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Mixed Messages

Posted on May 29, 2017 @ 11:18pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on May 29, 2017 @ 11:18pm

Mission: The Romulan Way

“Mixed Messages”
(Continued from “Comings and Goings”)

=/\=

Location: USS PHOENIX
SD: [2.17]0511.2100
Scene: The Vulgar Tribble
Time Index: After “Day Dreams & Malted Milk”

Eve Dalziel gazed at the junior Engineer as her face contorted into varying degrees of discomfort, stress, and maybe even a little smack of horror. The general dislike of the stereotypical ‘well-meaning but nosy Counsellor’ and the wide array of jokes and clichés it spawned was common knowledge in Starfleet; but it was rare to see it taken to the extreme, solidified into a very concrete fear.

The dark-haired woman was trying to think of something she could say to break the ice, given that Lynette’s brown-eyed stare was positively glacial. But before she could, Iphie came over to their table with a tray. “Woo Woo! Long time no see.” She placed a mug of Milo in front of Lynette and a tall glass of something frozen and tropical in front of Eve. “You keeping Blue company?”

Ensign Ryan smiled for the first time in at least several hours. “Woo Woo?”

Eve shrugged. If she was embarrassed by the nickname it didn’t show. “It’s the name of a drink, one I became well acquainted with when Iphie and I first met. But not *this* drink.” She cast an inquisitive look at the bartender. “What is it?”

“Coconut cream, frozen pineapple, pineapple ale, melon liqueur, and mango vodka. I haven’t decided what to call it. But you looked like you needed one of whatever-it-is.”

She took a sip of the rich, refreshing concoction. “Thanks. Do you have any snacks on hand? Like something bite sized with bacon or cheese?”

The chef winked. “That sounds like code for ‘surprise me’. But no worries, I’m on it.”

Eve laughed a little as she watched the younger Bonviva go back towards the kitchen, then once more focused on Lynette Ryan. “The mini-wormhole. Why do you think it’s so small? Is it because the creatures on the other side are proportionate to it, or because that’s as large of an opening as they have the ability to create?”

Lynette’s mouth gaped a little. She’d been bracing for some psychological prattle and instead was met with a science question. “Um, well, we can’t be certain of the size they may have started with. I mean, it was in the process of shrinking when we arrived. Then again we have no concept of scale with regard to the images of the beings.”

Eve’s mouth drew into a thoughtful line. The aliens resembled crabs or bugs in structure, but there was nothing that allowed them to determine their mass. They could be gigantic, beyond any proportions ever seen before, On the other hand, they could be the size of, well, bugs. “I have a theory.”

“Oh?” Ensign Ryan looked up from her milky beverage.

Lieutenant Dalziel thought better of her statement and redirected it. “I should say ‘had’ a theory. There’s nothing to support it. Speculation maybe?”

“Theory or not, you’re going to share, right?” Lynette asked, a sly look on her face.

“When I first saw the series of transmitted images, I thought that there was a chance that they were created by a different people or race than the images represent.”

“Like they were being spied upon?”

“More like the beings were an enemy the others were hiding from. But there are a couple of huge gaping holes in that hypothesis.”

“None of the images show an attack, for instance,” Ensign Ryan agreed as she ran her hands through her shortish brown hair.

The Counsellor nodded. “And other than the black hole, which only indicates *potential* destruction, no pictures of devastation or damage.”

Iphie returned, triumphantly carrying a platter of pastry puffs. “Bacon gougères with two dipping sauces, avocado-lime aioli and raspberry jalapeno coulis. Bacon *and* cheese. And you’re welcome.”

“Thanks,” Eve said after the fact to the half-Bolian Chef De Cuisine, smirking as she bit into the airy cheese puff. “Mmm.”

Lynette gamely tried one of the puffs dipped in the spicy-sweet sauce, enjoying the tingle of the jalapeno. “Unless they had escaped their war-torn home, and were in exile on the world of the creatures in the photos.”

“Not a bad point. I wonder if this communication is new, or just the remnants of a long dead society?”

“Whatever it is, it beats having to realign the plasma regulators for each nacelle, in addition to visually inspecting *every* Jeffries Tube and access hatch I passed through while doing it.” Lynette punctuated her mini-rant with another cheese puff. Her demeanor had escalated and her eyes flashed with frustration.

“Trouble in paradise?” Eve prodded gently.

“My boss is a complete and utter as-,” she began, then stopped herself. “Let’s just say, a challenge to work with. He’s a stickler for protocol, a taskmaster, and has worse bedside manner than Doctor Mengele.”

“You mean he’s not complimentary of the work of the staff?”

Lynette let out an audible huff. “The words ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ don’t exist in his vocabulary. He’s impossible to work with!”

Lieutenant Dalziel suspected this wasn’t the first time Miss Ryan had deemed a co-worker to be unreasonable or impossible. But the Cardassian born woman hoped she could make it her last. Lynette was a smart, resourceful young woman. But it didn’t appear she’d ever been given the emotional tools necessary to deal with things that didn’t go her way. “Have you given him reason to be?” Eve asked delicately.

“No,” Lynette blurted out, although it didn’t sound totally convincing.

“The first step in correcting a problem, is being able to admit that there is one,” Lieutenant Dalziel said pointedly.

“Are you questioning my capabilities as an officer?”

“Not at all. But it takes two people to have a conflict. Surely you can’t deny there is tension between you and the Chief.”

Lynette paused, breathing deeply. Her face reflected disgust, but her words were much more benign. “Okay, okay, I get it. I’ll give him a wide berth from now on. You won’t have any more complaints.” She was saying the things she thought Eve would want to hear, which made it all the more jarring when the Counsellor shook her head.

“No, you *don’t* get it.”

“What?!” she exclaimed rather loudly. A few patrons turned their heads, and the younger woman lowered her voice and continued. “That man has it out for me, and despite that I’ve agreed to be the bigger person. That *should* be the end of it.”

“Being in Starfleet is not a solitary job. A ship in particular, and ensuring its smooth operation, is the very personification of teamwork. You worked for Richard Edgerton, a xenophobic megalomaniac. Malin-Argo can’t be worse than that.”

Upon the mention of Edgerton, Lynette saw Sam’s face in her mind, looking at her with an easygoing smile. As she kept watching, the image began to shift and dissolve into the closed eyes and lifeless pallor of death. Tears stung at her eyes and she shuddered. Those last hours at Point Bonita were still as vivid as they had been months before. She was once again struggling to reprogram the Aegis satellites, the cold ocean pouring in, threatening to envelop her and the others as it began to turn the secret base into an underwater tomb. She gasped for air.

“Ensign Ryan?” Lynette finally heard Eve’s words and snapped back, finding herself across from the concerned Counsellor.

“What?” she asked defensively, gripping the mug in front of her.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Lynette replied in a strained voice.

Eve sighed. “I can’t pretend that I’m not a Counsellor. And you need to stop pretending that you haven’t been through any trauma. Depression. Survivor’s guilt. PTSD. All that and you’re carrying a tremendous chip on your shoulder. It’s no wonder you can’t handle working for a demanding CEO. You’re not able to give a hundred percent.”

Lynette sipped her Milo, eyes downcast, considering what Eve had said and not liking any of it.

“I know you don’t want my advice, but I’m going to give it to you anyway. You need help. You need to talk to someone. I don’t care if it’s me; Owen and Lysander are equally able to lend a sympathetic and trained ear.”

“Is that an order?”

Eve stood up, ignoring the spite in Lynette’s voice. “Not from me. But it might take more than your own personal assertions to prove that you’re not unfit for duty at some point down the line.”

“That asshat reported me,” Ryan said quietly, without thinking and without remorse.

“Insubordination is a serious claim. Serious enough that one person’s accusation isn’t enough to prove anything.”

“Oh come on, we know who *that one person* is.”

“Ensign Ryan- Lynette. The only person I want you to to be concerned with right now is yourself... and your future. Meaning I want you to have one.”

“Okay,” Lynette replied weakly, her patience worn thin, only taking a short glance up at Dalziel.

Eve had given it her best shot, But it was time to go and let the younger woman try to sort things out. “My door is always open.”


=/\=
NRPG: Thank you Phillip for your moral support!

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for

Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Cns
USS PHOENIX

 

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