The Only Thing Left Was Hope
Location: Sickbay/Counselor's Office
Lieutenant-Commander Mindo strolled, or rather hovered, through the corridor leading to the Pandora's large sickbay. He had two reports to collect. One from Lieutenant Aeryn Jameson, the acting Chief Medical Officer, who would be found treating patients in the main part of the division, and the other from the ship's able Counselor, Lieutenant Krysia Kaleri-Smith.
It had been two long weeks since the diminutive Engineer was temporarily promoted to XO after Commander Nash was seriously injured during a huge fight that took a big toll on the ship and the entire crew. Mindo wasn't alone in feeling the aftereffects of their gauntlet run through the Iconnu Expanse. It seemed like after reaching Federation territory things would let up a little. But the incidents in the Expanse, including the actions of an unstable Admiral, had finally caught up with Starfleet, and now they had a lot to answer for.
Mindo entered sickbay and gave a tired but genuine smile to Lieutenant Jameson.
"Good morning, Doc," he said, addressing the pretty, auburn-haired Medical officer. Jameson was a licensed nurse practitioner, not an actual doctor, but she had earned the respect and trust of the entire crew as Chief of Medicine. Mindo had found her empathic abilities as a half-Betazoid to be beneficial to every patient she treated. Mindo addressing her in such an informal way was far against regulations for an XO, but Mindo had never been fond of military protocol with someone you've been close to. The two had had a brief affair about a year ago, and had stayed good friends ever since.
Aeryn was enjoying Sickbay being quiet, she’d been kept on her toes of late with the trip through the expanse. As Mindo had entered Sickbay Aeryn smiled warmly, “Good Morning, Commander.”
"How are things here in sickbay? Everything going smoothly?" Mindo asked, surveying the near-empty sickbay.
“So far so quiet” Aeryn smiled as she motioned around Sickbay. “No change with Owen I’m afraid, to be honest I’m glad we’re heading to Earth Starfleet Medical can help Owen more than I can.”
Mindo nodded. "At least you've got the means to keep him stable." He looked back at Aeryn and crossed his arms, taking a more laid back stance. "How have you been doing?"
“Me?” Aeryn offered a shrug of her shoulders. “I’m okay, I spend all day here and all night alone in my quarters, same day in and day out.” She sighed. “I’ll admit it’s a lonely existence.”
"Yeah," Mindo replied. "I've heard the same thing from Chief Zo... maybe things will get better when we get to Earth and see old friends."
Aeryn shook her head. “It’s not like I have anyone there to see either.” She sighed. “Sorry I’m just wallowing in feeling sorry for myself. So, I’m guessing you’re here for my latest report?”
"Yes," Mindo said, looking down at his PADD. "In your last report, you mentioned one of the circulatory treatment scanners still wasn't working. I know Chief Zo is qualified for medical maintenance, but he was occupied with an unexpected shuttle malfunction yesterday. Was he able to follow up with you?"
Aeryn paused to think. “Actually ...” she looked towards one of the nurses who shook her head. “It looks like the Chief hasn’t had chance to get to us yet. I’d appreciate it if you could remind him? We obviously don’t have any need for it right now, but i’d rather it be done so we’ve got it should it be required.”
Mindo smiled. "Well Lieutenant, since you're the department head it stands to reason you are the person most qualified to remind the Chief. I'm just making sure things like that get done without incident. If he continues to forget, let me know." He leaned forward and spoke quietly. "Truth is, I'm trying not to micro-manage him. He'll take it way better if it comes from you. I happen to know he likes red-heads."
Aeryn smiled. "Okay I'll send him a reminder when we're finished here."
"Is there anything else I need to be aware of from sickbay?" Mindo asked, back at regular volume.
"Not at present Sir" Aeryn smiled warmly, "If I think of anything I'll be sure to let you know."
"Excellent," Mindo said with a nod. He left sickbay and hovered through the corridor to the Counselor's office, not too far away. He checked his chronometer to make sure he wouldn't be interrupting a session and saw that he was running right on time. He hit the chime.
Krysia was just putting away some PADDs when the chime rang. “Come in” She smiled as she looked towards the door.
"Hello Counselor," Mindo said as he came inside and waited a few seconds for the door to close. He then hovered over to the couch and deactivated the hover, dropping down to the center of the couch and closing his eyes. "I know you can't tell me, but I assume Commander Nash was in here every day with this job the way I am. Somehow I'm more stressed in this job than I was in Engineering."
Krysia offered a warmer smile. “To be honest Owen is a very private man, he’s not one for being in the Counsellor’s office every two minutes, he prefers to stew instead!” She grinned. “It’s not surprising you’re finding the job stressful though, just be reassured that you’re doing a wonderful job. Owen would be proud of how you’re handling being First Officer.”
"I don't envy Owen," Mindo said. "In fact, I think I appreciate him more. I really miss him. He and I have been through a lot. I kind of think of him as a best friend."
“Wow” Krysia looked surprised. “Owen has really made an impression on you hasn’t he?” She smiled. “Honestly though, you’ve had trust issues in the past so to call anyone your best friend is quite a large step. How are you managing with your issues where being Exec is concerned?”
Mindo smiled. It was a good question, one he hadn't considered. "Well I use my hovering more. I've grown more self conscious of my height. A Chief Engineer is like a ship's handyman. No one seems to mind a handyman half their size, but in a position of real authority I feel like my orders are taken less seriously when people have to look down to see the person giving them. The XO's chair is taken somewhat less seriously when the person in it is dwarfed by the chair itself. What do you think, Counselor? Am I being too paranoid about it?"
Krysia shook her head. “You are not being paranoid Mindo, you raise very valid points. The one thing you haven’t considered is that as part of Starfleet it’s not your race, gender or size that matters, it’s the rank you wear and the respect you have earned. No one on this ship looks down on you, if they do then they need reminding who it is that they’re looking down on! You have earned your position, be proud of it.”
Mindo broke out into laughter. "You just told the smallest officer on this ship that no one looks down on them, and you said it with a straight face! That's why you're a great Counselor!"
“I did didn’t I?” Krysia smiled warmly. “There was no pun intended, As for the chair I’d suggest having a replacement fitted until such time as Owen is fit enough to resume his duties.”
"That's not a bad idea," Mindo said. "It's hard enough fitting in his shoes. I should at least be able to fit in the chair."
Krys nodded. “I have faith in you Mindo, I know you’ll keep my family safe. I originally joined the Pandora to be close to Owen even though he didn’t know who I was at the time, but the Pandora has become my home and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
Mindo smiled. "Y'know, I had it going fairly well on my previous ship, the Tornado. Friends, a lover, good rapport with those in my division... I thought when I came here it'd be so hard to start over. Different people, different ship. I'm not always accepted so easily in new surroundings. I've grown up with trust issues my whole life. But being here for so long has been an experience that I never thought I'd have, with a group of people who don't judge me by my size or habits, and a Captain who genuinely cares for all of us; whose leadership binds us all together. I had a few professors at the Academy, former Captains, who never took me seriously. One even told me I would never fit in on a ship, or Starfleet in general. "A midget on a hoverboard" I think he said. I just assumed such pious behavior was necessary for command. But Captain Temple isn't like that. He loves his crew, and I don't think there's a single crew member who would turn their back on him. I think Section 31 should pay for their crimes, and if it means we end up in some other fleet, so be it."
Krysia nodded in agreement. “After wha they did to Shae, Cailus and their kids I fully agree! I don’t know how organisations like that can get away it, my world has it’s various organisations but they’re all out in the open. They’re purposely out in the open to keep criminals in order and dissuade anyone else from considering criminal behaviour. Punishments on Drax are severe.”
Mindo nodded, thinking of his own home world. "There isn't a lot of crime on Fesaria. It might be because of all the sex we have. We use sex to resolve lots of things. I think that's why our punishments are so harsh. If you are a violent offender, you're exiled from the planet. Psychosis is virtually nonexistent on my planet, so it is rare when one is exiled. Our biggest battles are political. Things like class warfare. Family lines and social status are hugely important. If you grow up an orphan, or are orphaned at a young age, life on Fesaria is very difficult."
“It sounds very hard” Krysia offered an understanding smile. “Well you have a home here Mindo, all we have is each other aboard this ship.”
"Very true," Mindo said. "Thank you, Counselor."