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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 122
06-28-2011, 09:41 AM
This follows on chronologically from Head Hunted (written for challenge #2)

The Waiting Room

Lieutenant Kyle Tremayne nursed the cooling cup of coffee anxiously. The sparse waiting room was frustratingly devoid of anything that could provide a distraction. Beyond the double doors two of his officer candidates were undergoing the final stage of their testing, the daunting “Psychological Stress Analysis” or “PSA”. Kyle had undergone the same test at the academy; the memory still gave him chills.

Unlike the old Kobayashi Maru test Kyle’s grandfather had taken, PSA tests were tailored to the cadet which made it far more personal and unpredictable. For the cadets it had become a right of passage and badge of honour and every graduate had their own horror story to tell. After the Borg attack on Vega, Kyle could understand why the test was so challenging. Anyone with the right qualifications can engage in scientific exploration, but to remain calm and make the right decisions in a life threatening crisis required a certain type of person. Even so, sometimes he wondered what kind of person formulated these tests.

The double doors hissed open to reveal Acting Ensign T’Lara. Kyle rose from his chair to greet her but the usually stoic Vulcan seemed to have her attention elsewhere. Her steps were stiff and unsteady and as she reached Kyle her hand reached out and grasped his arm.

“T’Lara?”

The grip on Kyle’s arm was becoming painful. T’Lara gazed blankly at the ground. “I, will be, alright, sir. I, am in, control. I... They... It was a logical test.”

The grip on Kyle’s arm disappeared as she fell into his arms. “It, was, lo-gi-cal.” She sobbed.

For what felt like an eternity he stood stunned, “Who were these people?” thought Kyle.

He waited for the sobbing tostop and slowly eased the trembling Vulcan away, wiping a tear from her cheek with his thumb. “Hey, it over, you did ok. Come on now, calm deep breaths.”

T’Lara nodded, gradually the trembling stopped and the hardness returned to her eyes. “It would be preferable if this is, not discussed in the future.”

“I understand. You know where to find me if you change your mind.”

T’Lara brushed aside a stray lock of hair. “If, you will excuse me, Sir?”

Kyle mustered what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “Carry on Ensign.”

As the Vulcan left Kyle rounded on the double doors and glared at them. A mix of guilt and anger churned in his stomach. This was his fault, Admiral Quinn had asked and he had recommended. Kyle looked at the cup of now completely cold coffee perched on the ledge by his chair. “Yeah,” he thought, “that’s about right.”

The double doors hissed open again and Jaro Antar walked through with a haunted look in his eye. He gazed at Kyle and nodded slowly and grinned, “I think I understand now. There’s a reason why you command types are that little bit crazy.”

Kyle eyes were drawn to the engineer’s fists as the reflexively clenched and unclenched. “You ok Jaro?”

“No Sir, not right now, but I will be. That was Obsidian Order quality nasty. I hope I never have to do that again.”

Kyle nodded thoughtfully, “I’ve often wondered just how deeply they dig before formulating the test scenario. If you want to talk about it?”

“Thank you Sir maybe later, but if you will excuse me, I have a Saurian Brandy or two, followed by a lot of quiet contemplation waiting for me.”

“Carry on, Jaro.”

Kyle followed his hazed engineer out of the room and into the bustling sunlit corridor and made his way to the instructor’s booth.

The booth was a small dark room overlooking a now empty holo-grid of yellow lines on black. A lone Aenar male of late middle age with three gold pips on his collar sat at the desk, his swivel chair angled to get a view of both the room below and the door. He looked up at Kyle with milky white eyes as he entered and grinned broadly.

“Ah Lieutenant! Come to see how your candidates performed?”

Kyle mustered as basic, “Yes sir.” The joviality of the greeting had distracted him.

“Well, they both passed. Not entirely unsurprising considering their history files. Real experience counts for a lot in being able to handle test. I also have this to give to you.”

The Aenar extended a pale hand in which he was holding a data pad. Kyle took it and read it.

“This is to confirm that Lieutenant Kyle Ulysses Tremayne is qualified for full command authority.” Kyle looked at the Aenar, back to the pad and again at the Aenar. “You were testing me as well?”

“Indeed, your field promotion stands and the report confirmed all but one facet of command requirements, compassion. PSA is a necessary evil and your reaction to its effect on your crewmen was sufficient to answer any doubts.”

Kyle felt hollow. “Was it..?”

“Worse for them because of you? No, that would be unduly cruel. We are not monsters Lieutenant, despite what scuttlebutt may say. PSA testing is performed under the strictest controls and Starfleet Medical monitoring.”

Kyle stiffened, “Sorry Sir.”

“Official ceremony is at eleven hundred hours tomorrow. A report has been sent to Admiral Quinn, he will doubtless have your orders. Carry on Lieutenant.”

Kyle mustered a nod and left. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day.