talk to EM first, not happy about this, uprooting crew, etc etc etc
(( Captain's Ready Room ))
Kells: I understand why she did it, Captain, but I'm saying it was the wrong time to do it. The crew's just coming around to thinking of me as their CO, and then the president herself reassigns us all?
Egan Manno: It's upsetting, unsteadying -- of course it is. But it's your job to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.
:: If Egan Manno had been there in person, rather than a face on his computer terminal, Aron wouldn't have been able to thump his hands on the underside of his desk as he did. He tried to keep his face polite, though, and his voice level. ::
Kells: But that's just what I'm saying. Can't we have more time? There's no reason the Invicta has to launch with her new crew less than a week after the address. Give us a couple of months, let me brief my crew, let Core go over the specs and DeVeau over the systems--
Egan Manno: The orders and the timetable to launch stand, Captain. As I told you during the address, this is not done solely at the word of or to please the president. Starfleet wants you out there, you and your crew, as quickly as possible. This is not up for negotiation.
Kells: Nor is anything, with you.
:: It was out before he could stop himself, and politeness be damned. He thought it crossed a line, but Egan Manno only gave him a curt nod. ::
Egan Manno: I'm glad we understand each other. Egan Manno, out.
:: He leaned back as the monitor blinked off and restrained howling with great difficulty. A good thing he did, too, as the door chimed a moment later. As he'd once done, years ago, during the first weeks and months of his captaincy aboard the Mercury, he'd asked the ship to announce his visitor via a quick scan of their comm badge. He stood up, quickly, not caring who it was, but presenting his back with hands clasped as he looked out the window onto the bustle of Astrofori One. ::
Computer: Lieutenant Commander Mei'konda.
:: Mei'konda? He was unexpected indeed, but not enough that Aron turned from the window. ::
:: He heard the door open but, thanks to the quietness of the Caitian's movement, Aron didn't know he was inside the room until the doors closed again. Indeed, he might not have been; he might have seen Kells with his back turned and decided to leave. An interesting thought. Here he was, with an exceptionally quiet officer possibly in his new ready room, and his back turned. How would he know? It was some visualization of a paradox: Mei'konda, for all Aron knew, was both in the room and not in the room, here and not there. Invicta and Garuda, if you were given to dwell on such things -- which, in the moment, Aron was. Indeed, he became so wrapped in these thoughts that he almost jumped when he heard Mei'konda's voice, now just on the other side of his desk. ::
Mei’konda: Hello, Captaain. Reportiing for duty. I brought a supplies inventory.
:: Aron turned at once and took the PADD that Mei'konda offered him as though he'd known the other had been there all along. Well, he had, hadn't he? ::
Kells: Thank you. Please, sit.
Mei’konda: Thaank you, sir.
:: The inventory was the sort of busywork that Aron would've preferred to avoid. Or, rather, he knew Mei'konda -- from his time back in the service and from the fragmentary memories he was still reconstructing from his doppelganger -- and trusted him with the care of his department. Starfleet, however, didn't, and things like supplies inventories had to be approved by COs at launch by law. Bureaucracy, all of it, and now, if what the president said was true, there would only be more of it: So many eyes watching, all the time, with the support of an enormous station and a small fleet of other ships.... Aron set the PADD down. ::
Mei’konda: We haave a great deal of luxury goods on board. Rare food items, especiaally, to caater to the needs of dignitaries from the area. They are in staasis. Should stay good for the chefs to prepaare for a long tiime.
Kells: Yes, I imagine they should. Though why the replicators wouldn't be good enough I simply don't know.
:: Mei'konda leaned away from him then, and Aron felt a moment of embarrassment -- he hadn't thrown the PADD, had he? he'd certainly thought about it, but it was nothing Mei'konda had done -- before he realized that the other was chewing on something. ::
Mei’konda: Sir, why are we here?
:: Ah, so there it was. Aron opened his mouth and, of all things, giggled. Only for a moment, but there it was, fat and inappropriate in the space between them. He swallowed. What sort of good answer could he give when he had none to tell himself? ::
Kells: How -- how do you mean?
Mei’konda: On this shiip, I mean. She haas good sensors, yes, very good, but… look at all of thiis. This luxury. It juust… worries me. It took us so long to get the Garuda secured, especiaally with Ross’ sabotage, and just when I feel like we’ve maade her ours…
:: Mei’konda sighed, and shook his head. ::
Mei’konda: I’m sorry if I’m maaking no sense, or seeming paranoid, Captain. I've just had questiions. After what we ran into with the Mercury's undocumeented upgrades, I just wonder if… if Starfleet is up to somethiing that we should know about.
Kells: If they are, Commander, they haven't told me about it, either.
:: He sighed, too. His voice, even to him, sounded worn out and tired, nothing like he imagined it should, given that he and his crew were launching in a brand new class of starship. ::
Kells: I felt like I was just making her mine, too. The Garuda, I mean. Making good on the damage that my ::beat:: other self did to the crew before the near-destruction of the Mercury. It's soon. It's all too soon, but....
:: He spread his arms wide. ::
Kells: The president asked. The president ordered, and what can I say to that?
Kells: As it happens, I've been arguing quite a lot -- with anyone who will hear me, anyone who could possess the sense and self-reflection necessary to see that this launch is badly timed, that these transfers are badly timed, that all of this is a bad idea, and that even if there's some good to it, it's been executed poorly. ::beat:: And time and again, I've been turned away. ::beat:: "This is not up for negotiation."
:: He took on some of Egan Manno's tone when he quoted her. He wondered, after he'd done so, if Mei'konda would have noticed. ::
Kells: Commander, my memories are still coming back -- the ones that I've been trying to reconstruct from my older doppelganger -- but there's still a long stretch during which no Kells was present in the Corridor. I'm relying a lot upon reports and logs and.... ::beat:: What I'm trying to say is that Egan Manno thought a lot of your advice, and I don't rightly recall if I did, too -- but I'd like to now. Help me, if you can. Help us get through this, together. Any ideas you have, anything you can do.
Tag! and TBC!
Captain Aron Kells