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JP: Lt.Cmdr. Chen & Lt.Jg. Tiam: An Unexpected Offer


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((Starbase 118: Black Tower, Chen’s Office))


::Chen could have sat for hours combing through the information on his terminals. Access to BLACKNET. Access to most of the station’s records, across a range of departments. There were things that he knew he wouldn’t be able to see, such as information restricted to the station’s commanding officer and the inhabitants of the Executive Tower, but that didn’t matter; there was more than enough for him to go on, including files that were effectively for his eyes only. It was like being in a candy store.::


::He had made it a priority to read through the files of all of the personnel under his command. Some of them he had been able to skim read. Others were interesting enough that he’d felt the need to digest them in more detail. He’d been to see a couple of officers and called others in for meetings, and he had finally reached a stage where he knew who his core staff were likely to be.::


::It had been while he had been looking for any officers from outside the Black Tower with previous experience in intelligence that he had come across the final officer he needed to contact. Lieutenant Sabina Tiam had previously worked for intel, but it seemed that she had been transferred to security previously in her career after a psychological evaluation. There was a note to say that a few things had been redacted from her files as well, although that information seemed to be accessible to Chen. Naturally, that had piqued his interest and, after reading the entire service record, he had decided that she would be the perfect officer to serve in a similar role to one of his previous department heads aboard the USS Vigilant, Kaedyn Zehn. The Trill had been excellent at analysing data, extracting patterns from it and using it to formulate theories. The way he was going, Chen felt he was going to be able to create a ‘think tank’ of officers with that kind of experience for the first time in his career.::


::He tapped his badge, keen to summon Tiam for a meeting.::


Chen: =/\= Chen to Tiam. =/\=


((Meanwhile, Resident Holodeck 3))


::Two thick, purple silks hung from far above and wrapped around Tiam’s arms. Using only the resistance, Sabina held herself upright suspended high above the holodeck floor. With a whirl of fabric, she spun herself into a new position, largely inspired by the scorpion yoga pose. Her breath was labored, but even. Her momentum had her swinging, ever so slightly, into the start of a circle, the trail of the silks fluttering on the air.::


::The art of aerial dance, especially the silks, was both beautiful and intense. The physical strength and mental clarity required was a large part of why the art form had become such an impactful part of the young woman’s life. It took a certain resolve and skill to feel comfortable storeys off the ground. Her practice had become much like her meditation. So when her combadge chirped, the interruption caused her to slip just slightly lower, the silks tightening around her limbs. She silently cursed herself for not putting the thing on mute.::


Chen: =/\= Chen to Tiam. =/\=


::The name was unfamiliar to her, which immediately piqued her interest.::


Tiam: =/\= Tiam here. =/\=


Chen: =/\= Sorry to disturb you, Lieutenant. I’m the chief of intelligence. I’d like for you to come and meet me in my office to discuss a few things. Is now a good time? =/\=


::Well, that was certainly unexpected. With a quick unwrapping and rewrapping of the silk, Sabina performed a drop that was so fast it usually made spectators gasp. A ruffle and swoosh could be heard on the comline, she was sure. Having stopped a mere few feet above the floor, Sabina answered as she stood and untangled herself.::


Tiam: =/\= Give me fifteen? =/\=


Chen: =/\= Alright. I’ll have someone waiting to bring you up to my office. =/\=


Tiam: =/\= Aye, sir. Tiam out. =/\=


::Looking down at her athletic attire (a black catsuit lacking sleeves) she bemoaned the fact that she would have to run and change into a uniform with the few minutes she had instead of having the chance to read up on this Chen. Which was unfortunate because he clearly already knew something about her. Intelligence types did certainly like having the upper hand in meetings.::


((Small Timeskip, Black Tower))


::As she had rushed to change, throw her hair up and cover the distance between her habitat section and the Black Tower, Tiam had gone through each possible reason she was being called to a meeting with Chief Chen (which was what she would refer to him as, until she knew his rank at least) and ranked those reasons from most to least likely.::


::Now, as she was being escorted by a black collared crewman through the Black Tower’s public entrance to the chief’s office, she was convinced that something had come up in one of her recent reports. Whether it had to do with what happened on the Noguwip, or her involvement in uncovering the apparent involvement of Romulans in the recent attacks on the base, she didn’t know. But either way, she was preparing herself to be grilled.::


::When they approach the office, the crewman requested and was granted access. He motioned for Sabina to enter before returning to his other duties. Walking into the office, she stood at attention, looking to the Andorian chief.::


Tiam: Lt. Tiam, reporting as requested, sir.


::As the lieutenant entered his office, it struck Chen that she was a very similar height to a previous visitor to his office, Clayas Vell. He was a good half a foot taller than both of them, and not especially tall himself.::


::Still, maybe it was beneficial to be shorter if you worked in a black collar. He was short himself by Andorian standards but, rather than allow any of the teasing that had been aimed in his direction at the academy to bother him, he had just reminded himself that it was easier for him to fit into hiding places than the members of his species who had reached the heady heights of six and a half feet.::


Chen: Have a seat, Lieutenant. Good to meet you.


::Sabina took the seat opposite him, crossing one leg over the other. She was ever aware of her movements and body language. Her cobalt eyes settled on the chief, quietly considering.::


Tiam: Likewise, sir.


::The chan tapped at his console, scrolling through the records that were displayed on the screen.::


Chen: I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I recently transferred here to take charge of the intelligence department. As a part of that, I’ve been looking at making sure we have the best possible team, and that’s led me to review a few files belonging to people who used to work in intelligence but don’t any more.


::Sabina resisted the urge to shift in her seat. That certainly wasn’t the conversation she had expected. Still, she didn’t want to assume where he was going with this, lest she get her hopes up.::


Tiam: I see.


Chen: According to these logs, you were shipped out of intel a while back? It cites psychological reasons, but they saw fit to expunge those records from your medical files. Can you explain why that was?


::Oddly it seemed to be classified above her clearance level, which meant that Chen wouldn’t be able to share it with her even if she didn’t.::


::That particular fact made Sabina rather uncomfortable. And despite her ability to hide that discomfort in most ways, the young Betazoid’s artificially colored eyes shifted to a darker, more navy blue right along with the shift in her emotions. Tiam silently cursed herself for not yet having that malfunction taken care of yet.::


Tiam: I could only speculate, sir.


::And frankly, she prefered not to.::


::According to the files, Tiam was currently cleared for general duty - there was nothing to say that she was on restricted duties due to psychological reasons, and there was even a record for her latest visit to see a counsellor, within the last few days. Interestingly, Chen had been given the option to override the usual lockouts on those files, which he guessed was a facet of holding the position he held, but he had opted not to. He had enough integrity to respect doctor/patient confidentiality, and the fact that she hadn’t had her availability to work full shifts changed told him everything he needed to know. However, it seemed that she hadn’t passed the psychological exam required of intelligence officers, which was often tougher, right back when she had been doing her intelligence training.::


Chen: Am I right in thinking that you haven’t been experiencing any major problems recently? Nothing that would keep you from doing your duties?


Tiam: That’s correct, sir. I’ve never been relieved from general duty.


::The Andorian looked from Tiam to the computer screen and back again, then scratched one of his eyebrows absently as he weighed up his options. Lieutenant Tiam had all of the skills needed to be a top flight analyst. While Vell had experience in that field, it seemed he would be better suited to cryptology when the team was working on full scale projects. Tiam, on the other hand, seemed like she would be able to keep a track of all incoming data, managing and making sense of it in real time. Of course, there was always bound to be some overlap between officers in terms of ability, but he didn’t see that as a problem - it just meant the department could be more versatile.::


Chen: What would you say if I told you I’d like you to put a black collar on again? I can take care of filing the paperwork to initiate your transfer today, if necessary. I think you’d fit into the team I’m trying to build very well, and you’re in the right place to skill up, if you feel like expanding your repertoire.


::Up until this point, Sabina had tried to remain as reserved as possible. But his offer had been wholly unexpected. The last time someone tried to put her in an Intelligence department, transfer orders to 118 had come through mere days later. She had started to accept that she wouldn’t make it back to that particular division of Starfleet. And now, an opportunity with not just an Intel department on some starship, but the Black Tower had presented itself. How could she say no? Still, she tried to temper her excitement.::


Tiam: I would say that’s something I’m very interested in. ::Her resolve finally cracked in the form of a half-smile.:: And for the record, I’ll take any opportunity to expand my skill set.


Chen: Good. There are a lot of personnel in this department, but I like my front runners to as versatile as possible. I get the feeling that things aren’t quiet all that often in this region of space.


::Conceivably, they could be called upon where they would have to run a field operation en masse, or cover for someone else, working outside their comfort zone. It never hurt to be prepared.::


Tiam: I do have one question.


::The Andorian’s eyebrows and antennae both lifted in curiosity.::


Chen: What’s that?


Tiam: Will I be cleared for field work as well? Or are there duty restrictions on file?


::In her past several missions, trying as they were, Sabina had learned that it was her work in the thick of things that really pushed her and helped her grow. As hard as the work may be, she didn’t want to give it up. Desk jobs were wonderful and wonderfully safe, but despite herself, it had been made clear to her that she wouldn’t reach her full potential hiding in an office.::


::The brows descended again and Chen looked at Sabina through narrowed eyes for a moment, thinking about how to talk to her without giving too much away.::


Chen: There are duty restrictions on file, but let me take a look at what I can do to get them lifted. All the time you’ve been serving as a security officer might just give you the edge you need to give me a hand with that, but there’s no much more I can say.


Tiam: ::Nodding.:: Understood. Well sir, I’d be more than happy to join the team, if you’ll have me.


Chen: Consider it done. I’ll take care of the transfer request right away. There’s a meeting in the main briefing room tomorrow at 0800.


Tiam: Aye, sir. ::Her eyes sparkled with an excitement that the rest of her expression did not betray.::


::There was just one more thing. Chen hadn’t made it through all of his intelligence training by being sloppy - being attentive to details was something he prided himself on, and he had noticed something that he found quite interesting.::


Chen: Before you go, I have a question too. This whole time we were talking, I noticed that your eyes have been changing colour. If you don’t mind me asking, do you have implants?


::He imagined it was possible that she was using some kind of device as a result of losing her sight, although there was nothing to indicate that in her files and he couldn’t see any evidence of circuitry, as he would have expected in standard ocular implants.::


Tiam: ::She chuckled, looking away momentarily.:: I do, actually. Though it’s merely a cosmetic implant. The color variance is a slight malfunction I’ll be taking care of…


::She could have gone on, explaining that she got them when she started at the Academy but had found them most useful while studying with SFI and that being assumed a Terran instead of a Betazoid often made her job of gathering intelligence all the easier, but she had a feeling the chief could put two and two together.::


Chen: Interesting. Alright, I think I’ve pried enough for one day. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.


:Tiam nodded with a sense of finality and stood to leave. Before turning to walk to the door, she paused.::


Tiam: Thank you for the opportunity, sir. I don’t know what exactly was put into my file, but I hope to prove myself an asset to the team.


::With that, Sabina turned to exit the office and the Black Tower, feeling enthusiastic knowing she would be coming back to the state-of-art facility for her regular duty shifts. Commander Chen seemed to be a straightforward leader, and Sabina respected that. Now, only time would tell if he expected the same bluntness from his team and whether or not Sabina would be able to overcome any lingering reservations he, or the powers that be, may have about her return to a black collar.::


TBC


A JP by


Lieutenant Commander Chen

Chief Intelligence Officer

Starbase 118 Ops


&


Lt.Jg. Sabina Tiam

Intelligence Officer

Starbase 118 Op

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