In the intervening time since the conclusion of the inquest and Admiral Hawthorne’s decision to grant her command of the Inquiry-class starship sat in the starbase’s internal docking arena, Tharia sh’Elas had made her way around the Temeraire and was now in the safety of her new crew quarters. The room had been stripped of all trace of its previous occupant by Starfleet Security, which meant she had a blank canvas with which to work and so far, she had done a lovely job. The advantage of being at a starbase was that using replicators for a large number of personal items such as she was meant there was no drain on the ship’s resources. There was no way she would be replicating vanity items such as large paintings, new, non-standard issue furniture or even curtains if they were underway in some far off region of space. Which, if she got her way, wouldn’t be much more than a few days from now.
She’d taken a break for the last fifteen minutes to make a head start on the work that was piling up on her desk now that she was in command of a much more prominent vessel, and she had started to find it tough. Trying to sort through which of the Santa Fe personnel she wanted to bring aboard was like choosing which child should get a present and which wouldn’t. They were all her crew and she wanted all of them, but at the same time, she had to remember that this was the Temeraire and the ship had a crew already. The Santa Fe personnel had to supplement what was already in place or, in certain circumstances, replace some people – but even then any such decision would have to be justified. It was not going to be easy for her, especially with Vasoch on the case.
One decision she had found relatively easy to make, however, related to the visitor approaching her quarters.
Lieutenant Prida Rala was on her way up from the transporter room, having boarded from the Santa Fe at the captain’s request. Unbeknownst, he walked with similar thoughts running through her head to those of her commanding officer. She wanted to be loyal to her captain and her friends, but then there was the torn loyalty with the Santa Fe. The ship was old and needed her. Working through the dilemma in her head, she made a mental note to thank the captain, no matter what she decided in the coming moments. Arriving at the Andorian’s door, she gave the chime a ring and continued to ponder the potential transfer while she waited for entrance.
A few short seconds passed before a relaxed looking Tharia, wearing simply her uniform undershirt and pants, appeared at the doorway with a giant smile on her face, stepping aside to grant the Cardassian woman entry to her new quarters. “Come in Lieutenant,” she smiled, gesturing inside with her left arm. “Forgive the mess, I’m in the middle of unpacking,” she added swiftly.
Walking into the captain’s quarters, the Cardassian let out a whistle of envy as she looked at the space she had been afforded. “Certainly a lot more spacious than the Santa Fe, if not a bit more spartan…” she smirked, stopping by the window at the far side of the room and almost bouncing on her feet nervously. It wasn’t every day that a junior officer was summoned to the private abode of their captain, especially when said captain had just assumed command of a new starship.
“Can I get you a drink, Lieutenant?” Tharia asked quickly in an effort to put her grey-skinned colleague more at ease.
“Tea, please, whatever vintage or brand is loaded in your replicator is fine,” Prida said, wringing her hands nervously. “Unless you’ve already started with the alcohol, then I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
“No, no. Tea is just great,” the Andorian lied as she went over to the same replicator she had replicated a small Andorian brandy from earlier to congratulate herself on the findings of the inquest, and her sudden promotion. She replicated a pot of fresh tea and accompaniments before walking to the sofa area and setting them down on the small coffee table. “Milk? Sugar?” she queried as she started to pour.
“Just tea,” Prida replied with a smile to help alleviate some of the awkwardness as she sat down with the captain. Although in hindsight, asking for bland tea might make things more awkward, but she liked what she liked! Taking the cup sh’Elas offered, she held it in her lap while it cooled. “It’s been a long day so far. Hope they are treating you well over here, ma’am? I know we’ll miss your presence on the Santa Fe,” she offered with a smile, finally taking a sip of tea.
“Yeah, about that…” Tharia trailed off for a moment as she relaxed back in her chair and took a sip of the hot tea. “Santa Fe is being decommissioned. Anyone left aboard will oversee the decommissioning project, and then be assigned elsewhere.”
The sound of rattling china would have been heard in the old days, but long gone were the china teapots accompanied by cups and saucers. Instead, all that remained was the shaking of Prida’s Starfleet issue stainless steel, emblem emblazoned mug and the contents inside it. Caught off guard by the news, she tried her best to steady herself, placing the mug on her left knee. “I… I see…” she whispered quietly, “And what does that mean for the rest of the crew?” she enquired thoughtfully.
“That’s a tough one,” Tharia said, sitting forward and placing her own mug on top of the table top. “Temeraire and Santa Fe boast some very talented officers, and I’ve been given leave to choose who to bring aboard the Temeraire will not be easy,” she then looked rather uncomfortable, “…and Commander Gor isn’t making the process any easier. He seems to be holding me responsible for Captain Ruas’ removal,” she sighed, shuffling in her seat.
“That’s preposterous! Anyone looking in from the outside will see that you had nothing to do with the situation,” Prida looked supremely confident for once as she spoke out in defence of her captain. “He’s probably salty because he got passed over for command in favour of you,” she shrugged her shoulders before taking up her mug once again.
This was way Tharia liked the Cardassian, and why she wanted her on her crew more than ever. A refreshing ability to say what she thought, but tempered by the uncharacteristic naivety she sometimes displayed. It was the mix of her Cardassian and Bajoran heritage, coming together to make her personality even more interesting. “Perhaps…” she nodded with a smile as she reached out again for her own beverage. “I won’t beat around the bush here, Prida. I called you over because I want you here, on Temeraire,” the Andorian revealed to the dark haired woman opposite her. “I was very impressed by you work on the MARS project, and in dealing with the technological issues here,” she added in reference to the previous mission they had completed together.
“I’m flattered ma’am,” Prida smiled, before a realization hit her square in the face, “but Lieutenant Mora is in charge of Operations. Do you plan to remove him, because I thought she seemed very capable…” she enquired, once again honest in her opinion, and not wanting to advance in expense of someone she had actually enjoyed working with.
“No, Linn Mora will remain at Operations,” Tharia shook her head at the suggestion of replacing the Bolian, “but I need someone in Engineering. Udal is good, and shows promise, but he isn’t you. I want you to come over as Chief Engineer, and have Udal back you up as assistant.”
A departmental transfer? That was not something that the Cardassian had entertained the idea of when beaming over from the Santa Fe, and while she had enjoyed her time working with engineering during recent events, if enjoyment was the right word,transferring on a permanent basis was not something she had ever contemplated. “I… I don’t know what to say…” she took a sip of her drink in order to buy herself some additional time. If her father had been there, he’d have told her to go with her head. Her head told her that she should stay in Operations, even if that meant moving on from the captain, her ship, and her friends. But her heart. Well, that said something entirely different. And she found herself agreeing with it. “It would be my pleasure to serve as your chief of engineering, ma’am, thank you,” she nodded graciously, and a hand shake sealed the agreement.
“Might I make a suggestion ma’am?” she questioned, standing up from her chair after a few more moments of conversation. With a silent nod from the seated Andorian, the Cardassian spoke again. “Loyalty is key. Both of my peoples know a thing or two about loyalty, and whilst I imagine you’ll be under pressure to remember those who came before us, you should not forget those who served with you. People from both sides are just as deserving as each other, but loyalty and trust are what you need if a command is to be successful. And this crew needs a successful commander after recent months.”
Loyalty. Trust. Success. Buzz words on any other day, but today they had new meaning. She had started the day in command of an aging starship, surrounded by people she had worked with and played a part in molding into a crew. But then she had been entrusted with a new command, had her motives questioned and been given the task of returning success to this new ship. Prida was right. To do all of that, she would need people she could trust, but she would have to balance that out with personnel loyal to the ship and crew.
A balancing act that would not be easy. Vasoch had said as much in their tense conversation, but now her friend and cohort from the Santa Fe was saying it too, and that made it hit home that little bit harder.
“Thank you, Prida. I’ll bear that in mind,” the Andorian nodded, pushing herself up and off the sofa to see her new engineering chief out.
Once outside the Captain’s quarters, Prida took a deep breath, then let out a little fist pump of celebration before heading off in the direction of the turbo lift from whence she came. Temeraire was a significant step up the career path, as was being in charge of engineering. It was a challenge she would no doubt relish in time.
For now, she had to make her presence felt down in engineering.