"Please state your name, rank, position and assignment for the log."
"Nieves, Wilson. Lieutenant. Chief of Security, USS Farragut
Commander Hargreaves regarded the man seated across from her within the conference room allocated for her investigation. Nieves served as the chief of security on Potemkin
under then-Captain T'Cirya. Leone also served aboard Potemkin
, as the executive officer. Undoubtedly, Nieves' relationship with Leone would cloud his judgment, she determined after sizing him up.
"Lieutenant," she began, "as you may or may not be aware, the Inspector General's office is investigating to determine what, if any, violations of Starfleet regulations occurred while Farragut
operated within the territory of the Tristnor Hegemony."
"I understand," replied Wilson with a nod.
"I require direct answers to my questions."
"Commander, should I have counsel present?"
"These aren't formal proceedings, but if you feel counsel is warranted, you may request it and we can reconvene when your counsel has had some time to prepare," said Hargreaves. "However, it would be difficult to find counsel with high enough clearance to read the mission reports."
Nieves' expression never wavered, to her dismay. "I take your meaning, sir. I do not require counsel. Please proceed."
Hargreaves' PADD came into view. Her fingers touched it to access some information. "On Stardate 43222, you were listed as being on leave. Why were you aboard Farragut
"I arrived at the Antares Ship Yards on Stardate 43220, along with Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis," answered Nieves evenly. "My purpose was to attend the change of command ceremony for Captain Leone, which I did on Stardate 43222."
"Shortly after, however, the ship was scheduled to conduct warp trials and report for duty here at Starbase 310. Why were you carried on the ship's roster as part of the senior staff rather than as a passenger?"
"As a gesture, Captain Leone asked me to stand in as the chief of security. Lieutenant Hunter, the appointed officer, was waiting here for Farragut
to arrive and assume his duties."
"Which he never did."
There it was. The first crack in the hard shell. He showed a brief sign of discomfort with the question, but recovered quickly. "I regret that Lieutenant Hunter was reassigned, but with all due respect, we were competing for the same job. I do not regret wanting to be here for my colleagues, putting me in a position to usurp the position from him. All things being equal, had I been awarded this berth in the first place, I would not have waited for the ship at Starbase 310."
That answered her next question; whether or not he felt it fair. She moved on. "On Stardate 43224.75, you made contact with the first Tristnor ship. You were ordered to surrender and prepare for boarding, according to the ship's log."
"Captain Leone instead gave the order to fire."
"Not immediately, Commander," replied Nieves with a raise of his hand. "She made several attempts to dissuade them. She stressed that our mission was one of peace. They were unconvinced and maintained their hostile position."
"You exaggerate, Lieutenant. She informed them once prior to giving the order to fire, unless Captain Leone's own recollection is false. Is that what you're telling me?"
Another crack. He sure didn't like the implication of calling his captain a liar, did he? "No, sir," he said, coldly. "I did not say anything of the sort. I respectfully submit that you're drawing your own conclusions instead of searching for fact."
She ignored his barb. "Captain Leone ordered weapons fire upon first contact with a new species, is that correct?"
"Only after they fired, first."
"Their primary weapon had already been determined as useless against Federation technology. You believe that such a fruitless attack warranted a disproportionate response?"
"Their primary weapon was useless, yes, but-"
She interrupted him, hoping to throw him off-balance. "Thank you, Lieutenant."
"With all due respect, sir, you're not allowing me to state all the facts."
"You are here to answer my questions, Lieutenant. Your protest is noted." Hargreaves continued, "In your own report, a wide-band transmission detailed a kill-on-sight order from the Hegemony central command as a result of that action. In short, Captain Leone's actions plunged the Federation into a direct conflict with an alien race it knew very little about."
"With all due respect, Commander, that's not how I see it."
"Did you falsify your report then?"
Nieves glowered. "Is this an investigation or a prosecution, sir?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm a security officer, sir, so I've done my fair share of law enforcement," he replied.
"I do not recall asking for your service record, Lieutenant. Kindly keep your responses to answering my questions directly and refrain from offering your own speculation."
"If only you could do the same."
She narrowed her eyes. "Consider it a direct order, Lieutenant."
Wilson rose from his seat. "I have nothing more to say on this subject, Commander."
Hargreaves did the same, putting her hands flat on the table's surface and leaning forward to address him. "I'll decide when this is over. Sit down."
"If you have a problem with me, I suggest you take it up with my commanding officer." Wilson stopped short of the door and gave a parting shot, "Good luck with your investigation, Commander."
=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=
As soon as they entered the observation lounge, Ariel raised her hand. "Before you begin, I want to apologize for shortchanging you like that on the bridge. It won't happen again."
Taken aback by her sudden admission, Kincaid took a moment to rephrase his initial comment. “I appreciate you saying that."
"T'Cirya, Krys, Wilson, and I all served together on Potemkin
. We're very familiar with one another," she explained, running over anything else he might say. "I realize that might put you in a position of being on the outside looking in and I didn't help matters any by talking over you."
"No, you didn't," he agreed, putting a hand on the back of one of the chairs as she spoke. "I'm very well aware that you and the captain have a long history of shared service, but my position was confirmed by the captain this morning. I intend on carrying out my duties, regardless of whether or not you have a close working relationship with the old lady."
Ariel smirked. "I dare you to call her that to her face."
It was a figure of speech used by many Starfleet officers. Referring to the captain as either the "old man" or the "old lady;" no disrespect was intended. In fact, to some it was a term of endearment under the right circumstances. In spite of the usage, he blushed at her words. "And that's another thing."
"I don't know you. But you speak to me with such casual familiarity, I find it very disrespectful."
"I'm Ariel Elannis, you're Jesse Kincaid."
Jesse Kincaid," he emphasized his rank. "I would prefer to be addressed by my rank or title, until such time as we develop a close working relationship. Am I understood?"
"The mating call of the candy-ass," she muttered.
"Excuse me?" His tone was icy.
"When an officer of superior rank underlines his request with 'am I understood' or some other variation, Krys calls that the 'mating call of the candy-ass.' As in a candy-assed officer."
"I know what it means," he said, letting some of his temper flare. "Am I to understand that you're referring to me as such?"
Ariel regarded him with unimpressed eyes. "Permission to speak freely?"
"I think you've already been doing that. That's why we're having this conversation. But go ahead. I find myself curious to hear what you think you would need freedom to say."
"I would say, then, that it remains to be seen. I've served in Starfleet for nearly twenty years, now, include four as enlisted before earning my commission at OCS. Around here, we don't have to rely on our rank to enforce authority. You may think I have contempt for you, but I think you might've forgotten the first rule of command at the Academy, Commander."
Kincaid turned his head, but kept his eyes on her. "And what's that?"
She stepped in close to him, letting her scent fill his nostrils and smirked as she saw him breath in and relax. With her voice barely above a whisper, Ariel leaned in and told him, "Attitude reflects leadership."
He took in a deep breath to steady himself before responding. "You're determined to make this difficult, I see.”
She looked down the front of his uniform, before looking back up at his face. "I'm definitely making it pretty hard, apparently."
"Your... heritage..." he started to say, slowly, trying to remain in control of his emotional response.
"Is one of my personal weapons, Commander," she finished for him. "I thought perhaps you needed a demonstration."
Kincaid worked hard to regain control of his senses after the blitzkrieg-like assault. "Stand down, Commander," he ordered.
Ariel shrugged, taking a step back from him.
"If you ever use a weapon, pheromonal or otherwise, against me again, Lieutenant Commander, I’ll have you brought up on charges." He straightened and stared at her directly. "If you disrespect me in front of others, I won't hesitate to snap you back in front of the crew. You'll use my rank or the appellation 'sir' when you address me. Maybe one day you'll earn the right to something else, but right now, I don't see that happening. Am I understood?”
Ariel was rigid as she bit out the response, "Yes, sir."
"Excellent. You’re dismissed."