Duties and Dilemmas
Posted on Sunday, 24 October 2021 - 4:45pm by Captain Pippa Whitley & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley
Operation: Mirror of Madness
Location: Science Lab
Captain Whitley had made her way around the small nine deck starship, checking in with the Chief Engineer, and having been initially met with FOA Lieutenant Vali, a woman with more duties and responsibilities that seemed to keep her occupied. Add on to the fact that she was a mother, and it made even more sense why she seemed to be in the know of where to find certain individuals and the general circumstances of what was going on. With Commander Soral away from the USS Standing Bear, off on Vulcan doing what had become a very controversial matter of discussion for admiralty, but his actions had hit close to home as well, his home aboard the starship Standing Bear.
Stepping through the parted doorway with a warm beverage in hand, the half-Efrosian found herself entering the starship's science lab, finding it almost vacant. It was being occupied by Lieutenant Kingsley, the Chief Science Officer of the Standing Bear, Second Officer per the chain of command, and poetically enough, the spouse of Commander Soral. "Looks like Lieutenant Vali was spot on," Pippa said after clearing her throat to alert the science officer to her presence.
"Lieutenant Kingsley," she said and greeted the woman with a pleasant tone though a rather stoic expression. "I was told that might be in here," explained Pippa. "I have been informed that Captain Stillwater left quite some time ago, and Commander Soral appears to be..." Pippa was careful with her word choices. "Receiving some attention on Vulcan. I was hoping that you and I could discuss some matters."
Up until someone had cleared their throat, the chief science officer had been preoccupied running diagnostics and calibrations on the newly installed equipment. Following the last incident almost the entire department had been destroyed to the point where it was easier to strip it all back to the bulkheads after decontamination work was done. Everything had been replaced which meant mind numbing hours of testing to ensure it all worked.
Realising someone else was in the lab, Kingsley peered over the top of the central workstation and - recognising the visitor from her file - set aside the tools she had been working with and climbed to her feet, tugging on her uniform jacket as she did so. “Captain! Welcome aboard. I’m sorry, we didn’t expect you until tomorrow at the earliest…”
"I know," replied Pippa. "There was too much that needed done. I tried to contact Captain Stillwater go inform him that I would be arriving ahead of schedule but ..." Pippa looked at the Chief Science Officer hoping the woman had some insights.
Rounding the workstation she paused. “Captain Stillwater had intended to stay until your arrival but wanted to address the situation on Vulcan with Commander Soral.”
"Ah so he made his way to Vulcan," Pippa let out an audible huff of frustration. "That complicates matters. I wasn't aware he left nor that he was heading to Vulcan. He did not inform Starfleet Command either. In fact, I am hesitant to say this, but I think you may have been the only one he told where he was going."
Professionalism was clearly at the forefront. Pippa had noticed that Lieutenant Kingsley had referred to Soral by rank and name, keeping the personal relationship they had at bay. "Admiring the new touches on the science lab with the latest round of repairs?"
“Work only finished at 0200 hours,” Alex confided as she glanced around them, “hopefully the last we need to rebuild anything for a while. As for the Captain, what happened on Vulcan concerned him. I believe he intended to speak with Commander Soral to understand his reasoning. He asked me to ensure the ship was ready for your arrival.”
"And Starfleet is pushing for us to get underway sooner rather than later," replied Pippa. "I imagine that you can infer given current circumstances as to the heading of our next course. I need you as my First Officer until..." Pippa was not sure Soral would even be permitted to resume his position. "Until further notice."
Kingsley’s surprise was obvious. “You do? The ship is ready but to be honest I assumed Starfleet would prefer someone else as your XO, given they are investigating Soral. I am not naive. I realise my husband’s actions reflect on me as well. And there are other candidates.”
"Only in the minds of those ignorant to make presumptions," Pippa ricocheted back at the woman. "Commander Soral has chosen to do something brazen, and though it is not what was expected nor what the Federation or Starfleet wants, it was not criminal for him to voice his opposition. Unless it comes out that he used his position and the uniform to push for voting a certain way, then there is going to be a larger problem."
Pippa looked at Alex sympathetic to the woman's situation. "You have done nothing to indicate that anyone aboard this starship cannot trust you to carry out your duties. Lieutenant Vali is a fine officer, but your time as Second Officer has given you more command experience. I respect the chain of command, and I see no reason why you are not the right person for this, Vulcan dilemmas aside."
“I hope Starfleet ultimately agrees with your take,” Alex said quietly. “They seem to have already decided on his guilt. But if you are certain then I will be your XO until Soral returns or you find a more permanent solution.”
"Some may have, but I can assure you that Soral will be given a fair chance to explain his actions, and he will be not be placed under arrest, just merely escorted back to answer questions. Our biggest problem right now is actually Captain Stillwater."
Alex arched an eyebrow, “how do? And, erm, I think he would stress that he is now retired Captain Stillwater. At least he did when he decided to leave earlier than planned.”
"Retired...active...whatever the case may be, he left his communication badge behind. I doubt he's taken a uniform, nor his rank pips. He did not go after Commander Soral as Captain Barret Stillwater. He is going after him without the restraints of the uniform."
“No this was… personal,” Alex agreed. “Can I assume we are going after him?”
"We are going to head to Vulcan and try to quell the political shitstorm," Pippa replied. "Pardon my French," she teased. "I'm fluent in that. Mouth of a sailor, heart of an explorer, mind of a tactician, and not too shaby of a diplomat."
“I will keep that in mind,” Alex replied with a small smile.
Pippa smiled back. "And I will keep in mind that you are a scientist above all else. That's perfectly fine with me, I was not the greatest at the sciences."
“Then we should make a good team,” Alex pointed out.
"Ah well then...to protect worlds from devastation, and to unite planets under the Federation." Pippa sighed. "A mountainous task, but I believe we can do it as a crew."
“No offence but that sounded like a recruitment poster,” Alex commented although her tiredness stopped her smile from reaching her eyes. “I assume you’ve read my file, as well as Soral’s. Everyone else seems to have questions… if there is anything you want to ask me, go ahead. Otherwise tell me your orders and I’ll make sure we are ready to go.”
"Have all departments submit a report and have them sent to my Aide-de-camp. I want to know how ready each department is before we are underway. Have the ship ready to go as quickly as possible. Stillwater had a good headstart. We have a lot of ground to make up."
“Most of the damage was here but I’ll get updated reports,” Alex nodded, “once we have enough crew aboard we can depart.”
"If I recall correctly that's a full crew compliment just shy of a hundred souls," the Captain stated. "If we have to leave with a skeleton crew, I'll take it. I'll feel comfortable with about 40 aboard."
“40, understood,” Alex nodded. “I’m sure we will catch up with Captain Stillwater before he gets in too much trouble.”
She hoped, anyway.
Pippa hoped as well. "Very well then. I'll leave you to getting us under way, Number One."
“Aye Captain,” Alex nodded. “And again, welcome aboard.”
"Thank you, Lieutenant" the Captain responded. The half-Efrosian was glad that their assessment of the Chief Science Officer was accurate. Lieutenant Kingsley was not going to be distracted by this drama. Her duty was to the ship and crew.