Too Many Chiefs
Episode 1: The Maelstrom Awaits
Location: Main Engineering, USS Nogura
Timeline: Day 4 at 1145
Dadora couldn't recall ever feeling the tendency to strangle someone before now. Of course, that was before all of her plans had been detonated right before her very eyes. She had assigned three team to perform maintenance on the Bussard collectors. Of course, what she discovered when she went to check on their progress was that two of the teams had been pulled and reallocated elsewhere. As it turns out, there was only one person that had given such an order.
As she moved along the corridor, from the turbolift to Engineering, she tried to determine exactly what she would say. A shouting match wouldn't do anyone any good. Especially, considering the fact that she would have to work very closely with Lieutenant Matero, especially during the upcoming days.
As she entered Engineering, she could see it was a virtual storm with people busy at every turn. That also made it a bit more difficult to to find Matero. She could try using her commbadge to contact him, but felt that this conversation deserved the direct approach.
"Excuse me?" she said as she approached a dark-haired man from behind, seemingly rather busy working on something. She honestly hated to disturb him nor did she want to intrude. "Can you tell me where I can find Lieutenant Matero?"
CJ was busy, really busy. After his initial inspection of the department he was deeply worried that the inlet manifolds were misaligned. He remembered, sourly, the tenet clung to by all engineers that the more innocent the name of the part, the greater the catastrophe if it was to go wrong. Inlet manifolds were a case in point. If slush deuterium entered the inlet manifolds at the wrong flow rate the gas combiner would be overwhelmed and then, well, Challenger, Concorde, Kobayashi Maru. And now someone else was asking for him. He turned and found himself staring at a female Lieutenant, demanding his attention with an aura of energy and barely contained anger. No, perhaps anger was too much. Irritation then.
"You have found him," he said equably. "Please, it's CJ," he managed, apprehensive of what was coming. He offered a hand. "Forgive the noise and activity, this is my second day and there is much to be done." He was determined, as ever, to be welcoming.
The search had been a relatively short one. Perhaps this was a sign of fortune that Dadora had managed to find him so quickly. Though, hearing what he had to say, forced her to reconsider that assessment. Already a day into the job and he was already swamped. She was beginning to see how she'd gotten here. Now, she was wondering if she'd be able to leave with as much dignity as she'd come.
"Well, CJ," she said giving his preferred name a try, "welcome aboard. I'm Lt. Jecia. Chief of Operations." Dadora attempted to navigate the narrow waters of personal and professional considering her reasons for being there. "I know that you're busy, but I thought it best that we... touch base."
So far so good, right? It wasn't as if they were shouting at one another or anything. "I can appreciate the pressure you're under, but I have deadlines to meet as well. And... it seems you reassigned a couple of teams I had working on the nacelles. Doing so has thrown off my own time-table considerably."
CJ felt a familiar sensation; Chrissie had called it the 'containment door moment', when he clamped down on any negative emotion to limit unnecessary interaction. He waited for the containment to be achieved, the dangerous radiation (sticking to the engineering metaphor) no longer a risk. He nodded, and confessed without remorse or guilt, or without anger at her accusatory tone. "Yes I did. Upon taking over this department yesterday I discovered two serious breaches of the Starfleet Code of Engineering, if you're interested Section Fifteen and Regulation Two-Eight-Eight-Four." His tone was even, his demeanour candid. "I did not want to blow up the ship on my first day." He looked at his PADD. "I have two teams ready now, and if the Galley repairs continue ahead of schedule I will offer a third at fifteen hundred." He handed her a PADD, determined to be completely open with her. He had the utmost admiration for Ops officers, who had to be up to speed with every department, every activity. He was determined to offer support, not enmity. "I understand that this will entail extra work, you have my gratitude for your patience." He said this with feeling.
As Dadora absorbed everything the Chief Engineer had said, she could feel her frustration growing. She looked down at her padd as he mentioned the Galley repairs, which had been scheduled for later in the week. "Did... did you consider consulting me before reassigning these teams?" Jecia asked. It's possible she had stepped upon a toe that she hadn't intended. Department heads could be territorial, but Ops tended to be the thread that weaved them all together.
A sigh left her lips as she rolled her eyes. "If you had informed me, I could have helped to reallocate teams and pushed lower priority projects back," Jecia said. She pulled up the teams that he mentioned and shook her head once more. "It looks like none of the teams you're offering have experience working with holo-emitters. That means all of those repairs will have to be rescheduled." A more audible sigh of frustration left her lips.
CJ felt deeply, deeply sad. There was a harder edge creeping into Starfleet of late, typified, in his view, by this Ops Officer and her combative style. Trying to get the other person to take a blame that wasn't crucial at this point was potentially a huge insult when she was equally culpable. She was castigating him for not checking in with her, while she was had committed precisely the same error (yet expected him to 'carry the can'). He hated this style, it did not make for shipmates and fellows and had soured his experience of Nogura. He toyed with a catty rebuttal but he felt, miserably, that it would worsen an already bad blood between them.
"The Galley repairs were started by the AEO before I had even reported aboard," he said calmly, "as that particular team wasn't underemployed, it was idle. Indeed that team had nothing planned until the day after tomorrow when it is still scheduled to carry out," he paused, not for effect, but because he was desperate to preserve something of a working relationship, "the Galley. I wholeheartedly stand by my team." He continued to read from his PADD, while around him two engineer crewmen hovered close enough to hear, but far enough away to be able to deny it, "as for the teams, they are qualified, indeed Alpha crew is arguably over qualified for the work that you have asked them to do. Unless, and I mean this without sarcasm, you have something additional to the tasks listed here planned for them."
He paused, spotting the crewmen, who were pointedly waved away. "You were not informed about the safety issues," he said, still calm, still softly spoken, "as every engineering officer on this ship who could report it was dealing with the matter. Indeed we have only just finished this work. Now," he said, his response to her points finished, "I understand the criticality of your role and the pressures that you are under. I would like, subject to your views," he said with an open palm, emphasising that this was consensual, "you or one of your team to join us at the pool table at 0800 starting tomorrow when we review the previous day's progress and go through the work of the day. The team would benefit from your assessment of the ship's schedule. I am by no means an extrovert so your honest take on progress would be warmly welcomed by my team. They enjoy it, I let them bring coffee and we talk as a group. Would that suffice?"
A heavy sigh left Dadora's lips. She then took a deep breath before actually speaking. "Listen, let me just say that... I didn't mean to come off as a hard-ass," she said. "I'm not trying to manage your department, and truth be told, I should have made it my business that this wasn't our first meeting."
"I think an open dialogue would work for us all," Dadora said. "After all, my job is to make yours easier. So, I accept. I think once I hear from you what you have planned, I can do what I need to and make sure those resources are allocated wherever and whenever you need them."
CJ relaxed visibly. "Thank you," he said gently. "He looked at his PADD and offered it to her. "I assess that this program of repairs will be completed slightly ahead of schedule," he said calmly. "What are your areas of greatest concern? We haven't, yet" he nodded at the PADD, "started the significant weapon repairs. Shall we talk to Tactical?" He raised a hand in a submissive gesture. "Just wanted to help out."
Dadora took hold of the PADD, and skimmed through it. Her head nodded as she overlooked what had been done. "I concur. Tactical sounds like an excellent place to start. The forward launchers require maintenance according to the last diagnostic I ran. We could certainly see if they've come across anything else that requires attention," said the Halanan.
"And... thank you," she finally added. "That's probably what I should have led with. And I will follow up with an actual apology: I am sorry, Lieuten-- CJ."
He offered a hand. "None is necessary. You are always welcome here," he said quietly.
Her hand moved to take hold of his in a handshake, as her lips curved into a smile. "Thanks. I'll try to make sure you don't regret such an open invitation."
"Any time," he said softly.