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Policy Changes

Posted on 14 Nov 2022 @ 10:14pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale

Mission: Regrouping
Location: Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD 2

A week had passed since Harvey had met with Admiral O'Connell and learned the fate of his former ship. Like most of the little transferring crew, Harvey was still in transition mode. He would not call his ready room a mess despite the clearly visual disorganization. Crates were spread throughout the room, and his desk was already littered with paddwork. Harvey hadn't spent more than a few minutes at a time in the room due to the transition. Between the bridge, inspection tours, and speaking with the yard engineers about the ship's specifications and capabilities, Harvey had been constantly on the move.

On his list of priorities was to get the ready room properly organized and find a new yeoman, but those were extremely low priority at this point. What mattered most was getting the ship into shape and ready for shakedown.

And in order to do that properly, he knew there was one person he needed to talk to. That was why he scheduled a meeting with Lieutenant Commander Di Pasquale. Before the rest of the crew could be allowed aboard, both the Captain and the Commander needed to be on the same page.

The meeting on her schedule had her wondering if it was once again time to butt heads with one Captain Harvey Geisler. It wasn't the first time, and it wasn't the last. Now they were down another ship and as yet, she had no idea what they were going to do. She had seen a lot of crew depart for reassignment and she was going to miss a number of them. Life in Starfleet, she thought. At least these were reassignments and not deceased crew this time. She mentally added with faces of those who had gone to the final frontier passing through her mind's eye.

Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale took a breath, straightened her uniform and headed to meet or do battle with the man that had caused her a lot of anger, and a lot of headaches. As she stepped out of the turbolift in the new smelling refitted Akira class, she couldn't help but mentally mumble that they had taken a big step back. Not that the..setback...courtesy of Mars Shipyards. .She shook her ombre colored hair and went to tap the chime on the Ready Room door.

The doors parted almost immediately. Inside the room, one could easily see that crates of varying size were strewn about, not in a haphazard way, but in a manner that clearly indicated that someone had just arrived and hadn't been there long. Harvey, meanwhile, sat behind the desk. For the moment, it was clean, but time would soon take care of that.

Aside from a holographic terminal, which was in standby mode, sat a pot of fresh Wilkins coffee, courtesy of the galley. An empty mug sat next to it. "Have a seat, Camila," Harvey greeted, sitting behind the desk already with a steaming cup of the good stuff in his hand. "Cup of coffee before we begin?"

She recognized the particular scent of Wilkins and she wasn't fooled by his attempt at being disarming by using her first name. She accepted the offered seat and gave a nod. "Please," she said. "One sugar. Harvey."

Harvey rose an eyebrow, not exactly expecting her to respond using his first name. For now, he'd let it slide. "It's been a hell of a year, don't you think? First the holoavatar running amok, the pirates, the colony... and now losing our ship."

"That's putting it mildly," Camila said. "And sliding backwards a few steps in the process once again."

"Now that's putting it mildly." Harvey sampled his Wilkins and savored the flavor a moment before continuing. "You. Me. Joey. That's all that's left of the senior staff. Just over fifty others came with us. In a few weeks, this ship will have basically an entirely different crew."

She accepted her coffee and stirred it. "That's because she's your wife, you're the Captain of this albatross and I have Stockholm," she said.

Harvey arched an eyebrow, noting her sharpness, or at least bluntness. “Then why stay?” he asked candidly. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful you’re still here. But I also know that what’s happened in the past can’t be allowed to continue.”

“Well, I’m here and we know how this usually goes, Sir,” Camila said. “Which things can’t be allowed to happen, specifically?”

The Captain remained motionless for a second, taking further note of what he was interpreting as frustration. “You are aware of my background in medicine, specifically medicinal research. Sometimes, when trying to find a cure or an answer, you can’t always play by the rules. Lives are always at stake, even if it’s just someone’s quality of life.”

He sighed and took another sip of his coffee. “You and I have often disagreed in the past when it comes to security aboard this ship. While I’ve always valued your opinion, I always believed that upholding a friendly, positive image of the Federation in this wild frontier was the best approach. I think it’s time that I accept that… that I need to change our approach.”

“What do you suggest?” the Security Chief said after a drink of her coffee. “I’ve given every suggestion. I’ve tried to make every exception. I’ve tried to prepare for the impossible.” The frustration crept deeper into her voice and her eyes looked haggard and pleading. “If you want to cut my heart out as a medicine man, Captain, I’m right here in front of you.”

“You have given a lot of suggestions,” Harvey confirmed. “I’m ready to hear your best ones, especially since we’ve got a smaller crew, and every department is taking hits, especially security.”

“My best ones for a smaller ship…again,” Camila groused as if it were a curse. “Other than the portable force field generators, back up generators and the lockouts on the weapons lockers, master systems, backup core, and an emergency purge for infected systems, there’s probably a hundred other things I need to cover. However, there’s one big thing I need your support on, Captain.”

He arched an eyebrow. Harvey had been prepared for a long list. “And just what is that, Commander?”

“Your Exec,” she said. “If you haven’t heard from him by now, we’ve talked and I’d rather not have to explain myself to him each and every time, so if he gets a request,” She coughed politely. “Just tell him to give it to you. It’ll be easier. I told him to read the mission logs and just have a signed blank PADD ready.”

The Captain considered her request carefully. It wasn’t the first time she’d asked for the universe, and Harvey had clearly put himself in a place where she expected and demanded carte blanche. “The dynamics are changing,” he told her, taking an indirect approach to answering her request. “Belvedere is taking a more direct approach with our mission parameters, seeking out and dealing with these pirates. Their actions are making it difficult for Starfleet and Federation efforts in this quadrant, and I’ve heard they’re starting to become a nuisance for the Dominion. The last thing any of us need is to see more Jem’Hadar in these sectors.”

He sighed and leaned forward to pick up his mug of coffee, but he made no effort to drink. “I’m taking a more active role in coordinating and managing Belvedere. Reynolds will be taking a more active role in managing the ship and crew. You want me to approve efforts, that’s one thing. I need Belvedere to be impenetrable and secure. I want the Black Hawk to pilot programs before filtering down to the rest of the group. Field generators, lockouts, securing key areas, I’m on board with that. Even expanding the drone program, as long as it’s managed by someone and not automated. But I can’t have the Exec bypassable. I’ll make sure he’s briefed on our history, and he’s ready for what we will face out there. But I want him involved in new initiatives before any signed approval, even if that means he and I sit in on proposals together.”

“What does Belvedere consider a direct approach and how do we pilot that?”” She asked, wondering why he had assumed that she was in favor of bypassing Reynolds? She had made a joke, but the Captain seemed to be taking it seriously. She decided that joking was now off the plate with this man and all hope of saving more lives on the ship.

“Instead of collecting information, we’re going to start acting on it,” Harvey stated. “We’re going to police known trade lanes, and start reaching beyond patrol routes. Anywhere that looks like a good place to hide, we’re going to check it out. We’re going to need new protocols for places like Razmena. We can’t afford double agents or spies aboard this ship, and we’re bringing aboard more than 400 people we didn’t know. And then there’s the two times that we had people we knew and trusted that wound up being involuntary forced to work for the other side.”

He looked her straight in her brown eyes. “No more. The Black Hawk must be secure. And it’s going to take a team to do it.”

Camila listened as her Wilkins coffee got cold and gave a nod. “Affirmative action is called for, definitely,” she said. “And despite every protocol that Starfleet has in place, there is always going to be a sympathizer somewhere. We don’t have the technology to prevent that, but with more people, my department included, is going to be under heavy scrutiny. I advise you to have whoever has Operations now to double check stores and requisition logs twice for everything to make sure we still have it.”

“Speaking of the drone program, I’d managed to get a couple Bynar Security personnel transferred to the ship and it costed me,” she said. “They’ll be in charge of the drones on a intraship network that’s operated from Security and have failsafes in place. I’ll have twice as many drones running in staggered shifts and random times through every Jeffriies Tube, corridor, shaft and maintenance tunnel on this ship around the clock.”

Harvey raised an eyebrow, curious at Camila’s news. He knew she was resourceful, and he was not at all surprised that she took some action on her own. “A pair of Bynars? Just what exactly did that cost you? And don’t worry. I’ll speak to our new Ops chief about our cargo and supplies.”

“Four good Security officers who didn’t want to be assigned to this ship,” Camila responded without a blink. “The Bynar were only interested because of the drone program.”

Harvey frowned. “Ouch. I know we’re already short staffed as it is, and we’ll be lucky to launch at 90 percent capacity. But as long as you’ve got a handle on it, that’ll do with me for now. Do you have everything you need for the drones? And have you checked into all of security’s supplies so far?”

“I have everything we need for the drones,” she said. “I could use another cargo hold full of torpedoes, but I don’t think Starfleet would approve of that. Other than that, it’s just scaling down operations and making every shot count.”

Chuckling, the Captain replied, “Cargo space is always in short supply, but I’ll see if I can get at least a dozen more. Where are you on scheduling drills and target practice?”

“Every critical area on the ship for drills,” the ombre haired woman said. “I want them to be able to do it in their sleep at any moment. The target practice is in the holodeck for now since we’re back to a smaller ship.”

“And what about you at the tactical console?” Harvey asked. “You and I both know that firefights are unavoidable, and you’re definitely very familiar with the Akira’s limitations. I hear this particular ship has a few upgrades to help with that. What’s your opinion?”

“She’s no Century class, but we made do before,” Camila said. “It isn’t like Starfleet is handing out ships of the line, let alone let us keep a crew that we knew and worked with. So, it’ll do.”

Harvey replied, “At least they let us have one fresh off the assembly line. No bad karma or baggage to carry forward other than our own.”

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at that comment. “Oh, joy. Only our own. That’s a big enough battle. At least I’m not drinking anymore.”

He lifted both eyebrows in surprise. “Oh? Congrats on that. How have you been doing lately? I’m supposing the demons aren’t as persistent as they once were.”

“It isn’t that at all,” Camila admitted. “Doctor Rhula put me on medication for it and threatened to report me if I started drinking again. Now I bury myself in tactics.”

The Captain paused just before taking a drink of his coffee. Rhula… another casualty of the Captain’s prior actions. He caught himself, took a sip, and put down the glass. “If you like, I can make sure that threat stands with the new CMO, whenever they are assigned. Or, I can just pretend like I know nothing and stay out of the way there and reap the benefits at the next red alert.”

She laughed. “There’s no need to pass the notice along, Sir. I take it with my morning coffee and have no desire to sink down into those depths again. It’s even more depressing than going through it sober. I’m a Security Chief and I have to realize it’s part of my job along with the safety of the ship and crew. They never told me it would be easy, but they also never told me I’d be possessed, kill fellow officers or any of the other horrors we’ve experienced.”

“There seems to be a long list of things Starfleet doesn’t tell you that comes with the uniform,” Harvey confirmed. “I signed up to cure diseases, and I got to do that… twice? Three times?” For a moment, he was wasn’t sure which was more disappointing, that he lost count or that he rarely got to accomplish what he set out to do. “Instead, there was war, losing my first wife and chance at a family, depression, and… whatever the hell the last three years were. I stay in the uniform now because the Black Hawk is the only place I feel like I can call home. And I like to think I have a few friends around.”

He leaned back and picked up his coffee with his right hand. His left hand pointed a sole finger at Camila across the table. “Including you.”

Camila felt for the man; he had truly lost more than she had on a deeply personal level and she wondered how he coped with that. She was also glad that he had Joey and their twins now and that he seemed to be more relaxed than the Captain she had had so many arguments with over the ship. Now he included her in his list of friends? What could she say to that when she had an oath to obey and protect him and getting close to those people meant it hurt more when they died or betrayed you. Still, she had betrayed him when she voluntarily let the Dolmoqouir take her and the away team and then she had tried to kill him. She lifted the coffee cup and gave him a salute with it before she took a big swallow of it. “To friends.”

Harvey could feel the hesitation coming from her, and given their history, he couldn’t blame her one bit. Today, he had a chance to start changing that, and Harvey hoped that he could keep fighting for chance after chance in the weeks and missions that would soon follow. “To friends,” he concurred before taking a drink of his own. Those present and those absent.

 

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