The resounding snap of the desk drawer closing—quite suddenly and nearly catching Nera’s finger—filled the air. With a wordless yelp, Nera pulled her hand back, shaking it.
“Damn...” she muttered, glaring balefully at the smooth table in front of her. “Of all the desks at StarCom...” Oh, well. Glaring at her desk—however satisfying—wasn’t going to help. Picking up the pen she had gone to so much trouble to get, Nera slid the last chip printout in front of her and began to scan the coded reading. It was a general satellite transmission, reporting its location and surroundings. On a thin sheet of plasti-fiber, she took down the important highlights to review that night.
“Commander?” a voice somewhere above her asked respectfully. Nera looked up.
“Yes, Vanya?” she answered with a smile, recognizing the Head of Sector Two immediately. He ran a finger along the second gold stripe freshly embroidered on the chest of his navy blue jumpsuit. Just promoted last month, he was still gaining confidence in his new duties, having to report only to Nera or the Station Commander above her. His face serious, and somewhat apologetic, he handed her three more chip printouts as she stood.
“These just came in, Commander.” Nera reached out a hand and took them, puzzled. All of the usual transmissions for the day had already been received, and the dayshift was nearly over. Oh, well, perhaps the satellite had changed position.
“Thank you, Head Vanya,” she said. It meant extra work that night, but it certainly wasn’t Vanya’s fault. He had been looking worried, but at her words he beamed and saluted her, two fingers over his heart. As he was turning to leave, a cheerful female voice said inquiringly,
“Commander Nera?” Nera’s secretary, a cheerful young Rank One, edged politely past Vanya through the doorway. “You told me to tell you when it was the end of the dayshift.” Nera smiled.
“Why, so I did. Thank you, Keran.” The woman grinned back and turned to Vanya.
“Greetings, sir,” she said, eyes twinkling mischievously.
“Good afternoon, Keran,” he replied, and turning faintly pink, he added, “Please call me Vanya.” Keran’s grin grew, and she asked casually,
“So, are we still on for dinner off-station tonight?” Vanya’s blush darkened.
“Of course. How does seven sound? I can pick you up.”
“Sounds good, I’ll see you then” Keran saluted Vanya, who promptly looked embarrassed, before she left Nera’s office. Vanya stared after her for a moment before looking over again at Nera.
“Do you need a ride anywhere, Comm--- Nera?”
“No, thank you,” she replied. “I have some work to do tonight, so I think I’ll just stay in.” Vanya nodded. “Things with Keran seem to be going well,” Nera added mischievously. Vanya blushed again, but smiled.
“Yes… she’s a wonderful person. Ah, I should go now…” Nera laughed.
“Dismissed, Head Vanya!” He gratefully hurried off after Keran, shutting the door behind him.
Nera smiled fondly and sat back down to finish the last line of coding before gather up the printouts and her copies in a folder and heading to the housing quarters.
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