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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
"Lieutenant Commander Tadao Iwaguchi?"

Tad turned, curious who was addressing him. He'd been sitting at one of the large viewports in Seven Forward, watching as the U.S.S. Pullman approached Cardassia Prime. The Pullman might not have many luxuries, being one of Starfleet's ubiquitous Excalibur-class cruisers, but even she made room for a forward lounge, and Tad did his best to never miss the approach to a new planet. Some officers got jaded after seeing so many, claiming that once you'd seen one, you'd seen them all; others only viewed things through sensor screens and readouts, where everything was pure data. For Tad, every planet was a new opportunity, and he did his best to hold on to that sense of wonder. He could see the swirl of clouds on the planet below, and the buzzing industry in orbit. It was no Mars, but it wasn't that far off, and he had read that many of the Cardassian Union's main shipyards were elsewhere in the system.

"That's me, yes, but please place my surname first." His family was from the Japanese-ethnic colony of Edo and his parents were neo-traditionalists. There was often a moment of adjustment, but there were stranger things in this galaxy than putting your family name first.

"Ah, like the Bajorans. My apologies." Tad took a moment to wrap his mind around the presence of the Cardassian woman in a Starfleet uniform, with the view of Cardassia Prime out the viewport. He wasn't unused to seeing Cardassians in Starfleet, but the juxtaposition was enough to unsettle him a bit. Then reality clicked back into place, and he nodded and smiled. The woman smiled back, but it was rather more controlled than he liked to see. A shame, too, because she was quite pretty: just a hair shorter than him, with glossy black hair tied back in a tight bun, her features sharp and striking, and her figure was obviously feminine, if a bit sinuous, under her uniform. Her forehead crest was lightly painted blue; he vaguely remembered that had some kind of cultural significance, but couldn't recall the specifics.

"I'm Commander Niri Pasakun. Forgive me for interrupting, but I believe you're being transferred to the Yorktown?"

Tad turned to face her more squarely. He didn't really have a good memory for names, but hers was familiar.

"Yes, Commander, I'll be the Chief Tactical Officer. And if I'm not mistaken, you'll be the Chief of Security?"

She smiled, a bit more brightly, and held out her hand, which he took. Her grip was firm, one squeeze and release, and he found himself warming to her.

"Exactly right. I'm sorry, but I only just figured out that you were actually aboard, and thought it might be nice to say hi before we got into the thick of things."

"Well, I can't blame you for that. I think there's crew elements for, what, three starships on board? Not to mention the industrial replicators and the warp coils. It's been chaotic for me, and I'm not even crew."

They shared a moment of amusement, tinged with a bit of better-thee-than-me. With the right modular configuration, the Excaliburs could be among the best transports Starfleet had to offer. However, even with the currently accelerated pace of shipbuilding, there were never enough to go around, and despite the teasing heaped upon the captains of cruisers playing freighters, everyone knew how vital they were to maintaining the links of communication and trade that tied together the Federation and its allies. The result was that the Excaliburs were overworked to an extreme, rushing from one end of the Federation to the other on precisely calculated routes, carrying three or four cargos at once with virtually no opportunity for rest or delay. Tad knew that Captain Karn had been the First Officer of one of them, the U.S.S. Tasman, before he took command of the Paris; knowing the Captain as he did, he wouldn't be surprised if the Tasman had been one of the more efficiently-run transport-configured Excaliburs in service.

"So, I don't mean to pry, but do you know why Captain Karn selected you for his Tac Chief?" she asked.

"Well, I can't be certain, but I was one of the Conn officers on his last command, the U.S.S. Paris. We got to know each other fairly well, went through a few rough times together, and he must have liked what he saw. Actually, he must have really liked what he saw; the Yorktown sounds like a Tactical officer's dream, so it probably would have been easy for him to get someone more experienced for the part." Rumors were flying that the ship was a prototype of some sort, but based on the Imperial-class, whose specs Tad had studied on the trip. She was an assault cruiser, so she'd handle sluggishly at best, but if her defense suite was anything like that of the Imperials, she'd certainly be able to take a bite out of anything she could get her teeth into. If he had to be onboard, Tad was certainly happier to be running Tactical than having the Conn on such a beast.

"How about yourself, Commander?"

"Oh, Captain Karn and I knew each other on the U.S.S. Venezuela. He was Chief Engineer, and I was a lowly Security officer. We were the only Cardassians on the ship; there aren't many of us now, but back then, there were even fewer. We had a good laugh about how backwards things were."

"Backwards?" Tad asked.

"Oh, just that in the Union, engineering is primarily a female-dominated field, and the combat arm is male-dominated, but the only two Cardassians on a Starfleet ship were a male engineer and female soldier. So strange, but somehow fitting."

"Ha! Yeah, I can see how that might stand out. But strange times can make for strange bedfellows."

"What?" she said sharply, and Tad held up his hands with an apologetic smile.

"It's just an expression. You know, if you find yourself in unusual circumstances, you can make some unusual acquaintances?"

"Ah. Right, that makes sense. Yes, I think that describes it pretty well." She half-smiled. "I'm sorry, I've never heard that turn of phrase before."

"That's alright, I didn't mean to cause any confusion. It's not really that common, usually people talk about politics making strange bedfellows, but I like to broaden the scope a bit."

When he had the conn of a starship, Tad had a knack for spatial awareness. He'd heard other pilots talk about their ship as an extension of their body, but it wasn't quite like that for him - it was more like he was playing a game of three-dimensional chess, and he could see the possibilities, dependencies, and interrelationships between his ship and all the other objects nearby. His knack extended, in a somewhat muddled fashion, to people, as well; his Starfleet aptitude scores had ranked counselor just behind pilot and tactical officer, in an unusual combination. And now, he had the sense of pieces floating in space.

"Well, normally Tactical and Security get sort of pushed together, but from what I've read, it seems like the Imperial-class has more than enough on both sides of the fence to keep us occupied."

"Tell me about it," she sighed, "and we're going to have a Jem'hadar element aboard, too." A piece slid to another square.

"Really? That'd be pretty interesting, where did you hear that?"

"Oh, you know, the rumor mill," she said, waving a hand dismissively. "They're from Zeno, those Jem'hadar evolutionists. They believe that the Founders were holding them back from their genetic destiny."

"Yikes, they think they should be stronger? How many of them are we going to have?"

"Half of our Security element. I've been looking over their protocols, and I am not looking forward to integrating them into our command structure."

"Will they have a problem with authority?"

"No, no, they follow authority just fine. The only problem is establishing that authority. They don't respect rank pips, they respect strength."

"Well, I may not be security, but I do try to keep in practice with my hand-to-hand. If you'd like someone to spar with, I'd be happy to volunteer." She hesitated a moment. He gave a little mental sigh, abandoning the plans he'd begun to pull together to ask her to dinner. It was still only a suspicion, but it was enough to wave him off.

"Thank you, Lieutenant Commander, but I've already worked out my exercise regimen. And I mean no offense, but I need to practice with someone more dedicated than a hobbyist. The Jem'hadar don't view their protocols as a hobby, after all."

"That's fine, that's fine, just thought I'd offer." He smiled lightly.

Last edited by thesciencer; 03-28-2013 at 07:53 PM.