Personal Log, Lauren Varley



STARDATE 91735.2
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A woman of dark complexion and hazel eyes appears in front of the viewer. She looks to be in her early forties, human, and wears the four silver pips of a Starfleet Captain. Her hair, tied into a tight bun that sits on the back of her head, is a soft black that looks like it may be greying at the sides. Then again, that could be a trick of the light. She stares at something off-screen for a few moments, then turns back to the viewer and speaks.

“This is one hell of a ship.”

Captain Lauren Varley pauses, frowning a little.

“Well, I don’t suppose that came out quite right. This is one impressive ship, and I’m still a little flustered that she’s my command.”

Lauren sighs, rubbing at her neck, and then continues.

“I won’t deny that I’m proud of my- of our, work on the Beagle. We acted on our orders and more than once went beyond them to fulfill our duties. That’s what Starfleet is all about, after all. Doing better than anyone could have expected. Even still… is this what being an experienced, seasoned officer feels like? I can remember my academy days as freshly as ever, even though they were…”

Lauren trails off a momentarily, then taps at a PADD in her hands. She reads something and recoils as if the PADD spat at her.

“Twenty two years ago! Gosh.”

She then breaks into a gentle smile, chuckles, and looks back at the screen.

“In any case, this is my first personal log as Captain of the U.S.S. Sagan, a Pathfinder class science vessel with a crew of one hundred and eighty. We’ve been assigned to the 38th Fleet, and I’ve already been able to meet a handful of the officers around Deep Space Thirteen. I can’t wait to see what the future will hurl at me next.”

STARDATE 91738.8
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“So it’s… over.”

Lauren sits, reclined in a chair. She appears freshly washed and wrapped in a clean, crisp uniform- but wears the scars and grit of combat in her dark brown eyes, which stare out into the void. A few parts of her quarters look different, as though they have recently been re-arranged. Lauren turns her head to stare at the recording screen.

“Only a few hours ago, a Herald force engaged the Sol System in a massive attack. Earth Spacedock was heavily damaged, and… I don’t know how many ships involved were lost. I think its safe to say that all of them were damaged.”

The Captain sighs quietly, looking around her room.

“The Sagan escaped with relatively minor injuries. Our secondary deflector has been destroyed, a few of the lower decks were breached, and large portions of the outer hull has been slagged. We’re currently sitting in orbit with Deep Space Thirteen, conducting our repairs slowly but surely.”

She rubs at her face, pausing to look at her reflection in the window, then picks up a PADD and continues talking while she flips through something on it.

“I sent a message to mom and dad, they replied and are doing just fine. I don’t know what to thank for the cease fire happening when it did, any longer and the Heralds would’ve opened fire on Earth. I get the feeling that whatever it was, I’m not going to be informed for a while, especially considering that Dominion forces reportedly joined the fight with us. That’s still boggling me a little.”

Lauren stands from the chair, casting the PADD aside, and strolls over to the window from her quarters that looks into space. She smiles after a moment, then emits a hearty chuckle.

“It doesn’t matter. Not right now. The war is over, and we’re safe. Things haven’t looked this good in a long while.”

STARDATE 91782.1
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Lauren stretches after rising from the medical bed, taking a few slow breaths and rolling her shoulders. She nods to someone off-screen before leaving the Sagan’s sickbay. The hallway outside is quiet, and she starts talking to her PADD.

“Another day in the life. Looks like I’ve received a few more injuries than the good doctor could originally pick up- some lung damage and a fractured rib. Nothing that can’t be fixed, I’m assured, and I’m safe to keep moving around. Just won’t be doing any jogging for a bit.”

She walks into her quarters, placing her hands down on a table and looking out longingly into space.

“I wasn’t the only one to get a checkup, today. Had Deep Space Thirteen’s chief engineering officer do a primary systems check on the Sagan. Mostly in excellent shape, he assures me. However, because the torpedo tubes and secondary deflector are currently inoperable, he’s deemed us unfit for duty.”

Lauren sets her jaw at an angle, making a hrm noise.

“Its frustrating to be locked down in orbit. But, of course, its not the chief’s fault. He’s a funny man; a bit odd, but charming. Maybe even flirty. Well… maybe.”

The Captain pushes herself off from the table, meandering over to the replicator.

“Root beer.”

She picks up the dark bubbly soft drink and sips from it thoughtfully.

“Regardless, I’ve got a lot to focus on right now. That is, a lot to focus on after my nap.”

She casts an innocent glance at the screen.

“Doctor’s orders.”

STARDATE 91791.1
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Lauren stands with her back to the screen, staring out at the stars for a good few moments of silence. The air around her is charged with an aura of hesitant excitement. When she glances behind her at the display, she smiles.

“Time to get back to work. The Sagan has been cleared for duty after our repairs were finally completed, so we’re going back onto active service. Gosh, I didn’t know how… how…”

She frowns pensively.

“How different station-side life is. I didn’t think it’d be much of an issue to adapt, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of claustrophobia while I was staying aboard Deep Space Thirteen. Its a huge station, yes- many times larger than the Sagan, but we aren’t going anywhere. Relatively, I mean.”

Lauren gives a shrug and drums out a brief tune on the windowsill before her. She rests her hands on the surface, one set of fingers continuing to tap at it gently but consistently.

“Oh well. It’s just another something that I’ll have time to adapt to, later. For now, its the starship life for me.”

The captain gives a chuckle, ceasing her finger-tapping and turning away from the window to look over something above and to the left off-screen. She crosses her arms again and sets her jaw at a slight angle.

“Funny, despite that I was on board the station for temporary residence, I definitely did less socializing with the other staff than before. I should try to put more energy into being as frequent as possible a presence around the main lounge. I’m still pretty new to town, after all.”

STARDATE 92207.9
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Lauren, sitting up out of a recliner, takes a sip of something refreshing-looking and fixes her hair. Some soft jazz can be heard playing over the room’s internal speakers.

“Been a while since I’ve done one of these.”

She frowns for a moment, looking thoughtful.

“…Well, the past week or so has been good. Oh- and the 38th has received a number of new members. Even another Republic exchange officer. Had only one conversation with her, but she seems like fun. The others are pleasant enough, apparently Captain Quint’s brother has joined us. And, I can’t forget to mention the Android and Vorta officer.”

Taking another drink, she stands and moves over to a window, continuing to speak.

“Yeah, that was a surprise. But a welcome one- it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about their kind, especially in the Vorta officer’s case. I’m looking forward to a chat or two with her.”

She grows a little smile on her face, staring reminiscently out into the void.

“I’m not sure if I qualify as a ‘seasoned officer’ just yet, but I think I’m starting to see differences between the Starfleet of today, and the one I joined two decades ago. I certainly don’t remember meeting as many different people at the Academy. …I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, though- we bumped into the Delta Quadrant not long ago, and a lot of things have changed since the end of the war.”

Lauren gives a thoughtful hum, then turns around.

“Anyway, that’ll be enough logging for now. I… I need to replicate some cookbooks and figure out how to make a pizza. Eesh, the things I get myself into…”

STARDATE 92281.8
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Lauren sits at a desk, staring at a far wall before turning to the screen. Her expression is decidedly neutral, though her eyebrows are knitted faintly.

“Well, we’ve been ordered to join the blockade of the Terix colony, and, here we are. Tachyon grid position is locked in and… that’s about it.”

She leans back in the chair, picking up a PADD and eyeing it.

“We’ve been holding position for about 45 minutes now, no activity. This isn’t my first blockade assignment, of course. I know what they consist of and how to fulfill one. Doesn’t mean I enjoy them, though. I can only assume that the Sagan was selected because of our secondary deflector array, to bolster the grid’s performance. There are a few other science vessels in formation, too, though most of the other ships are cruisers.”

Standing from the chair, Lauren strides over to her quarter’s window, looking out into space.

“I’m not sure what command expects us to find here. We’re supposed to be ensuring that a local conflict stays local… could there be concerns that the Star Empire will want to become involved? Or, maybe they just don’t want any of the ships inside the blockade leaving the Terix system.”

Lauren turns away from the window and returns to her desk. She reclines into her chair, rubbing at her eyes, then picking up a mug of something. Probably cold coffee, judging by the expression on her face after a sip.

“Either way, we’ll be here for a while yet. I might as well schedule a few drills for the crew. Wouldn’t mind saying hello to a few of the other Captains afterwards.”

STARDATE 92294.9
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Lauren stands on a starship bridge. It looks to be a Pathfinder-class, probably the bridge of the U.S.S. Sagan. Taking a few steps forward, the Captain grips a railing and leans forward on it. As the screen pans around, it becomes apparent that she is the only one present. Extensive damage to the bridge is also clear. When she speaks, her voice is cold.

“Why didn’t we know about that fleet?”

She faces away from the camera, drumming her fingers on the railing repeatedly.

“Ten advanced warbirds, somehow being hidden by the Terix government, even while we had an active blockade of their system. They went so far as to use an ally’s lighter vessels to conduct a bombing operation so that they wouldn’t have to reveal them. Speaking of which, those allied vessels were inside the blockade when we set it up, and we didn’t even know about them. I don’t want to point fingers, but to me it seems that this operation was rushed.”

After a moment, she sighs and lowers her head, shaking it gently.

“Maybe I’m just translating what is my fault. I disregarded direct orders, and as a result, the Sagan took a serious beating, and I lost twelve crewmen. Many, many more were injured.”

She composes herself, pushing off from the railing and turning to face the screen. Her gaze is level, eyes hard and confident.

“But I didn’t make the wrong move. I acted to help innocent civilians and uphold the prime directive. It was the only choice I could make. Let them court martial me. So be it.”

Turning away to let her eyes drift over the bridge, she continues speaking.

“Terix’s sudden military might is beyond troubling, though. Originally, we were all under the impression that both factions on the planet surface were on about equal footing- or at least close to. But now? That ‘war’ that they’re having is quickly going to turn into a mass slaughter, if they choose to continue using those warbirds.”

She begins pacing slowly across the deck, crossing her arms over her chest.

“So. Will Starfleet continue to blockade the system, watching what happens? I don’t envy the Captains still there. Frankly, the blockade is now operating in the Terix government’s favour. They have a vast upper hand, and with the no-interference policy in place, it will stay that way.”

Lauren stops pacing, checking a chronometer. Her posture softens slightly, along with her voice.

“Well. I’m only allowed here for another half hour. I have to gather my things and return to the Starbase. I hope that this isn’t my last entry aboard the Sagan.”

STARDATE 92357.3
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Lauren sits with her back against a couch. The room she is in recognizable as her quarters on the U.S.S. Sagan. Drifting through the air quietly is the recorded sound of a guitar, strumming out a blues rhythm. Her brow is ever so faintly furrowed as she stares at something miles away.

“That’s the end of the court martial, then. I’m glad it’s over. I’m… also glad that I’m back on the Sagan. Still, we did lose the trial. I don’t like that it’ll be on my record from now on.”

She exhales slowly, shifting a little in her seat.

“Though, my sentence is very light, all things considered. And further, no matter what Starfleet has ruled, I know that I acted in the right.”

Tilting her head to the side slightly, the considers that statement.

“-and in fact, everyone else that I’ve spoken to thinks I did too. Even my primary prosecutor told me he hopes that he could make the same decision I did, in that situation. Makes one wonder about how effective the court procedure is… whether it’s valid.”

Lauren pauses. One of her hands is gently tapping out the beat of the music in her quarters.

“Captain Perim said in her testimony that it’s likely she’d have recommended the blockade take actions similar to those of Captain Savage, Emery, and myself. I’m still sort of… parsing that out. Surprised, I guess, is what it makes me feel. I know, I just said that most everyone I’ve met claims they support my decisions. But hearing it from her… in front of the court…”

She looks down, gives a little shake of her head, then chuckles softly.

“It was something. Even though, somehow, it wasn’t enough to convince the judge of my plight. Anyway, I sure am looking forward to getting back on duty. Command has disbanded the Terix blockade, and even if they hadn’t, they probably wouldn’t let me near it again. I hope we can still help those people in some way… perhaps in a less militant capacity.”

STARDATE 92443.9
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Lauren leans on a table as she inspects a laptop screen, raising a hand to flick through a column of data as her eyes glance over it. She looks tired, but at the same time an energy of determination seems to emanate from her. Giving the display, and herself, a firm nod, she deactivates the laptop.

“That’s all the sifting for tonight, then. Staring at a screen for so long… it’s bad for the eyes.”

She turns her gaze out to a point past the camera, probably out the window judging by her distant focus. She blinks a few times and rubs at her eyes, then gives a faint smile.

“I suppose this is my first personal log since taking up squadron command. Ah, I’m happy here. Commanding the Sagan has been and continues to be fulfilling, but this… this is really pushing me harder. I could get used to this.”

Moving over to a wall mounted replicator, she speaks a few words and a steaming mug of probably herbal tea materializes before her. She picks it up and turns back to the recorder.

“Of course, it means that I have even less time to seek out social interactions, but I think I’m managing to keep myself a presence around the station’s public areas.”

She blows over the surface of her tea, and takes a tentative sip, giving a contented exhale quietly afterwards.

“Let me think, what else is new… ah, well, there’s the object that Deep Space Thirteen’s science department is poking at. Interesting discovery, seems to be a stasis pod… built for a criminal. I hope to be able to follow their progress in that investigation.”

Pulling a chair out from under the table she’s been standing over, she eases down into it gently.

“There was also the recent mission to Orionis 74, regarding an infectious chemical outbreak. Troubling thing… though thanks to the good work of Commander Keth and an away team, a treatment was developed. Which was priority number one.”

She sets her tea down on the table and puts a hand on her chin, rubbing it thoughtfully as her brow furrows a bit more deeply than its natural resting state.

“Admiral Rilem seemed a bit disappointed in my efforts… that mess about the restricted material we discovered. Maybe I should’ve sought to learn more about it, despite Starfleet Intelligence’s marking it classified. The situation may have called for that.”

STARDATE 92585.6
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Lauren, intently peering down at a readout in what looks to be the astrometrics lab aboard the U.S.S. Sagan, makes a little ‘humph’ noise. She reaches over to pick up a mug of something beige and steaming. A chronometer on one of the wall displays reads 22:00. Sipping at what is presumably a cup of coffee, she gives a little chuckle and looks up to the recording screen with tired, but excited, eyes.

“I’ve forgotten how exhilarating it is to have a mystery to look into. After we discovered the two-hundred year old wreck of the Halcyon, questions have consistently been nagging at me. What happened to her? How’d she end up dead centre in a nebula that would conceal her presence until now? We have recovered the blackbox, so I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we find out. But that won’t stop me from thinking about it in my off time.”

Moving out from behind the console, she walks up the steps leading onto the lab’s primary display, looking out into the real-time map of the cosmos. With a few motions of her hand she zooms in and focuses on a part of space labeled the Doza Sector, and then takes another sip of coffee.

“Part of me regrets not insisting that I be on the away team who beamed over. To be the first person on a wreckage that hasn’t been touched by civilization for hundreds of years… well, an archaeologist’s dream. Of course I have no room to complain, we were able to tow her back to Deep Space Thirteen anyway, where I could take a look for myself.”

She grins, looking as though she’s thinking back on the moment.

“Oh, listen to me. I think I’m putting too much energy into this little discovery.”

She smiles softly and turns away from the star map, taking another sip from her coffee.

“So, what else is new, Lauren? Well, I have been able to keep in touch with my old friend Sadire- of course, she’s Nirali, now. I’ve settled with calling her Zehn, for the most part. I hope she doesn’t mind. She’s gone from the serious tactical bridge officer I remember to a scientist, specializing in archaeology of all things. I found that a little touching when she told me about it. Would it be a little narcissistic to think that I helped influence that? …Probably. Oh well.”

STARDATE 92833.1
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Lauren stands quietly, staring up at the grandfather clock in her quarters aboard the U.S.S. Sagan. It ticks and tocks with the passing of each second.

Her voice breaks the near silence. “Thought I could record myself a decent log entry, to pass the time.”

The room falls into a quiet hum of the starship’s engines and the tick-tocking of the clock once again as Lauren grows quiet for a while longer.

“No, I don’t think I can,” she says, turning away from the clock to take a deep breath. “This is a tricky situation. The worst part is I know that it’s a tricky situation even while I have such a limited understanding of it. Classifying information is such an unfortunate… necessity.”

She grows quiet, and looks like she might be considering something. A moment or two later she huffs and gives her head a shake, “All the more reason to stop speculating and arguing about it via an official record,” she gestures towards the screen vaguely. “I just hope everyone remembers we’re on the same side, and want the same thing.”

STARDATE 92846.7
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Lauren stands over the work desk in her quarters, reading something off the laptop before her. Her expression lands somewhere between contemplative and troubled, though her voice is as firm as it usually is when she speaks. “Now that it’s all over, it’s probably safe for me to log about it. That should put my mind at ease, to some degree.”

She raises her arms to cross them over her chest, head tilted to the side. “I read the report. I’m glad everyone returned through the wormhole safe, and we certainly bolstered relations with the Dominion today. But I don’t think I would’ve made the same choices that were made on that mission. Initially, it was nothing more than returning citizens to their home, but with the appearance and contact with that third party vessel, returning those pods became an action of intentional, willing support to the Dominion’s cause against its enemies.”

Reaching a hand out to close the laptop shut, she rests her hands on the desk before her and leans against it, the fingers on her right hand drumming a pattern repeatedly. “I already said my piece to Commander Thiessen and Captain Freeman. They’re good officers, and didn’t get upset with me for criticizing their work in the difficult situation they just came out of. I’m glad for the Commander’s level head. Even more glad it’s not going to… come between, Andre and I. If there’s even anything there to get between.”

Lauren pushes off from the table and spins the chair around to face her, sitting down into it. “In any case, the actions were made, and I’m certainly not going to cause an official problem about my opinions on the matter. No, that’s not what’s troubling me.” She pauses, looking at the glass desk as she sorts out the words in her head. “I would’ve made the call to avoid returning those pods. That satisfies my moral centre, and my interpretation of Federation values, including the Prime Directive.”

She frowns up to the recording screen, “Would it have gotten all of us killed, too?”

STARDATE 92934.1
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Lauren stands in her quarters looking out one of its large windows. In her hand is a coffee mug with the lettering ‘Galaxy’s Best Squadron Commander’ and a small purple wrapping bow stuck to its side. She takes a sip from the mug, eyes staring out at the void. After a bit of silence she turns her gaze to face the camera, her expression in its neutral resting state. “Yes, well, I’ve got the time to do one of these. So here we are.”

She shifts her attention down to something off-screen, and then moves to take a seat on the sofa below the window. The screen pans to follow her, bringing the object of her attention into view- an assortment of small model-starship parts on a low table, flanked by a bit of festively-striped silver wrapping paper. “I’ve… never really done one of these before, it could take me quite a while.” She looks down at the table and picks a tiny warp nacelle up, turning it over in her hand. She chuckles quietly, “It was certainly a thoughtful thing to do, anyway. And, it’s good to have something other than the next heated work-related development to log about. Speaking of which…” -she stops herself mid-sentence, and huffs. “No, let’s just do a properly personal log, Lauren.”

Leaning back into the sofa, she takes her coffee mug with her and cradles it over her lap. Personally, then, I almost went on a dinner date a little while ago, but backed out of it. I hope he didn’t take it…” she frowns, “personally,” as she repeats the word again. “But I should probably give some thought as to why I initially impulse-answered yes. Am I feeling lonely? I don’t really think so. My work keeps me busy and my colleagues keep me company- right now I don’t really have the room for anything serious, anyways.”

She rubs at her face a little, exhaling in a sigh. “And that raises another question. Will I ever have the room for something like that? Further up the ladder it’s only more responsibility, after all, and that is where I’ve been planning to go. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of being… with him?”

She frowns at the table pensively, taking a sip from her mug and allowing a bit of silence to fall on the room before speaking again. “I’m really doing this, aren’t I. The whole mid-life-crisis-captain spiel. Nylassa warned me about this,” Lauren adds, waving her free hand in a vaguely dismissive manner, “Forget personal. I’m sticking to the heated work developments for my logs.”

STARDATE 93202.3
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Lauren, facing away from the recording screen, reaches up to a shelf in her quarters. She pushes aside an antique looking vase, a dusty old book or two, until finally finding whatever she was searching for. “Why’d they make this thing so damn tall… ah, here it is. There’s a bigger one in my ready room, but I like this one better.”

She gently pulls an object from the shelf, turning around to bring it into view. It’s a small, somewhat dull gold model of a Nova-class starship on a stand. Lauren smirks at the tiny ship, wiggling it a bit before looking back up to the screen. “Recent events have me feeling a little reminiscent. The Beagle feels like a lifetime ago… of course it’s only been two years since I left. Now Beylara and Tilly have their own first commands, too. Even if the latter may be a temporary arrangement, I’m very proud to claim I might’ve given both of them some help getting there.”

She turns to set the model down on her quarters’ desk instead of back on the shelf, the screen panning along to keep her in the middle of the shot. "I think I’ll keep that there for a while. "

STARDATE 93347.2
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Lauren sits at the desk in her ready room, eyes staring ahead. She glances over to the screen as the recording begins. Supporting her elbow on her lap, she rests the side of her head in her hand and speaks. “Alright, I’m going to do one of these now. Just… where to start?”

“I suppose at Andre’s death.” There’s a pause, silence befalling the room, until she lowers her hand and leans back in the chair. Her eyes close, and she shakes her head against the seat. “No. Not there,” she decides with a tired sigh. Instead, she reopens her eyes and stares at a console screen.

She sets her arms down on the desk and taps its surface with a finger softly, repeatedly. “Commander Thiessen… Tau, suggested I take some time off. He was right to, and I did. But I hope he realises he shouldn’t be taking any of my personal troubles onto his plate. He sure doesn’t need them.”

Leaning forward to rest her weight on her arms, she creases her brow into a thoughtful frown. “Speaking of personal troubles, meeting Anton was unexpected. Not unwelcome though, it’s good to have someone I can be… candid with, about my feelings for it all. Comfortably candid.” She tilts her head to the side a bit, considering before continuing. “I suppose I’m not really sure what I was expecting him to be like, after Andre told me about him. They were working through some friction, mostly stemming from the reason for Anton’s conviction and prison sentence,” She lifts a hand in a slight shrug, “It’s made talking to him feel little strange, but I’m glad I have the chance.”

“That smile of his, though… it’s- haunting. Not that that’s his fault.”

She leans back in her chair once again with a frown, “So, for the second time in a row my birthday is following on the tail of a catastrophe. Naturally,” she says with a bit of dryness. She glances over to the window, staring out into the void beyond. “There’s no way I’m heading back to Earth after all this. Maybe next year.”

STARDATE 96764.1
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“Ever heard the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’? I have. I thought I knew what it meant, too. But now I’m educated properly.”

Lauren’s hair changed. Closer cut, more practical and less elegant than the frequent bun worn in her last entries- perhaps another sign of age. Still, she seems to have mostly avoided wrinkles for now. The camera pans out from her face as she moves around the large, sleek desk of her new office. She gives a little huff, “Even the desk is larger. Look, it’s not that I’m complaining. This does feel… a long time coming, that’s the only way to describe it.”

“But I miss the Sagan already. I’m not the same person who was running Gemini Squadron four years ago. I spent my whole career up to that point aiming higher- I had my eyes set on this chair and beyond.” She gives the station commander’s chair a little spin on its pivot as she stands by it, then takes a look to a viewscreen set to display nearby space.

“But they aren’t lying when they say age changes you. I suppose I mellowed out. I’d even started to like the idea that I’d retire as Captain of a science vessel. Then I got this offer, and… well. How could I say no.”

She settles into the chair, leaning back and planting her hands on the rests. Feeling it.

“So I’m back in the fast lane. It feels good. Very good. But I also can’t help but think I just closed a door that I had only started to realise was open… and I wonder where it would’ve taken me.” She grows quiet as she stares at nothing, thinking.

After a moment she recalls, “These only work if I talk, right? Well, I’m down a chief of security, the Republic JSI commander is either impressed or suspicious of me- maybe both-, I’ve already had to chew out one senior officer for trying to pick a fight with the Vorta in the lounge, and meanwhile they’re breathing down my back because one of my cargo bays is filled with their soldiers.”

A ghost of a smirk creases onto her lips, “This is definitely where I belong.”

STARDATE 97401.6
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Lauren sits with a cedar acoustic guitar over her knee, eyes down on her fingers as she plucks at a chord. Then she takes the hand off the strings and flexes the fingers a bit. “I used to get so frustrated playing these. My fingers were too soft, the strings would hurt like crazy.”

She gives it another strum before picking it up to place back onto its stand in the corner of her office. “And ontop of that, I suppose I convinced myself I wasn’t the kind of captain who keeps a guitar in her office. That’s the excuse I used to give Anton when he’d ask me why I never played.” she looks back at the wooden instrument, then moves to her desk. “I sitll don’t think I am that kind of Captain. But it felt good to play at he music festival.”

“The awards ceremony went smoothly enough. I promoted a nurse I’ve never met before, but half a year into this job I think I’m finally getting comfortable with the fact that I’ll never personally know most of my crew. Sam made admiral… one way or another. Good for him.”

She poses a gentle frown as she recalls the evening, “Newly christened Lieutenant Commander Valore was out of sorts. Her state by the end of the night was such that I felt I should escort her back to her quarters. I seem to recall a similar reaction to last cycle’s ceremony, where Sam was moved up to Fleet XO. I’ve certainly observed her reservations with the command staff before, but with this… it seems to go deeper.”

Lauren taps at the monitor on her desk, idly double-checking the privacy level of her personal log. "If I thought I could get a meaningful conversation out of it I’d approach her. Similarly, I expect a tip to the counseling department would be ill-advised. No, I’ll need to be a little more subtle. I don’t think miss Valore is overly fond of me as it stands, but hopefully that comes more from her general skepticism of authority rather than anything personal.

Maybe it’s just drama. I might even dare to say it’s probably just drama. But on the off chance she has some real, justified concerns about the admiralty that she’s keeping to herself for fear of reprisal, I want to know about them."

Lauren sighs, runs a hand over her shaved head, then closes her eyes. She looks a little on the tired side. But she does smile slightly when she ends the log, “At the very least, winning her trust to speak candidly with me would be worthwhile in its own right.”

STARDATE 97583.5
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“Being a Captain is all about the rules. Interpreting them, upholding them, applying them, and demonstrating them to others. It’s vital for junior officers to see how important the rules are. But I don’t think I’ve ever met a captain who hasn’t at least once found a situation in which the rules don’t match their judgement.”

Lauren is in her office at a wall console, reports and documents open here and there. She reaches for a cup off coffee and continues her thought. “At that point, the captain will do one of two things. Follow the rules and suppress their judgement, or break the rules and solve the situation in the way their experience and reasoning tells them is right. Not one answer is always correct, the universe is a lot more complicated than that. Most of the time the answer is the balance of bad choices that the captain believes is preferrable.” She sips at her coffee.

“And so it was for Captain Mirazuni a few days ago. Without means to erase the existing interference in that pre-warp culture, she decided it would be better to go all in. Turns out she made a good bet and mended the problem, at least as far as the Gartans are concerned.” Lauren lifts her eyebrows and blows out a little exhale, shaking her head. “Hell of a gamble.”

She flicks the panel into idle mode, showing a starscape of space outside the station, and moves to take a seat on a comfy-looking chair. “Obviously I can’t help but be reminded of Terix. My orders there conflicted with my judgement and, like Captain Mirazuni, I chose to act on the latter. The difference, of course, is that my decision resulted in a lot of people dying. Better Intel might have changed my decision, but then again maybe it wouldn’t. Sometimes, you know there’s only one thing you can do with the cards you draw.”

“Captain Mirazuni’s decision might have saved a lot of lives. It certainly didn’t cost any. Prime Directive notwithstanding, I have a hard time imagining a better outcome for the situation.” She shrugs her shoulders and sips from her mug. “She’s got hell to pay, no doubt. Ends rarely, if ever, justify means in our job, and that’s important- even without the Prime Directive violation, she took a big risk. The payoff doesn’t reprieve her of that.”

Lauren takes a few nods, finally deciding “But I respect her judgement.”

STARDATE 98847.7
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“I walked in on two of the traffic officers at Ops today chatting about the news from Azed.”

Lauren is at her desk with a mug of coffee that reads ‘Galaxy’s Best Squadron Commander’ on the side. Her face looks tired but her eyes are focused and alert, as though she can prevent all but the superficial effects of sleep deprivation through sheer will and caffeine alone. Maybe she can. “One of them said we should be thanking the mirror universe invaders for their work. I didn’t like his tone so I told him he should consider the billions of innocent lives lost in the past 48 hours. He said I’d feel differently had I been here when the Confederacy attacked Deep Space 13, so I told him to take the day off and put a reprimand on his file.”

Lauren sips from her mug and considers her words. “Was I too harsh? By the numbers, yes, an enemy defeating an enemy is a plus. Reconciliation attempts with the Confederacy were slow, unsuccessful, or both. They continued to destroy civillian traffic that wandered too close to their borders, and maintained unbased claims to neighbouring territory. They were a big problem for us.”

“But… we’re not out here to remove the Federation’s problems. Not exactly. It’s more like…” her lips twitch into a small, sardonic smile. “We’re here to make sure all the problems coexist, causing as little harm to each other as possible. That’s the difference between an army, and a peacekeeping force. I believe in that objective, with every ounce of my being.”

“I remember something Anton once said to me, on Risa. He was complaining about how much trouble Freework was having with some outreach program at the time, I don’t remember the specifics. Joking, I told him if they don’t want your help that badly, why don’t you quit and build us a nice villa back home on Paradise?” A small smile grows and fades with the memory.

“He said ‘because that would be too easy.’ Always smarter than I gave him credit for.”

“Our road is the road less traveled, because it’s the harder path. The ideal we’re striving for is impossible to realise because each step closer moves the finish line. Sometimes it’s altogether not an option. But if we lose sight of it when things get challenging, or personal, the similarities we have to our mirror ‘counterparts’ start to look more than just skin-deep. That, I won’t accept.”