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Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Educati

[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: Brutus

The doors to Holodeck 2 closed behind Commander Carrigan Trent, and he looked at the room around him.  The training value in such a technology was one that Starfleet had quickly capitalized on and it was something that, on this day, the Executive Officer would as well.  For, first thing in the morning, Lieutenant Commander Stark would have received a notification she was expected to report to Holodeck 2 herself for some professional development.  And that was all it said.

Walking into the empty room, Trent started tapping at his PADD, using it to manually enter the parameters of the simulation.  For one thing, he would be what would amount to being a two-way mirror to observe how the Chief Operations Officer would react, but be invisible to her in the process.  One thing for certain, he did not need to really watch the simulation itself, for he had lived it...

Once the doors to the holodeck would close behind Stark they would lock as the simulation would start and the parameters programmed into it would prevent her from leaving, pausing it, or ending it until it would run its course.  But she would not be an interactive participant.  She would be more or less a ghost, able to access consoles and view readouts but not affect anything or even be noticed by the characters.  And the main holodeck doors, they would be aligned with the main Bridge access of the long-destroyed USS Harrier.

In the command chair was Carrigan Trent.  Captain Carrigan Trent.  Who still had both the hands he had been born with.  Granted, it had been a little less than eight years since that day, but the man in the center seat looked much younger than Theurgy's Executive Officer, younger than just the weight of the years would have accounted for.  Less worry lines on his face, not even the slightest hint of grey being anywhere in his future, his shoulders a little more square, his eyes less filled with memories of hard times.  But still, he projected the quiet confidence and competence he carried years later.

"Their shields have been mapped as per your parameters, Sir.  Entering phaser range in two minutes." the officer at Tactical reported, and from his seat Trent responded with a small nod, and his voice, the quiet near-whisper Stark would already be familiar with, sounded, an oasis of calm in the red lighting of Red Alert.  "Very well.  Activate the programmed fire plan as soon as we are in range."  But there was a hint of unease in Trent's voice; there was something he couldn't put a finger on... 

But the tactical officer, his old First Officer, was the one to speak up.  "Captain, it's not like the Jem'Hadar to not turn and engage, even their scouts.  They must have a Vorta with them giving the orders."  And again, Trent nodded.  "I was thinking that too. We can't allow them to go to warp and report on our strength in this system."  Something was off, Trent knew it but he would not voice his concerns openly on the Bridge.  Not when entering battle. 

Minutes passed, and then the Tactical Officer called out, this time loudly and with some alarm.  "Captain!  Three, no five additional Jem'Hadar fighters on sensors!  Coming from the radiation belt of the gas giant.  They're on an intercept course... Initial contact is coming about!  Ambush!" 

But still, Trent was seated, and the only indication of the strain was a slight tightening of his lips.  "Initiate the fire plan as directed, follow with a brace of torpedoes and come about to engage the others.  Send a message to Commodore Irenkov; scout proven to be a decoy to initiate an ambush; the Jem'Hadar appear to be using a new concealment tactic that can't be allowed to be believed effective.  Engaging the enemy, requesting reinforcements."  His voice was calm, and cold as ice.  There was no doubting his authority as he spoke, even though some eyes turned his way in askance.  A Saber-class ship, even one of the uprated tactical variants, was no match for so many Jem'Hadar fighters.  One would be easily matched, two was still possible but three or more would be practically suicidal.  But he had explained his reasoning, and made his decision.

The helmsman, though, turned about.  And she looked terrified.  "Captain, I can get us out of here, there's an opening in their formation, I can get us through before we get..."  But she was cut off.  "No, Ensign.  We withdraw, we tell them their ambush worked, and we might not have Mister Laurent at Tactical to pick them up so quickly again next time.  We fight."

And so the engagement began.  And for six and a half minutes, the Harrier fought and fought hard.  One of the Jem'Hadar vessels was destroyed outright, the one that had led them on this merry chase, and two more had been crippled into being little more than hulks.  But it became obvious the fight was over when the shields failed and would not come back up and was being pounded into scrap metal by her relentless foe.  Trent was still in his seat, but he had been somewhat singed and abrasions on both his hands and his cheekbone spoke of having been thrown at some point.  At Tactical there was a Petty Officer who was bordering on frantic, the First Officer a broken heap of shattered bones and burnt flesh along the aft bulkhead.  And Trent, his voice cutting through the din of battle.  "Tactical, set all weapons to auto-fire.  Helm, set automated evasive maneuvers.  All hands, abandon ship."


This was where the simulation froze, and Carrigan Trent, Commander Trent, walked through a holographic bulkhead to greet Natalie Stark.


Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #1
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: 
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The low grade headache that Natalie had been nursing since she woke up had flared again during her last meeting, just before the strange appointment that had been logged into her schedule. The orders left for her were as vague as they were concise. Report to Holodeck 02 for professional development. It had left Natalie confused, and with the pain behind her eyes, she wasn't exactly looking forward to whatever it was that Commander Trent  had lined up for her. A quite afternoon of dealing with departmental meetings would have almost been preferable, even in the mayhem of the failed mission to Starbase 84.

At the same time, she would have had to be blind to fail to notice that Trent had taken an interest in her development. And the (now deceased) Edena Rez had never had the chance, as XO, to do that. Considering the mess they were in, the constant feeling of 'survival mode' that the crew had been forced into, Natalie was quite surprised that anyone was taking an interest in duties beyond getting from point 'a' to point 'b' and staying alive in the process. That Cmdr. Trent was making this effort - it provided a much needed sense of normalcy. A reminder of the tradition they upheld, and perhaps an indication that they could come out of this with careers waiting for them.

That the reasoning may have been far more along the lines of back up and fail-safe options, in the event that the senior staff above her were all killed or compromised hadn't crossed Natalie's mind.

So headache aside, enigmatic message, and odd location notwithstanding, Natalie was curious, almost eager, to find out what Carrigan Trent had in store for her. She came to a stop just outside the holodeck, noting that a program was queued up but had not yet begun. With her head tilted to the side slightly, the blue eyed woman adjusted her skirt, then the under-sleeves of her uniform, before tucking her padd under her left arm and reaching out with her right,fingers brushing the touchpad that would grant her access. With a heavy woosh, the doors slid open and Natalie stepped through, her boots clicking over the metal divider before stepping into the padded flooring of the holodeck.

The instant the doors slid shut the program began. Natalie didn't even get a chance to call out to Cmdr. Trent, realizing that he wasn't there. All around her, reality dissolved, before forming again into the tight corridor of a bridge access hallway. In standard Starfleet taupe was a set of sliding doors that read "main bridge - 01' which slid open with a much quieter hiss, opening up into a small, compact bridge.

A fully staffed bridge.

Quiet voices mixed in with the stead hum and beep of a starship bridge, cramped as it was. The pulsing lights under the main view screen, the deep vibration that internal dampeners could not suppress: a vessel traveling at warp speed. Two junior officers were whispering quietly in the back of the small space, comparing data on a chart above a multipurpose station. She walked past them, shooting them a look, utterly ignored. Even though these were holograms, they were - as any hologram worth it's salt - done up right, extremely life like. They must be heavily enraptured in whatever it was that demanded their attention to not notice the arrival of a superior officer on the bridge.

Those bright eyes swept across the bridge as a voice broke out, addressing the man in the center seat. The cut of his shoulders was instantly familiar to the brunette. Carrigan Trent. There he was. The other officers words didn't register at first, only the sound of her first officers voice. Something off about it...

"Commander?" She called out. Nothing. Maybe he had not heard her? "Commander Trent?" She asked again, louder. No response. She didn't know him well enough yet to be comfortable with his first name, even if he had used hers once or twice. "COMMANDER!"

Silence, and then, he was addressing the people around him. He was....he was part of program. It wasn't him. He turned, and she got a good look at his face....and his hands. Flesh.

"Oh...oh my," she whispered, raising a hand to cover her mouth, the other coming to rest across her stomach. He looked...young. There was concern in his gaze, confidence,but there were no weary lines at the corner of his eyes. Still quiet. Ever a whisper, but he was whole. Youthful. Confident, and clearly in command. He said something about targeting, pursuit, and her eyes darted up, seeing the clam shell shape of one of the fast attack craft the Jem'hadar favored for scouting, or swarming. She remembered, the first officer had spoken of his previous service as...

"Captain of the Harrier. Oh noooo." She knew then, what was going on. And sure enough, in front of her, on the view screen, in the tone of the officers on the ship, in the sudden, rock solid tension that filled the bridge, Natalie knew. "Break off!" She ordered, to no avail. "Its a trap, you have to - " there, on the view screen, rising from the swirls of a gas giant were 5 more attack craft, breaking out of the atmosphere in perfect, deadly formation. The emitters of their polaron beam emitters glowing their otherworldly blue. But instead of heading her words, she listened as she heard Trent - the younger Trent - order the ship to maintain its heading, and bring their weapons to bear on the fleeing attack ship. The bait ship, dangled in front of the Harrier like a worm on a hook. And the Starfleet vessel had bit, hard.

A lone voice of reason, from the helm, called out, offering escape, survival. The Saber-class vessel was a formidable, if small starship, but it was no match for that many Jem'hadar attack craft. Getting away, saving the crew, his people and his ship. Surly that would have been the right move? Warning the Federation - but no, Carrigan Trent made a decision. Make a decision, any decision, his words echoed in her mind, and she saw the ghost of that same mantra, that confidence there, in the command chair. He would not run. He would charge in, guns blazing, to take out as many as he could, to buy the time until reinforcements showed up, to take out the enemy, prevent them from escaping with their intelligence - and to make a stand.

Yet still, Natalie wanted to force the ship away. The stench of fear seemed to permeate the air, rising up from the officers. The false officers, she tried to remind herself, to little avail. Their faces awash in the flashing red of the alert lights, the rest of the bridge dimming as weapons sang across the void. The long pause, short in reality but stretched to an eternity, before the blows struck home, plowing into the ships shields, sending them all shaking about, Natalie included. Why she had assumed that the program would spare her the indignity of ending up on her ass, legs wide, head resting against one of the auxiliary engineering stations was anyone's guess. A fools guess, she thought as she pulled herself to her feet in time for a shower of sparks to rain down on her back, eliciting a startled yelp that turned into an almost low growl.

"To hell with this," she spat, rising, and staggering forward. Oh, Natalie knew that this was a simulation. But the longer she was in the simulation, the harder it was to remember. To stay back, to try and remain detached. It was all too real, sucking her in, deeper, and deeper.

The tactical station was abandoned - someone had died in the ensuing fight, time passing strangely, a rapid series of flashes, pictures almost, yet achingly slow, the flow of molasses in winter. Her fingers flew across the controls, ordering a brace of torpedoes - but nothing happened. The a new set of hands were there, over hers, punching in the same commands. Holographic ones, shunting her out of place without even noticing she was there.

Another blow, another detonation. More bodies thrown up, into the air, a boot clipping Natalie even as she ducked. Acrid smoke, filling her lungs. And through it all, Carrigan Trent prevailed. Damming his ship and his crew around him, the man rode it out. Blood covering him, from someone else. Flames licking the side of his seat. Another death, this time  next to Natalie, the exploding science console shredding a luckless Ensign and dousing the Operations officer in gore. She sputtered and coughed, spitting out holographic blood onto the singed carpet. How it had been programmed to do that was beyond Natalie in the moment. It simply served to hammer the experience home.

Truthfully, she doubted she'd ever get that taste out of her mouth. Certainly not any time soon.

Rising to her feet once again, the dazed Ops Chief swept the back of her hand across her lips, smearing the residue over her pale skin. An eerie quiet descended on the bridge - the red alert lights flashing, but the wailing klaxon seemingly muted. Fires all around. Emergency lighting. Stale air, heavy with carbon dioxide. And a hardened visage, singed by fire, meeting the gaze of the bridge survivors. "Tactical, set all weapons to auto-fire. Helm, set automated evasive maneuvers. All hands, abandon ship." They were going to scuttle the vessel. Try and take as many with them. Natalie took a step forward to stop them, only to jump out of her skin as an older, less battle damaged version of Carrigan Trent stepped out of the middle of the bulkhead directly into her path.

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #2
Trent knew what he was about to watch.  And he himself had not entirely fully come to terms with it.  He had made a mistake despite having made a correct decision based on all the information he had on hand at the time.  And when he realized what was happening, he made the decision to deny the Dominion the benefit of new tactic that could be effective, and they had just been lucky the ambushing force had been picked up in time.  At which point he made the decision to give every impression that he had known all along about the ambush, and decided to engage despite the odds against him. 

But watching it all, once more, through an anonymous screen?  That was tough.  But he forced himself to focus on Lieutenant Commander Stark and her reactions.  It took her some time to realize the holographic characters were not interactive.  And for the Harrier to have taken a sound beating before she tried to take Tactical, only to realize that she was not part of the simulation on any level. 

And then she realized what was going on, and he watched her as she wiped the holographic gore across her face.  And then the simulation froze even as Stark looked as though she was going to do something, and she jumped when she saw him as opposed to his past self.  "Computer, end program," he said simply and the Harrier's Bridge dissolved around them. 

"Natalie, you know what you just witnessed.  Now, there are reasons I decided to show you this.  Can you tell me what they are?"

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #3
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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"Computer, end program," the ever clam whisper of the XO was picked up by the Holodeck computer. The frozen visage of the brutalized starship faded away into the bright lit grid of the room. She felt the digitized blood vanish, the sticky sensation fading away, and slowly, she stood a bit straighter, though her arms were still wrapped around her middle. Her hair was slightly messy, but beyond that, and the rumpled state of her uniform there were no remaining signs of what she'd been though.

That, and the ever so slightly haunted look behind her eyes.

"Natalie, you know what you just witnessed. Now, there are reasons I decided to show you this. Can you tell me what they are?" The brunette started to shake her head, then stopped, biting her lip. Natalie forced herself to focus, to put behind for the moment everything she felt in the moment, and remind herself that she was a Starfleet Officer.  A combat veteran at this point. So why had Cmdr. Trent put her through all of that?

A look of understanding crossed over her face and she straightened further, pulling her hands away, letting them lay near the hem of her skirt, rubbing her fingers against her palms. "Make a decision," she quietly told Trent, then a bit louder, "You made a decision." She stopped rubbing her palms, calming now as she committed to her answer. "To show me that. To reinforce what you told me before." She ran her tongue against the back of her teeth, concluding, "You were faced with a horrible choice and you made one, then stuck with it."

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #4
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

Trent was watching Natalie Stark closely.  After all, he had put her on the spot and he wanted to see exactly how she would handle this.  He had made a point to shock her with this particular simulation and making it as realistic as Thea could manage it.  And while she had experienced battle more often than many other officers of her years of service, there was value to observing her reactions to what had happened there. 

But then, he caught it, the proverbial light bulb coming on over her head.  She understood where he had been going with this, and she answered with the very thing he had taught her when she led the rescue mission for the Harbinger's stranded crewmembers.  "Excellent answer," he replied.  "No one expected the ambush, or this sort of tactics from the Jem'Hadar or even the Vorcha so it was a surprise.  So when it was launched, I had to take the overall tactical and strategic situations under consideration, and the choice to commit to action was one I made based on this."

He took a deep breath.  He had explained himself several times about those events, but this time it was not to a board of inquiry, or to a counselor or in group therapy.  His experience was becoming a teaching method, and he would see to it the Chief Operations Officer would get maximum value from it.  "Second, you might have once heard that a commander's priority is to the ship.  That is wrong.  A commander's first priority is to the mission.  Your ship, your crew, they are resources, resources you must preserve as much as possible but also must be ready to expend.  In this  case, the mission was to deceive the Jem'Hadar about the success of a new ambush methodology and hold them in place long enough for reinforcements to arrive.  In the end, when the Harrier was no longer an asset towards that, that is when I ordered the crew to abandon ship."

"Next, at the time I engaged in pursuit, everything we knew about the Jem'Hadar and their tactics, and what sensors told us, was that we were dealing with a lone scout.  Therefore, pursuing and engaging was the right thing to do.  No one could have foreseen the ambush, and apparently I did everything correctly, even when choosing to engage the group of them.  Captain Picard once said that one can make no mistake, and still lose; that is what happened that day.  And some day, you will be there too: you will do everything you can possibly do, and do it right, but you can still fail, or be defeated, or lose your ship and your crew.  That is inevitable."

"And the last lesson, it was helplessness.  You were mostly a ghost in this simulation, unable to speak to anyone or interact with anything, yet be fully subjected to the experience.  There will come times when no matter what you may wish, you just cannot act.  It will happen.  But still, I saw you tried to do something, and you didn't lose your cool.  That is a step in the right direction.  All in all, I believe you did very well under these circumstances."

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #5
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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"Thank you," she replied, almost on autopilot. Despite that innate knowledge that everything she had experienced was a hologram, Natalie was still slightly shaken by what she'd seen. She was, however, keeping herself together as she listened to Cmdr. Trent give his feedback. And as uncomfortable as she was with what she'd been through, she drew a sense of warmth from everything that he said. A feeling of accomplishment, even if she wasn't entirely sure she agreed with his assessment of her.  She was in enough control of her facilities to make note of what Carrigan was impressing upon her.

The mission, before the ship, before the crew, she told herself. That was a bitter pill to swallow. But not nearly as bitter as the fact that, as he said - as Picard said - You can make no mistake, and still lose. And having just....lived...through the Harrier's last mission, its final day, she could see exactly what Trent meant by that. She turned her gaze back to where the ships tactical console would have been - seeing only the gird of the holodeck, a stark contrast, if she allowed herself the pun, to what had unfolded. All the proper information, and the ambush was what caught them unawares. Everything done right, and still, the ship was loss, and with it many of the crew.

Which lead to helplessness. That, she thought, would be the hardest of them all. "A situation where i wont be able to act...." she's spoken her thoughts aloud, looking back at her first officer. Since she had already started, she may as well finish them. Her mind ran along, searching for a reason, finding one, and voicing it. "The Prime Directive?"

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #6
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

While Stark's professional development to date had been sorely lacking, she was still quite capable, and even better she was willing to learn.  Officers who were promoted quickly, and especially without going through the requisite training for the positions they found themselves into, tended to be rather pig-headed and of the know-it-all variety who thought the reason for their swift promotion was entirely due to their shining performance rather than the circumstances around them.  But Natalie Stark?  She had a solid head on her shoulder and she was welcoming the instruction she was receiving. 

And, instead of simply accepting what she was hearing from her XO, she actually asked for clarifications and used the Federation's most sacrosanct tenet to make her point.  However, Trent shook his head.  "No, I don't mean 'bound by regulations', Natalie."  If anything, he was being patient, and spoke not as a patronizing, or disapproving instructor. Instead, he spoke as a mentor and colleague. "The Prime Directive itself can't stop you from doing what needs doing, or what you feel you must do.  It is your choice to abide by it or not; as well as to face the consequences afterwards.  What I mean is when you are physically prevented from acting; when you are too far from what you need to deal with, when you are physically restrained, when the environment itself doesn't permit it.  Not a decision you have made or have to make standing in your way."

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #7
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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Other officers may have had a sense of entitlement resulting from a rapid promotion to Lt. Cmdr and thrust into the position of Chief of Operations on a ship like Theurgy, but as Trent had clearly noticed, Natalie was not one of those officers. She knew she was in her position due to being in the right place at the right time. As Hendricks Assistant Chief, she had been the best suited to replace him after his death. She was not promoted early out of a sense of exeptional talent and skill, but out of sheer, uncompromising nesessity. Perhaps the only sign that Captain Ives had seen something more in her than just a body to fill a position was that he had not made the title "Acting."

And that sign of faith was one of the many reasons that Natalie remained loyal to her captain, and determined not to let hir down,

Which reinforced, in turn her willingness, her eagerness (and her deep down burried joy, not even admitted to herself) to learn whatever it was that Carrigan Trent seemed willing to impart upon ner. Even as he shook his head though, Natalie did not let herself fall into dismay, but instead tried her best to listen. He wasn't upset, just clarifying in turn.

"Literal restraints, not....philisophical. Or legal, I suppose," Natalie mused on that for a moment, a frown forming on her featuers as a nasty memory surfaced. "Id say so far, the only times ive been...restrained in such a fashion, those that depended on me were not also on the line. Just myself or -" Or Simon Tovarek, bound like her in the Rena's office. Rory Callahan, dying to rescue them. Lucan Nicander, just as tied down as she as the plants reared up.... She let that line of thought drop as she tapped her fingers against her shirtsleeve, looking bak up at the ships First Officer.

"I have never had a mission on the line where I couldn't do something to try and help."

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #8
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

"But you've been there," Trent simply answered, and it wasn't a question.  He had the chance to at least sift through the senior staff's logs and he knew how Natalie Stark had been in situations where she was, in effect, helpless.  But even if he hadn't, the shadow that had crossed her face when she had thought of her answer.  But he was not berating her for it, simply stating a fact. 

"I'm not going to pretend I know what it was like for you.  It would be the greatest disservice and lack of respect I could show you.  But only a minority of Starfleet's personnel have ever truly looked helplessness in the face.  Even with the Harrier being pounded to scrap metal I wasn't helpless: I had a ship and a crew willing to fight her.  Even when I gave the order to abandon ship.  I personally did not become helpless until I was spaced.  And even then it wasn't for long since I wound up passing out."

"But any roads, this is it.  You're a good officer, but you're unprepared for your current role even though you've been doing surprisingly well given the circumstances.  For one thing, I need you to start reviewing how you handle problems within your department.  Looking at the logs, I saw some times when your supervision was lacking, and some where you became a micro-manager and even got your hands dirty when you shouldn't have.  And I'm not talking about your therapeutic stints on the hangar deck either, I'm talking day-to-day operations.  Effective immediately, the only times you will touch a piece of equipment, except when you're out clearing your had with the deck crew, it will be for quality control when you're not sure your section heads and your assistants haven't done their own QC right.  And by that same token, you have to start drilling that into your people's heads too."

Re: Chapter 34: Continuing Education | Day 02 [1400 hrs.]

Reply #9
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: 
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Well, she wanted to say he was wrong, but Trent had seen right through her and could tell she was reflecting on times when she had been unable to do anything. Was it the way she held herself, picking at the sleeve of her jacket, or something else? Something he'd read in a report. Either way, she did know what he meant, at least in some form, and now she knew he was aware of it in turn. Didn't make much of a difference, not really, she thought. And there was no heat in his tone, no anger or reprimand. He talked instead of respect, of where it put her, in relation to other officers. Natalie found herself quietly acknowledging what he said with a soft, "Yes, sir."

Then however, he took on a different aspect, a - well, not stern by any means. Direct, perhaps might be the word that Natalie would use, upon reflection. And while what he said was truthful, and she didn't even disagree with him, at the same time the words that followed stung, even if only a bit. Of course she wasn't prepared for the role she'd been handed! But she swiftly reminded herself that Trent wasn't berating, he was trying to help. So she stood up a bit straighter, and did her damnedest not to take offense. She opened her mouth to argue with him about the duty rosters, about getting her hands dirty, but then stopped.

How may times have you had a superior officer that meddled too far in what you were doing? And how many times did it drive you nuts? She asked herself. It was damn hard to not snap right back at him though when he made his order about not picking up equipment. She opened her mouth, shut it tight and stood up straighter still. Which had to look a bit stupid, with her hair still slightly in disarray. It was so hard not to be defensive in the moment. "What, specifically do i need to drill into their heads, Commander? Not picking up tools, or quality control?" Christ, that sounded sharp she realized, and looking apologetic, she added, "I....admit that i"m very hands on. And that it was easy to do, to pick it up myself. As I'd done as Hendrick's Assistant."

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #10
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

Training, working up and preparation.  Those were areas where Carrigan Trent had excelled as a tactical and command officer.  And now, he was bending his expertise towards Theurgy's Chief Operations Officer.  But his style tended to be rather direct and stern.  He was not one to coddle or hand-hold, but to set on the right path in a rather unceremonious manner and correct as need be.  But, it would seem that Natalie Stark was not overly fond of that approach at first.  She had been shocked.  But then again, that was part of his intent.  An immediate shock about the errors of one's ways, followed by the setting of new expectations and guidance towards reaching them was the way he preferred doing things. 

It tended to set him very much as a tyrant among the crews he was working up in some ways at least at first, but in the end the results spoke for themselves. 

"Both," he answered in his usual near-whisper.  "They need to realize you are no longer the Assistant Chief Operations Officer who'll be helpfully there to go over their work, their reports and fix day-to-day problems for them.  I'd say that barring Covington, none of your section heads seem to have gotten the memo.  That needs to be corrected.  And by that same token, some of your people have gotten lax, because they have this attitude that you will be there to fix things.  That is not the case.  You are here to run the department, and to be an integral link in this ship's chain of command."

Trent walked around the holodeck, hands clasped at the small of his back.  "You know this as well as I do.  As Executive Officer, I run the ship's day to day operations, I am the Captain's seniormost advisor, the second in command; but do you know what a department head really is?  Of course, there is the easy answer, that of someone running a department.  You are also the Captain's subject matter expert with regards to your own department.  And you are in effect my deputy in charge of Operations.  But you will not find me poking through work orders, or resource allocations, or deconflicting the operation and maintenance cycles of waste reclamation.  As Chief Operations Officer, your job is to make sure it all gets done without getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty."

"I know, picking up a hyperspanner and fixing something yourself, of doing up the maintenance timetables instead of a section head, or even a supervisor, is a lot easier in a lot of ways.  It's smaller.  What you need to work on in the immediate is to learn to delegate."

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #11
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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Natalie was not normally an angry woman, or frankly, one to do anything that might border on disrespectful. She kepet quiet, and ususally worked with her head down, observing, listening, and then offering input or feedback. She was also helpful to a fault. When someone came to her with a problem she tried to tackle it head on, often with her own two hands. And as Trent stated - sometimes it was simply much, much easier to hunker down and tackle the issue at hand herself. Just take the hyperspanner, or the duty chart, and attack the problem, bend it to her will and then be able to stand back, pat her suboridnate on the shoulder and send them on the way, all while congratulating herself for a job well done.

Finding out that this was, in fact, not a job well done got very much under her skin and had her angrily questioning her own worth at the moment. Combined with the defeat the day prior, her actions in the lounge in the evening, and her little rant during the Senior Officer's meeting, Natalie found herself dealing with an unusual sensation: that of very nearly shouting down a superior officer. Only the fact that up until this moment, Trent had been entirely supportive of her endeavors kept her from completely making an utter ass of herself to the XO. Which would have been a sure fire way to undermine everything she'd managed to do up until that point.

"Delegating is...hard," she finally conceded. "We're running on fumes, from one emergency to the next. Everyone is already swimming in work and - and its easier to just put on my big girl boots and tackle the problem myself. Sir." She wasn't arguing exactly, perhaps just explaining or - or making excuses. Which she did not want to do. Shaking her head and grasping her hands tighter, in front now, instead of behind her back. "Doesn't mean that I can't learn to do it." A soft sigh, "To...delegate. I have a new Assistant Chief of my own. Perhaps I need to start using her in the same way that Hendricks used to make use of me."

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #12
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

"When you're not used to it, yes it is."  Trent agreed softly, offering a hint of a smile.  Officers were taught to do just that at the Academy, but there was will a lot of hands-on work for junior officers.  In fact, any officer below the position of department head were routinely expected to get their hands dirty, so to speak.  And when it came to certain problems, even department heads need to pitch in. 

"Natalie, you have excellent technical abilities.  No one can take this from you.  And yes, everyone is tired, but when you're buried in some repair or low-level task, just who is running the department?"  There was no criticism in the XO's voice, only a question aimed towards making Stark understand where her role truly sat now.  And, truth be told, she'd come to say exactly what he was about to himself, by making use of her new assistant. 

"Now that is an excellent notion.  Use her to do that low-level quality control, to troubleshoot section heads, and to deal with the day-to-day details so you can focus on the department as a whole, and manage the ship's resources better.  And if you do need to get your hands dirty, only do so after you are absolutely certain your assistant is unable to deal with the issue.  But don't let her slack off and take advantage of having you as a safety net either!"

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #13
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet  
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It was the ghost of a smile on Trent's lips that helped to ease any sting from the words that followed after. The prodding question, about running a department. Her initial thought was that I'm running the department, but she sensed that would be the incorrect answer. She felt that she'd have to be a pretty piss poor Chief if she had to be there at the desk in her office to run things. Or at the Ops station on the bridge during that duty shift.

"Its not about where I am, is it?" She asked aloud, following the question with a conclusion, "It's about where my focus is." Not exactly an Earth shattering realization by any means, but it was still a revelation that Natalie had not yet come to prior to then. Combined with the idea of leveraging the Orion Ensign to ride herd over some of the more....well, lazy wasn't the right word...complacent section heads had merit. Save for Sten. If i send her his way it'll be to have him disabuse her of any unhealthy notions.

Feeling a bit more relieved, Natalie gave a small nod, forgetting that she did still look somewhat disheveled. "I haven't been able to pick up much of a feel yet for Ens. Zeshryr, unfortunately. I don't know what habits she has to be broken of." Hopefully not the same ones I need to do away with, she silently added,. "My understanding is that she ran the Operations Department on the Resolve during their sojurn, though I have gathered she did not start out at that position.[/i] There was no way an Ensign would be serving as the Operations Chief on a Luna-class explorer. At the bare minimum, a full Lieutenant might be in the position, but outside of a courier vessel or the like, an Ensign would be a bit much.

"I suppose if nothing else, she won't have the habit of relying on me right from the get go. I..." she frowned, "I have to wonder how some of the rest of the department will take to her. They've been through a lot and while they're all good people...how are we going to deal with possible resentment?" Belatedly, she added, "Sir.'

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #14
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

"Exactly." This time, Trent genuinely smiled, a rare display of emotion from the XO save in the most select of company.  He had not had to explain to the Chief of Operations exactly why he wanted her out of the nitty-gritty tasks and from micromanaging anything was so she could indeed focus on her task, which was for the entire ship instead of dealing with individual, low-level problems that her Chiefs, supervisors and even low-level department members ought to be able to handle on their own, and that pleased him greatly.  During the engagement with Calamity, he had learned she was capable and he had been thoroughly surprised at her lack of experience when he reviewed her file when he had been appointed to the role of XO.  And given her performance during the SAR operation, he had faith in her and taking her under his wing would help her develop the mountains of potential he could see there. 

When she spoke of her Assistant, Trent nodded. "That will be up to you to learn that.  It is up to you how you do it, but if I were you, I would meet with her privately and explain to her exactly what you expect of her.  And you will have to hold a meeting with your department's senior people to introduce her.  Yes, there might be some resentment, but have faith your people are all professionals and will do their jobs.  If you have a problem, you have people in your department, and outside of it you can ask for advice.  Your fellow senior officers are your peers, and they might have advice for you.  In fact, might I recommend you look into the Tactical department logs over the last few days; look up Lieutenant Carson, formerly the torpedo section head for advice should you deal with a case of severe resentment.  But overall, I'd rather you speak to your people or the other department heads first if you run into trouble, but if all else fails, you can come to me; my door is always open, and an XO's work is never done."

He had not failed to notice how late the 'Sir' had been at the end of her sentence, but he was not going to tear her apart over it.  He liked her.  Not just as an exceptional young officer with a great deal of potential and a desire to learn and improve herself, but she struck him as good people as well.  "Natalie, in private you don't have to say 'Sir' every other sentence.  Save that for when we are in public."


Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #15
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet  
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"I will do my best to try and remember that, Si- er...Commander?" She tried unsure as to what the best option would be. She wasn't sure she merited a 'Carrigan' yet, and she was treasuring that rare smile she'd seen him let slip. The last thing Natalie wanted to do just then was accidentally undo what good will she'd managed to drum up. She found herself rubbing at the back of her neck as she bowed her head slightly, unable to quite keep a smile off of her face. Still, she marshaled her emotions and pushed them back into check.

"As for the Ensign, I agree that I'll need to sit with her for more than a few brief moments before a staff meeting and....get the lay of the land. Set expectations and such." So far, Natalie's only exposure to Zeshryr had been quit truncated by duties. She'd essentially introduced herself, apologized for the short span of the meeting and handed over a set of PADD's to hopefully help the ensign acclimate to her new ship and department. A few simple tasks set on the Orion woman's plate, and orders to 'get the lay of the land,' while Natalie dealt with the process of integrating Ops officers from the Resolve.

"When we last spoke I had tasked her with giving me updated write ups of the new crewmen joining the department from her former ship. I was hoping to gain some insight as to their abilities from their former superior," she chewed on the side of her lip for a moment, "Something a bit more than "They're all fully competent, ma'am." Or the like." She let out a soft sigh, clasping her hands behind her back, still smiling slightly. "This was in addition to assigning Crewman Eklund to give her a tour of the ship. He's been reintegrating well with the department after his deprogramming." The poor crewman had been one of many to fall prey to the machinations of Declan Vassar, but he had least, had survived the mutiny and was doing his best to prove himself to his fellow crew-mates.

"I do know that the deck hands from the Resolve have already met with Chief Covington. In that department, at least, I have little worry that they'll integrate fully in little time at all. As for the rest of the new hands....and the old. I'll take that suggestion under advisement and see what I can glean from Lt. Cmdr. Wenn" She seemed to fidget slightly as she spoke of the imposing Bajoran Security officer, whom she had caught more than once stealing glances in her direction earlier, during the Senior Staff briefing. Just what was up with him? He seemed so personable the other night, but now... Her thoughts trailed off as she reminded herself that she would not necessarily have to approach the Security Chief directly, but could simply look at the disciplinary notice in the ships log.

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #16
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus 

"As a rule, spending time with your people and pointing them in the right direction is time seldom wasted.  If you will look in a mirror, you will see a case and point."  Trent smiled once more.  Of course he had caught her hesitance at a less formal mode of address.  But then again, he had always been thoroughly formal, if unfailingly polite in his interactions in public and he knew he gave off this air of being quite strict.  And truth be told, as a rule he was.  Of course, he relaxed it with friends and intimates.  But there was another situation where he would loosen the reins: when someone was deep in his favour. 

However, being in Trent's good graces was no easy task.  One had to prove capability, potential, and a willingness to do the work and learn.  And so far, Natalie Stark had been the kind of pupil any officer who chooses to mentor others dream of.  Smart, dedicated, and not too proud to admit she doesn't know everything. 

"And excellent calls on the task you set her to and the tour guide.  Under normal circumstances I'd have preferred you assigning someone more senior, like one of your section heads.  But since everyone is neck-deep in work, using one of your people with the least amount of expertise was an excellent decision." 

Positive reinforcement.  It was a powerful training tool, and something was telling the XO that the young Lieutenant Commander was one of those who liked knowing she was pleasing her more experienced superiors. 

"But in the end, remember the decision is yours.  You can't just take what others, even the Captain or myself, suggest without a grain of salt.  You know your people better than I do, so my take on handling a certain situation might not be the best, as an example."

Then, he nodded.  "Now, there is one last thing.  Technically you're not supposed to be in command by yourself on the Bridge.  Mind you, you've held the seat for some time, but it could be considered as being 'under supervision'.  You'll notice, I changed the watch schedule and from now on, your Bridge watches will coincide with mine.  But you will not be sitting at Ops.  Either you will be observing me, or you will be in charge.  In fact, you will mostly be in charge of things.  And whenever you are in the chair, you will have hand over command to one of the Battle Bridges while you run a simulation of my choosing, then after you resume command you will have the other Battle Bridge run the same simulation, which you will assess and critique.  And of course, I will have an eye on you."

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #17
[ Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Holodeck 02 | Deck 8 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: 
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Natalie felt reassured as Cmdr. Ives gave praise for her choice of tour guide. Her own reasoning had been more along the lines of finding a route for the wayward Crewman to reconnect with his department, than simply pulling away the least experienced officer on hand, but at the same time, it was a valid choice. And now that Carrigan had put that into words, it was something that Natalie would be sure to keep in mind in the future. She hoped that there would be no need to break in new officers to the ship any time soon. At least, not in the way they had been recently.

Thankfully a few older officers were coming back to the department. She'd seen a padd from medical, just before the meeting, notifying her that both Ens. Vereyn Kiiz and Lt(jg) Nator 159 had been processed out of Stasis and were on recovery. The former was cleared for duty later that evening after a 24 hour rest period, post stasis. She had been unable to finish reading up on the latter's condition before going to the meeting with the XO.  Given Trent's feedback about spending time with her subordinates, however, Natalie made a mental note on the spot to go back and read the rest of the report, and schedule time with both Ens. Kiiz and Lt. Nator. A nice meal before Kiiz's first duty shift would be appropriate, I think. I need to check on Nator's status though. The Hermat's are a hearty people, but still....Have to read that as soon as I get back to my quarters. Probably while grabbing that shower I'll need.

Aloud however, Natalie went with a simple, "I promise to keep that bit of advice in mind." She did know her people. At least, professionally, she knew them. Even before her promotion to Chief, Natalie hadn't been the most social of colleagues. Her people skills were something that she managed to pull on as a mantle of her job. Off Duty she was rather introverted. And last night was a perfect example of why you keep to yourself so much, she ruefully reminded herself. No department mixers for me any time soon.

Those dark brown eyebrows shot up high on Natalie's forehead as she heard what Carrigan had in mind for her, going forward in regards to duty shifts. That would bump her bridge duty out. And changing her shifts meant having to tweak the schedules of her various section heads to cover her duties at different hours. She could already see a logisitcal nightmare brewing over it but - but she had an Assistant Chief to help mitigate part of it, and more bodies returning to duty to fill in empty spots in the roster, covering various shifts across the ship. No, she could reserve any panic for the reason why Trent was changing her shift up.

Command training.

Thats what Trent had in mind for her. Bringing up her skills as a commander, not just a department head. Making sure that if it came down to it, she could function in command of the ship. God help us with the attrition rate we have it might come to that Natalie glumly realized. She swallowed, her throat dry, and gave a nod, once. "Aye, sir," This felt more formal to her. This...this was a big step. Very big. They've sent you off in command of a mission. They've had you cover the bridge watch, and now Trent wants to have you better prepared by doing so more often. Yes, Carrigan would be there to fall back on in a true emergency, but still....

"If I'm either in the center seat, or - i assume - one of the aux stations for observation, then we'll need to adjust schedules to have more ops officers on watch at the bridge duty station," Natalie mused aloud, already running ideas. "if you have no issue with this, I'd like to have a running rotation of officers so that its not always the same one there when I'm behind the chair. Give them all some more bridge experience as well. Like Ens. Zeshyr, for instance. She'll need to become familiar with the Theurgy quickly. And...in the middle of a drill would be a good time as any to evaluate her in...in addition to myself."

 

Re: Day 02 [1400 hrs.] Continuing Education

Reply #18
[ Cmdr Carrigan Trent | Holodeck 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus

From the time he had strode onto the Bridge in the midst of the mutiny to take full command of the ship before going into battle, Commander Carrigan Trent had the clear and distinct impression that Natalie Stark had what it took to be more than just an adequate officer, but one of the good ones, if not a great one, given some direction and mentoring.  She had managed to keep it mostly together when there was a problem with the deployment of the mines, she had managed to be triple-hatted during a good part of the engagement and kept her head in the process. 

And, even through his professional assessment of the Lieutenant Commander, he liked her as an individual. 

Yes, the time and effort he would be investing in her would hardly be wasted, and, assuming they would not all die in the wreckage of Theurgy, or spend the rest of their lives in jail, he had the impression she would handily be able to become one of those officers whose names lived on.

And he was about to say so himself when the alarm klaxon sounded, and the hologrid started to pulse with an aggressive yellow light.  Yellow alert?  Well, it certainly meant this professional development session was at an end, and they were needed elsewhere.  So, without preamble, he tapped his combadge.  "Transporter Room One, this is the XO.  Beam Commander Stark and myself directly to the Bridge, near Mission Ops."

While transporting from one Vector to another had become standard procedure, site-to-site was limited to time-sensitive matters, and while Trent had stood in line to get onto a transporter pad, same as other members of the ship's company when he was not in a particular hurry, this was no time to wait, and a brisk "Stand by," had been the answer he received before both he and Stark disappeared in a column of light.

FIN

 
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