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As Expected

Posted on Tue Feb 27th, 2018 @ 5:27am by Lieutenant Commander Emil Nosske (Command) & Captain Alexander Kurtz

Mission: Earth
Location: Captain's Ready Room, USS Valkyrie
Timeline: MD10 10:20

A good engineer should know about their equipment before they start working with it, and Alex Kurtz approached command in the same way. He wanted to know which parts of the Valkyrie machine worked well, and which were likely to cause problems. The first officer was a problematic component. Emil Nosske had,on paper, had an impressive career, and yet nobody had recommended him for command. In fact, none of his contemporaries seemed to have anything good to say about him and he seemed to have reached his current station through overconfidence and force of will.

Nonetheless, Alex wasn't in a position to replace the XO, not yet anyway. He would have to find a way to work with the man. The door chime sounded. “Come in.” He said.

Since the incident on Davos Prime, Nosske had spent most of his time in meetings of some form or another. He had more than enough favors during his time to call in to make sure that his position was not compromised, the entire incident being attributed to a reaction to the traumatic event of losing his captain. This was all made easier by Blackwater's lack of reporting his striking of her in the cargo bay. The other personnel present had of course given a report of the incident, but without Blackwater making a formal complaint about it, there was nothing to be officially done about it. Today, he was meeting his new captain and he was looking forward to it for once. While still his junior, at least Kurtz seemed to have the chops to sit in the chair he had been given. He could be a man worth his respect and time and someone who could assist him in taking the next step toward a command himself. He stepped inside and smiled at Kurtz. “Good morning, Captain. I’m glad to finally meet you.”

“And you Lieutenant Commander. Please, sit.” He gestured to the chairs across the desk from him. “I wanted to get your thoughts on the state of the crew. The ship too, but at the moment, I'm more concerned about my officers, how are they holding up?”

Emil moved to take a seat, quirking a brow slightly at the topic of conversation but he would humor the man. "To my knowledge they are enjoying their brief time off and coping with the loss of our former CO." He explained, his steady eyes on Kurtz as if taking the other man's measure. "The refit on the ship is nearly complete as I'm sure you know. I've ensured we have been made a priority."

That was as non committal an answer as the XO could possibly have given which disappointed Alex, the man should have a better feel for the crew than that. “Tell me about Davos Prime. I'd like to know your perspective on what happened during the mission.”

The expression on the older man's face soured immediately at the mention of the mission. "An unmitigated disaster spearheaded by Blackwater and Kel that resulted in the loss of our CO."

“That’s very different from what the reports say, including Lieutenant Commander Bhatt.” Alex commented. “Talk me through it. I need to understand what went wrong there if I'm going to get the best out of this crew.”

“Upon their arrival, Lieutenant Kel was identified by the Davosi as some sort of prophet or herald to their religion. The away team was separated with Blackwater and Kel being taken by the religious sect while Kincaid and Bhatt were taken to speak with the government. Talks were not going especially well with the Daje from what I understand and the Dosi demonstrated a level of subservience to Lieutenant Kel.” Nosske paused and shifted in his chair. “The Breen were also courting the Davosi in tandem with our teams. When some sort of virulent plague broke out in one of their cities, we offered our database which pointed at Breen involvement. Sometime shortly after this discovery, a radical, xenophobic sect planned an attack that was executed in rather impressive time considering there was no evidence of pre-planning outside a few hours.”

The XO wasn't telling Alex anything that wasn't in the reports. He was quickly getting the feeling that he had been right with his concerns about Nosske. “All right, how about you tell me what isn't in the reports Lieutenant Commander? Missions go off the rails all the time. Starfleet officers sometimes die in the line of duty, that's one of the unfortunate facts of the job. Why are you blaming Blackwater and Kel for what happened? It sounds to me like they salvaged the negotiations.”

"Lieutenant Kel was in a position of influence that he could have used to help keep negotiations on track at the very least; he decided not to do that." Nosske shifted a bit where he sat. "As for Blackwater, she abandoned our captain on the planet in favor of saving herself then proceeded to return to the ship and belittle me as if I had wronged her."

Potential Prime Directive violations aside, Nosske's attitude was remarkably self centred and short sighted. His views were in clear opposition to the rest of the reports on the mission. Alex was getting a very clear picture of a small, petty man out for himself. “As executive officer, what did you do to help when things went awry?”

“I was assigned to remain on the Valkyrie for the duration of the mission to provide support for the away team. I monitored the situation on the planet and was prepared to send in support if need be but the Davosi refused. I followed the orders given to me and kept the rest of the crew in line and on task.” Emil struggled to keep the irritation out of his voice, feeling like this was turning into an interrogation more than anything.

Alex leaned back in his chair for a moment, regarding the man sat across from him. It hadn't taken him long to form an opinion on Nosske. This was not a man to be trusted. His response to a crisis had been passive and deeply unimpressive. “I am not Commander Kincaid. Things are going to change on the Valkyrie. You're supposed to be my link to the crew and incidents like Davos Prime show me that you're not that link at the moment. Find a way to make it work.”

Nosske took a breath and managed something akin to a pleasant tone. “All due respect, Captain, it you are going to base your opinion off of my capabilities on one mission, you are being terribly narrow minded.”

“I've been through your record in detail.” Defensiveness was exactly what Alex had been expecting. “I do my research. The reason I asked about Davos Prime is because that was one of the worst crises a first officer can experience and you didn't perform. I expect you to up your game if you want to remain on board the Valkyrie.”

To his credit, Emil remained calm and relatively patient. He lifted his hand and ran his thumb and forefinger down the line of his goatee, considering his response a moment. “Then tell me what you would have done differently, Captain.”

A challenge was another predictable move from Nosske. John Russell, Alex's old friend and an experienced counselor had given him some advice based on the XO's record, all of which had proven accurate so far. He owed his friend a good bottle of something. “If I was thrown into a command situation like that, I'd use the resources I had available. Talk to my officers and work out who's best placed to continue the negotiations. If that's Blackwater, then so be it, if not, I take over the negotiations. The crew needed leadership and a steady hand. There's no room for ego in that situation and no time to assign fault or try to dissect the mission until it's done.”

“And exactly how was I supposed to continue negotiations when the Davosi government made it very clear they were no longer open to negotiations?” Nosske asked flatly. “The mission was over before the assault even happened. Would you prefer I had forced the issue and thus prompted the Davosi to lock us out entirely?” Perhaps he had been wrong about this man’s competence after all.

“I'm not getting into a speculative debate with you Lieutenant Commander.” Alex replied. He shouldn't have indulged the XO's last question. Lesson learned. He wasn't going to get dragged into something so unproductive. “If you really don't think there are lessons to be learned from Davos Prime, then frankly you don't belong on this ship. And if you ever assault another crew member again, you'll spend what's left of your career in the brig. You're dismissed.”

Emil stood and straightened his jacket. “I never said there weren’t lessons to be learned, Captain. I was genuinely asking for your input on the matter but that does not mean I will blindly agree to your assessments, especially since you seem to be woefully misinformed regarding the Davos mission and the sequence of events. If you can’t engage in a simple discussion, then you don’t belong in the captain’s chair.” With that, Nosske turned and walked away.

Alex rubbed his temple. That had gone exactly as well as he had expected. Nosske didn't seem to have the self awareness to recognise the possibility that he could be at fault. His anger wasn't far beneath the surface, barely suppressed, thinly disguised by a passive aggressive veneer. The XO worried him immensely and he would have to find a way to minimise Nosske's toxic influence until he could get rid of him.


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