TUE: U.S.S. Advantage - "The Captain Contest"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CamSPD, May 3, 2020.

  1. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
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    Cover art!
    https://www.deviantart.com/camspd/art/The-Captain-Contest-840217675
    ___

    Starbase 82
    Stardate 2320.02.1



    “Hold that lift, please!”

    Ashrytia sh’Arellaar reacted immediately to the request—called out moments before a tall, dark-skinned man appeared on the other side of the threshold—by pressing the hold button on the turbolift control panel.

    “Thank you, Commander,” he said as he stepped through the open door, flashing a brief smile at her before turning to face the door as she allowed it to close.

    “You’re welcome, Commander,” she replied, taking note that he wore the same rank insignia on his shoulder as she. “What level?”

    “Two,” replied the man as the door closed.

    Sh’Arellaar nodded. “No need to give the computer further direction then, that’s where I’m going as well.” She then pressed the resume control and the lift began to move.

    “Don’t tell me you’ve also a meeting with Admiral Forsythe,” said her companion, his voice deep with an accent she felt certain was a Terran dialect.

    The Andorian felt her antennae twitch. “As a matter of fact, I do. Have you any idea why he wishes to meet with you? No reason was given for my summons, though my captain suspects the admiral means to promote me—she says it is time I receive a command of my own.”

    He favored her with an appraising look. “Indeed? How extraordinary—my captain says much the same of me.”

    Holding out his hand, he gave his name. “Commander T’Chole Mbanu, presently Chief of Security on the U.S.S. Stargazer.”

    Sh’Arellaar took his hand; he had a firm grip. “Commander Ashrytia sh’Arellaar, at present Senior Computer Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Trial.”

    The two fell silent as the lift continued upward, minutes later opening to deposit them on the second level of the starbase. They soon reached Admiral Forsythe’s suite, stepping into the outer office together and giving their names to the ensign at the reception desk. They then took seats on opposite ends of a sofa to wait, though not wishing for the duration to be awkward, sh’Arellaar turned to Mbanu and asked about his ship—she’d never actually set foot on a Constellation-class starship before. The layout as he described it wasn’t too far a deviation from that of the Miranda, the Trial’s own class—at least as far as the saucer section went.

    Suddenly the admiral’s aide called out, “Admiral Forsythe will see you now.”

    Sh’Arellaar and Mbanu looked to one another, then both turned their gazes to the young officer. “Which of us does the admiral wish to see, Ensign?” Mbanu asked.

    The girl seemed surprised by the question. “Both of you, sir.”

    Again the commanders shared a look, then rose in tandem to make the short trip to the door at the ensign’s left. It opened almost immediately, and after stepping through, both stopped and stood at attention before the desk. Sh’Arellaar announced herself as reporting as ordered, then Mbanu followed suit.

    “At ease, at ease,” said Admiral Benjamin Forsythe, a Human the Andorian’s ancestors would have called “pinkskin”. His short-cropped hair was almost entirely silver, though it was thinly peppered with dark brown or black. “Have a seat, Commanders.”

    Doing as directed, they waited in silence for a moment as the admiral scrutinized them both, then sat forward and clasped his hands together on the desktop.

    “Commander sh’Arellaar, Commander Mbanu… we have a problem,” he began. “In this sector block, we have more command-level officers than we have ships to give them. You are both of you—with your years of service and various credentials—in line to be promoted to the rank of captain and given your first command.

    “The problem is, right now I have only one ship available. Now, normally the officer whose commission came first would be the one chosen to take command, but you two were literally registered as full commanders within minutes of one another,” Forsythe continued. “Months, weeks, even days I would accept as reasonable for choosing one of you over the other, but mere minutes? That doesn’t sit right with me.”

    He stood then and moved around the desk, stopping to brace himself against the edge as he faced them and crossing his arms. A slight smile lifted the corners of his lips as he said then, “Being of such a mind, I consulted with a colleague of mine, and we’ve devised a method for determining which of you will be placed in command of the Advantage.”

    Sh’Arellaar fought the urge to raise an inquiring eyebrow. She knew the Advantage—or rather, knew of it. Like her present assignment, it was a Miranda-class vessel and one of the oldest ships still in service. Her systems would likely have been upgraded to meet current standards, but she was still an aging vessel near to or well past her prime. She knew a number of officers who would consider commanding such a ship to be a backhanded compliment rather than recognition of their time-in-service. Considering the Constellation-class was newer than the Miranda, she wondered if Mbanu would feel the same.

    “And what,” Mbanu asked, “is the method you devised, sir?”

    Forsythe’s grin widened. “A contest—well, of a sort. You see, each of you will be given an assignment as interim CO, and the outcome of those assignments will determine which of you receives command. The opinions of the ship’s senior staff as to your performance will also be taken into account.”

    Sh’Arellaar frowned. “You’re going to let the crew decide whom they like best?” she asked.

    “I said their opinions would be considered, but what they think of your command style is only one of the factors we’ll be judging, Commander.”

    “It is certainly an unusual method of deciding on who receives a command,” said Mbanu. “What will become of the one of us that is not chosen, if I may ask, sir?”

    “And what will the other be doing while one of us is in temporary command?” added sh’Arellaar.

    “While one is in command, the other will act as executive officer. The new captain will have the option of keeping the other as first officer or choosing from the existing senior officers for XO,” Forsythe replied. “If the captain chooses the latter option, you will return to your present assignment.”

    He clapped his hands then and grinned. “You have until tomorrow to pack up and settle things with your captains. The Advantage is at berth four, you’re to report there by 0800 tomorrow. We’ve elected to give you your assignments based on the alphabetical order of your surnames, so Commander Mbanu will be acting captain first. Good luck to you both.”

    Sh’Arellaar and Mbanu stood, each offering a silent nod to the admiral, who informed them they’d be made aware of the specific details of the initial assignment before the scheduled departure of the Advantage at 0900. They were then dismissed.

    ***

    Ben Forsythe opened up a subspace channel to his friend and fellow Starfleet admiral, Richard Middleton. The Welshman answered the subspace call almost immediately.

    “How did it go?” he asked.

    “They both seemed to take it in stride, believe it or not,” Forsythe replied, blowing on the hot coffee in the mug he held before taking a sip. “Though Commander sh’Arellaar did her best to hide the indignant frown on her face when I mentioned the crew evaluations would be a factor in deciding who gets the chair.”

    “I told you she would be affronted—even after nearly two hundred years of associating with us Humans, Ben, Andorians are notoriously easy to offend where their sense of honor is concerned,” Middleton replied.

    “I still say we should have just given the Advantage to Mbanu, Rick,” Forsythe countered. “He was promoted before sh’Arellaar, after all.”

    Middleton laughed. “His promotion to commander was recorded all of five minutes before hers, for goodness’ sake! You’re really going to judge a man’s ability to command a starship on five minutes?”

    Forsythe snorted softly as he regarded the man on his monitor. “You seem to be placing an awful lot of regard in her ability to do so, and based on what? She’s a computer technician, whereas T’Chole Mbanu is an experienced tactical officer.”

    “Being able to fix the equipment on a starship is just as important as knowing how to defend it, Ben,” rejoined Middleton. “In fact, it’s officers like Ashrytia sh’Arellaar who fix the phasers and torpedo launchers that officers like Mbanu use to do so.”

    Touché,” Forsythe conceded with a nod. He took another drink of his coffee, then said, “Are we still on?”

    “You mean the bet? Absolutely!” was Middleton’s enthusiastic reply. “Let the ‘captain contest’ begin.”
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
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  2. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    This should prove to be interesting, especially considering each acting C.O. will have their opponent as X.O.
    Oh, the possibilities. :lol:
     
  3. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Thank you, TLR! I am chuffed you like it.
     
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, geez. A couple of bored admirals have conspired to make this situation as awkward and uncomfortable for the two prospective captains as possible.

    It's a unique situation, to be sure. I'm eager to see how adversarial the two of them will be towards one another. May the best Commander win!
     
  5. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

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    An interesting way to decide who the Captain will be. I like it!
     
  6. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I am in total agreement, lol. But they're not so much bored as they are two guys who have known each other for decades and like to compete with each other.
    The idea for this story grew from the fact that I had made two excellent manips and could not decide which one to use for my captain. I leaned toward the first, but loved the second as well, and then boom! Story idea.

    As to how well sh'Arellaar and Mbanu will get along, I imagine things will definitely be awkward.
    I'm glad you like it.
     
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  7. pio1776

    pio1776 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2017
    Well, that was evil. I like it.
     
  8. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Location:
    Space, the final frontier.
    U.S.S. Advantage, NCC-2304
    Berth 4, Starbase 82



    T’Chole Mbanu almost laughed as he approached the airlock to Berth 4 … and saw Ashrytia sh’Arellaar arriving from the opposite direction.

    He would have laughed, if their present situation weren’t so surreal. Truly, what the devil had possessed Forsythe and whomever he had consulted to come up with such a hare-brained scheme? Pitting two candidates against each other was one thing—he was no stranger to healthy competition, and in fact welcomed it. But to make the two of them work together while they competed against one another for the same command?

    How the hell were they supposed to pull that one off?

    Sh’Arellaar paused before the airlock. “Good morning, Commander. I’m sorry… Captain.”

    He nodded. He was the captain now, wasn’t he? At least for the next… however many days.

    “Good morning to you as well, Commander. Shall we?”

    He gestured to the airlock as he spoke. Sh’Arellaar nodded and turned for the airlock control, though her hand stilled before she touched it; her hand dropped, and she drew a breath as she looked back to him.

    “If I may, perhaps we ought to set some sort of parameters for this … experiment,” she said.

    The idea was not without merit, Mbanu mused. “What would you suggest?”

    “I’m assuming you want a command as much as I do, but that doesn’t mean this has to be a case of one-upmanship, with each of us trying to out-maneuver the other,” sh’Arellaar began. “We also don’t need to debase ourselves by undermining each other or otherwise trying to curry favor with the senior officers on the Advantage. I suggest we keep things fair by simply operating as though the position is already ours when we’re the one in charge.”

    “That is a wise and honorable suggestion, Commander,” Mbanu said slowly. “We can make this a true contest of skill if we handle this rather unusual situation with tact, maturity, and a true desire to not be adversarial.”

    “Precisely,” sh’Arellaar replied with a nod. “If there’s to be a competition, let it be an honest one.”

    Mbanu held out his hand to her. “Agreed.”

    Sh’Arellaar shook his hand, and he was reminded she had as firm a grip as most men—not that he would dare say so aloud. After all, it was natural that she would have a strong grasp when her species was naturally stronger than his own, just as it was natural she would be offended by a comparison to a member of the opposite sex.

    Minutes later, the two found themselves in a corridor on the Advantage. “Computer,” Mbanu called out. “Indicate directions to the nearest turbolift.”

    “Computer, cancel that request,” countered sh’Arellaar with a grin. “Sir, my previous assignment was on the Trial—a Miranda-class ship. I know my way around.”

    Mbanu chuckled. “Then by all means—lead the way, Commander.”

    Sh’Arellaar moved off toward the right, and he fell into step beside her. “Didn’t you study a schematic of the ship sometime yesterday, sir?”

    He scoffed. “I admit I did not. I concentrated on the crew manifest. And yourself?”

    “Already being familiar with this class of ship, I did the same. I also reviewed Advantage’s mission logs to try and get an idea of the missions you and I are likely to be assigned command of.”

    “And what did you come up with?”

    The Andorian huffed out a breath. “Nothing conclusive. This ship has had much the same mission types as both yours and mine—there’s no telling what they’ll give us to do.”

    “You sound frustrated, Commander,” Mbanu observed.

    “Aren’t you?” she challenged as they arrived at the lift. They stepped inside as Mbanu expressed a desire to meet with the senior staff before they received their orders; Sh’Arellaar ordered the lift to deck two, explaining that it was the location of the briefing room. She then continued as the lift began to move.

    “I am frustrated,” she said. “Frankly, my mood borders on insulted—a couple of bored admirals have conspired to make this situation as awkward and uncomfortable for the two of us as possible. Command-qualified officers compete with each other already by writ of time-in-service and credentials. To make the two of us work together while competing for the same command is… it is…”

    “Insulting?” Mbanu offered.

    “Yes!” sh’Arellaar declared. “I dread to imagine what the crew—and I don’t mean just the senior officers—will think about this. How they’re going to react when we switch places in a few weeks, or however long this first mission lasts. Don’t you think it will be rather difficult for you to give commands to me, then turn around and have to take them from me?”

    “No more, I imagine, than it will be for you to follow my orders and then turn around and give orders. I am hopeful, however, that if we are able to do as you said earlier—to simply behave as though command was always ours during the phase when it is ours—it will make the receiving of orders less awkward. It may serve us both to also keep in mind that we have the option of retaining our competitor as first officer once the decision is made as to which of us will be named captain.”

    Sh’Arellaar’s scrutiny following his statement was not entirely unexpected, nor was the query which followed. “And you would be okay with that—playing XO to me when you could have been captain?”

    “Would you accept the first officer position if Admiral Forsythe gives command to me?” Mbanu rejoined. He then drew a breath as he considered his next words. “Commander, I can’t yet answer that question for myself. Perhaps I will have one for you when all this is done.”

    His companion loosed a soft sigh. “To be honest, I don’t think I could give an answer right now, either. I just… hope that we can make this process as painless as possible.”

    Mbanu nodded his agreement. “Indeed, Commander.”

    Shortly thereafter, the pair reached deck two. Sh’Arellaar led the way over to the briefing room and once inside, each deposited the duffel they carried to one side of the door. Mbanu then addressed the computer again, directing it to accept his authority as commanding officer pro temp. A series of beeps and trills followed, and then,

    Acting Captain T’Chole Mbanu is in command.”

    He then ordered the computer to recognize sh’Arellaar as first officer, after which she gave her own Starfleet ID, and she was recognized as well. Mbanu next called all senior officers to the briefing room.

    “Too bad there’s no food synthesizer in here,” sh’Arellaar groused as she moved to take a seat at the table. “I could use a cup of coffee.”

    Mbanu chuckled as he sat at the head of the table; sh’Arellaar sat to his right. “I will make a point of having a carafe brought in by someone in Ship’s Services in future.”

    She grinned. “I like your first command decision, Captain.”

    They did not wait long before the first of the senior officers arrived. Mbanu recognized him as Lt. Commander James Asher, Advantage’s Chief of Security. He was a tall, pale-skinned fellow from the Australian continent on Earth. Seconds later came a blonde female whose face was Human in appearance, but whose ears would make one wonder if she were part Vulcan. Mbanu knew, however, that Lt. Commander Kasti Ziimois was, in fact, one of the three Rigellian species, specifically the Zami. She was the ship’s helm officer.

    Advantage’s science officer, a lieutenant by the name of Gregory Kelley, soon walked in with the ship’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Melissa Danbury. Mbanu knew the doctor was as new to the crew as himself and sh’Arellaar, but Kelley seemed to be helping her feel at ease, as the young physician was smiling as they entered. They were soon followed by T’Prenn, the Vulcan navigator, and a man who in appearance was in his mid-20s—but whose dossier had stated he was over 300. Mbanu was very interested in getting to know Tagus Loram and learning about his species, the El Aurians.

    The senior officers each looked toward the two at the table as they entered the room, and took what their new captain assumed was their usual places; Asher sat in the chair to his left, with Ziimois sitting to his left. T’Prenn sat next to her, with Kelley taking the seat on sh’Arellaar’s right and Danbury sitting on his. Loram, who had carried in a data slate, sat at the opposite end from Mbanu himself, his eyes fixed on the device. Mbanu stood, drawing all eyes to him save for the distracted engineer.

    “Tag,” said Kelley, at last grabbing the other man’s attention.

    Loram looked up, startled. “Oh, my apologies,” he said, and placed the slate on the table.

    Mbanu glanced briefly at each officer as he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, in case you have not yet been made aware, I am Commander T’Chole Mbanu and this is Commander Ashrytia sh’Arellaar. I have been placed in temporary command of this vessel for the duration of Advantage’s next mission.”

    “Only temporary command, sir?” ventured Asher.

    “That is correct, Mr. Asher,” Mbanu replied. “Instead of simply assigning either myself or Commander sh’Arellaar command of the Advantage, Admiral Forsythe has decided to test our readiness for command by assigning each of us a mission to oversee. I drew the short straw, which means I am first.”

    “Strange way to decide on a captain, sir,” offered Ziimois.

    “It is indeed, Commander,” agreed sh’Arellaar. “Our performance during our periods of command will be the greatest deciding factor in which of us will be assigned permanent command of the Advantage.”

    “What other factors will the admiral be considering?” asked Kelley.

    Mbanu glanced down at his new XO, then back to the lieutenant. “That is as yet unclear, Mr. Kelley. Nor do we yet know what the next mission will be, as Admiral Forsythe has yet to divulge that information.”

    “Given that the Advantage is scheduled to depart in less than an hour, I suspect we will soon hear from him,” added sh’Arellaar.

    Sitting down again at last, Mbanu then said, “In the meantime, I want to get a sitrep on the current status of the ship. You may begin, Mr. Asher.”

    Each officer gave a brief report on the status of their departments, informing the captain that all was basically in readiness and they were just waiting for their next orders. Lt. Loram spoke last, and his manner only served to increase Mbanu’s curiosity about him.

    “Um, Addy’s in good shape, sir. Ready to go when you are,” Loram said.

    “’Addy’, Lieutenant?” prompted sh’Arellaar.

    Loram scratched his head. “The Advantage, sir. I, uh, gave her a nickname.”

    Sh’Arellaar glanced at Mbanu with a raised eyebrow, then turned her attention back to the engineer. “For the record, Mr. Loram… and all of you… Despite Starfleet protocol, I don’t care to be addressed as ‘sir.’ In the Andorian military, female officers are addressed as ‘ma’am’ or by their rank.”

    “But you are not in the Andorian military, nor is Starfleet a military organization,” said Asher.

    Mbanu watched the gray and white eyebrow raise again as sh’Arellaar looked across the table at the security officer. “Firstly, Commander, anyone who believes Starfleet is not a military organization is fooling themselves. Our primary objective may be exploration, but it is Starfleet whom the Federation calls to defend our planets and colonies and other starships when they are in danger. Starfleet uses the rank structure and organization of the naval military services of Earth’s past. Therefore, military. And while Starfleet is not the Andorian Imperial Guard, as an officer I am allowed to exercise certain preferences, and one of those is not being addressed by a male pronoun.”

    “Can you even be called female when your species has four genders?”

    Mbanu frowned at the disrespectful tone of Asher’s voice, not to mention the rudeness of the question. “Lt. Commander Asher—”

    Sh’Arellaar held up her hand. “It’s all right, Captain. I’ll address the question. My people have four genders, that is true. Two of them—thaan and chan—are male according to the Federation standard genome of the male sex, with certain minor variables endemic to each. The two others—zhen and shen—are female, again according to the Federation standard genome of the female sex. Several hundred years ago, some of the clans of Andoria chose to add a prefix to their clan names which identified their gender. I am of the clan Arellaar, and I am a shen. Thus, sh’Arellaar.”

    “Commander sh’Arellaar has made a reasonable request,” spoke up Mbanu. “It is a request that any female officer in Starfleet is granted leave to make. I expect every member of this crew to honor that request, is that understood?”

    His eyes fell on Asher as he spoke, and the other man colored under the scrutiny. Each officer answered in the affirmative, Asher included, though before Mbanu could say anything else, the intercom chimed.

    Bridge to Briefing Room.”

    Mbanu reflexively glanced up. “Go ahead, Bridge.”

    Seconds passed, likely due to the officer not recognizing his voice, and then, “Sir, we’re receiving a transmission from Starbase 82. It’s Admiral Forsythe.”

    “Patch it through down here, Bridge.”

    Acknowledged.”

    The large viewscreen set into the wall behind Mbanu flickered to life, first displaying the Federation emblem, then the visage of Benjamin Forsythe sitting behind his desk.

    “Ah, you’re already getting to know your senior staff. Excellent,” he said.

    “Commander sh’Arellaar and I thought it prudent, sir,” Mbanu replied.

    Forsythe nodded. “Of course. And now that you have gotten the ball rolling, it’s time to start kicking it around: I have an assignment for you, Captain.”

    “I am glad to hear it, Admiral. I believe I can safely speak for the crew when I say we are eager to get under way,” Mbanu replied.

    “I bet,” said Forsythe. He then softly cleared his throat before adding, “The Border Patrol squadron based at Star Station Destiny is down a ship for the next three weeks while the U.S.S. Snowfin undergoes a warp engine overhaul. You’ll be handling their patrol of the Federation-Gorn border until the ship is back up and running.”

    Patrol of the Federation-Gorn border… No chance at all of that being a peaceful three weeks. Mbanu resisted the urge to groan even as he inclined his head. “Very well, Admiral. We’ll be on our way as soon as Ops gives us clearance.”

    “Glad to hear it. Good luck to you, Captain Mbanu, and stay safe out there. Forsythe out.”

    The screen flipped back to the UFP symbol. Mbanu turned slowly in his chair to face the officers at the table once again. “All right, people, let’s get to our stations and get ready move out. Dismissed.”

    Despite being the last one to enter the briefing room—or perhaps because of his position as Chief Engineer and the need to get the engines prepped for flight—Lt. Loram was the first to dash out. The others followed, moving quickly though not running as the El Aurian had. Sh’Arellaar lingered behind with Mbanu, the two of them bringing up the rear.

    “I will speak to Asher about his attitude in private, Commander,” Mbanu said.

    “If you think it necessary, Captain,” she replied.

    He stopped in mid-stride and turned to her. “The man had only just met you and he not only gave you attitude, he was downright rude. Are you telling me you weren’t offended by his questioning your gender?”

    She drew a breath. “I’ll admit I was a little … irritated … by Asher. But it’s honestly nothing I have not experienced before.”

    “You shouldn’t have to put up with it just because you’re used to it,” Mbanu countered. “I’ll speak to him.”

    Sh’Arellaar inclined her head. “Very well, Captain. And … thank you.”

    Mbanu offered a smile as they picked up their bags and headed for the stairs leading up to deck one. It was time to get the party started.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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  9. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

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    Awesome addition and I'm chuffed at the fact that you used Snowfin in your story. :)
     
  10. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Thank you! I am glad you were excited with the Snowfin's mention.
     
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A nice introduction to the senior staff. I'm pleased at the level of professionalism Mbanu and Sh’Arellaar are displaying so far. That bodes well for a solid, respectful working relationship, no matter how this shakes out.

    I'd say the Chief Engineer is a weird kid, except he's over three-hundred! I'll be interested to find out more about his backstory. And Asher... my, he's a bit of an ass, isn't he? Must be something behind his attitude, unless he's one of a handful of the early 24th century's remaining misogynists.

    Great stuff! I'm eagerly awaiting more.
     
  12. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Thanks for the comments! I am pleased you liked the intro, and that the competitors are keeping things civil. I decided before I even started this story that I did not want them going at each other and making things unpleasant.

    In my head, Loram is... eccentric. Perhaps a bit touched in the head, or maybe is something like autistic. His behavior will make him seem an odd duck, but he's brilliant. And yeah, Asher's an ass. I think he is a bit of a misogynist, and perhaps a member of the old "homo sapiens only" club. I don't think he minds women or aliens, but is one of those that thinks of Starfleet as being a Human invention, thus should be run by Humans -- including their starships.
     
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  13. Deggsy

    Deggsy Cadet Newbie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2020
    Well now, this is one of the strongest openings to a new story I have read in a while: quickly and efficiently fleshing out the main characters and the story behind the contest. it's pleasing that there is no instant animosity between the two of them, each realising that they are both qualified to command, and thus deserving of mutual respect and maturity without it turning into a pissing contest. And the introduction of the supporting characters leaves much potential for conflict on several levels (as well as clear up some misconceptions about Andorians). I'm looking forward to following this to see where it goes (and who ultimately gets command!)
     
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  14. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

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    Deggsy! Welcome to the party!
     
  15. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Mbanu and Sh’Arellaar are demonstrating a high degree of maturity and professionalism. The senior staff of the Advantage? Not so much. Asher was border-line insubordinate. I can cut Loram some slack . . . after all, he's only 300 years old, just an El-Aurian kid. :lol:
     
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  16. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

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    Maybe Asher and Loram need some Border Service love to knock them back into the 'Good Behavior' category.
     
  17. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Thank you! I am so pleased you like it!
    That was exactly what I was aiming for -- for these two, perhaps, to be the most mature about the contest. They both want it, each would be happy to get it, but they're not going to be a-holes about it.
    That's something else I wanted to do -- address some of those inconsistencies and theories. We'll see more of it in the next section. I've had Andorian characters before, but have never really focused on them. Since I'm doing that here, I wanted to tackle the things people might be wondering about. ;)
    I'm glad to hear it!
    Absolutely! And unfortunately, that's not the last we'll see of his attitude.
    Honestly, that's how I see him, in a sense. He's just a 300+ year old kid. In the next segment, we'll get to see some of sh'Arellaar's thoughts about him and it will expand on the oddities of his behavior here.
    Asher could definitely use a swift kick in the ass, but Loram hasn't done anything wrong. No need for correction on his part.

    Thanks, everyone, for all the comments!
     
  18. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Location:
    Space, the final frontier.
    U.S.S. Advantage


    Personal log, Ashrytia sh’Arellaar recording. Stardate 2320.02.6

    Advantage is four days into her seven-day journey to the section of Federation-Gorn border normally patrolled by the Border Cutter Snowfin. I have wisely spent the time getting to know the crew, and the senior staff in particular.

    Well, the ones willing to get to know me, in any case. Lt. Asher has kept his distance ever since Mbanu spoke to him about his behavior at that first staff meeting. I can’t help but wonder if the man has any underlying psychological issues or if he’s just a misogynistic ass. From my observations of him, he doesn’t so much seem to have an issue with women or non-Humans in general—as I’ve seen him converse and even laugh with both—as he just seems to have a problem with me. But I suppose some people just think their own are better than everyone else. It remains to be seen with him precisely what his problem is.

    Lt. Loram is a bit of an odd duck, to borrow a Human phrase. He is considered by his team and those of the senior officers I’ve had chance to speak with to be as brilliant an engineer as the legendary Montgomery Scott, but he’s… odd. Can’t even begin to imagine what his story is, being a man who appears youthful but is in reality more than three centuries old. I learned that he was one of the forty-seven persons rescued by the Enterprise-B on her maiden voyage, and everything I have ever read about the energy ribbon they encountered makes me wonder if the experience didn’t affect Loram more deeply than he lets on—consciously, at least, as he doesn’t seem to be wholly aware of his own ticks. He’s easily distracted yet seems to hear everything, talks to himself a lot—he even talks to the ship as if Advantage were a person—and he’s always carrying around a data slate. In four days, I don’t think I have ever seen him without one in hand.

    Ziimois and T’Prenn are an interesting pair to watch at the helm and nav stations. Despite the latter woman being as calculating and reserved as Vulcans are wont to be, she and the former seem to have developed an excellent rhythm between them. They often don’t even need to speak to each other in order to anticipate the other, or perhaps they’re simply using telepathy. Rigellian-Zami are thought to be an offshoot of the Vulcans, after all, what with the commonality of pointy ears and blood chemistry. If they have a similar appearance and a blood type close enough to that of Vulcans that they can donate to them if necessary, then maybe the Zami have developed telepathy as well. I’m afraid I’m not as familiar with Ziimois’s people as I am with T’Prenn’s. Perhaps if I get the chance to speak more in-depth with our pilot, I’ll ask her.

    I’ve not had the opportunity yet to sit down and talk with Lt. Kelley, though from what I read in his personnel file, he’s married, and is one of the few officers on board who has brought his wife and children. So far he and Angela Kelley have two little ones: an 8-year-old girl named Hannah and a 6-year-old boy named Robert. I honestly look forward to meeting all the children on board, as I believe there are a total of five, because I simply adore children. Goodness knows I’d like to be a mother myself one day, but life in the service doesn’t make it easy to meet someone, let alone build a life with them long enough to start a family. Every officer on board who has a family has my deepest respect.

    I better get off here. Dr. Danbury is expecting me in Medical for a physical. I’ll certainly take advantage of the opportunity to speak with her as well, as I want to make sure she’s getting on okay—this being her first deep space assignment and all. Her jacket said she graduated from Starfleet Medical early, which tells me she’s a bit of an over-achiever, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    ***

    When sh’Arellaar stepped into Medical, she was surprised to find Lt. Kelley, his wife, and his daughter there, waiting in the recovery ward.

    “Lieutenant, is everything all right?” she asked as she drew closer.

    Kelley stood sharply. “Commander! I…”

    “At ease, Mr. Kelley. Please tell me, did something happen? Is it your son, Lieutenant?”

    The science officer relaxed his stance and dropped back into his chair. “Yeah, it’s Robbie. He’s having his appendix removed.”

    “He’s been having trouble with it for a few days now,” added Angela Kelley. “This morning he woke in a great deal of pain, so we brought him in, of course. The new doctor examined him and determined it would be best to have it removed.”

    “Well, if I recall my academy lessons on Human anatomy, Mrs. Kelley, your little boy will be fine once it’s out,” sh’Arellaar assured her with a soft smile.

    “Oh, I know—I had mine removed when I was twelve,” the other woman replied. “But as a mom, I can’t help worrying just a little.”

    “Are you Andorian?”

    Sh’Arellaar looked to the little girl sitting beside Mrs. Kelley. “As a matter of fact, I am,” she replied.

    “You look different than Nurse Tulie. She has antennas coming out her forehead,” the girl continued, pointing to her own. “Why are yours in the wrong place?”

    “Hannah, please don’t be rude,” Lt. Kelley warned her.

    “It’s quite all right, Lieutenant,” sh’Arellaar answered with a light chuckle. “I don’t mind.”

    She moved to sit in the chair next to young Hannah. “Let me ask you something, little one… Are there not differences among Humans?”

    Hannah nodded. “Sure! Some have brown skin, some have black skin, and some have peach skin like me. Some even have different shaped eyes.”

    Sh’Arellar smiled. “That’s very true. And just like there are different skin colors and eye shapes for your kind of people, there are different skin colors and antennae placement for my kind of people. My antennae are not in the wrong place, just like Nurse Tulie’s are not in the wrong place—they’re just in different places.”

    “And they’re different shapes, too,” said a new voice. “Mine are thinner, and the bells not as wide.”

    Sh’Arellaar looked over as a younger Andorian female stepped up to the family; Lt. Kelley stood, as did his wife.

    “How’s Robbie?” Angela asked.

    The newcomer grinned. “He’s doing just fine. Appendix removal is a very simple surgery, Mrs. Kelley. Nurse Ellis is getting him ready to be brought out here for recovery, and Dr. Danbury would like to keep him until this evening, at least, before she lets him go home with you.”

    The couple looked relieved at her words, and even sh’Arellaar was glad to hear them. The lieutenant turned to her and assured her he would return to his duty station once he had seen his son, to which she replied that he could take all the time he needed. The nurse, whose full name sh’Arellaar recalled then was Thaliatulie Toh’kerron, then informed her that Dr. Danbury would see her in her office.

    Making her way down the hall to the CMO’s office, she knocked on the open door frame. “Hello, Doctor.”

    Melissa Danbury stood. “Welcome, Commander. Please, come in. Oh, and press that control there, if you would. It will close the door.”

    Looking over her shoulder as she entered, sh’Arellaar noted the control panel; she pressed the close button and from a pocket in the frame, the door slid out to close, offering them privacy.

    “Thank you for making time to see me today, Commander. I don’t really need to do an exam, I just have a few questions to ask,” Danbury said.

    “I’ll be happy to answer them,” sh’Arellaar replied as she sat in the single visitor’s chair. When she had done so, the doctor sat as well.

    After asking a few general questions about her medical history, Danbury cleared her throat. “Um, Commander, there’s something else I would like to know… I’ve been meaning to ask Tulie, but just never seemed to find the time, what with having to familiarize myself with more than three hundred medical histories and the layout of the medbays.”

    “Medbays?”

    Danbury nodded. “I know the official designation is Sickbay, but I’ve never really liked that name. Not everyone who comes here is sick, and in fact, illness is one of the less common reasons a person needs to see a physician. Most of the time it’s only for regular checkups.”

    “A very good point, Doctor. I’ll be sure to mention it to the captain.” She sat back in her chair and clasped her hands together in her lap. “Go ahead and ask your question, if you think I can answer it.”

    Danbury’s manner became suddenly nervous. “Well, as an Andorian, like Tulie is, I’m certain you can,” the doctor said. “It’s about the Andorian gender paradigm; from what I have heard, one person from each of the four sexes is required to create one child. But I don’t understand how that works—how can a species maintain adequate population growth when so much genetic material is required? What are the differences between the males and females of your species?”

    Sh’Arellaar raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you learn about Andorian physiology while you were in medical school?”

    “We learned how to treat minor wounds and major injuries, yes,” Danbury replied. “And of course how to conduct a basic physical exam. We learned there are four genders, two male and two female. But I guess I never quite grasped how any species could have more than two genders. Andorians and Rigellian-Jelna are the two most prominent species in the Federation that I know of which have multiple genders.”

    “Well, I can’t speak for the Jelna—perhaps Lt. Commander Ziimois can, though she’s Rigellian-Zami,” sh’Arellaar began. “But in regard to my own species, I can assure you that four are not required to create a single child. That is a common misconception based in large part to our marriage ceremonies requiring groups of four.”

    Danbury frowned. “And why is that?”

    “It’s a part of the Ushaan, our honor code. When two Andorians decide to marry, a person who is especially close to each stands up with them in much the same manner as Humans have a best man or maid of honor—except with Andorians, the two acarya also make vows during the ceremony. They pledge to be a mentor to the bride or groom, ensuring that the friend or relative who is marrying honors the pledge they have made to their chosen mate.”

    “So the mentor basically swears to keep the bride or groom from cheating?” Danbury asked.

    Sh’Arellaar laughed. “Yes, but that’s only part of it. The acarya also makes sure that the bride or groom treats their partner well, does their part in caring for the home and children… Most often, a person who is already married and has been for a year or more is chosen to stand up with the person getting married.”

    “I suppose someone who has already experienced marriage would be the ideal person to help teach you how to manage yours,” Danbury observed. “Though I’d be afraid of their becoming too involved and not allowing me to live my own life. “

    “You would certainly be allowed to—acarya are only supposed to advise, not interfere,” sh’Arellaar said. “It’s like having another parent, except your acarya is more objective than a true parent. Over time, as a couple grows closer and more in tune with each other, the acarya’s guidance is needed less, though they are always available when you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.”

    Danbury slowly nodded her head. “It does sound rather fascinating. And I guess it would be nice to have someone to turn to for advice when you’re not sure about something or you and the hubs have been fighting, especially if you feel like you can’t turn to your family or don’t want to get them involved.”

    The doctor then cocked her head to the side. “But what about the multiple genders? How do you have two types of men and two types of women?”

    Sh’Arellaar shrugged. “We just do. No Andorian I know has ever questioned why—have you ever wondered why Humans have only one of each?”

    Danbury laughed. “Never even thought about it… And what are the differences between your genders? I believe you have names for them?”

    “Yes. In function and appearance, shen and zhen are female, and thaan and chan are male. Shen and chan are much more androgynous than the zhen and thaan. Shen females have breasts so small they may as well have none, don’t grow body hair, produce much less female hormones than zhen females, and they sometimes look like adolescent males. Chan males don’t grow body hair, tend to be lighter of build, and produce much less male hormones than their thaan counterparts. They tend to be shorter as well, and their facial features are almost feminine.”

    The doctor frowned as she spoke. “Wait a minute, Commander—you said you were a shen the other day, didn’t you?”

    Sh’Arellaar nodded. “That’s right.”

    “Then why do you look like a girl? I mean no offense, but your face is feminine and pretty, and you clearly have breasts beneath your clothes…”

    A soft snort escaped the Andorian. “The adult me calls it vanity, but the teenage girl I used to be calls it poor self-esteem,” she explained. “I was born on Andoria, and among my own people there’s no shame in being born shen or chan—we can still have sex and produce children, with each other or one of the other opposite genders. We can even breed with our Aenar cousins and it is believed all from Andoria may be compatible with Humans.

    “Right about the time I entered puberty, my father’s work took our family to the colony on Rentara Prime, which was mostly comprised of binary-gendered species—Humans, Vulcans, and the like—and it became apparent to my peers fairly quickly that I was not filling out like they were. I didn’t have a problem with what I am until the bullying began. I tried to ignore it at first, as one tends to do, but the more I didn’t react, the nastier the bullies got as they tried to force a reaction out of me. I got into a few fights defending my gender even as I started to secretly believe they were right about me, and I wasn’t really a girl at all. When I was seventeen, I convinced my parents to allow me to undergo cosmetic alteration. My facial bones were sculpted to a more feminine appearance and my own body fat was used to enlarge my breasts.”

    “Have you ever regretted getting the surgeries?” Danbury asked. “Ever thought of returning to your previous appearance?”

    Sh’Arellaar shook her head. “No. I’m hardly the first shen to do it and I’m not likely to be the last. I liked my new look. It made me feel better about myself and it soon put an end to the bullying. Of course, we also left Rentara soon after as my father’s firm next sent him to Earth. I was never bullied there, due in large part, I’m sure, to my—as you put it—looking like a girl.

    “As to reversing the surgeries… No, I’ve never considered going back to the way I was. There is no shame in the alterations I got anymore than there is shame in what I am, and the truth be told, I’ve grown used to this version of my body. It’s no longer about a lack of confidence in myself; this is simply the way I choose to look.”

    Danbury inclined her head. “Thank you, Commander, for satisfying my curiosity. I’ve actually learned more about Andorians from you in the last five minutes than I think I ever did in all the years of school and medical training I did.”

    “Well, at risk of offending you, Doctor,” sh’Arellaar said as she stood, “schools run by Humans tend to focus more on Humans than any other species. And when they do teach about other races, they tend to share only the basics. I would know—I attended two in my youth. And the Starfleet Academy campuses on Earth are much the same.”

    She drew a breath then. “Will there be anything else? I should get back to the bridge.”

    This time, Danbury shook her head in the negative. “No, not right now. Again, thank you.”

    With a nod of acknowledgement, sh’Arellaar turned and left the office, exiting through the small medical lab to which it was connected. She encountered Gregory Kelley in the corridor, and the two stepped into the turbolift together.

    After the Andorian ordered the lift to the bridge, Kelley looked to her and said, “I’d like to thank you, Commander, for your … understanding …with Hannah. Angie and I are working with her on what types of questions are appropriate and which are not, but she has yet to fully grasp the concept.”

    Sh’Arellaar smiled, for a moment thinking over the conversations she’d had with his daughter—and with the doctor. Danbury was hardly a child, but her curiosity had been much the same as Hannah Kelley’s—a search for knowledge and truth.

    “Do not trouble yourself, Lieutenant, I was not offended. Children are by nature curious creatures, and curiosity should be encouraged—within reason, of course. I’ve no doubt that your efforts to instruct your daughter will bear fruit in time.”

    Kelley chuckled. “I certainly hope so. She can be a handful, and Robbie idolizes his big sister; does whatever she does, whatever she wants, without question. But their mother and I want them to do good with their lives, not get into trouble.”

    “How is Robbie doing, by the way?”

    “Doing just fine, thank you for asking,” Kelley said. “He was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia, so he barely even noticed we were there. Angie’s gonna stay with him until Dr. Danbury releases him.”

    “You are very fortunate, Lieutenant, to have your family with you,” sh’Arellaar observed. “Not all Starfleet vessels are capable of carrying families onboard.”

    “I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t have them here,” Kelley told her. “I know that sacrifices have to be made—that we accept that when we take the officer’s oath—but I missed so much of Hannah’s first few years, and I wasn’t able to be with Angie when my son was born. It about killed me to not be there. So when I got wind of a ship needing a new science chief allowing families on board—I was a nobody junior geologist on the Republic at the time—I leapt at it. I didn’t care what class it was, so long as my wife and children could be with me.”

    “You don’t have to explain to me, Mr. Kelley,” sh’Arellaar said. “Family is one of the most important things in life to an Andorian, so I understand that almost desperate need to have them near you when at all possible.”

    “Do you… do you have a family, Commander? A spouse and children?”

    Kelley voiced the question just as the turbolift stopped and the door opened to reveal the bridge beyond. Sh’Arellaar stepped out and Kelley followed; she turned to him and replied, “No, Lieutenant, but I’d like to someday.”

    A grin met her reply, and then the two parted for opposite sides of the bridge—she to port and he to starboard. They still had three days before they reached the nearest sector of the Snowfin’s patrol route.
    _____

    Author's note: What you have just read about Andorian weddings and their genders was mostly made up by myself. I did take the four genders concept from the books but decided to create what I believe is a more reasonable explanation for the species' gender paradigm than what the novel writers came up with. Your lightyears may vary.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
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  19. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    A wonderful segment. I thought the biological info on Andorians made a great deal of sense, as well as the revelation that Sh’Arellaar has had physiological augmentation in order to better fit in with largely Human societal pressures.

    Lots of excellent character work here as we meet what may be some of the first Starfleet families allowed onboard ships of the line.
     
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  20. CamSPD

    CamSPD Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Location:
    Space, the final frontier.
    Thanks for your kind words. We all know why the book writers went with four genders -- that one little throwaway line of dialogue from "Data's Day" about Andorian weddings requiring "groups of four, unless..." Sadly it was never explained on screen, and the book writers just decided to come up with their own explanation. And if the publishers had in mind way back then that they would eventually address the population issues inherent in such a paradigm, it would make sense why they chose to turn that into there being four genders. But something tells me the population issues didn't come up until much later, when they finally realized how difficult it would be to actually maintain an entire species when so much biological material is required to create just one child.

    Maybe I'm wrong. In any case, for the longest time I shunned the idea of four genders. Thought it made no sense at all, and in fact, what we got to see in canon with the addition of Andorians and Aenar on Enterprise is indicative of their being only two genders (because why would they not take the opportunity to add the four genders to canon, when so much else from books and resource materials has been added to canon, unless producers simply didn't want to). When I decided that my captain would be Andorian, someone asked me if I was going with four genders. At first I did not want to, but in the midst of our discussion at the time, when it was said that the Andorians might well have evolved beyond the need for 4:1, and simply had four genders... I knew that that was something that I could accept and work with. So I decided there would be four genders, but still wanted some kind of realistic explanation. I suppose I mostly wanted to address the issue for myself, so I could get it out of the way and move on, so I worked out an explanation that made sense to me.

    This explanation is free to be adopted or rejected by anyone. What I want in my universe may not be what you want in yours, and I freely accept that.
    I thought it perfectly reasonable that even someone who has no reason to feel ashamed of herself could be driven by peer pressure to make changes that would help her to "fit in". I think in sh'Arellaar's mind, she also feels like it's a huge decision to make, so she should stick with it. She's lived with the choice to alter her appearance for so long, she sees no point in going back to the way she used to look.

    Silly me didn't realize until after I posted this that she never actually got to ask the doctor about herself. I'll have to see if I can fit that in when she is in charge.
    Thank you so much! There aren't many -- and I plan to eventually reveal that at least one of the families is comprised of a single parent -- but I wanted that family element on this crew. The ones who are away from their families as well as the ones who are desperate to stay together.
     
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