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Part of USS Fearless: Tunnels Through Time & Space and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Turbulent Convergence

Gamma Quadrant
Concurrent with Labyrinth
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It was business as usual aboard the recommissioned Excelsior II Class starship.  Poker games were in regularly occurrence, trivia nights had already maxed capacity in the Lion’s Den, and ‘Fearless Cinema’ was airing every Vincent Price film that touched the big screen.  Such activities were balm to a seasoned Captain, signs that the crew was finally settling in for the long haul.  Fearless, however, demanded more than ‘settled’ and had developed a tradition of ‘cubbing’ intended to mentor and secure bonded collegiality amongst the fringes of space.  

Ed had allowed this tradition to unfold naturally with each new batch of crewmembers.  With support from senior staff, many of whom experiencing their own ‘cubbing,’ the process had become a form of mentorship and acceptance into the ‘pride of Fearless Lions.  The process typically took several weeks post-departure and a few more concerning notes to the XO before the new cubs began to see mentorship and acceptance from hazing and division.  

The title and process, however, did not sit well with the new XO.  She in fact, was the first to submit a note of concern directly to Ed.  In summary, she had reported that such frivolous behavior was inappropriate from subordinates as it undermined the chain of command tarnished decorum expected of Starfleet.  There was a time he might have agreed with her, but time on the fringes had softened his perspectives.  Instinctively he set up a meeting in his ready room, a proper place to dialogue their differences and better understand one another.

“I assure you Commander, your position and authority have not been undermined,” Ed tried to assure.  

Mindful as he tried to be of posture and non-verbal messaging, Ed wrestled with the comfort of crossed arms as he perched upon his desk.  He felt uneasy about responding to his first officer’s concerns, conflicted by his decision to chose her for this assignment.  He questioned matters of fitness and flexibility and clung to the superficiality and newness of their relationship  as the real barrier at hand.  

Giving her his full and undivided attention, Ed took the silence between them as an opportunity to read and assess temperament and affect.  He noted her downward gaze, one he often performed when weighing responses and choice of words.  He waited for her reply, curious  how she might respond to his own particular choice of words.    

“I will have to take you at your word, Captain.”

He was surprised.  He expected the words, ‘may I speak freely’ to precede or accompany the ones that lingered in the air before him.  In hindsight, he found his own words to be condescending even disdainful.  He was surprised she refrained from the opportunity to challenge or confront him with the legitimacy of her concern.  The silence, usually his friend, now betrayed him with undue pressure to move the conversation along.  

“It was not my intention to be dismissive Commander,” he replied with sincerity arising from his seated perch.  he considered his words before continuing, careful to avoid the language traps ‘but’ and ‘however’ can lay in collaborative and empathetic dialogue.  “You are right to be concerned about the negative effects which could impede the efficiency and integrity of this crew and ship .”  

Ed paused once again and silence filled the room once more.  The commander’s eyes pierced him like spears and her pursed lips appeared to express disapproval at his affirmation of her concerns.  His desire for open communication and rapport building was now devolving into a one sided lecture he was not enjoying.  Uncomfortable with the dynamics at play, Ed looked away and rounded the desk poignantly looking out the view port.  It always felt darker beyond Federation territory, probably due to the feeling something was always lurking just a few kilometers ahead.  

“Commander,” Ed continued with his lecture, “out here we have to hold our own and depend on little more than the bonds we have on this ship.  I’m afraid there is little else, especially on this refurbished jalopy, we can rely on to be as brave, bold, and fearless as our mandate stipulates”.  

Ed always tapped the hull twice when speaking of Fearless.  He also emphasized the character traits beholden to the ship and crew.  While not not a man of superstition, he interpreted ‘luck’ to simply be a word used to acknowledge the correlation between expert engineering and excellent training of Starfleet personnel.  He understood that there was nothing stronger than a  strong sense of mission and purpose and coupled with unity, accountability, and kinship.  This was the reason he felt strongly in opposition to the First Officer’s concern.   Starfleet, the Academy, even basic training were all points of affinity, but the ‘pride’ of lions aboard Fearless was deeper than any.  That ‘pride,’ a serendipitous double entendre, fueled a ship that had outlived one lifetime and endeavored to outlive another.

“I can appreciate that perspective Sir,” his first officer replied.  “In the wilderness of uncharted space, we are only as strong as our pride.”

Ed hung his head in defeated laughter.  He had been played, at least it felt that way.  His first officer was every bit as witty and quick as her references described.  It was clear she understood more than he had given credit.  She even appeared to share his canny wit for quotes and double entendre.  Very few would recite an unattributed quote he presented in a guest lecture year ago and quickly fit to context with a perfect twist from the word ‘whole’ to ‘pride’ in deference to Fearless’ lion theme.


The triumph of one multiplies with a team.  In the battlefield, you are only as strong as a whole.” ~ Unknown

Comments

  • The tension here is nicely wound up, tight with each back-and-forth piece of dialogue compounded by our captain's internal monologue as he works through the unknown nature of his new XO. That last sentence from her is telling and curious - that she has the courage to play around with her captain while presenting herself as she did initially - I'm very curious to see how this working relationship grows as it continues! Nice work.

    June 21, 2024
  • What a fantastic story! I love how it captures the essence of duty and the subtle, yet profound, dynamics between the Captain and the new XO. The way you described Ed's internal struggle and his journey to understanding his first officer's perspective was truly compelling. It's heartwarming to see how traditions like 'tapping the hull twice' while speaking of the ship serve as a unique character trait, reminiscent of the sailors of old. Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful and engaging narrative!

    June 21, 2024
  • This is a really interesting perspective on the Excelsior II, completely different to the way that I portray Lakota, and that interests me greatly. I love how, even as a refit, you clearly still see her as a thing of aging beauty, and that you try to reflect that in your crew. They don't have much going for them it seems, so they have to make do with what they can achieve among themselves. I appreciate the XO's concerns, and feel like she'd fit in with my character's style of command, but that would make a bland pairing and she is, in fact, a great foil for Ed, who is more hardened to the realities of life aboard an older Excelsior II. I love his little idiosyncrasies, his tapping of the hull for example. You're really fleshing him out to be a great character. Can't wait to see what happens when we actually get to the situation at hand.

    June 23, 2024
  • I feel like I've been on both sides of that style of meeting. Trying to validate the concerns of a new XO while also trying to get them on board with the style of how you run things. And the reverse of coming onto a team and feeling like they're riding the line of acceptable work and life balance. It's such an important but tough conversation to have. It's great how the captain and crew have built the themed culture around a lions pride and mentoring to build those relationships within the crew.

    June 26, 2024