Star Trek: Apollo

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Post 13 - Duty and Order

Posted on Wed Dec 4th, 2019 @ 5:08am by Commander Cælestis Everett & Captain Sean Gaudain

Mission: Episode 0 - War Games
Location: Deck 1 - Ready Room
Timeline: 1930 Hours

[USS Apollo - Deck 1 - Ready Room]
[Mission Day 01 - 1930 Hours]


When Cal surfaced from their churning thoughts, they found themselves outside of Gaudain's ready room. They blinked owlishly at the door, wondering how they ever ended up here. They checked the time and realized they'd been wandering the decks aimlessly for the past forty-something minutes after their discussion with Niun.

Odd. They haven't spaced like this in a while. Cal shook their head and lets out a rather low breath; that whole debacle really unmoored them, more than they thought. They realized their passive empathy has been tight against their skin all this time; they released it from tension with the same relief as loosening one's tightly-clenched jaw. There're very few individuals within their orbit to read, other than Gaudain, who's nearby--ready room, certainly.

Before they realized what they're doing, Cal pressed the chime. "Ah--Captain? It's Everett. Do you have a moment?"

There was no response but a few moments later Gaudain came around the corner from the turbolift, wearing Starfleet-issue workout shorts with his shirt over his shoulder. He saw Cal and diverted course from his quarters to the ready room door.

“What’s up? I was just finishing up in the gym. We didn’t have a meeting, did we?” Gaudain asked.

Cal flushed and then grinned to cover up their obvious discombobulation. "No, we didn't, sir. I thought--well I only meant to--if you need to go to your quarters or freshen up or anything like that, don't let me distract you. It's nothing official."

Gaudain rolled his eyes just slightly before pulling his shirt on. “It’s just sweat. I’ll be fine. Come in,” he said, moving past them and into the ready room. “Beer?” he asked, as he walked over to the replicator.

"Right," Cal replied faintly. "Sapphire wine. Thanks." They stepped inside and rubbed the back of their neck, through the curls that have grown a little too long. They haven't felt so off-kilter since after the Immortal.

“Sapphire wine,” Gaudain repeated, sounding slightly amused, before he gave the order to the computer. A beer and a glass of sapphire-colored wine materialized on the pad. Gaudain eyed it curiously, and took the beer. He gestured towards the glass for Cal to pick up themselves, in deference to his own possibly-sweaty hands. “What can I do for you?” he asked, sitting on the couch under the viewport.

Cal gratefully cupped the wine and remained standing. "I--I'm not sure, precisely. I had something of a miscommunication with Commander Niun, and I found myself here after. The new ship, the new crew, the new mission; I guess all of it is making me think about home, and the past in general. Are you experiencing something similar?"

Gaudain cocked his head. “I mean it’s exciting, but... no? Mars isn’t a place I think about that often anymore. What kind of miscommunication did you have? You look a little rattled,” he asked, gesturing towards the sofa.

Cal sighed and joined Gaudain on the couch, folding up their long legs and curling slightly in on themselves. "I suppose that's fair. I don't think of Cygnus that much, either. It's--my fault, ultimately; Niun viewed my passive empathy as an invasion, which I take no issue with of course; but I'm rattled because I never thought about it like that before. Without getting into technicality, I have a phobia of touch and contagions. He compared my empathy with being touched physically. Which..."

Cal shrugged and then grinned self-deprecatingly. "Got the point across, to say the least," they finished while gesturing to the whole of themselves with their glass.

“So... I really don’t get any of that telepath or empath stuff. But I thought I read in your file that you didn’t really have those kind of, uh, powers?” Gaudain asked, taking a drink. He wasn’t particularly articulate when attempting to discuss biology. “But isn’t being empathetic like... listening? You wouldn’t have to try to sense my feelings, like I don’t have to try hear sounds?” he asked.

"That's how it should be, yes: listening and not having to think about doing so," Cal replied. "But it's...confusing, in my case. A way I've heard a counselor of mine explain it is that for most Betazoids, telepathy and empathy are combined like salt and sugar; there's no separating them. For me, I've got two containers, one of salt and one of sugar. Except one of mine is empty, since I don't have any telepathy to speak of, but I do have heightened empathy. Which is what Niun felt. And I'm almost as lost as you; I grew up thinking I was human. I don't know the first thing about being a real Betazoid, let alone a good one."

“Yeah, that does sound pretty fucking complicated. I don’t think any of us are ‘real’ versions of whatever species we are, though,” Gaudain noted. “But you two are square now, right? Can’t set off on a mission to a distant quadrant with that kind of thing lingering, not that I fully understand what it is.”

Cal laughed despite themselves, amused and also distantly comforted by Gaudain's reality-check. "No, we're square. It's all just got me jumbled up. I'm sure with some rest and maybe a meeting with the ship's counselor I'll be right as rain. Certainly before we're mission ready. But I suppose it was good you know about it. Maybe that's why I ended up on your doorstep."

Gaudain sat his beer down on the low table in front of them. “Look, Cal, you’re used to being a science officer—you know, focusing on your own department and your research. Being a command division officer means that you’re going to be interacting with damn near everyone on the ship. Sometimes people’ll want things, or not get along with you, or cop an attitude, or whatever. In this case it sounds like it’s a cultural misunderstanding. Niun’s people aren’t as integrated into Federation life as ours are. Maybe he’s never served with other telepathic races. The point being, it was an uncomfortable moment, but you’ve gotta move on,” he said, before pausing.

In this moment of informality, his native Martian accent came out more fully, resembling a Texan accent from earth with its drawling nature. He put his arm on the back of the sofa and let his head fall back for a moment; he wasn’t as tall as Cal, but he was significantly more muscular, which was more on display than usual in his current outfit, attire that he seemed much more comfortable and at home in than a uniform. The wheels in his mind were clearly turning as he thought about what to say to his new first officer.

“I’m not saying don’t talk with the counselor. I’m sure he’d love that. What I’m saying is that there are going to be difficult situations on this ship when we’re out there—,” the captain added, pointing out the window in the general direction of the wormhole. “—that aren’t going to allow us the luxury to rest and get ourselves back together before the next bad thing happens. You’ve gotta be able to roll with the punches. I think the reason that you’re here is that you’re figuring out that being ex-oh isn’t the same thing as being part of the crew and that you’d like some validation that you’ve done the right thing. I think you have, but the tempo of these things is gonna increase when we leave port,” he said, sitting up and putting his hands together as he looked directly at Cal.

Cal noted the Captain's arm when it slung across the couch; they tilted their head and met Gaudain's eyes briefly as he finished speaking before looking away, into the thoughtful middle distance. Their fingers tap out some forgotten melody on their glass. They sit in silence for a handful of seconds, letting all of Gaudain's advice and warnings stir in their head alongside their own thoughts before they respond.

"I'm made of sterner stuff than to let something on duty bother me like this," they finally said, thoughtfully, slowly. "You won't find me breaking apart because someone snaps at me or because I make someone uncomfortable with an order or something like that. I was Second Officer aboard my last ship. I know, at least, a fraction of the weight of command. I'll certainly speak to the Counselor, not only about this, but about my own thoughts and phobias. It's my way of keeping sane after--everything."

"But," they continued, a little less distantly, "I don't think my seeking validation or the like from you belies a weakness on my part, or an inability to 'roll with the punches' later on. Not saying you meant it that way, Gaudain, but from where I'm sitting, my whole life I've been told my emotions and how openly I wear them makes me weak, and cowardly, and too eager to be liked. You may have noticed I'm something of an equivocator. That's not the case when I'm on-duty, but off...I like to be liked, I think it's best to say. I won't say I won't feel bad about invading a subordinate's mental space, or let it sit with me when I'm off duty. Or want to discuss it with the only person aboard this ship that isn't my direct subordinate."

Cal shrugged as they finished, just so, taking any sting out of their words. They took a drink of their Sapphire wine, letting it bite into their mouth, to give their working mouth a moment to catch up with their mind.

The captain shifted a little, looking not quite uncomfortable but at least slightly at a loss for what to say for a moment. "Yeah, I wasn't trying to be a dick about it, but I was kinda seeing how you'd react to me being blunt--since that's how I tend to be a lot of the time," he admitted. "I don't think you're weak, or cowardly, or a suck-up, otherwise I wouldn't have approved the assignment in the first place. And I'm not sayin' that I think that's what you think I think, but my main point is that you're gonna be a focus of a lot of emotions," he added, his accent getting slightly stronger. "And yeah I guess we are the only two on the ship that come close to being peers to each other, so I don't mind...," he added, before taking another drink from his beer.

Cal offered a lopsided smile, easy and open. Any of the uncertainty or rebuke that may have been there is long gone, now. "Hope I passed," they said simply. "I don't mind your bluntness. So long as you truly don't think those things about me, nothing will get in the way of our partnership." Cal's smile warmed into something comfortable after a moment, their black eyes crinkled up in the corners. "I certainly don't mind it, either."

"I have a feeling that Fleet Captain Hayde is gonna be watching me like a hawk; I've got dinner with her and the admiral on the flagship in two days and I'm not looking forward to it. I guess you'll have to make sure I mind my P's and Q's once we get out there," Gaudain replied, studying the beer bottle for a moment. "And, shit, being this 'informal' on day one is probably a missed P at least," he said, with a grin.

"I'll do my best," Cal laughed, "and I'll certainly wish you all the best for your visit to the lion's den. And if being informal like this isn't best behavior then I think, in this instance, what Fleet Captain Hayden doesn't know won't hurt her. Can you imagine how boring it would be to adhere to strict behavior regs the entire mission? Ugh. No, thank you. I'll take informal friendliness over regulated professionalism any day."

Gaudain laughed and took another drink. "Can't really argue with that, but to the crew... well, you know, the epitome of duty and order," he said. The captain studied them for a moment "As much as we can accomplish that on a ship this small, anyway."

Cal tipped their wine and head to that. "The crew is different," they agreed. Softer than before. "Their responsibilities are to each other, to us, and to accomplish their jobs as well as they're able. You and I are responsible for their lives. As much as we all may become familiar, maybe even friendly, over the time we'll work together--that weight will always remain. Duty and order keeps them safe."

"I guess I do have to keep in mind you've been doing this longer than I have," Gaudain mused, looking at them again and assessing how they didn't seem to appear their age. "Did anything in particular stand out when you met the senior officers today?"

"Mm," Cal said through their wine in both agreement at the reference to their experience and interest at the question. "Other than Lieutenants Thiesman and Wilson making heart eyes at each other whenever they're together?" they asked with amusement. "They're both eager and willing, as you said. Their real tests will come whenever they make mistakes. Niun seems capable, if a touch unmoored--his last ship was close to his home. Being so displaced, both in space and from the ship and crew he loves, may affect him deeply over time. May not, of course. It's all about how good they are at adjustment. And resiliency. All that."

Gaudain rolled his eyes at the mention of the two officers' budding romance. "Keep an eye on that--not that there's anything wrong with making heart eyes, but... keep an eye on it. We should have our Science Officer and Intelligence Officer aboard tomorrow to round out the crew. I ready to have a pretty junior crew, but it looks like we've got a good mix of folks," he noted.

"I will," Cal replied. "I don't think it will be hard to tell if it affects their performance, judging by how...open they are at present. In any case, I'm glad the rest of the senior officers are coming tomorrow. Eager to meet them both. And I think so too. Green, but good. There's a lot of potential here."

Cal finished their wine in one last, long pull and sighed. "I think I've monopolized enough of your time. I appreciated this, thank you. This was--good? Yeah. Good."

"Anytime," Gaudain said, standing up and then stretching both of his arms over his head. "I should probably try to do something productive tonight. Thanks for the insight," he added, with a grin.

Cal stood up. A hot flush of color warmed up their cheeks, just enough that it may not be only from the wine. "Anytime," they parroted with a mirrored grin. "And try not to be too productive. Sleep is wonderful, or so I've been told."

They crossed the room and stopped at the door, looking back with another smile, this one even softer than all the ones that came before. "Goodnight, Captain." They slipped out and disappeared, back to their quarters to regroup, think, and prepare themselves for the day ahead.



A mission post by

Captain Sean Gaudain
Commanding Officer
USS Apollo

Commander Cal Everett
Executive Officer Officer
USS Apollo

 

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