fleet, they'd take more care in ensuring that it's easier for those of us outside the apex of the bell curve to adapt the equipment to our needs."

Rao grinned and nodded as Zola catalogued her height-based woes.

"Well, sir," he said, "until you can manage to get things fully customized to accommodate you, I will be happy to come reach anything on the high shelves for you any time you need it. Being easily twice your size and all."

"Knowing Oswin as I do, I doubt she'll spare you unless you're off duty — and even then she might have you pulling doubles. She runs a tight engineering department." Zola grinned and laughed. "The shakedown with her on the previous ship–" She shook her head. "And that was a refit, this is brand new, straight off the assembly line—I think that's one of the phrases I've heard Waterhouse toss around—so she's going to want to go through everything with a fine tooth– what is it that the hewmons say? Fine tooth cobb?"

"Sift everything through a fine mesh strainer, if you ask me – I still haven't been able to make hide nor hoof of human idioms," Rao lamented. "With as much fun as I've been having on the job here, I don't think I'll mind the double shifts. Though I will be terribly sorry if I'm unavailable to reach things for you."

"I can always ask Oswin to spare you for a shift if I have a difficult time of it, but I've got a replicator pattern for a grabber stick, and I have my little big probes I can program to do tasks that are out of reach for me. So I should be fine."

"It's always nice to be wanted," said Rao. "I'd be happy to help with anything." He laughed. "Though you might be able to program a little big probe to do almost anything else I'm good for, too. If you try hard enough."

"I haven't met a task I can't figure out how to modify the probes for, but sometimes there are easier solutions instead." She shrugged.

"How long until they assign you your very own full-time underling?" Rao asked. It seemed she had the rank for it, after all.

"I have an underling, but Oswin flexed her power as Chief engineer, and pretty much everyone but me in the engineering department is running around on the shake down inspections right now. I'm sure you've been having fun with that, right?" Zola laughed.

"I have, actually!" Rao laughed. "It might be a bit hectic, but being elbows deep in diagnostics for this brand new computer core is practically a dream come true. We'll be ready for whatever they send our way. Where do you think we'll head first?"

Zola shook her head at Rao's enthusiasm, though it didn't surprise her given the conversation she had with Joel after Rao's visit to tinker with his computer.

"Most of our missions have centered around Romulans, though our last one was pointedly not in Romulan space because we had an incident on the mission before that involved one of our away team being potentially exposed. She was extracted in the end, but had to be reassigned outside of intelligence as a result. I think it'll depend on if brass have decided things have cooled down from that where we'll end up."

Fascinating, though not at all Rao's area of expertise – if it could be said he had one. He would have to brush up on Romulan encryption.

"Well done getting her out of there, anyway," he said. "Once we get underway, and everything's settled into a rhythm, I'd be happy to help with whatever I can in your new lab."

"If you can sell Oswin on it, I'm sure I can find something to keep you busy." Zola grinned again.

"I'll have a hard time keeping it from her if it's on my mind." Rao rubbed the side of his head absentmindedly. "But I'll add it to my planner so I don't forget."

"She's usually good about respecting privacy, unless you're thinking too loud." Zola giggled.

Rao smiled back and said, "I don't know that I can think very quietly – leastwise, not at work." He chuckled. "I'm liable to give her a headache with all my silent shouting. But maybe then she wouldn't mind loaning me to you."

"She'll let you know if you're too loud. I haven't known Oswin to hold her tongue much."

Rao's combadge sounded a series of tones.

"Ah. That's the end of my lunchtime. At least, it is according to the time tracking software Ensign – ah, Waterhouse shared with me. The planner I mentioned." Rao nearly tripped over its name change, but he recovered.

"Thank you for chatting with me, sir." He shoveled the last few bites of his spicy bean porridge down his throat. "May I be excused?"

"If I don't excuse you, Oswin will probably have your ass for being back late. Have fun bug hunting." Zola chuckled and grinned at Rao.

"Thank you, sir," Rao smiled. "Enjoy your new lab." He had to live up to expectations. After all, he could only imagine it would not reflect well on Zola if he underperformed.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lieutenant Zola
R&D Officer
USS Joshua Norton

PO3 Rao bem Komasch
Computer and Communications Specialist
USS Joshua Norton

 

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