‘Can’t pretend I’m not surprised,’ rumbled Geraint Vaughn as he read the PADD on his desk, scratching his stubbly chin. ‘I thought you were more the bobby on the beat type.’
Callahan tried to not squirm under his boss’s gaze, which managed to be a mixture of beady yet disinterested. Vaughn didn’t like things he didn’t understand, but he was also deeply impatient when it came to the lives and habits of junior officers. It was unwise to draw this out. ‘I want a change, sir,’ he started.
Vaughn stared at him. ‘Yeah. That’s how transfers usually work.’
‘It’s still within Promenade Security. I’m trained as an investigator, and I have the experience to move over to the Investigations Section.’
‘If you didn’t, I would just stamp this with “no” and move on with my day. Didn’t ask you in here to debate that.’ Vaughn moved to a fresh PADD. ‘You’ve got four years of patrol officer under your belt. Was this just getting the experience down before you moved on to something shinier?’
Callahan knew this sort of work had defined Vaughn’s whole career, and that he had to step lightly. ‘It’s been four years which have given me the chance to figure out what I care about, sir. I like working in communities, I like building these connections and bonds to do my job better. That’s important, and it’s a skill and experience I’ll take forward.’
‘You know that criminal investigation isn’t pitting your wits against the bad guys in a desperate intellectual battle, right?’ Vaughn grunted. ‘Most of the time you’re just figuring out who broke in and robbed a shop.’
‘I know. And this is Starbase Bravo; crime is low. But I want to move away from just checking in on people every day, presenting the friendly face of Security just in case something goes wrong. I’d rather spend time getting stuck in right away when there’s a problem.’
Vaughn watched him. ‘This doesn’t have anything to do with what happened down at that coffee shop, does it?’
Callahan’s throat tightened. ‘The reports said…’
‘Telepathy and all of that; I read the reports. Your shift supervisor talked to you about it. If a hammer was going to come down on you about that, Callahan, you’d have heard by now. But you don’t get away from one problem just by moving somewhere else.’
‘I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an influence, sir. I don’t feel good about what happened -’
‘That’s the bare minimum,’ Vaughn muttered, but didn’t cut him off further.
‘…and yes, it’s making me second-guess how well I serve the community if, even telepathically sparked, I have that kind of anger towards them.’
‘But you won’t have that kind of anger towards them if you’re figuring out who robbed them?’
Callahan winced. ‘The context is different, sir.’
Vaughn clicked his tongue. ‘Do I need to assign you counselling?’
‘I – no, sir, I’m fine. This is me recognising what happened, and taking appropriate measures. I’ve been thinking about it a while – like I said, I’m trained and qualified. But this made clear it was the right time for a shift. Especially now you have all of these new patrol officers.’
Vaughn made a face. ‘The new patrol officers replaced the experienced ones I had. Experienced like you, Callahan, even if it’s only five minutes’ experience. That’s not doing me a favour.’ But before Callahan could counter that, he’d waved an irritable, dismissive hand. ‘Fine, whatever. Paperwork’s signed, congratulations, you’re on the Investigations Section. New desk, new set of responsibilities, no more pounding the beat.’
Callahan knew this was approaching a dismissal, and hopped to his feet with some relief. ‘Thank you, sir.’
Vaughn grunted, and Callahan turned to the door. He was halfway out before the commander spoke again, his voice low but gruff, carrying. ‘If I hear of you doing anything like what happened in Brew again, telepathy or no telepathy, you’ll be off-duty pending psych evaluation and my personal judgement on whether you’re fit to serve the public. Got it.’
Callahan cringed. ‘Got it,’ he said, and fled.
Being lightly mauled by Vaughn was not the worst this transfer could have gone.