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Tea for One

Posted on Wed Aug 15th, 2018 @ 11:00am by Lieutenant Commander Merzia Jalel & Lieutenant Benjamin Ingram Dr
Edited on on Wed Aug 15th, 2018 @ 11:01am

Mission: Preflight
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD 65 13.10

Ingram stood with his back to the door, looking out of the viewport at the stars beyond. Some often said that staring out into the darkness was asking for it to stare back into the viewer, imparting terrible knowledge in the process. Madness. But Benjie had done that before, sought out the fire of true knowledge and come away stronger, if somewhat stranger, than before.

These stars held no more worry for his sanity than the cup of tea he held in his hands.

“You must be Doctor Ingram,” she said, putting the small bag with her personal effects on the table.

Cup and saucer rattled as he gave a start, turning around quickly in an attempt to land the tea on the captain's desk before it fell to the floor. He made it just in time and turned on the interloper ready to give them a sound verbal thrashing. But he stopped, his eyes catching the third obsidian pip on her lieutenant's collar.

Lieutenant Commander.

Oh.

Oh...no.

She brought out a PADD, and read from it, "'To Lieutenant Commander Merzia Jalel, Executive Officer, USS Enlil. You are hereby requested and required to report to relinquish your position and take command of the USS Palatine, registry NCC-82603.' So that would make me Captain Jalel, and this would be my office."

Words were utterly lacking.

Within him raged a three-part harmony of discord. The first was the sudden affrontery of being passed over again for command. It was the way of things that a Commanding Officer would pass on to bigger and better things, allowing junior officers to rise up to fill their vacant seat.

Lakar had gone to do whatever Lakar was want to do, and now someone was here to take away from him his rightful place!

The second part was a rage at allowing this outflanking manoeuvre to take place. He should have been warned. The Ingram family kept a stable of suitably placated flag rank officers, any one of which should have sent a signal about this. Someone's retirement villa on Risa was getting lased from existence via a malfunctioning weather satellite for this.

The third part arose from the back of his mind, the sound of ocean waves crashing with fury at knowledge denied.

But he didn't let that show as he smoothly stepped forward, and offered out his right hand.

"And myself the welcoming committee," he said with saccharine sweetness. "We had so little warning you were coming, I had to meet you here instead of at the transporter room."

Though it was generally considered rude, if not outright hostile, to read another’s thoughts without permission, Merzia doubted that even the least skilled empath could have ignored the tumult of emotion leaking from Ingram’s mind. Nevertheless, she shook the offered hand, before taking her seat behind the captain’s desk.

“How thoughtful of you. Are we going to have a problem, XO?” Merzia asked bluntly. She slid his cup of tea across the desk to him, a clear mark of which side of the desk was his.

Ingram watched the saucer and cup slide across the table, the corner of his mouth turned away from Merzia quirking slightly.

"About me being thoughtful, as any good Executive Officer should be?" he asked. He took up the cup and saucer, holding it thoughtfully before him as he studied the dark brew within. "A command team, especially for a ship such as this, needs to be the right...blend, as it were. Not too much of one thing or the other, but a good compliment all the same."

He smiled at her.

"I don't know you, Ma'am. That means you are not a scientist," he said simply. Well...not a scientist of any worth if she was not known to him. Maybe she had a sympathy degree in potato batteries or some such? "On a vessel like this, having an XO with that background is a boon. I am very useful to know."

“I agree,” Merzia said, leaning back, “The Palatine’s mission is, at its core, one of discovery, and as you say, I’m not a scientist. I intend to let you and Lieutenant Virodin guide me on that, assuming I don't get the impression you are trying to undermine my command. My role will be to keep this ship safe while you perform your research. If that is unacceptable to you, I understand Deep Space 10 are looking for an officer to supervise their science department in tuning their subspace sensor net. I’d be happy to put in a transfer order for you. I’m sure they would allow you more freedom from command oversight.”

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean. Turn down a posting as prime as a Vesta class vessel? Pride of the Fleet? Perish the thought. A posting like this, for a scientist...well they don't come very often do they?" Benjie sipped his tea. "Though...well. It's hardly surprising, you have been in transit so it cannot help that you are using out of date information. Lieutenant Viroden has departed us for greener pastures, the Daystrom Institute of Advanced Studies."

He tapped the side of his teacup a moment.

"Quite a plum assignment, and on the eve of a new Commanding Officer taking command too," he waved a hand. "Given we had no idea you were coming, I'm sure her choice was purely academic. But then attempting to send away the only really qualified science officer, in the form of myself...does smack of certain rashness. After all...plum postings like this aren't handed out to just about anyone."

This one was going to be a handful, Merzia thought to herself. She decided to let the absence of a chief of science slide for the moment. “I’m glad to hear we’re on the same page, then,” she said, “We have our first orders, to proceed down the Gavarian Corridor to sector 1508-10 in the Typhon Expanse and perform scientific observation and mapping. Should be a simple warm-up for us, I expect. I want you to get the ship ready to depart within 48 hours. Organise an acting chief of science from within the science department until Starfleet can organise to send us someone long term. Understood?”

"Understood Ma'am, I'll liaise with DS-10's dock master to arrange a more rapid replenishment of our supplies than we expected," he said with a smile. "And may I be the first to welcome you on board."

“Thank you, Doctor,” she said, not mentioning that that would actually be Warrant Officer Sh'qialeth on the flight deck, “I’ll let you get to it. Dismissed.”

 

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