Mira slipped onto the bridge and quickly glanced around. She never knew what she was supposed to do when she was on the bridge, neither a pilot or anyone’s commanding officer in her own mind, so she tried to avoid being there. But this was the best place to start looking for Operations Chief Yoshino.
Klevetati Yoshino was indeed there, at her Ops console, uncharacteristically slouching in the deep chair. The Captain’s meeting hadn’t lasted long, and Yoshino had promptly handed charge of the bridge back to Morgan, now that the First Officer had emerged from the conference room. She was now simply waiting out the minutes for her shift to end, hoping that once off the bridge she could find a way to shake off the discontent.
It was with some surprise, then, that she saw Doctor Trassano approaching, a broad grin lighting up her face. “Hello, Yoshino. I have a problem I would like your help with. If you have the time, of course.”
Yoshino straightened in her seat and summoned up a smile. “What’s the problem, Doctor?”
Mira leaned in close and whispered. “I want to plan a Mixing for the ship, but I’m not clear on some of the arrangements.” More loudly, she said, “We can work on this in my quarters when you have a free moment.”
Yoshino’s eyes narrowed for several seconds. Once she finally deciphered the Centauri’s idiom, she smiled with only slightly more ease. “Oh, I understand. A mixer. Certainly.” She beckoned to her assistant who was at the main communication bank. “Darion, can you take over for the rest of my shift? Doctor Trassano needs my help.” She stood up to let the Minbari slide into her seat. “All yours, Doctor.”
Mira beamed at Darion, clearly pleased by his willingness to help, then headed for the lift doors so quickly Yoshino had to trot to keep up. Before she could ask any questions, they were in the lift and ascending toward Mira’s quarters.
The doctor began speaking almost at once. “I’ve already spoken with the quartermaster. He says that we can have as much food as we like. No alcohol, though, because we are now a ‘dry’ ship.”
“That makes sense.” Yoshino paused a moment. “Doctor, I think we should also find Chief Darquin and ask him to help us.”
“Do you think so? Is he clever at this party-planning business? I wonder where he is….”
The lift stopped at their floor and slid open, revealing Security Chief Darquin looking up from his patient contemplation on the other side. Mira grinned brightly. “Wonderful! The Gods are smiling on us! We were just looking for you!”
Beside her, Yoshino simply bowed, offering a shy smile.
“Hey, small universe,” Darquin said, smiling back. “Nice to see you guys after so long. So what’s up?”
Mira grabbed Yoshino and a bemused Darquin by the wrist and pulled them down the corridor, only letting them go to open the door to her quarters. She ushered them into a room crowded by masses of pillows and cushions, and a jungle of live plants scattered throughout. Mira sat on a couch and said, “I’m planning a ‘mixer’ for the ship. I think I need some advice, though.”
Darquin’s amusement rushed out of his face. He set himself down in the closest chair he could find, an overstuffed chair coated in gold fabric. “A mixer? The karma on the ship doesn’t strike me as all that hot when it comes to parties.”
“That’s why I thought we should bring you in on this,” Yoshino said. “You would want to know.”
Darquin nodded, trying to smile. “I appreciate it, believe me.”
Mira settled into her couch, but looked with concern to the security chief. “Do you think we shouldn’t, Mr. Darquin? You think it might be bad luck?”
“Well, maybe not literally.” Letting himself sink, he did his best to disappear into the cushions of his chair. “I was just thinking about the sword business and, y’know, what happened when we went into Vorlon space. It’s not like we’re actually cursed or anything, I mean.”
“Bad luck is nothing to discount.”
“Well, okay.” He sighed to himself, then nodded. “But you’re right. We could use an icebreaker around here. There’s still enough tension onboard to crack the ship like an egg.”
Mira frowned. “Perhaps this will be more of an opportunity for the crew to exchange stories. Not exactly a party.”
“As long as I can get my people set up, we could probably handle both.”
“We are also a dry ship now … you’ve probably already noticed in the refit we did away with the bar,” Yoshino added quietly. “That should help matters.”
There was no mistaking the sigh of relief in Darquin’s voice. “I can’t tell you how happy I am about that, believe me.”
“Yes,” Mira said, nodding. “Perhaps we can keep the mood light-hearted and childlike.” She suddenly grinned as an idea struck. “Did Human schoolchildren have to write those horrible essays that began with ‘I spent my vacation doing…’?”
Darquin grinned widely. “Most of us, I think. Even us grown-ups, except now they’re called debriefings.”
Mira laughed. “Then that is how our announcement should appear. Like a school essay assignment!” She pulled her terminal over to her and began sketching out an invitation. “We shall have a buffet of childhood delights from Minbar and Earth. On my vacation, I discovered the most wonderful Human treat!”
His ears perked up at her last remark, then turned to Yoshino as they watched Mira work. “And me without any crayons.”
“No, it wasn’t called crayons,” Mira said without looking up.
Yoshino giggled despite herself, quickly lifting a hand to conceal her mouth. Darquin simply shrugged, the amused atmosphere of his usual presence rolling in like a welcome change in weather.
“The server told me it was called a ‘chocolate chip cookie’ and that they were a favorite with the children.”
Darquin brightened. “Sounds like royal faces to me! That’ll go over with just about everyone.”
“It would with me, certainly,” Yoshino said, trying to remember the last time she’d actually had a chocolate chip cookie. “Let me see — I didn’t have a vacation, but I rebuilt a ship and learned to fly — which reminds me of something else.”
“This reminds you of what?” Mira prompted.
Yoshino smiled at Darquin. “That I needed to ask you a personal favor, actually. Even as I thank you for the last one.”
Smiling back, he said, “I’m glad the joss sticks are working out. So whatcha need?”
“As we have free time — and I know there may not be much for a while — I’d be very grateful for some help in learning to fly the Thunderbolts.”
“Sure, gimme an excuse. I’ll try to pass on a few tips… but none of my bad habits.” He grinned wickedly.
Glancing up from her work now and then, Mira made a face. “Shuttles are bad enough for me. I have perfectly horrible times when I try to fly shuttles.”
Yoshino turned back toward Mira. “So, Doctor … you’ve already set things up with the quartermaster … what more do we need to do?”
The doctor grinned at Yoshino. “All you need to do now is come to the party. You might want to wear your new dress,” she added with a wink.
Yoshino said nothing, only blushed a brilliant crimson through her colorless cheeks. Darquin looked away, trying to hide a guilty smile and maybe a blush of his own.
Soon, the message began appearing on comm terminals across the ship:
To: Phoenix Crew From: Dr. Mira Trassano Subject: "What did YOU do on your shore leave?" Come and find what everyone else did! Come to the Galley at 1930 tonight and reminisce with your ship-mates. Childhood delights from Minbar and Earth will be served ... including chocolate chip cookies, so don't miss out!
(c) 1999 Mona Hinds, Jamie Lawson, and Joe R. Medina. All rights reserved.