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Commander Ben Livingston - The Pangs of Indifference

Ilene Torza

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((Corridor, USS Columbia))

::Strolling down the corridor, Chelsea wondered just what had brought her to this area. It was just that sense of wandering, she supposed, that struck from time to time. They’d be off again soon, on some new and challenging mission, and she’d be up to her neck in responsibility – especially since she’d made Petty Officer. Yeah, that was nice. She wasn’t sure she was ready, exactly, but the earful she’d get from her mom kept Chelsea from doing anything stupid.::

::Maybe that’s what had her chomping at the bit. This was a newer area of the ship for her; she rarely had reason to be around the officers’ quarters, but new duties meant new learning. As though she’d have to run down here after hours to rouse some ensign with some time-sensitive report! Ha, that was a laugh and a half. But her instructions were to know the layout of this area backwards and forwards, and that’s what she’d do. Who might know what a Petty Officer would be called upon to do in an emergency? And was it just her, or did it seem that there was always an – ::

::She stopped dead in her tracks as she rounded the corner, then, heart suddenly racing, jumped back behind the wall and pressed herself against it as she caught her breath. Was that? With them? Regaining her composure, she silently protruded an eye out beyond the edge of the wall, hands gripping the corner. It was!::

::Her stomach tightened. But that was ridiculous – why should she care what Ian was doing or who he was speaking with?::

Connory: … maybe we could do it again some…

::Chelsea’s hand rose to cover her gaping mouth as she watched, as if in slow motion, the woman, that … that officer, pulled him closer and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. And that was it. Coy, she stepped back and Chelsea detected a kind of knowingness in her smile.::

Bentley: Goodnight Ian.

::And with that, she was gone. Even from ten meters away, Chelsea could see the Lieutenant had left him wanting more. She’d been smooth about it, every motion was fluid, and everything seemed so practiced – or perhaps, rehearsed. How did she do it? That was certainly not Chelsea. Her own attempts with boys – for it was probably that long ago that she’d given that kind of attention – were generally miserable imitations of what she’d just witnessed. For a time, she’d seriously thought she had spinach permanently set between her teeth, and that it would require surgical removal.::

::Yet that Lieutenant had made it seem easy, and she’d charmed Ian. Not that Chelsea cared about that. Anyway, no more than anyone would care for the welfare of their superior officer; nobody in Operations would want to see Ian caught by some science officer’s wiles. Still, as Ian stood there, head against the wall with what looked like a smile, she couldn’t help but grip the wall tighter.::

::A giggle behind her caught her off guard, and she realized at once that she wasn’t the only one who’d noticed. Shutting her mouth and spinning to face the crewmen, she drew herself up and, fuelled by authority and irritation from places unknown, she set her eye upon them.::

Ames: Alright, show’s over. Well, go on then, get going.

::They shared a glance and continued down the corridor toward Ian, their giggles resuming once they were past her. But Chelsea herself stayed hidden behind her corner, and a long sigh escaped her as her head slumped backward against the cold, unyielding wall.::

::She didn’t care, anyway.::


Petty Officer Chelsea Ames


USS Columbia NCC-85279

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