They had arrived at Starbase 11. It was a misnomer – it was a base on a moon. The Mercy had moved into orbit. Halsey and Sorek were walking to the transporter room. There was a cache of supplies needing transporting and some small resupply items had come up from engineering. Halsey turned to Sorek, “We received an updated order briefing an hour ago. Captain Pottinger has been given command of the overall mission to the planet, the project, and our review of it.”
That is unfortunate, but not unexpected, thought Sorek. “I understand.”
Leopold pursed his lips, “The orders were clear there – I am responsible for the Mercy and her part in her mission. I did some further research – Grace has become a bit of a rising star in the observation department – part of why I think she’s being put out in the field…to test her abilities to work with others.”
“If that is the case, then perhaps there is nothing for us to worry about,” said Sorek. “She will, as Humans say, want to play nice. A bad report from us will hinder her aspirations.”
“I look forward to meeting that version of Pottinger, Sorek. It would be a great relief to my wife and me. Let us hope.” He slipped out a PADD as they entered the transporter room, “I’ve got a possible chief science officer down there. The application came through corrupted, and the Starbase personnel reported the same issue with their copy. I’m going to have to do an old-fashioned interview. Interested in joining in?”
“Of course.” Sorek was the liaison between the captain and the department heads, so he was interested in seeing who it was. They stepped onto the pad, and Halsey gave a nod to the transporter chief.
Arriving at the base, they stepped off the pad and moved through the facility, walking past corridors and across a courtyard to a tall building. They soon sat in a room with a table, waiting for the potential officer.
The door opened to the room as a human male wearing the teal/blue of science, possibly in his late twenties to early thirties, entered the room. He stepped up beside the lone chair placed in front of the table and the two officers who were already seated.
He reached across the table to offer his hand to both officers, noticing both were in command red and wearing the pips of a Captain and a Commander. “Sirs, Lieutenant JG Cezear Beattie. I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”
Leopold stood and exchanged a handshake, as did Sorek. They all sat down, and Halsey pulled out his PADD to take notes, “We just arrived.” He tapped at his PADD and showed the contents to his executive officer, “File’s back online and restored.”
Halsey held his grousing and instead introduced, “I’m Captain Leopold Halsey, and this is my Executive Officer, Commander Sorek.” He tapped at the PADD, “You’re not the traditional Starfleet officer, Lieutenant Beattie…besides the bet, you lost to your students – why does Starfleet Science appeal to you?”
“Well, sir, it runs in the family for one thing. Dad was a lieutenant during the dominion war – stellar cartography. Mom was, too, before she passed, and my stepmom has always been into geology. Not going to lie; Starfleet was always calling. Just didn’t think that a geologist was a very star fleet-y thing, you know what I mean.” he reached into a pocket and pulled out his Baoding balls, and started to work them in his right hand. “I always pushed my students to take the academy entrance exam, pushed them to better themselves and learn as much as they could. So when I challenged a couple of my students who were on the bubble grade-wise, they accepted with the terms being that if they passed, I took the exam. They did, so I spent a Saturday with my students taking the exam.” he leaned forward in his chair. “I may not be the best overall scientist, but I would guess I’m probably one of the best geologists, and with that, I would add planetary geologist in Bravo fleet, And I’m not half bad at stellar cartography either. Taking that exam and attending the Academy was probably one of the best things that I’ve done so far, opened my eyes to what is out there and gave me a chance to build a pretty good rock collection, if I do say so myself.” chuckled while saying that last part.
The captain made his notes as the applicant spoke. He glanced at Sorek and then back to Beattie, “Your test scores were good, and your academy coursework was a testament to your science mind. The position you applied for is a command-level position – you will be in charge of our entire science department. Research and development, the science labs, our linguistics team, sensor operations – it’s a significant list. You’ll report directly to Commander Sorek and then to me. Your station will be on the bridge – the Mercy is a medical and science vessel, and we rely heavily on our science teams. You’re coming into a team pretty well-formed and connected – what can you tell me about your willingness to learn and make mistakes?”
Working the Baoding balls in his right hand he looked at Captain Halsey. “Well sir,this may sound like an overused answer but one that I whole heartedly believe in. Failing and making mistakes is ok, it’s what we do after that matters. If we use those failures and mistakes to learn from and we strive to not repeat them than I chalk them up as a learning experience. If we don’t then that shows that we have a bigger problem to figure out. As towards a willingness to learn more, just look at me sir. I could have turned down the Academy and continued on with my life as it was. But I took on the challenge, took on learning more, if your not always learning and trying to expand your knowledge then your going to fall behind and get stuck in the life or situation your in now. “
He looked down at his hand, chuckled and stopped the spinning. “Sir, I’m a geologist and a stellar cartographer, so one of my goals would be to familiarize myself with the other departments in my section, find out who are my subject matter experts are so when the time comes I know who to go to. I’m a team player sir, I’m not looking for medals or glory or my name on some published report. I’m looking to be part of a team, and to make that team the best it can be for you and the ship.”
“I have questions, Lieutenant,” said Sorek. “I understand the meaning of the balls you are manipulating. I am concerned their use will hinder your ability to do the work we need you to do. What if you are in a high-stress situation that requires a split-second decision. Will you be able to do that or will you need to hold those balls first? What if they cause inaction that leads to a member of the crew being injured, or worse? Can you expect those under your command to truly respect and count on you? I am not convinced you are the right person to fill the position.”
Halsey forgot how blunt and to the point Vulcans were, and he fought the urge to give his XO a side glance of warning. Sorek wasn’t wrong to ask the question, and his CO let it stand, curious to see the response from the officer on the other side of the table.
Cezear took a second to look at Commander Sorek; he then reached forward, putting the pair of Baoding balls on the table. “Commander, there is an old earth saying that my father used to use whenever I openly questioned something he was trying to explain to me: Don’t judge a book by its cover. You looked at me and saw the use of those. “ He pointed at the pair of Baoding balls in front of him. “As a sign of weakness or maybe uncontrolled thoughts/emotions, either one is something that Vulcans, in general, look down upon. However, those,“ again he pointed at the pair of Baoding on the table, “have multiple uses. Yes, one of those, for some, is the assuagement of nervous or anxious thoughts and actions. However, that is not why I use them. Another use for them is as a meditative focus or as a way to focus and clear one’s mind, for me it is not the working them but the music that they make that helps me to focus my thoughts. Commander Sorek, do you practice Krakroa wh’ltri? What do you use as your focus? A candle flame? A gong? Chanting?”
“I meditate, but in private and not in front of others.” Sorek did not elaborate.
“As you saw, I did not use them for very long, nor am I using them now. My father taught me some of the techniques of Krakroa wh’ltri that he learned from one of his department heads during the time he served. He knew that, at times, we all needed a way to achieve Kya’shin and C’thia. If you’re willing and accept me for the position, I am more than happy to discuss this with you, Commander. There is another use for them; also, is to both strengthen and help with hand coordination which is another reason why I use them. Not sure if it is in my records, but as a hobby, I also practice lapidary, the art of cutting and polishing gemstones.” He wiggled the fingers on his right hand. “Gotta keep them nimble but yet strong.” He again pointed to the Baoding on the table. “If you notice, those are not the typical metal ones; one is made from Lapis Luzuli and the other is made of Labradorite, both of which I cut and polished.”
He reached down to a pocket lower on his leg, pulling out a clothed wrapped bundle about six inches long and a few inches wide, placed it on the table, and unwrapped it. “Commander, this is the reason why I used the Baoding when I was answering the Captain’s first question.” On the table lying on the cloth was a shard of Vulcan Vokaya. “I was asked to create a pair of pendants from this for one of my team and her fiance. I just received that piece, and I was trying to picture in my mind the best way to cut two pendants from it and leave a sizable piece for me to add to my collection as I was walking to this meeting. As you can imagine, I needed to change my focus from that,” he pointed at the shard, “to this.” he knocked on the table with his knuckles.
Halsey took this opportunity to glance at his executive officer with a curious look to see his response.
Cezar looked at Commander Sorek and then at Captain Halsey. “Believe me when I say this, Captain, those,” again he pointed at the Baoding, “Are not a crutch. They are a tool, nothing more and nothing less. I am not compromised in my thoughts or actions. I fully understand what the role is, and I can assure you I am more than capable of making the decisions that need to be made when they need to be made.”
Sorek learned early in his career, that everyone deserved at least one chance. Beattie had passed his psych evals, so for now, that was satisfactory. Actual duty was different, so time would tell. “I have no more questions at this time.”
Halsey tapped at his PADD a moment longer and then stood, extending his hand, “Welcome aboard the USS Mercy, Lieutenant Beattie. I’ve notified our transporter chief of your impending arrival – we’re slated to depart tomorrow morning at 0800, so you’ll be needed on the bridge. Once I’m back onboard, I’ll confirm your position in the computer as Chief Science Officer. I look forward to seeing you at work.” The newly assigned officer gave a nod and left the room. The CO turned to Sorek, “I got a message from Starbase Ops – Pottinger is waiting for us there.” He let out a sigh, “Let’s get this over with.” He led the XO out the door.