Her tablet made a little swooshing noise, presumably as she sent an email. It was a standard-issue tablet, and Rin hadn’t heard any of the dozen-odd other tablets ever make that sound, so she had to assume Coleridge had specifically set it to do that herself.
“Okay, great,” she said, glancing up. “Rinet, then.”
Always with the personal names.
Rin snapped off a salute. “Sir.”
“At ease,” Coleridge said with another of those should-be-condescending smiles. “If every cadet was as much of a stickler for propriety as you, my life would be a lot easier.” Rin nodded solemnly, and carefully tucked the bit of praise away for later. “Everything going okay with Sergeant Park? I know it ain’t the most exciting, but-”
From one second to the next, Dr. Khoura was just there.
Rin had been practically looking right at the spot next to Coleridge, and she’d have sworn on the grave of every ancestor she could name that she’d just appeared. One second, empty space – the next, a woman.
A very angry-looking woman.
It was as if the room itself flinched, going dead-quiet in an instant.
The doctor’s face was heavily-lined with barely-contained fury, posture rigid in a way that seemed entirely uncharacteristic.
To her credit, Coleridge reacted quickly. “Officer on deck,” she barked, her posture immediately straightening like someone had rammed a steel bar up her- spine.
There was a second or two as the rest of the deck crew scrambled to attention, and then another of that deafening silence.
“…as you were,” Khoura said at last. Slowly, the bustle of the room picked back up, a little more hesitant and subdued than before.
“Indira. What’s going on?” Coleridge’s voice was quiet, and Rin abruptly felt like she was intruding upon something; she’d never heard the captain use her… use the doctor’s full name.
Trying to leave would be even worse, though.
“The situation has changed,” Khoura said, a little distant. “Quite drastically in fact.”
“Did something happen to the Moon?” It took Rin a moment to realise that that was probably the name of a ship, rather than the literal article. “Did you make it to the anchor?”
“Just this morning.”
“Wha- you couldn’t have, not that quickly. The Moon couldn’t-”
“I took a few shortcuts. The ship will be back in a few days.”
“…’Dira, was that really wise?”
“It was prudent, considering the fact that they’re all broken. Every single one.”
That stopped Coleridge dead in her tracks. “…what?!”
“Every single one,” Khoura confirmed bitterly. “That thrice-digested shite of a man-”
“Wait, wait,” Coleridge interrupted, “what do you mean, broken? How badly?”
“Variable, from the ones I saw. Briarton had just broken down, but Azhav and Hatton were both barely intact.”
Coleridge looked like she very badly wanted to swear. “That little…”
“Mm,” Khoura agreed sourly. “Quite.”
“Hey, so.” All eyes turned towards Barrach, who waved jauntily. “Also part of this conversation, still?” Rin sidled away from them slightly. “Mind not speaking in vague, dramatic references and bring the rest of us up to speed?”
Khoura looked at them, head tilting to the side slightly in a manner that made Rin think of an owl, only far more predatory. “I see,” she said after a moment. “Would you prefer, then, that we talked about the ███████ and how █████ █████████████████ with █████████ ████████ ███?”
“What the fuck,” Rin said.
“…point acknowledged,” Barrach said sheepishly. “Should we just… go, then?”