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The Price of Freedom, Part Two
What to do About the Girl

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
--Wendell Phillips

Captain's Ready Room <Deck 8> [Gibraltar Station]

Though not terribly spacious, this office is well-appointed and comfortable. The central feature of the room is the smoked glass desk, trimmed in oak, which sits with its longest side facing the door. There is a small terminal atop the desk, as well as some personal items of the occupant. Behind the desk is a light maroon swivel chair, well-cushioned with comfortable armrests, and in front are two smaller copies of this chair for visitors to sit in. To the right of the door is a light maroon couch with a small white table set in front of it, above which is hung an artist's rendition of Starbase 247 in orbit of the planet below. The couch is large enough to easily hold three people. Behind the desk and chairs is a small cherrywood shelf upon which various items of art have been put on display. The right side of the room is a curved wall dominated by tall windows that look out onto space. To the left is a small door that leads to a washroom. Next to this is a small replicator. The walls are paneled in maroon and the carpet on the floor is a matching color. Lighting panels line the upper junction between walls and ceiling.

Gwen Hawkins

A tall Vulcan sits in a chair in front of the desk. A PADD rests in his hand, he is looking at it studiously. Solvek looks behind him and stands as he hears the doors open. His stance becomes rigid and he waits for the Captain to address him.

The Captain breezes in, hair down, carrying a stack of PADDs in one hand. "Where were you this morning, Solvek? Up late having scientific debates?" She half-grins as she orders coffee from the replicator.

Solvek doesn't flinch from the comment. "No Captain, I left shortly after your departure to prepare the report on the rate of drift of the Antares Maelstrom. I am here to make my report, as you had put it, 'first thing in the morning.'"

Hawkins settles herself behind her desk. "Sit down, Solvek. That still doesn't explain why you missed breakfast. You could have given me the report then."

Solvek sits, "It was implied that reporting something of this nature in a public gathering such as our mealtime would be inappropriate, sir."

Hawkins raises an eyebrow. "That still doesn't explain why you weren't there."

"I was awaiting your arrival so that this may be presented immediately, sir." Solvek continues, "I apologize for my abscence and I will note that it will not occur again, if you wish."

Hawkins sighs softly and leans forward. "What's going on, Solvek?"

Solvek's gaze never falters, "Nothing, sir. I am in perfect health. Although, I have yet to arrange an appointment with the Chief Medical Officer for my physical."

Hawkins shakes her head. "I didn't mean physically. You don't show up for breakfast, which you've never missed in three years unless we were in battle... you're stiff and overly formal... you're focusing on a report you could have sent by PADD... what's going on? That girl run out on you or something?"

Solvek absently flinches at the last statement Hawkins makes, "No, sir, our coversation ended shortly after your departure. I left to prepare my report in my quarters and she left to resume her catalouging of lost specimens."

Hawkins sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Don't lie to me, Solvek, and don't tell me half-truths. We've known each other too long for that. What is going on? Just tell me, we'll hash it out, and we can get on with our work."

Solvek's stance loosens a bit. "If you must know, Captain, I believe that Lieutenant Brooks misread my actions and somehow found the act of asking her to continue our conversation frightening. She left the lounge in a brisk manner. I do not believe it wise to have any social interactions with her for some time as my mannerism seem to cause her distress."

Hawkins shakes her head. "Is that all?" She sighs. "Solvek, I took a look at Lieutenant Brooks' personnel file... I figure I should know about shift supervisors in our departments. She was doing fine in the Academy, perhaps a little less than outgoing, but she was deemed 'odd' at most and the counselors seemed to think it stemmed from her intellect. Her cadet cruise was lost and when she was found a year later, stranded on the planet the ship had crash-landed on, she was the only survivor and had become very withdrawn. She took a year to finish the last half-year... they took things slow to be sure she'd be alright... finished in the top one percent of her class. But she's more than 'odd' now. She's terribly withdrawn, keeps quiet, doesn't socialize... her own department head could barely put a face to her name. She does great work, but social situations in general seem to distress her. I'm surprised she spoke to anyone in the Lounge at all."

Solvek nods, "That would explain her mannerisms as she left. She is more apt to communicate when in large groups. Her nervous attitude began shortly after Mr. Danley left."

"She seemed nervous to me the entire time. Look... why don't you go talk to her after your shift? You seemed to get along, and I'm sure she could use some help coming out of her shell, and I'd definitely like to see some better research done on the Maelstrom. Alright?" Gwen sits back a bit.

"As I stated before Captain, I do not think it wise to confront her after such a distressing situation with another situation of the same nature," Solvek replies.

Hawkins sighs. "Don't confront her... just go by the bar, and the lounge. See if she's there. If she is, go over and apologize, if you feel the need. If not, well, there's always another day. I highly doubt you're the reason she was frightened, and I don't want bad blood between my First Officer and one of our good science officers, alright?"

Solvek relaxes slightly, "Very well. An apology would be the logical choice in this matter. Thank you Captain, I will do as you suggest after my first shift. Is there any task you wish to discuss with me, aside from the drift of the Maelstrom?"

(The scene fades into the opening credits.)

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