Posted by Lieutenant Faye Calloway (Mission Specialist) in 2378- An Incognito Life
“I’m telling you there’s more to it than that,” Megs said, arms folded across her chest as she sat in the pilots chair, though turned to face the rest of the small bridge.
Dirk shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I promised her we wouldn’t ask too many questions and I don’t intend to stomp all over that promise. Everyone here is entitled to a measure of privacy.”
“You said not too many questions, not none at all,” Renn countered. “I’m not saying we make a big deal of it all, but I’m worried. I’m telling you that woman is troubled and we owe it to ourselves as well as her to make sure we’re not ignoring warning signs.”
Jensson shook his head. “You might be right. You probably are.” He leaned forward in his captain’s chair. “But let me make this abundantly clear once and for all: no one on this ship is going to feel safe if they feel attacked from those around them. Abby is full of secrets. She doesn’t even try to hide that. If she wants to talk about it, fine, happy to lend her my ear. If something comes up and that forces some disclosure on her part, so be it, we will deal with it then. But you will NOT push her, am I very clear?” he said firmly.
Megs gave a nod. “Loud and clear,” she said quietly before turning back to her console.
Renn just gazed at Dirk for several long moment, making the captain of the Kodiak quirk his brows in a question. “You’re the captain,” Renn said at last. A concession but certainly not an agreement.
A few weeks passed and ‘Abby’ had completed her first and second runs, and had earned her promised extra pay by doing security for the Kodiak as well. Mostly she just went and improved some of their systems and made sure the cargo was always protected. But her pride and joy became the rather lucrative deal she had made that allowed them to upgrade their sensors. That alone was going to make the next several jobs safer since they were headed to and from Tortuga from some dangerous routes and Jensson wanted to do what they could to avoid any issues. With that bit of leeway, Faye was able to negotiate a good deal. Part of it included her doing similar improvements to the part seller’s ship, but that was easily done.
But as they moved along at warp to their next pickup destination, Faye had begun to withdraw, working long hours alone and avoiding spending time with the others. She still cooked, but the rest of the crew regularly found it stored away, ready to be easily reheated. They tried to give her space, like Dirk had insisted, but clearly something had shifted.
A few days later they came to a small outpost to pick up some pre-arranged supplies. They disembarked, glad for a change of scenery, but it was quickly clear that ‘Abby’ was not in a good mood. So much so that she found herself in an argument with a merchant and Renn had to intervene before things came to blows.
Dirk muttered something under his breath, and went to say something to Abby as she stalked away, but Renn stepped before him. “I’ll deal with it,” he said in a low voice.
The captain eyed his first officer with surprise. “I’m the captain. She’s a member of my crew.”
Renn’s expression softened. “That is true. But she’s not Rochelle, Dirk. You can’t save her…” The captain was speechless. Seeing that his remark landed true, Renn simply turned and hurried to catch up with the exasperating Miss Blair.
He none too gently dragged her by the arm back to the Kodiak, despite her protests. But as soon they were safely back on board, he let her go. It took all of her willpower not to throw a punch his way. “Come with me,” Renn said angrily. Despite her inclination, Faye actually listened and stalked behind the first officer as he moved through to the smaller of their two cargo spaces.
In a corner, suspended from a low support beam was a heavy punch bag. Renn spun and faced her, his dark eyes full of rage. He pointed to the bag. “I don’t know what the hell is going on with you, but rather than take it out on the rest of us in the galaxy, you deal with it here, got it?”
The anger immediately evaporated and she dropped her gaze, twisting the toe of her work boot into the deck. She nodded.
Renn sighed and reached out and gently lifted her chin with his fingers, shaking his head. “Abby… I don’t have to be empathic to know you’re going through something. But this is a small ship. What you do affects everyone here and vice versa. I’m the first officer and it’s my job to look out for the ship and crew, and even when the Captain had insisted we let you be, I can’t do that. He’s too biased in this case.”
She cast her gaze to the side, though she didn’t fight to move her head.
“Are you in some sort of trouble? With the law or anything like that?” Renn asked, wanting to at least settle this one question once and for all. Faye shook her head. “Is whatever this about going to pose a danger to the ship?” Well that was a question and she looked back at him and shook her head, though she didn’t feel entirely confident in that response. Renn, of course, knew that. Meeting her gaze, Renn sighed. “You have your secrets, and that’s fair. But right now those secrets are hurting you and others. Dirk is a good man, Abagail. He cares about his crew and he deserves to know if something you’re hiding is going to pose a problem for the ship. We all do.”
Faye just stood there, feeling on the verge of tears. Which was strange. She couldn’t remember the last time she had actually cried. Was it that long ago? It had to have been at least after Cameron was gone. It seemed silly perhaps, but she had quickly learned there was no room for tears. They wouldn’t help her. And now? Now it was taking everything she had to keep herself together. Clearly it wasn’t enough.
“Abbs…” Renn said in a whisper. “Talk to me. Talk to anyone. Just… say something.”
The cargo bay was silent for several moments except for the sound of their breathing. Finally, she inhaled sharply and chewed on her lip. “It’s the anniversary.” But that was as far as she could go.
Faye shook her head. It was too much. Besides, she had done well since she had gone it on her own to keep the promise to her father and she wasn’t going to break it now. “People… died. A lot of them. Including my father.” There was grief deep inside her but it felt untouchable.
Renn gestured for her to follow him as he slid against the wall and sat on the deck. Faye joined him, bending her knees against her chest and with her arms wrapped around. Renn rested his arm across her shoulder and pulled her in, letting Faye rest against his side.
That sat like that for some time until Renn finally broke the silence. “Okay, so new rule. You can have your bad days all you want. But you give me a heads up when you do. Then, I can tell the others to give you space. Does that sound reasonable?”
“Megs says you don’t sleep much. That can be okay in stints, but over long hauls it’s no good. I’m going to have her do a proper physical for you. It’s not a request.”
Since it wasn’t a request, Faye didn’t feel the need to say anything, but Renn nudged her and she sighed. “Understood.”
Sensing that things were on a more even footing, Renn patted her knee and pushed himself to his feet.
But something was pricking on her mind and she was trying to understand it. “You said Jensson is biased when it comes to me. What does that mean?”
Renn looked down at him with a sad expression. “You remind him of his daughter, Rochelle. She got into trouble and died far too young.”
“Yeah,” Renn said with emphasis. “So when you’re going off being reckless and stupid, perhaps try to do the kindest thing for Dirk and refrain. You’ll save us all a lot of grief.”
Faye swallowed and nodded. “Duly noted,” she said softly.
Renn considered her for a moment. “I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you that life is short, Abby. Don’t make the same mistake a lot of us have.”
She wanted to ask him more, make him explain, but Renn turned and walked away, leaving her sitting on the cargo bay floor.
[To Be Continued…]
~Faye Calloway AKA Abagail Blair, Wanderer
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