Lance looked around.
And suddenly, he realized Taras was right. He was the ranking officer.
Jesus, I'm the ranking officer.
He reached under his uniform and felt the little wooden crucifix there, older than him, worn and snarled with age. Not of any particular significance, but he felt like this was a scene God should witness. Everyone else had turned to face him, so maybe he could use someone that actually outranked him.
"...No. I won't do it. I'm not the ranking officer, I won't take this amount of power and if anyone has any problem with that they can step into that ready room and tell the captain that his best and brightest engineering officer is refusing to rise any further," Lance's heart was beating. When did he start talking? It didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore.
Everyone was staring at him. The regular beeping of buttons being pressed had absolutely stopped.
How loudly was I talking? Was I shouting?
"I'm sick of this. I am a god among you people. In six months I have gone from ensign to lieutenant and now I have no experience and control of the bridge. Do you people expect me to know what to do? Am I your messiah, that sweeps away error and sin like God? I've got nothing on God," and he realized he had raised his voice. He didn't know what he was saying.
"I don't know what you people expect, but I don't have it. I am smart, I know how to build a warp drive and I could God damn run the engineering department by myself if I needed to. But I won't rise to this. Not this," he killed his tears without feeling. Like beheading a child, like breaking a wooden toy box, his emotions died with a childlike scream. All the joy and all the pain went out of him, because if he allowed himself to feel anything now of all times then he'd collapse on the spot.
He looked around, and realized where he was. His emotions lay broken in the back of his mind. His eyes lost sharpness and his body sagged, then he stuck himself back together again and walked to the engineering console. "Mr. Cadenza, you have the –" his voice broke slightly. "– the bridge."
He touched the shoulder of the poor crewman at his console gently, kindly, suddenly feeling older than he ever had. These people were so young. They didn't stand a chance.
"I'm your relief, crewman," he stated, his blank tone not at all matching his tired, aged face.
He whipped his hand away from the crucifix and ended with an inaudible murmur to his own obsolete beliefs as he tapped at the console in the total, stunned silence of the room.
This day is going to be hell, and I know this because I've nowhere left to go.
Despite it all, he felt better. Free. He'd finally jumped off the chain of command, too late to simply exist but not too late to rebuild himself.
February 29, 2012
Post of the Month - February 2012
Post from Lance Krol of the USS Churchill. Well Done!