(( Deja Brew Cafe, Iana Station ))
Priard: ::Equally snappily,:: Whatever you want to be called, I don't care. I’m just saying, it shouldn’t be my job to look out for a bunch of charity cases while I'm also trying to work on top-of-the-line starfighters. You and yours stay out of my way from now on. Get it?
"Fine!" was the answer she wanted to spit in his face. The ultimatum made Mikali's blue blood pump furiously through her heart, her antenna writhing on top of her head. And there was that word again. She wished, for a moment, that there was a Catscratch behind her, to grab her shoulder just like she had done to her, but there was nobody. It was down to her. Everything was down to her judgement.
Slow, easy. It took a moment, but Mikali slowly found her centre.
sh'Shar: Mister Priard... ::She raised a single antenna calmly.:: Help me understand. How can we work together, and find some way to share space in the drydock?
Priard scoffed dismissively. Something he seemingly did a lot.
Priard: I don't see why I should do that. Civilian work on Iana Station is conducted by enlisted crew or civilians working under the same. As an officer, I have all the authority. You have what I decide to give you. Our needs out-prioritize your own.
Calm. Peace. Mikali slowly, carefully picked up her glass of water, cradling it with two hands, sipping gently. It bought her time to think.
sh'Shar: Technically true. However, fostering friction between Starfleet and the civilian workers on Iana Station is going to end poorly. It will hurt the recovery of ReachOut participants and it will affect your work performance if we're constantly squabbling over square metres of deck space. Neither of us stands to gain if we quarrel, but we can both prosper if we work together. I think we can resolve this problem to the satisfaction of both of us.
Priard: ::Sighing,:: What am I meant to do? Replicate some deck-plating and expand the space station myself?
Mikali mulled it over.
sh'Shar: This station is basically a giant well-oiled machine. You can set your watch by shifts here. If there’s chaos, we need to work together to make things work again.
Priard: Everything would work if we didn’t have civilians throwing the schedules out.
Mikali was beginning to realize that Priard probably did know Catscratch, or at least suspected her of causing the problems. It was a big station but not that big. There were only so many people...
sh’Shar: Be that as it may, I propose that, together, we approach the station command staff. We can make the case that, in our joint professional opinions, more workspace needs to be allocated toward the civilian side of repair work for auxiliary small craft. On compassionate grounds, because obviously...
Pride. She had to swallow her pride. Had to admit fault. Had to do the right thing.
sh’Shar: ... ReachOut and similar civilian programs need more space than normal work crews. This case will be more convincing if it comes from both a civilian and a Starfleet officer, as it will avoid the perception of inter-factional fighting.
Priard narrowed his eyes skeptically, drumming his fingers on the table.
Priard: What if they say no?
Mikali put down her glass. Something Valen had said floated back into her head.
sh'Shar: That's a risk. Workspace is not unlimited and the station staff have to balance a lot of competing wants and needs. "No" is always going to be something that we could hear. If that happens, then we keep talking, keep meeting in this coffee shop until we find some way to squeeze us both in there. So further conflicts can be avoided.
Priard considered for a long time, rubbing his hand along his bald Bolian head, fingers tracing along the ridge of cartilage that ran along the top of his head. He said nothing for a little while, teetering on the verge of a decision several times before mentally recanting.
sh'Shar: And... although I can't promise anything, because I am not her, I will talk to Catscratch and see if I can convince her to rescind the complaint against you. ::She held up a finger.:: But that's entirely up to her. She was wronged. I think if you offer her a written apology, explaining why what you said was wrong and pledging that you and the rest of the Starfleet engineering crews will avoid using what we shall henceforth mutually consider slurs against ReachOut staff and participants, that will go along way toward swaying her to changing her mind. ::A slight smile.:: She hates paperwork anyway.
Priard grimaced, shaking his head, squaring his shoulders assertively.
sh'Shar: ::Gently,:: Take it from someone who already ended up discharged, writing an apology letter now is much better than writing one later. Genuine advice.
Priard chewed on the inside of his cheek for a brief moment, clearly uncertain, and Mikali sensed a strong reluctance in him.
Priard: ... I'm okay with writing this "Catscratch" a letter.
Good. There was, however, more she needed.
sh’Shar: And Petty Officer Darweshi is owed an apology from you. You have authority over him, and you abused it. A good officer works with, listens to, and takes advice from their enlisted crewmen, using their authority as decision-makers. Not dictators. Darweshi was happy to help you this time, next time he will be less so. But if you take the opportunity to mend bridges now, you might still salvage a good relationship with him. He’s a kind man. He knows we all have bad days.
Priard seemed to be at the limit of what she could ask him.
Priard: Pretty rich for you to lecture me on what makes a good officer.
More needling. Mikali took it in stride, sipping her water to buy her a second.
sh’Shar: You’re not required to do anything. I’m just giving you my perspective. Trying to help you learn from my mistakes.
It wasn’t too late for Priard. Mikali felt a vague kinship with him, despite his thinly-veiled antagonism.
She had been where he was. Knew where it led.
Mikali nodded hopefully.
sh'Shar: The important thing is, can we speak to the station command staff together?
Priard: ::Echoing her words,:: I can't promise anything. But I’ll consider it.
Relief flooded her whole body, causing her antenna to perk up, an impossible-to-stop smile breaking over her whole face.
sh'Shar: That's all I ask. ::She stuck out a hand.:: Mikali sh'Shar.
After a brief apprehensive pause, Priard took her hand in his, shaking firmly.
Priard: Lieutenant Sag Priard.