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Lt Ben Livingston - Full Lieutenant? Settle for Three-Quarters, perhap

Kali Nicholotti

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((Holodeck, Starbase 118))

::Captain Nicholotti commanded the attention of her staff in much the same way she always managed to do it. The magnetism she projected and the respect she commanded captivated the beach-goers.::

Nicholotti: Hello everyone. ::She smiled.:: I do hope that you will all enjoy the good food and good company we've managed to pull together for this little gathering.

::As she spoke, the intricate, “political” situation seemed to unravel itself before Ben’s very eyes. An explanation was provided regarding Lt. Commander Matthews’ presence, and the Captain managed to frame it as Starfleet Command having great confidence in the Starbase Operations staff. Then, as though to something between a consolation prize and a catalyst for the whole shift, Commander Walker was restored to the rank of captain. ::

::Ben found himself scratching his head as to how events had unfolded to land them where they were. Despite the brief explanation regarding Walker’s history, the whole situation seemed quite strange. However they’d gotten here, Ben foresaw some very difficult conversations between their Commanding Officer, First Officer, and Second Officer resulting from the huge jumble of positions and ranks. Ranks were supposed to make everything more clearly defined, yet here they seemed to do the opposite.::

Nicholotti: I also want to formally offer promotions that were granted in the field during this last mission. Captain Dubeau, and Lieutenant MacLaren, if you would please join me?

::Ben smiled as the pair stepped forward to receive their well-deserved promotions.::

Alex Matthews: ::Speaking from the crowd.:: Captain if you will permit me. I would like to announce the engagement of Captain Dubeau and Doctor MacLaren. If you all would join me in giving them both your best wishes and hearty congratulations.

::He grinned broadly as the two stepped back into the crowd, smiling to one another, then returned his attention to the Captain.::

Nicholotti: Finally, I have a couple of new promotions to add to that list. I would be lost without officers like all of you, and I am proud to be the Captain of this crew. It is my hope that one day, you will be the next generation of Captains, taking Starfleet to new places, and new heights. For now, I consider it a privilege to promote Lieutenant JG Livingston to full Lieutenant, and Lieutenant JG Silveira to full Lieutenant, with all rights and privileges therein.

::Ben stepped back in surprise, catching himself just before he stepped on someone’s foot. His mind raced.::

((Flashback – USS Columbia, Deck 24, Main Engineering))

::Ben glanced over to the spot where Kevin had been, moments ago. Now that someone had taken him to medical, he’d receive the proper treatment, at least there was the peace of knowing he was in good hands. The Chief Engineer had done precisely what Ben had wished he had done in protecting his ship, but the ugly outcome was far from desirable. For a moment, he wished their places might have been reversed; that he had gone down fighting and Breeman was still ready and able to secure the ship. Then, they might all have a chance at survival. As it was … ::

::Main Engineering was a busy place again. Those engineers who had escaped the scene had filtered back in, and those who had taken shelter were back at their posts – or what was left of them. Most had no station to work from, and if they had, they wouldn’t know what to do. With Katy still on the line with Commander Walker, Ben took a place atop a damaged piece of equipment.::

Livingston: ::Aloud:: Alright everybody – listen up! Right here, right now, this looks like the aftermath of a terrible event. But elsewhere on Columbia, they’re still in the thick of it! We’re going to help them. And we’re going to keep the rest of these dragons outside the ship, or we won’t stand a chance.

::Ben paused, trying to allow the situation to settle before continuing. Many of the faces looking at him were pale, frightened things and the rest looked so exhausted that he wasn’t sure they’d be help at all. But they had to be – they would have to put everything they could muster into this, just as Livingston himself was putting forward more than he thought he had.::

Livingston: So this is the gameplan. Power teams –get these damaged EPS ducts and conduits up and running. We’re lucky to have energy at all, and anything else will take it out completely. Reactor and warp drive teams, guess what? You’re power engineers now, so help them out.

::Many of the engineers hurried off toward the damaged areas.::

Livingston: Maintenance teams, and everyone else, I want all hull breaches identified and prioritized, and I want any systems down fixed ASAP. Team leads – you’re in my office in three minutes, and bring ideas on how to keep these monsters out.

::As the rest of the went off to their assignments, Ben was left alone to feel the implications of the threat they still faced.::

((End Flashback))

::Ben shuddered as he remembered the events. Kevin had stood alone against the monster that invaded their sanctuary. And then, all of a sudden, he was removed from the equation. Kevin had been needed. He had relationships with the other engineers. He had the experience to know what to fix first and what could wait. Ben had been shooting from the hip as he said those words, trying to put forth some illusion that he knew what to do.::

::It all came down to this: It should not have been Commander Breeman standing against that dragon. It should have been Lieutenant, Junior Grade Livingston. The one who was more expendable; the one who had no idea, in the aftermath, of what to do.::

((Flashback – NCO Briefing – USS Columbia, Livingston’s Office))

Karzai: Yes, that would work!

Livingston: Alright – is that something your folks can do, or do you need the output in a different format?

Karzai: We’d need a surface geometry file – but we can convert it.

:: A number of other ideas came up, and before long, the list had grown into a true plan. No single idea would keep them safe by itself, but the redundancy and overlap would be a layered defense; a concentric castle that would, hopefully, protect against these dragons better than their medieval counterparts. With a nod, Ben brought the meeting to a conclusion.::

Livingston: Droogendyk, take Yung and put together details of what it’d take to keep it running. Start by checking our inventories for anything we’ve got – I don’t want to use more power on replicators than we’ll get out of the things.

Droogendyk: Yes sir. A lot of the parts will be in the lockers already under de west bay. Dat didn't take a lot of damage.

Livingston: That’s fine. Anything else?

Droogendyk: Nope.

Livingston: Alright, Karzai, I want that power output map for Ops ASAP – that’s our short-term solution, so pull in whatever resources you need.

Karzai: Yes, sir.

Livingston: Alright, everyone else, keep your teams up and running, and let me know immediately if you need any additional resources. Dismissed!

((End Flashback))

::The previous missions had pushed every officer to their breaking point. For Ben, it had meant being bigger, being stronger, being more certain than he actually was. It meant filling a role for which he was not qualified.::

::Missions were supposed to strengthen people and accomplish things. At the end of all this, though, Ben felt only less certain. Had they managed to pull through and rescue their crewmembers despite the tremendous obstacles? Yes, they had. But Ben felt wearied by it, as though in the sleepy stupor that lingers when awoken in the night.::

::Lieutenant Ben Livingston meant more responsibility, not less, than Lieutenant, Junior Grade Ben Livingston. It meant he’d be called on to an even greater extent, though he felt pressed to the limit as it was.

What would happen if he was not up to the task? The only way to grow is to stretch outward, but do you know as you approach your limit the moment at which you’ll topple over?::

::Over to the side, Vitor stepped forward to receive his promotion.

What was he thinking about it? Ben had no idea. In that moment, Ben was not certain of the outcome, but seeing no alternative, he gulped down his apprehension and made up his mind to boldly go into the unknown.::

::He stepped forward.::

Silveira: Thank you Captain. ::he winked as he received the pip.::

LIVINGSTON: ::quietly:: Thank you, Captain.

::As he received the pip in his hand, it seemed heavier than he had expected. His hand dropped slightly under its weight. Was it a pip made of lead, perhaps, or a pip made of gold?::

Nicholotti: Congratulations to you both. ::And then, after a moment, she released all of her officers to the relaxing call of the beach, the festive nature of the circus, and the alluring call of the food.::

And with that complete, enjoy the party!

::As the buzz of excitement began to whirl once more around him, Ben was, for now, still in that moment. Beside him, perhaps, someone had said “congratulations,” but whether to him or someone else, he neither knew nor wanted to find out. Ben remembered what Captain Nicholotti had said. The words rang in his ears.::

((Flashback – moments before))

Nicholotti: It is my hope that one day, you will be the next generation of Captains, taking Starfleet to new places, and new heights.

((End Flashback))

::It was most probably something said for dramatic effect, or a token expression used at promotions. But the words had been said, and whatever she’d meant by them, to Ben they heralded the long years of a career filled with the sorts of tragedies and trials that he’d already faced. If there would someday be a Captain Livingston, Ben wondered as a sort of passive observer who it would be. It would not be the Ben Livingston of this day. It certainly would not be the bright-eyed ensign he’d been when he first stepped onto the Starbase. That man had been killed aboard the Columbia.::


Lieutenant Ben Livingston

Assistant Chief Engineer

Starbase 118 Ops

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