Part of USS Mercy: Mission 3 – “Lost in Space”

The Oldest of Friends

Starbase 11 / USS Mercy
10.13.2400 @ 2300
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Halsey walked with Sorek at his side.  After the interview, they hadn’t spoken about Pottinger, and he’d remained silent as they walked.  The commander could have a point – maybe Grace had changed her spots in five years.  The truth would be revealed eventually.  The mission was going to take some time, and she was in command of everything mission related outside of the Mercy.  He was taking solace in that – he must have been doing a good enough job to avoid having her take complete command.  That would have been a disaster.

Sorek sensed the nervous trepidation in Halsey.  He considered offering an encouraging word, but in previous discussions about Pottinger, he’d already made his thoughts known.  Only in meeting her would he and Halsey truly know.  They turned a corner and soon stood before ‘conference room 12’.

Leopold said a silent prayer and stepped through the door as it opened.  Grace Pottinger sat on one side of the maple conference table with an assistant taking notes as she spoke, “…the details will be found in the briefing file.”  The thirty-five-year-old stood abruptly as the two senior officers from the Mercy entered.  “Welcome to Starbase 11.  Captain Halsey, Commander Sorek.  Please, take a seat.”  The CO took his seat next to the XO, both remaining silent.  Her assistant stood and walked PADDs to them, setting the units down in front of them as Pottinger introduced the officer.  “This is Ensign Franklin Laurel – he’s my administrative assistant in all matters.”

Halsey gave a deferential nod to the man.

“Ensign,” greeted Sorek.

Grace tapped at the console on the desk, and the monitor behind her lit up.  “The planet in question is at the start of an industrial revolution.  They’ve just completed research and development of a steam-powered railroad.  The primary mode of transportation is horses – the look of the culture is very much similar to our understanding of ancient earth history in The West – cowboys and the like. They are an agrarian people who are primed for a transition to industry and mechanics – with a future of warp travel very possible.”  She tapped at the screen.  “The cities are a good size, 100,000 or more, while the rural communities are smaller – 5,000 to 10,000.  Modern conveniences such as plumbing and electricity are found in some parts of the cities, but it is not widespread.  Medicine is based on science, but there is no agreement on how to treat disease and infection – some still hold to an old god creation myth even though we’ve found no evidence or hints of the providence of such a thing.”  She glanced up.  “Your science teams will be responsible for working through the last year of reports, evidence, and sensor data in order to render an updated timeline for their development.  I’ve read up on your science teams – you recently had a change in science chiefs.”

Sorek noticed Pottinger’s no-nonsense approach, getting right to the briefing without wasting time.

Halsey gave a quiet nod, “Correct.  We picked up our new Chief of Science an hour ago – he’s on his way to the Mercy now.”

She kept her eyes on Leopold.  “Is he capable of handling the mission in question?  The previous chief was a known quantity – I had hoped to work with her and encourage her growth.”

If Halsey wouldn’t have told Sorek about his past with Pottinger, he wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with her desire to help another officer advance in their profession.  Now he was suspicious.

Halsey recognized Pottinger was all business.  She hadn’t acknowledged their previous working relationship.  She hadn’t even identified Theodora as his wife.  What was her game?  And was there one?  He shrugged.  “Former Lieutenant Walker-Halsey made a personal decision.  I’m sure she will miss her Starfleet work, but she feels more connected to her civilian work.”

Sorek wondered how bad Pottinger was that the captain’s wife chose to resign her commission rather than work with her.

Pottinger turned her focus to Sorek.  “I look forward to working with you, Commander Sorek.  Vulcans tend to be more intellectually stimulating and elevated in their thinking.”

“Indeed,” said Sorek, holding his cards close and not revealing his hand.

Grace continued, “I’ll need to meet with your new science chief and his team tomorrow to ensure he has a full understanding of what is being asked of him and his team.”  She glanced at her PADD, “I think that’s all I have for the moment.  I assume quarters have been arranged?”

“They have,” said Sorek.

Halsey gave a nod, “Once we get back to Mercy, we’ll get Ensign Laurel situated – won’t be any trouble.”

Pottinger’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, and her internal hackles raised.  “If there’s something this mission needs to avoid at all costs, it’s any kind of trouble or complication.  The Mercy is under a microscope on this mission, Captain.  Your brief tenure does not need any bumps with this mission.  The same goes for your crew.”

Halsey gave a nod, “I have trust in my team, Captain Pottinger. They’re a good group.”

Grace nearly squinted in emphasis but resisted the urge.  “Very well.  Ensign, let’s get to the Mercy.  We’ve got an early morning.  Captain, Commander.”  With that, Pottinger left the room.  The door closed, leaving the Mercy CO and XO alone.  

Halsey let the silence hold for a few moments. before he turned to Sorek, “Impressions?”

“Captain Pottinger has authority on this mission and wants us to know it,” said Sorek.  “Though we’ve never done a duck-blind mission, analyzing data is analyzing data.  The senior staff have all done this in their respective fields.  There is an agenda here we have not seen yet.  We need to be careful.”

Leopold agreed, “That’s the sense I’ve been having…and our conversation lends credence to your concern.  Pottinger’s gotta Pottinger.  Let’s get back to Mercy – I don’t like the idea of leaving her alone on our ship for long alone and unsupervised.”

The two left the conference room both with plenty on their minds.