Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions

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On the other side of a proverbial pond, everyone travels a particular road. 


“You’re the top three candidates,” said the Empress Hoshi Sato, looking the three of them up and down, a gleam in her sloe eyes. “Reed’s dead and I need someone to run Tactical. You’ll be promoted without having to off anyone. But I expect you to get up to speed quickly. This is a new ship and you need to be able to figure it out yesterday.” 

“Yes, Empress,” said one of the candidates, Chip Masterson. 

“So I’ve devised a little test. We’re going to be heading past one of the moons in the Andorian System in about an hour. The three of you have until then to figure out the targeting array. Travis here will let you back onto the Bridge one at a time. Then we’ll give you each coordinates. You fire at and destroy whatever I tell you to destroy.” 

“If more than one of you destroys your target,” Travis Mayweather added, “we’ll split the job and you can do shift work.” 

“Travis!” Hoshi was a tad exasperated. “I am working!” 

He skulked away as she continued. “If more than one of you succeeds, the job will be split.” 

“And if none of us succeeds?” asked the second candidate, Aidan MacKenzie. 

“You can have fun in the agony booth,” she said, “You got any questions?” she asked the third candidate, who had been silent so far. 




Major Doug Hayes didn’t have questions because you just didn’t question the Empress, and you didn’t look gift horses like this one in the mouth, even though he hadn’t volunteered to be considered for the Tactical job. He knew that Reed could have lived – Doctor Phlox had said there was a fifty-fifty shot after the old Tactical Officer had been mauled by a Gorn. But Phlox had been found to be a saboteur and was killed not too long afterwards, replaced by a haughty fellow with a face that was mostly nose – Cyril Morgan. And the persistent rumor was that Morgan had taken some sort of compensation for tipping the scale and offing Reed. 

And now there was an opening.

Doug had no love lost for Reed, even though the two of them had worked together. They had cooperated relatively well – a rarity on the ISS Enterprise and then on the Defiant – but that was mainly because of their differing tastes in women. Reed had chased both human and alien tail – it hadn’t mattered one whit to him – so long as the female in question was blonde. Shelby Pike, and then Jennifer Crossman, had been Doug’s targets, and neither one was blonde. And so he and Reed had, at least on the surface, gotten along, and Reed had taught him targeting on the older system. 

It was an imperative that, if you wanted to get ahead, that you would eventually off your superior officer. That is, if you had any ambitions whatsoever. And Doug had had plenty, but he had become relatively comfortable as the MACOs’ CO. He hadn’t gone after Reed’s position as it offered him few benefits and more risks in a life that, almost no matter what Doug did, was destined to be short, brutal and nasty. 

It was not a safe situation – the only person who was safe, most likely, was the lowest of the crewmen – probably Delacroix, who was most likely underage and rather short. He was a little Napoleon with an attitude. A guy like that could be dangerous, and getting to the top meant dealing with more and more disgruntled guys like Del. But Doug had found a way to keep Delacroix in line, by giving him just enough to do to keep him interested and little enough to keep him from getting trained in any sort of a meaningful manner. 

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