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Posted on Tue Aug 16th, 2022 @ 9:57pm by Fleet Admiral Sturnack & Commander Marlena Glenn & Rear Admiral Thomas Romanowski & Captain Jocelyn Blake

Mission: Episode 3: Conflicts of Interest
Location: Sturnack's Office, Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1100

[SFC Complex]
[San Francisco]
[MD 2: 1100 Hours]

Thomas walked down the corridors towards the Commander-in-Chief's office. He was uncharacteristically miffed about the current situation. Having been left out of the loop following the attempt on Sturnack's life, he was not particularly happy with the Fleet Admiral. While Thomas thought very highly of the Vulcan, departing the city before Thomas could get statements from both him and Captain Blake would cast doubt on any future legal proceedings. It was vital to get affidavits as soon after the event to protect against any claims of tampering.

He rounded the corner and approached the Fleet Admiral's Aide seated at her desk. "Commander Glenn," he said as he approached, "Is he available now?"

Looking up from the PADD she'd been perusing, Marlena offered the admiral a smile as she stood. "Let me see if he's done with the Bolian ambassador. One moment," she nodded before slipping through the double doors into Sturnack's office. She was gone for almost a full minute before coming back out. "They're finishing up now, sir. You can go on in," Marlena said, gesturing to the frosted glass doors.

Thomas nodded and entered the office as the doors opened. He could here the two men speaking, and Thomas stood near the office entrance and waited for them to finish speaking. Thomas was not one to interrupt the Fleet Admiral, especially with an Ambassador in the room.

Inside the office, Sturnack stood near the Bolian ambassador, shaking the man's hand. "Thank you for coming today, Ambassador. I assure you that we are aware of the situation and working hard to remedy it. Now, if you will excuse me," the Vulcan's eyes drifted to Romanowski, "my next meeting is here. Marlena will see you out."

With a nod, the Bolian shook hands and then turned to leave. As he passed the JAG, he intoned, "He's all yours, friend. Have a good meeting!" And with that, the boisterous man walked through the doors and disappeared.

"Admiral," Sturnack addressed Romanowski, "how may I assist you today?"

Having nodded a greeting to the Bolian, Thomas waited for the doors to close before looking towards Sturnack. "Sir, forgive me for being forward, but do you mind explaining why I was kept out of the loop regarding your decision to abscond with Captain Blake before we could obtain formal statements from the two of you after the attempt on your lives?" he asked. Thomas's tone conveyed his annoyance and frustration at the issue, which was highly uncharacteristic of him. Thomas and Sturnack had a good working relationship, but situations like this made Thomas's ability to protect the CinC legally difficult. The integrity of the investigation hinged on obtaining prompt sworn affidavits from witnesses.

"We did not know who was responsible for the assassination attempt," Sturnack replied simply. "It could have been someone in Starfleet. It could have been someone in this very building, even," the Vulcan explained. "It was imperative that Captain Blake and myself be sheltered somewhere safe until the identity of the attacker could be ascertained. We were available through secured communications," he noted. "Meeting in person to gather our statements was not necessary." Standing, the Vulcan clasped his hands behind his back. "Thank you for coming today. Captain Blake and I wish to speak with you about...another matter," he intoned, nodding to the double doors of his office as they once again opened.

Jocelyn stepped into the room almost cautiously. After meeting with the DCinC and the fireworks that had been involved in that she was, admittedly, a tiny bit gun shy. Her eyes shot to Sturnack first, taking in his usual composed Vulcan demeanor, and then to Romanowski. She knew the JAG less well, but had found a bit of comradery with him as they had each experienced fall out from their actions as they related to shape shifters and the Changelings that had caused so Lieutenant Hoover in preparation for a briefing." She approached the desk, trying to take the measure of the two men and picking up on the lines of tension in the JAG's posture as she came up next to him, standing before the second chair that was positioned before the CinC's desk.

"It might not have been necessary in your opinion, but it makes my job in a court room a hell of a lot more difficult," Thomas said before turning to see Captain Blake enter the office. He could see her gauging the atmosphere of the room, so he turned back to the Vulcan. He could see now that the matter discussed before was dropped and there was another issue that was weighing on both Sturnack and Jocelyn. As the silence remained, Thomas looked between the two before responding, "Please tell me this is good news?"

"I suppose that will depend on who you ask," Jocelyn said as she drew alongside the JAG. "Admiral." His title was spoken in acknowledgement and accompanied by a tilt of her head. "Should we sit?"

"Captain Blake," Thomas said with a nod before taking the seat. He looked between both her and Sturnack and felt the sneaking feeling he was about to receive some less than savory news.

As she settled into the seat, one leg crossed over the other, she clasped her hands together and wrapped her knee between her palms. "Fleet Admiral Sturnack and I are seeing each other," she said matter-of-factly, holding the Romanowski's gaze as she said it. "Romantically. This is a rather new development. Less than 2 days old, truthfully." Her eyes flitted quickly to Sturnack before she continued. "I anticipate that the press is going to request your legal expertise on the matter."

Thomas looked between Blake and Sturnack as the weight of the news hit him. He did the quick calculation in his head before posing the question, "And this began while you two were away...together...after the attempt on your life?"

"That is correct. However," the Vulcan tipped his head up ever so slightly, "the seeds of our...copulation and resultant relationship have been planted over the last several months. It is not simply shared trauma that drew us together, though it was an inciting factor."

Jocelyn's eyes rounded at Sturnack's choice of words and a deep blush flushed her cheeks and down her neck. She made a mental note to warn him that generally speaking humans were more... private... with their explanations about copulation. Not that there weren't plenty of occasions when it could be discussed, but... She shook her head as if to clear the train of thought and then nodded to Thomas as he looked to her to confirm the CinC's statement. "We'd developed a friendship before the bombing and enjoyed each other's company, but there was no expression of romantic feelings until we found ourselves sequestered together in a small space."

Thomas rubbed the bridge of his nose feeling a headache starting. "While I offer my congratulations to the two of you, legally speaking there is no prohibition on relationships between officers," Thomas said before looking back to both of them, "However, I'm sure I don't need to remind you two of how it will look. You appointed Captain Blake to her position, and while I know that it was because she was the best for the job, it could be argued you made that appointment based on your personal feelings towards her. And that is against regulations, sir."

"The press already believes that an inappropriate relationship was at the heart of her appointment," Sturnack replied. "However, Captain Blake was elevated long before any stirrings of romantic entanglement began."

On this Blake felt less confident in her response. She didn't doubt Sturnack, but she well understood the difficulty. Image was... in many ways... everything. "We are working with Admiral Andolini on a strategy to help keep the story clear and concise and to combat any attempts from the press to turn it into something it is not. From a legal standpoint, though, it may help to know that the Fleet Admiral and I had never met before the day I came in to interview for the position."

"As far as the press is concerned, my response is 'no comment'. But you must understand the position I'm in here. Not only is there a question of how Captain Blake obtained her position, but there is also the issue that you two began this relationship after being targeted for assassination. Many people might suspect start to doubt the validity of your statements in that regard," Thomas said being quite blunt with his assertions. He looked back towards Sturnack, "You do realize sir that an investigation into a potential conflict of interest may be unavoidable."

"Indeed," the Vulcan replied further. "There is also another inciting factor you should be aware of. The shared trauma and the isolation set the stage but it was my much-delayed Pon Farr that broke the ice." He let that bomb go off, knowing that it added another layer of complication to another already complicated issue. "Jocelyn was not coerced into anything, but I suspect that sentiment might be spurred on by this particular news."

She'd really barely had time for the blush to fade before it was back with force. She brought a hand to the bridge of her nose, using one finger to push her glasses upward. "Also true," she said, a touch of the awkwardness she was feeling clear in her tone. She wondered if it bothered Sturnack to talk about this part. He'd gone to such great lengths to hide it from her and now he had needed to lay it out to three high ranking officers. "I would have..." she glanced at Sturnack quickly wishing she could better gauge his thoughts, "helped him with the problem as his friend. We didn't know when we were going to be able to come home and the Pon Farr is life threatening. I'm sure Dr. Cowell can attest to the circumstance. He even came out to the cabin to treat Sturnack in a bid to try to avoid the inevitable." She met the JAG's gaze, willing him to understand the next part. "By the time that he shared the problem with me I had already begun to have feelings for him."

Thomas looked at both of them before sighing again. "Well, that...helps...a bit," he said choosing his words carefully. He knew that the subject of Pon Farr was a sensitive area concerning Vulcans. While there was no legal precedent he could think of, it could be argued that their actions were necessary to prevent Sturnack from dying. It was a natural act amongst Vulcans. "Regarding the conflict of interest with respect to Captain Blake, as long as there is verifiable proof that the two of you were not acquainted prior to her posting then that shouldn't be an issue as far as JAG is concerned," he said before continuing, "As I said before, there is nothing in Starfleet regulations preventing a relationship between the two of you. The fact that this began due to your...imminent Pon Farr...does offer some mitigating circumstances. It could be argued that Captain Blake's actions were a form of life saving treatment, but there is not much legal precedent there."

The sigh of relief that escaped Jocelyn was involuntary. It was. But it was relief all the same. She was thankful to know that, at least for now, there was no immediate legal challenge. She was sure some would be brought. It was far from the first time she'd been thrust into the spotlight of an investigation and set aside to avoid a scandal. It just had nothing to do with her personal life last time. "Thank you Admiral," she said, appreciation heavy in her voice. "I'm sure that there will be legal challenges brought. The press will litigate this in the news on their own, so knowing that there is, at least, no immediate legal barrier helps. I imagine Admiral Andolini will be in touch for anything the press office needs."

"Hopefully the lack of actual legal issues," Sturnack began, "will smooth the ruffled feathers of onlookers whose business, this is not." The Vulcan arched his right eyebrow, "I believe we have satisfied the goal of this meeting then, yes?" It was to Blake that the Commander-in-Chief turned, "Unless, of course, there are other items you wished to discuss?" For Sturnack, it seemed it was time to move on to the next item in a very long list of things to do. However, it was important to him that any of Jocelyn's concerns not be left behind.

Jocelyn's pause was just a bit too long as she considered, but ultimately she nodded. "I think so, yes," she replied. "I should get back to my desk though. I can walk Admiral Romanowski out if the two of you don't have any additional things to discuss?" The meaning of her question was clear -- additional things that didn't have to do with their personal lives. She didn't want to assume she should or would be privy to any other business.

Thomas looked between the two with an upraise eyebrow before nodding towards Sturnack. "Yes sir," he said before standing. "I appreciate you taking this short notice meeting Fleet Admiral," Thomas said before he waited for Jocelyn to join him.

"I am appreciative of your time as well," the Commander-in-Chief replied. "Admiral," he nodded to the man before turning to Jocelyn. "Captain Blake," Sturnack then nodded to the Press Secretary. He watched the two of them go and then tapped his combadge.

"Marlena, what's next?" the Vulcan asked.

=/\= A joint post by... =/\=

Fleet Admiral Sturnack
Starfleet Command


Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary
Starfleet Command


Rear Admiral Thomas Romanowski
Judge Advocate General
Starfleet Command


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