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SD241902.13 - Joint Duty Log - CO, CSCI - "Walking a Fine Line"

Posted on Fri Mar 1st, 2019 @ 1:47pm by Commander Torhild Jessen & Brigadier General Jonathan Grey

2,064 words; about a 10 minute read

Mission: The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Location: Versailles
Timeline: Current

=^= CO's Office =^=

The dome glittered with stars, faintly illuminating the expanse within. The dappled glow was barely enough to make out shapes in the gloom, but the sole moving shape was still easy to spot. It rose from a boxy shape against the floor, moving upwards and away wth barely a pause.

The boxy shape dropped into the floor at the same time a thin pole rose with a ruffled shape atop it. The moving figure took the ruffles from the pole and draped it over its shoulders, pausing for a moment as the pole retracted, speaking volumes about the last time he'd tried moving around in the darkness with that pole lurking about.

"Computer," said the figure, shielding its eyes, "lights."

The stars rose in their brightness, bringing the room into sharp, unforgiving relief.

General Grey squinted, even while protecting his eyes, and gave himself a moment to adjust. Though the room was completely empty now, save for the muscular General in his dressing gown, he was still wary. Several days of trying to reach his own quarters had resulted in a few bruises, a single cut from flying shrapnel, and a valuable piece of information:

A lot of people wanted him dead.

Versailles locals blamed him for giving space and power to the YaDallans. YaDallans blamed him for not saving all of their friends. The people from colonies that were sheltering YaDallans blamed him for taking their jobs and resources. Colonies that were selling all their food to Versailles blamed him for buying it all and depleting their stores. Even as they took his money.

Oh, and much of Starfleet hated his guts too. He was a suddenly promoted marine, and apparently the slight shift in command-level philosophy was punishable by death.

Grey felt this was an overreaction.

In any case, he'd slept in his office's emergency bed last night, and it was the first time he'd managed to sleep through till morning in over two weeks. No gunfire, no shudder of explosions just outside the door, and no subtle hiss of some undetectable menace slithering towards him under the covers of his bed.

A welcome change, though it did feel a bit like the first breath of never getting any fresh air again.

A few minutes later, and the freshly-showed General was ready for his first appointment of the morning. Instead of summoning his desk, he chose to greet the first appointment while standing.

Right on time, a pillar of light rose from the center of the C-shaped table in the middle of the room. Gentle trembling could be felt through the floor as the various security measures were disengaged to allow his visitor passage. Eventually, the final door slid open in the floor, and his guest rose up into the room, only to be lowered onto the door as it closed beneath her.

"Hello Commander Jessen. Settling in?" he inquired, starting off on a light note.

As she walked into the office, her gaze was almost immediately drawn to the stars above her. She tipped her head to one side slightly, keeping her gaze up as she turned in a circle, lips pursed as she studied them intently for a moment. "This isn't the local starmap is it?" she queried distractedly. "None of this looks familiar..."

She looked across at the General and smiled suddenly. "Sorry, I like looking at stars, they're kind of my something shiny," she said with a quick laugh. "Yes, I am settling in, thank you for asking. It's been... well... it's been interesting. We're still working on the food situation, I mean, at least a more viable solution than pond slime and grilled tribble, but we have a few other ideas in the pipeline as well."

"Pond slime? Grilled tribble? Explain please." said the General, wary of this new madness.

Gesturing to a chair around the outside of the C-shaped table, Grey silently aknowledged the truth of her statement about the starscape. While the lights had been dimmed overnight, he'd left the holo-projectors on low-power mode to prevent the place feeling like a grey bunker. This meant that the Klingon fleet, which was barely perceptable by eye, had seemed to be staring him down.

As he'd been in his underwear at the time, this had proven unsettling.

A few groggy commands to the computer later, and the starscape had been replaced by the constellations around Vulcan. He had no particular preference for the Vulcan sky, but the meticulously-recorded images had allowed a reproduction as high-resolution as the one produced from the station's sensor array. Pixelation could be a menace with images this big, even if Grey couldn't quite spell that word.

"It was mostly a joke..." Tori said with a faint laugh. "We were looking for ways to feed people quickly with something that was easily self replenishing with limited involvement from us..." her voice trailed off slightly.

"I apologize if I'm overstepping my bounds, but to be honest, you look like hell."

While she couldn't quite put her finger on it, there was just something about his general demeanor that was not entirely just meshing well. He had more baggage under his eyes than she had come aboard the starbase with, and there was a certain terseness to his words.

Taking the chair he had gestured to, she sat gracefully, still keeping a steady gaze on him. "I can't even begin to imagine the pressure that you're under, but if it's taking it's toll perhaps you should speak to someone?"

Cocking an eyebrow, the General decided that this was a good time to start setting some boundaries here. There was "speak freely", and then there's "call your CO a nutjob". This fell into the latter category.

"A little too familiar, Commander." he stated, stressing her rank as his lips thinned into an unhappy line. "If you have concerns over my fitness for command, take them to my XO, or express them to one of the medical staff. Otherwise, keep it to yourself, am I clear?"

Pursing her lips, Tori nodded slightly. "Crystal," she replied tersely. Somehow she got the feeling that telling him to take a nap and improve his attitude would probably not be the smartest choice right now. His response likely would not be telling her that she was a mean Mommy and he wasn't going to share his ice cream with her any more.

Taking a PaDD from inside her jacket, she handed it across to him. "We are in the midst of converting a section of deck thirteen into a self sustaining aquaponics bay. We still have a few kinks to get out but we're starting initially with just growing algae. It tastes pretty ordinary but it is high in nutrients so we're looking into ways to best incorporate it into what we already have available. Once we have the balances right and the algae growth at an acceptable level we are going to look at introducing some fingerlings."

She paused for a moment thinking over other things she already had set in motion. "I've got some feelers out to different suppliers for some more mature dwarf fruiting trees, we are going to look at potting them around the promenade. Ideally they should bear fruit quickly but the additional foliage around the more heavily populated areas will help take even a little bit of the load off of the environmental systems. It likely won't have a profound difference but any difference is better than none. Aside from that we've also put a call out to any docking or passing ships to negotiate on the acquisition of any ration packs they may have. Most ships have no particular attachment to ration packs in any way and are glad to be shot of them, especially if they can trade them for something that they consider more important so the few preliminary conversations we've had have been very encouraging in that respect. Again, taste isn't entirely pleasant and it won't last for ever but it's proving to be infinitely more economically viable than purchasing actual palatable food items. So we do have a few things in motion at the moment which we hope will be seeing fruition quickly and we're still looking at other options as well. I'm kind of keen on getting my hands on an old starship, but that can wait at least a little."

The General blinked.

"Ration packs and friut trees. Fine. Algae is...some sort of plant I assume." he guessed from her promises of 'growth'. "We'll be needing that food sooner rather than later, and plenty of it, so don't be shy with requisitioning space. A lot of the station is still too run-down to support sentient life, but i imagine the less-damaged areas might hold together enough to handle several dozen kilometers of your 'algae'. It's a big station." he remarked.

Recently, a padd had fallen on his desk from the civilian group tat had been contracted to survey the unoccupied areas of the station, and it had reminded him just how broken the station still was. At one stage, years ago, Starfleet had left the station to the locals for reasons Grey hadn't bothered to look into.

Years later, Starfleet had returned to find an absolute wreck.

Important componants had been torn out, key systems had been stripped of precious metals, and entire portions of the hull had been removed. It had taken a dedicated engineering crew, over a thousand-strong, years to repair key systems, enable life-support on many of the decks which were formerly exposed to space, and replace the stolen defensive systems (at least, the ones Starfleet hadn't taken with them when they left).

This didn't, however, quite obscure the fact that about a third of the station was still utterly uninhabitable. some areas were frozen without heating coils, some areas had no gravity, and a few nonessential areas would still give you a stunning view of the stars. Not through windows, of course, but through gaps in the hull. Looters really had tried to take everything.

Distracted by his sojourn down memory lane, it took the General a moment to process the last thing the Commander had said.

"You want an old ship? Why do you want an old ship?" he asked, confused.

Tori shrugged slightly. "Why not? Doesn't everyone want a ship?" she asked with a quick grin. "Nah, it's just an idea I've been working through in my spare time when I need a distraction. It's a long ways away from fruition yet. Our primary focus is on using what ever we have or we can acquire with minimal effort on our part. The algae for instance. Acquired for nothing, grows easily, and we're using external ships for heat sources so we don't rely too heavily on station resources. It isn't going to taste great, but hopefully we can round it out with something else to help change the taste, or at least mix it with other less nutrient dense foods to help increase the nutritional value."

"Well, it sounds like you have things in hand Commander." said the General, rising from his chair. "I don't think we spare a ship 'just because', right now, but it's good to hear you have the food situation under control."

The General reached down and pushed a control on one of the desks, causing a beam of light to fade into view and light up the floor-door in the center of the C-shaped table.

"Oh, and you should keep our new Chief of Operations in the loop if you can. I believe he's trying to renegotiate for a better deal on our supplies. So if you want to order something special, like flavouring for that algae, he's probably your best bet."

"I've spoken to him a few times, but I will speak to him again," Tori replied, standing up and smoothing the front of her uniform. "I won't take any more of your time, thank you Sir," she said formally, turning on her heel. She had only taken a couple of steps when she turned back. "Oh, and I'd suggest a hot milk totty with a good belt of brandy. It'll help you sleep." She smiled sweetly before heading out of his office.

=^= End of Log =^=

Brigadier General Jonathan Grey
Commanding Officer
Starbase Versailles


Lieutenant Commander Torhild Jessen
Chief Science Officer
Starbase Versailles


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