o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Charles "Trip" Tucker sighed. "Look, I'm not gonna interview Miller with ya tomorrow," he
said with an air of finality.
Jonathan Archer sighed as well, although a little more explosively and a lot louder in the
small space. "Why not? What exactly do you have against him?"
"Oh, I don't know," Trip replied caustically. He leaned against the wall. "How about when
he came up to me in Engineerin' the other day? Came right up ta me an' asked if I knew where Commander Tucker was."
"What did you say?" Jonathan asked, amused.
Trip scowled. "Told him I wasn't entirely certain about it, then yelled an' asked Hess if
I was in or not that mornin'."
"And that's why you don't want him on Enterprise?" Jonathan was allowed to be sceptical;
his friend of over eight years, Trip's reasoning had been known to be a little... well, sketchy from time to time. And usually
they were reasons that only Trip himself understood - or so the engineer proclaimed. Sometimes it was best just to let him
run with it. "Because he's a little slow with names?"
Trip shook his head. "Not just 'cause o' that," he said flippantly. "The fact he's an anal
bastard doesn't help either. And look at it this way Jonny," he added, "that'll be one less name you're interviewin' tomorrow."
Jonathan conceded defeat and crossed Miller's name off the list of prospective candidates,
leaving just two names staring back up at him, one a person he knew... he'd say moderately well, although only in a professional
setting, and the other person he didn't really know anything about at all, barring the official records from Starfleet; however,
Jonathan did not often make a habit of making assumptions from those reports - he much preferred to get to know the person,
rather than the rank and serial number, as it were.
But all of this would come tomorrow; interviews, conversations, decisions - the whole lot.
Tonight, fortunately, was a whole other matter. Jonathan switched off his padd and left it on the side in the kitchen of his
"Whatcha feel like doin' tonight?" Trip asked him, following him through into the tiny living
"Beer and water-polo," Jonathan answered him, flopping down on the sofa and kicking his feet
up. "In any order."
"Comin' right up," Trip said, moving back into the kitchen to get the drinks. "You get the
game playin', then."
"Yup." Jonathan didn't move an inch.
"Lookin' forward ta tomorrow?" Trip asked, coming back through. He then flopped down onto
what little space was left on the battered sofa and passed Jonathan one of the bottles he was carrying.
o o o o o
Malcolm Reed sat in the small grey windowless room, resisting the urge to fidget with the
cuff of his uniform. The door to his left led back out into one of the main corridors of this particular deck of Jupiter Station
which led to a turbolift which, he knew, would take him straight back down to the armoury department. The door to his right,
however, led straight into the office that had been appropriated by no less than Captain Jonathan Archer, soon-to-be-commanding-officer
of the Enterprise, and Commander Charles Tucker, his soon-to-be-first-officer.
Malcolm really didn't know what was unnerving him the most - the fact that someone had actually
put his name forward for Enterprise's armoury officer, or the fact that he didn't have the faintest idea of who that someone
actually was. It was now two days since he had been informed by one of the lieutenant commanders in the armoury here that
he was being considered for the post, and a mere two-and-a-half days since being trapped in the turbolift with the talkative
Yank. Coincidence? Perhaps, but somehow Malcolm thought not.
His train of thought was interrupted suddenly when the comm panel on the wall opposite him
chirped. A voice crackled through it - another thing that the engineers around here needed to fix. "Lieutenant Reed, we're
ready to see you now."
Feeling ridiculously as though he was back in sixth form college and about to go into the
year head's office all over again (one count of somehow making a dissected heart in Biology explode - to this day he had still
maintained his innocence), Malcolm duly got up and went through the door to his right.
Inside the second room was your average bureaucratic office layout: desk set at a slight
angle in the middle with two chairs on the far side and one on the near side. One of the two chairs was occupied, and silently
Malcolm took in the key details. Captain's pips on the right shoulder, slightly glazed expression - probably a hangover.
It didn't look promising.
The man who could only have been Commander Tucker had his back to Malcolm at the moment,
and was staring out of the room's only window, leaning heavily against the sill and immediate surrounding wall. He too was
wearing a Starfleet jumpsuit. Fairly tall, scruffy hair, medium build... Malcolm's brain made the connection between this
figure and another, more recent memory, and stalled for all of half a second.
No. Surely not. It couldn't be...
The man turned around.
Fairly tall, scruffy hair, medium build... and a full set of commander's pips on the right
shoulder. Again, oh shit, and inwardly Malcolm groaned as he realised what this new revelation meant, exactly. He had been
fraternising off-duty with not only a senior officer (not a good thing...), but with the goddamned first officer
of the bloody Enterprise... definitely not a good thing.
Later. He would deal with the problem of Tucker later... pillock. If he's had anything
to do with this, I'll...
However, Tucker's face lit up inexplicably when he saw Malcolm. "Hey Loo-tenant," he said,
sounding cheerful enough, as well as more than just a little familiar with the armoury officer. He gestured to the chair.
"Take a seat."
Silently Malcolm did so, noting both the vague look of amusement on the captain's face and
the fact that the commander seemed just as casual in his uniform as when he was off-duty.
Was this what he could be expected to have to work with?
Oh, good God.
Meanwhile the captain was sorting through a pile of padds that had presumably just been pulled
out of a drawer. "Right," Archer said after a few seconds, pushing all but one of the padds to one side, "the first part's
mostly routine and just for the records. I need your name and rank, as well as your current position within Starfleet."
"Lieutenant Malcolm Reed," Malcolm answered crisply. "I'm the second-in-command of the Beta-shift
armoury team on Jupiter Station."
Archer was making notes into the padd. "Who's in command of that shift?"
"Lieutenant Ria Nielsson." By two weeks and four days. Bloody bureaucracy...
"And it's Commander Moore in charge of the department," Archer added, mostly to himself as
he keyed in the rest of the information. "Right," he said again, leaving the padd and looking back up at Malcolm. "Now for
the fun part."
Malcolm raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.
"Lieutenant, are you aware of who put your name forward for the armoury officer posting on
Enterprise?" Archer asked.
Ten minutes ago he wasn't, but now... "I believe I do, sir," he said, with a pointed look
in Tucker's direction - the commander smiled almost sheepishly under the brief scrutiny but said nothing.
"Then I assume you also know why he put your name forward."
Was that an undercurrent of sarcasm in there? Malcolm certainly thought so, but he let it
go for the moment.
"Right," Archer said yet again. "Is there any experience you've had prior to being in Starfleet,
or outside it that you feel is relevant to this posting?"
As the lieutenant began to list off gun qualifications he held and tactical training he had
received as part of the British Royal Navy, Jonathan groaned inwardly and quickly keyed in another sentence on the padd, which
he surreptitiously passed over to Trip: What was it you were saying about anal armory officers??
The reply was swift. Give him another chance.
Jonathan looked up again just as Reed began to explain the (many) different kinds of weapon
training he had had, and heard Trip mutter under his breath, "I'll be firin' at somethin' if y'ain't careful, Loo-tenant."
It was quiet enough that only Jonathan could hear it.
The padd again. I thought you said to give him another chance.
The hell with that [went the reply]. He's
got to prove now that he's a better person than Aber, and that's all there is to it.
He was right, Jonathan realised. He had been keeping half an ear on what Reed had been saying,
and the list was pretty impressive. However - and this was the unfortunate part - the list bore more than a passing similarity
to the qualifications held by the other candidate up for the posting. This therefore made the only real difference between
the two their difference in rank , and Jonathan knew that that was no ground for a decision like this.
Something radically different would be needed here; once again, Jonathan keyed in a message
on the padd.
Do you really want this man to get the job as armory officer?
He wasn't entirely sure why he was doing this. After all, all he was going on here was Trip's
knowledge of Reed - and what little Trip knew and thought of Reed was based on no more than fifteen of twenty minutes in a
broken down turbolift. It was hardly worth talking about, surely.
And Trip's answer to the question? Yes.
Jonathan sighed in resignation, ignored the headache that was beginning to pound merrily
away upstairs, and once again looked up to meet Reed's observant gaze. "Okay, Lieutenant," he said, "just a few more questions
for you. More of a "What would you do in this scenario?" more than anything else."
"Alright," Reed said carefully.
The first few scenarios Jonathan came up with were fairly standard - hostile aliens occupying
Enterprise, security breach within Enterprise, crewmember kidnapped by hostile aliens, that sort of thing. But the thing was,
in almost every instance - and only one or two exceptions - Reed's answer to the scenario would be all but identical: find
threat and if possible, blow shit out of threat.
Beside him, Jonathan could see the corner of Trip's mouth twitch - a telltale sign that he
was itching to say something sarcastic.
And sure enough, he was.
Trip leaned forward in his seat. "So Loo-tenant," he began, "what would you do on the off-chance
that there was absolutely nothin' for ya to blow up. Say it's just another borin' day on the Enterprise. What do ya do?"
Reed raised an eyebrow. It was obvious he was taking his time in replying. "If, in the highly
unlikely circumstance that no imminent disaster were to befall Enterprise," he began, his voice dripping sarcasm, "then I
would run about the corridors of the ship naked whilst reciting Shakespeare's sonnets at the top of my voice." He paused for
a second, during which both Jonathan and Trip tried not to laugh. "Of course, it would be far more likely that I would spend
the time either in the armoury or in my quarters, preparing for the event that something *did* happen - running simulations,
checking systems and so forth."
There was a very expectant pause after that, during which Jonathan fought very hard to keep
the huge grin from erupting on his face, and Reed tried to keep his sudden uneasiness in check - maybe from the sudden outburst?
It was certainly a stark contrast to the controlled demeanour that he had been projecting throughout the interview. Jonathan
shared a quick glance with Trip - trying desperately not to laugh out loud and just about succeeding - before turning back
to the lieutenant and saying the only thing that he could have said under the circumstances.
"Congratulations, Mister Reed," he told the younger man, holding out his hand, "you've got
Reed nodded silently, shaking the proffered hand and standing up with the captain and commander.
Trip was the first to duck out of the door, snorting uncontrollably as he did so, which left Jonathan and Reed standing in
the office. Reed started to leave as well, but just as he reached the door he turned back around. "Captain," he said, "about
the rest of Enterprise's senior staff - Commander Tucker informed me that you were still short a few people."
"Yes..." Jonathan answered, not seeing where this was going.
Reed suddenly looked a little uncertain, but continued anyway. "Well," he said, suddenly
producing an almost sly half-smile, "I was wondering if I could put forward a name for helm officer..."