Nova took a break from playing table tennis to go get a drink from the nearest lounge.

" Lyena?"

" Oh, Kirie. Evening."

" I'm surprised to see you out in this part of the ship."

" Prima's been trying to learn DASS sports and such recently. He dragged me into it."

" Right. I've noticed. Neda's been avoiding the gym."

" Is that so."

" Yes."

There was a long pause.

" I put in for a promotion a while ago," she said. " Almost two months ago. I haven't even gotten a rejection yet. I'm starting to feel... depressed."

Nova knew this, but he could not supply any answer, because he also knew why she hadn't heard back about it.

" That's unfortunate," he said. " What does it have to do with me?"

" You're with William most of the time when he's filling out normal paperwork," she said. " Have you seen it anywhere? Has he brought it up?"

Nova swiped his card on a vending machine and made a selection.

" I haven't. He hasn't. He's been busy with his... job security, lately," he replied.

He privately wondered why she didn't just bring the issue up with him directly. Maybe she knew, or maybe she didn't want to know.

" Oh, really," she said quietly, also taking out her card. " It probably... got lost somewhere."

Nova gave her a look.

" Just bring it up with him," he said.

" It's not like he doesn't know," she said. " The last few times it's been because of the higher-ups, but I thought if I went through him and General Dawson it'd turn out differently, since they've vouched for me before as an officer..."

" Why not bring it up with Dawson, then," Nova said, tail swishing a bit.

" I'd be overstepping my bounds, wouldn't I?" she said. " After all... On paper, I'm just a lieutenant."

" Come up with an excuse," Nova said. " No one's stopping you."

" I guess you're right," she replied. " I'm just... scared of being stuck in the same place my entire life."

She paused.

" Lyena-Nova... I haven't said as much before, but... I really appreciate you being here."