=/-\= Bridge, USS Charon =/-\=
For some time now Counselor Jennings had been trying to schedule some time to talk to Commodore Rehu. Unfortunately, before that opportunity arose, the Commander saw the reports traveling down through the grapevines that her proper title was once again 'Captain.' This had been somewhat shocking at first, as Rehu seemed like the sort of person who would not exactly give in to such a demotion. But then, after thinking about it for only a few minutes he realized that she was also the exact sort of type who, on occasion, warranted demotion.
So, after seeing these reports filtering around he made the decision to postpone all of his other appointments until he had a chance to speak with her regarding the situation. Which is how he found himself standing outside of her ready room waiting for permission to enter.
"Enter." Shiarrael said, her eyes were staring at a PADD as the door opened. When Jennings stepped in she didn't bother to look up at him "what can I do for you today Commander?"
Under normal circumstances Paul may have been offended by such a lack of recognition, though he had come to understand the command style of this particular Commanding Officer. Stepping in towards the desk, stopping behind a chair with his hands behind his back he cleared his throat, "Actually, ma'am, I was hoping you could clear up a few minutes of your time."
Shiarrael broke her attention off the PADD and looked at the Commander "you have a few minutes. What do you need?"
Being careful not to use any particular title, he continued, "Well, ma'am, I thought you might need to talk about what's happened. I'm sure it's a frustrating situation you've been put in."
"Frustrating situation?" Shiarrael was slightly confused "Commander what are you talking about?"
"I'm referring to your...er," Paul stumbled, fighting in his mind for the proper words. "Your demotion, ma'am."
"This?" Shiarrael pointed at her collar and laughed "frustration? Commander you are certainly mistaken. This is liberating. I demanded it- but that should be only known between us." She smirked "what are they saying? I have been intrigued."
Her revelations definitely caught the Counselor by surprise, and for a moment he wasn't quite sure how to respond. "Nothing of any relevance, apparently, ma'am. But you have to realize that flag officers aren't often demoted back to Captain. And when they are, it's usually over something rather large. And most people can think of a number of...smaller items, but nothing that could really merit a demotion."
Shiarrael sighed and leaned back in her chair "your lack of creativity is truly disappointing Commander. If someone wishes it upon another they can easily twist circumstances to their benefit. I have lost a dozen Starfleet Marines after knowingly marooning them on a Romulan outpost. I have also failed to completely follow Starfleet's highest and most classified directive. One can easily twist those incidents into something meriting what I have been given."
"I apologize, ma'am," he replied with a slight bow of his head. "I would have assumed that Command would be thrilled that you found a way to neutralize the Omega threat without destroying an entire civilization. As for the Marines, I can think of a couple other alternative solutions, but then you did what you felt was necessary. While mutiny is a serious offense in Federation standards, it's much more personal within your people. Correct?"
"There is only one punishment for treachery among my people Commander. If the Federation had equal standards there would have been no need to maroon them on the outpost." Shiarrael smirk "but perhaps they met the same fate anyways. The universe is truly a master of irony at times."
Deciding it best to move the conversation along, and having just the subject to approach, the Paul continued, "You said your demotion from flag status was liberating. What exactly did you mean by that?"
"I don't need the additional responsibility of such ranks." Shiarrael smiled at Jennings "Commander, I assure you I am quite sane. You can go about your business without such worries."
Jennings offered a slight smile in return as he countered, "And I assure you, ma'am, that's it not insanity I'm concerned with. In this case it's crew morale that's at the forefront of my mind. To have their commanding officer demoted is sure to dampen spirits, whether you accepted or requested doesn't matter if they don't understand. Not to mention your own morale. A depressed Captain is an inefficient one."
"They just saved two hundred and fifty million people Commander. I doubt it is possible to dampen their morale." Shiarrael returned her attention to the PADD "as for me, I am quite fine."
Shaking his head, Paul leaned down against the chair in front of him, his weight resting on his hands which were spaced across the width of the chair-back, "The image a commanding officer has is instrumental for a crew's happiness, ma'am. It might not be that way in the Empire, but in Starfleet the entire ship is centered on its captain. So forgive me for insisting on discussing the topic, ma'am, but unless the crew sees that you're still satisfied with your position, there's not much of anything can keep morale from falling."
Shiarrael stood up and walked around the table. With a wide grin she grabbed the Commander by the collar and forcibly dragged him out onto the bridge "Commander I am growing tired of listening to you prattle on. Go waste the time of someone who has plenty to spare." The entire bridge staff turned and looked at the pair and she glared at them "are you all not busy?" She shoved Jennings towards them "occupy their time since they seem to have plenty to spare, enough to concern themselves with the business of others." She smirked at Jennings and walked back into her ready room.
It took several moments for Paul to really compute what had just happened. It was so shocking to him that she ended up back into her sealed office space before he actually turned around to look at the closed doors. Ignoring the looks he was getting from the officers working on the bridge, he felt his face beginning to get warm.
In all his time as an officer serving in Starfleet he had never, ever been treated as such. And never had a commanding officer laid hands on his in such a manner. It was...unacceptable! It was beyond belief. Despite all of his command training, and his years as a diplomat, he felt his temper rising past a mild simmer to something close to an all-out rage. For several moments he stood there, glaring at the doors. Several courses of action ran through his head. It would, of course, be most practical to return to his office and contact Starfleet Command about her physical assault on him.
But then practicality rarely won out in an emotional situation.
Taking a deep breath, his face now a bright red from anger, Paul made his decision. Without further thought he strode forward, back towards the ready room doors, which parted for him, and entered back into the Lioness' den.
Shiarrael looked up and frowned "apparently you did not comprehend?"
"No, ma'am," the Commander replied, not bothering to control his tone or his volume. All of his counselor collectivity and calm went flying out the viewport as he continued. "It was you who didn't comprehend! And I don't give a flying damn who you are, what your position is, or who you know, but don't you ever lay another hand on me!"
"Lay a hand on you?" Shiarrael laughed and hysterically so "counselor, If I had laid a hand on you, you certainly would not be in front of me right now. You would either be unconscious or dead." She stopped laughing and stood up "after that display I highly doubt morale will decline much. Now the rumors will say the Captain hasn't changed much." She pointed at the door "before you make another foolish accusation Commander I suggested you leave my ready room and calm yourself."
"If you were wanting to make a point there are better ways to do it than throwing around one of your senior officers, ma'am," replied the Commander, with a deal of emphasis on the last word. "You may have have convinced the crew you're the same you, but I'm pretty sure you just convinced me that you need to start scheduling some regular counseling sessions!"
"How far do you think I can throw you Commander?" Shiarrael smiled wickedly.