A Long Way From Home
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Three weeks had passed and the Newton found itself in the cradling arms of a starbase where her hull damage was carefully being seen to. That wasn't the only damage control being seen to, however. Commander Reisz, jaw set and hard-eyed, returned to the bridge of the Newton and nodded to her XO that he should join her in her ready room. "You're officially officially in," she said without skipping a beat. "I don't think I'm capable of making a call without being questioned thoroughly, but I was able to argue exhaustively why I needed you as my XO. How goes the testing by the way? Are you ready to claw your hair out yet?"
"Ah, good," Charlie replied as he stepped in the room behind her, "Then you can't tell I'm wearing a toupee," He said, not missing a beat. "Excellent."
"..I thought your hair looked extra springy today.' Diana added before sighing. "Seriously, though, are you doing okay? How are your eyes?"
"Doc's estimating I'm at 95%, and in a week or two I'm back to 100%, but it's good enough to pass muster right now," He explained, nodding. "And, just for the records, the testing is going well. I've got two more modules and I'll be good for official placement," He added, with just a note of pride. "Grades are high, bosslady. Almost like you made a good decision," He said. "Which, as your XO, I have to say, I have my doubts," He said, grinning playfully.
Diana hmphed at him as she sank into her chair. She knew the minute she saw how he he acted during the crisis that he was exactly who she needed as an XO. "So we'll be station bound for a month for repairs I've been told. After that, did you hear where we're being sent to?"
"Nope, still have my ears down in Engineering while they're trying to finish all the initial repairs we started. There's been some near scuff-ups between the crew and the station engineers. Been working on keeping that relationship functional," He explained.
"We're going all the way out to the nether reaches of the sock drawer officially known as the delta quadrant. I think we'll be happier out there with a longer leash to run than sitting on Earth's back yard hoping to find something new, don't you?" asked Diana as she leaned back in her chair.
Charlie's eyes went wide and he worked his jaw for a moment, "Are you... are you serious? They're sending us to the DQ?" He asked, sounding incredulous.
"Yup. So stock up on your contraband hootch or whatever it is you do, because it will be a long long time before we do a resupply except through the outpost. If you want a pet, get it now. Marry your girlfriend, etc." Diana drummed her fingers on her desk as she spoke. The idea of the DQ wasn't her favorite, but she did like the idea of being given near carte blanche to explore and catalog. Where else was there to find the new, wild lands anymore except beyond where Starfleet had already made its mark?
Charlie seemed to consider that for a long moment before asking, "What are our mission parameters?"
"Very similar to what they were here: explore, note, log, and run our experiments. We'll just be doing them in the arse end of nowhere now." She smiled chipperly. "Exciting, isn't it? And just a tiny bit terrifying."
"What's... what's communication like out there these days?" He asked, tentatively.
"There's about a month's delay using a relay near the wormhole. You'll have no real-time communication." Cocking her head to the side, Diana fixed him with a quizzical look. "Is that a problem?"
Charlie seemed distant, almost contemplative, and for once in his life, lacked that jovial spark in his eyes that said he was two seconds away from cracking a joke. His family was rushing through his mind, his sister... it wasn't that they'd never see each other again, but it'd most likely be years. It wasn't that they'd never speak again, but they'd never laugh together over a line again. He cleared his throat and smiled, "No... uh... No ma'am, not a problem."
"Okay," Diana said with a curt nod. "There is an outpost where we can take supplies, leaves, visitors, etcetera, and we will not be the only ship out there. So don't fret too much. We're not out there without teeth."
"No," Charlie replied, nodding. "Definitely not. Sounds good to me," He said, nodding. "We've got a month you said?" He asked.
"Yeah, we'll be here a month while the Newt is patched back up, poor thing." Diana patted the wall almost instinctively. "Then were to head out."
"Ma'am, I need to request a shoreleave," He said, abruptly. "No more than a week, ma'am... but... I need to go home. Say goodbye..."
Steepling her fingers together, Diana rested her chin atop them. "Granted. Enjoy your time with your family."
"I ... oh... well... that was way easier than expected," He replied, laughing a bit. "Thank you, ma'am. I'll leave this evening... I'll finish up the testing on earth, and be ready to step into the role as soon as I'm back," He explained.
"Nonsense. Enjoy your time with your family. Come back- then finish your testing and do what we do here. Let home be home while you have one. It's important," she stressed.
Charlie seemed uncertain, "Commander... Diana... I don't want you to feel like I'm abandoning my post... I just need to do this. I don't mind multitasking a bit," He replied, sounding uncertain.
"I lost the last bit of my family this year save for my niece. We were all extremely close. I encourage my crew to prioritize familial bonds as an important part of mental and spiritual health. That is one of the pillars that drives us to fight harder to come home when it seems like its impossible to carry on, is it not?" Diana asked, leaning forward over her still steepled fingers.
"Yes, ma'am," Charlie replied, giving her a small smile. "I'll go be with my family now, then," He said, giving her an appreciative nod.
Diana mirrored the smile. "Good. I'll hold down the fort."
Charlie got up to leave, then stopped short and turned back, "Commander... Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. I know I'm a wise-ass some times, but I don't take this lightly, and promise you I'll be the best damn XO you could ever ask for," He said, earnestly.
She smiled a bit brighter at that. "Charlie, I know you'll do great. You don't have to tell me that."
"Yeah, well, I'm gonna keep telling you that until I believe it," He said, that trouble-making grin returning. "See you in a week, Commander," He said, giving her a salute before heading out the door.