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The Small Wooden Box

Posted on Tue Aug 21st, 2018 @ 2:30am by Lieutenant Commander Deianira Coldbright & Lieutenant JG Francesco Saldo

Mission: Prologue: Everything Old...
Location: Chief Operations Officer's Office, Deck 2
Timeline: MD01 1130


Doors parted and lieutenant commander Deianira Coldbright entered the office intended for the the ship's chief of operations. Across the room, behind the semi-circular metal desk she could see the crouched form of ensign Francesco Saldo, whom she had come to know as Gio during the last year. The young, olive-skinned man was assigned to Hephaestus Fleetyards and was one of the many, many crew assigned to the refit of the U.S.S. Polaris. They had first met during the installation of the long range sensor array. While many officers had worked on calibrating the system, there had been a continuing problem with feedback along the electromagnetic carrier wave, skewing any readings they did manage to receive. Instead of going to the supervising officer and requesting a new piece of equipment, Gio had pulled a double-shift and taken the entire main assembly apart and rebuilt it, piece-by-piece. The next morning, the sensor tests were green across the board. Ever since that episode Deianira had kept a storm cloud colored eye on the young man. Gio had impressed her with his diligent work on the ship and her systems.

"Good morning, ensign," the commander said as she slid into one of the faux-leather upholstered chairs on the visitor's side of the desk.

Gio smiled, lieutenant commander Coldbright was one of the reasons he had left the family business and went through Starfleet training, a professional officer who had ambition was something Gio strove to be himself, one day. "Captain," Gio said with a light air to his voice. The word had deep respect in it but was playful as well, the Polaris hadn't left spacedock and there was no assurance that Coldbright would be the Captain of the vessel when she left, but that had been the scuttlebutt and for Gio, Coldbright was 'captain' and that was good enough. He was happy to see her, it saved him a trip and a lengthy report through data channels. He was so close to having things on Polaris ready for final inspections.

She crossed her legs and adopted a serious expression. "Will everything be finished in here this afternoon?"

"As good as we can make ma'am." Gio saw the end of his current assignment on the horizon, a transfer would likely be in his future, but to where, with whom, who knew? "Any thing important I need to know or check out not on the list? This has been a good bit of work," he motioned to the encompass the whole ship with his arms, "I don't want anyone saying a Saldo failed in his first real assignment."

"The ops chief will be coming aboard today, and I'm sure he'd like a functioning office when he arrives," she answered dourly. "But, I supposed you've got more time than I thought. He should have already checked in."

"Oh." Gio said. "I can clear out of here in no time. Anything that doesn't look right or seem perfect I can likely fix from the station or even from a console in the corridor. I do not want to block a Chief from taking the desk, that tends to make department heads grumpy and then the XO gets involved and before you know it you are standing before a review board with your pip in your hand." Gio started packing up his remaining loose items, a PADD and a small container of personal tools. "I can be out in three minutes no worries. I have not seen a new Chief of Ops, what time were we supposed to expect the transfer?"

"He was supposed to come aboard at 0800 this morning," she answered, a hint of a grin creeping onto her face. "Maybe..." she said, fidgeting eagerly with the small wooden box she had snuck in with her, "maybe he's just out of uniform." As she made the suggestion she slide the enameled container onto the desktop and gave it a gentle push in ensign Saldo's direction.

Gio missed the obvious cue, he was busy trying to get out of the way for whoever might be coming to take over.

"I can leave this here for him," Saldo stated turning the box so that it was set perfectly in the center of the desk the opening side, closed, facing his chair. "This looks like those cheesy boxes they place your rank insignia in when they replicate them for dramatic promotions. Cool, never saw one of these up close, never had a reason too. At the Academy they just pinned all the dress uniforms before we graduated. That way we would look right in front of the brass. What a joke, I was so far back in line at graduation I kidded that they didn't even know I existed."

He bent his face down towards the box, taking a closer look. He peered upward at Coldbright with a questioning look, "Do you think the new chief would mind if I sneaked a peak inside?"

"Oh, I feel pretty certain that he won't mind," she said and her facade broke, a wide smile beamed at Gio.

For the first time he noticed Coldbright's smile, he was troubled by it. He had pulled his fair share of practical jokes on people, he wondered if there was a mini-replicator inside the box and when he opened it a three meter snake would pop out. But she had told him to open it and he trusted her, they had spent a lot of working hours together. Enough for Gio to not fear whatever popped out of the box if it were some joke. He gently cracked the box, stole another quick glance at Coldbright and opened it all the way prepared to be hosed down with goo or to see the three meter snake pop out.

He was surprised to see the actual contents, one gold and one mostly black pip. He settled immediately. "Are you joking, a Galaxy Class ship is going to have a Jay Gee as Chief of Operations, what’s the Federation coming too? Have they lost their collective minds? Is the new Chief a retread or someone they demoted a long time ago?" This ship rates a lieutenant commander at least. A Dio mio! I hope no one is pulling a fast one on you Captain, that would be awful."

The commander reached out and gave the little wooden box a nudge, pushing it closer to ensign Saldo. "I couldn't think of anyone better for the job," she quipped. "But I really must insist you conform to uniform regulations, lieutenant Saldo."

“Me?” Gio wondered if he had heard that right. The words slowly played back through his mind she said, ‘I couldn’t think of anyone better…’ she meant me! Gio finished the thought in his mind he could feel the warmth of his own embarrassment creeping up from his shoulders and hoped that it did not make it to his face. He would need to check the environmental control settings, they had to be off by thirty or forty percent, easy. “Me! Captain I am honored,” he said fully opening the box and grabbing the blackened pip. He placed it on his collar. His eyes gleamed and his teeth sparkled in the light of the room, he gently, unconsciously, ran his thumb and forefinger through his beard towards his chin. “I accept, and am honored. Now what?”

Deianira smiled warmly at the young man. She hadn't had any doubt that he'd accept the position. He was right, it was a big step from ensign technician at a repair facility to department chief on a Galaxy-class explorer. In her eyes though, Gio had earned it. "Now, you switch gears from whatever you were doing when I came in to delegating that task to someone else. Then you'll need to liaise with your old boss from the Hephaestus to make sure everything is ready for launch."

“I have very little leadership experience. I was a hand on the freighters in my family’s business but the oldest living relative was the ranking officer. Is there a refresher course or someone I might talk to for some guidance if I need it?” Gio’s world just got busy. He looked around a little panic in his eyes, “How long do we have before we ship out?”

She extended her arm and placed a hand atop Gio's on the desk. "You're going to do just fine, Gio," she said comfortingly. "There are some introductory command simulations in the holodeck library. You'll technically report directly to lieutenant commander Kovak, our executive officer. He's here as part of the exchange program with the Klingons. Of course, my door is always open too. Launch celebration is in five days and we launch the next morning. Still lots to do."

"I will be as ready as I can." Gio said and began making a long list of 'last minute' things to do, this was now his responsibility, no corner cutting, not that there had been any. He leaned back. "This is a cool office. Thanks Captain."


Lieutenant Commander Deianira Coldbright
Commanding Officer
U.S.S. Polaris

LTjg Francesco Saldo "Gio"
Chief Operations Officer
USS Polaris


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