Episode 4: Infiltration
Location: Shuttle Landing Pad On Illiran
Timeline: MD 02 - 1145 hours
1155 words - 2.3 OF Standard Post Measure
Mark threw himself into the co-pilot's chair, the last remaining seat available, as he tried to catch his breath from the brisk run he'd taken to get there before the shuttle left. It'd already been a hellish journey to get from his previous assignment to his new positions, complete with delays, nearly-missed connections, this being another example, and a lot of waiting around. The last thing on his mind was getting stuck on the planet for any length of time until he could catch another ride up to the Eagle. He was ready for a good cup of coffee, and a good night's sleep in a bed that was all his own.
"Am I glad you're still here!" he remarked to the man behind the controls. "Let me know if you need me to press any buttons."
From the pilot's chair a gangly ensign with freckles cheerfully asked, "Well, welcome aboard, Blue Eyes! I knew we were expecting one more, but you weren't what I was expecting. I might need to get to know you a little better. I thought you were a woman."
"Who...were you expecting?" Mark scratched his head a little at the question. He certainly wasn't as sharp as he was at the start of the day.
"Are you not the Falcon's new Operations officer?" the ensign looked very confused.
"The Falcon? Wrong bird of prey...I'm headed for the Eagle..."
The ensign pointed out of the front windows at another Federation shuttle across the landing pad facing them.
"Nononono...I can't be on the wrong shuttle..." Mark spun himself out of the seat and sprinted for the door.
"Nice to meet you, Blue Eyes!" the ensign waved at the lieutenant's back.
Cross ran out of the shuttle, across the landing area, and into the other shuttle, out of breath.
Max looked up from the pilot's seat, "I don't think we've met. Did one of the other pilots bring you down from the Eagle?"
"I'm a new transfer." Mark replied as he slid, with much higher blood pressure than a few minutes ago, into the correct co-pilot seat. "Mark Cross, new Chief Engineer. This is my first time headed aboard."
"Max. Schott. Conn. I'm surprised my roommate didn't tell me we were getting a new Chief. At least this gives us the chance to meet before the ship. I've always been told that's it's a good idea for the pilots and engineers to be on the same page. Probably why so many pilots marry engineers!" Max smiled at Mark, then faltered as he realized what he might be implying. He shook his head, "Not that I'm--I wasn't implying--not that you're--I just wasn't--" he stopped talking and turned red.
Mark was already a little red in the face from his full-on sprint across the shuttle pad. "To be honest...I tend to find I gravitate towards Medical...worth having someone to patch me up on speed dial when I try something stupid, which is most of the time" he hoped the joke would diffuse the sudden awkwardness of the situation, although judging by his previous dating history, it was pretty accurate.
"From what I gather, it was pretty short notice. Had to go on quite the journey to catch up with the ship in the first place. How long have you been aboard?"
Max chuckled, "That sounds like a reasonable perspective. I guess I'm lucky I haven't spent that much time getting patched up. I must be part rubber: I get a lot of minor injuries but not a lot of major ones. I joined mid-way through, but on the tail-end, of the last patrol. Transferred straight from the academy ship Arcardia. One short beam over. You sure have the look of someone who is going to just," he used his hands to imitate a tree falling over, "TIMBER!" he made the crashing noise as one hand clapped into the other, "Collapse onto your bed when you get aboard. Hey, that's the job; we go where we're ordered, when we're ordered, how we're ordered, right?"
"Heh, something like that..." Mark replied. It was the short answer, the kind that maybe would have stopped the conversation right then and there. It wasn't the case, he'd probably take himself straight down to Main Engineering to see how the repairs were getting on before he could even think about getting any rest. It was nothing personal to Max, he didn't really have the brain capacity for lengthy conversation, but he had just enough left for a little work. Or at least, so he thought...
"Alright, everyone hold onto your butts," Max his a button and the shuttle jumped off the landing zone and into the air. He got quieter as he navigated the complex pathway Illiran had drawn for him this time. He knew it must be an illusion, but he could have sworn they were trying extra hard to test him because he was a Starfleet pilot.
Having just tried to limit the conversation to short answers, Mark realised that suddenly striking up a conversation about the convoluted flight plan they were following would be a little out of character, since he was playing the 'man of few words' role almost perfectly up to that point. Besides, he was no expert. He enjoyed flying, spent a lot of time on the holodeck, but his interest was more in jet engines of the 20th and 21st century, and less on impulse engines and maneuvering thrusters.
They made it within sight of the Eagle and Max pointed to the ship, "Welcome to your new home. Feel free to kick the tires, but make sure you're wearing the proper safety equipment so you don't go crashing down to the surface."
It was the kind of dry humour and sarcasm that Mark would have laughed out loud at on another day. In fact, he'd potentially have been cracking a few jokes of his own...but he was also notoriously unapproachable when he was exhausted, and this was one of those times.
Max brought them into the shuttle bay, "Thank you for flying Schott Shuttles, local time is 1215 hours, local gravity and temperature are standard, we hope you enjoy your stay." With a slight jolt he put the shuttle down on the deck.
"Thanks Lieutenant." Mark nodded to the pilot as he raised from his seat, determined to be one of the first off the bird. The sooner he saw the state of repairs, the sooner he could get some rest, and actually be able to, without his mind going a million miles a minute. "I'm sure your roommate will give you all the gossip on what a nightmare the new Chief is within a week..."
Max chuckled as he watched the CEO go, and then started his post-flight checks. He was sure he would get the run-down as soon as Goban got a look at his chief's work.