Farah knocked on the engineering door before entering, remembering Katie’s warning.
Grace glanced back at the door and quickly moved over to her. “Farah! Were you feeling lonely without me?”
“I actually had a question,” Farah said.
“I’m free this evening,” Grace said, leaning close. “Formal or casual attire?”
“It’s not that,” Farah said.
“My, you are a fast worker,” Grace exclaimed. “I don’t know if my heart is ready, but if you insist I can let you right into my quarters. I’ll just have Paul and Leon watch Baron for me. I’m sure they could manage for an hour or three.”
“I wasn’t…” Farah began, but stopped. She examined Grace. “You’re teasing me, aren’t you?”
Grace chuckled. “Well, partially. So, what is it you wanted really?”
“Well,” Farah said. “I was looking up the Alliance’s records on you guys and…”
“And you want to know how I really got kicked out of my position,” Grace finished. “I should have suspected this. Allison wanted to know the same thing after she joined up.”
Grace took a seat and patted her lap. “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll tell you all about it.”
“I can sit on the floor,” Farah said.
“What, my lap isn’t good enough for you?” Grace asked. She shrugged. “Whatever. It’s a simple enough story. After I graduated I worked my way up pretty quickly until I got put in charge of my own station. It seemed like a great opportunity, at first.” Grace looked off to the side as she spoke, her cheek resting on her hand.
“Something went wrong,” Farah said.
Grace nodded. “To be specific, the equipment was a disaster. Horribly outdated stuff. I took stock of everything and found out that over eighty percent of it was completely unsalvageable. So, I put in a request for new equipment. Guess what? The land whale in charge of procurement wouldn’t put through the request. He said it was too much for our budget.”
“Then it’s his fault that you didn’t have the stuff you needed,” Farah said. “But shouldn’t he have been fired then?”
“It gets worse,” Grace said. “I went over his head and got nothing for my troubles but bureaucratic red tape, a headache and a memo that they’d take it under advisement.I went back and forth with them for so long it was ridiculous. Finally, something actually went wrong and a bunch of my team died.” She took off her glasses and wiped her eyes.
“So, they used you as a scapegoat?” Farah asked.
“At first they wanted to use the highest ranking officer who had died,” Grace explained. “They called me in and promised me new equipment and replacement staff. They just wanted me to blame the accident on him using unsafe procedures. But I didn’t want to smear his name like that and you know what it would have meant for his family. I refused to cooperate. So, they made me the scapegoat.”
“But couldn’t you tell someone?” Farah said. “I mean, you did keep records of your requests, right?”
“Sure I did,” Grace said. “I’ve spread the truth around the net, but it doesn’t change anything. Some people claim it’s all a hoax. Others believe it and use it as an example of corruption within the system. There were even some people who protested but the story’s pretty much died down by now and all of that didn’t get me my position back. I’m still poison as far as the Alliance is concerned.”
“I’m so sorry,” Farah said. “It’s totally unfair.”
Grace shrugged. “Yeah, but I’m not the only one here who got a raw deal. Besides, I like my new job.”
“So, what happened with the Doctor?” Farah asked. “How did he really lose his license?”
“You’ll have to ask him,” Grace said. “There’s basically an unspoken rule on this ship. You have to learn someone’s story from the person themselves. Well, don’t expect to hear Kat’s. Only Ophelia and Lucy know for sure what her deal is. Paul and Leon were part of the original crew with her and they don’t even know. I have some guesses, but no real proof to support any of them.”
Farah felt those suspicions again. Her file was classified and she wouldn’t talk about her past. She decided to try distracting herself from it. “Original crew?”
Grace nodded. “You, me and Allison are the newbies. Before us they had… what were the names?” She snapped her fingers. “I remember! Jane, Damian and Stephen.”
“what happened to them?” Farah asked.
“Well, I wasn’t here at the time,” Grace said. “But from what I’ve heard Stephen and Damian left and Jane died. I don’t know if it was an accident, sickness or what. They don’t really talk about it.”
The two were interrupted by a buzzing sound. Grace hit a button on her desk. “Grace here.”
“Report to the meeting room,” Ophelia’s voice said. “And bring Farah with you if you please.”
“On my way,” Grace said. She nodded to Farah and the two headed out of engineering.
Farah wanted to know what it was about, but was afraid to ask. She noticed Paul and Leon exit medical together. Grace looked back at her, apparently noting the confusion on her face.
“We have a mission,” she said. “Ophelia likes to call all of us together when it happens for the briefing. Well, you probably won’t have much to do in this one besides observe.” Grace winked at her. “Maybe you and I will have more time to play.”