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Formal Introductions

Posted on Friday September 29th, 2017 @ 11:29pm by Lieutenant Commander Damien Blackford

Mission: Mission 0: Crew Arrival
Location: Deck 1, Captain's Ready Room

Before he announced his presence, Damien took a moment in the short corridor outside the ready room to gather himself. He knew he must have had a face like a thundercloud the whole way here, and not just since his transport had arrived. No matter what was about to happen, Damien wanted to make sure he did everything right. There was potentially too much at stake here for him to make a mistake.

When he was sure that his breathing was calm and measured, the reflection of his expression on the glass covering one of the wall panels showed him no indication of stress, only then did he press the chime to the office. Then he squared his shoulders, lifted his chin slightly, and made himself ready to meet the infamous Commander Scott Parker.

The USS Ark Royal's new Commanding Officer, Scott Parker, sat flatly in his office chair scrolling through a list of new crew transfers, but ultimately not reading any of the manifest's service jackets. It was how his first official day on the vessel was going, somewhat nowhere, until the chime rang out.

"Come," he replied.

As the doors opened, Damien walked inside. While some might engage in strict, rigid formality when it came to reporting to their new commanding officer, the easy and confident manner in which he moved showed that Damien wasn't that green. Still, he said the traditional words that had been repeated and passed down over the centuries, "Commander Parker? I'm Lieutenant Commander Damien Blackford, reporting for duty, sir."

Damien held out his right hand to shake, and while his tone was cordial enough, there was something cold in his icy blue eyes.

His eyes falling on the officer, Scott stared his new Executive down. Blackford was not a common name among Starfleet officers and Scott knew it; but, that would be research saved for another occasion. "Have a seat Commander," Parker said while slowly rising to take the man's hand but remaining behind the desk. "I find it that you've just arrived?"

"Thank you, Captain," Damien switched into the usual form of address for a ship's CO, regardless of their rank, after the handshake was over. He nodded as he settled easily into the seat and his gaze steady on the other man. "I wanted to come and meet you straight away, sir, as I imagine you're as eager to start our mission as I am."

Eager? Ha, Scott thought to himself as he continued his stare. Just months ago, he would have shuttered at the idea of going back into space. Things now, though, were improving... slightly. "The Inconnu Expanse isn't exactly a walk in the park, Blackford."

"Agreed, Captain," Blackford stared back levelly, blue eyes steady and confident. If he was at all put off by Parker's intense stare, he wasn't admitting to it yet. He briefly rubbed his goatee with a hand, musing, "But that is what makes this mission both important and exciting to me. We'll be at the forefront of discovery in this region, the first from the Federation to encounter new life and civilizations, and likely all kinds of fascinating phenomena in space. I'm looking forward to it, sir."

When put that way, Parker couldn't neglect the notion that he agreed. "Indeed Commander," he said while finally relenting his gaze and looking the Executive up and down. He turned to his data terminal and pulled up the record nearest the top, Damien Blackford. "This will be your first stint as an Executive Officer I see," Scott commented.

Damien glanced away at last as well, towards the window and the view into space outside, and let out a long breath. It was a brief moment, but one that hinted at some level of discomfort he'd had at the staring contest. His attention quickly returned to his new superior when the man spoke again, and Blackford nodded, "Yes, sir, it is."

"Are you ready?" He asked.

There was a moment of silence as Blackford put his thoughts in order to respond. Something nagged at him that this question was more heavily loaded than it first appeared to be, but it didn't stop him from giving what he felt was his honest answer, "I've spent years giving every effort to get to this point, focused my career and my life to become a commander. Yes, sir, I'm ready."

"Very well," Scott commented. "Since we are being assigned an entirely new senior staff, I want to you check with each department head to verify our readiness," he added. Parker was fully capable of completing the tests himself; but, he had other things to deal with prior to launch.

"Understood, sir," Blackford nodded his confirmation of the order, but he wasn't done yet. This being his first time as an executive officer, as Parker had pointed out, he wasn't ashamed to speak up about some things he didn't know. It was how he learned, and learning was how he advanced himself.

"Captain, I've experienced different command styles on different ships. On some, the commanding officer was more detached from the crew while the XO was heavily involved. Or vice versa, the captain was the warm and informal one while the first officer was harder. I personally prefer a tight ship, with adherence to regulations and protocol, but...I am here to be at your disposal, sir."

Adherence to regulations and protocol. Those were words Parker heard all too often over the past year. He was quick to answer, "I'm not sure where I fall on your spectrum, but my concern is getting into the Expanse, completing whatever task Starfleet hands us, and getting out in one piece. However we manage that is okay with me."

"In that case, Captain, I'd like your permission to enforce a level of decorum and adherence to Starfleet standards on the bridge at least," Blackford continued. Something about his gaze had changed again, guarded but more curious, as if wondering how Parker was taking all of this. "While I don't want to micromanage the departments in their own sections, I believe a high degree of discipline among bridge officers will allow your crew to fulfill your needs on this mission well."

Another moment of pause encompassed the room, this time on Commander Parker's behalf as he continuously gazed on the Executive. He realized he had been in the man's shoes before, a new command officer having to work with and understand a new direct superior. Is he trying me or just trying to impress? Parker thought, though he honestly didn't know the answer.

"Okay," Scott finally added. "You have permission to implement whatever level of discipline you feel is necessary."

"Very good, sir." Despite feeling like he'd managed a small victory of sorts, in that he'd be able to make sure the bridge was always a place of professionalism and regulation, despite having stood his ground under the commander's gaze rather well before, it was Damien who glanced away first this time. He felt as if the underlying awkwardness that had been there since before he'd even stepped foot into the office had gotten quite palpable.

Blackford cleared his throat and rubbed his chin before continuing, "Was there anything else I can do for you, Captain?"

"That's enough for now," Scott answered, though concerned over the relationship that he and Damien would have moving forward. Their work during the venture into the Expanse would either make or break the mission.

With the dismissal, the new first officer stood out of his chair, though he didn't leave immediately. "I am looking forward to our mission, Captain. And serving this ship and crew." The ship and crew, where another's word choice might have made a statement of loyalty to the commanding officer.

There were volumes of unspoken subtext that had passed subtly in the meeting, and even as he made his way out of the office, Damien began to try to sort through what it all would mean. One thing he was sure of, Scott Parker wasn't what he'd been expecting.

Looking out the office's window into the stars didn't provide any answers, though Scott found slight comfort in it. He wasn't sure how to read his new right hand man and if he was being honest to himself, he wasn't sure how long his assignment would last.


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