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."
," 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."