Part of Starbase Bravo: January 2400

Dragon’s Den

Promenade Security Office, Sector India-Navy
January 2400
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Ten percent. Ten percent of his staff had been reassigned. In raw numbers it wasn’t a lot, but the practical reality of one in ten of his officers needing to be taught how to tell their arses from their elbows was not a pleasing prospect.

So it was that Geraint Vaughn brewed his cup of tea with a particularly vengeful air that morning. His husband had taken to herbal teas lately – something about helping his focus as he worked – and the sheer presence of a sage tea, its scent filling his nostrils at the breakfast table, was another unwelcome disruption to the routine. Eddie knew better than to offer him a soothing peppermint tea. He was provocative enough to make exaggerated noises of satisfaction and lip-smacking as he started his day, because Eddie Hardy didn’t have to work with his husband’s bad moods.

That pleasure fell to the new arrivals.

He stormed into the briefing room, clutching his mug like it might get thrown into someone’s face, and snatched the proffered PADD from the officer at the door. “What’ve we got, Calhoun?”

The young lieutenant cleared his throat awkwardly. “Uh, it’s Callahan, sir -” Callahan wilted at Vaughn’s plain disinterest. “The first twelve new arrivals to the precinct. Obviously one of the lieutenants will handle the walkabout, but you’re expected to…”

“Meet and greet,” Vaughn growled, stomping past Callahan towards the pulpit at the head of the briefing room. It was big enough to seat a lot more officers, and ensigns always looked small to him; either insecure and like they hadn’t yet grown into their physical size, or too obviously inflated with performative, false confidence. They would pop or they would grow, and whichever it was, he didn’t care until it happened quickly. They each got a steely look from the grizzled security chief, before he took a slow, thoughtful sip of tea. In the long silence as all eyes fell on him, the first sound to break it was his satisfied sigh at that first gulp of the cup.

“Ensigns.” The mug clinked as he set it on the pulpit. “If you don’t know who I am, you haven’t read your briefing packages. Accepting a percentage of you might be illiterate, my name is Commander Vaughn. I’m the Director of Promenade Security. I’m your boss. Which means that your problems are my problems. Which means…” Vaughn leaned forward, elbows on the pulpit. “Don’t have problems. Because I hate problems.”

Ensign Bastin listened to the opening remarks and felt a rather powerful wave of nostalgia hit her. She could vividly remember her mother saying similar things to people who had reported to her own security department in the short time she’d lived with her. Her mind wandered to thoughts of whether the two of them had served together at any point, or if it was just something that eventually fell out of the mouths of every seasoned security officer out there.

Sonja could admit that the conversation she had with Callahan earlier all made sense now. She could see why he had made the remarks he did. She wasn’t intimidated by the Commander and his remarks didn’t phase her. She had read the briefing packet about who he was, but she didn’t realize just what a piece of work he was. He demanded respect there was no doubt, but he also needed a serious shift in his mood, which would be another challenge entirely. She smiled at the thought of the challenge but made sure to get her mind back to the conversation at hand.

Ta’set smiled smugly at his CO. This mean was tough, for a human. By Romulan standards he was little more than an angry child. Life here on the Star base would be easier that Ta’set had initially thought.

Vaughn’s eyebrows raised with a hint of amusement at the expressions before him. “You are here because better officers than you got what they thought was a better offer. Most of them are on a starship right now. So let me make clear: if any of you are disappointed that you have been assigned to Starbase Bravo, one of the greatest feats in Federation engineering and one of the largest independent constructions by Starfleet, home to a hundred thousand people from across the Federation and beyond… I don’t want to hear it. Because you’re new, I’ll ignore your opinion. If you keep that opinion in six months, I might listen to you – and think you’re an action-seeking airhead.”

Another gulp of tea. “This is Promenade Security. Thousands of people come through this sector of the station every day, from all corners of the galaxy. Most of them are well-meaning citizens of the quadrants simply going about their business. Many of them live and work here, providing the services that keep you entertained. They have a right to go about their lives in peace and safety. They will be looking to you to provide that peace and safety. If you think that is achieved by waltzing around with a phaser on your hip, then maybe you do belong on a starship. That is not a compliment.” More tea. “This starbase is a community. If you want to be good at your job, you need to invest in that community. Know it, be a part of it, connect with it. Or you’re useless to me, and I’ll send you off to the Alpha-Red Precinct, which will sound exciting to be in the command module until you realise you’re stood at a door all bloody day.

Some of the people who come through this station aren’t well-meaning citizens of the quadrants. They might not be big, bad, scary troublemakers, black marketeers and crime bosses, or whatever you think goes on here. Most of them are tired freighter crew who want to blow off steam and make bad choices.” He paused, frowning at his mug of tea. He turned to Callahan, who brightened at the prospect of being helpful to this process. “Calhoun – refill this.”

As Callahan slunk off, disappointed, Vaughn scratched his chin and leant on the pulpit. Piercing eyes swept across the gathered ensigns. “Let’s see if there’s a braincell here. How do you think we should deal with those people making bad choices?” He waited, ready to hear a variety of opinions to that dangerously open question.

“Well sir,” Celandra said with a slight shrug, “That will really depend on the bad choice they make. Self destructive bad choices can be handled most often on the spot with a few choice words… or as my mother used to say, a swift kick in the pants. When the bad choices hurt people around them, the kick might just be the start of things and ends with a stay in a brig cell or being tossed out on their ear and told to never come back.”

Ens. Bastin had no delusions that her answer was the one he was looking for, but she knew from experience that being meek or stumbling over herself trying to find the ‘right’ answer just wasn’t her style. Even if her perspective wasn’t the correct one in the situation, her willingness to put it out there at least wouldn’t be dismissed.

Sonja thought for a moment as she mewled over the question given to her before she answered “I think to fully answer that question the biggest thing would be determining what the bad choice is because some choices take a swift reprimand as Bastin stated, but it could also be a small matter that only needs to be decided one on one. However when the choice affects a group of people or this station as a whole that’s when consequences are needed for the action. That should be determined after the severity of the action is determined. That information must be determined before any action can be given, but that could range from time in the brig or more severe punishments given by superiors. No one is exempt from discipline regardless of the position they hold.”

Sonja did not stutter in her response nor did she look away from the Commander while she gave her answer. She wanted him to know she meant what she said and she was capable of doing her job regardless of what reservations he might have.

“They should be removed from the situation and dealt with privately and swiftly.” Ta’set says calmly looking the Commander in the eyes. “They should be reminded that they are here as a privilege and that if they want to continue to be allowed here they will change their attitude”

Ensign Sabina Kal felt awkward. Her eager young colleagues had beaten her to the punch with their answers. Adding her two cents would probably be an annoyance to the commander, instead she thought to herself, ‘Maintain high expectations for all visitors. Fairly enforce all rules and regulations and most importantly – don’t embarrass the boss’. Kal kept a straight face looking forward.

Vaughn’s elbows rested on the pulpit as he listened. “Lot of talk of action, euphemisms for action. Maybe, maybe. This is an open hypothetical after all. But never forget that as figures of law enforcement on this station, your every response is an act of force. You’re not an individual here to get stuck in, you’re a walking representative of authority. Just showing up to a scene in uniform, as members of Promenade Security – just being seen, is a use of that authority. Just speaking is a use of that authority. Most of the people you’re dealing with are civilians, not enemies. Your duty includes them. The right words can go a long way. And action, physical action? Action is for protecting yourself and others. It’s not for making inconveniences go away.”

He scratched his chin. “Be cautious in that optimism that troublemakers can simply be thrown off the station. This might be a Starfleet facility, but this is still Federation territory. Even if someone passing through might be encouraged to pass through quicker, that’s a failure. That’s shunting the problem along. And not all our troublemakers will do us the courtesy of being people we’ll never see again, and we don’t make people homeless just because they’ve broken laws.”

Sonja listened closely and took in what the Commander gave as words of experience and wisdom. Her goal was to make sure by listening she could learn what to do to make sure she didn’t meet him to be reprimanded.

Ta’set just nods in reply. Things are so different here. He thinks to himself.”

The commander reached for his PADD, and sighed with increasing disinterest. “Your next few days will be spent on basic orientation of these offices and of the promenade at large. You’ll then be assigned your beat on the sector. If you’re smart, you’ll get to know your area, your beat – who lives there, who works there. I guarantee those people know the area better than you. There is no greater source of wisdom on a place than the people whose entire livelihoods are embedded in it. I’ve no interest in security officers who think themselves too good to connect with people.

“If you’re assigned to a more busy area, you will likely be paired up with a more experienced officer – who, frankly, is literally anyone else. Quieter areas might see you thrown in at the deep end, paired with each other. You might worry if one or the other is a reflection of your quality – have you been banished to a boring beat because nobody thinks you’re any good? Have you been assigned a babysitter because nobody thinks you’re any good?” Vaughn held for a moment there, and then brushed on without bothering to answer, let alone reassure.

“To wrap up, a reminder. As so many of you are wont to complain: this is a starbase. Unlike on a starship, your days will not be spent doing nothing but guarding secure locations against nobody but other Starfleet officers, drilling for enemy threats that come once in a blue moon, and fighting over the least exciting roles on the least exciting away missions. You’re not the big dog to bark at enemies; you’re here to protect the people of this station. All of them, Starfleet, civilian, foreign. You are here to provide safety and security. Treat them like the enemy, treat them like they might be a threat, treat them with force before you treat them with courtesy, treat with them with words… you’ll probably get your wish and be on a ship. The hell out of here, and to nowhere better.”

He flicked off his PADD. “Focus the next few days on your orientation and your familiarisation with your new work area. What’s next comes next. So, assuming you understand I’m not here to explain your entire career path from here, nor direct you to the restroom: any questions?” The steely, unimpressed gaze fell back on them.

“No questions, Commander!” She replied in her normal jovial manner.

“Aye Commander.” Ta’set replies enthusiastically.

Ens. Bastin just shook her head slightly to indicate that she had nothing in mind to ask.

Ensign Kal thought to herself, ‘It’s now or never.’ “Just one sir, when do we get started?” She hoped she sounded as eager as her peers, but she wasn’t sure how Commander Vaughn would respond: a scolding or praise.

What she got was a rather sardonic raise of the eyebrow. “Okay,” Vaughn sighed. “I was hoping for something more insightful than crawling up my arse.” In Kal’s defence, it was unclear if he was targeting her or the whole lot of them. “Report to your patrol shift leaders for duty assignments and orientation. And remember: the eyes of the station are on you. What you do reflects on your colleagues, on Starfleet – on me. Think before you act, and don’t screw it up. Dismissed.”

Without another word, he turned on his heel and stalked back towards the door, empty-handed and angry about it. “Calhoun? Where’s my damned tea…”