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First Impressions

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 @ 10:27pm by Lieutenant Callam Jaxer & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD 4 || 1900 hours

Callam took a look around his quarters. His five-string electric bass and a mid-size bass amp were discretely displayed in a corner of the room, along with his five-string, acoustic/electric, upright, baby bass. The latter had a smaller body than a full size double bass (hence the term 'baby bass') but it was hollow in the right places and constructed much like a double bass but with active/passive pick-ups so it could be amplified. However, because of its partially hollow body, it could be played acoustically. I wasn't terribly loud in that mode, but for messing around in his quarters, it was a good fit. He'd put away his various decks of cards. There was a table in his quarters that would be perfect for playing relaxing games of solitaire in his off hours or when he couldn't sleep. It was large enough to play some head to head if he could find someone or someones to play with. He'd placed a few books on a shelf, including some of the ones from home that could be experienced telepathically. The few articles of clothing that were special to him were hung up in the small closet or folded up and tucked away in the dresser. Everything else, including uniforms, he could replicate, use, and recycle. Carting around his instruments was difficult enough without also dealing with a ton of civilian clothing.

Satisfied, Callam showered, shaved, in general cleaned himself up, and put on a fresh uniform, recycling the old one. He looked himself over in the mirror. He gave his jacket a tug to settle it on his torso. Satisfied that he was 'ship shape' enough to meet his new commanding officer he asked the computer to check for Captain Geisler's location.

"Computer," he said. "Could you please locate Captain Harvey Geisler for me?"

Beeping for an initial reply, the computer whirred and processed the request. After nanoseconds of checking each of the nearly eight hundred combadges on the ship, it finally replied, "Captain Geisler is in the Ready Room."

"Thank you, Computer," Callam said as he left his quarters headed for the Captain's Ready Room. "I appreciate it."

Callam believed that it never hurt to be polite, even to the ship's computer. Artificial intelligence, even the limited AI on a starship, was evolving all of the time. There were sentient androids, sentient holograms, even examples of small cybernetic lab assistance machines evolving to the point of sentience. If the ship's computer one day evolved to sentience, Callam wanted to be on good terms with the being that controlled the life support system and environmental controls.

"You are welcome, Lieutenant Jaxer," the computer replied. "Have a nice day."

Callam stopped a moment with a puzzled look on his face. Then he shook his head.

"You, too, computer," Callam replied.

The Black Hawk was a big lady, but Callam made the walk to the turbolift quickly and the turbolift on the Black Hawk seemed faster than the ones on the other ships he had served on. So, before long, Callam was standing outside of the Captain's Ready Room. He fixed his jacket again and hit the door chime.

Just like every night aboard the Black Hawk's maiden voyage, Harvey had taken up residence in his Ready Room. Thankfully, he'd finished reviewing the crew files the night before, and now he was pouring over the recent intelligence that Lieutenant Corwin had scrounged up. Though he was trying to focus, he couldn't help but think of what sort of precedent he was starting. Sometime next year, he was going to be a father. In many ways, he was married to the starship, but he couldn't ignore his own.

At least he had some time to find that balance. If they weren't arriving at Deep Space 15 tomorrow, he'd call it a night and head for his quarters.

The door chime interrupted any of the thoughts that he might have had. Part of him wondered if this was related at all to the incident in the shuttlebay not too long ago. Another part thought that it would be the officer of the watch, wanting to provide an update on their progress. Still, everyone knew he was in the Ready Room, and there was no way he could avoid it. He stood and headed for the replicator for an evening cup of tea and called, "Come."

Callam entered the room and came to attention in front of the Captain's desk.

"Chief Warrant...I mean Lieutenant Callam Jaxer reporting in to the Captain," he said.

"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant," Harvey replied, gesturing to a chair in front of the desk, an invitation for Jaxer to sit. The Lieutenant's personnel dossier had beat the officer to the Captain, so Harvey had had time to review it properly. "Sounds like you had an unorthodox arrival aboard the ship."

"Uhm...Yes, sir," Callam said. "Sorry about that. Starfleet recently got a bad batch of Danube Class impulse engines. Yoyodyne recalled them after the first incident and sent replacements. The maintenance crews must have missed this set. The engines flared on final approach increasing the runabout's speed and then cut out entirely. The poor kid at the helm was struggling so I took over. I had to try and angle our approach while cutting speed at the same time using only thrusters. Did my best, but I think that stretch of your shuttle bay is going to need a new paint job."

"It's a shame for the engineers," Harvey declared. "The ship's barely a week out of drydock and already something has to be repainted." The Captain fought back a sigh, barely managing to swallow it. "I suppose that given the ship's history, receiving our first would was inevitable. I guess I can be grateful that we're not yet in the heat of battle."

"Well," Callam said. "I'm just grateful no one was hurt, sir, myself included. Can you catch me up on what we're doing out here, sir? I'm guessing I've missed the briefing where you told the rest of the senior staff."

Harvey took a moment to consider his words. Part of their mission had been classified, particularly where the probe was concerned. The rest of the details weren't. "We're on our way to Finnea Prime and Deep Space 15. It's not a Federation member world here in the Gamma Quadrant, but the Federation was doing its best to keep the peace. When the Consortium infiltrated Starfleet, they falsified orders and pulled the fleet out of the starbase. The sector's been destabilized as a result. Our mission is to try and restore the balance."

"Oh," Callam said with a grin. "So nothing too strenuous then? Just your run of the mill, average day at the office?"

"Dosi, Ferengi, Rakhari, Selubassari..." Harvey said ever so casually. None of the four powers really cared for each other. After all, they were all seeking their own piece of the economic pie at Finnea Prime. "An average day indeed. It's going to take everything we've got to keep the peace. And, if push comes to shove, it's going to take everything we've got to get every Starfleet crewmember out of there."

"Like I said," Callam replied. "Just another day at the office. Well, I haven't met any of my pilots, but I had plenty of time to read their files on the trip out here. Going by those, I think I can say that Bravo Flight seems to be ready for whatever comes our way. Risk is our business, right?"

"It is indeed, Lieutenant." Harvey fell silent for a moment, trying to size up the man. After all, dossiers could only prepare a Captain so much for his crew. "And I'm certain Commander Walsh will be pleased to have another experienced pilot aboard. We lost... too many to the Consortium. A lot of green officers have filled the vacant seats on the finest squadron in the quadrant."

"It's hard, sir, to lose comrades in arms," Callam replied. "I'm sorry you had to go through that."

"Sounds like you've lost a few comrades of your own," Harvey pointed out, taking note of the man's sympathies. "I've seen death for all the twenty-some years I've been in service. Some to disease, others to war and accidents. Death is as much as part of our business as risk."

"Death is the destination of all flesh," Callam said. "Whether you believe in an afterlife of some kind or not, all flesh dies eventually. Life in Starfleet is dangerous. If we don't know that when we sign up, we soon figure it out. Death is a part of what we do, sometimes more than others. Sometimes the deaths of our friends and colleagues serve a greater purpose. It's nice to think that, anyway. Sometimes their deaths are pointless. Either way, they died doing what they loved, serving in Starfleet. Not a bad way to go. And dwelling on the losses we suffer isn't very productive. I know that sounds easy for me to say, but remember that I served in an almost constant state of war from 2362 to 2375. I've lost a lot of friends. I've been where you are now. It's never easy, but the pain subsides with time."

"Are you certain you're not a counselor in disguise, Lieutenant?" Harvey couldn't help but smirk as he asked that. Callam sounded like the broken record stuck in the Captain's head over the last few months as Harvey had tried his best, and finally succeeded, in moving past Alison's death during the Dominion War. "I too fought in the Dominion War," Harvey added. "I definitely know all too well the cost of dwelling on loss."

Callam grinned.

"In Rigelian culture," he said. "There are two alternatives to dealing with loss. Fighting until you pass out, or making love until you pass out...and then maybe some more when you recover. I'd suggest a holoprogram for the first, and a live person for the second. I'd offer to help, but in the first scenario, beating the crap out of your commanding officer is considered bad form, and in the second, you're really not my type."

"Then I'm thankful I'm not Rigelian," Captain Geisler replied with a deadpan tone. "Besides, I think my fiancé would not appreciate it if I tried to act on the second part with someone else. Especially, with my firstborn on the way."

Callam laughed.

"Like I said," he said. "You're not my type. And even if you were an attractive woman, as a rule, I don't park my fighter in other people's bays. Anything you feel you need to know about me, sir? I usually get grief in varying levels to the fact that I served with the Maquis. Myself, I'm neither ashamed nor proud of that fact. I did what I felt was right at the time and I was prepared to live with the consequences. So many members of Starfleet and the SFMC had died in the Cardassian Border Wars, and then the Federation just handed all those colonies over to the Cardassian Union. What had all of those people died for? So I left the fleet and joined the Maquis. Not that this makes a difference, but I never fired on a Starfleet vessel or small craft, never attacked a Federation merchant ship, and never participated in a raid against a Federation or Starfleet facility, not once, not ever. Anyway, after the Jem'Hadar drove us out of the DMZ and the Badlands, the group I managed to escape with was 'rescued' by Starfleet. Those of us suspected of being active Maquis were taken into custody. Like I said, I was prepared to accept the consequences of my choices and I fully expected to spend at least the next twenty years making big rocks into little rocks at a penal colony somewhere. Instead, they offered me a full pardon if I rejoined Starfleet and fought the Dominion and its allies. Only a fool would have turned down that deal, so I took it. I figured I was a good enough and more importantly a lucky enough fighter pilot that I could squeeze a few years of killing Jem'Hadar and Cardassians out of the deal and that few years of freedom would beat twenty years of captivity. I also figured I'd die in the war. When the combined fleet at Chintoka got decimated by the Breen and I got left behind with a bunch of others who'd been stationed on the planet, I was nearly convinced I was going to die. But I didn't, and the war ended just a short time later. I figured I'd be given my walking papers. Again, Starfleet surprised me. They gave me another medal and asked me to stay. I'll never be blindly patriotic again. That naive young man who walked into the Starfleet recruitment office on Rigel IV back in 2362 is long dead. And I can't say that I won't ever question an order, but I'll do so at an appropriate time and in an appropriate place. If you have any questions to ask about this that I didn't just answer, please ask away and I'll do my best to satisfy your concerns. The bottom line, though, is that I am a Starfleet officer and I take wearing this uniform seriously. Because I take wearing this uniform seriously, you can count on me. Not just when we're in the thick of it, but for the day to day stuff, too."

Harvey remained silent for a moment. The Lieutenant had just offloaded quite more information than Harvey expected. In fact, he was mostly surprised that the man didn't seem winded. For now, Harvey chalked it up to Rigelian genetics. "Sounds like you've had quite the past, Lieutenant. Whatever concerns I may have will depend on you committing to your word. All I ask is that you work with Commander Walsh to get our squadron shipshape. The Black Knights are a proud squadron, and the Consortium nearly took them out. I don't want a bunch of green pilots getting an itchy finger. It just takes one phaser blast to destabilize a sector out here in the Gamma Quadrant, and I'd rather not see it come to that."

"I can do that, Captain," Callam said. "I really don't want to be responsible for starting a war out here. I'll make sure everyone in Bravo Flight understands that shooting other people down isn't the only way to be an ace, especially during peace time."

Harvey nodded his confirmation as he was unable to find a suitable response that wasn't a thanks for acknowledging an order. "I won't require any more of your time, Lieutenant," he said at last. "Do you have any questions for me?"

"Actually, yes, I do," Callam replied. "Will I be invited to senior staff briefings? I know I'm not the squadron commander, and I'm sure that Commander Walsh will keep me well informed regarding missions, but I find it's better to get my information first hand when I can. It's obviously your call and I'll follow whatever protocols you set. I'm just curious is all."

The Captain shook his head. "I have a rather large senior staff to begin with, and that's after considering the regular departments aboard ship in conjunction with the Squadron and the newly added Intelligence department. On occasion, there will be times where briefings will be more focused on certain departments than the entire ship itself. During those times, you may find yourself in a briefing. Aside from those occurrences, senior staff briefings are simply for the senior staff who will then disseminate information to those who require it."

"Copy that, Captain," Callam said. "Will there be anything else, sir?"

"Not unless you have anything to add, Mister Jaxer," Harvey replied. "I'm sure you have plenty to do before tomorrow."

"Yes, sir," Callam replied. "Thank you, sir. I'll be going then. Nice to meet you, sir."

"Welcome aboard, Lieutenant," Harvey finished with a nod.

 

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