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[Round 6] JP Captain Waltas and Ensign Nickels: The Sticking Point


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(( Conference Room, USS Discovery-B ))

:: Nickels slid into the conference room with a few moments to spare, feeling the bubbling effervescence of the anti-radiation meds spritzing his bloodstream. The whole of the senior staff was gathered up, and as Nickels unobtrusively slid to a spot against the wall just behind Commander Wood's seat at the table, he took a few moments to look them over. … from the blunt determination of Commander Mitchell, to the shifting calculating gaze of Captain McCall in his black armor, to the curious sparkle of Steve Rogg's reptilian eyes, to the deeply pained face of the man in counselor blues … Blueheart, if he remembered right. He'd come aboard and gotten involved in the breakneck pace of shipboard life so quickly that he'd hardly met anyone who wasn't a direct supervisor. Which brought his eyes to the Captain. ::

oO Y'ask me, the man looks like he's carryin' a lotta rage. Oo :: , the Iotian mused. ::

:: The meeting washed over the room, a surprisingly energetic and imaginative affair, a volley of ideas - almost all of which focused on extermination. Nicky Luciano ground his teeth slowly. The Discovery was a flagship full of highly-trained Starfleet personnel under the command of the senior officers gathered in this room - people from across the galaxy, of every race and creed, who had supposedly received a thorough grounding in the Starfleet guidelines that began with the selfless nobility of the Prime Directive. All that wisdom and noble intent boiled down to this briefing room, where educated and highly-trained men discussed whether or not to tip wooden stakes with silver before they drove them into the hearts of an intelligent species. The meeting rolled by, Nickels keeping himself out of the discussion, standing at an easy sort of attention at Commander Wood's shoulder, as invisible as a bank guard. He didn't add anything, argue, discuss or suggest - he just listened, and watched. And he felt a growing dismay inside as the sole alternative to outright bloodshed was offered by his eccentric Dachlyd friend Steve Rogg - and consisted of the deployment of an artificial sun that would be a shining violation of the Prime Directive for the unique ecology of the dark side of the planet. His dark eyes practically burned with righteous indignation, but he kept his expression mild and interested, the inoffensive face of a Security mook, the tactical discussion seemingly washing around him like a river around a stone. ::

oO This ain't right. Oo

:: The thought hung like the peal of a church bell. It was almost alien to him - as a traditionalist Iotian raised in the old gangster traditions of Okmyx Chicago, the thought of what he was about to do was anathema. But he had no choice. The instinct that had driven him away from the rough anachronistic feudalism and gunplay of his home, that had led him to become a recognized force in the development and deployment of non-lethal weaponry now led him to throw away his natural cultural deference … and possibly his Starfleet career. The resolution settled on him, heavy and cold as a discontented winter, and he turned his gaze to the head of the table, to watch the Captain. ::

oO This ain't the best idea I've ever had. But it's the only one I got. Oo

:: The meeting was called to a conclusion, the officers filing out to their appointed grim tasks, and Nickels followed after them. He paused for a moment at the door, rolling his lucky coin across his bent knuckles without even realizing, and listened to the captain speaking with a tactical ensign Luciano hadn't met yet, encouraging the man to provide incendiary grenades. Nicky shook his head, clutching the coin tight in his hand. He followed the tactical officer out and let the conference door slide shut behind him. He paused a few moments, letting the clock tick silently, before snapping his coin in the air in a shining arc, snatching it as it fell. Despite a strong superstitious urge, he didn't look to see if it was heads or tails before he walked back into the conference room - just in time to see the Captain holding a bloodstained ancient sword in his weathered hands, murmuring solemnly to himself ::

NICKELS: `scuse me, boss - that is ta say, Capt'n Waltas, sir.

WALTAS::Looking up from the blade, the gleam still in his eye:: Yes, Ensign?

NICKELS: :: resisting the urge to crick his neck like a boxer entering the ring :: Wondered if I might have a minute'a yer time, captain.

WALTAS::Sitting back down at the table:: Of course. Have a seat.

:: Tyr watched the young man sit down, reading his body language. He was uncomfortable-and for an Iotian that was something-and for a Starfleet Security Officer it was something as well. Whatever the man had on his shoulders, it was weighing him down. ::

NICKELS: :: taking a slow, steady breath :: I've got somethin' of a problem with th' current mission profile, sir. A pretty friggin' serious problem, if I c'n be blunt.

WALTAS::Raising an eyebrow:: Oh? What sort of problem?

NICKELS: The problem, captain, is that I dunno if we're actually followin' Starfleet regulations with this tactical solution we've put together for dealin' with the Remans planetside. We're talkin' about `em like we're plannin' ta wipe out a nest of Melvaran mud fleas instead of an intelligent species of known standin' with the Federation.

:: His voice was smooth, but his gaze brightly indignant. ::

NICKELS: Makes me wonder if we've exhausted all possible non-military solutions as indicated in Starfleet Directive 010, or if we're lettin' that go by the wayside on this one … f'r whatever reasons, sir.

:: Tyr studied the man for an instant, gauging his sincerity. Although the exterior exuded calm confidence, the dark eyes said something else. ::

WALTAS::Sighing, he placed his elbows on the table and leaned forward:: Ensign ... Nickels. We've been backed into a corner here. I don't even have statistics on how many crew we lost when Cenarius attacked us. Much less the damage he's done on that transport. We don't know where the crew is, or how many innocent lives he's taken. If he's as old as I think, it could be thousands, or hundreds of thousands. Who knows how many Remans are waiting for us down there and are practicing this..Vampirism, or whatever it is. And you want to give them a pass?

:: Years of training instilled by the freely-delivered backhands of his father, a low-level crime boss, kept Nickels' hands from clenching into fists. ::

NICKELS: Nothin' doin', sir. I think that the Remans that attacked a Starfleet vessel flyin' under a flag'a truce on a rescue mission should be captured an' dealt with ta the fullest extent of our laws. An' ya ask me personally, maybe we c'n even bust the three or four bastids what done it up with a baseball bat in the brig before we bring `em in. But I dunno that an attack by a few mutant or throwback or whatever Remans - even a nasty vicious attack like what we just went t'rough - justifies us plannin' ta go down with standin' orders ta shoot f'r the friggin' heart on sight. We don't enough about these people. We hardly know anythin'!

WALTAS: Harsh times call for harsh action, Ensign. If we can't find a cure, and right now I haven't heard any news of one, we have no choice. We can't let these people run roughshod. Especially in a time where there is so much instability in the Romulan and Reman governments. Can you imagine if they somehow came to power? Entire fleets, planets, being turned into these monsters? You think the Remans and Romulans were bad before...what if they all turned into these creatures? Or even worse, what if they'd succeeded in their plan and took over Discovery? Continued to infect ships? They could take over the whole Federation as well. I haven't seen such tenacity and sick hunger since the Borg.

:: Nickels sat for a moment, and slowly brought his expressive hands up, spreading them in a slow gesture of admission. ::

NICKELS: Yeah, I t'ink it'd be bad news if somethin' like Cenarius rose ta power in this galaxy. We know Remans c'n be big, nasty trouble from th' accounts of the Shinzon incident. But apparently they were bein' contained or self-managed for however long it was before we - WE, sir - opened up Cenarius' magic box or whatever the heck it was we pulled on board. An' yeah, they do kinda remind me of the Borg, in some ways. But … we treated the friggin' Borg wit' a lot more diplomacy than we're plannin' ta show now, sir.

:: He ran his hands over his slicked-back hair, an unknowing mirror of a gesture Captain Waltas himself used often. ::

NICKELS: I can't help but wonder, sir, an' I mean this with all possible respect … I can't help but wonder if maybe we wouldn't be takin' such a hard edge against these unknowns if they hadn't taken yer daughter.

WALTAS::Turning angrily:: There is a hell of a lot more here going on than just my daughter. But yes. I won't deny I'm going down there because she's down there. Are you a father, Ensign? Wouldn't you do the same for your children?

NICKELS: I ain't a father, captain, so far as I know. But I'm a son, an' a [...] good one. When my Pop was in trouble this last year, I took a leave of absence an' a demotion from the Fleet ta go back home ta Sigma Iotia ta help him do a buncha genuinely stupid things, an' got myself some fancy new scars doin' it.

:: This time he did crick his neck, and it popped meaningfully. ::

NICKELS: But one thing I didn't do, sir, was plan ta scorch the earth an' leave no witnesses. The mission yer layin' out for the Discovery, wit'out contactin' the fleet an' with standin' orders ta blast a planet that's only barely been catalogued by the Fed scientists, sounds an awful lot like a black bag job.

WALTAS::Cooly:: I'm not going to pretend to understand what a "black bag job" is Ensign, but it sounds like you're accusing me of genocide. These things are animals. They don't deserve to live, and they [...]ed sure don't deserve respect. Maybe you just haven't been on a ship long enough to understand that the rules and regulations sometimes have to be bent or broken for the common good. Or maybe you just don't want to go toe to toe with the Remans for another reason. Maybe you're afraid. Your words are definitely not those of a parent, or a Starfleet Officer who is supposed to protect this crew.

:: The Iotian's voice grew more heated at long last, and he planted his hands on the table with a flat slap. ::

NICKELS: May I speak frankly, captain?

WALTAS::Turning, bemused:: By all means.

oO Here we go. Now we see where this leads. I've cracked the exterior. Oo

NICKELS: It sounds, sir - :: he emphasized the word hard :: - like yer intendin' that the crew of the Discovery undertake a dangerous mission utilizin' weapon designs based off friggin' ancient superstitions an' wild-eyed conjecture. It sounds like we might be keepin' Starfleet at arm's length regardin' this mission not only because of its unusual nature, but because we're at risk of bein' in flagrant friggin' violation of Directive 010 and Starfleet Order 2. An' lastly, Captain Waltas …

:: His voice settled down, and he carefully brought his hands off the table, stood upright and folded them behind his back. He rested his dark eyes meaningfully on the ancient sword in Captain Waltas' hand for a moment before bringing his gaze back to his superior officer's. ::

NICKELS: … I'm new to the Discovery, sir, but the role of a security officer is clear no matter where ya are. We act to protect and preserve the lives of those above and to act in the best interest of the ship and the crew … an' to enforce the laws an' regulations of Starfleet. An' I'm not entirely sure, Captain Waltas, that the mission you've presented this crew wit' is in keeping' wit' that role. We ain't protectin', or preservin'. We're huntin' and destroyin'. Respectfully, sir … :: his voice settled a few degrees at last :: … I can't do what yer askin' an' call it Security.

WALTAS::Turning angrily at the last sentence:: Did I just read you right, Ensign? Are you refusing a direct order from your Captain?

:: The Iotian stood and straightened his tunic, the Captain on his feet as well, and the security officer's voice was much more mild as he replied, though thick with restrained anger. ::

NICKELS: Ya didn't leave me with any alternatives I could follow in good conscience, Captain. An' I ain't gonna …

:: He was cut off abruptly by the Captain's fury. ::

WALTAS: I don't give a [...] what your moral objections are to this mission Ensign! ::Stepping forward he raised his hand to cut off the response:: No, it's MY TIME to speak freely now. While you're throwing the book at me and telling a Starfleet Officer with about 3 decades of experience and 3 pips on you what he should be doing, why don't I give you another suggestion. Why don't you head on down to sickbay and check in with Addyson Martin? Or better yet, go talk to Anders, who I think still has the bite marks on her neck from one of those [...]s and who nearly lost the ship. Or even better, ::His voice raised to a shout:: HEAD DOWN TO THE MORGUE, AND TELL THE CORPSES THAT YOU THINK THEY DIED FOR NOTHING!

:: The young ensign met the Captain's gaze, and his voice was all the quieter compared to the Captain's righteous fury, although his eyes were blazing. ::

NICKELS: No one ever dies for nothin', sir. But I dunno that more killin' is gonna make anythin' better.

WALTAS: THAT'S ENOUGH. You're confined to your quarters for the remainder of the mission. ::Tapping his comm badge:: =/\= Lt. Commander Wood. I am removing Ensign Nickels Security clearance and confining him to quarters. He is not to take part in the away team. Waltas out. =/\= ::Turning back to the Iotian:: You can wrestle with your morality in your quarters, Ensign. Get out of my sight.

NICKELS: Right away, sir. :: he turned on his heel sharply as a butler, and walked to the door, turning and looking over his shoulder :: I hope you do get your daughter back safe an' sound, sir. :: he paused :: An' I hope you remember that there might be Remans with sons an' daughters of their own on that planet ya asked Comamnder Mitchell ta torpedo inta dust.

:: Tyr watched the man leave. The moment the door closed he drew the sword and hurled it across the conference room. It embedded itself halfway into the wall. Leaning on the table, he took several deep breaths, a dark cloud reaching over him.::

o O He doesn't understand. He doesn't know what it's like to have the whole crew depending on you.. He doesn't know what it's like to be a parent.. O o

::As he retrieved the sword from the wall and sheathed it, another thought, one which he quickly dismissed, retreated to the back of his mind.::

o O And he's also absolutely right. O o


Captain Tyr Waltas

Commanding Officer

USS Discovery


Ensign Nickels

Security Officer

USS Discovery

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Captain Waltas was not very receptive to the advice of his officers on the subject; Ensign Nickels was but the first to raise objections. Eventually, under the weight of concern by his senior staff, the captain relented and saw the rigidity of his position and the improper influence his emotions played on the topic. He begrudgingly agreed to try a diplomatic tack to solving the problem, although he still insisted on the use of deadly force as a contingency. And for Ensign Nickels? He received a gruff but heartfelt apology from the captain, was reinstated to duty, and accompanied the captain on the mission.

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Captain Waltas was not very receptive to the advice of his officers on the subject; Ensign Nickels was but the first to raise objections. Eventually, under the weight of concern by his senior staff, the captain relented and saw the rigidity of his position and the improper influence his emotions played on the topic. He begrudgingly agreed to try a diplomatic tack to solving the problem, although he still insisted on the use of deadly force as a contingency. And for Ensign Nickels? He received a gruff but heartfelt apology from the captain, was reinstated to duty, and accompanied the captain on the mission.

Thanks. Couldn't stand the suppense. :whistling:

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