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CH03: S [D04|2020] Difference in Experience

Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

[ Ensign Six | Battle Bridge | Deck 11 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
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Since meeting the captains in Sickbay, Six had been back at the bridge, filling in for Ensign Mariner, who was still being treated. Six had the impression that Mariner needed as much rest as possible before their away mission, especially after the beating he had received. She'd be surprised if he wasn't restrained so he would be ensured rest.

In any case, Six remained at the security station for the next few hours, hoping to make up for the amount of time she spent in her absence, setting up a forensics lab and designing the Revelation Array. She had been gone too long. She had missed too much. It was necessary for her to remain on duty.

She was planning, of course, to commence her regeneration cycle by the time 2100 hours came along.

At one point, Six had noticed Captain Zeigler coming to and leaving Commander Stark's ready room on the battle bridge. Six had recalled hearing something that Captain Zeigler used to be Commander Stark's boss. As admirable as it was for Stark to risk missing a rendezvous point to help her boss, Six couldn't help but wonder...was there something more between Stark and Zeigler.

Immersed in her duty as she was, Six seeing Captain Zeigler in passing made her think. She pulled up the personnel records on Zeigler...and was surprised to see what she came up with. Her previous post before her promotion to captain was...the Theurgy?

Pushing aside the surprise, she kept on reading. As it transpired, Captain Zeigler used to be the Theurgy's First Officer. It was before the Theurgy went on the run. Barely, too, judging from the stardates.

Six was all the more surprised. When she heard that Zeigler used to be Stark's boss, she had presumed Zeigler was Stark's department head on some other ship, maybe after she left the Academy. It didn't occur to Six at all that Stark and Zeigler served together on the same ship that she was on.

What was their relationship like? What attachment did Stark have for her former boss to drop everything to lend the former Theurgy XO a hand? How much of a friendship did they have?

And, more importantly, it told Six that Stark had been with the Theurgy from the beginning, at least at the start of their going on the run.

Six felt this because everybody around her on the "Stallion," with exception to a few individuals like Masuda, Petty Officer t'Jelliau, and Chief O'Connell, were just about as new to the Theurgy as she was. She knew a few people by name, like Ensign Mariner, but was never on friendly terms.

It was some time after Captain Zeigler had left Commander Stark's ready room that Six couldn't contain her curiosity any longer. In any case, it felt close enough to the time Six chose to leave the bridge and commence her regeneration cycle, in preparation for the impending away mission. She arose from her post and approached the ready room, chiming in for permission to enter.

Re: Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

Reply #1
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Captain | Ready room | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn:
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Needless to say, Natalie Stark had a lot on her mind just then. Captain Ziegler, her former Exec, and current commanding officer of the USS Cayuga had just left her officer, leaving the Operations Chief and current Captain of the Stallion (USS Theurgy - V03) with her ears ringing, her cheek stinging, and her mind and heart heavy. A lot to think on from the woman.

Her emotions had been running on high for the entire conversation, sweeping the gamut from angry to sad to embarrassed to tentatively hopeful. Now however, she was just exhausted, despite the fact that the conversation had been relatively short. She just wanted to finish the report that she had been looking over when Anya had arrived, then go over the last manifest check for the Allegiant in preparation for its mission tomorrow - and then get some sleep, despite the relative early time.

So of course that was when the chime went off at her door.

"Who is that rapping, tapping at my chamber door?" Natalie asked the ceiling, not really expecting an answer. If the positronic mind of the ships AI, Thea, had still been present, perhaps she would have received a proper answer - or the next line of the poem. Thea could often surprise Natalie in such a fashion. Instead, she got the simple tone of the standard computer - lifeless and flat - asking her to restate her query.

"Whose outside?" She stated as she sat up in her chair and adjusted her jacket a bit. She did not want to deal with anyone at all right now. Not when her cheek was probably still red. Not when she'd had that...conversation. Everything was too raw. She needed space to process.

"Ensign Six is currently requesting access to the Ready Room," the computer replied. That wasn't exactly the most welcoming news ever. In the short time that Stark had known the former Drone, she'd learned that Six was...a junior officer that needed something of a delicate touch. And she had hardly failed to pick up that her own acting First Officer, the former head counselor of the USS Resolve did not have the highest of opinions of the Borg Forensics specialist.

Still, she herself had a job to do. And as the commander of the Stallion she would be a poor example if she just turned the girl away. Besides, Six was going to be a key part of their hunt for Borg activity in the nebula. It made sense, on the eve of her mission that she might seek out her commanding officer.

With that in mind, Natalie braced herself, and gave the only response to the chime she could. "Enter."

Re: Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

Reply #2
[Ensign Six | Ready Room | Deck 11 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Brutus
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Six entered the ready room upon hearing Stark’s answer. It was small, but Six could understand; her quarters on Starbase 84 was a tad bigger, but nonetheless small. Commander Stark herself seemed somewhat flustered…and Six could see a slight tinge of red on her cheek. What went on between Stark and Zeigler in their little meeting?

“Commander Stark,” she began, “pardon for calling at a time like this, but I was curious about something: Captain Zeigler. I understand that she was your superior, that she was the Theurgy’s first officer at one point. I found that out through old records. I’m curious: What kind of a relationship did the two of you have, for you to drop everything to help her?”

It was somewhat abrupt, but Six was that curious. Realizing how abrupt she sounded, she added, “Again, pardon on the subject. It’s just that, if you had any sense of loyalty to your former superior, Commander Stark…well, I admire you for going to Captain Zeigler’s aid. And I admire such loyalty if it was the case. Only a loyal crew would take great risks to help their superior, like with the Enterprise when Captain Picard was converted into Locutus of Borg.

“And it also tells me, if you’ll pardon the addendum…have you been with the Theurgy since the beginning? Of when you went on the run? Excuse the personal nature of it all, but almost everybody in this vector is just as new to the Theurgy as I am, even Lieutenant Ejek.”

In some ways, Six was feeling like Data, or her mentor, Seven of Nine, in regards to this conversation, but she felt that either of them would approach their superiors in equal curiosity of their actions of loyalty.

Re: Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

Reply #3
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Captain | Ready room | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Multificionado 
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Ensign Six wasted no time at all diving right into the reason that she had seen fit to call upon the vectors captain that evening. Of all the reasons that Natalie had started to form in her head about why a junior security officer might approach her while she was holed up in the Ready Room, going over reports and, frankly, recovering from the emotional fall out of her conversation with Anya - this was not one that had appeared on the sensor scans even in the remotest form. It caught Nat off guard, and the Lt. Commander blinked a few times as if she were having trouble sorting out what Six had said.

I can see why her demeanor puts Ejek off so much, was the first thought that finally formed fully in Natalie's head. The former drone was trying very hard (or so it seemed to Natalie) to be professional and yet she had let her own curiosity - we can be polite, now can't we Nat? - get the better of her. And that lack of social graces! Well it's not like I was the most sociable creature ever when I was an Ensign. Or a Junior Lieutenant. Or a Lieutenant. Or ever.

Sucking in a slow breath, Natalie set the PADD she'd been holding onto down on the surface of the table between her and Six in the small room. And before she could speak the little drone barreled right on. Natalie waited, and listened in silence, until she was sure that Six was done. She raised an eyebrow, inviting any other comment, but the Brunali remained quiet. With a soft sigh, Natalie gestured to one of the equally small seats on the other side of the table from her. "Please, Ensign, take a seat. Good evening," she said in a somewhat droll fashion.

"There's...a lot to unpack from your questions and it's been a long day, Ensign, so forgive me if I miss something. First....junior officers usually do not approach their commanding officers and ask such questions unless invited to by their CO's. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a conversation like this with Captain Ives....or, Captain Zeigler. Because we did serve together.

"But these are not normal times and its been a rough couple days for everyone," Nat smiled mirthlessly - it made the red on her cheek stand out a bit. "And your situation in this ship is unique, to an extent." Must keep the little drone happy. I don't want her up all wondering when she should be sleeping...or is it regenerating? Before the big mission, Nat decided.

"Bearing that in mind...Anya Ziegler was the first officer on the Theurgy when I joined the crew as the new Assistant Chief of Operations, shortly before out mission to the Romulan home-world accompanying the Titan. I'd had a bit of experience with Romulans back in the academy and Starfleet seemed to be packing the ships with as many people that knew anything at all about the Romulan Star Empire.  And, the ship needed an Assistant of Operations. Commander Hendricks - my former boss - and Captain Ives seemed to like me the best out of the assembled options so I got the billet."  She shrugged a bit, leaning back in her chair.

"At the time I didn;t realize why I'd been on the short list. We hadn't been told we were going to Romulus. It was a few months before that happened. I had just lept at the chance to serve on such a test bed of a ship. I'm sure you can appreicate it was unique in the fleet at the time. Anya Ziegler..." She let her voice trail off.

"Then a Commander, she was a stern, by the book sort of woman. She would call you out if you made a mistake. But she would then help you understand what you did, learn from the experience, and not repeat it again. Quiet at times. Stern, but kind, in her way. I would occasionally serve as the beta shift Bridge Operations officer while she had the center seat for the watch. Almost all of my interactions with her were professional. I saw my boss, Commander Hendricks, the ships then second officer, more than her. He was the natrual mentor given his position and mine." He was a good man, she thought to herself. She missed him, terribly, his death just before the Niga incident was still an almost open wound. It seems like its been years, but no, it hasn't, not really.

"I knew her to be a good woman. She had been kind in her way, caring and encouraging when she could be, to me. I'd gone from small ships to a dreadnought. It was an adjustment. She helped. Thats part of why I was willing to risk so much." A rueful smile, "And as I was pointed out to me, perhaps the other reason I was willing to intervene was to keep a bit of my soul intact. But that is not up for discussion, Ensign." She had let that slip out, shown more than she intended.

She drummed her fingers on the desk for a moment, looking to the side, collecting her thoughts. "I gather that, as youve been listening you'll have put together the answer to your last question. I've not known you very long, but to date you've proven to have an inquisitive and sharp mind." Much politer than saying you're a nosy junior officer that lets her sense of curiosity run rampant. "I was here before the mission to Romulus. I was here when we intercepted the transmissions that sent us running out of the system as fast as we could. I was in the thick of it when we were ambushed at Jupiter Station.

"You're observation was correct though," she said with a soft sigh. "You, like the lieutenant and most of my bridge crew are new comers to this vessel. Given our situation that is somewhat surprising." A morbid look passed over Natalie's face. So many new faces....so many gone for ever. Hendricks, Winterbourne, Nerina, Garen....Rory. She pinched her brow. "I'm not surprised you have questions."

Re: Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

Reply #4
[Ensign Six | Ready Room | Deck 11 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Brutus
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Six nodded in understanding as she listened. Not only bearing in mind to wait for an invitation from a commanding officer in the future, she understood why Stark went out of her way to help Zeigler. She also couldn’t help but feel flattered at her compliment of having an “inquisitive and sharp mind.” It’s to be expected in an investigator of sorts in Six.

“I understand completely, Commander,” she said. “It’s just…well, again, pardon the inconvenience, but I also felt to ask this of you as soon as possible; there may not be another chance once the Allegiant gets under way.

“I’ll also bear in mind to wait for an invitation in the future, but then again, I could name similar individuals like, well, me, who would feel the same. Data always came to Jean-Luc Picard for advice, as did Seven of Nine to Kathryn Janeway. But you have a point: We haven’t known each other for very long. But I never forgot the advice Seven gave me when I entered Starfleet Academy; Seven was a mentor of mine when I came aboard Voyager. One could say we were practically sisters. In any case, Seven told me this: ‘When the time comes for your first post, try to come to your superior for advice and guidance if your are in need of some. You need not go as far as your commanding officer, but you never know: Your commanding officer can be a goof friend just as Kathryn Janeway was to me.’ Of course, I’m also a good judge of character. Captain Hawthorne…to say that he’s the unfriendly and uninspiring type is an understatement; I’ve never liked the man, but I’ve always been careful in expressing such feelings. You, on the other hand, I have great respect for. You make an excellent commander.”

Re: Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

Reply #5
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Captain | Ready room | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Multificionado
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"I am so far removed from the likes of Jean-Luc Picard or Admiral Janeway that its almost laughable to compare myself with them in any fashion. Although I understand your viewpoints on the matter," Natalie said, leaning further back into her chair. The impulse for an officer in her somewhat unique position to be searching for the kind of relationship that had been documented for individuals such as the late Lt. Commander Data, and Seven of Nine (whom this girl grew up around, she reminded herself) was understandable. That need for guidance from a role model - and more so, having heard and seen first hand that kind of relationship in play - was very...human in nature.

Even if Ensign Six was anything but human.

What was absurd to her is that Six would think that she could be this person for Ensign Six. Nat was 27 years old and very much aware of the fact. Having barely more than half a decade of life experience on the Brunali ex-Drone seemed to pale in comparison to the kind of mentor she needed. JLP had a whole lifetime of experience when he took over the Enterprise-D with an android Second officer. Though to be fair, Natalie had experience with those, too.

Unfortunately for you, Ensign Six, I'm all you've got right now. Maybe if - when - we reintegrate the vectors I can pass you off to Commander - Captain Trent. He's much better at this kind of crap.

"I'm flattered that you find me a suitable mentor," Natalie had to tread carefully here, lest she find herself feeling, well, full of herself. "And the people you've known clearly shape your perceptions. I can't exactly fault your description of Captain Hawthorne." The name brought a shudder to Natalie's spine. He was in charge of a massive Starbase and forced them all into a confrontation that had lead to a serious loss of life, as well as the destruction of the poor USS Resolve. And lets not forget Cameron. He was a father to her, before all of this! Burying the emotions that snake brought to mind - as well as those of another wolf in their very own fold - Natalie lay her hands on her desk, fingers interlaced.

"What I need from you - now that you have a bit better understanding of my past - is to keep that loyalty that you see me extrude in mind, in your upcoming mission. You're new here - newer than most, and knowing fewer than most. You're right about that. Even the newer members from the Resolve at least knew each other for more than a few days before getting thrown into this madhouse. But everyone going on that mission tomorrow is a volunteer. They come from different postings, but have been thrown together and are accepting the risks because of what is at stake. They are going to be trusting you to help them, Six.

"I need you to trust them as well. To not let them down. Do that, and they'll have your back, as well. That is what I need you to keep in mind as you find sleep tonight." She held her gaze for a long moment, "Once you're back - and you will be back - we'll see about helping you adjust to life aboard the Theurgy."

Re: Chapter 03: Supplemental [ Day 04 | 2020 hrs. ] Difference in Experience

Reply #6
[Ensign Six | Ready Room | Deck 11 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Brutus
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“No, I suppose not,” said Six with a smile. “In fact, if there’s one person I can compare you to, it would be Harry Kim. Even if he had been an ensign the whole time he had been on Voyager, Harry had to deal with some burdens from time to time, but he always had a certain spark about him. He’s a likeable man. I imagine if you met him, Stark, you’d like him, too.

“I am equally flattered as well, when you told me I was inquisitive and had a sharp mind,” she added with a smile. “It’s generally expected in a forensics officer, given it’s the closest thing to an investigator; mysteries fascinate me, which is one reason to be a forensics officer, though my hacking skills have been of excellent value, like what I contributed in our confrontation with the Asurians.

“And I will most certainly bear it in mind, Commander,” she said, in response to her comments about the loyalty and the upcoming mission.

Her mentioning of forensics officer made a thought occur to her…

“I feel that I need to apologize for my absence, Commander,” she said. “The entire time I’ve been on the Theurgy up until now, I had been busy setting up a forensics lab; I wasn’t sure if there was one on the Theurgy. I had also been coming up with an idea; when I heard about why you’re out on the run, the whole Theurgy crew, I remembered what Starbase 84 contained. I had this idea for an array, a modification of an interplexing beacon; every drone knows what it looks like. However, I feel that I need the opinion of an engineer, first, before I can show it to the senior staff. If you wish to hear the details, I can provide them in a nutshell, as they say on Earth.”

Re: CH03: S [D04|2020] Difference in Experience

Reply #7
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Captain | Ready room | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Multificionado 
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Kim, if Natalie remembered right, had been promoted two full grades to the rank of a full Leuitenant upon return to the Alpha Quadrant to make up for the lack of promotion over seven years, despite stellar service. Almost everyone on that ship got a bump in grade upon return, in addtion to fully recognized pardons, in the case of the Maquis crew. She thougt the man might actually hold the same rank as she herself did, but it was not as if she could look the information up. Just another downside of being removed from fleet contact.

I cant quite tell if I should be insulted, she thougt wryly, though it was clear the little drone was trying to do just the opposite. Again, perhaps more familiair with a senior officer than she should be, but ....Natalie was off kilter. After everything that had happened in her meeting with Zeigler, perhaps she was simply too tired and too scattered to be more stern.

Unconciously, she worked her jaw from side to side, cheek still stinging faintly.

Refocusing on what the Ensign was saying, Natalie felt a spark of curiosity forming, behind the throb of her headache. "Your general duties of late would fall under the Chief of Security's perview. For most of that time it was Commander Wenn, though obviously that shifted when the vectors split." Get to the point, Natalie.

"Youre a forensics expert so I have to admit that I am curious as to what an interplexic beacon has to do with forensic Security."

Re: CH03: S [D04|2020] Difference in Experience

Reply #8
[Ensign Six | Ready Room | Deck 11 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Brutus
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"You’re a forensics expert so I have to admit that I am curious as to what an interplexic beacon has to do with forensic Security."

Six smiled warmly at that. She heard the same typos on interplexing beacons from time to time when she mentioned them.

“Allow me to elaborate more specifically,” said Six. “When I found out the details of why the Theurgy was on the run, I put two and two together. I realized why you came to Starbase 84; why else would you all go to so much trouble to get to the starbase and its whistleblower system? It was then that I remembered the interplexing beacon; every Borg drone has one, as well as what looks like, and the design implanted in the mind. So, I made a design of the beacon, and came up with modifications. The idea is that, instead of transmitting to nearby Borg as an interplexing beacon normally does, the modification transmits signals to Federation broadcast waves, like Starbase 84's whistleblower system did, and to ensure the broadcast would keep going, the warning about the parasites would be contained in a nonlethal virus from the array, designed to keep going until everybody in the Federation got the message, and with enough algorithms to keep even an experienced hacker from stopping the virus.

“Now, granted, I’m no engineer, but I know what an interplexing beacon looks like, and how it works; as I said, every drone has one, and knows what it looks like and how it works. Bigger ones can also be made for deep space transmitting as well.

“And as I said, I would need an engineer’s opinion of it…but then again, I imagine as an operations officer, you probably know how a transmitting array works. I probably won’t have the time right now to pull up the designs I made and show it to you, let alone to Chief O’Connor, but I probably might when I get back from the away mission.”

Not exactly the best way she had on proposing the Revelation Array, but she felt it seemed as good a teaser, as they called such tantalizing previews back on Earth, as any. And as Stark was close enough, given Operations worked with Engineering from time to time.

Re: CH03: S [D04|2020] Difference in Experience

Reply #9
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Captain | Ready room | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Multificionado 
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Interplexing beacons, Natalie quietly corrected herself. It was either a sign of how tired and wrung out she was, or emotionally adrift after her meeting with Captain Ziegler. She wouldn't have made that mistake otherwise. At least, that was what she told herself. It simply could have been that this kind of long distance communicators work was out side her area of expertise. Even if a Chief of Operations was supposed to know everything about Starship operations. Most starships, she reminded herself, didn't operate interplexing beacons.

Duly chastised in her own mind, the vector Captain rested her hands atop the desk and simply settled back to listen. For all her...interpersonal shortcomings, Ensign Six clearly knew a thing or two about what she spoke of.  She listened as the younger girl outlined her reasoning - why the Theurgy was at the starbase and what it might need the whistle-blower system for. Accurate enough, and odds are we told her after the fact.
But then she got down to the nuts and bolts of the subject. An apt metaphor, Natalie decided, as they were dealing with the complex workings of Borg technology. Given the knowledge that the Borg were in the Azure nebula - a quick glance to the form of the Cayuga drifting past reaffirmed that grim fact - the conversation seemed rather topical.

Natalie allowed herself a tired, tight smile as the former-drone wrapped up, quietly wondering if they were all so...talkative. She lacked any basis for comparison, and likely would for some time yet. There was also a bit of amusement at the categorization of 'an operations officer' being close enough to an engineer. In many ships, Engineering fell under the purview of the Chief of Operations, with the Chief Engineer reporting to the Chief of Ops, as they oversaw the engines and everything else related to a starship. Most Ops officers had some cross training in direct engine support and maintenance, and frankly, the comm's systems would fall under the purview of Operations to begin with.

Now, if we need to tie in the warp core to the communications array, that would be something else entirely, Natalie allowed, privately.

"You're right, in that this isn't something we can pursue today. Or likely, even this week, with the way its going," a bit of gallows humor. They'd be lucky to be alive seven days from now. "But it has merit, and our primary objective is to spread the truth of the infestation. Assuming....we don't rejoin the other vectors, once we're sure of our next course, I'll set something up between you, myself and Chief O'Connell. We'll need to pool officers from both Engineering for fabrication and Ops for the actual work on the communications array."

Raising a hand to forestall the next question, Natalie said, "I would appreciate a written report on this, when you have the time." She put extra emphasis on that. "Your primary concern right now is ensuring that you get enough sleep - a full regeneration cycle, yes?" She had been aware of the drones needs in that department - or at least, she thought she was. "I want you to ensure you get one of those tonight. Because we have no idea how the mission in the morning is going to go, and as we covered earlier, your fellow crew-members on the Allegiant are going to be depending on you. I want you to be at your best, Ensign."

Re: CH03: S [D04|2020] Difference in Experience

Reply #10
[Ensign Six | Ready Room | Deck 11 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy] Attn: @Brutus
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“Of course,” said Six. “I’ll be sure to write up a report when I have the time. Thank you for hearing me out, Commander.”

She rose to leave. “Well, I suppose I’ll head on down to my alcove; my shift was almost finished in any event. It’s been good speaking with you. I’ll see about speaking to you when you’re off-duty, for future reference. I’ve enjoyed working with you, and on this ship, thus far.”

In her departure, she made the note to write a report about the Revelation Array, but she had a feeling it was going to wait until after the away mission. There’s plenty of times with which she will need to focus on determining the point of origin of the Borg in the Nebula.

As she made her way to her alcove, she felt a rush of admiration for Commander Stark. Six was a good judge of character, after all, and she had a feeling she liked Commander Stark more than Lieutenant Ejek. Stark would make an efficient commanding officer in the future, and a good officer often has to go past the book, but depending on reactions, it could earn one a demotion or a promotion, but either way, there was bound to be trouble.

Feeling that there will be plenty to sort through once she finished her regeneration cycle, Six immediately made for her alcove once she arrived in her makeshift forensics lab.

“Computer, activate regeneration cycle,” she ordered, once she was in, and closed her eyes in the Borg equivalent of slumber.

Re: CH03: S [D04|2020] Difference in Experience

Reply #11
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark, Captain | Ready room | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Multificionado 
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She watched the younger woman stand. It was very easy for Natalie to think of this girl as still a child. To dismiss the experiences the woman had gained. Probably her personality, Natalie decided as the Ensign made an offhand comment about doing just as she'd herself had suggested, going to regenerate. And then launched into a bit about enjoying serving on the ship. What kind of relationship did you have with your last assignment if being stuck on a ship of the damned seems like a plumb set up? Natalie quietly wondered - to herself of course. She was not about to ask Six that, especially not when she was as tired as she was.

Nat still had much to digest from the conversation before the security officer arrived at her door. And there were the reports. Stacks and stacks of reports. If she buried herself in that, would she stop feeling that phantom sting on her cheek, she wondered to herself. Setting it aside, Natalie refocused on Six and what she had been saying.

"Thank you Ensign," Natalie managed a kind tone in her response. "You're dismissed." She watched the Burnali officer leave her room, and heard the doors slide shut with their barely audible hiss. She counted to five, and then let her head drop to the desk, sighing long, and loud. It wasn't so much that any one thing about the ex-Borg had bothered her. It was simply the straw on the camels back that - if not quite breaking it, after her previous meeting, had left said camel feeling exhausted.

"Burden of command," Natalie said to no one in particular, as she planted her hands on the edge of her desk and pushed the chair back, and herself up, in the same motion. Her shoulders hit the back of the chair and she let out another deep sigh, absently rubbing her cheek. "Too much to do yet, Nat. Too much to do. At least you put her mind at east. Take it as a win, Commander, and get back to work."

FIN

 
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