Part of USS Altai: Here Be Monsters


Starfleet Intelligence, Starfleet Command
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Benjamin was standing there in front of the door to the Division Head of his sector, who had called him to meet with. He was only a few steps away from the door, with his hands clasped behind his back as he waited for the command to enter, the very same command that would notify the computer to unlock and open the door so that whomever was waiting, could enter. He wasn’t certain as to why he was being called to the ‘Principle’s Office’ as his colleagues would say, he knew that he had completed his missions with success. He has turned in valuable information that Starfleet was able to use, and he was quite frankly eager to get back out there and continue to do his job for Starfleet.

“Enter.” The voice came and so the door split apart to grant Ben entry, as such he stepped through and stood at attention before the Commander’s desk. “At ease, Lieutenant. Take a seat.”

“No disrespect to you sir, but I prefer to stand.” Ben replied.

“Your choice.” He said before looking at the other individual, Benjamin’s supervisor.

“Something wrong, sir?” Ben asked.

“Now, Benjamin. No need to over analyze or make assumptions. We are simply here because we would like to discuss about your performance these past fourteen years with Starfleet Intelligence.” Said Ben’s supervisor.

“All right.”

The Commander was then skimming over something on the data padd before him before looking up at Benjamin. “Your record here appears to be quite spotless, Lieutenant. Your supervisor here even says that you are one of his best agents.”

Ben shrugged a shoulder. “Just doing my job, sir.”

The Commander nodded his head. “Of course.” He went back to skim reading before looking at Ben again. “Your latest assignment, gathering intelligence on the Hunters of D’Ghor was exemplary. Of course, you weren’t alone in that field either.”

Ben shook his head. “No sir.”

The Commander nodded again. “Care to explain how it felt to work with a group, Lieutenant?”

Ben paused for a moment before answering, “I did not work with everyone, sir.”

The Commander frowned. “Why not? Where did you work, Lieutenant?”

“I took on assignments by myself, sir. Assignments that required infiltration, simple intelligence gathering, even portraying as a buyer for slaves at one of the Orion slave hubs, just to get my hands on data that were more difficult to get, but were much more valuable for Starfleet.” Ben explained.

The Commander nodded again. “By yourself.”

“Yes, sir.”

The Commander then sighed. “I am not going to say that what you did was wrong, Lieutenant. You succeeded in pretty much every assignment you took. You got information that helped the Fourth Fleet quite well. But again, you were not alone on that task, Lieutenant. You had a team, a team that you were suppose to work with, to get the intelligence together. So explain to me, why did you choose to do these assignments, along with the risks of either being caught, captured, interrogated or even killed, all by yourself.”

“I work best alone, sir.” Ben replied.

It was the supervisors turn to sigh. “That is not how Starfleet operates, Benjamin. I told you from the beginning when we accepted you into Starfleet Intelligence, that you will have to cope and work with a team one day. Then we had a crisis on our hands, and you were placed with a team to make the Fourth Fleet’s job easier, and yet you chose to not work as a Team Player.”

Ben frowned, “Surely my years of service, my dedication and determination at my job for Starfleet is enough.”

Both shook their heads. “Sorry, Ben. It is not.” The Commander told him. “And for this, we are going to have to reassign you…out of Starfleet Intelligence.”

Ben frowned even more. “This is my home. This is where I belong. You said it yourself, I am one of your best agents and you want to kick me out?!”

The Commander raised his hands. “Except you have clearly shown that you cannot work with a team, and that is what we need, that is one of the principles of Starfleet, of the Federation. There is no ‘I’ in Team and certainly no ‘U’ in Team either. The Federation is a collection of many different races working together as a team. Starfleet is filled with many of those races, working together as a team. That goes for every single department in Starfleet, including Starfleet Intelligence.”

Ben appeared to have relaxed but he was clenching his fists. “Where am I being reassigned to, sir?” He asked with a calm, although annoyed, voice.

The Commander grabbed another data padd and looked it. He then looked at Ben’s supervisor, who nodded, before looking back at Ben. “We are going to assign you as the Second Officer of the USS Altai. The Commanding Officer has already been made aware of your arrival, we even made sure he had access to your files so that he understands who he is getting. We already blindsided him by throwing you into the Second Officer position without notifying him first, so the least we can do is let him know who you are and what you are capable of.” In this case, Ben’s record will show that he not only served in Starfleet Intelligence for fourteen years, along with his skills and training from being in Starfleet Intelligence but he also has advance ground weapons training, hand to hand combat, majored in Astrophysics as well as Command and Control, can pilot anything from a shuttle craft to a starship and has field medic training. He was more of a hands on active Intelligence Agent who preferred to get his information on the ground than hiding behind a portable computer with some ‘spy’ equipment that records audio or video or both, depending on what was installed in the ‘targets’ room.

“And what is the Altai’s mission?” Ben asked.

The Supervisor walked around the desk and sat down in one of the chairs opposite from the Commander. “Her mission is to get an old listening post back online that was used during the Dominion War. It was put in place in an ice asteroid belt to keep an eye on the Breen, right after they joined in the war as our enemy. We’ve been hearing rumors, uncomfortable rumors, that the Breen have been taking Dominion Technology and retrofitting their ships with it. Weapons, shields, you name it. Not only that, but because of the trouble we were having with the Hunters of D’Ghor, there was also some fear that the Breen will try to take advantage. Luckily they haven’t…yet. We don’t know what the Breen are doing, and I will admit it, it scares the hell out of me. How do we know if they have not adapted their disabling weapon technology so that it works again? Starfleet cannot afford another war or conflict, especially not with the Breen and especially with their enhanced warships and if they have figured out on how to make their disabling weapon work again, Starfleet will quite literally be screwed. Big time.”

The Commander raised a finger and pointed at Ben. “But you are NOT there to gather any sort of intel about them. At least, not by yourself, Lieutenant. You are there, as a Second Officer of the USS Altai, and you will be taking orders directly from the Commanding Officer. Whatever he says, whatever he tells you to do, you do it. You understand?” Benjamin nodded with a ‘Yes, sir.’ The Commander sat back in his seat. “Good. Because the Altai is going to get that kind of information, together. As a Team. But they are doing it as discretely as possible. They also have a Starfleet Corps of Engineers with them, the USS Don S. Davis, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Walker. Him and his team has going around to about every starbase and outpost along the Federation border to retrofit and upgrade them as best as his team can. So that listening post should be working like it just recently built, thus it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to get information that we desperately need. But that information comes from the Commanding Officer, not from you, not from some secured channel. I get one secured, untraceable message from you, and I will submit to Starfleet Command a Dishonorable Discharge for Insubordination. Are we clear?”

Benjamin felt a tight twinge in his heart, as if the Commander had taken a dagger, stabbed him in his heart and twisted it. Starfleet meant a lot to Ben, and being threatened that he would be kicked out of Starfleet for crossing a line that they know Ben would never do…it hurt. But a part of him understood why this was being said. Ben had been doing everything alone. He had been pushing people away and left his shields up at full strength so no one could get in. He simply did nothing but worked alone for the entirety of his career. This was his punishment. Being forced to work with a team and to be a team player. Either he didn’t have a choice, or he had a Division Head that was simply looking out for Benjamin and wanted the man to get some friends, whether Starfleet truly cared if he worked alone or not.

“Crystal clear, sir.” Ben replied.

“Good.” The Commander then gestured to Ben’s now former supervisor, who got up and gestured to Ben to follow him as they walked out of the office.

“We already have a runabout set up for your trip. It should take about, maybe a week, maybe less if you push the engines but you’ve done this before so you already know that you cannot push those engines too hard on these runabouts.” The man explained.

“I do.” Ben replied.

“Good. Anyway, the runabout is prepped and supplied for your journey. I recommend reading up on the USS Altai and her crew. Since you are going to be the Second Officer, you’re going to have a lot of responsibility and it would be wise to learn all you can. I think a week would be more than enough. Another thing that I would recommend is getting to know your Commanding Officer and First Officer. I am not saying you have to open up all the way to them, I’m just saying, be an ear for them. Give them a reason to trust you, Ben and you will do fine there.” They walked into a turbolift which they took to the main bay where all sorts of crafts were sitting in.

Benjamin sighed finally. “Why?”

The man looked at him with a raised brow before smiling. “I really rather not lose you, Benjamin. But you haven’t made a single friend since you joined Starfleet Academy. I know this because you haven’t made a single video call to anyone. Sent no letters. Didn’t spend any time at the parties or at the local bar. You were all cooped up in your room, studying. Then when you graduated and joined us at Starfleet Intelligence…it was the same thing. None of us saw you mingle with the others. None of us saw you make small talk with anyone.” He shook his head and folded his arms over his chest. “You are a great agent, Ben. But you are also a human being. You can’t keep going like this, isolating yourself.”

“I just really enjoy working alone. If there is a mistake, it would be my own and no one else’s. My responsibility and no one else’s.” Ben explained.

“Which is honorable. If you had made a minor or even a major mistake, you would be the only one accountable and everyone else would of gotten away scott free, because you wouldn’t let them help you. But that’s the point. You’re not giving them the chance. Sure, you have had very minor mistakes since you joined us, but that was in the beginning of your career with us, which we almost always expect a Junior Agent to make a mistake. It happens. But ever since then, you’ve done an incredible job. But still, you gave no one a chance to make a mistake with you, or give you feedback or criticize your work, or…” He sighed. “As I said, Ben. You didn’t give anyone a chance. You need friends. Because you need people to trust you.”

Ben frowned. “Don’t you trust me, sir?”

He sighed. “Of course I do, because you’re amazing at what you do. But I am your supervisor. If something were to happen, I can’t protect you because I would be bias. You see what I am saying? You have no one to back you up. No one to help you. No one to save you from anything that could potentially end your career in Starfleet. You’re great. But you can’t be great forever. You’re bound to make a mistake at some point and when you do, it could be so devastating that would not only end your career with Starfleet but could also put you in prison. And you have absolutely no one to back you up, to prove that the mistake wasn’t your fault. Let me put it bluntly. You. Are. Alone. And that is depressing. So be thankful that we’re sending you somewhere to help you build your Team Player Skills, rather than sending you to a therapist or psychiatrist, which those will end your career in Starfleet Intelligence. For good. Because we simply can’t keep an agent who is compromised, especially a field agent. We have strict policies.”

Ben frowned again and then followed his former supervisor as the lift had stopped and the door had opened, following him to the runabout. “So wait…are you saying I can come back to Starfleet Intelligence after I…develop my Team Player Skills?”

They stopped by the open side hatch of the runabout. “Depending on what the Commanding Officer says about you, we shall see. But we’re also hoping that, once you start opening yourself up to people, that you may not want to leave. Look, I’m not saying we wouldn’t want you back. It’s just, most officers who do really well at their jobs, is because their colleagues around them had become a second family to them. They’ve become really good friends, trust each other through and through, and would always back each other up, no matter what. I am hoping that you will develop that same kind of bond that maybe you don’t want to come back to us at Starfleet Intelligence. But then again,” He shrugged his shoulders. “If you do come back a different man, maybe you’ll form a bond here as well. Guess only time will tell. So do you understand your assignment?”

Ben sighed and nodded his head. “I do, sir.”

“Good. And if anything changes at all while you’re on your trip to the USS Altai, we will let you know. All right?”

Ben nodded his head. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. Have a pleasant flight, Lieutenant Benjamin Jones. I hope to hear more good things about you in the future.” And with that, he walked away to get back to his office to pack and get back to his team on another world.

Ben again sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose before stepping into the runabout. He pressed the command to shut the hatch before sitting down in the pilot seat and started the preflight sequence. Once everything was in the green, and noticed that the auto-pilot was already set up to where he needed to go, he launched the craft out of the bay, staying on the projected flight path he was given to leave safely and up into orbit. Once he was clear, he engaged the auto-pilot and let it do its thing. A week on board this craft was not going to be exciting but he figured he might as well get some reading done and learn about his new assignment.

[Present Day…]

Benjamin just finished shaving when he heard the comm system notifying him that he had an incoming message from his former Division Head Commander at Starfleet Intelligence. He had not expected any ‘changes’ in his assignment, so he was rather curious about it. He finished getting dressed before going to the front of the runabout and sitting down at the pilot seat, just to open up the video message, a recorded one as it appears, so no response was really needed.

“Lieutenant. There has been a slight change in the roster on the USS Altai. We were just informed that the current First Officer is being reassigned and will be leaving with the Don S. Davis once they are finished with the listening station. It appears that you are now going to be the First Officer on board the USS Altai. Of course, I am not going to say that it is completely decided. That is completely up to the Commanding Officer and what he decides. So I hope you’ve been studying, Lieutenant. Because once you arrive, I highly suggest you report to the Commanding Officer at once and find out where he wants you. But don’t be surprised if he does make you his First Officer. So be prepared, because guess what, you just earned a lot more responsibility. Good luck out there, Lieutenant.” And then the screen blinked to reveal the UFP Logo.

Ben sighed heavily and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He had read up and studied the duties of a Second Officer, but now he has to go and study the duties of a First Officer. Worst of all, he is about to arrive at the system and when he does, the runabout will take him straight to the Steamrunner Class vessel, as soon as it picks up its transponder. That being said, before Ben could pull up any details on being a First Officer to study, the runabout just dropped out of warp and was already picking up the USS Altai. Ben cursed under his breath, only to start receiving a warning notification on his display, the runabout had ran a full scan on the USS Altai, normal procedure, especially when the auto-pilot needed to inform the ship that it needed docking procedures so that it could land the craft in full automation. The display was telling him the condition of the vessel, stating that the Primary Computer Core was offline and the Secondary had just been engaged hours ago.

Ben frowned and started entering commands, linking the Runabout’s ODN with the Altai’s and pulling up information on what happened. Sensor readings, command prompts, reports that were recently filed, as well as damage and repair reports. Ben frowned even more, “The Chief Engineer did what? To do what?” There wasn’t a lot, only so much was filed, surely more to come later, but this just means that he was not fully up to speed on the current situation, let alone not up to speed as to what his position will be, SO or FO. Ben sat back in his seat and watched as the runabout flew around the USS Altai before slowing down to start making its final approach to the shuttle bay. “The hell did they get me into…”