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Creating Advantage

Posted on Sun Jul 30th, 2023 @ 4:53am by Lieutenant Alexis Ryan
Edited on on Sun Jul 30th, 2023 @ 5:13am

Mission: Wrath of the People
Location: Gamma Section
1321 words - 2.6 OF Standard Post Measure

“I know how to scan for unusual energy signatures. Ezra says that my interpretation of data is better than most first year cadets.”

“Which is a fantastic head-start if you ever choose to pursue a career in data analysis. Right now, you need to go sleep.”

“You said yourself it’s just a supply run. I don’t see what’s so crazy about a supply run that I couldn’t just…”


“Come on, Dad. How am I ever going to run a science post if you won’t let me get any flight experience.”

The creak of her cot very nearly masked his sigh. “If I have my way, all this will be done with well before you need to worry yourself about running anything. Your aspirations are fine,” he held up his hand to staunch the flow of protest, “but I would prefer that my 11-year-old daughter avoids training on the job in the middle of a warzone.”

A kiss to her forehead didn’t placate, the furrow of her brow said all it needed to about her distaste at, once again, being dismissed as just a kid. “It’s better than hiding in a hole in the middle of a warzone.”

“That’s questionable.” The springs groaned again as he stood up. “We’ll be back in a couple of days, I’m counting on you to stay back here and make sure the twins don’t cause any more property damage.”

“They don’t listen to me.”

“Well, someone has to make sure Ezra doesn’t make a calculation error.”

“He’s blind, Dad, not stupid. He only made the mistake because someone messed with his workspace.”

“And who better to make sure that doesn’t happen again?” It was difficult not to smile at the pointed deadpan that earned him. Too much her mother’s daughter, he’d never really got away with trying to reframe things, not when she was so intent on seeing the world for how it actually was. His hand found her tousled head and added to the chaos with an affectionate ruffle of fiery locks.

“One day, Lexi, you’re going to take the universe by storm and I sure hope it’s ready for you when that day comes. Right now, you just need to be patient. Rushing into things is a sure-fire way of wasting any advantage you have.”

“I live in a hole in the ground, Dad. I don’t have an advantage.”

“You’ll make one, when the time's right.”

“You mean when I’m 50.”

“Eh, closer to 70.”

“Just a few days?”

“Five at the most.”

“You better come back.”

“I’d like to see the guy who tries to stop me.”

The roll of her eyes finally cracked his façade.

“You're in charge until I get back. Give ‘em hell, Lex.”

The silence on the bridge was a brittle, taut deception. In the minutes since the viewscreen had flickered off, taking with it Commander Shan’s furrowed concern, the lack of conversation was less an absence of noise as it was indicative of the frantic chaos of emotion churning beneath the surface of her crew's professional demeanour. Locating Beta Section still intact had been a short-lived relief, preliminary reports put the reactivation of primary systems within an hour or so of any sort of timely assistance and, even then, there was concern that emergency power was registering instability. The Andorian Commander had projected her typical air of confidence and Alexis had seen no value in contradicting the woman but the section's situation was tenuous. Leaving them to manage alone was a difficult prospect.

Of perhaps greater concern, however, was the realisaton that Saghir's readings were not indicative of Beta Section's situation. Floating adrift as they raced to repair their systems, the crew under Shan's command were not in immediate threat of hostile take-over, which left only Alpha Section to bear the brunt of what the data was suggesting. With that consideration, Ryan stared ahead at the swirling gasses and felt the pressure to buckle mount as her options presented in triplicate. Back-off and seek additional assistance was not entirely off the table, now staying to render assistance to Beta Section had to at least warrant some priority. It wasn't where her motivation lay, however, nor was it what the twisted knot of obligation in her stomach that tightened every time she reflected on the fate of comrades under fire further afield was urging her to do. Sensible tactics demanded focus on the most actionable but a soldier's loyalty was damned near impossible to switch off, even after career diversions landed you smack-bang in the middle of Logic Central. The frustration of helplessness set her features mid-scowl, another contributing factor to the lack of questioning from even the stern-faced scientist sitting next to her.

When did it ever stop, this perpetual sensation of inadequacy? It wasn't self-doubt, Ryan had demonstrated plenty of times that she had confidence enough in her own abilities to stick her neck out. It was less internalised than that, bound more to the constant acknowledgement that not every situation had an obvious best-case solution. There had been a time, not long enough ago for her to have forgotten how it felt, where her struggles with compromise had blazed a trail directly towards the kind of life-long indiscretions that had been hurled at her on the defense stand. How many standard deviations would it have taken to point her in a direction far removed from the harness of Starfleet protocol? And if the response was 'not enough' then what business did she have deciding the fate of others? What use, if any, was Alexis Ryan in fixing this particular mess?

Where was the advantage?

She'd done nothing to help Kane, had barely navigated her way through a minefield designed to render her a liability. She hadn't known him long enough to care as much as she did about that but impotence burned with or without common-sense fuelling it. He had queried her lack of command training, the very obvious side-stepping of official recommendations, and had seemed to accept her very honest claim that it wasn't likely to appear on her radar until her opinion of her capacity matched those on her permanent record. She'd walked away from the discussion vaguely dissatisfied, however, as if struggling with the notion of biding her time when his unspoken sentiment seemed to be...

Tiny snippets of memory toyed with her as she sat with her options and sought the resolution to pick one.

His genuine puzzlement over her lack of command pathway.
His face as he failed to skewer cheesecake effectively.
His infernal snoring.

No, scratch that. Not a memory.

Ryan's gaze travelled downwards to the decking. Ezra had always said that, in the absence of any opportunity to be something you weren't, your only option was to be everything you were with supreme diligence.

Zade's gleeful high-five at the end of the cadet training session.
Savin's attempts to grasp the nuances of a team sport in the midst of a flamboyance of testosterone.
Lance's expression of haunted dread.

They hadn't been her crew for long and, in many cases, she could have counted on one hand the amount of times she'd spoken directly to any of them. It did nothing to diminish their value and certainly had no bearing on the sense of loyalty threatening to throttle her. They were Jacob's crew and if she couldn't make any sense of her affinity for the man, at the very least she could afford him the respect of doing what he would have if their situations had been reversed.

Determination brought relief.


Her voice cut through the silence as a gentle apology for tardiness.

"I need you to find something for me."


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