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Dressing Down

Posted on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 @ 1:00am by Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Claudia Ainscow & Lieutenant JG Nealey Snowdon
Edited on on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 @ 1:01am

Mission: S1E3.5 - Interlude
Location: Operations Office
Timeline: Mission Day 19

Nealey sat in the Operations Office and felt a little peeved about what had happened in the cargo bay. She felt she was doing her best but it was in at the deep end as there were no other volunteers to run Operations after the surprise departure of Lieutenant Morgan. Nealey knew she shouldn't have snapped but the pressure of being a department head - albeit acting - already was starting to show.

It had been a brutal couple of days, but if there was one thing that Akiva would always make time for, it's maintaining ship operations. They'd literally be dead in the water without vigilance and discipline.

"Excuse me," he said, announcing his presence at the door to Nealey's office. "Do you have a moment, Lieutenant?" He waved to somebody outside and entered without answer.

Nealey looked up and the look of dread on her face said it all - it was Akiva - and not two days previously she had openly made a show of him in the cargo bay. Nealey immediately decided the best way to tackle her first one-on-one with a ranking officer was to go on the defensive.

"Several actually" Nealey replied.

"Excellent." Akiva walked up to the desk and placed his hands behind his back. He considered Nealey still seated, staring at him in controlled fear, then put his hands to rest at his side. "I believe a conversation is in order. Can I assume you know which one I mean?"

Carrying on with the ever mounting pile of paperwork on the desk in front of her Nealey decided to avoid making eye contact. She didn't dislike Akiva - but she never liked being told she'd done something wrong - especially when Nealey felt she was justified in what she'd done or said.

Nealey nodded. "I've been expecting it"

"I see." Akiva coughed into his hand. "Then how do you expect this to go?"

Nealey shrugged as she kept working. The paperwork was already starting to get on her nerves and she wished Claudia had let Tolan take over as he originally volunteered to do - but after Nealey volunteered in the spur of the moment - Claudia decided to give the role to Nealey instead. Not only that but Nealey was extremely tired after sleeping poorly for the past few days and her patience was starting to wear very thin with almost everyone and everything.

"You tell me I need to learn some respect and to stop talking down to my superiors - yeah I know what you're going to say. I've not had 'The XO Talk' before but I know how it goes from one of my former colleagues who managed to get one on her first day. I was wondering why it took you so long to come and get it over with be honest - even if I'm buried in this crappy paperwork" Nealey replied.

Akiva studied her with a hard gaze, furling his brow as he listened. When she had finished and stared back at him with a mild fury of her own, his face split into a faint grin before breaking into laughter. As the moment carried on, his laughter carried on with it until he had to turn away to collect himself. When he looked back at her, he suppressed another chuckle by clearing his throat.

"I had thought perhaps I had been too hard on you," he intoned, "but I now know I was not hard enough." The corners of his mouth pressed flat. "Were you in my position, what would you do with that knowledge?"

Nealey smiled. "What changed your mind? If I was in your position then I would give a little more leeway to someone who's been thrown in at the deep and as a department head about a year into their career like I have. I did as you asked me to and then I waited around for someone to come and replace me before reporting to the cargo bay - what more do you want me to do?"

"Your candor," Akiva said. He turned and paced, one foot slowly in front of the other. "Your candor changed my mind, as it tells me that I was not too hard on you. What I want from you, Lieutenant," he turned to face her again with a set jaw, "is no less than what I want from myself. When I was Chief of Operations, I ran a tight department. Many consider this a throwaway department for washouts or a stepping stone for junior officers on their way to a command post. In reality, Operations stands between the crew and their untimely preventable deaths, and the exemplary Ops Chief who recognizes this maintains impossible standards." Akiva paused for effect. "Which one are you, Lieutenant?" His dark eyes narrowed at the question. "Are you an opportunist, or can I count on you to make the hard decisions instead of excuses?"

"I'm aware of how Operations works. I am in charge temporarily so whatever I do it doesn't matter does it? I oversee the department and do all of this crap on the desk until my replacement arrives and they can do it until I've got more experience. This department has had a lot of change recently and it doesn't help whatsoever when I'm still trying to make heads or tails of half of it. You were unfair on someone who is running a department with less staff available and therefore I'm afraid changeover times at short notice will result in a delay in be being there. I'm sorry but I haven't managed to work out how to be in two places at once...sir" Nealey replied.

"You had better believe your position is temporary with an attitude like that," Akiva shot back. "Perhaps I did not make myself clear, or perhaps your collar is too hot for your ears, but I came here to put out a fire of my own making. The problem was not your failure to bi-locate, Lieutenant, but your indifference." He raised his chin to stare at Nealey from down his nose. "If somebody were to die, would you apologize even if the circumstances were beyond your control, or would you defiantly stand there and defend yourself to their grieving family? Because that's what it comes down to. If you cannot hold yourself to a higher account than just 'good enough,' Lieutenant Snowdon, then you are not fit to wear that uniform."

"Somebody dying is different to the running of this department - of course I would feel bad about it if it was my fault or otherwise. As for that comment then I suggest you get Captain Ainscow down here - she asked for me to join this ship personally. And while you're at it - sir - I'd appreciate you not looking down on me like I'm a piece of something you stood in" Nealey said.

"Then stop acting like one," Akiva said. He leaned back toward the door and raised his voice. "Captain, if you would please join us now?" He looked back at Nealey with the beginnings of a smirk teasing the corners of his mouth. "Your presence is requested."

Claudia entered the room and looked at Nealey. She had open and positive body language to try and get through to the young lieutenant.

"What have we got here then Miss Snowdon?" Claudia asked.

Nealey shrugged. "Apparently I'm not fit to wear the uniform and I shouldn't be in Starfleet. If that's how your esteemed XO feels then fine - I won't lose any sleep over transferring to another ship or to a starbase"

"Neither of us said that Nealey. You're here because I personally requested you from the Endurance when I was looking for staff. I still want you here otherwise you shouldn't be" Claudia replied.

Akiva nodded. "Of course, if you're going to throw a tantrum over every cross look or reprimand, then good luck finding another CO who will take you." He folded his hands behind his back in deference to Claudia as he added, "Whether or not we work together will ultimately be up to you. What's it going to be?"

"I'll stay in charge of the department until my replacement arrives - after that I will go back to my old role. I will work with anyone but I would appreciate some slack - talking of which - is there any news on my replacement yet Captain?" Nealey replied.

Claudia nodded. "There is actually. Your old boss is coming to take over"

"Lieutenant Atkinson?" Nealey asked.

Claudia smiled. "Yes - Lieutenant Atkinson of the USS Endurance. I thought you'd like that"

"A wiseman from the 20th century age of American gladiators once said this: 'Aim for perfection, settle for excellence.'" Akiva rubbed his face, then caught himself and abruptly pulled his hand down. "Be excellent, and I will cut you slack for not being perfect. I will not cut slack for argumentative officers who make excuses for mediocrity." He extended his hand to Nealey. "Do we have an understanding, Lieutenant?"

Nealey stood up from her chair and said nothing - she just extended her hand to Akiva and shook it. Not firmly but enough to make it feel as sincere as it was intended to be. Nealey didn't feel she was performing poorly but perhaps there could be some changes.

"Good. I'm sure Miss Atkinson will be very impressed to find she has an officer like you here Nealey. If you need any help please don't be afraid to ask. The Commander and I both came from this department so we know exactly how hard it can be at times - but we're both here for you - that's a promise"

Nealey nodded. "Thank you Captain"

"Will there be anything you need from me.... Nealey?" Akiva fumbled over her name in a failed attempt to be personable.

Nealey again nodded. She decided even though there had been an issue between them there was no point dragging it on any longer.

"I could use some help. I've got shortages at the moment so the 'to do' list isn't going down as quickly as I'd like. Any help you can offer would be appreciated sir" Nealey replied.

Claudia smiled and watched. She was pleased the situation seemed to have been defused without getting hostile - even if Akiva had been a bit firm with her - it was good to see the Vindex's first officer was able to take the hard route if necessary.

Claudia spoke. "I'm happy to help too. It's not like we've got anything to do for a while"

"Thank you Captain. I appreciate it - from you both" Nealey responded.

"I wouldn't mind rolling up my sleeves again," Akiva said, his voice more reconciliatory than before. "As long as I'm not stepping on any toes."

Nealey shook her head. She needed all the help she could get right now.

"Sounds good to me. I have a load of supplies to bring up from the surface but not enough hands to organise the inventory or arrange to transport them. If you can help me with that I would appreciate it" Nealey replied.

"Well, let's get to it then," Akiva said. "We all know the crates won't tag and transport themselves."

Nealey nodded and gestured for both Claudia and Akiva to follow her - pleased that this was one thing off her mind. And the best thing was her replacement was someone Nealey knew and trusted - so there'd be no "bedding in" process - at least not for her.


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