“Lieutenant Redmond O'Shaughnessy?” said Maya Donners as she glanced over the padd and then looked to her right were Arden Texx was leaning casually against the bulkhead of her ready room.
He too held a padd and began to nod as soon as he had found the officer’s service jacket on his device. “Absolutely capable,” he said. “High recommendations from his last assignment. Also, won the Academy sharpshooting contest two years in a row.”
Maya turned her head to glance at the other two officers in the room.
Both Lure Mer’iab and Beatiar Sh’Fane stood at full attention in front of her desk, keeping their eyes focused straight ahead without making eye contact with either the captain or the first officer. They had remained in that uncomfortable position ever since they had been summoned there minutes earlier.
“What’s your impression of Mister O’Shaugnessy, Lieutenant Mer’iab?” she asked, glancing at the tall avian.
“The commander is correct, sir, he is a very capable officer and even though I have known him for only a few days, I would have to say that he has shown great potential in the security division,” he said. His voice betrayed at least a slight irritation as he wasn’t entirely certain why he and his Marine counterpart had been asked to the captain’s office to discuss members of his team.
Maya nodded and glanced back at her padd. “Good,” she said and then found another personnel file. “How about Second Lieutenant Fabrizio Lombardi?”
The captain didn’t miss the small flicker that crossed Sh’Fane’s features.
“I like Fab,” said Texx. “Met him the other day in the crew lounge. Very personable fellow when off-duty. We had a couple of drinks shared a few laughs, he’s good people.”
Maya smirked. “Ok but is he a good Marine?” she said and her facial features hardened as she aimed a pointed look at the Andorian. “Lieutenant?”
“I would not have chosen Mister Lombardi as my executive officer if I were not completely convinced that he was good Marine, ma’am. His off-duty antics notwithstanding,” she said and allowed herself a quick look at a grinning Texx.
“I tell you something,” he responded. “He’s definitely a lot more fun having around than certain people I know.”
“Commander,” Maya warned.
He held up a hand defensively. “Sorry.”
The captain focused on the two officers standing at attention. “So do you think these candidates would be able to lead your respective teams then?”
That was enough to cause both the security officer and the marine to exchange surprised glances before quickly focusing on the captain.
Sh’Fane went first. “Lieutenant Lombardi has enough experience and training to take over the company if necessary.”
“That is true for O’Shaugnessy and the security division as well,” he said. “Should the need arise,” he added quickly.
Maya grinned and leaned forward slightly. “That’s good to hear. Because the way things are going I’m seriously considering having O’Shaugnessy and Lombardi replace you both as heads of your departments.”
“Captain, you cannot be –“
“Serious?” she said and cutting off the avian in mid-sentence. “I’m dead serious, Lieutenant. The CnC is keeping close taps on this little experiment we’re running here herself and I’m not going to be the one telling Admiral Blackwell that this whole thing was a big waste of time because two of my senior officers were unable to work together.”
“Captain, if I may –“
Donners was not going to let Sh’Fane get a word in. “You may not, Lieutenant. I want this to be perfectly clear. You are not irreplaceable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’re both perfectly capable officers in your own right and extremely good at what you do. But to be frank, I neither have the time nor the inclination to keep you around if you cannot make this work. So, last chance. Get on the same page or I’ll give somebody else the opportunity to dazzle me.”
She let those words sink in for a moment and was gratified to see that they had been stunned into silence.
They snapped back to attention and then beat a quick retreat out of the ready room.
Maya sighed as soon as they had left. “I really don’t like using threats as a motivator,” she admitted.
“Sometimes it’s the only thing that works. You were right, they’re both good at what they do but they’re also hopelessly wrapped up in their own egos that they cannot see that they’re better together than on their own. A healthy dose of self-preservation may change that,” said the Bolian first officer.
She offered him a little smile. “You’ve been spending too much time with our new counselor.”
He shrugged. “The man knows what he’s talking about.”
“That he does,” she said and then: “Don’t tell him I said that. We have enough inflated egos on this ship.”
“My lips are sealed.”
Maya nodded and looked at the now closed doors. “You think they can make it work?”
Texx considered it for a moment. “I really hope so. Their second-in-commands are decent officers but they’re not as good as they are.”
* * *
“Commander, may I have a word?”
Texx had only just stepped out of the turbolift and upon hearing the familiar voice, instead of slowing down, he actually hastened his pace.
It didn’t discourage Tess Allenby who quickly caught up with the first officer.
“A little busy now, Lieutenant,” he said.
“I was just wondering, sir, what you have decided to do about Ensign DeSoto?”
“Do?” he asked without slowing or gracing her with as much as a glance.
“You must have heard about the incident in the deflector room,” she said and raised her previously injured hand even though none of the burns remained visible. “This is exactly the kind of thing I warned about. Due to the ensign’s blatant negligence I’ve come to great personal harm. The man is a risk to himself and the rest of the crew.”
The Bolian shot her a quick sidelong glance. “I wouldn’t call second-degree plasma burns great personal harm.”
“I was lucky,” she shot back. “Next time I may not get away with something so superficial. I could have been killed, Commander.”
Texx took a deep breath and then stopped and faced the operations officer.
“Something has to be done, sir. If you and the captain don’t feel that he should be transferred, at this point I think you need to at least consider a temporary suspension of duty and –“
“Tess, I like you, I really do.”
Her eyes grew wide at the unexpected personal tone. “Sir?”
“You are a very accomplished officer and from what I can tell you have a bright future ahead of you in Starfleet,” he continued.
It didn’t help to dispel her confused expression. “Uh … thank you, sir.”
“I would hate for you to throw that all away.”
That hit a nerve and where she had looked puzzled before she was positively panicked now. Her career, it was obvious, was not just incredibly important to her, it was what she lived for. At least it was what she told herself, Texx thought as he considered the young blond-haired officer for a moment.
“I don’t … understand.”
“Let me give you a little hint then,” he said. “I’ve just come out of a meeting in which the captain has threatened two senior officers who shall go unnamed with relieving them of their duties because they have shown an unwillingness to work together as would be expected. Now what do you think would happen if you keep pushing your little dilemma with our helmsman until you give the captain no other choice?”
“But sir,” she protested immediately. “I’ve tired to –“
“Have you really?”
That stumped her for a moment.
“Tess, the captain has just decided to brief the entire senior staff on what I understand to be a highly classified mission which may have severe consequences not just for her own career but if we fail, potentially for the entire sector,” the first officer said. “Do you really think anyone on this ship has the time to deal with your current spat with Ensign DeSoto?”
It was a rhetorical question of course.
“I need you to handle this yourself, Tess. And if you need my help with a solution that doesn’t involve somebody been thrown out of an airlock or re-assigned, you may come to me. Once this current mission is over. Until then, do your job and don’t let yourself get distracted.”
“I …” she actually had no other words.
Texx gave her a nod. “Observation lounge in twenty. I’ll see you then,” he said and moved on, leaving Allenby by herself in the middle of the corridor, looking after the first officer with a pained expression on her face.
“Yes, sir,” she mumbled to herself.
_ _ _ _
In some real world news, as Zha’Thara hinted at in an earlier chapter, scientists have indeed discovered the real God Particle, the Higgs Boson, a major breakthrough which helps to explain why objects in the universe have mass: 'God Particle' 'Discovered': European Researchers Claim Discovery of Higgs Boson-Like Particle