Episode 4: Whispers In the Dark
Location: Security Office
Jamie exited the turbolift onto deck five and avoided colliding with a pair of crewman attempting to enter the turbolift before he exited. Shaking his head, he continued down the corridor while keeping an eye open for the security office. Considering his quarters were located one deck above, travel time between his duty location and his quarters was only a matter of minutes. Far better than the 10 minute walk to Starfleet Headquarters from his former apartment. As he passed several more crewman and officers, he thought he should be getting close to the security office. As he rounded a slight bend in the corridor he noticed the hatch he was looking for a few yards up and to the left. He awaited the passage of another group of crewman before entering.
He entered the security office and moved to the side of the walkway as a group of security crewman approached, presumably on their way out of the office. He immediately spotted the chief tactical officer's office and began walking that way. He passed several work stations, most of them currently being utilized by crewman and officers. The security office was larger than he thought it would be, though such a large office makes sense for a ship this size. Of course, his former security office at Starfleet Headquarters was much larger and far more busy, even outside of alpha and beta shifts. As he approached his new commanding officer's closed office, he noticed the onset of anxiety. That anxiety grew as he considered the possibility that she was now aware that he did not familiarize himself with the department prior to boarding the ship. Maybe he should ask around about her and familiarize himself with the department before interrupting her. Despite this suggestion, Jamie soon found himself pushing the button beside the hatch and hearing the distinctive sound announcing to his presence.
"Enter," came the brisk summons from within, and the doors swished open to grant access to the department head's office. Either the lieutenant was not inclined to much by way of personal touches, or she was reasonably newly arrived herself, the walls and desk bare of anything but professional essentials.
Lieutenant Thawn sat behind the desk, stack of PADDs waiting next to the console she was consulting. Her eyes flickered over to the new arrival briefly, but after a beat there was a flash of recognition and she stood, ushering him in. "You must be Ensign Franklin; welcome to the Nogura. Have a seat." Her voice was low, crisp, clipped.
Jamie could certainly tell that the Lieutenant was extremely busy, so he wasted no time making his way to the front of her desk and sat down. He too had noticed the lack of personal items throughout the office as he scanned the room before she began talking. Honestly, he was a little nervous of this first encounter and therefore did not want to make eye contact unless absolutely necessary. After several moments, he realized how ridiculous he probably looks to his new commanding officer and forced himself to make eye contact.
She arched an eyebrow at him as he sat. "You may talk. You're to be my assistant; I suspect conversation will prove essential to our work. How are you finding the Nogura?"
Thawn was right. He should talk. At any given time, he could be thrust into running one of the largest departments on the ship. His inexperience in such matters suddenly materialized in the forefront of his mind. He should do everything possible to ensure that he develops a positive working relationship with Thawn, but in order to do so, he needed to overcome the anxiety and doubt he felt as a newcomer. In an effort to relax the tension he had created, he shifted in his seat to a more comfortable and cooperative posture. Uncrossing his legs, he leaned slightly forward toward Thawn.
"So far, so good, ma'am" he said. "She's a lot larger than I imagined and it will take a while to get familiarized with her." He could not gauge whether his response and delivery were satisfactory to her. He could not read her body language or facial expressions, and attempting to do so resulted in another awkward silence. He cleared his throat and spoke up. "What are my orders, Ma'am?" he asked, hoping that coming straight to the point would satisfy the Lieutenant and lighten the mood.
She watched him, gaze remaining rather inscrutable; hers was not a face which lent itself easily to expressions of much emotion. "It'll take both of us some time to get familiar with the ship and the team. I've been here barely days longer than you. So step one is to ensure the department is working at peak efficiency." Thawn took a moment to rummage through some PADDs before sliding one across the desk to him. "I'm scheduling in additional training sessions for the current security teams. I'll be overseeing some; I want you to oversee the others. Aside from getting to know the different units and officers, I want to find out early if there are any changes to shift composition we might want to make. We're a fresh pair of eyes; let's draw on that as a strength while we work on it as a weakness."
Jamie nodded as he reached forward and picked the PADD from Thawn's desk. Before speaking, he manipulated the pad, scrolling briefly through the information. A moment later, he looked up from the PADD at Thawn.
"This will not be a problem" he said confidently. "I can evaluate training for these three teams as well as review and potential personnel or shift changes." He suddenly felt as if the previous mood in the small office had been replaced. This is where his experience lay, and his previous superiors at headquarters ensure that he was well trained in this domain. His body posture relaxed ever more slightly. "When would you like me to begin?" he asked Thawn.
"The first session is tomorrow, 0900 hours with the first shift," said the Lieutenant. "I intend to have the department as well-adjusted as possible to these personnel changes by the time we need to act seriously. I've skimmed your file, and I see this is your first assignment on a starship." It was a statement rather than a question and still she left the point hanging, dour expression giving nothing away as to her own feelings on this matter.
He blinked, perplexed, not understanding why she would make that statement. Of course this was his first shipboard assignment. Many ensigns are in the midst of their first shipboard assignments, some on their very first postings. He had served a year as a security officer at Starfleet Headquarters, a fact he knows the Lieutenant would know from skimming his file. Nonetheless, this was not the time to allow speculation to get the best of him. Instead, he took a deep breath and looked up.
"Yes, this is my first assignment aboard a ship, but I spent a year at headquarters" he stated. "It will not affect performing my duties."
Again, there was little reaction from the lieutenant. "I would not expect it to. And on the other hand, most officers have spent little time serving in environments such as headquarters. But the Gamma Quadrant will prove a new experience for us both." She leaned back in her chair, making a steeple of her fingers. "Understand, I expect there to be several in the department who will not appreciate two newcomers making changes. They may be silent, they will doubtless remain professional, but some will be watching for us to prove ourselves. Especially you, Ensign; I dare say you'll be overseeing officers who believed they had a shot at your job."
Jamie let what Thawn said sink in for a brief moment. He had not thought of his current situation in that manner. His limited leadership experience had not allowed him to anticipate such a possible state of affairs within the department. It was too late to consider this as a deterrent to accepting the positions since he was sitting here now and having this conversation.
"Understood, Ma'am" he simply replied. "I will do my best, starting with this task" he added while waving the PADD in his hand.
"I expect nothing less," said Thawn firmly. "Do you have any questions for me?"
"Not at this time, no, Ma'am" Jamie said rising from his seat, knowing that he would be requested to leave.
Thawn looked like she was weighing something up - or this look of ponderous possible-judgement was how she usually looked. Then at last she gave a firm nod and got to her feet. "Then you're dismissed. Get your kit stowed, catch up on all your reading and we'll get to work, Ensign."
"Aye, Ma'am" he said as he nodded in agreement. As he turned his back to Thawn to leave her office, he sighed under his breath. As he made his way through the security office, he felt as if there were many eyes on him. He could not discern if this feeling was reality or a manifestation of paranoia coming from the conversation he had just had.