A Seat at the table (Part VI)
Posted on Sunday, 25 April 2021 - 3:48pm by Commodore Jada Kwan & Captain Barret Stillwater
Operation: Peace or P'Jem
Location: USS Standing Bear | Deck 01 | Ready Room
Settled into his Ready Room would typically make Barret Stillwater feel in control, but Commodore Kwan had come in and entirely upended everything. Left became right, and down had become up. Commodore Kwan had walked into the Captain's Ready Room and took the seat behind his desk, his seat. "Go on," she said to him gesturing to the vacant seat across from his desk. "Have a seat, Captain Stillwater. We have some delicate matters to discuss."
He was thrown off balance mentally by the seating arrangement, but clearly, she was in command of the starship, and the Ready Room was hers. "Delicate matters?" he inquired. He had his suspicions as to what she was referring to but said nothing further.
"Coy belong in ponds, Captain, not out here in space, not on a Federation starship, and most certainly not in the Ready Room," she said sharply. "You have two missing crew members..oh sorry, two crew members on leave that you do not know where they went?"
Lying to Admiralty. Not something I thought I'd be doing he thought. "Commodore, with all due respect, I have about one hundred souls aboard, the two you are referring to are enlisted personnel, and a couple. I don't make it a habit to check a couples' itinerary." Not entirely a lie.
The Commodore rolled her eyes and shook her head. "One of those enlisted personnel is your Chief of Intelligence, an asset to your starship, and a liability to the Federation should anything happen to her." She glared at him with daggers. "As a former intelligence officer yourself, you know how valuable she could be."
Barret nodded. That was completely true. "Commodore, I'm beginning to suspect we aren't in here to discuss two adults enjoying Risa," he barked back. "Are we?" he inquired though he knew where Baciami and Eberhardt had been going...off the record.
"You are not a negligent Captain, Barret Stillwater. I know your personnel file like the back of my hand. I know you to be an honest man, an admirable starship commander, and you shoulder responsibility without second thought. So, Captain, shoulder it now. I know they are on Ekos."
The man appreciated that she had done her homework. "Alright, clearly this charade has gone on long enough," replied Barret. "I knew where they were going, but they did so on leave, not a sanctioned mission, and not on a Federation starship."
The Commodore nodded. "Good. Now that we are speaking in full truths, Captain, you did well to not sanction that mission, and that their travel was not aboard a Federation starship is good. Plausible deniability. The problem is your crew members are rotting in an Ekosian prison," she added tossing Barret a PaDD.
For Stillwater, the more he read, the more he wanted to stop. "Commodore, I cannot leave them there." He did not know how he was going to get to them, not through official channel.
Commodore Kwan agreed. "As I said, a mistake was made. I am here to help you fix it, Captain."
"How do we go about that, Commodore? I am sure you know I've knocked on every door and pursued almost every avenue to get a sanctioned mission to Ekos," Stillwater asserted. "Doors were metaphorically slammed in my face."
The Commodore looked amused. "Oh Captain. How you give up too easily. You may have felt doors slamming in your face, but for every door that closes, a window pops slightly share."
Barret crossed his arms "oh?" he countered. "Did my pleas for help make something happen?"
Commodore Kwan shrugged. "it's difficult to say how much your pleas had to do with it and how dire the Federation's situation is. There's a moon in that star system, rich with untapped sources. The Federation has granted permission to negotiate mining rights of the moon with the Ekosians and Zeon."
Stillwater looked at the commodore. "Ah. You were chosen to represent the Federation in these negotiations?"
She shook her head. "Not officially. My business with you is more personal in nature. I lead the Federation forces to P'Jem to stop the Andorians and work on patching relations with them, saving your hide was just luck."
Barret nodded. "Luck or not, thank you, but what do I have to do with you being here?"
Kwan looked at him sharply. "Evaluating your performance as Captain of the Standing Bear. You are one of seventeen Commanding Officers that we have our eyes on. I am here to mostly observe after we get back to Starbase 21."
"What the hell am I under observation for? I surely did not piss on someone's leg and tell them that it was rain?" Stillwater did not like the idea of being watched by the Admiralty. They made him uncomfortable. Many of those who were in the Admiralty were not like those he proudly served under and with in the past.
"Colorful imagery, Captain, but no," Kwan replied shaking her head. "Quite the opposite really. Despite or perhaps because of your colorful words and brazen actions, you've been placed in consideration for heading up command of a task group."
Commodore Kwan continued before Barret could respond. "If you manage to do well in amending your mistakes on Ekos, you may just get it." Kwan shrugged "Then again, you may not, but time will tell."
A task group mused Stillwater. It would play him in oversight of several starships. Starfleet Command did not usually give such assignments to Captains unless they were being added to 'the list,' names of individuals, Captains who they were watching for promotion to Admiralty themselves down the road. "I see, and after we reach the Starbase? Where are we off to exactly? Ekos to negotiate mining rights to this moon?"
"Officially, yes," Commodore Kwan replied. "The Standing Bear once she's space shape again will proceed to arranged coordinates, rendezvousing with another Federation starship. The Standing Bear will provide escort and we will arrive in the Ekos system where parties involved will meet with Ekosian leadership and Zeon representatives. If successful, the Federation will acquire the mining rights to the moon and oversee a non-aggression pact and ceasefire between the Ekosians and Zeon. Ideally, we will be able to negotiate for the release of your crew members."
Captain Stillwater nodded in agreement. It wasn't the phasers blazing approach of cinematics, but he had wanted to avoid that at all costs. Apparently, the Federation found an avenue of avoiding it and still getting his crew back. "I find that agreeable," he said firmly. "Anything else, Sir?"
The Commodore smiled. "Get power restored to this starship, Captain. I would like a nice cup of tea before the evening's end."