Feeling the Weight
Posted on Tue Jan 14th, 2020 @ 10:49am by Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox
Edited on on Wed Jan 15th, 2020 @ 10:48am
Neutral Zone Neutrality
Location: Flight Control Office, Deck 4
Sitting at her desk in the Flight Control Office on deck 4 of the U.S.S. Hera, Lieutenant Commander Mnhei’sahe Dox felt remarkably alone.
It was a combination of factors that weighed on the Romulan pilot’s mind, but a lot of it centered on the now-empty assistant chief’s office across the room from her slightly cluttered desk. A few days ago, she had helped talk her wife, Mona Gonadie, into accepting a long-overdue promotion to the rank of Lieutenant, and a big part of this was due to the Hera’s recently formed R&D department beginning to grow. Mona had been the chief of the department since it’s inception and the work being done there had turned heads at Starfleet, prompting her promotion. And with that promotion, it meant that the Miradonian flying ace and brilliant inventor could no longer divide her time between the departments.
One deck above Mnhei’sahe’s head, the R&D department, now clad in brand new sharp blue uniforms, was hard at work inventing the future. And in the Flight Control office, Mnhei’sahe had a task in front of her she was not looking forward to: picking a new assistant chief to help her manage the flight crew and the ship’s many shuttles, runabouts, and docking bays.
With Mona leaving the Flight Crew, she took with her the tiny test pilot, Ensign Fiona O’Dell, who had been instrumental in the growth of that department. O’Dell was still, technically, doing double duty for the flight crew and would be running sims regularly to keep her skills sharp as she was earmarked as Dox’s relief at the helm of the Hera herself in the event of an emergency situation where top-notch flying skill was involved and Dox couldn’t be there. But she was no longer in the standard crew rotation for bridge duty. Her primary duties were now as part of the blue-clad R&D department.
All of this left Mnhei’sahe understaffed by two, with an important void to fill. When the red-headed Romulan officer had been kidnapped for a month and Mona was removed from active duty due to the emotional stress of the kidnapping, Ensign Jessica MacNielle had been placed in charge of the department. MacNielle was a somewhat plain, unassuming 27-year-old human who grew up on the Tranquility Moon colony in the Sol system. She was a solid pilot who could be counted on in a crunch to perform well and take care of the more mundane tasks of managing the flight deck during normal operations. But as Mnhei’sae looked at her record and various reports on her job performance, she was underwhelmed.
During that month she had been taken, Jessica did her best to rise to the task of temporary department head and kept everything running, but command responsibilities weren't something the mousy pilot wanted or rose to the occasion to claim. But productivity was down 23 percent across the board, crew rotations were sluggish and there were scheduling conflicts with the repair crews on maintenance of three of the type 15 shuttles that were due for engine refits. The stressed Ensign put the refits on hold until Dox had returned, not wanting to make problems by telling the repair crews what to do. She was sheepish with command responsibilities and didn’t know how to tell people what to do, which was a problem if she was going to be the new assistant chief. And Dox would have to determine if she even wanted the responsibility.
Putting her personnel file aside, Mnhei’sahe called up the next name in the department. A young human male from England, on Earth, named Ensign Edgar Mulligan Trelawney VII. To put it bluntly, Mnhei’sahe just didn’t like the man. He was haughty, arrogant and had an annoying habit of looking at everyone else in the department as beneath him and liked to make sure they knew it. In the month she had been gone, Trelawney had filed 8 reports against Ensign O’Dell for ‘infractions’ as minor as her shoes not being shined to his satisfaction. He was, to be polite about it, pedantic. And she had no intention of giving him any additional power to flex over the rest of her crew. She had been working to reduce the intensity of her own command style and certainly didn't need an assistant chief that was worse in that regard. But he was a discipline problem for another day.
The names on the rest of her list were not much more inspiring to her. The Edosian pilot, Ensign Wieaex was skilled, but excessively talkative and perhaps a bit too laid back. While her six limbs and the ability to multitask with those limbs gave her a definitive edge as a pilot, she was actually also raised on Earth in a place called "Brooklyn" and had had a forceful and, perhaps, overly in-your-face demeanor. Nothing that disqualified her, but in the privacy of her own thoughts, Mnhei’sahe wasn’t sure how comfortable she would feel about working that closely with such an extroverted personality. But she was still on the shortlist, if only on pure skill alone. And her laid back mannerisms might make defusing potential personnel problems easier. She was someone to consider.
Ensign Robert Harnell was another human pilot who was competent, but unremarkable. He tended to be the best suited for lengthy bridge duty and never seemed to make waves. But he also seemed to have zero ambition to do anything more than clock in, do his work, and clock out.
Looking at the names and records of the officers, Mnhei’sahe had a lot to consider. And a few empty slots on the roster to fill. But sitting in that empty office, watching the rest of the flight crew, maintenance, and cargo loaders moving to and fro outside the large window across from her desk, the anxious pilot sighed and flumped forward on her desk. She hated feeling like this. Isolated and alone.
Looking at the corner of her desk, there say the two gifts she had been given by Rita Paris. The first, a scale model of Rita’s old ship, the U.S.S. Exeter. She was a Constitution-class refit that had been on the desk when Rita was still the department head that had been left there when the office changed hands. The second gift was given by Rita for Mnhei’sahe’s birthday back in June and was a scale model of a Romulan Bird of Prey from the same era called the IRW Raptor Star. One was a reminder of Mnhei’sahe’s roots, the other of her future and she had a habit of addressing the miniature Exeter as if there were a tiny Rita at its helm waiting to give advice.
“What would you say? That this is part and parcel of the burdens of command?” Mnhei’sahe said to the tiny Starship with a sigh and a slightly unguarded accent. “That responsibility means we don’t get what we want? That a simple life is for other people? Ugh.” Even the usually clear voice of Rita in her head was waffling today and unfocused.
In truth, while she had felt alone most of her life, but that was something that had changed dramatically when she had come to the Hera. She made friends and her career had begun to advance. She consulted with the security department and began even reconciling with her mother as she reached out and found love. But something had changed during that month that she had been kidnapped. And while she was home again on the Hera, it was becoming clear to her that the sense of completion she was finding on the Hera hadn’t quite returned with her.
Getting up from her desk, she stepped over to the window. Hands folded behind her back, she sighed as she looked out over the deck, feeling very much like she did when she was a quiet, angry cargo pilot on Starbase 17 who was ready to quit the service and give up entirely. It was more than just Mona and O’Dell no longer being in the department. It was more than finding out that she had a grandmother in the Romulan Senate that made no bones about wanting her to abandon her life in Starfleet to return to the Imperium. More than having the Artan ship, the Golden Ghost, now under her command as an Artan Baroness that she had to step away from as a Starfleet officer. More, even, then the sudden responsibility of speaking for the Romulan Senate in the recent talks with reunificationists. Removed from it all again, she felt isolated in a way it was hard to describe.
Maybe it was Asa leaving for Starfleet Medical and the ship having a new Doctor and a New Counselor that Mnhei’sahe had been avoiding. Asa was still Mnhei’sahe’s best friend and she missed that friend and resented their replacements.
It could also be the knowledge that in less than half a year, she would be a mother on top of everything else. That Mona was pregnant and currently in the process of having the wall between their quarters and Asa’s old room knocked out to make room for their growing family meant that even ‘home’ felt different. The decision to have the children Mona was so intent on having was made before so much of her life had changed. Before the kidnapping that had, inexplicably, opened up the entirety of the Romulan Star Empire up to her in a way that she could only have fantasized about as a little girl. Before being the Granddaughter of a senator or the heir to that legacy.
Maybe it was just the weight of everything having a free moment to be felt at last. And all of those responsibilities and stresses were weighing heavily on her in the then and there and she hated the conflicted feelings.
But she had work to do and didn’t have the luxury of introspective angst nor did she have the luxury of choosing only one path. She was stuck being all of these things. She was a flight chief and a Lieutenant Commander. She was a mother to be and a wife. She was the granddaughter of a Romulan Senator and a representative of that Government for better or for worse. She was the Captain of an Artan Bird of Prey and a Baroness. And she was overwhelmed and just wanted to be a disaffected pilot again. Stepping back over to her desk, she collected the clutter of PaDD’s and looked through them with a sigh. There was a list of possible new pilots she would be submitting to Commander Paris for consideration, and her final choice for the assistant chief position would also be submitted to command, but the initial decisions were on her, and she had it narrowed down to two, and even then she was fairly sure who was the best person for the position. And waiting for any longer wasn’t going to get anything done. “Computer, Is Ensign Wieaex running the scheduled flight check on the Thor?”
With a chirp, the ship’s computer replied, =^=Affirmative, Lieutenant Commander.=^=
“Thank you. And Ensign MacNielle is on bridge duty until Oh Six Hundred hours, correct?” Dox replied as she put the PaDD’s away and straightened up her desk. As she did, the computer replied as it usually did to her manners. =^=You’re welcome, Lieutenant Commander, and yes. Ensign MacNielle is currently on the bridge.”
“Hmmm… then I can start with our Edosian talker, I suppose.” Mnhei’sahe muttered to herself before tapping the Starfleet Delta on her breast. “Commander Dox to Ensign Wieaex. When you finish with that flight check, please report to the Flight Control office.”