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Log of the Month for December, 2023

Away Mission: Eventfully Uneventful
Posted on December 27th, 2023 by Scott Ammora

Scott watched Mekel move off into the sand on his route. Scott turned his attention to Jackson splashing in the surf. It was a funny sight to behold, actually. She had obviously dressed down to appropriate water clothing, but she still had a death-grip on her tricorder. Her feet were thrashing in the tides, but her eyes were darting from the screen to the scenery around her – Jackson was the epitome of work-life balance. Business up top and party down below. Scott admired her for that.

The waves crashed on the beach just south of where the teams were located. It looked, to Scott’s naked eye, that the water was a bit more turbulent in that direction. However, a natural jetty-like formation down the shoreline would cup the water into the shore harder than the beach they were presently at. Nature, what a wonderfully beautiful, but sometimes violent, thing so unique to every individual world.

His eyes went to the inland area where Commander Kuari and her team had headed. He envied them. Scott wasn’t a beach person. In the right moment at the right time, with a little bit of booze in him, he’d be okay enough. For all intents and purposes, Scott would rather be skiing, playing the piano, or rock climbing (which he hadn’t done in a very long time). Keep your beaches.

He didn’t like sand. Well, wet sand. The… squishiness. Something about it unnerved Scott. And the feeling that he got when it oozed between his toes? Yuck, double yuck. It’s also cold! It could be hot as hell with the sun – no, three suns – beating down on you and the sand would still feel like the arctic. Okay, maybe he was exaggerating a bit. Still. What’s up with the wind? Scott couldn’t remember the last time, outside the holodeck, that he’d been on a beach where there hadn’t been end-of-time-like winds ripping down the coastline. Chapped lips, dry eyes, and don’t even talk about the messed-up hair.

Scott stopped halfway up the incline and shifted his rifle on his shoulder. Gazing out at the horizon and the landscape around him, he smirked and shook his head. Yes, this particular day on this particular planet was not in support of his hypothesis, but he would digress. Open mouth, insert foot.

Scott knew those last two ‘pet peeves’ were complete and udder crap anyway.

“You’re full of shit, Ammora,” Scott said moving closer to the pinnacle.

It was the water.

It wasn’t that Scott was afraid of the water, per se. He didn’t want to call it a fear or phobia, but he couldn’t put his finger on a definition of how to describe it. Some people are good at conveying their emotions, or explaining a feeling that they’re getting in comparison to something else, but Scott wasn’t one who possessed that skill. He tried a couple of times at the Academy, only to receive confused looks from his classmates. He just stopped after a while. He figured not talking about it was the best course of action.

The biggest and most common question that Scott would receive when his ‘issue’ would pop into conversation was how he had managed to pass the security training without passing Water Tactic Certification Grade III. That class was one of the most challenging courses that Scott had ever gone through, before and after. He was grateful that they eased cadets into the curriculum before moving onto the physical portion.

Believe it or not, the entire first term was dedicated to the physics of movement in the water. These guys knew their stuff – they knew the science. It was mostly bookwork and simulators. Scott was able to blow through that class with brainpower. He knew the physical component would come next. And he was dreading it.

Certification II was Shallow Water Incursion Engagement. Think marshlands, swamps, bogs, bayous, things of the sort. Knee-deep water, ‘scary’. Not really. Just a slog. Scott’s physical prowess carried him through that course handily. He was near the top of his class that term. But, still, he knew that the hard part was ahead of him. Deep Water Reconnaissance and Combat was the grand poohbah of water training. It could break people. Slower movement, less range of vision, no cover, near-total darkness; it was terrifying for Scott to even think about it.

But, he passed. It was hard, but he passed.

Scott knew he was capable, in the moment, to operate underwater with professionalism and talent. It was engrained in him. If he had the choice, on the other hand, then it would have to be something more horrific to get him to choose water adventures over any other scenario. Some people liked heights, others didn’t. Some people liked spiders, and some thought spiders were the reincarnation of evil itself. Different strokes for different folks, right?

This was starting to sound suspiciously like an irrational fear or phobia. Scott didn’t really mind it much. He’d rarely been in a situation where water was the primary, or majority, environment and even less so where he’d have to actively engage with the ocean or sea. If it hadn’t hindered him by this point, Scott figured he was at least halfway through the woods given his posting and rank.

He reached the top of the outcropping and gazed out on the beach below. The ledge wasn’t very high, but it was the perfect vantage point to see up and down the shoreline and keep an eye on those in the water below. It was tall enough that he could jump off of it and not die, but the odds of a painful landing were high. Scott leaned against a rock and set his rifle down. He did a quick scan, logging the information and running another. Science not being his forte, he didn’t fully understand what he was looking for. Scan it and save it. Let the scientists figure out the data.

He did feel bad for all those on Atlantis who couldn’t be enjoying the beautiful day. Scott guessed that it was a benefit of being in his position, getting the good away missions, but he’d just as soon assign someone else to lead this team to give someone the opportunity. After all, there was literally zero happenings for the security team’s attention. They were here per protocol.

Protocol. When Scott was the one expected to follow protocol, he did so. Did he bend the rules now and again? Yes. He’d disintegrated rules before. He was young, stupid, and hot-tempered. Hell, Scott still was. He had just learned during his time on Atlantis that there’s a cover to the pot that can be put on it for the sake of his career and the integrity of his service. Regardless, he was the subordinate. He could do the things that he shouldn’t with only a slap on the wrist. Scott was content with that level of discipline to ensure he had freedom to operate as necessary.

There was no doubt in Scott’s mind that Captains, Admirals, Politicians, etc., bent the rules on occasion for the sake of the greater good, safety of life, integrity of the law and so on and so forth. Everyone did it. Scott had always either been the one benefiting from it, or it didn’t affect him directly. This was the first time that he had been placed between his commanding officer’s invitation and standard procedure. It was an awkward feeling.

He had the utmost respect for his superior officers. Learn to live a little, Scott. His older brother, Kason, was always a wise sage. Scott felt that he did live. He did the things that interested him, he enjoyed his leisurely activities, and would go with the flow on most anything. But, protocol was protocol! He gritted his teeth for a second and then shook his head. He was being stupid about the whole thing. He thought he had handled his team’s inquiry to the Commodore’s invitation rather well.

Take turns. Easy enough. That kept two sets of eyes on scans and protection, albeit one less pair than guidelines called for in this situation, but it was better than being down two. Middle ground had been found. It wasn’t even that difficult once he thought about it. Lax enough to allow for some recreation and freedom, but still stern enough to maintain coverage standards. Gold star.

Scott wondered whether or not it was something appropriate to talk to Harper about. No, he couldn’t. What would that look like? “Ma’am, the invitation for my security teams to ‘enjoy the water’ was a breach of Away Team Guidelines, Section 4, Regulation 6, sub-clause A. The number of free mobility, fully equipped, security away team members must not exceed the proportion of non-security personnel encumbered by an outside force. Included, but not limited to, environments such as water, weightlessness, toxic to unshielded life, and extreme temperature.”

Boy, security operations manual nerdiness. New low, Scott, new low. Besides, it would make him look whiny. He couldn’t say no because, so far, the planet had showed an absence of hostility of any kind. He knew that would be the case from the preliminary scans, but any chance to get off ship was a chance he’d take. But, within reason. And the proverbial ‘loosen up’ line would inevitably come next. Starfleet regulations meet human behavior. He was screwed.

Or, he surmised, Harper could accept responsibility and say she was sorry. For what? Allowing her team a bit of downtime, while still scanning and doing the job that they’d come there to do? She’d apologize, for sure, but not with some wise words of encouragement in the role command has to play to their direct reports. Scott was sure he could learn from that. Slap on the wrist, at best, regardless of the noble implications of his foresight.

It would just be easier to swallow this one as a bitter pill. It didn’t sit well with him, but he didn’t see the harm in the grand scheme of things. He’d take a breath and continue his task list. This was a hill that he wanted to relax on, not die on. Scott would let those worries drift away in the breeze as it wafted over him. There were more important things to worry about than regulations, and there were other matters that took precedence over his intense dislike of water.

“You’re encroaching on my turf, Ammora.”

Scott spun on his heel to see Rodney Styles appear from the tree-line a dozen meters away. “Lieutenant Styles.” He bobbed his head in a half-welcome.

Rodney smiled that award-winning smile as he slung his own rifle over his shoulder and plopped himself down on a rock protrusion near Scott. “Riveting times on this planet, huh?”

“Beats standing behind a tactical console.” Scott stated simply, avoiding eye contact.

“Not much inland either. I’ve made a couple of circles a little further beyond our standard boundaries. I apologize for that, but I was seeing the same stuff over and over again. All is well and everyone is safe.” Rodney folded his arms and tilted his head as if trying to catch Scott’s eyeline. There was a long and awkward pause before Rodney finally spoke, “Anything here?”

Snapped from his thoughts as he fixated on the horizon, Scott shook his head and came back to reality. “Uh, no, not really. Harper and the rest of the team are enjoying the water. She invited the security team to join them as they scan sea… stuff. I let Mekel and Jackson rotate one at a time and – ”

“Breach of protocol.”

Scott nodded his head aggressively, “I know! But, not a battle worth fighting.”

“Of course it’s not. Sometimes a little fun can break up the mundane.”

And here he was getting the same advice he figured he’d get, but from someone whom he hadn’t talked to in what seemed like forever. Months at least. Rodney Styles and Scott had had a brief flirtation when Scott had first arrived on the Atlantis. Yes, Scott was attracted to him, but he was happy with Weston. He did, on the other hand, quite thoroughly enjoy the attention. Alas, with Scott’s new rank and position, fraternizing with his subordinates was strictly prohibited… at least romantically.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Another drawn out and uncomfortable stretch of time passed as the two sat in silence. “So, uh, how you been?”

Rodney shrugged, “I’m upright and breathing, so I’ve got some things going for me.” He smirked a little bit. “How is it being Marine Captain and running a whole department? And, you know, tactical in there as well. Must be a lot to take in.”

Scott didn’t feel that the last statement was attacking his abilities or his understanding of his role, at least on purpose, but he couldn’t help but feel that a little in his chest. His brain would obviously shift into overdrive and wonder if it looked like he wasn’t handling his job. Was there talk that he wasn’t up to the challenge? No, he had to block those thoughts from his mind. That isn’t anywhere close to what Rodney was asking.

“I’m learning.” Simple. To the point. “One day at a time.”

Rodney bobbed his head. Scott couldn’t tell if he had been convincing or not so that Rodney would believe him. He was handling the responsibilities well, he thought, but it was harder than he expected and nothing had happened regularly enough for him to find a repetition to cement the skill and knowledge. Every day seemed like it had been something new, coming from a different angle, with different people, repercussions, and circumstances. That wasn’t Scott’s module for learning.

“You do look really handsome up there when you’re doing briefings, though, I will say that.” Rodney smiled a boyish smile and then turned away, “Your uniform makes your butt look good.”

“Lieutenant, we’re on duty.”

“Come on, Scott, settle down. I’m doing my job, you’re doing yours, we’re just talking. Unless you think my comments are inappropriate and you want to write me up. I can’t wait to read that log entry. I’m just messing around.” Rodney leaned forward and locked gazes with Scott, “I know that things stopped abruptly and that there was something going on, but you look good. More composed. Just don’t lose the fire that is Scott.”

Scott couldn’t stop the short burst of laughter that came out of his mouth, “Rodney, that’s the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say. As far as us stopping goes… well… it just was what it was. Things happen, things don’t happen. Right time, wrong time. Chemistry…” He was babbling and he didn’t know why. What was going on with this day?

“Stop. I get it. Well, if you ever want to finally get that dinner, I’d be open to it when we get back to the ship.”

“I believe you said that dinner with me was bullshit.” Scott smirked, pursing his lips.

Rodney laughed under his breath, “I knew that was coming.”

“We can’t, Rodney, I’m sorry. I’m the Chief Security Officer and you are one of my department leads. Conflict of interest and fraternization and all that.” Scott said, shaking his head and pulling his rifle back up into his arms.

“It’s just dinner, Scott.” Rodney stood up, rearming his rifle himself, “I’m not going to have the bed covered with roses or anything.”

Those words rang true. In all honesty, there was a part of Scott that was disappointed in the sincerity of that statement. Rodney was still gorgeous, the overwhelming want to flirt was almost undeniable, and the man was asking him to have dinner. Regulations be damned? Nothing about it was good. Scott would rest on the premise that they were just friends and colleagues enjoying each other’s company over a meal.

“Uh, sure then, as friends and colleagues. After we debrief when we get back and change, I’ll meet you in the lounge? Holodeck?” Scott put the breaks on fast to not spiral into another litany of date locations that would have made it seem that his torrent of words was a recurring feature in his conversations with Rodney.

Rodney started heading back towards the thicket behind them the second he heard the word ‘sure’. He called over his shoulder as he approached the foliage threshold, “My quarters, I’ll call you when you’re free to come over.” And he was gone without another word or the chance for Scott to rebuttal or protest. I guess it was going to be a friendly, collegial dinner with the man he’d flirted with incessantly upon boarding, in his personal quarters, alone. What could possibly go wrong?

Scott exhaled heavily and started a little further up the outcropping’s sea-facing crest. This away mission had been eventfully uneventful. He had avoided a run in with the water, which he wasn’t keen on (yes, he was going to keep minimizing it), had stifled an urge to confront Commodore Harper about policies and procedures, and had been inadvertently herded into what could potentially be a horribly uncomfortable evening that could result in disciplinary action due to violation of regulations.


He ran another scan of his surroundings, a couple of in-depth scans on some flowers and greenery, took some atmospheric tests of the area, temperature, all the standard criteria. He logged it all and closed his tricorder, holstering it in this belt. Turning back towards the rest of the group he started his descent back towards the beach.

He still didn’t have anything for his report. But he had a date, apparently. Awkward away mission indeed.

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1 Comment

  • Kathryn Harper Kathryn Harper says:

    I had wondered how Scott would react to his CO leading their party underwater! Now I know, and with a good bit of backstory as to why. Very nice! Though I wonder if he’s getting into a bit of trouble with Rodney…

    Also, no one tell Admiral Blackthorne about that rule against fraternization with direct reports!

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