Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #8: "Timing, Degree, and Conviction"
This episode's teaser is (unfortunately) in violation of TrekBBS' fanfiction maximum rating for content (particularly sexual situations). I highly recommend heading to the following link:
You may be prompted for a check against age, etc.
Act One will be posted below.
Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #8: "Timing, Degree, and Conviction"
Commander Jesse Kincaid touched the door panel leading into the captain's mess and waited patiently. Within moments, the hatch opened and he joined Captain Krystine Leone and Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis, who were already seated at the four-person table within. A pair of stewards wearing their special serving uniforms stood nearby.
"Good morning, sir," he said after stepping inside. Kincaid nodded to Ariel, "Commander."
"Good morning, Jesse," replied Leone. She had a near-full teacup in front of her. "You got here just in time. We haven't even ordered, yet."
Kincaid smiled at the captain's personal steward, an older petty officer first class named Handel. "Good morning," he said to him.
"Good morning, Commander," replied Handel. "Coffee?"
"Yes, please," the executive officer nearly pleaded.
While Handel moved away, Ariel kept her silence. Her eyes carried the look of someone who had not yet been to sleep. She nursed her coffee mug as though it were the only source of warmth amidst a blizzard.
Handel set a mug of black coffee down on the table as Kincaid took a seat. He shot an amused expression at Ariel and her apparent fatigue. "Late night, Commander?"
"Mrgh," Ariel muttered. She shot him a deep frown before returning to her coffee.
Leone tilted her head toward Kincaid. "Something going on?"
"I received the commander's Mast approvals at oh-four-hundred. No doubt after a full night of reviewing them," he informed her matter-of-factly. "Perhaps, in the future, Commander Elannis will find that procrastination is not the best method in the execution of her duties."
As Ariel took on a sour expression, the captain changed the subject. "Oh, boy... another Captain's Mast," she said.
Kincaid nodded. "I'm awaiting some last-minute changes from some of the department heads." He checked his PADD and smiled at Ariel when he read her Mast recommendations, but continued to speak to Leone, "Master Chief Thornton is getting everything set up on one of the holodecks."
Leone peered at her teacup and sighed. "I loathe the Mast, to be honest."
"I know of no captain who enjoys it, sir," agreed Kincaid.
She took a sip of her tea and added, "You know, I actually ran the Masts aboard Potemkin as T'Cirya's Exec. She made it one of my collateral duties."
Ariel groaned slightly at that, placing her cheek on the table with her nose close enough to graze the side of her coffee mug.
Though Kincaid turned to give her an annoyed glance, Leone ignored her and continued. "Though we tend to pride ourselves as an evolved species, we can get ourselves into some very dumb situations. After a while, it kind of chips away at your humanity. I'm not looking forward to running the Mast, again."
He straightened in his seat. "Sir, I'd be happy to volunteer for that duty, if you'd like."
Ariel's eyes shifted toward Kincaid, but she continued to maintain her silence.
Leone brightened considerably. "Are you sure? I'm certain you have personnel in your department who're being charged."
"Captain Gleason tended to like to run his own Masts, but I know how to conduct them and I'm sure that the local JAG officer would be of assistance," he assured her. "If you'd prefer to simply review our findings, I'll handle the duty and bring you the final reports when we conclude at the end of the week."
"I'll take you up on that, Jesse. Thank you." Leone then raised a hand to Handel, who was standing by to retrieve breakfast for the three senior officers. "I'll just have two eggs and some bacon."
Kincaid ordered his breakfast, and Ariel chose to continue to drink hers. "I checked in with the bridge. Looks like we're on time to arrive at Starbase Forty-Seven."
Ariel cleared her throat, but her tone held its rough edge. "Slow patrols of the border are like that. I hope it stays uneventful while we're out here."
"The less traveled portions of the sector tend to be quieter, yes," Kincaid replied blandly. He turned back to Leone. "But, it does provide us with time to drill the crew and keep their response times in accordance with regulation."
Leone gave an approving expression. "Ariel, what's on your docket for today?"
She cleared her throat once more, and her tone sounded closer to normal. "Willie and I will be working with Lieutenant Bartlet on tracking down some minor replicator malfunctions we've been seeing from time to time."
Kincaid added, "I read her report, but she didn't have a theory as to why it was happening."
"That's why we're meeting today."
The captain moved her teacup to the outer edge of the table and it was refilled very quickly by Handel. Leone spoke as he filled up her cup, "If it's a malfunction, why is Wilson getting involved?" He added the appropriate amount of sugar to the cup before withdrawing to the galley.
"It was actually Wilson's department that tracked the malfunction. One of his ensigns was performing a security drill with her team on deck twenty-two, and they found the industrial replicator spitting out a large number of tricorders. It had already created four crates by the time the team found it," explained Ariel. With every word, she became more animated than she had before.
Leone blinked. "That's odd." She sipped at her cup and said, "Let me know what you all find," just as Handel and his assistant arrived with breakfast.
=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=
Lieutenant Abigail Atherton had been aboard Farragut for only a few months but had already gained a reputation as one of the ship's most prodigious eaters. She usually ordered extremely large meals and today's breakfast in the wardroom was no exception. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast and an array of berries were all laid out before her, including a cup of English breakfast tea.
Her attention diverted to the door of the wardroom when it opened to admit Greg. He exchanged glances with her, then blushed hard as he broke eye contact and moved to the replicators to order a mug of coffee. When he sat down next to her, instead of across from her like usual, she shot him a curious glance.
"Good morning," he said with a toothy grin. "Looking forward to the day?"
"Not really. There's a Captain's Mast today and I have to finish my list of people who I'm not just dealing with myself. I take it your list is already in to the XO?" Abbie asked, cutting into her eggs with her fork.
Greg shrugged. "I usually just sign off on Chief Amdal's recommendations. He's one of the good NCOs."
"I'm sure he's enjoying his promotion then since you're giving him all the responsibility," Abbie responded with a shake of her head.
"C'mon, Abbie," he replied, keeping his smile in place. "The NCOs usually have a much better perspective on what's going on in the ranks. That's their job. They get the first reports from the supervisors, anyway. I don't see them until the day before Mast begins."
"If you're the one in charge, you're the one who should be making the final decision." Abbie sipped at her tea, adding, "That's how your boss does it."
"Technically, I am making the final decision. It can't go to the Mast until it has the approval of the department officer," he remarked. Greg took sipped gingerly from his mug. "Is that what has your panties in a twist this morning?"
"Well, since I take my job responsibilities seriously, I'm just mulling over my decisions, to make sure I'm comfortable with them. I thought about it last night and before I hand in the list this morning, I just want to make sure I'm still okay with whom I've chosen for the Mast."
Again, Greg offered nothing more than a shrug. "I trust the chief knows best, I suppose. I don't need to micromanage him to get the job done." He leaned forward conspiratorially. "Besides, my time last night was much better invested than double-checking Mast reports."
"What did you do?" She immediately regretted asking the question when she saw his expression.
He grinned. "Let me begin by saying that I had a hell of a good time last night."
"I have a feeling I really don't want to know about it," Abbie quickly amended her stated interest.
Greg continued to grin widely. "Victoria..."
He did not have to say another word. Abbie knew what happened. She shook her head and cut him off. "I suppose you came straight from her quarters this morning." The edge in her tone peeked out on the word "straight."
"Not exactly. I mean, I woke up there."
"I see," Abbie replied sharply as she pointedly returned her attention her meal.
"And then I had to go back to my place, get a clean uniform."
"I get the picture."
Greg continued, undaunted, "And so then I changed, and came here for breakfast."
Abbie oozed sarcasm. "Great. I'm all caught up, now. Thank you for sharing. Next time, just send your personal log so I can ignore it."
He leaned in and lowered his voice. "But let me tell you, she is an amazing woman. She did things that I'd only read about in-"
"Okay!" she said, suddenly. "Story time is over. Let us contemplate the events of the previous night in mutually pleasing silence and then later, I will forget that we even had this conversation."
Greg was enjoying this reaction too much to stop. "She was just... so..."
"I don't need to hear any more about your embellished sexcapdes, Lieutenant."
As if seeing her for the first time, Greg peered at her. "What crawled up your pant leg and died?"
She rolled her eyes. "I long for the days when I served on a ship in Starfleet."
"Uh, where do you think you are now?"
"Right now? I think I'm a secondary supporting character in a sex-comedy written by a teenaged boy." Abbie gathered her things for a hasty departure.
"Well, you could have a major role if you just loosened up a bit," Greg muttered to himself as she left the wardroom.
=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=
Abbie had only managed to eat about half her breakfast in the wardroom before she fled, so her first task upon entering Ten-Forward was to order a second meal at the bar. Only once it was placed did she look around for a place to sit and spied Isira and Petra speaking quietly at a table near the window. She wound her way towards them and then asked politely, "Would you two mind a third?"
Lieutenant Petra Bartlet peered up at Abbie through her dark brown bangs. "Not at all..." she said with a smile. "I don't usually see you in Ten-Forward this early, er... lieutenant?"
"You can call me Abbie," the science officer replied easily after Isira just gave her a smile and motioned to an empty seat. Once she sat, she nodded towards the PADD beside the engineer. "Is that your list for Kincaid, Lieutenant Bartlet?"
"Please, you can call me Petra. Or Pet, for short."
"I think I'll use Petra," Abbie answered, giving the engineer a smile.
"I was just helping the lieutenant go through her list, to help provide some counsel for her decisions. It's quite the responsibility," Isira confirmed for Petra.
Petra explained, "This is actually my first time as a starship division officer. I've read the manuals and passed the certifications, but it's daunting to actually have to do it, sometimes."
Isira asked, "Is your own list complete, Abbie?"
"Yes, my list is done, but I'm giving it one last review to make sure it's what I want to submit. Like the lieutenant said, the first time you do something like this, you want to make sure you get it right," Abbie agreed. She smiled and thanked the waiter when he delivered her food.
"W-Well, of course," replied Petra earnestly. "I guess I'm feeling guilty about sending my personnel for punishment. They're good people."
Isira reached out to place a reassuring hand on Petra's shoulder. "It's alright to feel that way. However, try to find the confidence in your ability to make these kinds of decisions. Your team will respect your leadership."
"That's the way I feel about it," Abbie noted, nodding her agreement with Isira. "I know I have pretty good judgment, so I'm actually glad that I'm the one making the decisions this time. I don't think I'm going to be unnecessarily hard on anyone."
Isira gave Abbie a bemused look. "You're 'glad'?" she questioned. "You relish the ability to make the decision yourself. You love being the one to make the call."
Abbie chuckled and wrinkled her nose at Isira in self-mockery. "Yeah, you're right. It's awesome. But it's still not something I take lightly."
"I would hope not," Petra said. She dropped her eyes to her PADD once more. "Only six more names to go on mine before I can send it in. And I only have an hour before Commander Kincaid comes calling."
Abbie glanced at Isira, who gave her a subtle nod, before mentioning, "When I'm having trouble coming to a decision for my section, I sometimes write out a schematic for how it could go. You know, like a flow chart? Sometimes, seeing all the different possibilities side by side helps clarify what I really want to accomplish."
"Sounds like it might be easier than reading through the gory details of each report and then wondering how the Mast will respond if they're found guilty," Petra said with a heavy sigh. "Perhaps next time, you could show me?"
"Sure thing. And if you just want to talk to someone about the annoyances of being a section chief, I'm here too," Abbie offered.
Petra offered a warm smile. "I will certainly take advantage of your offer."
"Please do. I've already fallen into a rut on this ship. Breakfast, work, lunch with Greg," Abbie explained, adding a note of pique when she mentioned the chief helmsmen. "Work, then work out, then dinner with either Isira or Kincaid."
"I, uh... I mean, that sounds pretty good to me," Petra replied as she leaned back in her chair. "I haven't had a chance to really socialize with too many people since reporting aboard. Outside of work, I mean. Like now."
Abbie shared another look with Isira, then smiled at the engineer. "Well, you're more than welcome to join us for dinner some nights. We were even thinking of starting a movie night, you know, the old style ones."
"Oh, yes. Ensign O'Day and Lieutenant Aspinall once invited me to watch movies once," Petra replied. "But, the one invitation was extended on a night when I had the watch in engineering." She sighed. "I regret not taking them up on it, considering recent events..."
"We'll make sure to schedule one when you're not otherwise occupied, then," Isira immediately offered.
The chief engineering officer smiled widely. "Thank you. I appreciate that."
Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #8: "Timing, Degree, and Conviction"
I liked the scene with Greg and Abigail. That's what you call an overshare. But clearly Greg is having fun with it. The dude has been through quite a bit lately. Sadly it doesn't look as if things are going to end on a high note here, considering what we already know about Waltham.
Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #8: "Timing, Degree, and Conviction"
Wow, Greg scores a 10.0 on the TMI meter! :lol:
Poor Abigail, having to put up with his sophomoric hijinks which likely only underscore the fact that she isn't getting any lately.
Wonderful character interaction!
Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #8: "Timing, Degree, and Conviction"
The first day of the Captain's Mast loomed before Kincaid as he entered Holodeck Four. The holodeck's running program was created by Farragut's Command Master Chief Kim Thornton and made to resemble a typical Starfleet conference room with a large outer room to hold the crew that would stand before them for the day. Kincaid gave a curt nod to the marine gunnery sergeant running the marine detail assigned to them for the duration; they acted as bailiffs during the proceedings.
"Good morning, Master Chief," he said as he walked to his seat within the room.
Master Chief Thornton replied in kind, though her attention was diverted toward a PADD and her assistant. A Yeoman Second Class seemed to always be at her side the previous day, providing her with information in a timely fashion. "We have a pretty full docket today, Commander," she said in a soft contralto. "Should be coming up on your display, now, sir."
Kincaid checked his PADD. "Thank you," he said. His eyes widened at the list of names. "I just don't get how so many crew could possibly be out of discipline so soon after reporting aboard. It boggles the mind."
"Sometimes they like to push the boundaries with a new ship when they report aboard, and sometimes you have overzealous supervisors who like to assert their authority a little too much," the master chief said. She nodded a silent greeting to the other master chief who entered to take his place on the presiding board. "I note the ones we dismiss and have a chat with them later. Discipline needs to be maintained on both sides."
Kincaid found himself liking the master chief. "Agreed."
Damage Controlman Apprentice Fullerton C. "Cal" Lasseter stood at attention along with several other crewmates of varying ranks. He wore his best mustard yellow uniform with three stripes and stared straight ahead out of fear of aggravating the dress marine marching up and down the corridor outside of the simulated conference room. Although there were chairs available, no one was allowed to use them as they were ordered to remain at attention.
The marine, wearing the rank of a staff sergeant, addressed the group. "I will escort each of you inside, individually. You will stand before the Mast and speak only when spoken to. You will address anyone who speaks to you with respect, responding with 'sir,' 'chief,' or what have you. If you fail to do so, I will issue a warning. If you fail twice, I will slap binders on your hands and take you into custody."
This was not the first time Cal had heard the speech, and in his estimation, not the last. When the staff sergeant asked if they understood, he joined the chorus of "Yes, Staff Sergeant."
The staff sergeant nodded once, then pressed the door annunciator. He escorted the first crewman in; she was a very young-looking girl with only one stripe on her collar. Obviously her first time through the system, and already traumatized by the procedure. The staff sergeant issues marching orders to her and she followed them to the letter. Once they entered the mess, the door slid home behind them and they could hear nothing behind.
She finished her meeting in under fifteen minutes, with a stricken expression upon her face. She returned to her standing position as she had not yet been dismissed, and then it was Cal's turn.
"One step forward, march," ordered the staff sergeant. "By the left flank, march."
Cal turned to the left and strode to the mess door. He stopped on the second step as the staff sergeant ordered him to halt. He turned to the right, then waited for the door to open and admit him.
Beyond the door lay the simulated large conference room, within was an arrangement of tables in a semi-circle. Commander Kincaid, Master Chief Thornton, another master chief he'd never met, and the ship's marine master gunnery sergeant sat within, eyeing him as he obeyed the marine sergeant behind him. He stepped in and stood at attention.
Cal felt his stomach lurch as he saw the executive officer in lieu of the captain. Word was that he was a straight-arrow officer, whereas most of them liked the laid-back command style of their commanding officer.
The ship's command master chief seated next to the XO, an older woman with silvering brunette hair, straightened up in her seat. Her uniform was a command red jumpsuit variant. Although he had to wear a dress uniform, the chiefs and sergeants could wear whatever they wanted. She scanned him with her eyes and then back down at the PADD before her. "Crewman Lasseter, this is your second appearance before the mast. This time, it's insolence toward superiors."
Kincaid's eyes widened at the familiar tone used by the master chief and looked down at the PADD he set down on the table. His fingers tapped on the controls. Cal assumed he was looking him up.
"It was not my intention to do so, Master Chief," replied Cal.
She leaned forward, placing her hands in a steeple atop her PADD. "Intentionally or not, the facts in evidence are that you willfully exhibited insolent behavior to your supervisor while on duty. What's the problem, Crewman? You dislike working with Petty Officer Solat?"
Cal took in a deep breath and decided he would go for broke. "I would like to answer the Master Chief's question, if I may I have the Master Chief's permission to speak freely."
The master chief angled a look toward the XO, as he was the senior officer on the deck. When Kincaid gave his ascent with a succinct nod, she turned back and smiled. "All right, Crewman. We'll give you enough rope to hang yourself with, because I'm curious how a guy with such high marks coming out of basic ends up standing before the mast so many times that he's going to end up in the brig before long."
"Thank you, Master Chief, Commander," Cal said immediately. "The incident as described by Petty Officer Solat began as a free exchange of ideas during a team meeting. The petty officer's opinion on a particular task held some disagreement amongst the team, but I felt that they were holding back due to intimidation. I held no such compunction and spoke up. My tone was misinterpreted."
Kincaid read from his PADD, "Petty Officer Solat reported that you called him, and I'm quoting from his report, now, an 'evil cold-blooded elf.'"
Cal pressed his lips together. "Commander, with due respect to the petty officer, I believe that he may have misheard me."
"Oh? Do enlighten us."
"I called him an evil cookie-making elf, sir. However, if I might add in my defense, I did not say it very loudly and it was after he ended the meeting," Cal responded, unable to contain his grin. "His hearing is obviously more acute than I realized, though as he did mishear my speech, I submit that his report is inaccurate."
The master chiefs and gunnery sergeant tittered at that. An inaccurate report, especially one with a formal charge against another enlisted member, was a violation of another article, number one hundred-seven.
"I would be willing to overlook his actions if you're willing to overlook mine," Cal offered, helpfully.
The staff sergeant standing behind him barked in his ear loudly, "That's a warning, Crewman!"
"Master Chief!" Cal added quickly. He didn't want to be thrown to the deck by the overzealous marine and tossed in the brig.
Kincaid leaned over to speak with the master chief quickly. She nodded in response to his words, then announced, "Staff Sergeant will escort his detail outside where he will wait for the result of our deliberations. Send in the next detail to stand before the mast."
Soon, he found himself back outside and standing in line as he had before entering the Mast. Back in formation, he waited patiently for the others' charges to be dealt with. He afforded himself a quick smirk before dropping it, lest the other marines nearby take issue with his private amusement.
By the time Ariel and Wilson entered Cargo Bay Two, Bartlet and her deputy, Lieutenant (jg) Harold Vestry, were examining circuitry laid out atop a portable table. Senior Chief Tallan stood nearby as he directly supervised the maintenance crews working in the area.
"Looks like a level one diagnostic," noted Ariel as they approached Bartlet.
Vestry looked up and confirmed, "That's exactly what this is, sir. We decided to get an early start, in case this was a systemic problem."
"Have other replicators shown a similar problem?" asked Wilson.
Bartlet replied, "We found power spikes in one other unit in Cargo Bay Five. They seem to be occurring in the early morning hours or very late in the evening."
Ariel said, "While the third shift is on duty."
"Were there any replicated items found in those cases? Or did anyone report finding a similar state as Ensign Wu found in here?" Wilson turned his head back toward the partially-dismantled replicator.
Bartlet and Vestry shared a look. The chief engineer admitted, "No, sir. No reports of any replicated materials or items were brought to our attention. All we've found thus far is the redirection of power to those units within certain hours overnight."
Wilson moved around to the other side of the table to access a separate panel. With a few taps of his fingers, he asked, "Can we pull the replication records to see what it was producing?"
"We should be able to, yes, sir," Vestry said. He tried to access the record, but found he could not. "Uh... Senior?" he called out.
Tallan looked up from a conversation with one of the maintenance petty officers and moved to the lieutenant's side. "Yes, sir?"
"I can't access the replicator records for Cargo Bay Five. Could you lend a hand?" Vestry offered his PADD to the Andorian NCO.
His blue fingers moved across the PADD's surface quickly. "There's nothing to access, Lieutenant. According to this, the replicator never recorded anything."
Ariel moved to peer over their shoulders at the result of the search. "Perhaps I should have some of my people take a look to see if there's been any tampering."
Bartlet nodded. "No way a replicator draws that much power for nothing." She looked back toward the diagnostic. "We'll continue our efforts, here, just in case."
The chief operations officer spoke as she walked toward the exit, "I'll let you know what we find out."
The marine staff sergeant dismissed the assembled crewmen, but told Cal to stand fast. "The mast will see you, now." He pressed the button and the door slid open.
Cal noticed that there were no more marching orders. Nothing about keeping his words respectful or threats of being shoved to the deck and placed in cuffs. He stepped through and stood at attention as he did before.
"Crewman Lasseter," said the master chief. "In light of the fact that the petty officer's report was..." She paused and searched for the political word to use, "inaccurate, we have decided to reduce our findings. However, by your own admission, you did exhibit insolent behavior toward your supervisor and this is intolerable. Am I being read clearly, Crewman?"
"Aye, aye, Master Chief," replied Cal. He kept his eyes on the bulkhead far behind them.
"After discussing it with the rest of the mast, Commander Kincaid will discuss your punishment after we adjourn." She tapped a bell in front of her twice. "This mast is adjourned. The crewman is dismissed."
Cal took one step back and twisted on his right heel. He heard Kincaid call after him, "Wait outside for me, please, Crewman."
Kincaid joined him after only a minute, then gestured for them to walk together toward the holodeck exit. "Crewman, I read your record."
"Yes, sir," Cal said stiffly. He did not relish this conversation or the outcome.
"You can speak freely. This is an informal discussion." assured the XO with a smile. "I'm not looking to trap you in another charge."
"That's a relief."
They entered a lift together and the car sped upward toward the officer's section of the ship after Kincaid spoke his order aloud. "Anyway, like I said, I read your record. You got pretty high marks in basic. Your instructors seemed to like you a great deal; quite a few of them expected you to flourish out in the field."
The doors opened to allow them to depart, and he led him to his office. Cal stood, waiting for an instruction from the XO.
"Have a seat," Kincaid said. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"No, sir. Thank you, sir," Cal replied. He slipped into the visitor's chair before the commander's desk.
"Hope you don't mind me indulging, then," Kincaid turned to the replicator. "Raktajino, double-sweet." He retrieved the mug from the replicator's materialization pad and sat down behind the desk. "As I was saying, high marks, you were going places. You were all set to make petty officer two cycles ago and then you got hit with five infractions in less than three months?"
Cal sighed, letting out his breath through his flaring nostrils. "Sir, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not discuss it." He rose in preparation to depart. "I will try harder to be a model crewman."
"Glad to hear it, but not good enough," the XO said sternly. He pointed down toward the deck, indicating his order to have Cal sit back down. "What the hell happened between your last posting and this one?"
Cal's eyes darted away from the almost-penetrating gaze of Kincaid. He slowly sank into the chair. "I don't want to make excuses, sir..."
"I'm not asking for excuses. I'd prefer an explanation."
"Then, I'm sorry, sir. I cannot provide one."
Kincaid frowned as he peered at his mug briefly. "Very well. I'm going to defer punishment until I have more time to consider. Master Chief Thornton has left this with me, so I'll be in touch with you, soon."
Cal sensed that the meeting was over and rose from his seat. "Aye, sir. By your leave?"
Kincaid stood up and set his mug down. "Crewman, before you go, I'd like to say that here on Farragut, we prefer to work with people and not just punish them outright. This isn't the flagship of the fleet, but I'd rather you come away from your time here for the better, not the worse."
"I... appreciate that, Commander," Cal said hesitantly. He lifted his gaze to meet Kincaid's. "But I would prefer to simply take my lumps and move on. If I'm to remain here, fine. If not, I'm sure there's a fuel transport that could use a good scrubbing somewhere in Starfleet."
END OF ACT TWO.
Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #8: "Timing, Degree, and Conviction"
Personal Log of Lieutenant (jg) Gregory AspinallThe doors to Greg's quarters opened and he stepped through them and stopped. When the doors closed behind him, he took in a deep breath and closed his eyes. The previous night with Victoria remained fresh in his memories, and he indulged in reminiscence before he reported for the morning shift on the bridge.
"Good morning, Lieutenant," said a familiar tone.
Greg's eyes snapped open to see the Andorian Spaceflight Operations Chief (SOC) Therun Amdal staring back at him. "Oh, good morning, Chief. I didn't see you there."
"You had your eyes closed. I don't think you were seeing anything."
"Right," replied Greg. With a quick nervous glance back toward his quarters, he gestured toward the turbolifts at the end of the corridor. "You on your way up to the hangar?"
"Yes, sir. I was just running a set of tools to impulse engineering, after checking up on the repairs to one of the shuttles." Amdal's left antennae twitched slightly as he took in his superior officer's appearance. "Your tunic is slightly askew, sir," he noted.
Greg looked down to see that the hem of his uniform top exposed his wine red undershirt. He snapped it back down into place. "Thank you, Chief."
"Of course, sir," Amdal replied in amusement. "Are you on your way to the hangar or to Ten-Forward for a meal?"
"The wardroom, actually," Greg said as he began to walk. "I can walk you as far as deck five, if you don't mind the company."
"Of course not, sir," Amdal answered as he followed alongside. "Are you meeting with Lieutenant Waltham or Atherton this morning?" he wondered.
The question surprised Greg, as he stammered out an answer. "W-Well, I'm going up to see Abbie. Victoria's still... er, I mean, she's not available right at the moment."
"That's where the smart money is, sir. Atherton's got a good reputation and the better career ahead of her," Amdal cheerfully offered.
Greg grimaced slightly at the advice. "I don't typically base my love life on the career potential, Chief." He turned his head to look at the Andorian. "Can I presume that my personal life is now the subject of gossip in the Goat Locker? What am I saying; of course it is."
"Oh, no, sir. We just can't help but notice you spend all your free time with one or the other. The chiefs in Lieutenant Atherton's section all speak very highly of her; same with the enlisted aboard her last ship. She ended up joining their poker game when she got kicked out of the officers'," Amdal freely revealed.
"Might I ask what the scuttlebutt is on Lieutenant Waltham?" Greg asked just before they reached the turbolift.
"There isn't any, except that she seems very focused on you, sir," Amdal reported.
Greg smiled. "That's not unusual, is it?"
"I'm not sure, sir. I'm not familiar with the mating habits of... humans," Amdal replied.
That brought out a chuckle from Greg. "Senior Chief Tallan doesn't usually call me 'human.' I'd gotten used to 'pink-skin.'" He tapped the turbolift call and waited. "But, I can see the confusion. This is not a typical relationship for me, I'll admit that much. I've never had anyone be this aggressive."
"Aggression is usually a sign of attraction," Amdal opined. "One of my wives was very aggressive; it's a good sign."
Greg took that with a thoughtful nod. The lift arrived miraculously empty for the time of the morning. As they stepped aboard and it began to move quickly up to deck five, he turned to the chief and said, "By the way, I wanted to thank you for all the work you did on the Mast list."
"Of course, sir. Most of the issues we can deal with ourselves, but a few seemed ripe for the Mast."
The lift stopped at Greg's destination and the doors parted. "It's not an easy job, but I appreciate it all the same. And not just for the Mast, Chief. The department would fall apart without you." He started for the wardroom without saying another word.
Amdal's antennae twitched again and he frowned in confusion at the lieutenant's retreating back. "Thank you, sir," he answered.
"Mom says that Jacob is doing as well as can been expected right now. She has him seeing a counselor twice a week, but it's still a big change for him. He's got a mild case of agoraphobia, they say, because he's never been anywhere that wasn't a ship or a space station before. He's waking up in the of the middle crying every other night and half the time she finds him under his bed in the morning." Kincaid shook his head as he leaned forward in his seated position on the couch in the counselor's office.
"It's a common problem with children who are born in space and aren't properly exposed to other living situations. But he's young, he's already in counseling and he will grow past it," Isira assured him in response. She was sitting back in her own chair, regarding the commander. "Which you know. You're worried for him, as is natural, but you're confident what your mother is doing for him is the right thing."
"Yes. It just bothers me a little that I can't be there for him. But Mom is way better equipped to handle it." Kincaid forced something of a smile to come to his face. "He's taking that bear I gave him with him everywhere right now. That's something else the counselor says they'll have to work on once he's not quite so afraid of the sky."
"Did he name the bear finally?"
"Yeah. It's 'Commander Bear,'" Kincaid admitted sheepishly.
"Children often don't have complicated names for their toys. Or their pets. You can't expect a four year-old to come up with something much better than that," Isira noted with a chuckle.
"I guess so. Abbie once told me what she had named her stuffed animals - Castor and Pollux - and I was a little worried that maybe Jacob was being odd. But then, Abbie's the one who had a really odd childhood, so I shouldn't be surprised. I worry about her sometimes too. The way her family has no concept of the word is really heartbreaking."
Isira raised an eyebrow. "Now you're worried about Abbie?"
"Sometimes. She's very independent and can more than handle herself, which I guess you would have to be to survive a father like that and a mother who never gave two craps about you, but she's still human. She needs people and a family and a community, just like everyone else."
"Of course. But she's a Starfleet officer with a good career, an excellent reputation, and at least two other officers consider her family, as I am told," Isira noted pointedly. "Including yourself."
"Yeah, but she's still pretty isolated, I think," Kincaid replied.
"But that's not really something that should be the subject of a session between you and I, is it, Commander?" Isira questioned pointedly. "We've talked about your mother, your brother, and now your putative sister. Why don't you talk to me about what's actually on your mind?"
Kincaid flushed and shook his head. "The things I hear and have to do as part of the Captain's Mast shouldn't be the subject of a counseling session."
"On the contrary, my job is to help you do your job, Commander. Whatever information you feel is privileged remains so in my office as well. There's something bothering you about today's Mast, so let's talk about that instead of your family, with whom you're quite comfortable."
After a moment's hesitation, Kincaid makes a slow gesture with his hand as he spoke, "We had a pair of marine privates that engage in bare-knuckle fights semi-regularly, as well as a petty officer who tends to use her off-time to drown her sorrows overnight and then takes a nip during her shift all day." He turned to shoot a glance at Isira, "I sat there listening to the token resistance each one had for their transgressions and I was left feeling very hollow for it. Instead of doling out disciplinary action, I wanted to refer each of them to you."
"What stopped you? As I said, that is my primary job aboard a ship of the line, to help its crew members do their jobs without compromising their mental health."
He grit his teeth. "They're no longer members of the crew. We recommended general courts-martial for the privates, and the petty officer has been relieved." Kincaid let out a slow breath. "I feel responsible for this. That's why..." He trailed off, seemingly lost in thought.
"That's why...," Isira prompted pointedly.
Kincaid continued, "There was a crewman in the Mast today named Lasseter. He wasn't in there for anything felonious, which was astonishing when you consider the rest of the docket. He carried himself intelligently, and I thought to myself, 'There's a guy I can work with.' I looked him up. He went to basic out of high school, got excellent marks from his instructors. Ended up going to damage control and operations school which earned him an automatic promotion."
"And yet, here he was, at the Captain's Mast," Isira interjected.
He waved it off. "Minor problem with a questionable report from his supervising NCO. What I'm saying is that it wasn't anything that required him to be tossed in the brig over, pending charges before a general court-martial. Non-judicial punishment was necessary if only to let him know this his smart-ass attitude wasn't warranted, but I think he could be a really good petty officer if he was placed under the right guidance, the right leadership."
"You're the executive officer, and the captain's given you full discretion. What's stopping you from doing what you think is the right thing to do in this case?"
"I'm concerned with the fact that I can't move every one of merit around like this," he said with a sigh. "Do I simply go through tomorrow's Mast docket and find the troubled youth like Lasseter and shuffle them? And if I intervene on his behalf and not others, is that favoritism?"
"Is that all you can do? Is there no other option?" Isira asked. "It seems to me that non-judicial punishment isn't just changing someone's assignment. There's a whole range of things that can be done."
"No, the NJP was a warning, and the master chief left the remainder up to me, since I'd shown an interest in the matter during recess," Kincaid explained. "I intend to talk to Lieutenant Bartlet and see if maybe I could advise her. I'm also checking to see if this particular supervisor had has any problems in the past."
"That sounds like a plan. So why are you so uncertain about this course of action?"
"I'm concerned about playing favorites." He intoned, presenting her with a dour expression. "Especially aboard this ship."
"You've very concerned about appearances, Commander, but let me ask you: are you certain about your instincts in this matter?"
"I usually am, but in those other cases, I didn't have to be concerned with the appearance of favoritism... I could simply make the decision and the crew would respect that I was making a choice for the good of the ship." Kincaid paused to consider his own words. "To hell with it. It's my call, and the captain wouldn't even bother with such a low level change. If they don't like it, tough."
Isira gave him a smile. "Good to hear, Commander."
"In spite of our finding that the records had been deleted, Lieutenant Bartlet is continuing the diagnostic," said Ariel. She picked up her ivory-colored king's knight and advanced it the two spaces toward the center of the chessboard.
Leone responded with the Ware Opening, moving her queen's rook's pawn two spaces. "I'm certain that she's intent on eliminating any mechanical failure with the replicator system."
Ariel eyed the bizarre opening, but said nothing. "Uh, of course," she said distractedly. Her king's pawn now move up two spaces. "But now that we know that the records were intentionally deleted-"
"You were able to track the deletion to outside input?" Leone asked, interrupting her. She advanced her queen's pawn in response, but only a single space. "Have you eliminated the possibility of data corruption?"
"On a computer less than six months out from drydock?"
"It's not impossible."
"It's not impossible, yes, but highly unlikely."
"I hear that as you haven't checked, yet."
"No... but I think that would be something that my team would have found right away. And it seems rather odd that only the replicator records for each of the power spikes could have been the sole data subject to this very specific, very timely corruption," Ariel said, her tone growing annoyed.
Leone smiled. "By the way, check."
Ariel looked down at the board suddenly and her eyes widened at her predicament on the board. Confusion took over, to be replaced with a sly smirk. "Oh, nice job with the distraction, Krys."
The captain grinned. "Know your enemy, right?"
Ariel stopped the conversation to reverse her position on the board until Leone finally resigned her king. "Even when you're playing your little mind games, I'll still kick your ass all over the board."
"If it weren't for that damned polite aspect of announcing when you check the king, I would've had you," Leone rose from her seat behind the desk in her ready room. She approached her small replicator and hesitated before ordering her drink. "You think I should wait for engineering to clear usage before I get a glass of iced tea?"
While resetting the board for another game, Ariel smiled. "I'd risk it. What's the worst that could happen?"
Leone replied, "I could end up with five hundred glasses of iced tea? I'm not that thirsty." She returned to the desk without ordering. "What's the next step?"
"Well, Wilson is pursuing a line of inquiry. Only a certain number of people have access to the replicator in the first place. He's checking to see who was working near that section during the times indicated by the missing records."
Ensign Yvonne Colby entered the main corridor outside the NCO staterooms flanked by two privates from the ship's marine company. "In here," she ordered, as she pressed the door control to open it. As soon as she took a step inside, she could see some of the crew lounging in their bunks.
"Officer on deck!" screamed a petty officer to her left.
All of them got to their feet, as the call went out; the words drilled into them from basic training. Yvonne stepped forward with the two privates trailing. "Boatswain's Mate Third Class Comeau, step forward."
A dark-haired man responded to the order as soon as she said it. "Aye, aye, sir!" he replied as though he were a fresh recruit. He maintained his parade stance after taking the single step forward.
"As you were, Boats. You will accompany the marines outside, now." She followed all three out into the corridor, thereby releasing the crewmen inside from having to remain standing. "Lieutenant Nieves wants to see you," Yvonne told Comeau.
"What did I do?" he asked, not bothering to hide his surliness from her.
She ignored his tone and shrugged. "The lieutenant says he wants to see you, so you go see him."
Comeau snorted. "This is bullshit, sir."
His reward was a slap to the back of the head by the private on his right. "Watch it!" the marine growled. Nothing more was said after that, all the way to the lift and toward Wilson's office within the ship's security complex on deck seven.
When Comeau and Yvonne appeared at the doorway, Wilson was mid-conversation with Bartlet. They asked them to enter, offering a seat to Comeau. Yvonne took up position near the door, while the privates stood guard outside.
"Thank you for coming so quickly, Boats," began Wilson.
Comeau sneered at him. "Oh, it was my pleasure, I assure you, sir."
"Do you know why you're here?"
"I have no fucking idea why I'm here."
Yvonne opened her mouth to chastise the crewman for speaking disrespectfully, but Wilson raised his hand slightly to ward her off.
Bartlet handed Comeau a PADD and asked, "Is this your access code?"
Comeau peered at the display briefly and nodded. "Yes, sir."
"And..." the chief engineer flipped to another screen, "... is this your code accessing the maintenance panel in Cargo Bay Five?"
"I have duties in Cargo Bay Five from time to time, sir. You know that," Comeau responded testily. "Can I ask what the hell all this is about?"
Wilson ignored his question to ask his own, "Where were you the previous evening between twenty-three and oh-two hundred hours?"
Comeau hesitated before responding, "I was in the arboretum. Why?"
"Did anyone see you?"
"I don't know. I wasn't there to find other people, sir. I go there to be alone."
Bartlet asked gently, "Without your commbadge?"
"When I don't want to be bothered, yes. I'll store it in my locker. Is that a crime, now?"
She responded worriedly. "It's not against regulation, but it would have been helpful to verify your whereabouts, Boats. I'm sorry."
"Sorry about what, sir?"
"Boats," said Wilson as he stood behind his desk. "She's sorry because your codes were used to access an industrial replicator in Cargo Bays Two and Five over the past couple of nights. Your authorization was utilized to replicate a large number of devices ranging from tricorders, PADDs, and power cells. According to Lieutenant Bartlet and your supervisors, no such order for replication was passed to you. You are aware that unauthorized use of the replicators is in violation of established procedure, yes?"
The petty officer's attitude changed dramatically as he listened. "Sir, I'm telling you; I have no idea what you're talking about. I didn't access any of the replicators in the cargo bays."
Wilson shook his head. "I'm sorry, as well." He lifted his eyes toward Yvonne. "Ensign, have the marine detail confine him within the detention center pending charges."
Comeau's expression changed from fear to fury. "You can't hold me in the brig without the captain's order, sir!"
"You're right, Boats." He slapped his commbadge. "Nieves to the captain."
END OF ACT THREE.
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