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Captain Halloway

Lamb in a Divided House

The following is a joint log with Ambassador Drankum, based on dialogue during last week's Aegis sim. Stage directions and emphasis added by me...

"Why do I pay these people...?" Drankum muttered, peering around for the yeoman.


Across the table, Captain Thomas Halloway pushed away his finished plate of roast lamb. "Good help is hard to find?" he asked, intending a double meaning.


The Ferengi turned his attention back to the human. "That is very true," he grumbled, "especially these days."


With the departure of their fellow diner Subcommander Jorahl and the visiting Doctor McKinney, Halloway felt less encumbered. "Can we talk now?"


Drankum leaned back in his chair. "Talk?" he asked with mock incredulity. "What have we been doing for the last hour and a half, exchanging dating service numbers?"


The captain let a gentle smirk play across his features. "Ambassador, you'd know if you were in my sights for such things."


Drankum grunted. "My leg was damaged the last time you had your 'sights' set or something."


It was a reminder of their shared experiences during the Dominion War. The liberation of Canar had been a rare victory amidst a string of defeats. "That was a planet. I don't always set my sights on so large a target." Halloway leaned back. "Forgive the earlier small talk. I didn't want to be specific in front of your engineer and doctor."


The ambassador folded his arms. "He's now my acting second, just for the record."


Halloway heard the correction, nodding. "I know, but I always think of him that way," he admitted. "It felt like he was sitting over there reverse-engineering me through dinner." He went back to his original point. "I'm not here to meddle in your command, but it feels like you could use some help getting through this."


Drankum waved his hand dismissively. "Nothing to get through. Your female humon Starfleet commander decided that she knew better than I, using all her intelligence. Proclaimed I had a worm growing in my head or something." He shrugged. "Meets every definition I know for mutiny." He smirked, looking down at the floor. "Even had the Romulen security walk me off up there..." He pointed upward, as if to the Control Tower above them.


Halloway sighed, stroking back his dark hair. "Look, I wasn't here... and I'm the last person who'd let my XO try and take me off the bridge, but I must ask... did you protest? Did you challenge her assumption at the time?"


Drankum shook his head, not entirely listening. "They talk of Ferengi arrogance, but never could humons here expect that I might... maybe... remotely... know something intelligent." He shook his head. "That was probably the plan, Captain Halloway. No one left to know or care about past deeds..." The Ferengi looked up to smile. "Only to see the galaxy's stereotype. How could I ever know anything about tactics?"


Halloway felt a twinge at Drankum's remark. He folded his arms. "They don't know anything about your role in the war, do they?"


Drankum blinked, tilting his head. "I find myself a relic. The Great Material Continuum does not care about the past, only the future. But no, those that would have since moved on to more profitable things." He dropped to a neutral expression, looking far off. "I was supposed to retire you know, before being thrust here."


"Yes," the captain acknowledged. "I was surprised when I saw the newsholos, after the Security Council's decision."


Drankum blinked, focusing on Halloway. "The game makes sense, even from a financial standpoint. This is the last need to maintain the international agreement. Once this fails, which it probably should have already, everyone will be able to go their separate ways. Profits are made, deals done." He smiled thinly. "Even the Grand Nagus cannot complain, after all a Ferengi is supposedly in charge." His mockery was deliberate.


Halloway made a scoffing sound. "Fatalism doesn't become you. You took this command, and everything that comes with it. You know what comes with command. The things they don't tell cadets in Starfleet Academy?"

Drankum's grin dropped suddenly. "Clearly the fact I did not bother to enroll in your humon institution means I do not, at least according to some in the brig."


The captain continued. "Command means not letting other people second-guess, or seeing you second-guess in front of them. That's not limited to 'humon' teachings. It's all the other baggage - estrangement, learning what inspires loyalty, not getting too close because you may have to send someone off to their death." He motioned between the two of them. "It's not like we're friends. I don't know if we've ever spent more than an hour together at a time, but we've been through war, and now we share," he waved around as if to invoke Aegis, "this. I think I owe you help, captain-to-captain. If you want it. And if you'll take it."


Drankum leaned forward with some irritation. "I didn't pay for the speech and do not want it. The trials and plunders of being in charge are not lost on me. I didn't want this damn job. If I had I could have taken it a decade ago. But I am here, now. I do the best I can for the unprofitable idiots." He was just getting started. "Do not dare to lecture me on loyalty or trust. Both can be bought and sold, regardless of uniform." He pointed to the door. "Some of the supposed righteous of Starfleet don't give a credit about it because I don't fit their mold as a leader."


Halloway sniffed, stabbing at his napkin. "No argument here," he relented, "but 'the best you can' has turned half this station against you, even though you're in the right."


The Ferengi laughed. "Turned?" he accented the word with scorn. "You imply they actually were willing to follow my directions from the start. Your Starfleet knew this, why do you think they put a former intelligence officer as second? She's here to be the replacement!" He chuckled. "And tried."


"You sound like the first commander of Aegis," Halloway observed. "She said something similar. From what I've heard, Aegis learned to trust and take orders from a disenfranchised Klingon."


Drankum grew quiet, shaking his head. "I only knew her in passing. She was gone before I was really able to plunder her bank account. But that was a different time and a different place."


"You're not wrong," Halloway granted. "Starfleet officers aren't thrilled about taking orders from an Allied leader. It's not in our nature." He went on. "I've read the logs. What you said is true - it's obvious Chirakis suspected you were somehow under influence or otherwise in league with whatever attacked here. But I didn't see a lot of protest from you. At least at the time."


Drankum smiled broadly. "Ah, but that is where I did learn something of Captain Ears. There is a time for everything. The time to protest was not in the middle of a potential conflict and when a Romulen holding a disruptor on him.


Halloway's frown was immediate. "Damn it, don't start spouting Sorehl's pithy command lessons to me. If Chirakis didn't have good reasons, shouldn't you have asserted your authority then?"


"What should I have done, O masterful one? Hmmm? Your fellow humon Starfleets, even that one Romulen, followed her. I cannot beat stereotypes in a day, at least on my budget."


Halloway let out a slow breath. "Forgive me. I wasn't here." He looked about uncertainly. "I've honestly been looking for a good reason why this happened."


Drankum motioned to the door. "Go speak to her. Get her side. Then take her and those with her off the station. I don't care if you ship them off on a Tholian pleasure liner."


The captain shook his head firmly. "I'm not here to take sides. I answered a distress call. I'd just as soon climb back onto Yorktown, kick in the warp drive, and leave this problem behind. But I can't just ignore it."


Drankum seized on his statement, shrugging. "Don't ignore it. Don't take sides. Take them with you."


Halloway raised both eyebrows. "Into Breen space? I'm not sure that would solve anything."


There was a bitter edge to the ambassdor's voice. "They wouldn't be here. Let the female go get intelligence, maybe she'll learn who zapped my brain somewhere along the way. That way your Starfleet can promote her somewhere." He stood and grabbed his cane. "It was good to see you again. You and your people may stay as long as you wish."


"Drankum," Halloway called out to him warily, "you don't want an outside influence resolving this for you. If you can't patch up your command team, you may never survive out here."


But the Ferengi was already at the doorway, stopping to look back. "Did you actually think your Starfleet ever wanted me to?"


Halloway rose to his feet, looking ashen. "Now, who's not trusting who? This is your command. If your crew thinks you believe they'll never obey you, how can you expect them to?"


Drankum turned, walking away as his voice echoed back. "Trust is earned... or bought. I haven't trusted your Starfleet for a long time, only some people within it. I'll see you before you go I'm sure."


Halloway watched the ambassador recede down the corridor until he was alone in the dining hall. Despite his speech, he stood there, disturbed at the quickness some Starfleet officers had skirted toward rebellion.


"How can a house divided against itself stand?" he said, to no one in particular. He sat down and wrapped one hand around the still-warm coffee mug, deciding to take the Ferengi's suggestion. He would head to the brig for other perspectives.

Edited by Captain Halloway

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