Timeline: Day 0 at 2005
Without a word of explanation, Commander Winters had lead the small group towards the office which overlooked the operations centre. In all honesty she was torn on how to approach this. These were, after all, rather unusual circumstances. There was no manual of right and wrongs. Well, technically there was; however, lines became blurred when you threw into consideration the loss of your ship and over two hundred crewmates.
"Congratulations," she began as the doors closed, offering the four of them some privacy as she turned to face the two Ensigns.
Whilst small beads of perspiration began to appear on Ensign Kiaol's forehead, Ensign Kedam was an ocean of tranquility, not so much as a hint of nervousness as she looked at the Commander somewhat deadpan in the face and simply said, "Ma'am?"
"On your promotions," Winters clarified as she leaned back against the edge of the large desk which dominated the room, her eyes fixed on both of the junior officers. "During all of the commotion, I obviously missed the announcement where you had been promoted to senior staff and now outranked the lieutenant here."
"Respectfully Commander," Nisha began, her efforts to try and save her Security counterpart somewhat, "you didn't see the bodies down there. Bodies of our friends, our colleagues. We moved to safeguard the lives of those people we were able to locate," the Cardassian told matter of factly. Beside her, Ensign Kiaol had turned the pale, scaly grey that the Cardassian was.
Winters glanced between the two junior officers, allowing the science officer to say her piece. “No, you moved to disregard the order of your superior officer,” she said quietly, although there was an underlying tone. “These are far from ideal circumstances and I do appreciate that. But that does not, ever, justify you ignoring a direct order or twisting it to suit your version of it. The chain of command exists for a reason and I will not have anyone undermining the authority of the senior staff. Is that understood?”
There was a chorus of "Yes ma'am," from the two junior officers, with both stood at attention during the XO's dressing down of them.
Peter stood a little shocked. He was not sure exactly what was going on or precisely how the orders were not followed, but he could probably guess. He had been separated from the team most of the mission and he could only remember issuing one order, which did not get received well. Apparently, the Commander was a good several steps ahead of him. So much for his commanding days.
"The incident will be recorded in both of your files, any repeat and I will personally build a brig to throw you both in it, understood?" Aria said after a long moment. Her options were somewhat limited, something they probably knew just as well as she did.
Both officer's nodded swiftly.
"I'm assigning you both to work on a recovery mission. We need food supplies and equipment from the Ulysses galley. The ship's chef survived, a Ghanima Asavvi? Report to her and provide whatever assistance she needs. Keep her safe but unless her safety is at risk, you are there to help her and will follow her direction. It's her domain, she is best placed to decide what we can save and what is beyond saving. You leave within the hour. Questions?"
"Commander, we messed up," Dazia finally spoke up, "but surely there has to be something here we are better suited for than chaperoning a chef?" the Security officer appealed to the XO.
"Undoubtedly so," Aria agreed, "but you both go. It is not open for debate. Understood?"
"Captain Nazir wouldn't make us do this," Nisha whispered under her breath, her head lowered. Her remark was heard by the Security Officer next to her, so undoubtedly was heard by the XO too. That was not good.
"Or perhaps she'd have gone straight for a firing squad," Aria retorted with a calmness that belittled her words. "Allow me to make one thing perfectly clear, Ensign. I am not Captain Nazir but I sure as hell earned my rank and even if you don't respect me, respect the uniform. Respect the fact we are all in this together and that, by any definition, you are both getting off lightly. But please, do continue with the attitude."
"Our friends died down there! And instead of putting us to better use here, you have us babysitting a Chef," is what the Cardassian wanted to say, but her petulance was clearly getting her nowhere. Instead, she simply bit her tongue and responded with a curt, "Ma'am."
"Alright," Aria asked, not missing the tone but knowing frayed tempers would not get them anywhere. "Lieutenant Wilson, is there anything you wish to add before they start preparing for the trip?"
"No ma'am." Peter said shaking his head. While he wouldn't like it, he could see the Ensign smarting off to him being only a rank above her and with less command experience. Not acceptable, but could see it, but back talking the Commander? If the situation were anything normal she would have been in the brig before her next sentence finished.
"Alright then, both of you," Aria turned her full attention to both of the ensigns, "dismissed."
Both of the younger officers snapped to attention before spinning on their heels and heading off to leave the senior officers to their exchange. In terms of tellings off, that was probably the easiest either of them had had. Thank god it wasn't the Captain, was all they could think as they walked away.
When both of them had left, Winters sighed, visibly relaxing. "I'd probably have kept mouthing off, to be fair," she commented, "but never let people undermine you. The joys of command, Lieutenant."
Peter nodded. "Yes ma'am. I guess I got to start somewhere. Sink or swim so to speak."
"Don't worry, you'll get there. Hopefully both of them will realise they were out of line and learn from it. Otherwise I'll have to be more creative. Lets add building a brig to the list of priorities. Just in case..."