Backpost: Leaving One's Comfort Zone
Posted on Sun Dec 22nd, 2019 @ 4:41pm by Petty Officer 2nd Class Victor Ward
Location: Chemistry Lab, USS Tucker
Timeline: Two weeks ago
The USS Tucker flew through space at Warp 8. Its business near Cardassian space concluded, the ship was on course for Starbase 12. Her crew went about their usual business, among them Scientist's Mate Victor Ward.
Victor sat on a work bench in the chemistry lab, long blue lab coat covering his arms and torso. He was trying to keep busy and help the various science teams as he could. So today he was cataloguing the supplies in the Chemistry Lab and making sure everything was well organized. He could have Apprentices do that, but he wanted to do it himself. With the increasing workload he was being given providing staffing advice to the Chief Science Officer, he was glad to be doing practical, hands-on work again.
It had been a tumultuous time aboard the Tucker. Its Captain, Juliet St. Clair, had just been promoted and sent to help command an entire Task Force. Her XO, Mason Sofer, had just been given the USS Eris. So much of the crew had followed St. Clair and Sofer from the Jupiter to the Tucker. He had made friends in both of those places and had gotten used to how everything worked. Four years earlier, he had accepted the change in assignment, the promotion, and the increased duties, on the understanding that other elements of his life would remain stable. His friends came with him. He kept the same roommate. He kept the same Chief Science Officer, though the Assistant Chief had been promoted in the interim. He valued stability, and thankfully over the past four years everything had normalized. He was good at his job, which had some management component (which he hated), but was largely practical work.
He did not expect Lieutenant Commander Annalise Langford, Chief Science Officer, to step into his lab and interrupt his cataloguing work. When he saw the tall, pale, blonde, mid-thirties woman enter the lab in his peripheral vision, he made a mental note of where he was in his counting, set his PADD down, and stood to attention.
"At ease, Mr. Ward," she said, with a smile. "I have some good news for you." She handed him a PADD.
"'Petty Officer 3rd Class Ward,'" he read aloud. "'You are hereby promoted to the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class and assigned to USS Ajax, NCC-80118-A, where you will serve in the role of Science Petty Officer. Authorized, Captain T'Marr, USS Tucker.'" His face remained impassive. He didn't look Annalise in the eye when he spoke next. "Why do people think I want this? I have a good thing here. And what the hell is a Science Petty Officer?"
"USS Ajax is a small and highly specialized ship," the CSO explained. "Crew of no more than 15, and currently undercrewed. Wallace-class. Look it up when you have a moment. I thought long and hard about this when I recommended you for this job--"
"YOU recommended me for this?" he asked, now facing her, his expression changing to one of annoyance and even anger. Why did people keep wanting to mess with his life? He was fine where he was.
"--because," she continued more forcefully, "it's extremely practical work. You don't want to do the work of a science officer, and that's fine. You don't want to manage people, even though you're actually quite good at it. You've been a great Scientist's Mate, and the other enlisted like you. The Ajax is exactly what you want for a job, Victor. You'll be in charge of science, but you won't have a staff to run. It'll just be you, advising the Captain on scientific issues, providing them with good sensor data during operations. It's practical work without management or oversight."
She stepped closer and put her hand on Victor's shoulder. "I know you like it here. We like having you here. But I think it's better for you to get some experience elsewhere. I wouldn't be suggesting it if it weren't something you'd like or be good at."
"I also probably don't have tons of say in the matter, do I?" he asked, the negativity finally draining, slowly, from his face.
"We go where we're sent," Annalise replied. "You know that as well as I do. But this is a good thing. Try to think of it as such."
He let out a long, dramatic sigh. He was beaten, but he could try to make the best of it. "When do I leave?"
"Tomorrow, we're docking at Starbase 12," she explained. "From there, you'll take a transport to Earth, and then to Starbase 400. The whole process should take about two weeks. But before you leave, we'll say goodbye the proper way. I've reserved the holodeck for a going-away party tonight. Go pack, and meet us there at 1930."
Victor's heart sank at the notion of his crewmates doing something nice for him like that. Annalise had been right; generally they did like him (though he had trouble telling for sure). He thought maybe some of them were celebrating that they'd soon be rid of him. But right now he'd assume the best of people and enjoy himself. "Let me just finish what I'm doing, then I'll go," he said. "Commander? Thank you for the vote of confidence. And for looking out for me."
"We'll miss you, Victor," Annalise said before exiting the lab and leaving him to his work.