Star Trek Hunter
Episode 2: The Colony of New Hope
Scene 1: The Black Uniform
The Black Uniform
At age 54, Geordie LaForge had put on middle-age weight. He still easily met Star Fleet fitness requirements and the added weight had improved his effectiveness in a fight - his punches actually meant something these days. But while he did not miss the visor he had once needed - it had been replaced with prosthetic eyes - he did miss the rakish figure he had sported years ago when he had become the youngest chief engineer in the fleet - and on the U.S.S. Enterprise - the Federation’s storied flagship.
Very few people were left on the Enterprise from those days. There were still a few in engineering, including his brilliant, if neurotic chief engineer, Reginald Barclay, whom Geordi had resorted to bribing with a promotion to tear him away from the Daystrom Institute. Barclay had also put on some middle-age weight.
Geordi regarded the man on the other side of his desk with a mixture of suspicion, compassion and envy - this last because 2nd Lt. Kenneth Dolphin, at age 51, was extremely lean. Men that age had no right to be that trim. He didn’t look his age either. The only giveaways were some wrinkling around his eyes and his blonde hair was graying a bit at the temples.
“Take a seat, Mr. Dolphin.” Geordi sighed and looked at his desk. He looked up again at his infamous charge. “I’ll be blunt with you, Lieutenant, it’s been no picnic having you aboard. I mean, you’ve done a fine job and I’ve never met a better pilot - not even Will - but your reputation from your professorship at Harvard seems to catch up with you wherever you go. I won’t pretend to know whether you deserve it. I started reading your dissertation, but honestly, I’d rather read engineering manuals than philosophy. The problem is that Rear Admiral Riker does not like you. He made it clear that as long as you are in Space Command, you will never make first lieutenant.”
2nd Lt. Dolphin did not respond. LaForge looked at him for a moment - the man seemed to be sitting at attention. “I just can’t agree with Will on this one, though. Your performance has been exemplary and you’ve earned your reputation as the best pilot in the fleet. I think I have a way around this - if you are interested.” LaForge watched Dolphin - he could see the man thinking.
After a few heartbeats, Dolphin took a deep breath. “What do you have in mind, sir?” The man had a cultured, New England accent.
“Well, Will Riker has enough juice within Space Command to block your promotion, but it appears Captain Minerva Irons has taken an interest in you. She is offering you the position of Director of Flight Operations on the U.S.S. Hunter, which comes with a promotion to first lieutenant. Captain Irons is not in Space Command - she’s with the Office of Judge Advocate General. You would have to trade your red uniform for the black uniform worn by JAG officers.”
“I sense there is a “but” coming?” Dolphin asked.
Geordie made an amused noise. “You sense correctly.” His face took on a more serious expression. “Minerva Irons isn’t your ordinary Star Fleet captain. She’s part vulcan. She’s been a captain on and off for nearly 80 years. Irons keeps retiring and then something terrible happens, Star Fleet loses a lot of ships and is desparate for experienced captains and she comes back out of retirement. But this time she’s not just a captain. She’s an appellate court justice for the Federation Tribunal - the justice at large…”
Dolphin regarded LaForge carefully. “That’s not the “but” part, is it?”
Geordie smiled. “You caught me out again, Lieutenant. Okay - you did not hear this part from me, but it’s only fair that you should know before you chose to jump ship - so to speak… Minerva Irons has a reputation. Brilliant. Ruthless. Brutal.”
“But the “but” part,” Geordie continued, “is that, as good as she is and as much as she gets accomplished for the Federation, death and destruction follow her around like pet dogs. They send her to do the dirty work that no one else wants to do. She always walks away clean. Nothing sticks to her. But sometimes her crew is not so fortunate. I know your Ph.D. is in ethics. Maybe that’s why she wants you. She’s famous for finding the gray areas when everyone else sees things in black and white.”
2nd Lt. Dolphin rolled his head back and looked at the ceiling. LaForge watched the junior officer’s expression and allowed the silence to grow. After nearly two minutes, Dolphin returned his gaze.
“When do you need an answer, sir?”
“Two hours, Lieutenant. That should be enough time for you to do a little research. But I need to give Captain Irons an answer. She wants you on the Hunter first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Thank you, sir,” Dolphin replied, standing up.
Dolphin came to attention, then turned to leave.
“Oh, and Kenneth…”
Dolphin paused and turned back.
“Justice Irons likes to be addressed according to her civilian title: “Your honor” is the appropriate way to address her. She is a judge. But when she gives you an order, then you respond with her rank. And she likes eye contact.”
Dolphin paused for just a moment to digest this information - it told him a fair amount about Irons’ character. Quite possibly more than a few hours of research might reveal. “Understood and appreciated. Thank you sir.”
“Two hours, Lieutenant.”