NCC - 81102
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Software And Intimidation

Posted on Sun Mar 7th, 2021 @ 10:00am by Lieutenant Commander Bear Jasper & Ensign Alex Dalton

Mission: Mission 1: Dirty Little Secret
Location: Engineering Lab, Deck Eight
Timeline: MD13 - After Crossed Wires

Still feeling irked by his encounter with Commander Hawkins' Ops Chief Ensign Dalton put aside his work momentarily. He needed to calm down before he resumed, maybe his fingers would stop quaking with pent up anger.

He may have been the XO but did that give him the right to be an absolute arse and bully? No, it did not Alex shook his head. Should he take up with Tavis? Was it worth it, after all had it could have been a massive misunderstanding that started it after all?

One thing for certain the atmosphere on the ship had changed with Five's arrival, everyone was more on edge and took an instant dislike to the XB. He gave the Ensign the collywobbles that's for sure but he didn't dislike him, in fact having seen the glimmer of something innocent back in engineering Alex had begun to pity Five in a strange way.

He snorted and chided himself - he was being sympathetic towards the drone - it was absurd...yet he couldn't quell the instructions from Hawkins. Alex's perception or misplaced ideas as the Commander stressed had sent chills down his spine. Five didn't deserve such a fate even if the Ensign was completely off the mark.

Lost in his thoughts he hadn't heard the door glide open a second time nor hear Commander Jasper's arrival.

"Hey Alex," boomed Bear's voice right close to Dalton. He hadn't snuck up on the younger man on purpose, just simply strode into the lab fresh from his chat with Aurora.

"Holy Christ!" the Ensign leapt out of his skin unware he had company. "Sorry," he muttered softly a touch embarrassed at his actions. "I didn't hear you come in."

Bear couldn't help but chuckle, even as he rested a heavy, calming hand on the younger man's shoulder. "My bad," he said. Then, with genuine concern he followed up from that half-apology. "You ok? I was just coming to ask ya about some systems stuff..."

The weighty hand was comforting as was the question, at least some of the senior staff had some soul. "It's nothing," Alex lied uncertain if he should speak ill of Commander Hawkins so openly without talking to the Captain first. "I was just a bit distracted that's all. What was it you wanted to ask?"

Didn't seem like nothing, thought Bear. Something clearly had the young man on edge. He didn't push it right away though, putting his banal question out there first in the hope that it would distract Alex from whatever had been preoccupying his mind.

"Aurora and I were talking about Five," Bear explained. "And I wondered if there was anything we could do to protect our systems and data when he hard-wires himself into the consoles?" He shrugged and openly admitted his own failing. "Computer systems are not my strong suit."

"She told you about that?" Alex asked with a cringe. "We should have expected it really, I guess we both a bit naïve at the time." His face hardened slightly: "It's certainly a concern, considering the circumstances where we 'acquired' Five and our destination information on our systems or sensitive data could be dangerous in some hands. I suspect he'd be able to bypass any security lockout, even a level five.

"Yeah," said Bear, simply. "And it's best that you both report anything and everything in Five's case. I'd far rather be woken up in the middle of the night with something that doesn't matter than risk anyone or anything on this ship being compromised by the xB. Understand?" He asked, not unkindly, then continued amicably enough. "And yes, exactly - I think he can get around pretty much whatever we try to put in place. But I need to protect everyone as best I can."

The Ensign nodded, "I understand sir, none us want to that to happen. I'll have to explore some options, having him confined to quarters will certainly reduce the opportunity but not eliminating the risk of future events."

"Although," Alex paused. "I though this might sound a bit strange or naïve of me but I don't think Five is a threat to ship or at least not a high one as we first feared."

Bear nodded. They all wanted to see the good in people, give folks a chance. He sadly didn't have that luxury, especially when it came to individuals who really could do some seriously fatal damage with a mere twist of a pinky in the wrong place. He looked to Alex though and smiled.

"Well," Bear said. "We get some security measures and alerts set up, protect ourselves however we can, and then I'll feel a lot better about placing nice with Five, getting to know him and his limits." Speaking of which, the Security Chief mused internally, Alex himself had reacted oddly when he'd first come in.

"And what about you, Ensign?" Bear pressed, gently. "You seemed jumpy just now. You okay?"

"Oh, yeah," Alex rubbed the back of his neck still a touch ashamed at how he reacted when Bear arrived. "I'd..." he paused uncertain he could find the right words without speaking ill of the XO. "I was mulling over something Commander Hawkins said, he was just here before you arrived. We... had a...misunderstanding."

Dalton definitely seemed a little uncomfortable, so Bear quietly listened to what the younger man had to say before he made any comment. Hawkins name coming up didn't honestly surprise him, though it did raise an internal concern. "Commander Hawkins can be a bit... rough around the edges," Bear stated. Then with a wry smile, he added. "You can speak freely, it won't go any further unless you want that. What happened?"

Alex sighed realizing Bear had him a corner plus though he was being nice about it. Sounded like he'd had a few run ins with the Commander too.

"I'm sure it's nothing," he repeated. "He disagreed with my thoughts on the device I was working on to enable Five to sleep without needing any bulky tech to enable him to stay in quarters." Alex explained the basics. "I got the impression he wanted to control him in some manner and I took offense explained I wasn't comfortable doing such a thing. The Commander started to intimidate me until I cave in." The Ensign shook his head once more: "The more I think about it the more I'm sure I simply misunderstood the original request, but rather than try to straighten things like normal people Hawkins chose a rather different approach. By bullying."

Didn't sound like nothing, thought Bear as he internally let his judgment roll as to whether this was the Ensign being oversensitive versus their XO's basically brutally direct approach. Bit of both, maybe, but still that last word Alex spoke made Bear wince.

"Tell me what happened exactly," he said, knowing he'd need to speak to Magnus on this score. "Was this a physical thing as well as verbal?"

Feeling like he'd just opened a can of unpleasant worms Alex was beginning to wish he hadn't said anything and started to backtrack. "No, it's not like that," he explained. "More like a display of his presence he squared up to me, dropped his voice in a threatening manner implied that I wasn't up to task and shouldn't question his authority."

"It's okay, Alex," Bear assured the younger man. "You're not the first person to say this kinda thing about the Commander. And you shouldn't have to feel threatened in a normal day at work, especially if you haven't done anything wrong."

"Thanks," Alex breathed relieved it was out in the open and that Commander Jasper seemed to understand. "Nice to know I'm not the only one who's received this sort of treatment."

Bear nodded. "You're definitely not alone." He could tell the difference in the Ensign already and that was all he really needed to know. It was well past time to bring this up (again) with Magnus. "Leave it with me, okay," he said, with a firm press of his hand on Alex's shoulder in support. "And if it happens again," he added. "Let me know."

Again privately enjoying the comfort from Bear's hand that seemed to restore Alex's wavering confidence and jangled nerves he smiled for the first time since they spoke. "Thank you Bear, I mean, Commander. I'll keep you in the loop, and thanks for listening."

"It's okay to call me by my name, Alex," acknowledged Bear. "If we're just talking. And no problem." He met the younger man's eyes, gave him a confident nod and then turned away, long strides taking him back into the main body of the ship. It was getting late, he'd speak to Hawk in the morning.



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