Meeting the Crew IV
Location: USS Independence
“May I join you?”
Kevin looked up from his plate at the Star Fleet Commander standing across the table from him. Only recently returned from detached duty with the diplomatic mission to Pyxis Alpha V and had not taken the opportunity to familiarize himself with the ship’s senior officers, although he had worked with Commander Gillespie and Lieutenant Balrog before. He knew that the new captain was a Commander Hardwicke and guessed that it was that officer that stood at his table. “Yes, sir,” Kevin replied.
Robert sat and said, “I believe you are Lieutenant Kevin Lance, Chief Tactical Officer of the Independence?”
“Good,” Robert smiled, picking up a fork from his tray, “I am Commander Robert Hardwicke and will be replacing Captain Ellis as commanding officer. I am going around meeting my senior staff prior to us getting underway tomorrow. I understand that you are coming back to us after an assignment with the Federation Diplomatic Corp. How was that?”
Kevin thought for a moment before replying, “Unique,”
Oh boy, Robert thought, this one is taciturn to a fault. And the selection of the adjective to describe his previous assignment was an interesting one. “What was so unique about it?”
From experience, Kevin learned that when people reached out to him, they wanted something and the friendlier they were the more nefarious the thing the wanted. Kevin was cautious in his answer, “The Odinskus are an odd mixture of tradition and absurdity. None of their customs made sense and before you object that I am applying to subjective filter, their customs didn’t make sense compared to each other. It was like half the time they were making things up as they went along. Which made it very difficult to avoid grievously offending someone.”
“You appear to have come through unscathed,” Robert observed.
“We were under the protection of the Storhatten…,” Kevin faltered a moment as he entered a reverie, “…so we weren’t at risk of life or limb but faux-pas by the diplomatic team frequently caused rifts between the Odinkus clans. For every step forward we seemed to take another back.”
“But now you are returned,” Robert changed the subject, “How are you finding the Tactical and Security divisions?”
“About as well as could be expected from a newly formed crew of raw recruits,” Kevin took another bite of his meal.
That there would be a high turnover in the two divisions did not come as a surprise to Robert. Engineering and Operations personnel would have remained with the ship during refit to oversee the modifications to the ship and servicing of legacy systems. Even the Captain would normally remain with the ship but Captain Ellis’ sudden reassignment had deprived Robert of this luxury. Other divisions, including Tactical and Security, were transferred to other duties and often did not return to the same ship. The shakedown cruise, in addition to field testing refitted systems, was a chance to train and integrate new crew members.
“You have a training plan prepared?” Robert inquired.
Kevin looked up sharply from his meal, “Why would you think I hadn’t…sir.”
Defensive, Robert noted. “You arrived only recently and I estimate that you haven’t had a chance to complete a full evaluation of the new crew,” he added.
Kevin considered the Captain’s statement and body language before admitting, “I haven’t finished my evaluation but I have training plans from my previous assignment to Independence as Chief Tactical Officer. It won’t be much trouble to modify those plans once I am done.”
“Very good,” Robert acknowledged, then another officer caught his attention, “Lieutenant, would you please join us?”
Kevin looked over his shoulder in the direction that the Commander was looking. He saw Lieutenant junior grade Valentina Ferron standing with her tray looking from the Commander to Kevin with some confusion. After a moment, she move towards the table that they were seated at. Kevin flushed slightly as he turned back and concentrated on his meal with renewed focus
Robert stood and offered the Strategic Operations Officer a seat at the table and said, “Thank you. I usually prefer to meet my officers one on one but I find that I am running out of time.”
Valentina set her tray down at the table and sat between the two officers, perpendicular to them. Unable to think of a suitable response, she merely said, “I understand, sir.”
The Commander asked Valentina some questions about her duties and previous assignments. She kept her attention on Robert but Kevin stole some furtive glances at her. When she was coaxed to elaborate on her love of dance, Kevin was inadvertently reminded of the chance encounter with Valentina outside the gymnasium on deck 13 more than a year ago and he colored more deeply. After so much time, Kevin was disturbed that the memory of it had such an effect on him and he wondered if she remembered it as vividly.
Robert concluded his conversation with Valentina and looking at his chronometer, he announce, “I am due to meet with the Chief Science Officer so I will need to end our conversation here.” As the commander stood, Kevin was gripped with a moment of panic before he was able to blurt out, “Yes, sir. I need to complete those personnel evaluations.” He stood quickly taking one more glance at Valentina as he did.
Oh man, Robert thought, he’s got it bad for her. He hadn’t detected any interest on Lieutenant Ferron’s side, in fact she had made every attempt to ignore the Chief Tactical Officer. This could get complicated, Robert thought before he address Kevin. “Thank you for your time, Lieutenant,” then he inclined his head toward Valentina, “Lieutenant. I look forward to working with you both.”
With that, Robert spun on his heel and walked to drop his tray at the reclamation station, leaving Kevin to beat a rather awkward retreat from Lieutenant Ferron’s presence.
Commander Robert Hardwicke
Lieutenant Kevin Lance
Chief Tactical Officer