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Commander Yari Nazir was silent as he leaned against the back wall with Lieutenant Commander Elias Bryton. The newly appointed executive officer of the USS Aldrin crossed his arms at his chest and kept his voice low as he watched officers file in and out of the spacious lounge. The first loop of the training video had garnered some grumbling from the crew, who were both disappointed and angered by their performance. A good portion of the officers had filed out of the lounge before the second repetition of the film, but several had remained. HIs attention remained on those officers as he studied them.
Eliasâ posture mirrored that of Nazirâs and he silently watched those with navy blue uniform collars. His eyes settled on the medical officer turned science officer. His chin nodded in her direction as he kept his voice low so that only the Angosian could hear him. âMakes me wish I was an empath. Kinda want to know whatâs going on in her head,â he murmured.
Riley had taken the time to clean herself up, and had come in to watch the recording. Many angles had been recorded, even from the âenemyâsâ perspective. She huffed a little to herself at the surprise attack, but watching from a distance now, she could see many things she herself had done in ways that could have been done better. âDammit Riley, you should have scanned the most obvious crap firstâ¦ the big flowers had the--...good gravy is that really what I look like from the back?â she shook her head and smirked, but continued watching as they had begun to assemble the makeshift shielding barrier.
He shrugged. âHiggs is fresh meat. Iâm surprised she did so well,â he muttered in response. âSheâs got potential though. She had no problems using the counselor as a human shield.â
Chuckling, the newly appointed director of biomedical sciences and technologies nodded. âThat was not expected. With the right training and conditions, we could turn her.â
Nazir nodded in response and his head drifted to Marielle Deniaud. She sat next to Gideon Salieri and his Karmanori surrounded the pair on one side. On the other side, her small group of researchers gathered. As director of engineering and technological development, the gold collared officers were under his care. The commander had no knowledge of the three junior officers beyond what was in their files. The theoretical sciences department would consist of no more than five officers, with their focus on theoretical research off the field and precision work on the field.
Esdan Otretal was a Betazoid who was fresh from the Academy. He showed potential, however. His specialties were centralized around programming and his interests focused on software infiltration. Ensigns Thiross Pynsoe and Parvenu Nobody worked well with Marielle, from what he could tell, with Nobody having the longest engineering history with the new doctorate recipient. The Andorian woman had skill with electrical systems and the human male had interests in power designs. Lieutenant Commander Marielle Deniaud was the odd one. Her brain simply moved too quickly, her specialties all encompassing. She enjoyed theoretical physics and mathematics, however, While she was a solid department head, she had gained the reputation of being driven by her emotions.
Marielle leaned forward and folded her arms on the back of Rileyâs chair. The science officer was seated in front of her. Her head leaned to one side as she watched the training video. âAt least we know the leg fits well. Your ass isnât lopsided,â she teased with a soft laugh.
This warranted a laugh from the amazonian woman. âStrong enough to carry Vaeros too. Heâs far heavier than he looks. Always knew he could be denseâ¦â another joke. âYou did an amazing job with itâs refabrication. Thank you.â She smiled softly and glanced at the replay as it displayed the moment people started dropping, including Marielle. âIâm sure you would have done well if they didnât nail you so quickly,â she commented, turning around a little to talk at the smaller woman.
The physicist chuckled quietly. âI was too busy focusing on creating a force field that I didnât pay attention to my surroundings. I should have found shelter first. I wish my work had been more helpful though. Iâd feel better about not having âdied,ââ she paused as her hands came up, her fingers bending slightly to imitate quotation marks, âin vain if it had actually helped everyone at all.â
âIt gave us more time,â came the simple reply.
The Draconian grumbled under his breath. His arms crossed and he leaned back against the chair. âI still canât believe you used me as a frakking shield. There are rules.â Erikâs lips formed a thin line and he stared at Higgs. âThat tells me a whole lot about you.â He took a moment to study the woman beside him, his head leaning to one side as he considered the state of her soul. He caught sight of storms on the horizon and the silhouette of a tall woman who stared at the dark clouds. There was a hint of uncertainty in her stance. It was easy to see from how she shifted her weight from foot to foot and would glance left to right as if trying to weigh her options. The counselor smirked slightly. Ah. To be young and fresh.
She did feel bad, when it came down to it. âErikâ¦ if I had even the slightest doubt that the darts had any lethality at all, that choice never would have come to mind. Iâ¦ I've made better choicesâ¦ but that felt--â
He shrugged. âItâs fine. My ass feels like a dart board, but that just means you have to deal with me more.â
âI'll set you up for a therapeutic massage later then,â she replied. Partially as a joke, but there was a seriousness there too. If he couldn't walk due to an exercise, he'd be of poor use in the next. âI really am sorry. I'll do what i can to make it up to you.â
Erik raised a brow and stared at the young woman beside him. He grumbled and sulked into his chair. âStop apologizing, Cactus,â he muttered. âJust, next time, if you want to touch my ass, donât use me as a frakking living shield.â
The diminutive woman chuckled quietly. Her hand rested on Rileyâs shoulder and Marielle squeezed the young officerâs shoulder when she sighed and shook her head. The physicist flicked the back of Erikâs head with her finger and giggled when he turned to glare at her. âBe nice. I like her.â
âShe used me a frakking dartboard,â he argued with a grump.
âYou get a free ass massage, so stop complaining you cantankerous ass,â she giggled before leaning back into her chair. Marielle settled against the thin cushion and smiled at Gideon. It disappeared, however, when she saw how intently the security chief was watching the replay. While she wasnât an empath, she had a feeling that Gideon, like the rest of the crew, was rather unhappy with their performance on their first training. It couldnât be helped. The whole mess simply showed them that they were unorganized and ill-prepared. She nudged his shoulder with her own.
His body swayed slightly with her gentle push and the security chief glanced quickly to the diminutive woman at his side. Gideon offered her a brief and unintentionally empty smile before his chin turned to focus on the display. His focus had been solely on the replay of the mission. The commentary around him was ignored. At each loop, his eyes centered on another of his Karmanori to see how they reacted to the enemies. The half-Betazoidâs expression remained tense and judgemental as he watched. âWhat a disappointment.â Their failure reflected on him as a leader and he had yet to stop beating himself up over it.
Marielle leaned towards him and dipped her chin. âWhatâs wrong?â she asked him softly. Her gaze quickly moved over the crew who remained within the lounge to watch the recording. Many had left for a meal or to simply do individual training, but a good portion of the crew remained to watch and to socialize.
The shields on the replay had gone up right then, buying everyone some time to try to regroup, only to fail as the shields had gone down again shortly after.
âJust watching what everyone specifically did,â he explained softly. There was truth in his response, but Gideon left out the part where he mentally berated himself for allowing the team to go soft. Cobalt hadnât left the screen despite his response to Marielle.
She nodded and remained silent as she watched him for a few more seconds. âItâs just like our training sessions,â Marielle told him softly. âRemember how many times we failed the program before we even let them try it? Itâs the exact same thing.â
His lips twitched with the argument that he kept to himself. âNot at all the same thing. We did the training sessions for us, the betterment of the Aldrin. This failure is a direct reflection on my leadership. We looked like cadets out there, not experienced officers.â Gideon frowned slightly and sighed as the disappointment became more clear in his features. The security chief shook his head before turning briefly to look at Marielle. âDid Otretal get talked to?â
The physicist glanced towards her left to find Esdan looking at her. She couldnât be certain, but she was sure she saw hearts in his eyes. âAbout what?â she asked Gideon.
âGroping you while you were unconscious,â he grumbled quietly as his gaze shifted back to the screen. Gideon tensed as he recalled seeing the display several times and it was just another failure on his part.
âHeâs not groping me,â she argued weakly. Her eyes settled on the looping video.
âBright Eyes, he was definitely groping you,â the Draconian pointed his calloused finger to the screen as he turned to look back at the diminutive woman. âWe can take a vote if you donât believe us.â
Marielle stuck her tongue out at the counselor and reached forward to smack him on the head. âHe was not. He was clearly trying to shield me.â Marielle turned to look at Esdan. âRight?â
The Betazoid turned and looked over Thiross and Parvenu to look at the physicist. He sighed wistfully as his dark brown eyes locked with her vibrant greens. He had seen her photograph in her file and had found himself immediately smittened. He turned flushed with her attention and he nodded his head furiously in agreement. âYe- Yes, maâam.â
The security chief shifted his gaze to the engineer with a pointed glare. Gideon grumbled quietly and muttered to himself in Italian regarding the distraction to his defeatist pity party. He looked back up at the display and once again focused on his officers. Cobalt watched Ameena Ciamli as she moved during the mission.
Amber irises settled on the security chief and the newly appointed chief to the research department. The commander hummed softly to himself.
Elias chuckled as he followed Nazirâs gaze. He shook his head and smirked. âYouâre already plotting something,â he whispered.
The commanderâs smirk mirrored the directorâs. âWhen arenât I plotting something?â
âIâm done watching this. I donât even know why the rest of you are pouting so much. Weâll do better the next time around,â Marielle announced loud enough so that the officers surrounding her could hear. She pushed to her feet and started down the row, smiling apologetically to the officers who had to shift to allow her space to move. âIâm going to go eat. Iâve got training in the morning.â
He was torn between joining her and remaining to continue watching through the video. It was easy for her to dismiss their training because sheâd been unable to really showcase herself beyond the one idea, Gideon surmised. âWould I be less of a failure if Iâd been taken out? No.â His lips pulled into a frown as he returned his gaze to the screen. âIâll see you later,â he murmured after her. The security chief always joined the engineer and they slept in each otherâs arms. âJust another failure,â he berated himself. They enjoyed their time together, he knew, but it was still a reminder that he would be a zombie otherwise.