Location: USS Nimitz, CO's Ready Room
Timeline: 1130 Hours, Day 1
Daniela Moreno sat and listened to T'Vel drone on about Starfleet regulations section 12 paragraph 4 which prohibits a commanding officer from leading an away team mission. She knew the regulations inside and out (hell, she'd even given the same speech to several of her own commanding officers in the past), but Daniela wasn't satisfied to sit on the sidelines. The captain interrupted the woman mid-sentence.
"Commander, what part of 'captain's prerogative' isn't clear to you?" she challenged.
At that, the first officer's eyebrow rose in that very Vulcan way Moreno had learnt it did so often. With a slight narrowing of her eyes, it was clear the XO was unimpressed by the rebuke. "A childish term for such an individual with responsibility to justify foolish actions that endanger captains and ergo their crew, simply to satisfy some base and illogical desire." Her hands clasped behind her back as she straightened her back slightly more, T'Vel said, "Your place is on the bridge, Captain."
"Tell me, Commander, how does my helping the Science department out on the planet's surface endanger the crew?" Daniela folded her arms in front of her chest and waited for the response. It'd been six weeks since she'd taken command of the Nimitz and for four of those weeks, T'Vel had been her XO. They'd gotten along well enough, but if this was any indication, they were in for an interesting relationship moving forward.
"Your training and experience simply doesn't equip you for this away mission, Commander. With my background in the sciences, I could be of more use on the planet's surface gathering data instead of sitting up here," she argued. "This is a perfectly straightforward and safe away mission. Fly down to the surface, gather some data, come back to the ship. We'll be gone 2 hours tops." Of course, with only about 18 or 19 hours before the seismic activity tore the planet apart, they really didn't have the luxury of studying the planet any longer.
"On the contrary and with all due respect, Captain, it has been my experience that such 'straightforward and safe away missions' are hardly ever such; on innumerable occasions have potentially fatal predicaments befallen the away teams, leading to loss of sometimes all of those dispatched - including commanding officers." Looking at her CO, T'Vel found herself cursing the woman's unnecessary and foolish eagerness to throw herself head-first into danger - a trait she had found common with both humans and Bajorans alike, and a reminder of why she was not abandoning her Vulcan teachings so radically. On many occasions such as these, she almost felt compelled to devote herself entirely back to the ways of Surak, but was aware that that in itself was an emotional reaction.
Daniela jumped back in. "Name one mission, matching the criteria for this mission, that a commanding officer was killed in action. Sure, if this was a tactical situation I'd gladly defer to your judgment, but we're talking about a data-gathering mission."
The brief time T'Vel had spent under Captain Moreno on the Nimitz had certainly been rewarding as a learning experience, but whilst she had faith in her tactical and professional abilities, she often doubted those around her. Whilst Moreno was an individual with numerous laudable traits, T'Vel nevertheless discovered urges to grind her teeth that were new to her, and this was one of those particular situations. Moreno's apparent stubbornness and refusal to face logic was, for lack of a better term, frustrating.
"In such scenarios," T'Vel decided to go on, not rising to the previous prompt, although she was aware it was unlikely she would have any chance at dissuading the other woman, "it is often better to have those with tactical expertise present for potential dangers. That aside, you have expertly-trained science officers who serve aboard this vessel for the very purpose you claim to fulfill."
"I refuse to be a sideline CO, commander. I've watched far too many captains sit by and watch from a distance. I was given this command because of what I can do, not what I can watch," she retorted.
T'Vel admitted to herself that her temper flared slightly within, but knew that such a response was illogical and highly unbecoming of a Starfleet officer, and particularly an executive officer. Equally, she deduced a good deal of her irritation stemmed from the fact she, too, could see weaknesses in the Starfleet protocol and was well aware she was now fighting a losing battle. "Ma'am, the rules are not vindictive pronouncements directed against any particular individual, nor do they exist to hamper the efficient operation of ship or crew. They exist for a reason, and Starfleet has seen it in the best interests of all that they be complied with."
The executive officer then let some air escape from her nostrils. "But I also recognize the restrictions they impose upon a commanding officer and how that may be frustrating. My slight empathy aside, however," she then said, returning some of the sternness to her tone, "you are also responsible for setting an example to junior officers. I realize my words will not dissuade you, but I would be remiss in my duty as your executive officer if I did not inform you of such concerns." T'Vel also considered stating how she could also stress the point she could note this particular incident in her official log, but such a statement would have been too officious and juvenile even for her.
Moreno knew the tactic all too well, probably because she'd done the same thing before: appear to go along with the commanding officer, but turn tale and use the chain of command to stop it before it could go any further. She wasn't sure if T'Vel would actually do that, but the idea of a lecture from Admiral Reardon about Starfleet protocols relating to commanding officers made her bristle. She studied the Vulcan/Bajoran woman for a few moments.
"Since you seem to know the Science staff so well, who do you think would be better suited?" The question came across as a challenge, but the truth was that in the six weeks she'd been in command, she hadn't done a very good job of reaching out beyond the department heads. She'd make time for that, but that time wasn't now.
Having already stated and knowing her previous point could be pushed no further, T'Vel slipped further into her professional demeanor, recalling the names she had already begun to consider since learning of the mission parameters. Whilst she had made overtures to some of the senior staff (although, in truth, she had been approached by them than the other way round), she had yet to fully know them as individuals or their capabilities in the field, bar what their personnel records had indicated. Of course, it was still very early days, but she had become comfortable enough with knowing their respective 'official' skill-sets and personalities.
"Chief Nakari is a suitably qualified and competent science officer who will serve Starfleet's purposes on this mission," she explained to her captain concisely, "as would Doctor Rayoon be a useful and valuable commodity, and he should have a greater knowledge of further individuals in his department who may be of assistance. I am led to believe there are a number of scientists counted amongst the engineering staff who would be suitable for the mission, but we are still continuing to have difficulties; every member, I am assured by the chief engineer, is essential." T'Vel's eyes now narrowed slightly as she broached the next suggestion. "I would also advise, ma'am, that a member of the security department accompany you - as per procedure - assuming this does not conflict with your 'captain's prerogative'?"
_Is that really necessary?_ she asked herself. As an XO not that long ago herself, she would've done the same as T'Vel was doing now, though her Vulcan training kept her emotions in control, whereas by now, Moreno would've been shouting at her CO. She hated to admit it, but her XO was right and the idea of sending a member of the Security department down just to keep an eye on her wasn't something that she felt was prudent. She let out an almost inaudible sigh.
"That won't be necessary, Commander. Perhaps you should accompany the away team down and supervise the mission. The Security department has enough to deal with without having to send someone out to keep tabs on me." Before T'Vel could answer, Moreno jumped back in. "But know this, Commander, I do not intend to sit and watch on these missions. Do I make myself clear?"
Having opened her mouth to respond only to quickly close it again, T'Vel was surprised by Moreno's change of heart, and a flicker of that surprise tugged her eyebrows upwards for just a moment before she regained her composure. "Perfectly clear, Captain," she said, inwardly pleased with the result but still unsettled by Moreno effectively surrendering the position she had defended so stalwartly for much of their meeting. Deciding not to tests the boundaries of this small success, she asked, "Should I assemble the senior staff for a briefing?"
Moreno glanced over at the active screen sitting on her desk and scanned for the information she was looking for. Her attention returned to her XO just as the lights above them flickered suspiciously. This time, Daniela's sigh was _very_ audible. "There isn't enough time to brief everyone. Assemble your team and head down to the surface." The captain stood and rounded her desk. "In the meantime, I'm going to have a little chat with Engineering about all these power fluctuations we've been having the last couple of days. Keep me in the loop, Commander," Daniela said over her shoulder as she disappeared out of the room and headed for the nearest turbolift.
Her blue eyes having followed the captain in her hasty departure, T'Vel's mouth had set in a bemused line whilst one her eyebrows set itself in its typical arch. Sitting alone now in Moreno's ready room, she quickly decided on those she would take the surface with her, altering her choices based on the fact the CO had ceded the argument to her. However, she simultaneously considered the actions and behaviour of the woman who was now her direct superior; whilst clearly a dedicated woman, Daniela Moreno acted quickly and on her feelings, always seemingly needing to be actively and practically involved, arguably at the expense of her more administrative duties (which were largely T'Vel's). Even her decision to allow T'Vel to take her place on the away team was of little comfort to the commander, given she did not believe it was a choice made out of logic, but rather some other human development in her psyche.
Regardless of that, however, she had a duty to fulfil, and irrespective of her current concerns for Moreno's command style, she was still her commanding officer and had issued an order. Turning quickly on her heel to enter the bridge, suppressing some emotional desire to sigh (the thought of it being all too similar to Moreno's own sigh stopping her), she tapped her combadge to begin gathering the away team. For just a short while, at least, she might once again get to be a tactical officer, and leave the concerns of direct command behind her.
Somehow, she doubted it, though.