A Favor to Ask...
Episode 02: "The Telling"
Location: Ready Room, USS Thames
Timeline: Mission Day 02, 0428 Hours
ON: [[Ready Room, USS Thames, Mission Day 02, 0428 Hours]]
Cassius paused a moment and considered the woman sitting next to him. They had gotten to know one another rather well over the past several weeks, a reality that was no doubt helped by the regular sessions he had attended with her. The fact that Barra seemed genuinely okay with the idea of mysterious alien vessels having shown up on the far side of the planet, a situation he had only just filled her in on, was a testament to her curiosity and her diplomatic attitude.
What he was about to ask of her, however, would fundamentally change their relationship, both personally and professionally.
“I want you to take over as acting first officer.”
If Adessa hadn’t already been seated, she was half certain she would have dropped unceremoniously to the couch at that unexpected announcement. It took her a long few seconds to process what he had said, and she feared that she’d let the silence grow awkward before she spoke again. “Forgive me, but I’m…well, I’m genuinely surprised,” she said with a breathless laugh. “So Makino won’t be returning?”
Cassius shook his head. The news that Makino would be leaving them had come as a surprise. “I’m afraid not.”
She was genuinely sad to hear it. They’d been growing closer, and Adessa had thought that they might become firm friends one day, if nothing else. “You do know that I have no Command experience to speak of,” she said carefully, well aware that the Commander must have done his homework but feeling practically duty-bound to remind him of the fact.
“I am aware of that,” Cassius affirmed, “Commander Thompson would probably be the most qualified in that regard, but it seems to me our situation right now requires someone with a bit more diplomatic tact.”
"Fair enough," Adessa said with a chuckle. Her doubts notwithstanding, she understood well that under the circumstances the ship needed an XO, even if it required a counselor and diplomat stepping into the role. "I'm no Makino, nor a Thompson, for that matter. But if diplomatic experience and a penchant to analyze things from a psychological point of view is what you're hoping for in an acting XO, I suppose I'm the only option you have," she smiled. "Time permitting, would I still be able to see some of my patients?"
The question was actually one Cassius had anticipated. He knew he was asking a lot from Barra, especially on such short notice, and that even a temporary arrangement would create certain...complications. Individuals might not feel as comfortable meeting with her as a counselor if they knew she was also the one responsible for overseeing personnel reviews and discipline. Certainly the relationship between the two of them would change. Their regular sessions, for example, would probably not continue.
"I don't know what the regulations are," Cassius said after a moment, "but I trust you're responsible enough to know your own limits."
"Thank you, sir," Adessa said with a grateful smile. She had no intention of burning the candle at both ends, but she couldn't just leave her patients in the lurch like that.
"This will only be an interim assignment." As much as he would have liked to have settled the matter right then and there, Cassius could not make such an appointment without approval from Starfleet Command. They would undoubtedly have questions about Barra's fitness to serve in such a capacity and would likely recommend other, more experienced individuals. It was, however, a matter for another time. "Once the present situation has been dealt with," he continued, "we can look into a more permanent solution."
She was an emergency XO, Adessa thought to herself wryly. She'd done stranger things in her career, particularly on the diplomatic side of things. Memories of her time negotiating trade treaties on Ferenginar surfaced briefly, and she just managed to quash an amused smile. "I understand, Commander. I'll do my best not to lose the colony to invaders or somehow crash the ship in that time," she deadpanned, feeling that some levity was in order.
"Excellent," he said, "Shall we begin...?"
Commander Cassius Whittemore
USS Thames (NCC-80629)
Lieutenant Adessa Barra
Acting Executive Officer
USS Thames (NCC-80629)