Recruiting the XO
Meet me at the Crossroads
Location: Last Diner in the Rigel System
Timeline: MD-2 Early Morning
Marsha had put in an application with a few people and refit specialists she knew hoping she could get back on a ship soon. It was nice bumming around, but her pocketbook was hurting and she needed some more income. Hence why she was now trying to find an XO or first mate gig on a decent ship before she had to rely on Federation rationing.
Sipping from her coffee, she glanced around the 'Last Diner' and saw nothing but junkies and people nursing hangovers. Perhaps her latest venue wasn't the best place to meet a prospective employer... At least the booth she was in was comfortable.
The Last Diner was well known around Polar City. It was your basic greasy spoon, a throwback to Earth's 1950s. It was joked that it was called the Last Diner because it was the last diner you'd ever eat in. It was toss up as to whether that meant the food was so great that you'd never want to eat anywhere else, or that the food was so unhealthy that whatever you ordered would be your last meal. Surprisingly, they had pretty good coffee, and, as unhealthy as it was, sometimes you wanted some scrambled eggs, sausage, and a short stack. Braedyn was in the mood for that very thing...and coffee. He opened the door to the last diner and entered, brushing off his old Starfleet field jacket, and pulling off his gloves and watch cap. He chuckled when he saw the local crowd. Most of them looked hors d'combat from hard drinking, hard drugs, or intimate activities that Braedyn didn't want to know anything about. One person struck his eye. A woman sitting alone. Attractive. Pretty well endowed.
What's she doing here? Hmm...kid looks a bit down on her luck. Actually, she looks sort of hungry.
Braedyn removed his jacket and hung it up, then walked over to the woman's table.
"Excuse me," he said. "Can you help me? I'm desperately seeking a hungry person, sort of down on their luck, hanging around a greasy spoon, so I can buy them breakfast? Are you that person?"
Did she really look that desperate? Compared to the rest of the clientele, she thought she looked well enough off, but apparently not. Still, a free meal is a free meal so Martha motioned to the seating on the opposite side of her booth. "I think I fit that description well enough. Have a seat." Looking him over again, she could tell from her empathy that he wasn't looking for sex or anything, but he was looking for something and it wasn't entirely a pretty face to eat with. "So what else are you looking for? Anything in particular?"
Braedyn took the seat across from the woman.
Kids, always in such a rush.
"I guess we're all looking for something," he said. "I'm Captain Braedyn Tann, master of the SS Cortina. What's your name?"
Braedyn extended his hand to shake.
"Marsha," she replied, shaking the man's hand. "Marsha Mallow, former XO of the RMS Dawn Eclipse before her fiery destruction over Guise 9."
Braedyn was intrigued.
Royal Marine Ship? That's interesting.
"Nice to meet you Marsha," he said. "So, XO of an RMS ship. Was that a real RMS ship or one of the less than legit ships using that prefix? I'm not a cop. I don't care either way. I'd just like to know who I'm dealing with."
A waitress came over to take their order.
"What'll it be folks?" she asked.
"Scrambled eggs, sausage, and a blueberry short stack, orange juice, and coffee," Braedyn said. He looked at Marsha. "Have whatever you'd like. The breakfast specials are pretty good. Burgers aren't bad either."
"I'll have my usual then. Patty melt with extra cheese and a Rigelian omelet, please." Martha replied. As soon as the waitress left with their order, she continued. "We were registered with the Federation Merchant Marines so we had the name legally, but we dabbled in covert shipments as well."
Braedyn nodded. He could deal with that. In fact, that kind of experience was almost preferable.
"How long were you a merchant spacer?" he asked. This Marsha couldn't be much more than thirty, she couldn't have been an adult more than twelve years, give or take. Question was, how many of those years had she spent in space? How many as an officer?
"Eighteen years now. I got a job as a deckhand moving cargo when I was fifteen and moved up to XO over the course of twelve years." Marsha replied, sipping from her coffee again. "How about you?"
"As a merchant spacer?" he said. "I haven't really started that career yet. But I graduated from Starfleet Academy back in 2342 so that's...thirty-three years ago? I spent twenty-eight years in Starfleet, a good portion of that fighting the Cardassians. When that bogus treaty got signed back is seventy, I ended my relationship with Starfleet, I thought for good at the time. I joined the Maquis for a while. When we got overrun by the Jem'Hadar, I managed to load up my ship with civilians and escape. Starfleet recruited me to work for them as a sort of privateer for the duration of the war in exchange for a pardon. Elkin Shipyards is just finishing up an overhall, refit, and upgrade on my ship, the SS Juan Cortina. It just so happens that I'm looking for a crew. On paper we're a Ju'Day Class Light Freighter, but the Cortina is much more. We're going to be doing a lot of good and hopefully make a living doing it. Does that sound like something you might be interested in?"
"Let's see... steady pay, good ship, and you seem good too. I have no reason to say no. Where do I sign up?" Marsha replied with a lopsided grin.
"We'll be leaving in a week, maybe two," Braedyn said. "Depends on how fast we find a crew and how long it takes the yard birds to put the final touches on the JC. This meal is on me."
He handed Marsha a credit chit.
"Take this to the Spacefarer's House," he said. "It's easy to find. This will cover you there until we're ready to leave. It's not plush, but it's clean and dry, and you can wash yourself and your clothes there. The chit covers room and board, so they'll feed you. We're going to be doing quite a bit of stuff that you have to keep your mouth shut about and we will, from time to time, end up in harms way, but the pay will be good and the work will be worthy of us. So if you're still in, welcome to the crew of the SS Juan Cortina...Number One."
Marsha smiled and nodded as she took the chit and tucked it into her bra. "Never been hired without someone doing a background check, but I'll do my best, nonetheless. I might even have a few contacts you might be interested in." Pulling a small PaDD out of a pocket, she slid it over to Braedyn. "Most of them are probably dead or retired, but a few should still be looking for work. My work history and resume are on there too, if you want them."
"I have a good feeling about you," Braedyn said. "And besides that I'll check you out a bit while we wait for the ship to be ready to take off and while we gather more crew."
"Fair enough," Marsha chuckled softly as their food came and the waitress set it before them. "And this is why I can't lose weight," she added with a wink and a mischievous smile. "So worth it though."
"I couldn't agree more," Braedyn said as he poured Rigel IV's version of warm maple syrup on his two blueberry pancakes. A lot of things on Rigel IV were served warm. It had been winter since Braedyn was born and scientists believed it would still be winter for sometime to come. He let his pancakes soak for a moment and ate a forkful of eggs before speaking. "And you should be proud of your curves. They look good on you."
"Thank you," Marsha didn't expect that. Most people these days expected her to have some sort of health issues, but no she just really enjoyed eating. Digging into her omelet first, she moaned slightly as the delicious spiciness hit her tongue. Yes, she indeed did consider this to be far better than sex.
The two of them chewed in companionable silence. After a bit, Braedyn picked up the PaDD with Marsha's CV on it and began to read. He'd heard of some of the ships she'd served on. She'd clearly been shot at before and shot back. He'd have to give her more training in ship to ship tactics and probably some small unit tactics, but the ship's small holosuite could be used for that. Other than that, Marsha had a fair amount of experience in the merchant service. She'd lend credibility to the Cortina's cover as a light freighter. Of course they would actually haul freight reasonably often, but that wasn't all they'd be doing.
"Well," Braedyn said. "If you're telling the truth on this thing, you're going to work out just fine. I need someone to help with the Merchant Marine aspect of our work, and you can learn what you don't know about the rest. I've heard that there's going to be a gig coming our way soon. I'll fill you in on the details as soon as I have them."
Marsha had finished her omelet and was letting her guts settle a bit before tackling the grease soaked patty melt when she picked up some stray thoughts about combat training or something similar. "Sounds good to me. If you need to verify anything on it, the local ships registry should have everything you need. I should warn you though, I'm not a very good shot and the one phase pistol I was good with I had to pawn. It was a modded version of the old Earth ones back when they had actual sights."
"We'll work on your marksmanship," Braedyn said. "But that's good to know. I'll try and keep you out of situations where you have to shoot anyone with a hand phaser. Just try and remember to stand forward of me if we get in a shoot out."
He grinned to show that he was joking. He was...mostly. Hopefully she wouldn't shoot him in the back in crisis.
Marsha chuckled softly as she dug into her patty melt. "I'll stay clear of any firefights if I can help it. I just hope I can spring my pistol from the pawn shop now."
Braedyn pulled out a business card and handed it over.
"My contact information is on this," he said. "Get the name and address of the place to me later and I'll get it back for you. No, don't thank me. I do this for you out of a sense of self-preservation."
"Well then," Marsha mumbled, taking the card and tucking it into her purse before digging around in it for a pawn chit from Borif's Interplanetary Pawn and Loan Shop, handing that to Braedyn. "I'm going to trust you with this."
"What?" Braedyn said with a grin. "You don't think I have an honest face? Do I seem like a flim flam man to you? Actually, I probably do. Well, I won't let you down. You have my word. Now you just need to decide if that's good enough for you."
Marsha tapped her forehead and chuckled softly. "I'm Betazoid. I've been reading you since you walked in the door. If anyone here can't be trusted, it's me." Chuckling a bit more, she dug back into her patty melt.
"Uch, now I'll have to wear a tinfoil hat everywhere I go," Braedyn said, winking to show he was kidding. Then he realized she had no idea what he was talking about. "It's an Old Earth thing. Some of the mentally disturbed thought that the government or aliens or both were trying to read their minds or use mind control or both. They thought that wearing a hat made of tinfoil kept the mind readers and controllers out of their heads."
Marsha couldn't help but laugh at the thought of the entire crew going around with tinfoil hats everywhere. "Yeah, that doesn't work. We had the same theory back in the dark ages on Betazed to try and prevent others from reading your mind but still being able to read theirs. But yeah, if you can read someone else's mind, they can read yours."
"Too bad it doesn't work in reverse," Braedyn said. "You know, if you can't read someone's mind, they can't read yours."
"I'm sure there's been research on that," Marsha said just before finishing her patty melt.
Braedyn had finished up his eggs and sausage and was putting the coup de gras on his pancakes.
"Hmmm," he said when he was done. "Worth the health risk. All things in moderation as they say. So, I'll be in touch. No need to rush moving on to the ship. Soon we're going to rearrange the quarters so they'll be a few more private ones. Right now, though, space is tight. Might as well take advantage of the privacy while you can."
"As long as I fit through the doors, I'll be happy." Marsha quickly finished her coffee and leaned back contentedly. "I'll move my things to the Spacefarer's house as soon as I leave here so when you need me, I'll be easy to find. Then I'll start looking over stocks and making sure the ship is prepped. Anything you need me to do before that?"
"Just keep an eye out for people looking for work," Braedyn replied. He finished his coffee and stood up from the table, taking his coat off the hook, which he put on. "Well, best be off. Lots to do. I'll be in touch."
"Stay warm," Marsha replied, standing and bundling up herself.
"You, too," Braedyn said. "See you soon."
Braedyn winked, walked to the door, and exited the diner.