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Working it out

Posted on Wed Jan 20th, 2016 @ 1:22pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele & Lieutenant JG Julian Winterstorm

Mission: Mother Base
Location: Julian's Office
Timeline: Backpost


Though there were more differences than similarities between being chief of Operations and Strategic Operations, there was one skill that proved useful in both roles: an attention to detail. Just as a minor fluctuation in power input to a secondary system, even when within the margin of acceptable inefficiency, could actually signal a much larger, catastrophic problem, so too could any tidbit of information or funny feeling turn out to have sector-wide, or even galactic, implications. So when Vanora's former assistant in Ops recalled to her an awkward conversation from the crew's beach party, the new Chief of Strategic Ops decided to look into the "minor fluctuation" more carefully.

Julian was in his office working out. He may not have been as strong as a lot of people, but he kept himself in as good of shape as he could. He switched between cardio and working out every other day. He really didn't use weights, though he knew he should, it was just sit-ups, planks and those types of exercises.

He was in the middle of a set of push ups a light sheen of sweat covering his torso, when he heard the chime ring. Getting up, he grabbed a towel, drying off as best he could before calling out, "Come in."

"Am I interrupting?" Vanora asked as she saw that Julian was perspiring. "I can come back, if another time would be better. It's my fault for not calling ahead."

'No, no, you're fine, " the Akadian said as he finished drying himself off and slipped on his shirt. "What can I do for you?"

"Ensign Winterstorm? I'm Lieutenant Commander Stele. I don't believe we've met. I was hoping you could help me out with something. As you might know, I'm the Third Officer on the Gladiator, as well as the Chief of Strategic Operations. In both roles, I have some interest in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the ship as it fits into Starfleet's presence in this region of space."

"I was not aware of that," Julian replied feigning ignorance, "but how can I help you, I'm just the Captain's yeoman. Those things you mentioned are above my paygrade."

"Are you now?" Vanora asked, giving Julian a long look. "I wouldn't use the word 'just' when talking about the role of the yeoman. Besides Command and Intel, you're the member of the crew with the most access to sensitive documents. It's not a job Starfleet gives out without the appropriate background checks. Which made me wonder why your personnel file seems so... sparse. You can help me by filling in the blanks."

His smile was charming, though it didn't quite reach his eyes. "What exactly is missing?" he asked with a hint of evasion.

"Well, here," she said, pulling out a PADD and tapping the surface. An inline holoprojecter activated and Julian's personnel file hovered in midair before him. Vanora tapped the image and it zoomed into the recent service record. "A court martial and a demotion. The odd thing is, you were cleared in the court martial, and the demotion appears unrelated, even though it happened immediately afterward. What happened there?"

Julian allowed an ever so slight smile to cross his face. He was on somewhat safe ground here. "I was stupid and angry. I went to confront my accuser and he pushed me, and I pushed back. I kind of punched him. More than once."

"I'm guessing your accuser was a superior officer?" It made sense; demotion was a serious penalty, and it would take some influence to get that punishment to stick for a simple brawl.

"He was an inferior officer, but he was a higher rank, "Julian blurted out.

Vanora involuntarily laughed. Her attempt at intimidating Julian was broken: his unintentional honesty was too much to bear. "I do not doubt you, Ensign. I tend to ask questions for which I have some idea of the answer already. I took a look at the various reports on the incident, including yours. Your superior tried to pin his own incompetence on you. Worse than that, he got good officers killed. Sounds like he got off light."

"Thank you, for that," he responded, somewhat surprised by her support, "I'm inclined to agree with you. Unfortunately Command doesn't share that view.

"To be honest," Vanora continued, "what interests me more is why, on the one hand, an officer who was just demoted would then be placed in a sensitive position like yeoman; and on the other hand, why a skilled Intelligence operative is playing secretary. Neither situation makes sense, and you can blame one nonsensical decision on Starfleet Command, but I don't believe in coincidences."

Julian shrugged slightly, "Nor do I really. Let's just say that I'll be wearing more than one hat, and leave it at that. If you don't mind that is."

"I do, actually. I'm not trying to be rude, but it's my job to mind. You'll need to tell me what the other hat is, this other role you're playing. I assure you that my security clearance is high enough for whatever is going on, Intelligence or otherwise," she said.

He let out a long breath, "Very well, since you insist. I too am Intel, well I was until the incident with Captain Mitchell, I was an infiltration specialist, he was my handler. He gave me bad Intel, Intel which I questioned him about, but was rebuffed. To make a long story short, I led my men into an ambush because of it and if my heart had been where a human's heart was, I would have been dead too.

"Rather than sully his reputation, he tried to cover his ass and blame me for the whole fiasco. I was cleared of those charges at he court martial, mostly anyway. That's why I went after him. Which led to another court martial. I was demoted and almost kicked out altogether. I was made a yeoman and thought my career was over.

"It still may be, I suppose, but the Commodore gave me an option. A way to redeem myself, hopefully, and just as importantly not to be bored out of my mind. I'm to be the Captain's close protection agent, or personal bodyguard."

"I appreciate your honesty, Ensign," Vanora said. "There are a lot of us, officers who don't have that sort of blessed and unblemished path through our career. I like to think that we are actually stronger for it. And while it's unusual, I suppose I can understand why the Captain would need a bodyguard, given the sort of threats that the Gladiator has faced." She gave him the once over. "You certainly look more like a yeoman than a bodyguard. No offense. I suppose that's the point of how you'll do your job well."

"I'm sure that's why I was picked for this assignment. No one is supposed to suspect anything. But rest assured, I can take care of myself, and him. The thing about martial arts, especially for someone as quick as I am, is it tends to act as a great equalizer. People that tend to underestimate me, usually don't... well let's just say they don't make the same mistake twice."

She nodded. "I've found that as well, although when you walk around wearing a belt of knives like I do, it sort of takes away the whole element of surprise part," she smiled as she tapped on one of the aforementioned knives. "I realize that you're no longer in the Intel chain of command, but it seems like your role and history could be both an asset and a potential risk. So, in either case, I'd appreciate if you could let me know about anything that comes up or that you hear about." Vanora's tone was not quite that of an order, and she seemed to have relaxed as the conversation progressed, but it was clear that she still took all this information seriously.

"Naturally," Julian reassured the woman. He was used to playing things pretty close to the vest, but he had no issues passing on any relevant information he might come across.

"Thank you. Sorry again for interrupting your workout. I'll let you get back to it," she smiled.


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