“But I don’t know anything about command!”
“And neither did I when I started this project. It’s a skill, like any other, and it can be learned. Besides, you have a couple months to work with your CO and your Commander and pick their brains.” Kendra looked at the nervous young woman. “Kassidy, the Pike is primarily a science vessel. You have gotten nothing but glowing reviews from everyone aboard Endeavour, including both Dawn and Candice.”
“I’m not worried about the science; I can handle that.”
“And you wouldn’t have been promoted twice if you couldn’t manage people.”
Yager’s face twisted in agony. “But they’re geeks, like me! I understand them! I don’t know anything about engineers or helmsmen or tactical officers or anyone like that!”
“If I didn’t think you could do the job of Executive Officer, I wouldn’t have put you there. And Kiri agrees with me.”
“Exactly. She recommended you for this.”
This information seemed to carry great weight and Kendra could see her sit up straighter.
“Then I’ll do my best to make her proud.”
Kendra nodded. “I know you will, Commander Yager. Hecate. Official log…”
“Lieutenant Starks. Thank you for coming by.”
The petite blonde, hardly as tall as Kendra’s shoulders, beamed. “Always a pleasure, Admiral.”
“And Nicole!” Kendra stood when the second officer walked into her appropriated office, closing the gap and wrapping her in a hug. She held the younger woman at arm’s length and examined her.
“You look good in blue. And already promoted, I see.” Kendra gestured to the two rings, one wide, one narrow, on her cuffs. “Ensign Crozier. How does it feel?”
“A bit odd. I’m doing an awful lot of saluting,” said the former Artemesian Minister of War with a grin. Then the grin faded. “I wanted to talk to you about this, though.”
She indicated the gold piping on her blue uniform.
“Sit down and we’ll talk. Starks, you too.” When everyone was comfortable Kendra continued. “What’s the problem?”
“I don’t want command, Kendra, and I don’t want to be assigned to Tactical. I want to do science, remember?”
Kendra got the faraway look she had when accessing her ‘plant for information. “I remember. But it’s just not in the cards, Nicole. Your experience as Minister gives you such a wealth of experience in both those areas it was a wonder I was able to steal you away from Davie.”
“Staffing the Pike is making holes in a bunch of starships, Nicole, and Davie intended you to fill one of them. I believe it was Tactical Officer on Enterprise, now that Elliott and Daniela have transferred off to Pioneer for good.”
“I had no idea,” Crozier replied.
“Command decision. You wouldn’t have. But I had to fight like hell to get you for the Pike because I knew you wanted to do science. Being a tactical officer on a science and exploration ship was the best I could do for you.”
Starks spoke again. “And why am I here, Admiral?”
“Simple. You’re going to be Second Officer as well as Tactical, and Nicole’s going to be your second.”
The two women examined each other closely.
“Stop looking like two ‘cats crossing in an alley,” Kendra said with a laugh. “Nicole, Melissa jumped tracks from communications to tactical. She’s also brilliant with people but not so much with the systems. Melissa, Nicole wants to jump out of her tactical track to science and I think you can show her how to do it. In short, I think you two will be a heck of a team.”
Nicole shrugged first. “You jumped tracks?”
“I did,” Starks agreed. “No call for a Communications officer on these starships, not with the AI’s handling all the traffic.”
“And there’s one more person, ah! He’s here.”
The door opened and a surprised-looking officer was revealed.
“Come on in.”
“Mark!” Starks was up and out of her seat in a flash, wrapping herself around the man before letting him go.
“Sparky,” he said with fondness.
“No introductions needed there, I see.” Kendra’s tone was wry.
“We served on the Young,” the newcomer said. “Admiral.”
“And that means you’re Mark Walker. Good. Mark, Ensign Nicole Crozier.”
He frowned. “The name’s familiar but I don’t know why. Crozier. Crozier. Oh, I know! Are you any relation to the Minister of War who died a few years back?”
“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated, Sir.”
Her bland statement got the reaction it usually did as his jaw sagged open. The majority of Artemesians who had joined the Terran Federation prior to the end of the war still believed she’d been killed by the late, unlamented Primus. If she was being honest, she relished her current relative anonymity, but wouldn’t allow the mistake to continue if confronted by it. Then they had to deal with her still-youthful appearance and the cognitive dissonance was complete.
That drew a laugh from Kendra. “She’s an Ensign, Mark. You don’t have to call her ‘Ma’am’, unless you really want to.”
When in doubt, retreat to formality. “Admiral, no Ma’am, thank you.”
“Sit. Mark, now that the Young is finally decommissioned, I’ll bet you’re wondering what comes next for his Engineer.” The former Artemesian ships had all been ‘he’, instead of the ‘she’ the Federation used and the pronoun stuck when they transferred over.
“I happen to know of a ship which is going to need an experienced Chief Engineer. Carries a promotion to full Commander. Has a catch; if you take the job, you’re going to be mentoring Senior Lieutenant Starks on starship systems other than communications.”
“Admiral? What ship?”
“The Christopher J. Pike.”
“The first Explorer?” Walker’s face lit. “Where do I sign?”
“You understand the other part? Helping Melissa on the technical side of her new position? She’s going to be Second Officer, so you’ll have to be subtle.”
He and Starks shared a glance. “We’ll manage, Admiral. We’ve served together before.”
“Good. And Nicole?”
“Kendra?” Crozier’s use of her first name didn’t go unnoticed. She had been Minister of War for Artemis, after all, prior to her abrupt departure when a MinSec operation mistakenly tried to snag her. Then she’d served as the second Premier of Free Luna, after the leader of the revolution had stepped down. She’d held that post for almost six months, until elections were held, before finally, gratefully, passing the torch to her successor and officially joining Starfleet. She was used to talking to Kendra as a peer, not as her superior officer, and this was her reminder.
“Learn from them both. You want to get into Science? Learn how to lead on the micro level. That will translate across divisions. I know you can lead thousands, even millions, but leading a dozen? Totally different animal. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to get up to speed on the actual science.”
Nicole nodded before saying, “Aye, Admiral.”
“Excellent. I’m sure you three are going to have lots to talk about before the official launch.” They could all hear the implied dismissal and took their leave.