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Stargazing (Backlog)

Posted on Thu Dec 6th, 2018 @ 8:42am by Lieutenant Commander Jael Steiger & Ensign Day Smith

Mission: Spoilt Settlers
Location: Astrophysics, Deck 13, USS Centaurus
Timeline: After 'the Russian and the Borg'

The lab was alight with metrics that they had captured through their trip to the colony. It wasn't anything new, but it was always good to get new data in. Day was happily tapping away at some calculations and made note of some adjustments that needed to be made to the sensors of the ship. After everything that happened in the past few days it was nice to be back to just crunching some numbers and recalibrating instruments.

After a surprisingly affecting parting of the ways with The Russian and his group of very fine men and women - though The Russian never believed in goodbyes; he always parted ways with ‘See ya later, Sweetheart’ - Jael made her way to Astrophysics. The Russian made it a point to mention his meeting with Ensign Smith, which caused the woman to pleasantly raise her eyebrow and curl her lip a bit. Ensign Smith was still adjusting to her new life and all of the stimulations that came with it and it made her proud that she did not run away from The Russian’s rather intense and dominating personality.

Looking around the room to check for any other officers at work, she spotted Day typing away on the console in a more secluded part of the room. “Hard at work, Ensign?”

Day froze a bit at the sudden voice in the room. She had thought she was alone at this moment. She looked up from the console and looked at the woman that had entered the lab space, "Just running some simulations, ma'am. Is there anything I can help you with?"

“I understand you met my friend The Russian yesterday,” Jael pulled up a chair next to her and took a seat, “and won him a fair amount of credits at Tongo.”

With a small frown Day hesitantly replied, "Eh, yes. Shouldn't I have?"

Jael couldn’t help but let her grin widen a bit. “Not at all, Ensign. I wanted to speak with you about how you feel the interaction went.”

The frown let up a bit but now an eyebrow was raising up. "I think we came out of the game with a net positive gain of about one thousand credits." She looked over at the console screen for no other reason than to break the eye contact with her XO. "That apparently constituted a fairly successful evening."

"Yes, that would be a very successful evening," Jael paused, looking over the stiffened woman. "How about the interaction? The conversation? How did you feel when you first began speaking with him?" She understood Day would be hesitant to reveal her personal thoughts and, either intentionally or unintentionally, avoid giving direct answers. Jael had to gently ease her in the right direction without overwhelming the woman.

"He stopped me from walking out. It was quite intimidating. He just wanted to buy me a drink and more tips on playing Tongo. In the past, people have blocked my movement for other reasons." Day didn't really care to think back on those instances. "Once I had settled down a bit I think the interaction became a bit more pleasant."

Jael nodded slowly in understanding. "Yes, The Russian can be very, how you say, forthright. It is good you were able to see that he was not intending to be intimidating, especially with your past experiences. What were you thinking during that process? What made you decide to sit down with him instead of leaving?"

"He insisted." Day hadn't really thought too much on it. "We used to play Tongo in the institute. To teach us social skills. The meaning of winning and losing. That sort of stuff." She looked at the monitor again, numbers still lazily scrolling by. "The games were very different."

"Yes, I am sure," Jael paused and looked at Day's work panel to ease up her intensity on the woman. "He insisted on you staying. You still had the ability to leave even with his insistence. What was so different about him than the other people who have blocked your movements in the past?"

Day shrugged, "There weren't multiple of him. He wasn't looking to fight me. He appreciated my help with the game." She shrugged again and looked at the XO. "It really seems like you do not approve of me spending the evening with your Russian friend. Who never gave me his name, now that I think about it."

Jael couldn't help but feel a smirk crawl across her lips. "I actually am very pleased with you and The Russian meeting and spending time together. He goes by The Russian though he is not actually Russian. It is a nickname he earned while working. He is a very good friend of my husband's and a very good man. He is also very unique in his personality and can be seen as slightly overbearing. You have mostly kept to yourself since you transferred. It is very good you socialized with him. Did you talk about anything other than Tongo?"

"He asked about my history. How I came into my Tongo knowledge. I kept it vague. He didn't seem to appreciate me not answering some of his questions." Day thought on the whole thing for a moment, "So what is his actual name?"

Jael looked over Day, listening intently to the natural innocence in her voice. She had a natural curiosity about her, which was only accentuated by her past experiences. The Russian was known to enjoy the anonymity of his hard-earned nickname and on a normal basis she would respect that desire. However, The Russian had given a PADD to Jael before leaving that he requested she give to Day. Since he was shedding his pips it appeared he was shedding his nickname as well. “His real name is Jaxson," she paused briefly before moving onto the next question. "If you were to meet him again would you feel more comfortable speaking with him?”

Knowing the man's name didn't really do much, Day thought it would've releived some kind of stress she was feeling about the encounter."Perhaps." Day hadn't really given it much consideration, she didn't have many recurring conversations. "Did he request to speak to me again?" There was that continuous feeling in the pit of her stomach that this conversation was going to lead to something that she wasn't really going to like.

“He wanted me to give this to you,” Jael gently placed the PADD on the console and slid it to Day. “It is how you can get in contact with him if you ever feel like you want to speak with someone other than a Counselor. He has been through many things in his long career and is a very good resource.” She gave Day a moment to look over the information. “Do not worry, he is not looking for a romantic attachment. What are your thoughts about this?”

Day really wasn't sure what she should do with this. "I. Eh." She was interrupted by the realisation what Jael was implying with a romantic attachment. There was a warm sensation on her cheeks as she started to blush. "Thank you, ma'am." Was all she was able to utter.

Jael sensed a bit of uneasiness, possibly an overwhelmed sensation, coming from Day. It was time to move on to a more comfortable topic for her. She had done well and Jael didn't want to press her luck and accidentally strike a nerve. "How is your work coming along? Do you have any questions or concerns you would like to express?"

"Oh." Day placed the PADD down on her desk and looked around at the console that was showing the numbers being run on the new telemetry. "Just doing some basic calculations really. Updating the star charts." She looked down a bit at her hands, "it's the Chief part of the assignment that I'm having a bit of trouble with." It was hard for her to admit, also knowing that opening herself up in her previous assignment only landed her back on Earth in the institute. She really needed this time to be successful.

"What sort of trouble?" Jael asked with a soft concern in her voice.

"It's difficult for me to lead the department." Day looked at the XO and wondered how far she should go in telling her about all this. "People don't always do exactly what's requested of them. They leave some of the machinery unattended. I've encountered a misaligned collider array three times now." Her lips squeezed together in a tight line. "Sometimes I wonder how some of the staff can work in such chaotic environments."

Jael's lips widened a bit. "Welcome to Command, Ensign," she stated dryly. "Have you spoken with these officers about the issues you have been noticing?"

"I have sent all of them instructions and issued a department-wide memo about the continued maintenance of some of our devices." Day's mouth crumpled up into one corner of her face before adding, "It has not had the desired effects."

Jael shook her head. "No, I mean have you physically met with these officers and discussed the issue with them?"

"I have met with a couple of them." Day then averted her gaze, they had only been meetings in passing. She hadn't taken those opportunities to address these things. "I know I should, but I really don't know how to address these things. I've been spending some time at night going through instructions on how to provide feedback. I find it difficult to implement those instructions."

She is not telling the truth, Jael immediately thought after watching the officers movement when she answered the question. A moving gaze was usually a tell-tale sign of dishonesty. “What do you say to the officers during these meetings? Before you answer I am also curious as to what your instructions say on how to address personnel issues. When you are new to a leadership role it can appear very daunting and intimidating. It is not easy. It takes much practice to be able to be comfortable when discussing a problem you may have with an officer. With that being said, what have you said to these officers during your meetings?” She wasn’t going to directly call out Day just yet. She was hoping the officer would realize she knew on her own.

"To provide feedback one has to indicate in a calm and factual manner what it is that the person in question is doing. The second step is to indicate what effect them doing this has on myself or the department. Then an indication of how I would like to see their behaviour change, ending on the benefits from this changed behaviour." Day was able to recall the exact instruction in an instant, that said it was near impossible to apply them on the fly. She could never get beyond 'stop doing it' when it came to the how she wanted them to change things part of the equation.

The corner of Jael's lips turned up slightly at the reiteration of her textbook lesson on leadership communication. Unfortunately, it took far more than just following directions in order to be an effective leader. But it was a very Day thing to do. "Ensign, there is more to being a Department Head than just telling people what you want them to accomplish. For some people they may not have the self-awareness that you and I may have when it comes to our work. You have to look beyond instructions." This was definitely something even Jael was still working on with this assignment. It turned out there really is a difference between talking to psychopaths and Starfleet officers. "Officers, and persons in general, each have different communication styles and how they respond to conversation. You have to see how people react to what you are telling them. If you are being direct with them and they are not responding, you have to find a different approach to the topic. Context plays a big role in how you handle situations. Does that make sense?"

"I realise that context makes all the difference. It's the same in astrophysics. It's the difference between a beautiful stellar phenomenon and a tragedy the likes this quadrant has never seen." Day had made the mistake of referring to the Hobus Super Nova a bit too enthusiastically. She had gotten quite a longwinded talk about how natural phenomenon, no matter how rare and mysterious, should be talked about with due respect if they affected the lives of sentient creatures.

Jael nodded. "That is exactly right, Ensign. A portion of the responsibility of the assignment falls on the officer assigned to it. However, as the Department Head you are entitled to having the work done how you like it within reason. You also have to remember, to put it in a very grim phrase, 'there are a thousand ways to skin a cat.' Maybe push for them to have the freedom to do the work their way, as long as it is within Starfleet standards and as long as they achieve the end result you desire. People like having choices and they like to feel good about their work and they like positive feedback. Does this help you or confuse you more?"

"I'm not sure if skinning animals will be a useful metaphor." Day was quite happy that she realised the XO wasn't taking literally, the nuances of spoken language were sometimes hard to grasp. "I understand, and I will allow for some suboptimal methods of working within the department."

Jael nodded approvingly, hoping that Day did not feel more overwhelmed with her assignment after their talk. “Please do not hesitate to ask for help, Ensign, if you need it.” She stood up from her chair. “I will let you get back to your work.” At first she turned to leave the area then paused briefly before turning back around. “Ensign, I would also appreciate total honesty next time we meet.”

"Thank you for your advice, Commander." Day didn't remark on the request for honesty. The conversation had been difficult enough as it was. As she saw the XO leave she remembered she hadn't properly said goodbye, "Have a pleasant day, ma'am"

 

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