The EAS Warlock moved slowly through space. She was cruising through an asteroid field at too slow a speed for the most advanced cruiser in the earth-force fleet. It was very similar to the older Omega class destroyer in form, with it's rotating section and industrial appearance, but it was covered with new organic hull plates and well as extra gun emplacements.
Captain Susan Ivanova sat motionless in the command seat. Her face was held in an impassive mask, like cold marble, as the ship seemed to stagger through the various rocks in the field. This was turning out to be a bad test run for the Warlock. Inside she felt like screaming, both in frustration and disappointment.
The ship should have come with a warning, more assembly required. She could not fault her crew who had to put up a temperamental ship and some orders which kept them on double shifts. Maybe she had got so used to the white star that this seemed like a step back.
"Ma'am." There was a quiet voice to her left. "We have another problem."
Ivanova turned to the quiet voice. She looked at her exec. Davidson, the warlock's executive officer, stood with a slightly pained expression on his face. Ivanova sigh quietly.
"Yes Mr. Davidson."
"Engineering reports that both of the remaining gyros are failing."
"I see." She turned to the view screen. "Helm come about 180, get us out of the field and into clear space."
"Aye ma'am" came the reply.
She turned back to Davidson. Her first officer looked gutted. She felt the same way. Davidson was an excellent officer, one of the reasons she'd requested him as soon as he'd been available. They had been on opposite sides of the civil war four years ago. He'd been at the battle for Mars on the side of President Clark. She'd done that to try and give the crew some unity, after all most of them had been on Clark's side and there might have been problems. Still both factions seemed to have united against a common enemy, their ship.
"I thought those replacements were to sort the gyro's out?"
"We all hoped they would." He smiled. "I'll get a report from Engineering."
She nodded. He executed a perfect about turn and walked off the bridge. He'd anticipated her orders again, but it helped ship efficiency. It was five years since she took command of the warlock and she'd been pleased with her initially. Slightly larger than the Omega class, she'd been the pride of the fleet until these new upgrades came along. Installing more upgrades than the ship could handle in her opinion. The Warlock had been infected with a bad case of the gremlins, for more than the last year. It was almost as bad as the situation on B5 when nothing worked.
Still she kept in contact with everybody through the mail. She'd got Delenn's latest letter only yesterday which had brought everything back yet again. Delenn's letters were always the hardest to read. They always reminded her of Marcus and Babylon 5 the most. She'd not been back to the station in all this time. Vir had invited her back on several occasions, and the new Captain, Lockley, had done the same. She's always used duty as the excuse.
"Ma'am. We're clear of the field."
The voice jerked her back to present. She looked around the status reports.
"Right, Hold here while we await repairs."
Her link sounded, "Ivanova. Report please."
"Well, Engineering says that the new gravity wells, have malfunctioned. We'll have to move to the space-dock. "
"Navigation, set up a course to Proxima 3. Engineering, Can we handle an independent jump? "
"Negative Ma'am. Not while running these gravity wells."
"Navigation, belay that last order. Set course for the nearest jump gate." She turned the Helm officer, "Mr Burtonshaw, you have the conn."
She stood up and walked off the bridge. She certainly could not complain about the crew. They all acted in a professional manner and morale seemed to be above average. Like Babylon 5, she made it her business to know everything that happened on her ship. She turned a blind eye when necessary and came down hard on anything or anyone, she considered not up to the standard she expected. She knew that she wouldn't be as popular as Sheridan would be, but she did discover that she had a reputation.
Iceheart was what her crew called her behind her back. At first she thought that this was to do with her cool manner and lack of visible emotion. However, she'd recently found out it was about what happened between herself and Marcus Cole on B5. That hurt and hurt her very bad, but she was determined not to let it show.
Walking through the corridors, she reflected on her situation. This had been a difficult tour of duty. She felt bored and disheartened. The ship was at least two days from the jump gate at best speed she could manage at the moment. If the gravity wells were switched off, then she could jump immediately, but she didn't have the heart to put the crew through six days of zero-g Hyperspace travel. They'd been through enough.
She arrived at Engineering, walked in to a heated discussion between both her first Officer and her chief Engineer.
"Look, there is no way that I'm going to be able to maintain these systems with out the scrapping those failed gyro's".
The Engineer, a heavyset man called Brook, was in full flow.
"You know that we need to know why these failed. We can't take them apart. We need to find out what went wrong."
Odd thought Ivanova, That's my call not his.
"Why don't you take this to the Captain?"
Yes, Why indeed?
"Because, she's got enough on her plate and if we don't, you know she'll be having us do this run until hell freezes over."Right then She Thought, I'm not having that.
"Mr Davidson" she snapped.
Both the Engineer and the First Officer jumped to attention. Davidson turned to face her.
She walked slowly up to him not saying a word.
"I'll have a word with you in my office." She snarled, "Report there and await for my arrival."
"Ma'am" he marched off and she turned to the engineer.
"Right, I'll have your report please." She said in a more civilised voice.
"We have a problem in the coolant systems, The only place we have the parts to fix it, are in the malfunctioning Gyros. If we don't, I'll have to have the engineering crew stand double watches on the reactor system. That is until we make port."
"Have the all the gyro's failed in the same way."
"Seems to have Ma'am. "
"And how many will you need to scrap."
"Just the one."
"Right then. Strip that one and make repairs. However, if I ever find you arguing with a superior officer again, the consequences will be severe. "
The Engineer had enough decency to look a little crest fallen
"Dismissed." He turned to go.
Ivanova knew that if she caught the little things, then the big things normally sorted themselves out. But this situation had put her into an even blacker mood than before. Maybe this was the beginning of new tensions within the crew. It had to be nipped in the bud quickly before anything escalated.
She followed the corridor back up to the bridge and took a left to her office. Davidson was standing to attention outside her office. She walked up to the door and used her access card to open it. She signalled for Davidson to go inside. He seemed to be holding up under her hard stare but then she expected that from him. She followed him in and closed the door.
"Right. How the hell am I supposed to react to this?"
He was stood facing her desk, with his back to her. She walked round to her desk and sat down.
"Right Davidson, before I continue, do you have anything to say."
"Ma'am. I was wrong. I should have just taken the information to you. I have nothing else to add." He continued to stare over her, as if his eyes could drill into the wall.
She looked at him for a moment and called up his record. Exemplary was an understatement. Only a few people had done better, herself and Sheridan were included in that few. She looked back up at him. He was in his early thirties with a medium build and black hair. His height gave him an advantage in the power ball games and She'd heard the rumours of his antics on shore leave. Apparently, the ladies found it hard to resist his blue eyes and casual manner.
Well most of them, she though
"Normally, I should have you up on charges. Instead I'm going to make a note on your record and leave it at that. " She told him.
"Ma'am." He lowered his gaze to look at her. He was genuinely surprised and knew he'd got off incredibly lightly.
"Right, Now sit down. " He sat down.
"I realise that this tour isn't going smoothly, but we have to get a result here. And in order to get those results I need accurate information."
"And, " she continuing, emphasising the 'and', "I need that from people I can trust. As of now until I say so, all the rest here is off the record. "
She fixed him with a determined gaze. "Mr Davidson, Can I trust you?"
He seemed uncomfortable at the question.
"You see, ever since the civil war. I've had it difficult with a lot of people on both sides and I've tried to select people on my ship on merit, not on politics or on what you did during that time. But I need to know if I can't rely on you with a small damage report, what the hell can I have confidence in you with?"
She didn't get angry, or frustrated. She just felt let down and disappointed. He was sat down, looking at her, not with embarrassment or anger. That was the problem, she couldn't read him. There were a few moments of awkward silence.
"Ma'am, I'm not happy with the voyage. I'm just getting impatient. "
"You're getting impatient? What for? Are you wanting to leave when the ship's ready?"
"No Ma'am. I want this ship to be ready ASAP. I think that we need a deterrent to the Ranger's and their white stars."
That took her by surprise.
"You think the Alliance will attack us."
"I don't trust the Alliance. Those Rangers people act so high and mighty." He let the sentence hang, perhaps he realised what he just said, but Ivanova reigned in her control.
"You're entitled to your opinion, but I would like to hear why you think they'll attack."
"Captain. I don't know what to say. I've only got a gut feeling about it. Maybe the way we were wiped out so many times."
"Commander Davidson, I can understand your motivation for getting this ship up and running properly and I've got no problem with it as long as the ship gets sorted. But I think your looking at the wrong people to blame here and whatever you think of Sheridan, I know that he wouldn't attack home."
"That wasn't an order, It was something to think about."
He stood up and walked to the door. He turned
"Captain. Thank you. I can only promise my best efforts from now on."
Ivanova smiled, "That's all I'm asking for."
He left the office. Ivanova sighed. At least she felt that she could still trust him.