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Thoughts on Command

Posted on Fri Sep 27th, 2019 @ 4:34am by Captain Osegan Trenna & Lieutenant Commander Arthur Talbot

Mission: Brief Respite
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1345

The ship had been docked for about four hours. The ship was running on power supplied by the starbase. Life support was also being generated by their host. Many of the crew had already disembarked and were headed off to enjoy their several weeks of leave. Some were venturing no further than the starbase, or the planet below, while others were journeying to other planets. She knew of at least one group of crewmembers heading for New Bajor.

Trenna, as to be expected, was in her office. There was still a lot to do in the aftermath of their encounter with the Qlo'ka and Glurone. The standard mission report had been submitted, but the First Contact paperwork had barely been started. There were personnel files to annotated. And there were families to be notified.

"Osegan to Talbot. Come by the Ready Room when you have a chance."

Artie had been sitting in the command chair on the bridge. He knew he didn't need to be there, especially with the ship docked, but he was purposely still trying to get used to the room. Artie deeply missed the engine room, and with Batchelder around, he didn't want to impose on the Chief Engineer, not to mention the optics that it would give. Everyone needed confidence in the passionate engineer. Not wonder when someone with a red collar was going to usurp him.

At the sound of the communique, Artie rose from the center seat and carried the padd he'd been working on over to the ready room door. Artie pressed the chime and waited.

"Come in, Commander," Trenna called. The doors whooshed open. "That was quick."

Artie entered the ready room and raised the padd he carried at the Captain's comment. "Needed to work on the duty roster in a quiet place. Believe it or not, the best place to do that at a starbase is on the bridge."

She motioned towards the small couch in her office as she rose from her desk. "Let's chat."

He was a bit uncertain as to why she directed him to the couch, but seeing how they weren't under any sort of pressure, the gesture seemed welcome. "All right," he said, crossing the room to sit on the couch.

Settling in, the Bajoran woman looked at Artie. "We've had quite a time together so far, haven't we?"

Artie internally panicked. Any conversation starting like that had to mean that big changes were coming. Was she leaving? Was Artie being reassigned? Were they both going to be reassigned and the ship mothballed? Artie attempted to control his panic and shift his energy elsewhere. Or so he attempted.

He tapped his thumb on the padd's steel frame a couple times and answered, "That's kind of an understatement. Bardeezi. Qlo'ka. Glurone. Rylan. I'd definitely say it's been an atypical adventure."

She nodded. "How does it feel not running the repair operation? I imagine a bit strange. I know it was strange for me when I made First Officer in the Militia. One day, I was the Tactics Officer. The next, I was second in command. I was giving orders to the new Tactics Officer when I was so used to doing those things. It was....a little bizarre."

"Heh," Artie scoffed, feigning a smile. "I'm finding that difficulty right now with Engineering. You know my tenure on the Altai precedes yours, and the warp drive is something of my own design. To be able to see and not touch... well, it's enough to keep me out of Engineering unless it's absolutely needed."

She gave her Exec a smile. It only lasted a moment. "And you feel that Engineering is in good hands now?" she asked, her voice taking a more serious tone. "That our new Chief Engineer is up to the job?"

"I think Batchelder is a fine engineer," Artie admitted. "But I don't think he's necessarily the best dealing with unknown species in the middle of a crisis. Though, I can't really say I blame him given what the Glurone and Qlo'ka put us through."

She lacked the level of engineering knowledge that Talbot had, so it was good to get his reassurance in Batchelder's abilities. And she agreed with Artie's observations about the Chief Engineer's behavior with their recent alien 'friends'. "He's had a long career," Trenna said, handing a PADD with the engineer's personnel file on display to Talbot.

Artie accepted the padd and began to skim through the information it presented. It was a long career indeed, especially for one braver than Artie was as far as sticking to the gold collar.

She gave Artie a few moments to look it over. "We've had a lot of turnover in a short time. I attribute some of that to the quickness that we launched and that our first mission was, originally, a one-off. But here we are. Still." She paused a second. "I want to get more stability in the leadership structure established. Including a Second Officer."

"And you're wanting Batchelder to be that person?" Artie asked, still looking down at the information. "We've got a lot of senior staff rotating out this time around. In fact, aside from us, Engineering, and Martinson, we're looking at a fresh start. I think Batchelder would be good as a Second, but do you think he'll accept? He seems hellbent on not moving up any higher."

"I didn't even consider that, actually," she confessed. "Honestly, my hesitation is that I'm not sure I want my second and third in commands to both be engineers. I feel like a little more diversity among the command staff is good." The Bajoran woman shifted, pulling one of her legs under her. "Ideally, I'd like a promising science chief that I could press into the second officer spot. But that requires getting a science chief at all, let alone one that sticks around. We're out here doing exploration so it makes sense, to me at least, that a solid scientist should come our way. I'm not sure what Starfleet Personnel will send our way though."

"So there hasn't been any word yet?" Artie asked. He hadn't seen any notices himself from Command aside from the handful of transfer notices that swept away much of the command staff. In his own experience, the lack of notices was not a good sign, especially since the ship had been a testbed for Steamrunner warp drive upgrades. "Perhaps this is a good time to overhaul the EPS grid since it was never really finished those months ago. Could even take care of some past due maintenance."

"If you think its a good idea, talk to Batchelder," Trenna replied. "You've got me beat in that area, Artie. It's one of the reasons I value you as my Exec." She looked across the room at the replicator. "You want anything to drink? A snack?"

Artie fought back a sigh, feeling that the worst in this conversation had yet to come. Offering someone a refreshment only meant that this conversation was going to get deeper. "A cup of peppermint tea sounds good," he answered. If he was going to be in here for a while, at least he'd have a decent cup of tea to enjoy.

"Peppermint tea coming up," she said cheerfully as she stood. "Any sweetener?" She crossed to the replicator built into the wall.

"No thank you," Artie said with a confirming shake of his head. "A slow day like today means that natural kick needs to be delivered unaltered."

"Peppermint tea," she directed at the replicator. As it shimmered into existence, she requested her own drink. "Raktajino, iced. Double strong, double sweet."

Returning to the sofa with the two drinks, Trenna handed the saucer to Artie before sitting back down on her chair. "I'm going to give Batchelder an assignment. I know he's busy with the repairs but this is important. And I think it will be good to see how he handles it."

Artie sipped his tea and considered the Captain's words. His time with the Bajoran had helped him start to anticipate her actions. "I'm assuming it's a test of sorts. Pass and he's considered for Second Officer, correct?"

"Not necessarily," she answered. While the assignment the Bajoran had in mind would be something that members of the Command Staff would be called upon to do when needed, she felt it was logical to have Batchelder do it regardless of whether he was being considered for the Second Officer billet. "He was leading an away team. A member of that team lost her life. Crewman Prozig's family needs to be notified."

She was silent a moment. "Thoughts."

The Executive Officer was about to sip his tea, but he paused as soon as the Captain started sharing her idea. Artie slowly lowered the mug and just looked at the captain. He hadn't written a letter to a deceased crewmember's family before, but he could certainly imagine how that would feel.

"I..." Artie stammered quietly. "I do think that that is a good idea. I certainly don't envy him. I know Batchelder did not take her death well during the mission. Well, none of us did, especially since for a while there it seemed like a senseless death."

"She was so young," Trenna said softly. Bume Prozig had been 25 when one of the Glurone had impaled her with his pike. The Trill master-at-arms had been assigned to Altai at the same time Trenna had been, though the two hadn't had more than a few minutes of interaction. "This was only her second assignment. She did three years on the Dulaney before here. Her record is exemplary. Showed a lot of potential."

She took a long drink from her raktajino. "Can you talk to Itajime and see how the department is doing? Until we get a new security chief, Itajime is the closest we've got. And he's filling in at tactical. You should see how he's doing too. Let him know that as soon someone gets assigned, he'll get some relief."

"I can," Artie said with a confirming nod. "He's one of the few that's not taking advantage of the leave time now that we're back at a starbase."

"Have you heard anything from any of the other departments? I've been so busy with reports that I haven't had a chance to sit down with anyone. Until now, with you."

Artie sipped his tea, savoring the aroma as he composed his words. "I've seen just about every department. It's been pretty quiet around the ship, especially since practically all of the senior staff has been reassigned. If I ventured a guess, I'd say everyone's just going through the motions because that's all that makes sense. I kinda wish we had a few musicians on board just so we could arrange a couple concerts just to boost morale."

"Computer," Osegan called out, "how many members of the crew play musical instruments?"

"There are twenty-three crew members with references to playing musical instruments in their file."

Trenna looked at Artie. "Sounds like we've got some. And that's just the ones who have some reference to it in their file, so there are probably more that play. The question is: are they any good?"

Artie bobbed his head for a moment, considering the Captain's hidden suggestion. He took another sip of the tea, finding that he was far more intrigued and energized by the idea than the replicated peppermint flavor he tasted. "So, hold auditions then?" he asked the Captain.

"You realized you just volunteered, right?" she said with a chuckle. "I'm teasing, Artie. I can have someone else do it."

"No, no," Artie said. "It's not too much trouble. In fact, this might be just as good for me as it is for those who try out. And, while I don't have the best musical ear, I think I heard Petty Officer ch'Dane in Medical has the antennae for sound. I think he and I could work together on this."

"Then you're well on your way, I think." She looked out the window. The entire field of view was the interior of the dock. "We haven't had an easy cruise so far. First the Bardeezi situation. Then we find the Qlo'ka and Glurone. I don't know what's next, but I'm hoping that it is less frantic. And results in fewer casualties."

"One can only hope." He sipped some more of the tea as he continued to face inward. Artie's mind was already spinning, considering locations for the auditions. He realized what he was doing a moment later and attempted to refocus on the moment at hand. "As they say, risk comes with the uniform."

"Indeed. 'They' do say that," she concurred. A smirk drew itself onto her face. "Have you ever wondered who 'they' are? 'They' seem to have a wealth of knowledge. Q, perhaps?"

Artie chuckled, sipping his tea once more. "The great bird only knows," he mused. "I'm sure Ensign Cherlex in linguistics could give you an earful about its origin."

"Cherlex? I don't think I know an Ensign Cherlex. And I think I'll keep it that way for now," she replied with a laugh. "But you should find out and let me know. I'll make it an order if I have to."

Artie set the cup of tea on the saucer he held. "So, auditions for a concert. Finding the origin of the phrase risk coming with a uniform. Anything else I can help you with? Reupholstering the Captain's chair?"

Her face lit up. "I didn't know that was an option! Let's do that. Some extra padding would be nice, while you're at it." She erupted in laughter before Talbot had a chance to respond.

"Seriously though," Trenna said between chortles, "I appreciate the offer. I think my chair is fine. I've got enough padding these days." The laughter stopped. "I haven't been spending enough time in the gym. And I've been eating too much. Coping mechanism, I suspect," she said, now somber. "My first chance for shore leave as a single woman in years. Some people would probably be out there, hitting all the hot spots, maybe even meet someone for some fun. Not me. I'm here, with my ship, doing paperwork." She took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "It just feels....strange."

"There's no regulation that states you need to stay here," Artie suggested, placing his empty cup of tea on the table beside the couch. "As you said, we've been through a lot in the last few weeks. It's taken a toll on us all, you especially. Take the night off. Go wander the starbase or take a trip to a holodeck. Captain should be able to enjoy life too."

"Maybe the holodeck," she mulled. "I know there's not a regulation, but I just feel like I don't have anywhere to go. I spent most of my life without a real home. I grew up on freighters. Then, once the Occupation was over, I returned to Bajor, hoping to find my father. While my father was a casualty of the Cardassians, I found that I was accepted on the planet of my birth. And, so, I stuck around for a while. For nine years." She finished her raktajino off with a final swig before putting the glass down on the small table next to her. "But it was never 'home'. I was mostly off-planet, stationed on Militia ships. I had some friends on Bajor, but it never truly felt like home. I didn't get the feeling until I first moved to Earth. In 2383, I was assigned as Deputy Director of the Office of Astrometrics. My tenure as Deputy Director wasn't long, as I was reassigned to be Exec on the Rothschild, but I knew I'd return to Earth. And I did, when I joined the Diplomatic Corps."

She sighed. "Part of what made Earth 'home' was that I had people there. Until I was permanently assigned to Altai, my partner was there. Now, without Robin, I'm not sure if Earth is going to feel the same. This is my home now. And that's okay. But it's taking some adjustment."

Artie didn't know what to say. He wasn't much of a social person himself, always surrendering himself to engineering work. Though, he supposed he could relate given that he no longer had an engineering lab to call his own. Perhaps he should find a hobby to take up, or even work on some engineering theories on the holodeck. "They," Artie smirked and chuckled at the very use of the word. "They say that home is wherever you make it. The Altai's a fine ship, and a fine home. Just needs a little... adventure. And not the kind where we get shot at."

"Right you are, Artie," she said, laughing. "Right you are. Maybe we'll get some of that next. I know I'd love to get into some exploring. Without stumbling into another situation like we just had."

"We can only hope," Artie said. Then, he smiled, "No matter what though, we do know that we can count on the Altai. She's been our constant for the last few months with no signs of stopping."

"That she has, Artie. That she has."

 

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