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Part of USS Arcturus: Counseling the Arcturus

Larus Alesser

USS Arcturus, Battle Bridge
Spring 2400
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When Counselor Sharma had first boarded Arcturus, there were no more senior officers aboard to report to. She managed to go about a week nominally as the highest-ranking officer present before the first officer arrived. Since the reconfigurations to the bridge and deck two were still being finished, Sharma found him reading reports from the center seat of the battle bridge instead.

“Captain Alesser? Commander Kora Sharma, reporting as ordered,” she said, finding some of the formalities associated with starting on a new ship to be a little archaic.

Captain Alesser had one leg crossed over the other but put both of his feet flat on the deck when Sharma interrupted the report he was reading. He stood up and walked the two steps down from the throne to offer his hand.

“Welcome aboard, Counselor,” he said, offering her a bright smile. “I hope you’re settling in okay?”

Sharma accepted the handshake. “Thank you, Captain. Everything has been more than fine so far. You think you’ve seen everything you can see on a starship, but Arcturus is certainly something else.”

“That she is. Let’s step into the ready room,” Alesser offered, leading the way through a door to the starboard side of the main viewer. “Lieutenant, you have the bridge.”

Sharma followed Alesser off of the battle bridge, entering the secondary ready room that was just as large and impressive as any ship she’d ever served on. The only way she knew she wasn’t on the main bridge was that she could see the lower hull plating of the primary hull covering the viewports.

“Computer, give us something to look at,” Alesser ordered.

In an instant, the computer hid the view of grey duranium past the viewports with what Sharma guessed was the view past the ship had the saucer not been in the way. The atmosphere of Mellstoxx III glinted with the light of a recent sunrise. As impressive as that was, Sharma wasn’t distracted enough not to see that Alesser made a beeline behind the desk to put a level of physical distance between them. She accepted an offered seat in front of the desk.

“Just so you’re aware, the captain prefers that all crewmembers appear in uniform on the bridge,” Alesser said, eyes flitting to the grey business suit that Sharma was wearing. 

“I anticipated that, but thank you, sir,” she replied with a chuckle. “Neither of your files scream laissez-faire to me.” 

Alesser laughed. “I am perhaps one degree towards the more lenient side from the captain, but you’re safe in assuming that we prefer things done by the book whenever possible,” he confirmed. “Speaking of the regulations, is this merely your required check-in with the first officer, or do you have something for me?”

The question was accompanied by a slight narrowing of the Ardanan man’s brown eyes. Sharma could already tell that Alesser wouldn’t be someone she could ever hope to get something past. Until a few weeks ago, he had been the ship’s Chief Operations Officer and a commander. After a harrowing shuttle journey with Captain Lancaster, he was now the Executive Officer and a captain. It was a lot for anyone to process in a short amount of time.

“Well, sir, I suppose I’m hoping to accomplish a few other things, too,” she said. “Namely, seeing how your shore leave went and how you’re settling into your new role.”

The first officer laughed again, though Sharma sensed that this time it was to give him a few seconds to think about how to reply. One of the things she had gleaned from both his dossier and the captain’s was that neither of them had seen fit to see counselors regularly, even if they both could probably benefit from it.

“Jumping straight in, I guess?” Alesser quipped. “Other than not having a proper bridge for a few more days, I’d say that things are going very well. The captain and I have reached an understanding, and I think we’ll do great things together.”

Sharma nodded. “I read the reports from your impromptu vacation together. Given that he asked you to be his first officer following those events, can I guess that you made a breakthrough?”

“You can. I think you know that I’ve already been cleared for duty, psychologically and medically,” he added pointedly.

“I do. The difference between me and the analyst you spoke with on the starbase, though, is that we will be working together for the foreseeable future, and it’s my job to make sure you stay fit for duty,” Sharma reminded him. 

Alesser pursed his lips. “Fair enough. Let’s cut to the chase, then: I believe our survival experience did bring us closer together as shipmates and personally. It couldn’t have worked better, even in a teambuilding scenario cooked up by Starfleet. Both of us are clear-headed and ready to get back to work,” he said.

Sharma thought about that response and then decided to stop pushing the issue. There was something he wasn’t saying, but there were no apparent signs that he had any lingering effects from being stranded and forced to survive on a water world. 

“Did you find time to relax during the refit? I’m guessing you didn’t go to the beach,” she quipped.

“I definitely did not,” Alesser agreed, smirking slightly. “I spent most of my time home on Ardana. The captain and his husband hosted me and some others at their new house for a few days, too. It was… incident free.”

Sharma wondered what kind of man Alesser really was to casually describe a social interaction’s success as being defined by whether or not there was an ‘incident,’ but that seemed like something best investigated at a future session. 

“That’s pleasantly surprising to hear. Unless you brought your technical manuals along with you,” she said.

Captain Alesser laughed. “I did, but I can relax and learn at the same time, Counselor.”

“Do you regularly visit home?”

“No. Ardana is… stranger every time I return,” Alesser noted, his mask seeming to slip before he shook himself out of it. “Just little things. Different replicator programs. Being on a floating city in the clouds. Lingering cultural issues. But my family is well, and that was also an incident-free visit.”

There was that word again.

Sharma smiled. “Well, that all sounds lovely. I just hope a few weeks of rest now won’t mean that I’ll never be able to get you to take a break when we’re back in space,” she suggested.

“Anything’s possible, Counselor,” Alesser replied. “Now, if you’re done prying into my psyche, is there anything you need that you don’t already have for your department? Your predecessor was extremely low-maintenance.”

“I’m not really used to having a ‘department’ at all, so I really can’t say without getting to know them all better and seeing what our needs are,” Sharma replied. “I’m still becoming familiar with the dossiers of the senior staff, and I should be caught up on the next wave of crew evaluations long before they’re set to occur.”

The Ardanan nodded. “Good. There has been a lot of turnover amongst the senior staff, and I want to know if there’s anything we need to be aware of sooner rather than later. Day-to-day, I imagine you’ll work more with Captain Anjar, but the door’s always open if you need something.”

“Thank you, sir,” Sharma replied. “He’s actually at the very top of my list to see.”

“I can imagine, after what happened,” Alesser replied, furrowing his brow for a split second. “They say that doctors make the worst patients, though.”

“Not quite as bad as captains, though.”