Part of USS Tesla: Lift Off and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Trial of Command

Headquarters
17Jan2400
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The air smelled sweet as Tia sucked in a deep breath through her nose. She felt tempted to pinch herself to ensure she wasn’t dreaming, but she wouldn’t allow herself such an impulsive gesture as she was certain every eye of her new crew would be upon her as they assessed their new captain. Her heart swelled with pride as she surveyed the USS Tesla. The ship had been undergoing repairs since the mission to Ryex, a mission that would always have a special place in her memory. She grinned as she recalled her time with Chung, Kula, and Richardson. They had proved themselves to her and she was thrilled when they had agreed to come with her over to the crew of the Tesla. The thought of taking over the ship with an entirely new crew had somewhat terrified her, and she was thankful to have a few familiar faces on her roster.

The smile slowly faded from her face and a quick frown flitted across her features as her mind pulled her to less pleasurable memories. Saying goodbye to the crew she had left behind proved difficult, with some goodbyes being far tougher than others. With a slight shake of her head, she dismissed that particular memory and forced her feet into motion. The past was behind her and she would not allow it to cause her any uncertainty. As a new captain, she had a lot to prove and she would not allow her new crew to witness any sign of wavering or doubt. Making her way aboard the renovated ship, she strode down the corridors to her quarters with clipped steps. Her eyes remained steadily in front of her, her chin held high as she passed by crewmembers. She could hear their whispers as she passed by, this being their first glimpse at their new captain. She couldn’t be certain what they were saying, but she felt positive that she would face some questions as to her abilities, due to her inexperience and young age. With a determined set to her jaw, she swore to herself that she would swiftly dispel all doubts with a firm hand. Tia had made up her mind to quickly prove herself to Starfleet command by running a tight ship and developing a stellar crew. Her thoughts drifted towards the possibility of future advancements in Starfleet, and she quickly had to pull herself back to reality before allowing hubris to overtake her. One step at a time, she reminded herself.

Tossing her duffle into a corner, she decided to unpack later. Anxious to make her presence known to her new officers, she headed to her ready room, calling her new XO and Ops officer on her way. Entering her ready room, she was pleased to find her Ops officer already waiting for her.

“Commander Vostugo,” Tia greeted him with a short nod.

“Captain.” He straightened to give her a sharp salute which she casually returned.

Vostugo would not have been Tia’s first choice for Operations officer as she would never have thought such an officer would be willing to accept a position under her command. Vostugo had an extensive history with Starfleet and boasted a distinguished career as a military officer coming from a family with a long history of Starfleet service. After he had applied for the position aboard the Tesla, she had reviewed his file and was surprised by his credentials. She hadn’t expected someone with such experience to volunteer with her, but she found a sense of pride in the fact that he had chosen to serve with her. Due to this being her first command, Tia had been given little to no say in the selection of her crew members, and so she was hoping that Commander Vostugo would be able to provide her with some helpful insight on the crew she had been assigned. She had briefly skimmed over the crew roster and looked into a few of the higher-ranked officers but hadn’t found the time to review every crew member in depth.

She gave him a relaxed smile and held out a confident hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Commander. I’m glad to have you on board.”

“Pleasure to be here.” He accepted her hand with a firm shake but did not return her smile, his features remaining stolid and his eyes sharply surveying her. She instantly got the impression that idle chit-chat was not something her Ops officer was likely to engage in and was thankful when the XO entered to spare her the awkwardness of trying to maintain a conversation alone.

“Lieutenant Commander Adams, thank you for joining us,” Tia also reached out to shake the hand of Lexi Adams, her new XO and who she hoped would be a strong assistant in navigating the waters of a new captaincy.

                                                                          *******

Lexi had been trying to get unpacked when the call came for her to meet the CO. She sighed it had already been a long few weeks due to the transfer to the Tesla. Lexi still wasn’t sure about the whole thing, but that was probably because she had been rushed away quickly from her position on the Oracle.  

She surveyed her room before straightening her uniform and making her way to meet the CO, as she was ordered to do. The halls of the ship gleamed brilliantly under the artificial light above her. The reports stated the ship had been under repair since a mission which the now CO was on. She smiled as she entered the meeting room. Her hair glistened in the light and her smile was as bright as could be.

”Greeting Captain.” She said as she shook the CO’s hand. “Sorry I am late trying to get settled in was proving a bit more than I expected, though I’ve had little time since arrival. Regardless how do we plan to structure watches and manage the crew? Every command is different and I don’t want to overstep?”

“Well I look forward to discussing a joint management strategy with you here shortly,” Tia smiled warmly. “But at present, I was wondering what you all could tell me concerning the crew. I’ve had little time to thoroughly review the roster while overseeing the repairs to the Tesla, but hoped you all could fill me in on any of the crew members you are familiar with.”

Lexi shook her head “Actually Captain, I am not aware of any of the crew. I have been in deep space for so long that sometimes I forget that we have access to databases. I apologize and will make sure and read up on the crew.”

“I must inform you.” The Chief of Operations spoke up with his usual clipped tone that pleased Tia. He seemed sharp and to the point and she suspected they would get along famously. “Both the Helmsman and Chief of Engineering are from the Effrenus. Are you familiar with that command?”

“I am not,” she responded quickly, feeling compelled not to keep him waiting for an answer due to the swift manner in which he delivered his questions.

His silence was deafening as he observed her for a moment. And she suspected that he was carefully considering his words before he spoke.

“They will, no doubt, require careful handling due to their past command,” was all he chose to say on the matter.

Tia looked to her XO for further elaboration but suspected from the blank look that her XO knew as much on the matter as she did.

Lexi shrugged indicating she had no idea, as to what the Chief of Ops was saying. “I have no doubt you can handle it though, Captain.”

“I’m certain we can manage,” Tia spoke with a confidence she did not quite feel as she turned back to Commander Vostugo.

The cool look from his steely blue gaze clearly warned her that he could easily read through her obvious farce, but he simply gave a respectful nod before he continue on.

“It may benefit you to read over the recent command of the Effrenus as you have obtained several crew members from that particular assignment.”

Tia’s brow creased but as she did not wish to appear entirely ignorant on the subject her Operations Officer was so clearly well informed on, she simply nodded in reply.

“Do you have any questions?”

Tia suspected by the tilt of his head and the squint of his inquisitive gaze that he knew of her ignorance, but she chose to ignore his offer of assistance.

“Not at all,” she answered smartly. “You are dismissed, Commander Vostugo,” she told him with a quick nod. “I would like to speak with my First Officer now.”

The Commander responded with a slow nod and almost imperceptible upturn at the corners of his mouth. She suspected that he knew more than he was letting on, but also felt he would be a willing ally should she see fit to lower her defenses and allow him into her inner circle.

Once they were alone, Tia turned to her new XO. “Lieutenant Commander Adams, I’m glad to have you aboard and as my new XO. In my experience, a Captain and First Officer who complement each other well as a team can build quite an impressive crew. With that goal in mind, I wish to always be transparent with you on my intentions for the Tesla.” Tia took a deep sigh and studied Adam’s with a watchful gaze. “I am new as a captain, and I am certain I will have many difficulties to overcome during the first few months with a new crew. I intend to manage any issues with a firm hand to quell any doubt as to my abilities from the very beginning. I hope I can count on your support in my efforts to run a tight ship and build a strong and well-established crew.” Tia paused and eyed her XO, waiting for a response.

Lexi nodded “I wouldn’t see another option that would be more prudent than that. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean anything! You have the drive and tenacity to do this if not the Orion blood just your personality. I will do everything in my power to assist you.” She said as she smiled warmly.

“Let’s take a walk and visit our bridge crew now then, shall we?” Tia invited with a grin.

Tia led the way from her ready room and as they entered the bridge they were met by Idrin Vostugo.

“Captain. First Officer.” He greeted them with their titles and a short nod. “I would like to introduce you to your bridge crew.” He turned first to the helmsman station. “This is Lieutenant Zenobi Ty, our Chief Flight Controller. He and Lieutenant Commander Darius Thatch both served together for several years aboard the Effrenus, so they do have some experience running a bridge together.” 

The dark-skinned man with black curls and a well-trimmed beard rose from his seat at the controls to bow low from the waist and address them both in a thick Indian accent. “It is a pleasure to meet you both,” he stated with a wide grin.

Tia noted a tremor at the corners of his lips which seemed to be an attempt to hold back laughter as he spoke. She was uncertain what her new Conn Officer found to be so amusing, but when he rose from his respectful bow she saw nothing but sincerity in his dark brown eyes.

“It’s good to have you aboard,” she returned his greeting with an extension of her hand which he gladly accepted. An uncomfortable pause then overtook the situation as he stood awkwardly, seemingly waiting for some further conversation but as Tia had nothing further to say she was at a loss.

The Chief Engineering Officer broke the tension of the moment by pushing himself from his seat and thrusting a meaty hand in Tia’s direction. “Darius Thatch,” he introduced himself with a booming voice that Tia suspected did not have volume control. “I handle the engines. And over there is little Freya who seems to be right smart with the tactical and weapons shit.” The barrel-chested engineer threw a thumb over his shoulder towards the young female officer seated at the tactical station, but Tia was far more intrigued by the easy way in which invective passed from his lips as though cursing were a comfortably natural addition to his normal language. 

Freya glared at Thatch. She hated when he called her little and he knew it. “Freya Dawson,” she said calmly and smoothly. “As Mr. Thatch so eloquently put it, I am head of weapons and tactical,” she said, rolling her eyes at Thatch, but not in a particularly foul mood. Thatch was an interesting individual, but Freya liked him as a shipmate and he knew it. It’s why he pushed and never got yelled at by Freya for it. 

“Lieutenant Commander Thatch has an extensive history of experience in engineering and should be a great asset to the Tesla’s maintenance crew,” Vostugo spoke from behind her. “And while Lieutenant Freya Dawson’s history with the fleet may be a little briefer, she is a renowned military technician and graduated the academy with high marks.”

Tia turned back to throw a quick nod over her shoulder to her Operations Officer and found him taking a seat next to the captain’s chair. It was not the casual way in which he took his chair or the ease in his demeanor that instantly set her on edge, but the amused smile that flitted across his lips as he took a seat that raised a flash of anger in her. He seemed to be enjoying himself, and she couldn’t help but feel that it was due to her somewhat clumsy handling of introductions. What was expected of a new captain? Should she have prepared a speech or perhaps called a meeting before visiting the bridge? Tia pushed her self-doubt back and refused to allow it to consume her thoughts. Too late now, so no point in dwelling on what could have been. She would have to press forward with the current turn of events. Her train of thought was interrupted by a new arrival on the bridge.

A tall, thin man wearing suspenders over a button-up shirt with a set of thick spectacle perched atop a thin nose strode from the lift and Tia instantly matched his appearance with that of the Chief Science Officer Jasik Aldrich who she had read about on the crew roster. He entered the bridge with roving eyes that bounced from one station to the next, never fully settling on one thing. “Is my ship ready to go?” he threw out the question to no one in particular.

Tia’s mouth opened but it was a few seconds before she found her voice. “Your ship?” she asked him to clarify.

“My ship, the Tesla.” Jasik snapped impatient fingers. “The ship for my scientific exploration. Are we ready to be off?”

Tia’s chin rose slightly. “Lieutenant Commander Aldrich, this is my ship, and I will be certain to notify you when we are ready to depart.”

“Excellent!” He turned to exit just as quickly as he had entered. “I would like to be underway soon. There is much to do as we head out to the far reaches of the quadrant and I cannot be having-.” His sentence disappeared through the lift doors as he continued to speak even after he was out of ear reach.

Tia, mouth still open, turned to glance towards her Ops Officer.

Idrin was comfortably lounging in his chair, legs casually crossed with one finger resting lightly on his upper lip above a light smile. There was a twinkle in his eye as he met her gaze, and Tia quickly looked away to snap her jaw shut. She turned to glance towards her XO, hoping for a sign of something, she knew not what. Sympathy perhaps?

Lexi knew at times it was best to stay quiet and observe and that’s exactly what she had done. She didn’t like Idrin. He seemed smug and that alone didn’t sit well with her. He seemed like he thought he was Captain of the ship from his cocky attitude. She was the head of all department heads.  

She stepped up to the center of the bridge with her hands clasped “You may not know me but I am Lieutenant Commander Lexi Adams, the ship’s Executive Officer. I run a tight ship and do not tolerate sloppiness.“ She indicated to the relaxed demeanor. “We’re on the bridge of a starship and I expect a certain decorum when you’re at your station. This is not your quarters it’s your station and I expect you to treat it as such. Some of you may not like the way I run things, but rest assured I am not intimidated easily.” She concluded as she saw the crew comply with her words though it seemed like a struggle. Lexi stepped back beside Tia and nodded.

Tia was pleasantly surprised by her XO’s frank candor in taking control of the situation. Clearly, Adams was not feeling the same trepidation and uncertainty that currently held Tia’s heart in a vise-like grip. Lexi seemed to be confident in her role as XO and with her past experience in similar positions, which gave Tia confidence in the leadership team they would make.

Tia sucked some courage into her chest and then stepped forward to make her own introduction. “And as I am certain you are aware, I am Commander Tia Dalia Savik, your captain. I am new to the position of commanding my own vessel, therefore I expect each one of my officers to contribute to a team effort of maintaining order and morale while striving to complete successful missions under the directive of Starfleet Command. I recognize that it will take some time to build our crew into a well-oiled machine that can operate together as one body, but it is my goal to create a team of individuals who will far exceed the expectations of our commanding officers. But a fair warning, those who fail to keep up with my rigorous expectations will be cut from the team and replaced. Each person must pull their own weight for the good of the whole for it only takes one weak link for the chain to break.” Tia paused and made sure her searching gaze met the eyes of each individual on the bridge, mentally cataloging every officer’s expression for her to analyze later. With a deep breath, she continued. “Here shortly I will be making a call to command to receive our orders, after which we will take immediate departure for our destination. In the meantime, in an effort to get to know each one of you better, I would like you to prepare a comprehensive assessment of the individuals and equipment under your command. I would like to receive those reports within three hours.”

With this, Tia strode to her place on the bridge and firmly planted herself in the captain’s chair, sweeping another sharp gaze slowly over the members of the bridge. Zenobi Ty and Freya Dawson quickly turned to their screens to begin their task of producing a report. Tia noted a scrunched nose and upturned lips on the grizzled features of Darius Thatch, but he turned to his task without a word. The only sound on the bridge became the busy drumming of fingers tapping on the screens and Tia released her breath in a slow sigh. Perhaps this captain thing wouldn’t be so difficult after all. Tia’s eyes fell to her PADD, but it was not long before the silence was broken. 

“Hey, how do you spell adequately?” Darius’s thundering voice reverberated throughout the bridge to seemingly no one in particular as he peered down at his screen with a furrowed brow.

“Why are you asking me?” Zenobi responded in his rich accent with a teasing tone. “English is your primary language.”

“Well you know I don’t know how to write this stuff,” Darius retorted.

“Oh so am I to play your personal secretary then?” Zenobi continued to poke fun.

Darius leaned back in his chair and studied the conn officer with laughing eyes. “You see this white dot here?” Darius traced a thick finger across his patch to remind the helmsman of his rank. “Do you got one a those?”

“Oh get off it,” Zenobi shot back. “That extra dot just means your old.”

“Is that so?” Darius couldn’t contain the smile that was breaking out across his face.

“Yes.” A short giggle escaped Zenobi’s lips. “They give those to anyone old and fat. My grandmother has so many dots.”

“I didn’t see any when I visited your gran-.”

“Lieutenant Commander Thatch!” Tia’s voice rang out sharply. “Do you have that engineering report completed?”

“Workin’ on it,” he responded amiably although his brows rose at her interruption. 

“See that you are.”

With a good-natured grin he turned back to the console before him, and Tia heard Zenobi’s hushed whisper.

“You’ve upset mother.”

“Shut it,” Darius whispered back, not so quietly. 

Silence once again reigned on the bridge as her officers, whether busy at work on simply pretending to be, bent over their stations and industriously tapped away at their screens with newfound diligence. 

Leaning over to speak directly to her XO, Tia ordered, “Lieutenant Commander Adams, I’m leaving the bridge in your care. In two hours there will be a meeting of the commanding officers in the briefing room. See that all the department heads are notified.”

Lexi nodded. “It will be done, Captain!”

With a short nod, Tia then rose to depart. 

                                                                          *******

Tia took a seat at her desk and glanced at the time. Only a few minutes before the scheduled call from StarTrek command to relay the orders for their first mission. Sucking a large breath of air into her lungs, she took a moment to contemplate the interactions of the morning. She hadn’t even met all her commanding officers, and yet she knew she was in for a ride with the crew she had been assigned. Suddenly her desk lit up and before her appeared the image of a Star Fleet Admiral. 

“Commander Savik, I hope you have found your new quarters to be satisfactory,” the Admiral said in greeting. 

“The quarters are hardly a concern,” she responded quickly, “the crew however will require some work.”

“Are you having issues, Commander?” There was a coldness in the tone but Tia determined to report the truth of her reservations concerning her crew so that any issues would have prior documentation with Starfleet Command.

“They seem to be a somewhat rowdy bunch but I’m certain I can handle them. However, Lieutenant Commander Aldrich seems as though he will pose a particular problem, as he does not display any inclination to respect authority. I’m certain I will have to deal rather firmly with him, but I’m concerned he may not respond well to my management.”

“Commander Savik.” The impatience in his tone warned Tia that she had stumbled into dangerous territory. “The mission of the Tesla is to scout unknown regions for the purpose of scientific advancement. Lieutenant Commander Aldrich may be a bit eccentric at times, but his passion for studying the natural sciences is unrivaled and as he is your Chief Scientist, I have full confidence that you will find a way to work in harmony with your new officers.” The Admiral paused and eyed her sharply. “That is unless you believe yourself to be incapable of handling the position to which you have been assigned.”

Tia had been about to respond but now quickly snapped her jaw closed as the Admiral delivered this final insinuation. “Of course, I can handle it, Sir,” she responded somewhat stiffly. 

“Very well then,” he continued on briskly. “I am sending details on the Tesla’s first assignment, as well as a mission to be handled by your Chief of Security, Lieutenant Vikas. Vikas has also been provided with the mission briefing for the operation she has been charged with. You will coordinate with her and provide any support she requires. If you have any questions you know how to reach me. Are we clear?”

“Understood, Admiral.”

“Very good.”

With that terse goodbye, the hologram disappeared and Tia was left alone.

Tia snatched up her PADD and began jabbing taunt fingers at the device with a viciousness that the electronic implement did not deserve. She knew she was allowing her emotions to get the better of her, but with her tensions on edge due to her newly assigned position, she was finding it difficult to maintain her usual cool. She felt as though her commander was dismissing her as an inexperienced captain rather than considering her feedback, and had a slight inkling that her new Chief of Security was being entrusted with a more delicate mission than the one she herself had been given. Not enjoying this feeling of being overlooked, she distracted herself by pulling up a list of her new officers and began to comb through their service records. It was in the file of Darius Thatch that she saw the list of his service under the USS Effrenus and recalled the suggestion of her Operations Officer to read up on the command. She was a short way into a report when the door chime chirped and she glanced at the security screen to find her Ops officer waiting outside.

With a reluctant swipe of her hand, she permitted him entry, and the ops officer strode into the room to approach her desk with that easy walk that gave him an air of reserved grace that she grudgingly admired. She suspected that he held no doubts as to his ability to handle the responsibilities of his new position, and almost envied the ease of a lower-ranked position. 

“So, what are your first impressions of your crew?” he cut directly to the point, choosing not to mince words or exchange pleasantries. 

“My first impressions?” Tia’s right brow rose, and her tone asked more than her words did. By the inflection in her voice, she was clearly questioning if her Ops officer truly desired to hear her unbridled opinion of her new crew.

“Yes,” he encouraged her to continue. 

“They’ve assigned me all their undesirable officers, basically saddling me with a crew of misfits.” The annoyance in her voice was strong and she did not censor her harsh judgement. 

Idrin’s lips pursed and his eyes narrowed, but he responded simply. “A crew is what you make of it.”

Tia did not appreciate this response which seemed to make light of her situation. “You would have me be more lenient with them, or rather ignore their flaws?” she challenged. 

Idrin leaned forward to rest both palms on the edge of her desk and study her with a steady gaze. “I would have you value them for their skills, not their reputations.”

“Skills? My Conn and Engineering officer can’t stop wisecracking long enough to man the ship, while my Chief Science Officer seems to be under the impression that he’s the captain.” Tia was finding it difficult to agree with her new Operations officer. 

Idrin’s gaze fell and he let out a deep sigh as he considered his next words carefully. “You may have an unruly crew that will challenge you, but you have a crew of some Starfleet officers who are the most skilled in their fields, and they answer to you simply because no one else wishes to put up with them. If you can manage them, you could potentially lead one of the greatest crews in Starfleet history. This crew is yours, Captain. It may not be the crew you would have chosen for yourself but it is your crew to make or break depending on how you manage them.”

“Depending on how I manage them,” Tia repeated with raised brows, indicating she certainly intended to manage this crew how she saw fit.

“Well complaining about them will get you nowhere,” Idrin sighed and invited himself to a seat. “So, formulate a plan and put it into action.” He wiped imaginary dust from his already immaculate and tightly pressed pants before looking up to meet her gaze. “How do you intend to manage this crew? What kind of captain will you be?”

Suddenly the hairs on the back of Tia’s neck rose and alarm bells began to sound in her head. Why was her new operations officer so interested in her opinion of the crew and questioning her concerning her intentions for management. Recalling the warning that command would be keeping a watchful eye on her progress, she suddenly wondered if perhaps they had assigned an officer for the purpose of assessing her to report her every move. Tia pondered this and slowly circled around her desk to take a seat across from the stone-faced officer. Instead of answering his question, she finally chose to ask one of her own. Why skirt the issue? Preferring to tackle things head-on rather than engage in exhausting subterfuge, she chose to confront him. “Are you evaluating me?”

“I’m always evaluating everything,” Idrin answered without hesitation. “And as a new officer under your command, I would expect to be subject to your constant assessment as well.”

Tia caught the skillful way in which he circumnavigated her question. “Fair enough,” Tia’s tone was light but inwardly she warned herself to be more cautious of her words in the future. “Then in the interest of getting to know you better in order to formulate a fair appraisal, would you mind telling me why you turned down an opportunity to command your own ship and instead volunteered as an officer under an unpracticed captain?”

He sucked in a quick breath through his nose and she noted an almost imperceptible tightening of his jaw as he considered the question. “I have no desire for such responsibility, and I am very content with my current position. I prefer to play partner to a capable leader rather than attempting to play leader for myself.” 

Tia was hardly satisfied with such an answer and suspected there were other factors influencing the commander’s decision, but she chose not to push the issue. “Tell me about the Effrenus,” she instead ordered. If Idrin truly was sent here to spy on her, then she would at least make use of his knowledge. The hint of a smile at the corners of the Commander’s lips and a somewhat wistful gaze in his eyes told Tia that her Ops Officer had some personal feelings for the topic matter. 

“The Effrenus was somewhat of an experiment. Some believe it to have gone terribly wrong, while others hold the opinion that it was a success.” Idrin’s gaze was piercing as he met the eyes of Captain Savik. “It was a study on how unique leadership practices can be effectively applied to manage individuals that society would label as undesirable.” Idrin opened his mouth to continue but his words were halted by the chirping of a notification on Tia’s PADD.

“The officers are in the briefing room for a meeting,” Tia stated, rising to her feet. “I do, however, look forward to continuing this conversation at a later time,” she expressed pointedly. 

“As do I,” he agreed, rising to his feet to follow her from the room.

TBC…

Comments

  • What a superb way to introduce a lively bunch of characters. Such a small ship with such a bunch of characters is a recipe for… chaos? Greatness? An awesome starting point for a crew though and I’m sure it’s going to require all of the Prion’s skills to keep them a functioning unit. Can’t wait to read more!

    August 7, 2022