Star Trek: Apollo


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Post 37 - Social Graces, Pt. 2

Posted on Sun Mar 1st, 2020 @ 12:48am by Captain Sean Gaudain & Captain Elizabeth Hayden & Commander Roy Tanner

Mission: Episode 0 - War Games
Location: USS Arcturus - Banquet Hall
Timeline: Mission Day 03 - 1815 Hours

[USS Arcturus - NCC-84000]
[Deck 08 - Banquet Hall]
[Mission Day 03 - 1815 Hours]

Meanwhile, Gaudain stuck with Lancaster, not because he was particularly a wallfower, but he was both interested to see what a man like that would do at a cocktail party and to see if he actually hated him, or if he was just a Vulcan with unusually round ears. If Gaudain hated one thing, it was being disliked. Almost immediately, a younger man bounded over to them, carrying two champagne flutes in his hands. He was nearly two meters tall and had a Mediterranean compelxion with obsidian-black hair and green eyes, as well as a physique that would have been much more at home in a Florentine museum than on an actual Human. Gaudain took a drink, in a barely disguised attempt to get a better look at him.

"Making friends, Michael?" the man asked, wearing the insignia of a lieutenant commander with teal bands on his dress uniform.

Gaudain nearly spat out his drink and Lancaster looked slightly uncomfortable.

"This is Captain Gaudain of the Apollo," Lancaster offered, taking one of the drinks when it was offered.

"Doctor Luca Sheppard, captain. A pleasure to meet you," Sheppard replied, shooting him a flirty grin and offering a handshake.

Sheppard's grip was very firm. "Believe me, the pleasure's all mine. Better be Sean if he's Michael," Gaudain offered. "Speaking of... how did you manage to do that without, you know, bursting into flames or being turned to stone?" he blurted.

The doctor laughed. "I see you two are getting to know each other, then, Sean. For one, I'm married to him, so that's the only reason I even get to come to this party for you big wigs, let alone call His Royal Highness by his first name," he explained.

"He thinks its fun to try to humanize me in public," Lancaster said, dryly.

"I see the appeal," Gaudain said, laughing, though he felt a pang of jealousy, not just because Sheppard was hot--hell, both of them were hot--but because it reminded him of a time in his life when he almost had what they had. Not to mention the fact that Lancaster was the by-the-book officer that everyone was always pushing Gaudain to be. The Admiral's first choice golden boy.

"The Apollo's a good ship. Congratulations," Sheppard said, seeming quite genuine in that. "I'm sure we'll see a lot of each other if the Arcturus is meant to be the mobile base of operations."

Gaudain grinned; wanting desperately to make a pun about how much of him he'd prefer to see, but sensing that Lancaster might literally kill him if he did so. "I'm sure. It was nice to meet you both," he said, before bowing out of the conversation and going over to the bar.

"Bourbon, on the rocks," he said to the holographic bartender.

"Make it two," Captain Hayden said, moving over to stand next to him at the bar. "Interesting couple, aren't they?" she asked, nodding over to her XO and his husband.

"That's putting it mildly," Gaudain replied, with a grin. "I don't think he likes me very much."

Hayden shrugged. "I think there's only one person he actually likes, but the benefit of having a stickler for protocol as XO is that I get to play good cop," she noted.

"True enough. Cal is going to do well. They're a little more by-the-book than I am. You probably know that, though," Gaudain replied.

The fleet captain nodded. "I have no intention of micro-managing. In fact, I definitely see the wisdom of putting someone a little... adventurous in command of a scout like the Apollo," she said, as their two drinks appeared. "How are you settling in?"

"I love it. I'm honestly not thrilled that the Admiral picked the majority of my crew himself, but it's a good bunch. It'll be nice to get out there," Gaudain said, swirling his whiskey around in the glass. "You were on the Hood before this, right? How'd they talk you into leading this crazy mission?"

Hayden chuckled. "Admiral Knox is nothing if not persuasive," she replied.

Tanner reached the bar with a look of pure annoyance on his face, grasping hold of the counter-top next to Gaudain and Hayden.

"What can I get you, Commander?" the holographic bartender asked with a smile.

"Rum an' soda. Make it a large one."

The Fleet Captain looked around Gaudain to Tanner, and then patted the younger captain on the shoulder before taking her drink and leaving the two of them alone. Gaudain walked around the bar and shooed the hologram down to the other end to take the order of a Saurian in a captain's uniform. He reached under the counter and pulled out a bottle of rum, impressed for a moment that it seemd to be real and from Earth.

"Which part of this are you pissed about?" Gaudain asked, as he filled a glass with ice and made Tanner his drink.

"I hate all o' this... this... shit," Tanner gestured with a loose wave of one hand. "Thanks," he said as Gaudain handed him his drink. He sipped it and nodded. "That's not bad. You've been practicing." He took a bigger swallow.

"Now I know I've been gone a while..." he began, fixing Gaudain with a thoughtful look. "But when did everyone start not caring about each other?" He glanced over to where Everett was still in conversation with the admiral and Okusanya. He shrugged. "Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm past all of this now... too old. Maybe people like Lancaster and Okusanya are what Starfleet needs now - efficient, cold, an' impersonal - an' I'm just an old dinosaur? Maybe I made the wrong decision coming back."

He finished his drink and pushed the empty glass across the counter top to Gaudain. "Same again, barkeep. And pour one for yourself."

Gaudain grabbed another glass as he thought about that. "I'm not usually on the guest list for Starfleet parties like this one, but that's pretty much how I've always felt when my ship's in port, not actually out there," he said, gesturing towards the towering viewports. "And, ya know, this time it's pretty easy to feel like the new kid on the block. Starfleet has changed since you left. Not all for the worse, but it's more... cautious," he added, before taking a drink.

The captain toyed with the rim of the glass on the bar as he continued to think. "I think... tensions are high to get this mission right--that XO of Hayden's is kind of an ass, and the old man can kind of come across as an ass just because all Admirals do--but I've gotta think that Starfleet's still Starfleet at his heart, right?"

Tanner considered his captain's response carefully. "I'm not sure I really know what that means..." he said eventually. "Starfleet has always been defined by its actions - an' those actions are taken by the people who wear the uniform. If the behaviour of those people is unacceptable or just plain wrong... then so is Starfleet. It isn't just about what we do," he said tasting his second rum and soda. "It's about how we do it - an' that's just as important - maybe even more so. Like that 'second officer' bullshit you pulled on me in the transporter room..."

Gaudain frowned. "What? Was I supposed to buy you flowers or something? Apart from you, all of the department heads are either newly-minuted lieutenants, junior lieutenants with minimal experience. The counselor's a lieutenant commander but I'm not putting a counselor in a command role, especially with you outranking him," he said.

"Know how many choices I've made about the Apollo's senior leadership? Zero, except this one, and don't tell me you wouldn't be in my office tomorrow morning complaining that you had 'some snot-nosed kid' above you in the chain of command if I'd made any other decision," Gaudain added, studying Tanner again. "If you don't want it, fine, but I wasn't about to show up here looking like I didn't have my act together, since you're the only logical choice."

Gaudain didn't wait for Tanner to reply to that. "And on top of that, my XO's got ten years of experience on me and the admiral finds someone who knew me as an ensign to put in the engine room? Even a guy like me can figure that one out. I'm grateful for not getting tossed out into space with an entirely green crew, but don'tcha think I would have come to get you myself, if I'd been consulted? I'm grateful that you're here, but if you're meant to be my mentor or my safety line or whatever, that means being second in command."

"You missed my point," Tanner said, sipping his rum and soda. "I get the point about rank, I get the point about seniority - hell, I bet most Rhode Islands put out with just a two-an-a-half pip in the XO slot - and you get to set sail with the luxury of two full commanders standing on either side of you... I've got your back, Sean. I'm just disappointed you didn't think it was important enough to talk to me about it first. You made me second officer cos you decided it was the right thing to do for the mission."

"The Delta's gonna be tough," he acknowledged. "We both know that - but we gotta start thinkin' about the 'how' more or we're gonna be fucked. I read up on the Task Group senior officers on the way to Starbase 38 - you know Lancaster's gone from cadet to captain in 12 years? An' the closest he's been to long-term operational command was as a lieutenant commander in charge of the ops panel aboard Lancelot. An' then there's Hayden's second officer Okusanya... she's spent the last 14 years as a glorified engineering project manager on stations and spaceframes. You think either of them are gonna give a fuck about anything apart from delivering the mission come hell or high water? We've gotta be different Sean."

He swallowed the last of his rum and set the glass down on the bar. "You can call me a grumpy old bastard if you like, but that's what I see. I'm done preaching for the evening. Tell me to pack my bags if ya want."

"Fair enough. I put the cart before the horse, and I'm sorry. Guess you're already doing your job of calling me out when it's necessary," Gaudain admitted. "I wonder if that's why Lancaster turned down the Apollo," he mused. "Could also be why he's being a bitch to me. I can see those two as ones to steer clear of."

"But Hayden will naturally seek their counsel - they're her XO and 2XO. You'll have to be the one to counter their influence whenever necessary - whenever the 'what' becomes more important than the 'how'... or the 'why'. And as for Lancaster being a bitch to you?" the corners of Tanner's mouth turned up slightly. "I don' think he can help himself." He looked around the room with a frown. "Are we supposed to be getting dinner at this shindig? I'm starved."

Gaudain chuckled. "Sounds awfully political, but a fair point," he noted.

To Be Continued By

Fleet Captain Elizabeth Hayden
Commanding Officer, USS Arcturus
Commander, Explorer Group 382

Captain Sean Gaudain
Commanding Officer, USS Apollo

Captain Michael Lancaster
Executive Officer, USS Arcturus

Commander Roy Tanner
Chief Engineering Officer, USS Apollo

Lieutenant Commander Luca Sheppard, M.D.
Assistant Chief Medical Officer, USS Arcturus


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