Meeting the Opposition
Mission: Little Things
So far, Bente had managed to avoid most of the children. At least to the point of interaction. She tripped over them everywhere she went, but at least none of them had clung to her leg yet. Perhaps they were less bad than she'd anticipated. Really, there was only one way to figure this out. With most of her paperwork done (read: it had been marked as read in her inbox, or archived in the 'everything else' folder), she opened a comm line to Security. "Can you bring me one of the kids? I'd like to meet him or her."
'Him or her' turned out to be a her. One of the older children from the Nightingale, her presence was requested by the first officer of the ship, although Lydia had no idea what someone like that could possibly want with someone like her. She was anxious as she was escorted into the XO's office, looking around nervously. "This is Lydia Benson," the security officer who'd escorted her here introduced.
Bente looked at the officer who was addressing her, and was then surprised just how much she had to angle her look downwards to be able to look at the child. "That'll be all," she nodded to the security officer once she'd made the reverse motion of looking upward. And back down she went to address the child. "You can take a seat, if you like."
Lydia, a young teen but small for her age, sat in the chair. She folded her hands in her lap. "Can I help you with something, sir?"
"Bente's fine," the XO spoke, taken by surprise by her own words. She wasn't one to offer her first name lightly. Then again, she couldn't stand being called 'sir' by this small creature. "I just wanted to meet you," she shrugged after a pause. "Can I get you something to eat or to drink?" -more unexpected offers.
"Some water, please," Lydia said, although she couldn't bring herself to call this woman by her first name. So she just left off the 'sir' part. "Thank you." She swallowed hard, large blue eyes watching the commander. "I'm not sure why you would want to meet me."
Grudgingly getting over to the replicator, Bente couldn't remember why she'd offered in the first place. Returning with a glass of water, she put it in front of the girl. She wasn't sure why she wanted to meet the girl either, come to think of it. "It sounded like the thing to do," she shrugged.
Lydia was more confused than she'd been before, but she took the water with a quiet "thank you" and sipped it. She held it in both hands against her lap after that. "My parents were both Starfleet officers. My father served on a ship like this one."
Bente blinked as the little being spoke and demanded her attention. "Which ship?" she blurted out. That was a question of this age should be able to answer, right? Right. She hoped.
"The USS Lost Eagle, sir," Lydia answered meekly, looking down into her glass as she took a sip of water to hide her watery eyes.
"USS Lost Eagle.. Lost Eagle," Bente screwed her face in thought. That sounded familiar. Digging through her memory, she finally thought she remembered and a pang of regret shot through her like lightning as she looked at the small being in front of her. "That ship was lost in the battle at JX-287, wasn't it?"
The girl bit her lip as she looked up at Bente, nodding. "Yes, sir," she said solemnly. "There were no survivors. That's... Well, that's how I ended up on the Nightingale."
Bente looked at the pile of misery in front of her, and wished she'd never asked to meet it in the first place. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" she asked. That was something you could ask kids? Right?
Lydia nodded a couple times. "I have a little brother. He's with me on the ship. They've been working pretty hard to keep the siblings together." She paused. "His name is Harold."
"How old is he?" the older woman continued to asked. These seemed to be the easier questions that kept the conversation from turning awkward.
That made Lydia smile slightly. "Six and three-quarters," she replied. "He finds the three-quarters part to be very important."
That sounded like an even more impossible age to deal with. Bente thought what else she could ask. Oh yeah. "Do you have everything you need here on the ship? Anything I can get the kids?"
Lydia's brows knit slightly as she thought. "There is something, although..." She hesitated. "I imagine it can't be a very high priority for a ship like this."
Bente stared at Lydia. She was waiting for more to come, but that obviously wasn't going to happen. Kids. "....yes?" she prompted. Once that had slipped out, she was human enough to realize that had probably sounded annoyed. Well. She was. But the kid didn't deserve it. "It's alright, you can ask me."
"Well..." the girl began hesitantly. "This is obviously not a ship meant to have kids on it and there isn't a lot for us to do. I don't know how many children you've met, but bored kids can be...troublesome. Is there some space aboard we could give over to us while we're here? Maybe somewhere with room to run. We have short legs so it doesn't have to be much. Or play ball or something?"
"Room.. to run," Bente replied dumbfounded. Why would anyone need a separate room to run? Right! Kids! She ran her hand through her hair, and thought how she could accomodate this. "I guess we could clear Cargo Bay 2 for you guys. There's only non-essential stuff in there right now."
Lydia smiled. "That would be appreciated, sir," she said, long having forgotten to use the woman's name. Rank was too ingrained in her. "I think I can safely say that you'll be glad you did. Kids need to burn off a lot of energy."
"Anything else?" Bente asked. She was getting an itch from having to be all nice and easy-going. "If there isn't, I'll have you escorted back to your brother and the other kids."
"No, sir," Lydia said quickly, finishing her water and getting to her feet. "Thank you for asking."
It only took the security officer a moment to re-enter the office once Bente called for him. "He'll bring you back. It was nice to meet you, Lydia," Bente smiled. She could be nice. From time to time.