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The Spectre of James Leyton

Posted on Mon Jul 10th, 2023 @ 8:29pm by Captain Jocelyn Blake & Rear Admiral Thomas Romanowski

Mission: Episode 3: Conflicts of Interest
Location: Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1130

[SFC Complex]
[San Francisco]
[MD 2, Immediately after Legalese]

Jocelyn waited until they were out into the main corridor before she drew to a halt and turned to face Romanowski. She drew in a breath and then let it out slowly. "I know your time is incredibly sought after," she began, "but if you have a few minutes I'd be glad to speak with you privately. I... have some additional concerns about the news that the Fleet Admiral and I just shared with you, that I don't want to bother him with."

Thomas pulled up with her and turned to face her. He could see the worry and anticipation in her eyes and nodded. "Of course, let's discuss this in my office," he said motioning for her to follow him. After the short walk down the hall, he rounded a corner and spotted Sandra seated at her desk outside his office.

"Sandra, Captain Blake and I have a private matter to discuss," he said as he stepped aside for Blake to continue into his office. "No disturbances please," he said as Sandra nodded. With the doors to his office closed, he indicated one of the open chairs before taking his own seat behind the desk. He held up a finger to stop Jocelyn from speaking as he input a few commands on his computer situated on the desk. He then looked back at Jocelyn with a nod.

"One of the benefits of being the JAG is having a soundproof office. Everything you say now will be protected by privilege," he said before leaning back in his chair and steepling his fingers under his chin.

"That's a nice bit of tech," Jocelyn commented as she sat. "I appreciate the extra caution, though it may not be necessary." A small knot had formed in her stomach as they got settled and now it felt like it was tightening. She had to fight the urge to cross her arms over her chest, an instinctive protective measure that was not only unnecessary but might send the wrong message in this conversation. With a sigh, she looked across the desk to the JAG. "I know we've spoken about the propriety or impropriety of my new... relationship..." she began slowly, "but there were issues that included threats and vandalism before the Fleet Admiral and I decided to become romantically involved. Starfleet security is aware, and I've had a security detail assigned to me since before the bombing, but I can't shake the thought that those incidents were directly related to my expose on Admiral Leyton. Sturnack... I mean... the Fleet Admiral... was also impacted by decisions from that administration at that time and I'm concerned about the general unrest from my past flowing over to impact him."

She stopped speaking almost abruptly, eyes flashing with frustration as the implications resurfaced in her head. "The reality is," she continued, "that we are both very visible people. And if the Fleet Admiral is going to be able to continue in his position and do it well, baggage from my past can't be a barrier. I don't... I'm not even sure what I'm asking of you exactly."

Thomas's brow furrowed as he considered what Jocelyn was telling him. The debacle that was Admiral Leyton had left a permanent stain on Starfleet Command. And while he was long gone, it was said that he still had pull within headquarters. The implication that there was a cabal of Leyton loyalists pulling strings was a frightening possibility to consider. Thomas was not one who could be easily intimidated though. He served the law, and he did so at the pleasure of the CinC. What angered him most was that Jocelyn was being persecuted because she stood up for the morals that Starfleet was founded on. "Leyton's ghost still haunts these halls, as unfortunate as that is. I can assure you though that Federation law offers whistleblower protection status to you for what you did. Any retaliation against you is a crime, and will be dealt with as such," he offered before he leaned forward and laid his clasped hands on his desk. "If you're asking if your past can in any way damage the Fleet Admiral, I'm not sure if I can answer that. The CinC is beholden to the Federation President, and as I'm sure your aware, she was not a fan of Admiral Leyton's," he said.

Jocelyn pressed her lips into a thin line for a moment before nodding. "That's a fair point," she commented and then, as if she couldn't quite keep herself from crossing her arms, she brought one across her chest, fingers wrapping her bicep and squeezing lightly while her other hand remained in her lap. "I suppose I am asking you to help me see anything coming that I might not see through my own channels. And... if it comes down to it... to help untangle Sturnack if he needs untangling." She caught the look he gave her and raised her hand quickly before he could protest. "Not anything illegal, sir. Just the usual things that fall within the purview of your job and the law. I don't want my... choices... to put him in the line of fire any more than he already is."

Thomas sat back in his chair and looked at her for a moment more before he nodded slowly. "Of course. I already run interference for him, but I'll be sure to keep my ears to the ground," he said before he leaned forward again and looked at her with an upraised eyebrow. "You can bet though that the Leyton loyalists already know about yours and his relationship and they are undoubtedly working on a way to spin it against him," he said matter of factly before continuing, "You won't be able to keep this quiet for much longer."

Meeting his gaze, Jocelyn sighed. One finger raised she pressed her glasses back up her nose even though they didn't really need adjusting. It was more a tic than a necessity. "We don't plan to," she admitted resignedly. "Neither of expects to keep this under wraps. We're just buying time for now until Admiral Andolini can arrange an interview with someone he recommended. He thinks getting ahead of the news will help."

Even though she knew that was the right move there was a touch of reticence in her tone as if she were uncertain despite the knowledge. "Honestly," she told the older man across the desk, "neither of us planned for this to happen. It... it just did... and..." She looked up, willing the JAG to understand her, "how often do any of us get a chance at ...?" She trailed off, not finishing the thought verbally though her mind offered up several potential endings... happiness... romance... love... It had barely been 2 days, she reminded herself. She didn't know if any of those things were going to be part of this. But still... she knew she'd be sorry if she didn't find out.

Thomas had nodded at the mention of the Public Relations chief, but he found himself smiling slightly as Jocelyn tried to express her feelings at her relationship. He remembered back when he and his wife had met. It had been entirely by accident as well, but he had known fairly soon that Charlotte and he would be married. Though she had been stubborn, refusing his first proposal because she had seen what kind of life a rancher's wife lead and she wasn't sure it was for her. Only after telling her he wanted to go off to school did she finally relent, though her condition was he graduate from university first.

"No need to apologize Ms. Blake. I know what your describing, why I knew Charlotte was the one the day I met her," he said glancing down at the framed family photograph he kept on his desk. He in his dress uniform, his wife, and their son. He looked back at her with an upraised eyebrow, "The thing is, most people won't understand those feelings. While I'm not going to tell you not to pursue them, just be cautious on who you share that with." His words weren't meant to chastise, rather offer some sage advice from someone who knew about all the legal entrapments that went along with being in a relationship with a superior.

Romanowski's comment gave her pause and reminded her of something Nathan Cowell had told her a few weeks before the assassination attempt sequestered them at the Fortress. He'd seen right through them both, but had been unwilling to say who he knew was right under her nose at the time. She wondered now, with the JAG's comment regarding his certainty about his wife, if he, too, knew something that still felt too new to assign such surety too. All she could say with certainty was that she wanted to try. That her experience with Sturnack had been unlike anything she could have guessed at.

"I appreciate that, sir," she finally said, offering the older man a small smile. "I have more experience navigating complicated political circumstances than I do romantic relationships. I appreciate the insight."

"Your quite welcome," he said returning her smile. He leaned back in his chair before looking down at the chronometer readout on his desk and noted the time. "In the meantime, I keep my ears open for any rumblings that may come across my desk. I also want you to come to me should you hear anything as well. Like I said to you both before, should any of Leyton's cronies lodge a formal complaint than an investigation is unavoidable," he said.

She nodded back her understanding, sensing they were reaching the end of the discussion. Setting both feet on the floor she braced her hands on her knees. "Of course, sir," she said. "And thank you for taking the extra moment with me. I should probably get myself back to my desk though. I may not be the main gossip in the news cycle yet, but that doesn't mean there isn't news that needs my attention."

"Of course," Thomas said as he pressed a few buttons on his desk which unsealed the room. He stood as Jocelyn did and gave her a reassuring smile. "Just know that my door is always open," he offered her.

The redheaded press secretary met the JAG's reassuring expression with a sort of practical determination. "I'll keep that in mind," she said, lips turning up into a smile, albeit a small one. With the next breath she turned and strode purposefully out of the man's office. There was, after all, still plenty of work she needed to do.

=/\= A Mission Post By =/\=

Rear Admiral Thomas Romanowski
Judge Advocate General

Captain Jocelyn Blake
Press Secretary


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