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A Matter Of Direction

Posted on 05 Mar 2020 @ 2:34am by Lieutenant JG Charles McCullen & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Sentience
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: MC 1 || 1600 hours

With the ship well underway, Harvey had turned his attention to review the parameters he'd given all of the department heads. Test and retest the ship was never as simple as it seemed, even for a crew that was used to facing adversity on a daily basis. Wandering aimlessly would not suit them either, and now seemed like a good time to review the course his new Chief Flight Control Officer had planned. For that reason, he'd messaged Lieutenant McCullen to join him in the Ready Room.

Charlie ran a hand over his uniform, smoothing out wrinkles that weren't really there and reminding himself that he wasn't in trouble and that nothing had gone wrong, telling himself for the umpteenth time that the captain's call was likely a matter of procedure and very little else. He swallowed once, ran a hand through his hair and then pushed the door chime button to the captain's ready room.

"Come," Harvey called out, standing over at the replicator, depositing a now-cold cup of tea hoping to refresh it for a new one.

McCullen stepped into the room, blinking for a half second at the empty desk before spotting the captain over by the replicator. He swallowed his nerves and give the captain what he hoped looked like a friendly smile. "You wanted to see me, Captain?"

"Yes indeed." Harvey turned and gestured to one of the chairs in front of the desk. "Have a seat, Lieutenant. Would you like something to drink?"

As he took the offered seat, Charlie had to duck his head and grin at the similarity to his father's style, he wondered if it was in the captain's handbook to offer a seat and a drink to everyone who entered the room. "Bajoran Deka tea, hot please sir."

"Deka tea, hot," Harvey requested from the replicator. As soon as it was produced, Harvey withdrew the steaming porcelain mug emblazoned with the Starfleet logo and the ship's name and requested an herbal tea for himself. A porcelain mug matching the first one quickly appeared. Harvey picked it up and took both mugs over to the desk, handing the first off to McCullen. "How's it feel?" Harvey asked the younger man. "Being at the Black Hawk's helm?"

It's, uh..." Charlie's brain stalled for a second as he dithered between saying what he thought the captain wanted to hear and the honest truth - there was also the issues he'd been having with certain personnel in his department, but that was a separate issue. It took him a moment to side with the plain truth. "... a little daunting, to be honest. But good too, she handles like a ship half her size."

Harvey sipped his own tea, pondering on what had been said and unsaid as he composed his response. "The Black Hawk has always been a nimble ship. I've been on the bridge of Sabers, Akiras, Mirandas... And you're right. She definitely moves smoother than a Galaxy or Nebula. I'd hate to be at the conn of a behemoth like an Excalibur or Ascension."

"Yes sir, me too." Charlie replied, not quite sure how to continue the conversation in any kind of meaningful direction. He sipped at his tea to give him time to think. "I was on an Intrepid class before this posting... they're, uh... very agile."

The Captain would have to take Charlie's word on it. He also could tell the young Lieutenant's discomfort was rising, and Harvey wanted to avoid a repeat of what had happened a few days ago. "Well, I don't want to keep you long, as I'm sure you have much to do with your department in preparing for the shakedown, so let's launch right into the course you're preparing." Harvey then tapped a button on his desk to activate a holographic map of the Black Hawk's location and the surrounding sectors.

"Oh," Charlie said, switching mental gears and taking one slow blink to get himself into focus. "Computer, access my personal database, file Course One-Alpha and overlay it on the displayed map." He instructed, and the course he had plotted popped up over the holographic map the captain had brought up. It was a winding course that took them through a variety of environments, as many as he'd been able to find. The helmsman stood, leaning over the captain's desk, "we're gonna start here," he indicated the first way-point on the map, "it's pretty much empty space, I want to put the Black Hawk through maneuver testing out of the way of any, uh... hazards." he gestured to the second way-point, "the second point is a rock and ice asteroid belt that'll let us test the small craft and the fighters, and, uh... I guess tactical can get in some target practice, too. Third is a gas nebula, mostly for sensors and science stuff, I think... but, uh... I guess we could do some blind-piloting too, or something. Then we're going to a planetary system, here. There are a couple of M-class planets that I think are uninhabited, according to the stellar cartography database, anyway... we can practice small craft landing, give the transporters a test and, uh... science can do their stuff, too."

The Captain sat quietly for a moment, his eyes following the course from the ship's current position and then on through the sector. He slowly and mentally traced the highlighted line, taking good care to study the limited information displayed by the projector. After a few moments, he leaned into the map, holding up a hand to it, pinching and widening his fingers in order to zoom in and out to the selected areas so that he could get a much closer look.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Harvey leaned back in his chair and folded his hands in front of him. "It looks good, Lieutenant. You've put some decent thought into it all, and it looks like you've covered everything. One thing I didn't see were timeframes. When do you project us arriving at the first waypoint, and how long do you anticipate staying there?"

Charlie frowned for a second, he hadn't actually bothered working out the timeframes, but it only took him a moment to do the math in his head. "We should get to waypoint one in about four hours, and I was planning on taking no more than an hour there. Most of the navigation systems are already calibrated, it's just fine tuning... uh... finding the edges, kinda. From waypoint one to waypoint two is about four hours at warp six. I, uh..." Charlie paused, unused and uncomfortable with making, what he felt were, fairly major mission decisions, he blinked twice as he worked up an educated guess. "I guess we should spend a whole day there, I think it'll take that long to test all the small craft properly, maybe... but I, uh... dunno how long tactical will need. We should get to the nebula about five hours after we leave the asteroid belt, uh... I guess, early on shakedown day 3."

"Not a bad timetable," Harvey remarked, nodding throughout the Lieutenant's answer. "I know we still don't have orders from Command, thankfully, but that doesn't mean we can't stop to smell the roses as we go. Is this plan adjustable should we decide we need to spend additional time at various waypoints? And speaking of time, our arrival at the first waypoint puts us in the latter half of Beta Shift. I know that's not normally your shift, but I imagine you'll be at the helm. I want to make sure you're pacing yourself properly for the next few days. I can't have you spending hours on end at the helm without taking care of yourself."

Charlie hadn't thought of the shift changes, he had just assumed that he'd be at the helm for the tests, but he supposed what Harvey said made sense. "Yes sir, it's adjustable." He responded to the first part of the captain's inquiry first. It seemed to the young lieutenant that since they were essentially making their own timetable on this shakedown cruise, then everything was adjustable. "I'll, uh... take the first half of beta shift to catch some rest before the tests begin, and then get some more rest after the tests are done."

"Perfect." Harvey looked at the course one more time, following it from waypoint to waypoint, pausing to study the nebula for a bit. "Have you conferred with Commander Djinx? I know our new sensor palettes need a rigorous testing, and he had a few places picked out."

"Uh... no sir," McCullen responded, frowning slightly. He hadn't conferred with anyone and that error was blatantly obvious to him now that the captain had pointed it out. Of course the department heads of the ship would want to have a say over the course he had plotted. "But I'll, uh... I'll ask each department head for input before I finalize anything and uh... try to fit in what they need."

Harvey could tell he accidentally struck a nerve with the new helmsman. He hadn't meant to trip up the Lieutenant, and the error was understandable, especially since he was young and eager to make his mark. "I wouldn't give everyone the ability to change your waypoints. If anything, I recommend showing them the course and ask them how much time they would require at each location. The only exception I'd make would be for Commander Djinx, and that's just solely because he'll know what will be a suitable test for the sensors."

"Yes sir," Charlie replied, somewhat surprised and gratified that he hadn't been at the receiving end of a scolding. "I'll get together with Commander Djinx right away, and then... uh... " Charlie was always hesitant to ask questions, in his mind he painted himself as incompetent when he had to ask a question about procedure, or ask for a course of action, but the understanding nature of the captain and the fact that he hadn't yet been yelled at for being a useless idiot emboldened him to ask, "do you think I should ask for a group meeting with the department heads or just publish the course for them to see and ask them for feedback?"

The Captain arched an eyebrow, finding the question to be intriguing. There was certainly value in consulting with fellow department heads, but there was always very little coordination between the departments anyway. Helm didn't consult with medical on their practice, nor did the squadron interface with the science department when preparing sorties. "Given our situation, I'd recommend publishing. I know this is your tour as a Department Head, so I'd get to know the other officers before holding meetings, lest someone get off on the wrong foot." Harvey was certainly looking forward to a drama-free mission, and he was going to do his best to get it.

"Yes sir, thank you." Charlie responded, feeling a little stupid now that the captain had explained it. Of course the other department heads wouldn't want to take time out of their day to have a pointless meeting with a jumped up junior lieutenant, the last thing he wanted to do was come off as a go-getter Starfleet brat, a stigma that he'd tried very hard to work around, and he'd had enough of getting off on the wrong foot for one day with Ensign Khan's tirade in his office. Also, publishing would avoid the need for an actual meeting, something he knew he'd struggle with. "Uh... sorry, sir." He felt compelled to apologize for asking what now seemed like such a dumb question.

Harvey waved it away. "Nothing to be sorry about, Mister McCullen. You'll settle in in no time, and then there won't be anything to worry about." He waved once more at the floating holographic projection. "Anything else I need to know about your course and projections?"

Charlie hoped the captain was right. In his previous postings it had taken him some time to get comfortable, but then he hadn't had the added pressure of being in charge of a department. "Uh..." He took a moment to think, "no, I don't think so sir."

"Excellent," Harvey declared with a smile. He waved his hand and cleared the projection, allowing him to face the Lieutenant unimpeded. "I'll leave you to it then. Dismissed."

"Thanks, Captain." Charlie smiled as he stood, leaving the cup sitting on the desk. He was both pleased that the meeting had gone well and, predictably, nervous about meeting with the chief science officer. As he made his way out of the ready room, he determined to himself to not procrastinate, nor stall, and to get the meeting done.


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