Part of USS Achilles Archive: It Resides in the Purview of the Diplomats

A Tense Opening Exchange

Conference Room
August 1st, 2347
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The conference room was rather spacious, about the size of a smaller hearing room that Eline used on Space Station K-7. It was big for a conference room aboard a starship, but it had beautiful views of the starbase and the planet below. It was her first day aboard the new Ambassador-class, and yet…Eline was starting to fall in love with the new starship. At the head of the table, sat her commanding officer, Captain Keziah Nazir. Eline walked up relatively close and stood at attention. “Lieutenant Commander Eline Liebenberg, reporting for duty as ship’s First Officer.”

Keziah had watched the woman approach her from the entrance way to the observation lounge, watching her every move. For now, she would reserve judgement and keep her thoughts to herself. Instead, she simply rose to her feet and offered a hand to yet another newcomer. “Welcome to the Achilles, Commander,” she greeted the woman, offering her a seat to the Captain’s right hand side.

Eline shook the Captain’s hand, and smiled. “Thank you Captain, I’m happy to be here. The Achilles is a beautiful ship, and I’m excited to serve under you.” Internally, she was anxious. Meeting a new CO was always stressful for her, especially one that she was going to be helping. She felt unprepared, but she knew she had her training. Eline strode to the chair the Captain was gesturing to, and sat down. She started to fix her ponytail, then crossed her legs. She assumed that her Captain had questions for her.

Lowering herself back into the chair at the head of the table, the Captain smiled across at the latest crewmember to join her command. “Achilles is beautiful indeed, but don’t let the beauty and the comfort fool you. She’s got the teeth to stand up to any threat we can perceive,” the Trill assured her new counterpart.

Eline nodded with understanding. Ever since the Klingons and Federation had squared off, Starfleet had built ships that were lethal and could square off with the battlecruisers. It made sense that the Ambassador-class, as the newest ship of the line, would be tasked with facing off against the Cardassian Union.

“Yes ma’am. I won’t ever forget that. I’m sorry Captain, I forgot to ask…what was your name? I assume you don’t want me calling you Captain for the duration that we serve together.” Eline let off a small smile as she attempted to break through the ice with humor.

‘Odd,’ the Captain thought to herself, ‘surely she has done her research?’ Deciding she had perhaps not, the Captain simply nodded. “Keziah Nazir, but for now, Captain will do fine,” she told in a sterner tone. “Now, Commander, tell me why you accepted this posting to the Achilles? This is no desk job,” the Trill asked, making a snide reference to the woman’s past career with the Judge Advocate General’s office.

Seeing her attempt at humor fall flat, Eline straightened up a bit more. ‘Great, she’s not one for humor. This was going to be a long assignment. I hope it’s just because she doesn’t know me, because if she’s this serious through the entire thing, it’s going to be a very long deployment’ she thought to herself as she straightened up.

Eline cleared her throat, then thought a moment before she answered the question. The snide remark was not lost on Eline, and she had to restrain herself from retorting sarcastically.  “I accepted this assignment because of my work on the Cairo. Even as a Staff Judge-Advocate, I had to work on delicate diplomatic situations with hostile forces, as well as my fair share of traditional command abilities, including leading investigations onboard ship and having command of the starship. I was the Third Officer on the Cairo, so I have shipboard experience. Additionally, I worked for several years as one of the frontline officers against the Klingons on K-7, and my experience there would be invaluable to the Achilles and to you, ma’am.” Eline half-smiled, then waited for the next question.

Keziah couldn’t hide the disdain she felt for the references to the JAG corps. Like many on Starfleet, she felt that those associated with the corps often resembled mindless automatons intent on enforcing rules and regulations, rather than dealing with the reality of situations. Rulebooks only got an officer so far, especially one in command. She needed to know that her XO would be able, and willing, to throw that rulebook out the airlock if the situation arose. Eline’s eclectic experiences aboard the Cairo had certainly caught the Trill’s eye whilst she had done her research on the newcomer. “Klingons are not Cardassians, Commander. What we are about to walk into is a very different situation. Have you done your reading around this, at least?”

Eline breathed in to avoid sighing with exasperation at her Captain’s visible show of disdain. She knew that many officers disliked JAG Corps, seeing them as cogs in the Starfleet bureaucracy. Not only that, but she knew that many commanding officers felt that JAG was the “internal affairs” of Starfleet, and though she managed to win over many officers with her easy going demeanor, it was still difficult to deal with the officers who held fast to the idea of what JAG was. However, Admiral Eruzione had placed his trust in her, and he had assigned this post to her. Eline nodded as her Captain finished. “Yes, ma’am. I read the mission brief, as well as most of the Starfleet record that deals with Cardassians. Though we’re ostensibly on a diplomatic mission, there may be combat involved. You are right; Klingons are not Cardassians, that much is obvious. Though Captain, we should also be preparing for SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence, or intelligence gathered from subspace communications) and other covert actions. The Obsidian Order is also expected to observe the proceedings, and their specialty is covert operations. Starfleet is sending ships in good faith, but we should start taking precautions to defend against espionage.” Eline shifts uncomfortably in her chair, hoping that her suggestion was the right thing to say to the Captain.

“A wise precaution,” the Captain nodded slowly, bringing her hands up in front of her face and steepling the fingers together. “I want you to coordinate with the execs on the ships in our group. Assign them patrol routes along the border and let them know we will be travelling where the wind takes us. I am not going to put our greatest weapon in any one particular area,” she instructed as her face changed. Perhaps, just perhaps, she was starting to thaw a little.

Eline breathed a quiet sigh of relief. “Yes ma’am. I will see to it.” She took a breath, then tapped her PADD awake and began displaying a diagram she had been working on. “Captain, here’s my proposal on how to deploy the four ships. Because the USS Achilles is the flagship, I believe she should hang back, about 90 km from the Hermes, which should be near the border. The other two ships should be at the left and right flank, and all three should be spaced out at least 90 – 110 km. All our communications should be encrypted, as should our status updates to Starfleet Command; the channel should change every so often.” Eline handed the PADD to Captain Nazir. “I wrote all of it down for you, along with diagrams and positioning for the fleet.” She hoped this would be enough to break through the ice.

“A good start, but wider,” Nazir handed the PADD straight back to her XO. “Ninety kilometers is nothing. We have a larger area to cover.”

Eline cursed silently. She began reading the PAAD again, and shook her head. There was a typo, and though she had proofread it, she had not seen it. “I’m sorry, Captain. It was meant to be about 90,000 to 110,000 km starting distance, and we can keep the formation flexible enough to redeploy as necessary.” She made the corrections, then handed it back to Captain Nazir. “It’s only meant as a start, ma’am. In the words of a long-gone general; ‘Plans rarely survive contact with the enemy.’ We can redeploy as necessary.” She hoped this foresight would keep her CO mollified enough.

Nazir listened to the woman’s excuse and accepted it for now, but made a mental note to watch for future… mistakes. “See to it,” she finally nodded. “There will be a briefing later today. In the meantime, I think it would be prudent for you to do the rounds, meet the people and acquaint yourself with the rest of the ship. I expect you to know this ship like the back of your hand,” the Captain instructed as means of a dismissal.

Eline nodded, the expression on her face hiding how inadequate she felt in her new post. “Aye, Captain. Thank you, ma’am.” She smiled at Captain Nazir and slowly picked up her things. She stood at attention, then turned around and exited the observation lounge. Her thoughts were swirling, but she was resolute to earn her Captain’s respect. She stepped into the turbo lift and headed back down ship to begin touring the new vessel.

Comments

  • Oof. Sisko and Kira had a warmer first greeting than Keziah and Eline! I'm loving the friction between CO and XO. It's on a point in time, a starting place, and it plants the seeds for so much story potential in future posts. It's intriguing that so much of their conflict almost seems to come from their similarities, rather than their differences, but they don't know each other well enough yet to see it. I also enjoyed the further fleshing out of the perspectives on Starfleet, JAG and the Cardassians in this era. It'll come in handy for writing further adventures of the Achilles!

    April 11, 2022