“…time was I’d be in command of this little group,” Commander Anthony Dean muttered with a heavy sigh as he followed his first officer into the transporter room. He gave a curt nod to the Ensign on duty, tugging on his uniform sleeves as he stopped a short distance away from the transporter platform. “You say the wrong thing to the wrong person and suddenly you’ve created a diplomatic incident and everybody is after your head.”
With a distinct hint of amusement in her eyes, Lieutenant Commander Kayla Desai-Scott allowed him the moment to vent. His demotion was a difficult subject and in truth he had not quite accepted it, almost a full month later. “For now we have more pressing concerns. And, perhaps, next time it would be advisable not to insinuate the Ambassador’s wife resembled a -“
A chirp from the transport console interrupted her. “We are ready for transport, Sir,” Ensign Javid informed Dean.
”On time, good, good,” Dean said gruffly before nodding over his shoulder. “Energise.”
Engulfed in several tones of blue as two energy patterns began to materialise on the pad, the small transporter room swiftly gained two newcomers. Standing on the pad in two distinctively different uniforms to their counterparts from the Rhode Island, the two officers from the Santa Fe exchanged glances before the lead officer took a step down from the pad.
”Captain Tharia sh’Elas,” she offered a hand in greeting to the senior most official from the host vessel.
”Commander Anthony Dean, welcome aboard. This is my first officer, Lt.Commander Kayla Desai-Scott,” Dean replied, giving a brief shake of sh’Elas’ hand before gesturing to his second in command.
”Captain,” Desai-Scott offered with a brief nod. “Welcome to the Rhode Island.”
Tharia exchanged pleasantries with the Commander before stepping aside and nodding to her colleague from the Ulysses. “This is Lieutenant Dante Rawlings, my Chief Flight Operations Officer and Second Officer.”
”Lieutenant. Well…If you will follow me,” Dean said as he gestured towards the exit, “we can discuss the current situation in the briefing room. Needless to say, we stand by to offer any assistance we can.”
”Thank you Commander,” Tharia nodded as she followed the Rhode Island’s commanding officer into the corridor, a brief look behind to her Second Officer to ensure he was following.
Following the two commanders out into the corridor, Kayla glanced at Lieutenant Rawlings. “Nice uniform,” she commented quietly as the group approached the turbolift. “I have to admit though, there are days when I do miss wearing my old science blue.”
Dante looked at the woman, and offered a slight smile, “Blue is the only uniform I have never had any desire to wear,” he replied with a wider, cheeky grin. “It might impact my ability to progress further, but at this point in my career I think that is perfectly fine with me.”
”I get that,” Kayla nodded slowly, well aware that science wasn’t for everyone.
When the turbolift doors opened she waited for their respective commanding officers to enter before gesturing for Dante to go first. “Please…”
As she entered, she said a silent prayer that all of the swearing in Russian she had heard from the Chief Engineer this morning meant that the short trip in the turbolift would be uneventful. Especially given they had been offline for almost a full day until an hour ago. “Deck 1,” she ordered as the doors began to close.
”Personally,” Tharia spoke up once the lift was moving, “I find these uniforms to be incredibly comfortable,” she smiled as she tugged gently on the hem of her new uniform.
”Well, the RI isn’t due back at a starbase for a week or so yet,” Dean commented, “so we haven’t had the pleasure. Captain, about the other matter… I haven’t had the opportunity to brief my crew. I will do so immediately after our briefing, if you will allow me the liberty of breaking the news.”
He didn’t miss the confused expression of his first officer, “All in good time, Number One.”
Kayla frowned, but quickly recovered as the doors opened and she led their guests to the briefing room. “Before we begin, can I get anyone a drink?”
”I’ll have a lemon lime water please,” the Andorian requested, to the surprise of those in the room, but she had always had a taste for the fizzy Earth beverage.
”Not a problem. Lieutenant?”
Dante simply held a hand up to dismiss the offer, “No thank you, ma’am.”
Kayla grinned, now I feel old … Fetching the commander’s order, she set it down before taking her customary place to Dean’s right-hand side. For his part, he straightened, clearly asserting his authority within the walls of his ship as he activated a holographic display which materialised over the centre of the table.
”The reason we are all here,” he said simply. “Despite all of the positives of late, we’re still receiving dozens of reports about outlying colonies that wish to withdraw their membership. Here, alone, we’ve seen dozens of protests in the last two days. Starfleet Security want us to render any assistance we can to ensure the safety and security of the planet, but we are to remain politically neutral.”
”What can you tell us from your analysis so far?” Tharia queried, looking more at the Rhode Island’s XO than the ship’s Captain. If this Desai-Scott woman was to join her crew, she wanted to know her view on things.
”Honestly? It’s on a knife edge. Political opinion swings both ways right now. If they had an election, it would be too tough to call,” Desai-Scott explained, as the holographic image shifted. “Security on the planet have so far resisted our overtures, with rumours abound that they don’t want us anywhere near the planet for just that reason. The mood may be shifting against the Federation more than we anticipate.”
”Naturally, we’d like all materials and data sent to us so we can evaluate them,” Tharia told the Commander of the Rhode Island without so much as a second thought. If it came across that she didn’t trust his people, that was OK to her. The only people she would trust in this investigation was her own, and that included the woman that was supposed to take over from her as XO of the Santa Fe. “We’ll make contact with the surface as well, let them know we are here to fly the flag and represent the very best of the Federation.”
”See to it, Number One,” Dean instructed. “And make sure anyone else has anything needed.”
Kayla nodded. “Aye sir. Is there anything else you need from us right now, Captain?” she asked their guest, not surprised at all by the woman’s earlier request. She was, after all, now responsible for getting the answers that Starfleet were expecting.
Tharia nodded her head slightly. “We’ll set up a database link so that all data we find and use on either vessel is stored in a central location and is accessible from both ships. I don’t want anyone to be hampered by having to request access simply because they aren’t on the right ship at the right time,” the Andorian told as she looked at Dean. “I expect regular updates too. Even if there is nothing to report, I want to know. Personnel should also have free access to beam between vessels as required to aide the situation,” she finally concluded.
”Agreed,” Dean nodded as he stood, “if that is everything, I will deal with the other matter, Commander.”
”No, that will be all,” Tharia remarked as she rose to her feet and looked at Dante as if to say ‘time to go’.
Kayla stood, Dean following suit. “I’ll show you back to the transporter room,” she offered.
”Don’t worry Commander,” the CO of the Santa Fe smiled as she held a hand up in protest, “we can find our own way.” With that in mind, the Andorian led her second officer out of the briefing room.
As the room emptied, Kayla turned her gaze to her own commanding officer. “Other matter?” she prompted, sitting down, and turning to face him. She had an inkling that she was not going to be thrilled given the way he shifted in his seat. Or perhaps it was the other way around. She knew his tells; she knew his growing list of somewhat questionable habits. And she knew when he was uncomfortable.
”What other matter would that be?”
”New orders,” Dean sighed as he leaned forward, pointing towards the door where sh’Elas had just exited. “You just met your new commanding officer. Commodore Farrell’s orders. Effective immediately. Congratulations. Don’t screw it up.”
Captain sh’Elas hadn’t long been back aboard the Ulysses when she had received word that the new Executive Officer would shortly beam aboard. The Andorian had swiftly made her way to the transporter room, where she now paced the floor between the transporter pad and the control console. Why she was nervous, she didn’t know – perhaps it had something to do with the fact that she had no idea who this woman really was, or how she would feel about being transferred at the last minute.
She was about to find out.
”We’re receiving confirmation now, ma’am,” the transporter chief revealed at last, drawing the Andorian’s attention to the pad before her.
Standing still, she took a sharp intake of breath before nodding her permission to the Chief.
Materialising a moment later, Lieutenant Commander Desai-Scott found herself once again face to face with the Andorian woman who was now her commanding officer. In truth, she had not expected a welcome party – albeit of one. The entire situation was quite frankly unorthodox.
From her experience, you did not have Admirals arbitrarily deciding who a ship’s first officer would be. Typically it was at the discretion of the ship’s commanding officer. Within reason, of course. Yet the woman did not strike Kayla as someone to make such a choice without serious consideration.
Adjusting her grip on the kit bag and small box she carried, she took a deep breath, offered her brightest smile and stepped forward. “Lieutenant Commander Kayla Desai-Scott, reporting for duty, Captain” she said, simultaneously rescuing a PADD from inside the box and handing it over.
”Welcome to the Santa Fe, Commander,” taking ownership of the data PADD, the Captain passed it straight to the transporter chief without so much as a hint of interest. Instead, she stepped forward and rescued the box from the Commander’s person and gestured to the door, hoping to come across as helpful, even if she wasn’t thrilled at the newcomers presence on her ship.
Kayla raised an eyebrow slightly in response, entirely unsure if the lack of interest in her orders was down to her being familiar with them and her service history or just annoyance at having a stranger be assigned as XO. While she was perfectly capable of carrying her own belongings, she allowed the commander of the ship to help, deciding there would be things worth fighting over and this was not one of them. So instead of taking it back she simply smiled, thanked the woman and headed for the door.
“I appreciate this is not an ideal situation, ma’am,” Kayla said as they entered the corridor. There was no point in avoiding the subject, she was certain it would not go away.
”It’s not, no. But I don’t want you to think that I harbour any grudge against you, Commander. I am certain you will do an excellent job,” the Andorian lied, since she had no frame of reference at all for the woman’s ability, “it’s just, CO’s usually like a choice in who they appoint to their command team.”
“The Admiral can be… difficult at times,” Kayla replied after a moment. “and I understand this is not ideal. All I ask, Captain, is that you keep an open mind? I, too, had no say in this. Or – indeed – warning. But I can absolutely promise you that I will do my best for this ship and crew.”
She was considering calling out the fact she suspected the other woman was not being entirely honest with her, yet she could not be sure of that fact. Not yet. And not to mention she had known of the assignment when she came aboard the Rhode Island….
Before she could raise the subject, an unfamiliar voice filtered through the comm system, “=/\= Bridge to Captain sh’Elas.“
Stopping in their tracks, the Andorian captain reached up and tapped her commbadge. “=/\=sh’Elas here, go ahead bridge.”
”=/\=Ensign Caplan here, ma’am. We’ve received a transmission from Commodore Farrell,” the relief Science Officer informed over the comm.
”=/\=We’re on our way. Send out an alert for all senior staff to report to the bridge,” the Andorian instructed as she shared glances with the new XO. She was about to tap her commbadge off when she remembered something else. “Oh, and Ensign, enter Commander Desai-Scott’s arrival into the ship’s log. List her as the new executive officer.”
”=/\=Yes Captain. Bridge out.”
Reaching the nearest turbolift, Desai-Scott touched the button to summon it, the doors sliding open just seconds later. She slipped inside, the ship’s mistress close behind. At her order the doors closed, carrying them up to the Bridge.
Standing to the left of the turbo lift, the Captain turned her body to look at her new right hand. “I will treat this with an open mind, Commander, you have my word. And you, too, must do the same. I am not Commander Dean; I do things very differently I am sure,” she smiled the best smile she could muster.
”To be perfectly honest with you,” Kayla retorted, “that can only be a good thing.”
Tharia let out a genuine smile for the first time, appreciating the Commander’s honesty regarding her previous commanding officer. Perhaps there was hope for this pairing after all?