Counselor Vej found Lieutenant Lure Mer’iab in cargo bay two where he was in the middle of organizing what must have been the largest single assault force the Ulirian had ever seen. Scores of security crewmembers wearing black flack jackets with a golden stripe across their chest were being equipped and seemingly assigned into different teams. The entire thing looked like chaos to the counselor at first until he realized the efficient logic behind it. The process was surprisingly quiet considering the number of people involved save for Chief Holly a couple of his NCO colleagues shouting out names at regular intervals. The crewmember in question quickly stepped up to pick up his gear and then was pointed to one of four groups at each corner of the cargo bay.
chief of security was overlooking the entire affair from above, standing on the upper walkway which surrounded the cargo bay.
Vej found a ladder and climbed upwards to join the avian.
“I suppose you are used to seeing things from a higher angle,” he said with a little smirk.
The Aurelian considered the counselor for only a second, aiming a rather annoyed, sidelong glance his way.
From all the senior officers on board, Vej had found Mer’iab to be the most difficult individual to approach. Part of that he had expected, fully cognizant that security personnel often didn’t have much use for counselors. Their solution to most problems involved picking up a rifle and getting ready for a fight whereas his job was to find a more diplomatic resolve. In this instance, with the safety of the entire quadrant at stake and facing a belligerent and xenophobic opposition, he had given up early to try and sell Donners on a peaceful solution. That was not to say of course that he hadn’t tried.
Vej suspected that the avian’s reason for his dislike went further than their professional difference however and it didn’t take long for the security chief to confirm those suspicions.
“This area is off-limits to civilians,” he said but having already redirected his focus to what was happening below.
Mer’iab didn’t care for the fact that Donners had decided to bring in a civilian counselor. As far as he was concerned you either wore the uniform or you didn’t belong on a Starfleet ship. And certainly not on the bridge or other sensitive areas and having the ear of the captain. Vej couldn’t completely fault the security chief for thinking that way.
“The captain wanted me to make sure that you’re alright,” he said.
At that Mer’iab turned back to look at the Ulirian, his eyes noticeably growing larger. “The captain is concerned about my ability to carry out this mission?”
“I’m sure you have found by now that the captain is concerned about all the officers under her command,” he said and quickly raised his hand before he could respond. “And I don’t mean to say that she questions their competencies, merely that she is still getting to know everyone. As all of us are.”
Mer’iab turned to look below again. “You may tell the captain that there is no reason to be concerned about me. I will carry out the mission exactly as ordered and to the best of my abilities.”
“I don’t think she is worried about your abilities.”
“Then may I ask what you are doing here?”
“I said the captain is not worried.”
This earned him another dark look.
“I’ve seen your file, Lieutenant. I know you are more than capable. Over your career you’ve fought in numerous engagements including against the Cardassians and the Tzenkethi, both of which were probably tougher enemies then the Xenarth. And before that you served two campaigns in the Aurelian Defense Force. Nobody on this ship is questioning your abilities.”
“And they shouldn’t.”
“But this operation is different to anything you’ve ever partaken in before,” the counselor said.
Mer’iab shook his head. “I don’t see how. During the border wars we fought in skirmishes much larger than this.”
“But you weren’t in command, were you? And you didn’t have to coordinate with teams from other starships or even other Starfleet branches.”
“I know where you are going with this, Counselor,” he said and turned to look at him again, unfurling his wings slightly which Vej had already realized was a dead give away of his frustration. “But Lieutenant Sh’Fane, Lieutenant Meldin and I have come to an understanding on how to proceed.”
“And this understanding means that you are keeping your teams separate?” he said. “How does this work exactly? From what I understand the mission requires four teams but you have only three teams. There is no way you can work entirely independently, is there?”
“We have an understanding.”
Vej looked down to take in the sight of the many security crewmembers setting up. “I don’t see any of Sh’Fane’s Marines down there. And I could be mistaken but I don’t think you have anyone from the Cuffe
It wasn’t difficult to tell that the security chief was getting annoyed with this conversation. “Counselor, do you have any experience in security work?”
“Can’t say that I do.”
“Do you have any tactical training by chance?”
He shook his head. “Nope.”
“Than what makes you think that you know how to prepare for this mission any better than I do?”
Those wings unfurled a little further.
“Lieutenant, I know you don’t like me very much and that’s fine but I want you to consider one last thing.”
“Make it quick, I still have a lot of work to do.”
“You’ve quite rightly pointed out that I don’t know much about security work but am I not right in saying that one of your most important jobs is to protect your captain at all cost,” he said. “Of course I could be mistaken about that point.”
It had been like hitting his most vulnerable spot the way he practically whirled on the counselor. He caught himself by taking a deep breath before he started speaking. “Not only do you appear ignorant of my duties, Counselor but also of my people. As an Aurelian I am honor-bound to protect my master and commander at all times, even if it means laying down my own life to do so. I would be disgraced in the eyes of the High Thane if I would willing let harm come to her.”
He nodded. “Okay. Then consider this, Lieutenant. Captain Donners has decided to lead this mission herself, putting her life at great risk and if I’m not entirely mistaken, ignore regulations pertaining to such things. I am convinced that one of the reasons she has decided to do this is because she doesn’t trust you or Lieutenant Sh’Fane to be able to work well together as a team. And considering recent history she has no reason to. Now answer me this,” he said and looked straight in his eyes. “If something were to happen to the captain down there as a direct result of her lack of confidence in your ability to work with Sh’Fane, at whose feet do you think the High Thane would place the blame for this?”
They kept looking into each other’s eyes for a moment while the security chief clearly didn’t have an immediate answer. Vej didn’t need him to have one straight away.
“Good day and good luck, Lieutenant,” he said and headed for the exit.