Star Trek: First Duty #3 - "At Her Majesty's Discretion" (WIP)

Very fun little scene. Somehow I get the sense that Leo and Sir Robert are bound to be bosom buddies...

LOL, well, it's early days. To Sir Robert, Leo is a novelty to the Queen, and a dangerous outsider. There's also a little bit of fatherly concern of Amy's interest in Leo, which has now gone from passing crush to a certain level of realization a little too quickly. Leo seems to have bumbled his way toward subverting the walls they've built around Amy to protect her.

The walls don't work if she lowers the drawbridge and invites him inside. :)

Thanks for continuing to read!
Part Seven: Her Majesty's Secret Plan

Westminster Palace
The Royal City of Victoria, The Sovereign Realm of Greenwood
The Queen's Private Study
July 31, 2318 (Stardate 64.92)

"Majesty, I believe we should have a discussion about the events of the previous evening," said Sir Robert, perched upon his seat across from Queen Amelia as she looked through the morning's briefing materials.

The Queen did not look up, her eyes scanning the screen of her display device. "Hmm?" she asked, fully distracted.

He tried again, keeping his eyes upon her. "I hesitate to bring up the topic, ma'am, but I'm concerned about your private discussion with Commander Verde."

The name brought her full attention to him, her inquisitive eyes set upon the man. "What about the Commander?"

Sir Robert pressed his lips into a thin line. "This is precisely my point, ma'am. You seemed rather taken with him when I interrupted your private discussion. The atmosphere was, shall we say, provocative? Are there any concerns I should be made aware?"

"Leo and I? No," she said, her eyes shifting away from him and finding the screen very interesting. So interesting that she lifted the display up to hide the lower half of her face.

"'Leo,' ma'am?" Sir Robert asked, keeping accusation from his tone and instead used his cold steely blue eyes to express his caution.

She said nothing in response, but when she glanced up and saw his eyes staring at her, Queen Amelia let out a held breath in frustration. She set the display, face down, atop her desk and leaned forward while balancing on her elbows. "Point taken. What do you wish to know?"

"It's not what I don't know that concerns me, ma'am. It's the simple fact that you are the unmarried Queen of the Realm," Sir Robert reminded her. "Locked away in a room with another man-"

"I'm presently locked away in a room with another man," she reminded him petulantly.

"With Staff, and this is hardly the same circumstance."

She rubbed her forehead with her left hand. "I presume you had words of warning for Leo before he rejoined the banquet?"

"Indeed, I did."

She frowned, then looked toward the far corner of the room. "I wish you hadn't done that."

"It was my duty to, ma'am."

The Queen folded her arms across her midsection. "Robert," she said, dropping the title to show how personal the discussion would be, "I like him."

He sat mutely, waiting for her to continue.

"Before yesterday, any notion of infatuation or attraction would have been foreign to me. You are familiar with the mindless parade of suitors; all of them sycophantic buffoons looking for title and status."

"I am acutely aware, ma'am."

In a wistful tone, she continued her explanation, "Something about Leo. He was charming and thoughtful. You saw how he reacted during the receiving line," she said with a wistful smile.

"I did, yes. He recovered nicely, I thought."

"Even after I assured him that our conversation would be off-the-record and narrowly focused on his lecture, he was so accommodating."

"Of course, he was. You're the Queen, ma'am."

"No! He didn't carry himself with any entitlements or airs. He wasn't the first son of a Duke, hoping to become my consort," she said emphatically. "There was no manipulation. He carried himself just as he did during the lecture. And that voice…"

Sir Robert sighed. "I see. Then, we may have a problem."

She frowned and spoke haughtily, "I'm so very sorry that my interests have caused you a problem, Sir Robert."

Chagrined at his choice of words and their effect. "My sincere apologies, ma'am. I did not intend to minimize your emotions."

"I should hope not."

"That being said, it is a problem if you intend to pursue Commander Verde-"

"Leo," she corrected him as he spoke.

"-in a public fashion. The public will not be receptive to the idea of their Queen spending time socially with a foreign officer. There is an expectation-"

She raised a hand to stop his lecture. "Thank you, Sir Robert."

"Ma'am, once again, I apologise for my words."

Amy stared at him, waiting for the rest of his statement.

He continued, "But they are words needing to be said, so you understand what is at stake."

The Queen narrowed her eyes. "What's 'at stake?' My entire family- My brother was supposed to be King. Not me. If I weren't Queen, then I would be free to-"

"But you are the Queen," Sir Robert said sharply.

With wide and shocked eyes, Amy's expression did not change. Her eyes narrowed, then softened as she considered his motives. "I am the Queen," she confirmed. With a slight smirk, she asked, "We seem to keep having the same arguments, don't we?"

"Yes, ma'am," he replied gently. "It is not lost upon me the manner and method by which you ascended to the throne, and great personal sacrifices you've endured. You had the opportunity at the time to hand over the Crown to your Uncle Patrick, and yet you chose not to."

She nodded with closed eyes. Contemptibly, she replied, "I recall. Vividly."

Robert sighed. "I empathize with the pressures of your duty and service. I cannot imagine having lost all that you have, and then thrust into power in such a manner. However…"

"However," she said, picking up his thought for him, "I must stay the course." Amy paused and asked, "But, if for a moment or two, I might find happiness… isn't it possible for a Queen to serve and be happy, all at the same time?"

He dropped his gaze to his lap as she posed the question to him. "Ma'am, I would not begrudge you, of all the royals I've serve in my life, any chance at happiness in your life."

She pressed, "However fleeting it might be?"

Sir Robert met her eyes with his. After a moment's consideration, he nodded. "There would need to be strict rules."

"Agreed," Amy said quickly.

"And an understanding that the moment this becomes a problem for the public; the first phone call from your Government, for example, would end it," he continued.

She leaned back, sinking into the plushness of her high-backed chair. "Must it be with such fragility? Surely my subjects are not as conservative as we believe them to be?"

"Majesty, I should not be the one to remind you of how mercurial your subjects are when it comes to any hint of scandal."

"Touché," Amy admitted with a defeated shrug. "I… agree that the moment this proves problematic, it will end." She added quickly, "Ultimately, this could all be a mountain from a molehill. Leo also has to agree, and if I'm honest - I'm not even sure he finds me remotely attractive."
Well... Liz I managed it. And people charmingly thought she was the virgin queen...

That is except for Sir Walter Raleigh and a few other noble pirates.

Thanks!! rbs

"She's utterly charming; intelligent, witty, self-aware… I like her," admitted Leo as he lifted a fresh mug of hot chocolate to his lips. "However, there will be a little revenge for your oh-so-helpful advice about kissing her hand. You will want to keep your guard up over the next couple of months."

From the other end of the short dining table in her flag mess, Essa raised her hands to her face and her entire upper body racked with silent laughter. She had to set her fork and knife down quickly lest she stab herself in the face.

He raised an eyebrow at her amusement of his faux pas. "Auntie, that was not funny. It could have been disastrous."

The rear admiral calmed down and dropped her hands, though kept her laughing smile. "Lalito, darling, I honestly thought that's how it was done. I didn't realize it until we got out of our briefing and the Federation Envoy assigned here walked us through the protocol. It was far too late."

"Yeah, well, it didn't do any damage, and apparently the Queen found it amusing."

Now back under full composure, Essa made use of her utensils and cut into the thick ham steak on her plate. "And you say you got on well with Her Majesty?" The flag steward entered, retrieved the pot of tea from the sideboard, and without being asked, filled the admiral's cup to the rim before glancing at Leo.

Leo shook his head and mouthed his thanks before he replied to Essa's question. "I thought so." He hesitated, then admitted, "Though, her private secretary put me on notice that I should not get used to having private conversations with the Crown, and to not presume to call upon her in the future."

Essa nodded. "I'm sure her staff is doing their best to protect their charge. You shouldn't take it personally."

He smiled. "And I didn't. I even thanked him and complimented him on his attentiveness."

"That's my charmer," she grinned at Leo, then continued on with her breakfast.

He set his now-empty mug on the table and leaned forward. "Auntie…?" he asked in a curious tone.


"We've been here over a week, now."


"And you promised me you would tell me what my actual purpose is on this little expedition."

"I did, that's true."

Silence reigned within the mess, save for the soft clinking of fork upon the ornate plate. Essa continued consuming her breakfast of ham, eggs, and beans. Every now and again, she would pointedly stare at Leo, daring him to say anything further.

Leo exhaled loudly, his frustration resulting in his staccato breath shooting up to toss his bangs upward slightly. "It's times like this that I have to remind myself that I love you very much, Auntie."

"I love you, too, darling," she replied with her mouth half-full. She swallowed the bite and continued, "Can't a lady have her favorite godson along to keep her company?"

"A lady can absolutely have her only godson along… if they're on a pleasure excursion."

"I don't do pleasure excursions."

"I know."

"And your role is as I ordered it. You're my force judge advocate and aide-de-camp."


Essa's eyes shifted away; up and to the left.


"What?" she blinked in false confusion.

"You suck at poker."

"Well, whist is my preference, truth be told," Essa commented with a shrug. "You have a point to make, I presume?"

Leo smirked. "You came straight from Earth to come get me, and I know you spoke with my old man."

"Who hates that you call him that, by-the-bye."

He waved his hand to dismiss her side comment. "Everyone who's ever served under his command calls him that, he doesn't seem to mind." Without missing a beat, he asked her, "He told you what happened?"

Essa finished the remaining bites on her plate, then drained her cup of breakfast tea before responding to his question. "Your mother, my best friend, informed me of your status over six months ago. Your father, who loves you dearly, told me of your investigation, yes. That's all there is to it."

"Not buying it." Leo sighed and looked down at the table while stretching his fingers out from flat palms on the surface. "Please tell me what's going on."

She pushed the empty plate toward the edge for the stewards to collect when they returned. Rising from her seat, she refilled her cup with another serving of tea from the pot from the sideboard. As she did so, she asked, "Why didn't you call me when that arsehole of a captain beached you?"


"You heard me."

Leo worked his jaw open and close behind his lips, his sails becalmed by the wounded tone of her voice. Finally, he replied under her scrutinizing stare, "I didn't want anyone to know."

"But you told your mother." She glared at him with accusing eyes.

"I didn't tell her anything," he admitted with a non-committal shrug. "The Detailer told her. Then, after being put ashore at DS-Two in front of all my friends, she called me while I was still figuring things out. Ordered me, if you can believe that, to catch the first ship going home. So, I went home and with the old man now working at HQ, he had plenty of time to grill me at the kitchen table like he caught me out past curfew."

"I see," Essa said with a short sigh. She released her tense expression and softened her tone. "Your mother left me with the impression that you had been the initial source of that information. I apologise for my misunderstanding."

Leo rose from his seat and approached Essa. "Were you upset that I didn't come running to you for help?"

Unable to hold her cup steadily, she set it down on the sideboard and nodded wordlessly.

He flexed his calves and stood on the balls of his feet, so he could elevate himself to place a kiss on her cheek. "That's… really very sweet of you, Auntie."

She touched her cheek and asked weakly, "Why wouldn't you come to me?" The door opened and another flag steward stepped in to tend to the mess, but the admiral's open hand stayed his progress. The steward exited quickly, understanding the signal to retreat.

"It was embarrassment, pure and simple," Leo confessed, once they left alone. "So much so, that I had planned on resigning my commission, honestly. I was going to march over the Bureau of Personnel and put in my papers the day after I landed home."

"Go on."

"But, the old man came home and after our little chat, he called my mother. Hours after, she told me about the opening for the XO role of the Sector JAG Unit at Starbase Eight, and practically ordered me to put in for the transfer."

She nodded as she listened, taking her teacup and sitting on the couch lining the outer bulkhead under the ovular ports looking out along the starboard side of deck two. "You knew my flag was on Farragut. Why didn't you ask me for help? Once the cat was out of the bag, you had to know that I would've moved mountains for you."

Leo blushed. "I didn't want you to think less of me. After Mamá read me the riot act, after the old man laid into me… I couldn't bear to be a disappointment to you, as well."

Essa closed her eyes and sighed. "Ah, Lalito… I love your mum and dad dearly. But… they sometimes go too far with you. I never understood why. They certainly don't seem to bring the same level of pressure upon your sisters."

"My many therapists have tried to figure it out and failed," Leo muttered. In a clearer tone, he continued, "Mamá took the report as gospel, just as the Detailer did. She found out that BuPers recommended me for a shore-side billet or reserve duty, which upset the old man so much that after I got my transfer, he didn't speak to me at all before my flight out to Memory Alpha. Not even 'good luck.'"

She sighed once more and shook her head. "Typical. Have you spoken with your sisters?"

Leo swallowed hard. "Uh, I tried talking to Artie," he said, referring to his eldest sister, Captain Reynalda Teresa "R.T." (Artie) Verde. "But, she'd just assumed command of Fearless, so she's made it clear that my 'stain on the family honor is a problem of my own making.'"

That drew a wince from Essa. "Rather harsh."

"Direct quote."

"And what of Ronnie or Jazz?" She asked of his older sister, Commander Leticia Veronica "Ronnie" Verde, and his younger sister, Captain Branwen Jasmine "Jazz" Verde of the Starfleet Marine Corps.

"Ronnie and Jazz sent their love and support. They agree with your assessment; that I must have been pushed beyond protocol to act as I had. Jazz mentioned she would like some time alone with my former CO for a 'spirited discussion' on the matter."

"Blimey," Essa said, with shifting eyes. "Jazz terrifies me. She's still on General Lefferts' staff, yeah?"

Leo nodded. "Yeah."

"Artie's reaction notwithstanding… and might I say that she is very much your father's daughter, through and through," she noted, "glad to hear at least a majority of your family is behind you. Your mother may act tough, but you know she is quite worried for you. She did her best to save your career in the only way she knew how."

"I know… but it didn't stop her from taking the other side of the argument," Leo said softly. "She never once questioned the write-up. Never asked me for my side."

"I've read the evaluation," she told him plainly. "However, between the two sides, I know you best." With a scoff, she derided, "His recitation of events-"

"-is the only thing that matters to Starfleet," Leo said, interrupting her. "Captains have wide latitude with the performance evaluations."

She held her cup in her hand and countered, "They're not to use it as punitive measures!"

Leo frowned. "I agree."

"You would not have challenged his authority unless you had good reason," Essa pointed out. "Do you regret your actions?"

His eyes snapped to hers and in that moment, he realized no one had ever asked him; not the Detailer, nor his mother or father in their separate interrogations. Not even Keena Val, one of his closest friends in the fleet. It took but a moment's consideration before he offered her a small shrug and admit, "Not at all."

"I thought not." Essa set the cup down on the saucer and leaned back, resting her long arms on the top of the couch's back, just below the view of the stars. "All right. Now that I have the answer I'd been looking for, let me share with you my intentions."

Leo stood before her with his hands behind his back. "Please."

"I've spoken with Janeera. She adores you, as well she should; you've been turning in outstanding work on her staff. But, she is concerned that while you're working hard to fit in at JAG, your motivations may not be in the best interest of your long-term career in Starfleet."

He listened silently, allowing her to continue her explanation.

"During our discussion, she suggested you might benefit from an opportunity to serve a space billet, temporarily, to double-check your course, so to speak."

"That's what she meant by 'professional growth,'" his gaze drifted to the stars as he recalled his discussion with Janeera. "If I do well here, then…"

"Darling, I could easily billet you as the executive officer of a heavy cruiser, or if you'd like, I could appoint you in command of a frigate or light cruiser," she explained. "Or I could keep you on in your current role for the duration of the mission."

"Which is eighteen to twenty-four months."

"Likely twenty-four, given our most recent briefings."

Leo raised his right eyebrow at that news. "What if I choose to remain as XO under the SJA?" he asked, referring to the Sector Judge Advocate, the aforementioned Captain Janeera Ch'charhat.

"Then, as planned, you head back to Starbase Eight in six months, give or take a week."

"Understood. When would I need to make the-?"

The intercom sounded to interrupt Leo's question. The voice of Farragut's executive officer called out, "Tolani to Essa."

"Sorry," she said. Tapping her combadge, she replied, "Essa, here. Go ahead, Commander."

"The First Naval Lord has beamed aboard with his chief of staff, sir. We have escorted him to your conference room."

Essa rose while replying, "Thank you. I shall be there, directly. Essa, out." She carried her cup to the dining table and told Leo, "I need you in this meeting, if you wouldn't mind?"

"Not at all," he said, following her out of the mess and into the corridor.

As the pair walked around the curve of the forward section toward the conference lounge, she said, "In response to your pre-empted question: five months. I feel that should be adequate time to decide."

He grinned. "That's more than fair, sir."

"'Sir?'" Essa grimaced, and opened her mouth to chastise his formality. Instead, she relented with a shrug. "Well, I suppose we're no longer speaking in private..."

"We're about to meet with the First Naval Lord, so I think some formality would be circumspect."

She nodded as they stood just outside of the door sensor leading to the conference lounge. "Quite right."

"After you, Admiral," Leo said, his hand outstretched toward the door.

Essa grinned. "Thank you, Commander." She stepped over the threshold into the lounge just as the door slid open to admit her. She smiled at Sir Joseph and started with, "My lord, please pardon our delay…"
One of those Star Fleet legacy families. With standard issue Star Fleet legacy family issues. They issue them along with the uniform and the pips.

Very fun character development with the godmother... Thanks!! rbs

Thanks! Yeah, I'd wanted to get more into the background of what happened with Leo and Keller (if you've been reading Conduct Unbecoming, you already know who it was), and how it directly impacted him.

Also, y'know... fathers and sons and all that, against the background of a legacy military family. :)
I'll echo RBS on your excellent character work! It's nice to see some of the family dynamics from behind the scenes, how Leo's Legacy family handled his fall from grace at Keller's hands. Knowing that Leo might have mitigated some of the fallout by running to his powerfully connected family members, but that he ultimately chose not to, makes Keller's later allegations of just that even more galling.

And from the previous chapter we get to see the Queen's loneliness, compounded by the loss of her immediate family, the only others who might have understood what she's enduring. No wonder Leo seems like such a breath of fresh air. Someone who sees her not as their reigning monarch, but simply as a person worthy of interest and conversation, and (presumably she hopes) perhaps something... more.
I'll echo RBS on your excellent character work! It's nice to see some of the family dynamics from behind the scenes, how Leo's Legacy family handled his fall from grace at Keller's hands. Knowing that Leo might have mitigated some of the fallout by running to his powerfully connected family members, but that he ultimately chose not to, makes Keller's later allegations of just that even more galling.

I actually had this piece already written BEFORE we wrote Keller's sit-down with Trujillo. Keller saw Leo as a threat, but he also viewed Leo through the lens of his own typical machinations (ie: because Keller would not hesitate to run to his highly-placed connections for support, he assumes Leo did the same). Absolutely galling, but also telling of Keller's character and universe-view. That was my hope when we were writing that out, because there's a reason why he is the way he is. :)

And from the previous chapter we get to see the Queen's loneliness, compounded by the loss of her immediate family, the only others who might have understood what she's enduring. No wonder Leo seems like such a breath of fresh air. Someone who sees her not as their reigning monarch, but simply as a person worthy of interest and conversation, and (presumably she hopes) perhaps something... more.

I feel so bad for Amy. I kind of inadvertently wrote her as a tragic Austen heroine, but I also think that's appropriate given the societal background of Greenwood. I've outlined this out to the end, I hope you'll like how it turns out because we already know that they don't end up together (given he broke up with someone else at the end of Conduct). :)
Part Eight: The Commander's Fashion Sense

F-35 (HMS Proteus)
En route to Her Majesty's Starbase Gibraltar, Nine Knots
August 8, 2318 (Stardate 85.11)

Proteus' First Officer, Lieutenant Jerald Andry, seated himself at the dining table, in his customary position to the right of the captain's seat near the head. The cozy, wood-paneled confines of the wardroom on the main deck of the frigate allowed for a soft and warm sound during conversations between the officers serving aboard the frigate.

He took both shakers on the table and seasoned his breakfast to his liking, mixing in the spices to the scrambled eggs provided by the ship's galley.

Seven bells had been struck, leaving only thirty minutes remaining before the start of the forenoon watch. Within minutes, Andry expected the Second Officer, Lieutenant Castlereagh, to enter and begin their daily discussion of the events during the mid and morning watches.

With twenty minutes left before the change of the watch, she entered the wardroom and promptly drew a mug of coffee from the simmering pot. "Good morning, Jerald," she said with a grin. "Sleep well?"

Andry nodded. "Main-well, yes, thankee. How did you fare during the night? I presume just as well since you didn't pipe 'All Hands.'"

Castlereagh finished loading up her plate and joined Andry at the table, sitting across from him. "Gun drills ran to the captain's requirements in all respects, I'm happy to report. Otherwise, we remain on course and speed to reach Gibraltar in a week."

"Glad to hear it," replied Andry. "What of our guest officer?"

She smirked. "He's… erm, interesting. He pokes his head in at odd hours and observes. Watched gun drills and asked a lot of questions. It sounds like we operate our weapons markedly different than Starfleet. He was utterly fascinated."

That brought a frown to Andry's lips. "I see."

She noticed his expression and asked, "Something wrong?"

"Nothing serious. I'm… not as taken with our guest as others seem to be."

"How's that?"

Andry sighed. "He does not comport himself in the manner respective of his rank and position."

"Ah," she grinned with understanding. "He seems more approachable than the typical naval officer, yes."

"Asking everyone to use his given name," the first officer scoffed. "'Call me Leo,' and the like. It's unbecoming, to my mind. I cannot imagine how the gun captains treated him with such a demeanor undermining them."

Castlereagh considered the events of the night and shrugged. "Seemed fine, from all appearances. But then, he's not their officer, anyway. He's live-lumber."

"I suppose," Andry admitted begrudgingly. "I'm sure the midshipmen adore him, being chummy like that. Sets a poor example and could have a deleterious effect on morale."

"Come now," she chided gently. "It's not all bad. Besides, he's a personal guest of the captain, here on the order of the First Naval Lord. I would take heed of that."

"I'll take heed," he promised. "I trust in your confidence."

"Of course," she confirmed.

Andry asked, "Anything else?"

She shook her head. "That does it. Ballard is standing watch for me until you relieve her."

"And I get Higginbotham and Reyes for the forenoon and afternoon, respectively?"

"Yes. We're still short one midshipman until we get to Gibraltar-"

Andry leaned back, his plate filled with only crumbs. "Ah, yes. The port admiral has a replacement for young Mister Demayo."

"Recent Academy graduate, as I understand it."

"A plebe of the highest order, then."

"We should recommend Ballard for acting leftenancy. She will pass an examination, I'll bet you a bottle from my personal reserve," offered Castlereagh.

"No arguments, here."

"And she could take our new midshipman in hand…?"

As eight bells sounded, he raised both brows toward the second officer. "Capital notion," Andry said. "I'll mention it to the captain at the first opportunity." He drained his mug, stood, and told her, "I'm needed up on deck." When he passed the wardroom steward's mate, he nodded to the man and said, "Thank you, Jeffries."
Really nice ongoing world-building with the naval culture and a not unexpected dislike for the relative informality of Star Fleet. Thanks!! rbs
Thanks! And you definitely got my point, so that's also appreciated.

It's pretty obvious that the Royal Navy leans heavily into a class-based system of officers and crew. Their Articles of War could be broadly interpreted to a point that it would give any volunteer pause before joining. I would honestly say that Greenwood likely doesn't use the Impress System to garner crew; it's less likely to be successful in the 24th century than in the Georgian/Regency eras.

But to their thinking, any officer who curries favor with the crew and does not maintain that "respectful" distance has something going on. Leo gets away with it because he's outside their chain of command and has high backing (higher than Andry knows, honestly). Leo may be a Commander, but Castlereagh (being a politically-tuned officer herself) was warning her colleague that he needs to give their guest a wider latitude because for all intents and purposes, he might as well be a visiting admiral.

Andry's perspective is more provincial; his concern is that the crew likes Leo over the officers because he's demonstrating a care that is lacking in the method of treatment. And if a Royal Navy crew starts drawing comparisons, what's to stop them from catching the next cargo ship to Federation space and signing on to Starfleet, instead?

This is a microcosm of the reasoning behind why the high muckety-mucks didn't want the Federation flying the flag too much. It signals a "better method" of government than theirs.
Also, you might've noticed that I changed my name/profile pic. I had SEVERAL inquiries about whether I was posting my own stories or if someone else was taking credit for my work. Given recent events, I felt it was easier to just embrace my persona on Ad Astra, here.

Btw, thanks to everyone who was looking out for me. I do appreciate it.

"Ah, thank you, Kathy," said Leo as a breakfast plate was set before him by the captain's steward. "This looks amazing. We don't eat this well on Starfleet ships."

Steward Rau smiled. "I'll let Cook know you appreciate his efforts, sir."

He gave up on getting her to call him by his first name. "And yours, of course."

Captain Meyn smirked and unfurled a cloth napkin to cover her lap. "Thankee, Rau." After the steward departed from the mess to leave them to speak, she asked Leo, "I heard you skulked about the main deck last night."

He chuckled. "I think skulk is a torrid description of what actually happened." His humor disappeared, "Unless the gun captains found my presence distracting?"

"Not at all," she assured him. "In fact, two of them were quite pleased that you asked questions of the crew. It lifted spirits in what would otherwise be a routine shift."

"Well, I'm glad you suggested it. I didn't fully appreciate what you meant when you and I spoke on that back at the palace."

"'Back at the palace,'" Meyn chuckled lightly. "As though we're frequent visitors."

Leo laughed. "Yes, the Queen's having me back for dinner next month, didn't I tell you?"

"Hah! You're a wag, sir!" the captain said loudly as she took hold of her utensils. "I do so enjoy our morning meals together."


As she brought a sausage up to take a bite, she asked, "How have you been getting on with the wardroom?"

He hesitated, then answered, "Mostly well."


Leo cast a quick glance at the captain. "I'm not looking to get anyone into trouble or disrupt the harmony of the wardroom…"

"That is quite an intriguing response," she said after chewing through half a sausage. Off his sidelong glance, she pressed, "I trust your opinion. And sometimes, it's nice to have an objective view of something you live with every single day. Besides all that, you're a barrister, your primary occupation centers on reading people, does it not?"

He sighed and put his fork down on the table. "All right. I don't think Mister Andry likes me very much."

"Why do you say that?"

"Just little things I've picked up. Body language, facial expressions, word choice…" He added, "It's really no big deal. I don't feel unwelcome, here, and it's not interfering with my observer status one bit."

Meyn hummed reflectively as Leo spoke. "Very well. I shan't intercede. However, if he should dare to share his doubts within my sight, then we shall have words."

"That's fair," Leo replied. "And I thank you for your measured response."

She twirled the tines of her fork in the air as she spoke. "I put the question to you and pressed for details; I shouldn't be upset with your observations, good or bad."

"Regardless, I never intended to be contrary to 'good order and discipline.'"

Meyn smiled. "You've read the Articles of War."

"As you said, I'm a barrister," he said with a grin. "We have a similar code in Starfleet. It is far more complicated than the Royal Navy's version, over one hundred articles that cover judicial procedure as well as regulating behavior. I'm thinking of writing a paper on my experiences at seeing the Articles put in action, if I get the opportunity."

"Preferably not aboard this vessel." She frowned. "I have been fortunate that I have not yet had to discipline the crew for violations or misconduct."

"Have you ever had to?"

Meyn nodded. "My first command was as a Leftenant of Raven; a smart little ketch brought into service as a courier. I loved her ability to reach one-hundred-twenty knots at full gallop. The crew really tested the boundaries of a new captain's patience and I had to resort to discipline several times. After a month, we finally found the ground to respect each other enough to make for a good little ship. And I learned a lot about command." She wondered, "Have you ever held an independent command?"

Leo shook his head. "I've never had that privilege. When I was still serving on starships, the highest billet I held was as operations officer; third-in-command. I had the bridge once in that role, for a brief time, when both the captain and executive officers were… unavailable."

"Hmm," she noted with an understanding nod. "If you should ever experience the burdens of command, I trust you'll come to find out precisely how high and nigh insurmountable that step upward can be for an officer who is not prepared for the responsibilities."

"That's a universal truth, I feel." He asked, "Does the Royal Navy feel all lieutenants should eventually command?"

"Certainly. However, some leftenants in the Navy will do their best work in a subordinate capacity with a captain to lead them. I presume the same could be said in Starfleet?"

"Well… not precisely. We have some officers who follow different career paths. For example, I am an unrestricted line officer, which allows me to assume any leadership role, including that of a commanding officer. But, we have other designations for different roles."

Meyn opened her mouth to inquire about those roles, but the intercom whistle interrupted her. She toggle open the circuit.

"First Officer to see you, sir!" called the marine sentry outside the mess door.

"Come," she replied.

The door parted to admit Lieutenant Andry. "Apologies to disturb your breakfast, Captain, Commander."

Meyn replied neutrally, "What is it?"

"Flying bridge reports two strange ships inbound to this system, approaching at seventy-five knots. They will enter our territory proximate to our present position," he informed her. "We have approximately forty minutes before they arrive."

She shot a glance toward to Leo, who replied, "It's not us. Both task groups are still operating core-ward until next week."

Meyn tossed her napkin on the table and rose from her seat. "Very well. Mister Andry, beat to quarters and clear for action!"
The story provides an interesting outside view of Star Fleet from the POV of a more conventional military force. That alone makes the story a fascinating entry as it explores the variances with an actual military organization. Roddenberry disliked the idea of Star Fleet being too militarized.

Thanks!! rbs
The story provides an interesting outside view of Star Fleet from the POV of a more conventional military force. That alone makes the story a fascinating entry as it explores the variances with an actual military organization. Roddenberry disliked the idea of Star Fleet being too militarized.

You might even say that I did a direct comparison of Star Trek against the very concept that Gene used to inspire him. :) Horatio Hornblower in space, right?