Caged Birds

Posted on Thu Sep 17th, 2020 @ 9:57pm by Lieutenant Commander Silas Shrike & Commander Gregory Watney

Mission: Episode 1: New Toys to Play With
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1130

Sitting in his ready room, a message popped up on his screen. Lieutenant Commander Silas Shrike's Shuttle Pod is on approach. He stood up from his chair, and rebuttoned his uniform and left the ready room.

Greg walked into the shuttle bay, and stood inside the control room as the shuttle pod landed. The green light to enter came on and the Commander walked into the bay. The bay clunked under his boots as he approached the pod. The side door opened and an older bald man with a beard stepped out. He had on the blue jumpsuit with the teal stripe and the Lieutenant Commander pips on his chest. "Lieutenant Commander Shrike? Nice to see you again." Greg extended his hand to him.

Shrike looked up at the sound of his name. Even after all the paperwork and a boring trip here; even with his demeanor, he couldn't deny what bit of warmth he felt at seeing an old crewmate - now a current crewmate once again. "Commander Watney," he took his hand and gave one firm shake, more like he was sealing a tense business deal than meeting an old friend. He smiled, but it was not a pretty smile. His mouth looked almost like a grimace, like it was unused to making such an expression. His eyes carried the weight of the tone; they glimmered with all the joy you'd expect of such a smile. "Good to see you again, sir." Then he turned his head back towards the shuttle, the smile gone from his mouth but remaining in his eyes.

"You came to greet me in person, eh? I should be honored." Shrike spoke in a dry tone that might or might not have been sarcasm. Truth be told, this situation did amuse him a bit: back when the two worked together on the Washington, Shrike had been of the higher rank. Now here he was, reporting to duty to Greg. Greg had just been an ensign when the two had met. Shrike was not a jealous man; nor was he ambitious, and he viewed this swap of power with nothing but amused curiosity, like a third party observer. He didn't envy Greg his job - but he did want to know whether he had to call him Commander Watney all the time now. Might that get tiring! "I still got stuff in the shuttle I need to unload. You wanted to talk to me first?"

"Well when I requested you as my First Officer, I wasn't just gonna let you get off that shuttle pod without me greeting you." Greg said smiling. "We can get a crewman to get them to your quarters." He nodded to the shuttle bay operator to signal a couple support crewmen to come and get the containers. "Unless you wanted to carry them all the way to your quarters and see them first. We are technically on the same deck as the quarters right now."

"I like the idea of somebody else carrying my containers," Shrike responded with that same half-smile. "Fancy." The man turned towards the support crewman. "Can y'all get the birdcage first? No, the little one, the carrier. Thanks." He turned back towards Greg. "You remember the finches I had back on the Washington? Well I've got their great, great, great... you get the idea... grandchildren here with me now. Don't worry, they'll stay in my quarters." Shrike was unusually cheerful and talkative today. Perhaps it was from seeing an old friend. Or maybe it was just because he had finally gotten a reasonable amount of sleep while the transfer was processing.

"Good. Don't need random animal s flying around crapping on everything." Greg said laughing. "Just keep the smell down. Our quarters are right next to each others. I am sure that the walls are sound proof, so not too worried about that. I will keep my plants quiet for you." He signalled towards the door and the men started moving out of the shuttle bay.

"They're just bird calls," Shrike responded, with an uncharacteristic chuckle. "That's one thing I think people miss, up there on our ships: waking up to bird song. I know I'd miss it." This all felt a bit unearthly to him - metaphorically, as literally would make too much sense: bringing songbirds onto a ship headed off to war. He thought, vaguely, that it was good that he didn't care too much for the birds. Dying on a ship was one thing, but having an innocent, much-loved pet die up there would be something else entirely.

"Aye. I do miss the sounds of nature." Greg said in his strong Australian accent. "But not at 0300." A chuckle came from his bearded face.

Shrike just grunted. A part of him wanted to explain that he could control the bird's perception of morning by changing the lighting of his room, to make them wake up and sing later in the day. But a larger part of him realized that throwing science at a joke was both bad form and, more importantly, extra effort. "You never liked getting woken up early, did you? That's one thing we got in common." The mans smile disappeared into a yawn. "Well, two things now. We both work on the Ceres. So why don't you tell me about her?"

"You got that right." Greg said as he stepped through a door to the main deck. "But now we will both have to be up early at a moments notice if we need to be on the bridge. And the Ceres. She's a bloody beauty." The Australian man said with a smile, "Warp 6, 15 decks, photonic torpedoes, enhanced sensors, experimental shields and quad phase canons. Those Romulan's won't know what hit them."

"So what's the catch?" Shrike asked, looking over towards Greg with both amusement and curiosity. "This ship sounds too good to be true, Commander Watney." He couldn't help but add emphasis to the man's title. It still felt strange to Shrike: calling him that. He didn't mention the war, or the Romulans. Sure, he was concerned. But he was also a touch bitter - he'd been asking about such improvements for years for research and exploration. Maybe humans really were so violent, if it was combat that drove them to put out beautiful ships like the Ceres.

"Well, the shields overload the power grid if we get hit to much or we use them for too long. So we will have to rely on hull plating unless we really need it. The quad phase canons... well... kind of the same thing. Though we can use them longer without much power loss. The sensors work beautifully. I designed, and was in charge of the programming. The bloody Vulcan's wouldn't help with the shields. The Andorian design is what we went with. Still to powerful for the EPS grid." Greg shrugged, "Just don't wanna power outage."

"Hmph." Shrike grunted, processing what Greg had said. This was a lot of fancy machinery on a ship, headed off to war under the command of somebody who hadn't run a ship before. Sure, Shrike had faith in Greg; but he wasn't so sure that everyone shared that faith. Always the cynic, Shrike wondered what exactly Starfleet expected out of this ship. He was a scientist, not a fighter. "Is anyone else from the Washington here?" He asked as followed Greg.

"A couple NCOs, but I think they were after our time." Greg said, "So. What did you want to see first?"

"Honestly? Mind if I see my quarters?" Shrike didn't care too much about seeming interested in some parts of the ship. Sure, he was fascinated, but that was a given, so why work on showing it? "Not trying to turn this into a boring walk, but it is where I'm going to be spending a lot of time." He paused for a moment in speaking. "Then maybe the bridge."

"Sounds fair to me." Greg said. "It is just down the corridor." He motioned and then lead him down and around the corner. A few minutes later, he stopped, "These are yours." Pointing to the door a few meters down the hall, "Those are mine. Most of the Senior Officers are on this deck as well." Pushing the button, the doors opened and he motioned in.

Shrike stepped in, looking around the room. It was certainly a nice room. He thought about where he'd put the finches as he looked around, taking an especial look at the soft bed. His last ship had had the opposite. At least he would be comfortable here, no lack of sleep as he's blown apart by Romulans. Might be that was Starfleet's point; after all, couldn't they spare that last pity of a good nights to the poor souls they send off to war. "Let's just hope they don't hit this deck," the man said, turning back to Greg once his silent look around of the room was complete.

"Yeah. It's pretty hard." He stomped his food on the hard rubber floor, "Yours and mine are the biggest quarters on the ship, the biggest quarters I have lived in. Even on the station. Be glad you aren't a junior NCO. They have bunk rooms, that are about the size of our head, and they have a communal washroom on their deck."

"I don't think I could back to that," Shrike said, pushing down on the bed to see if it was as soft as it looked. It was. "I'm too old for a bunk." He turned around towards Greg and let himself fall backwards onto the bed, like a kid. He couldn't help but give a slight smile, though it would be hardly visible from that angle. "This here is my life. And this bed is my new best friend."

Greg chuckled at the child-like actions of the older man, "Well, when you are ready to see the bridge, let me know. I will just be in my quarters. I have a few things to unpack still."

"Will do, Commander." Shrike rolled over to his side. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if he were to sleep here until his stuff arrived.