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Captain's Mast

Posted on 02 Dec 2018 @ 5:38am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Ensign Kelly Khan
Edited on on 02 Dec 2018 @ 5:38am

Mission: Fractured
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD 03 || 0900 hours

Harvey wasn't sure how long it had been since they'd escaped the horrors of the now-dubbed Time Warp Nebula. The ship was still a long way from normal operations, yet it probably never would be normal until they could complete their mission and go home. The best he could do for now is to maintain a working ship operating under the chain of command.

Losing three senior officers had hurt the Captain far more than he let on. What was almost worse was during the crisis, he had a hodge podge team of senior and junior offers, one of which lacked a serious measure of decorum. In a way, Harvey was forgiving. They were undergoing a crisis at the time, and there was a lot of mitigation to be performed.

On the other hand, the chain of command existed partly to get a crew through a crisis, and that chain, however fragile it was, was broken under his watch by an officer whom he had a lot of faith in. Harvey couldn't let it go unnoticed or unexcused. Habits were formed very early in one's career. Harvey knew this all too well himself, having operated with a stick up his own ass prior to the Dominion War. How he managed to stay in Starfleet was beside all logic, and alas, here he was.

The Captain, sitting behind his desk with a pile of padds and a cup of darjeeling tea, sighed. He couldn't put this off any longer. Tapping a stud on his desk, he called out, "Ensign Khan, report to the Ready Room."

Kelly had just started to take off her uniform when the Captain's voice rang out over the com. When one got called to the Captain's Ready Room, she mused as she put her top back on and attached the pip that Captain Geisler had given her to her collar and then attached the combadge, one responded immediately. She checked her hair, then put her boots on and headed up to the bridge.

Things seemed quiet enough as she gave a nod to the officer on duty, then went to the Ready Room door and tapped the alert to let him know she was there. Why she was there, she wasn't certain but she hoped it was for something good she had done. Unlike pulling skeleton Joey's head off on the bridge, which still caused her to wash her hands every time she thought of it.

"Enter," Harvey said, studying the padd which contained a recent status report from engineering. Before him on the desk was his tea cup, resting on a simple black coaster.

Kelly gave herself a once over, then entered and came to attention in front of his desk. "Ensign Khan reporting as ordered, Sir," she said.

Harvey remained sitting, taking a moment to finish reviewing the padd. When he was finished, he affixed a thumbprint to approve the requests and set it in the pile designated for Mila to retrieve on her next visit. He then leaned forward, picked up his cup of tea and looked up at the ensign. Harvey looked at her for a moment, sizing her up before he would talk.

As the seconds ticked by and the Captain studied her like a strange breed of insect, which was how she felt at the moment, the young Ensign squared her shoulders and began to slow her breathing. She felt her heart pounding in her chest and was sure he could hear it, so she concentrated her focus on her martial arts discipline to center herself in a zone where his penetrating look was lessened.

He took a sip of the lukewarm tea, never breaking eye contact with the Ensign. Instead of placing the mug back on the coaster, he simply lowered it, bringing his other hand over to act as a saucer, cradling the mug in front of his chest with both hands. "Ensign Khan, I'm sure you recall what happened on board just a few days ago."

He knows! Kelly thought as color drained from her face. He knows I pulled Joey's head off on the bridge when I got my hand tangled in her hair. He's going to court martial and throw me in the brig until we get back to Earth. "Sir?" she asked, fighting to keep her voice under control. "Quite a number of things, Captain."

"Indeed." Harvey said no more for that moment, nor did his shift in his chair. "I'm referring specifically to a moment when we were in the future, trying to ascertain what sort of predicament we were in and how we were going to move forward. How would you rate your activity?"

"My act...?" she started before she realized she'd be answering a question with a question, which higher ranking officers generally frowned upon, and no one was higher ranked than the man sitting in front of her at the moment. "I would like to say that I performed well under the circumstances, Sir." Barring pulling Joey's head off and freaking out.

"It was a moment of high stress," Harvey observed. "You yourself have had a few moments to prepare for situations like what we went through. The Kobayashi Maru at the Academy, for example. Then, having to take command of the Chimera. How would you compare those two experiences with the time jump?"

"Radically different, Captain," Kelly said as she felt like she was getting on stable ground. "With the Chimera, I had some time and the training to take command of it. The time jump was something no one could be prepared or trained for, Sir.." But not pulling someone's head off, she reminded herself.

"A lifetime of training cannot truly prepare someone for scenarios like what we've suffered over the last year," the Captain stated, referring not just to recent events, but also to the Consortium Crisis and others. "What it does give us is the familiarity of structure, a basis upon which we build our actions and determinations upon when we encounter that for which we are unprepared. Do you know of which I am referring to?"

"The Chain of Command," she said with certainty as she had heard similar words many times at the Academy, but she tried hard not to think of the past year which involved one nightmare after another. Being a cadet for the majority of that time, her role on the ship had been very minor and as far as she knew, she hadn't violated that and had no reports on her record.

"The Chain of Command," echoed Harvey before taking another sip of his tea. "I see you are at least familiar with the term, Ensign."

"Yes, Sir," Kelly said and began to wonder where he was leading. She began to review everything she had done during the time jump that didn't involve pulling off Joey's head and wondered she had violated the Chain of Command.

"Do you recall the staff meeting we had?" Harvey asked simply.

"Yes, Sir," she said and cast her memories back to the Captain ordering her and Commander Walsh to run patrol around the ship in the Gryphons.

Harvey fired another simple question, noting that it seemed that the ensign either was unaware of her offense, or unwilling to acknowledge it, "Do you recall leaving that meeting?"

Kelly paused and thought about it again. "Yes, Sir," she hesitantly started as realization dawned over her and her mind pieced the conversation together with the event. "I left before you dismissed us, Captain and I have no excuse for my actions." If she had been at attention before, now she seemed like a perfect statue.

There it is, Harvey thought, fighting the urge to confirm her statement with a non-verbal reaction. "That is correct," he said. "Life in Starfleet isn't easy, and you've had the privilege of receiving a front row seat to that education over the last few months."

I wouldn't call it a privilege, she thought. "Yes, Sir. It's been quite an education." If you had planned on taking Advanced Nightmares, sure.

"It's critical in moments like these that we learn to cling to that foundation, breaking only when that foundation itself must be jeopardized," Harvey explained. "You do understand that, don't you?"

Kelly listened and absorbed the lesson. "Yes, Sir," she said. "I broke the foundation in that moment."

The Captain took another sip of his tea, placing the mug on the coaster when he was done. "At ease, Ensign," he ordered at last. "There will be no court martial, no reprimand in your file. But you are going to get a further education on how the ship works. When you're not piloting the ship during alpha shift, you'll be spending time with Senior Chief Rasputin, performing whatever tasks she deems necessary for the next three days."

"Understood, Captain," she said as she attempted to let her body go to at ease rest. "I'll get with the Senior Chief after Alpha each day for the three days," she confirmed before her brain processed the rest of the information. "Wait, piloting on Alpha?"

"We lost three senior officers in that damned nebula," Harvey gruffed, his expression turning quite sour for the moment. "Flight Control didn't have much to begin with, and I'm not sure who to put in charge at the moment. You were my best candidate, until I actually saw you in action a couple days ago. You've got a few days to prove your merit, prove that you belong on the bridge with the rest of us."

His words hurt more than a reprimand would have and the emotions flickered across her face before the young woman straightened her shoulders once more. "Understood, Captain," she said. "I won't let you down."

"I pray that you don't, Ensign. Your first bridge shift starts now." Harvey had nothing more to say, but for good measure, he waited a moment, then gave the order, "Dismissed."

"Thank you, Sir," Kelly said as she did a smart about face and marched out of the ready room to take over at the helm from the relief officer that had just relieved her a short time before. She took a deep breath and reviewed what she had learned, then looked out at the stars. There was a lot out there they had yet to see, but inside of herself, she vowed to be the best she could be.

 

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