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Commander
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 410
# 11
03-20-2013, 12:11 PM
Thesciencer,

Thank you for posting this! I have always wondered what the social and political situation on Cardassia was like, post-Dominion War, and your story gave us a very good glimpse into the "new" Cardassian mindset. The interactions between Gorel and Eren were really well written, and I really liked how you described the Yorktown-- probably one of the best starship descriptions I've seen in a while, especially since you successfully gave texture and rationale behind in-game effects and items (re: the Dominion pack).

Your story actually reminded me of one of the DS9 novels...I forget which one..which revolved around the premise of Bajor, similarly, building a Federation ship in the hopes of one day kickstarting its own shipyards again. I did, however, notice that you're plagued by the continuous problem of question marks popping up everywhere. My advice is to use Notepad to write your stories instead of Word, as then these issues don't pop up when you copy and paste.

Otherwise, I liked it! I hope to read more of your stuff in future.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
# 12
03-20-2013, 02:10 PM
I'm glad you liked it!

Yeah, those stupid question marks. Everything looks fine, and then boom. I did not enjoy going through and editing all the ones I could find. Thanks for the tip on Notepad, I'll have to give it a shot for the next one.

Thanks!
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
". . . so I think we've got that problem ironed out, although I'll be pretty happy if I don?t see a phase inverter for another month or two."

Gorel joined in the wave of chuckles that swept the small auditorium. Going over the specifications of the Yorktown had brought him into close contact with Commander Suren, commanding officer of the Starfleet engineering team responsible for working out the ship's kinks during trials. They'd actually arrived about a year and a half earlier, when the USS Sternenbach had come to install the restricted systems and perform enough general integration and finalization work for the Yorktown to be officially commissioned. At that point, the Sternenbach had left, leaving behind Commander Suren?s team to finish the job.

Suren had felt it would be logical for him to join in on the weekly team meetings, especially since he came from an engineering background. At this point in the ship's development, uniformity of command had become less important than troubleshooting and sharing information; thus, now the meetings were a bit more freeform, with anyone who had encountered a particularly thorny problem invited to stand and present the problem and solution they'd found; if they hadn't actually solved the problem yet, then that was also acceptable, so the rest of the team could provide their insights and suggestions.

The Vulcan commander stepped to the front of the room and began to speak; Gorel allowed his attention to drift to the man who'd just finished his presentation: Senior Chief Petty Officer Felix Macchia. He was a bit of a gangly human, with dark skin and lighter, short-cropped hair; by all reports he was excellent at practical repairs and very personable. From what Gorel had seen, he could agree with the latter; if what the Chief had to say during his presentations was accurate, then the former seemed quite true as well. He had spent the last year and a half working on the Yorktown, and before that had earned a modest but respectable number of citations and awards for performance of his duties.

All of these facts led Gorel to one conclusion: he had to try to poach the man from Suren's team. It wasn't going to be especially easy; with the importance of shipbuilding, the Vulcan was sure to argue that it would be illogical to take such a proven resource and confine him to the operation of a single starship, no matter what that ship may be. He wouldn't be wrong in that, either, whether or not Gorel felt that the entirety of his crew and success of his missions could depend on having someone with the capabilities of Chief Macchia.

The room rustled and a low noise of conversation broke out once Commander Suren dismissed them. Gorel stood and gave his uniform tunic a tug down. He was not especially looking forward to the fight, but it was one he intended to win, and the Youth Orders did not breed quitters. He'd gotten a bit of capital to trade with from his great-uncle Eskot, and he was sure he'd need to use every bit of it to convince Suren.

The Vulcan met his gaze and arched an eyebrow in question; Gorel smiled thinly and stepped into the ring.

"Commander Suren, I intend to request that Chief Macchia be transferred to serve as Chief of Operations on the Yorktown. I'd like to have your support."

"Unacceptable. Senior Chief Petty Officer Macchia is a very strong component of my team. Once the Yorktown is out of trials, our next destination is a full retrofit of the USS Gorkon. The task will be quite demanding." The Vulcan did not raise his voice, nor did he bend his will, both as Gorel had fully expected.

"The Chief's practical experience with the Yorktown will be of vital importance in ensuring that the ship functions smoothly. I'm sure you are fully aware that even once the ship's trials are complete, there will be 'teething problems' for some months; in a ship of the Yorktown's size and complexity, I would not be surprised if they continued to crop up for a year or more. Both the Chief's skill and his ability to impart his knowledge to the Yorktown's operations staff will be of tremendous assistance in making sure the Yorktown becomes and remains fully functional."

"Your point has merit. I am willing to temporarily detach Chief Macchia for three months once the Yorktown's trials are completed. He can train your ship's crew in that time, and then return to my team in time for the major projects on the Gorkon." The compromise was more than Gorel had expected, although it was logical. Another man might have taken the deal in the interests of peace; in theory, those three months might be enough to give the Yorktown's crew the training they needed. For Gorel, it was a sign of weakness.

"That will not be sufficient." he said, and at that Commander Suren did raise an eyebrow before Gorel continued.

"I am sure you are aware of the importance of the Yorktown, both from the mechanical perspective of studying Cardassian and Dominion technologies, and the moral perspective of being a demonstration of cooperation between the Federation and Union and encouraging restless Cardassians unable to enter the CDF to pursue Starfleet rather than the True Way."

"I am." He may not allow his emotions to rule him, but he was aware of them. Even Vulcans appreciated a good victory.

"Given this importance, I have been authorized to convey to you an offer from the Ministry of Defense. They are prepared to increase their purchase of industrial energy cells from Vulcan, to a total value of 2 billion new leks per year."

"A bribe, Captain?"

"Not at all. A consideration. The economies of both the Union and Vulcan, and thus the Federation, will be strengthened. If the Yorktown is successful, the Union could easily become a supplier of starships to the Federation."

"Would it not be logical to pursue this course of action whether or not Chief Macchia is transferred to the Yorktown?"

"Possibly, although industrial energy cells can be purchased from elsewhere; the Remans are always looking to increase their business contacts, for example, and the Union is always seeking more allies." There was an implicit threat there, and one with enough history to make it plausible. The Romulan Star Empire and Cardassian Union had not been enemies, nor had they always been friendly with the Federation.

The Vulcan paused for a long moment. Gorel decided that showing a bit of softness might ease matters a bit.

"The Union has no wish to antagonize the Federation, but it is taking the Yorktown project very seriously."

"So I see," the Commander said blandly. "Very well, Captain Karn. I am not certain whether Chief Macchia will be amused that he was sold to the Cardassian Union for two billion new leks."

That was it. Gorel allowed himself to relax just a bit and smiled at Suren.

"We are all Starfleet officers, Commander, but Cardassia needs this project. If the Orions were selling officers of the Chief's caliber, I would go to Ter'jas Mor to buy them."

Last edited by thesciencer; 03-22-2013 at 01:49 AM. Reason: Blast, notepad didn't fix the question mark problem.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
Gorel leaned back in his chair with a heavy sigh. He liked to think that someone of weaker constitution might have groaned, or pinched the bridge of their nose, or made some other indication of tiredness and discomfort, while he limited himself to a simple sigh. He was honest enough to admit that it might not be the case, but at least it made him feel better.

The office he'd been given in the Federation Embassy was designed for cases like his, where an officer on temporary duty needed a place to do some administrative work. Of course, being so well-designed meant that it was small and inelegant, struggling to contain a simple working desk and chair, another chair for a visitor, and a small bookshelf. Gorel hadn't bothered bringing in any pictures or mementos to brighten the space, although he did still sometimes look at the bare walls with distaste. His shelf was host to several well-organized datapads, useful when he needed to refer between various readouts while doing his work.

As far as work went, it wasn't too bad, really, although it was certainly time-consuming. He had to familiarize himself with the Yorktown's schematics and specifications, which was made slightly more difficult thanks to the small changes being made daily by the trials crew. In the interests of completion, he'd also decided to study those of the Imperial-class from which it was derived. Being even more thorough, he studied them not only in his capacity as the future captain of the ship, but also from the perspective of an engineer. When he needed or wanted a break from that, he could always go through the personnel files for his ship's prospective crew. The Ministry of Defense had its suggestions for his Cardassian component, while Starfleet had a similar but different list of suggestions for its section. Not only did he need to select the right crew, but needed to make sure that the appropriate balance was maintained between Federation and Union interests. He hadn't even begun going through the dossiers on his Jem'hadar element, other than to note that their First's name was Arak'ukan. Dealing with the Jem'hadar would be a struggle on its own.

His computer chimed in a friendly manner, and he focused his eyes on the screen. The sender data caused him to blink in surprise, then freeze as a few competing emotions filled his suddenly tense chest. He rebuked himself with a small head-shake. He wasn't a child, nor was he even a fresh ensign. Control, control, he must have control.

He keyed his acceptance of the call with a smile, which broke into a full grin when the caller appeared.

"Hello, Niri."

"Hello, Gorel." She smiled back; he always thought her voice gave him an impression of heat. Warm, like it was now, all the way up to blazing when she was in the field. He couldn't resist a twinge of feeling when he saw her forehead was still subtly painted blue.

"It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"Four years since the Venezuela. I didn't even know you were on Cardassia Prime until Legate Eskot told me." Gorel fought to keep his lips from forming a moue of amusement. His uncle pried too much, although in this case it was hard to be upset. She read him, like she always had been able to, and briefly grinned.

"I had no idea you were here, either; last I'd heard you were still at Starbase 211."

"They sent a detachment to escort a criminal to Bajor." She said crisply, her tone disinviting further comment. "We'll be here for three more days to ensure the transfer goes well, and then back into the runabout and back to 211."

"How is your family?" he asked. It wasn't quite the desperation move that it might have been in other cultures, given the importance of the family to Cardassians, but it was close. What was he supposed to say now? It had been years, and he hadn't anticipated having to see her for another few months while the transfer orders got processed. He'd struggled with deciding to add her to his short list, the list which had only just been sent up the chain to his oversight committee for approval (which gave some explanation for why his uncle had interfered). In some ways it was harder to see her again now, when he had just been thinking about her anew, but hadn't had the time to fully steel himself to really meet her again.

"They're good, still on Arawath, still growing yamok. My younger sister just entered the Damar Academy; she's planning on becoming a good little engineer." She made a face; Gorel knew she'd always felt a certain amount of distaste for traditional gender roles. It was part of why they'd first bonded. "And yours?"

"Well, Uncle Eskot you know," he said with a chuckle, "and the rest are good, as well. Still running their starship repair concern, and business is booming." She nodded, and he followed the graceful curve of her neck. He wondered if she still kept her hair in a tight bun.

"That's good, Gorel." She paused. "I'm happy to see you again." Her irises were dark, verging on black. He smiled faintly, wistfully. Things had never quite worked out since the Venezuela, and they didn't look to work out any time soon, either.

"And I'm happy to see you, Niri. In fact, I just recently requested. . . "

"And since we're so happy to see one another," she said, interrupting him ruthlessly, "we're going to dinner tonight. Your uncle, that shameless busybody, gave me a reservation at Kanar. It's at 1900 hours, so you've got that long to find something nice to wear. And I do mean nice." She said firmly, the set of her jaw indicating she would brook no disagreement. His uncle was being a busybody, indeed; Kanar was one of the finest restaurants of the capital, which made it one of the finest restaurants in all the Union.

"You don't tell me what to wear," he said before he could stop himself. Niri's eyeridges rose; he felt his face heat with a touch of embarrassment and a larger measure of excitement; her own seemed to color as well. "But I'll be there at 1900. I hope you brought something nicer than your uniform in that runabout."

"Hmph." She scoffed, with a little toss of her head. "Maybe I did. It would serve you right if I decided not to show up." She hesitated; their eyes met.

"I'll be there." She said quietly, and then closed the channel.

Gorel sighed and looked around his bleak little office. The work that had been unappealing minutes before was now all but revolting. He began to estimate the time it would take to get home, get changed, and get to Kanar; after allowing a safety margin (a very healthy one), he'd know how much longer he needed to work, while trying to ignore the tightness in his belly.

Last edited by thesciencer; 03-23-2013 at 02:50 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
# 15
03-23-2013, 02:33 PM
(part 2)

Gorel stood outside Kanar, attracting no few looks. He thanked his ancestors that he'd had his suit retailored when he first got home, thanks to the profusion of family dinners and gatherings. He wasn't much for such finery, really, but such things were expected, and Cardassians were excellent tailors. His mother had given his father a significant look when he passed them on his way back out, a look which took a decade and a half off his mental age. He wasn't some hormone-addled teen any more, no matter how he'd flushed and stammered when he told them his plans for the evening.

He'd arrived at Kanar early, but there was no sign of Niri, and since she was the one with the reservations, he'd opted to wait outside. He told himself that it was because he'd feel awkward standing at the desk, in full view of the staff and other diners, which had a bit of truth to it. The thump in his chest every time he heard a single pair of clacking footsteps approaching told him that there might be some truth elsewhere.

And then she was there, and his chest tightened, like it hadn't been four years with no word either way.

Everything about her was beautiful and poised, like a thoroughbred racer. Her dress was deep blue and clung to the ends of her shoulders, displaying the ridges of her neck in their entirety; her hair was woven up tightly but simply, with only a single gem-tipped pin thrust through it. Her face was carefully made up with shades of blue, but only on her forehead did the color truly draw attention to itself. She was beautiful and everything he wanted and could not be permitted.

"There you are, Gorel," she said, as they quickly embraced. She gave him a quick look up and down, her mouth tightening but her eyes widening.

"I thought I told you to wear something nice?" His heart thumped.

"Hello, Niri. I know, I thought it would barely be passable here at Kanar, but now that I've seen you, I know I won't be the worst-dressed person inside."

Her lip curled in a magnificent sneer as she took his arm. It was an odd sensation, so familiar, and yet so different than before. On the Venezuela, they'd had to be careful to moderate themselves, both out of respect for the chain of command and in order to prevent any of their colleagues from reporting them for mediation. Here on Cardassia Prime, they could be themselves.

Immediately upon entering, Niri observed to the staff that Gorel would never have been able to get reservations for such a fine place himself. Gorel countered by pointing out that it was his uncle, not Niri, who had obtained the reservation, and as such she was little more than a hanger-on upon his family's influence. The staff shared a few amused glances as they led the couple to their table.

Each of them attempted to order for the other, which initiated a quiet argument that lasted for several glasses of kanar over the relative qualities of a classic zabu steak in yamok sauce vis-a-vis the deconstructed halant stew with fried krintar crisps. In the end, each of them decided to eat what the other had initially ordered, which prompted another two-glass argument that was ended only by the return of the waiter with their meals. Gorel criticized the excellent deconstructed stew for its pointless complication of a traditional meal, while Niri fed Gorel a piece of steak off of her own fork so he could see how boring it was. Next came the larish pie, which they enjoyed while debating the relative merits of the Oralian restoration, the Federo-Cardassian Treaty of 2386, and the Union's trade agreements with the Ferengi and Remans. By the time they reached the oceanleaf tea and were reduced to quibbling over minor details of the Detapa Council's recent decisions, their fingers were lightly touching on the table, and Niri's calf rested against his under it. When the bill arrived while she was away from the table, Gorel gleefully paid the entire (substantial) thing with a broad grin; the waiter, despite his professionalism, was young enough to flash him a congratulatory thumbs-up as he left the table.

The dinner was as perfect as Gorel could have hoped.

When Niri returned and learned that he'd paid without consulting her, her eyes narrowed dangerously.

"There are certain words, Gorel Karn, that I want to say to you, but that are inappropriate for such a public space. I'm staying at a hotel not far from here; you're coming back there with me to hear exactly what I have to say about your wrong-headed obsession with patriarchal values."

An older man at the next table gave a quiet and suspiciously timed cough, covering his mouth. Gorel stood and straightened his jacket, looking imperiously down his nose at Niri.

"Oh, I'll join you, but only because as a hidebound patriarchal old zabu I enjoy listening to a woman howling about things she can't control for hours."

The man coughed again, this time not quite muffling the sound of a laugh. Niri's face and neck flushed.

"Hours, is it? We'll just see about that."

Their pace as they left the restaurant, arm in arm, was as a brisk walk just shy of trotting.

Last edited by thesciencer; 03-23-2013 at 02:53 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
# 16
03-23-2013, 02:34 PM
(part 3)

She looked quite adorable: makeup smudged and hair unbound, resting her narrow chin on her interlaced fingers, which were themselves resting upon Gorel's chest. Her eyes were only a foot away from his own, but she wouldn't meet them.

"I've missed you."

He stroked her side gently and sighed.

"And I missed you. Although I didn't let myself realize how much."

"Four years is too long. Although I know why you did it. You can't give them anything to point at to say that you're not a dedicated Starfleet captain. No distractions, nothing favoring Cardassia."

He brushed her hair back as his throat gummed slightly. "I didn't ask you to wait."

She looked up at him for a moment before looking back down at his neck again.

"But now they've given you this new command, something to really show how the Union and Federation can cooperate," she said, giving no sign she'd heard what he said, "so what does that mean?"

"It means it worked." He said. There was a long pause as they lay there.

"I've requested you for the Yorktown's Chief of Security." She looked up at that, searching his eyes.

"Why?"

"Because I know you do your job well. Because I know you'll have a better chance than most at forging a working relationship with the Jem'hadar troops we're going to have on board." Her eyes widened slightly at that thought, and he smirked.

"Because I can probably only have one Cardassian on my senior staff, and there's no one that I trust and respect more than you. And because even if I won't be able to touch you," he said, bringing one thumb up to brush over her cheek, "four years has been too long to not be near you."

"Legate Eskot told me that you'd requested me. That's why . . . well, it is why, but it isn't why, you know, this . . ." he pressed his finger over her lips.

"I know."

She lifted herself up a bit and kissed him lightly.

"It won't be easy, but there's nowhere I'd rather be than on your ship."

She stretched, catlike.

"But those orders haven't come in yet; we're not yet in the same chain of command. And I fully intend to take advantage of that while I can."

"Yes, ma'am," he murmured, and she giggled.

Last edited by thesciencer; 03-23-2013 at 02:54 PM.
Ensign
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.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
". . . so I said, 'but I hardly emitter!'"

Gorel burst out laughing at that, the noise vanishing into the busy lunchtime dining room of Taron's Eatery. Even Niri was grinning; he was sure that the joke had made no sense to her, but Chief Macchia's smile and good humor were positively infectious. The man had taken the news of his transfer to the Yorktown well, and Gorel was already looking forward to having him as a part of his senior staff.

He saw Tadao looking around by the door, and waved one arm; the man smiled and began making his way over to their table. Taron's wasn't exactly highbrow, and its menu featured some distinctly Federation-influenced offerings, but its food had more soul than what you'd get at a replimat, and it was close enough to downtown Lakarian City to pull in a hefty lunch crowd. Gorel had thought it would make a perfect place for a little unofficial lunch meeting with his currently-present section chiefs.

"Hey, Tadao, glad you could make it." He smiled, and the younger man smiled and took the last seat at their table.

"I almost didn't, you weren't kidding when you said it was a little out of the way. But the directions were spot on, so thanks for that."

Gorel nodded. "Felix, this is Lieutenant Commander Iwaguchi Tadao, our future Chief Tactical Officer; Tadao, this is Senior Chief Petty Officer Felix Macchia, our future Chief of Operations. Niri said you two have already met?"

"Pleased to meet you," Tadao said with a friendly nod to Felix, before turning and smiling at Niri, "and yes, we came in on the Pullman together, although we didn't realize it until the ship was actually entering orbit."

"Well, it's better than nothing. Here's the menu; have you ever eaten Cardassian food before?"

"No, no, not even a little," Tadao said, scanning the menu. It was strange to see Captain Karn out of uniform. Niri and Felix, he'd barely met, but to him, Gorel was the Captain, secure in his throne on the bridge.

"I'd make a suggestion, but I think we have different palates. Chief, you've eaten here before, maybe you can help him out?"

"Sure thing. Do you prefer tea or coffee, Lieutenant Commander?"

"Just Tadao, please. And why do you ask?"

"Well, it's a quick test that I've found rarely fails. My wife likes coffee, so if you like that, I'll recommend what she'd like; my husband, though, he likes tea, so if that's what you prefer, then I can suggest what he'd have." Tadao blinked; no matter their orientation, most humans preferred two-partner marriages. He couldn't recall the last time he'd encountered someone with more.

"And what if I liked water?" The Chief smiled easily, his teeth brightly white against his cafe-au-lait skin.

"Well, that's more my style, so I'd just go with what I'd have. Are you a water guy?"

"Coffee, actually, but I was curious."

"Ahh, then I'd recommend the zabu steak sandwich with the yamok-curry-barbecue sauce. Sounds a bit strange, but it actually goes together well. Oh, and get the katterpod frites over the taspar egg salad, something about taspar eggs just tastes kind of metallic to me." Gorel and Niri shared a look of bemusement, and Felix rolled his eyes.

"Don't go all purist on me now." He shook his head and turned his attention to Tadao. "Can you believe that, for a people as obsessed with efficiency as the Cardassians, it took the Federation to introduce them to the sandwich? I mean, you put anything between two slices of bread and bam, instant quick meal."

"We love our efficiency, Chief, but we also love our families. A good stew can be a moment of home during the middle of the day, even if it is reheated or synthesized from a family program."

"Well, Captain, you're not wrong."

Tadao shrugged and set down the menu. "I'll just follow your advice, Chief. And I'll have water to drink." Gorel began tapping commands into the terminal set into the table, and Tadao addressed the older enlisted man.

"So, did I hear you say that you had a wife and a husband?"

"I do. Max is at the botanical research station of Devris B-IV, while Tila is part of the government on a little colony world in the Orion sector."

"I haven't known a lot of humans that go for three-partner arrangements; that must be interesting."

Felix chuckled, somewhat ruefully, and took a drink of what looked like iced tea.

"Oh, it is. It was just Max and I for about six years, and then we decided to bring in Tila. I love 'em both, couldn't imagine life without 'em, but having twice the love sometimes means getting in twice the trouble. They teamed up on me pretty well when I told them about getting transferred to the Yorktown."

"Not fans of Starfleet?"

"Oh, no, they like Starfleet just fine - Tila was enlisted for a few years, although ultimately she got out when she fell in love with Tangri colony. No, it's just that it's hard enough for us to get together with me on a shipbuilding team; if I'm on an active starship, it's going to be that much more difficult. Plus, with the situation with the Klingons, and the Romulans, and the Borg, it's not the safest time to be in Starfleet."

"Yeah, my mother was up to four messages per week before my father managed to get her to pull back a bit." Tad gave a half-smile. "Still, if they're at home, and the times are what they are, then I'd rather be in Starfleet than anywhere else. And if I'm in Starfleet, it sounds like there'll be few better places to be than on the Yorktown."

"Damn straight," said Felix, nodding firmly and lifting his glass.

"Hear, hear," murmured Niri, and Gorel lifted his own glass as a server dropped off Tadao's water.

"We may not have alcohol, but that sounds like a toast to me. To the Yorktown, may she bring safety to our homes and defeat to our enemies."

The four touched their glasses with a chorus of clinks, and there was a moment of silence.

"So, Tadao," Gorel asked, "where are Megan and Allie? I thought they were still supposed to be on the Paris?"

"Ahh, right. Well, they decided to take a couple of weeks of leave and go to Risa. They didn't figure they'd get a better opportunity than while the Paris was in yard hands, and they wanted to celebrate their anniversary."

"Allie on Risa? Hard to believe Megan got her to go for that. Although if anyone could, I suppose it'd be Megan."

Niri and Felix shared a helpless glance.

"Lieutenant Commander Megan Desano and Lieu . . . no, full Commander Allison McIntyre. On the Paris, Allie was the Ops Chief and Megan headed the Astrometrics section. They just got married a year ago." Tadao volunteered.

"Right, sorry. I asked for them as Chief Engineer and Chief Science Officer on the Yorktown. I had thought they would arrive with Tadao, but apparently they had other plans."

"Risa sounds nice," sighed Niri. Felix smiled and nodded, going along with the change in the conversation, not noticing the momentary eye contact between Niri and Gorel, nor Tadao's equally quick flick of the eyes between the two Cardassians.

"Oh, it is. Max and I went, must have been twelve years ago, now. Now that was a fun week. Sun, sand, water, and good company."

"Well, I hope they enjoy it, because once the trials are done, I'm planning on cutting you folks some leave, as much as I can, while those two bust their humps to get their sections in order."

Tadao grinned irrepressibly. "I'll drink to that."

Last edited by thesciencer; 03-29-2013 at 11:32 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 24
Gorel grunted explosively as he slammed into the mat. Despite the safety fields active in the sparring room, he took a few moments to gather the pieces of his thoughts back together from where they had splattered.

"Maybe I should take Tadao up on his offer to spar. He certainly couldn't be much worse than you."

He gritted his teeth and rose to his knees, then stood. Niri watched him, eyes laughing although her mouth was set with a touch of concern. It really had been too long since he got in some good practice time, between the constant refitting of the Paris, then his time on leave, and most recently his time spent trying to prepare for his role as captain of the Yorktown.

"He's known nothing but Starfleet ships, with their low gravity and easy hours. I just need to shake the rust off."

They both wore their Kav Tora training singlets, close-fitting black material extending from just above the knees to just above the elbows. Niri's had quite a few more rank markings than his, which was to be expected, but he was still stung by how easily she'd thrown him around. He took a few breaths, trying to recenter himself, before resuming the ready stance. Niri, after a few moments, did the same, and their eyes locked.

They moved back and forth a bit, testing and withdrawing, keeping their hands up. Niri was certainly far more agile, but that wasn't the most important part of Kav Tora. It placed little emphasis on movement or evasion; rather, it prized toughness and efficiency.

She swept in, seeking to take him down with the same movement she'd used before, but when her shin struck his calf it was as though his stance was set in kelindide. He brushed aside her pushing arm with one of his, while the other struck her square in the chest with enough force to drive the breath from her lungs. She danced back to evade any follow-on grapple and smiled thinly. Perhaps he had been right.

He stepped forward, and she stepped in to meet him, lashing out first with fists and feet, and then with knees and elbows when the range closed. She had better technique, but he was able to shake off most of her attempts for a quick takedown, and if he wasn't quite as fit as she, he was larger and by no means out of shape. Within only a few passes they were smashing each other in the face, throat, and groin, trying to cause maximum pain. The safety fields were tuned low, just enough to prevent any lasting harm, and Gorel was confident from the lingering soreness that he'd need to see the facility medic to prevent too many unsightly bruises from showing. He grunted through his teeth as she kicked him in the side of the knee; it was likely that without the field's intervention, she'd have broken it in. He stepped towards her and she met him, stomping at his instep. There was another quick flurry of elbows and knees, narrowly blocked or deflected, before the comm panel on the wall blatted harshly.

"Tadao to Karn."

The pair fairly sprang apart, both pausing for a moment to ensure that the other had recognized that their match was on hold, before Gorel stepped quickly towards the panel, setting it for voice only.

"Yes, Mr. Iwaguchi?"

"Sorry to interrupt, sir, but the Okuda is approaching orbit."

"Ah, excellent. Thank you, Mr. Iwaguchi."

He cut the link with satisfaction. With the Yorktown progressing through its trials, Starfleet was anticipating full readiness and handover to its crew within the next month. The Pullman had brought Tadao and Niri, as well as 49 of the Yorktown's other crew, but they had been at ends for the last several weeks, lacking even the senior officers to begin shaking down their sections and running holodeck drills and exercises. The Okuda was carrying another 134 of his crew, a full 76 of them Cardassian, as well as bringing Lieutenant Commander Desano and Commander McIntyre back from their Risan leave. With nearly a quarter of the Yorktown's crew present, as well as most of the senior officers, Gorel was looking forward to putting in some long holodeck hours at least pretending to captain his ship.

His ship. It was really sinking in.

Niri's thumbs pressed into his ridges as she massaged his shoulders.

"Well, I suppose we should call it for now. Maybe a shower before heading to the spaceport?"

"That sounds good, but only a quick one. I need to find the facility medic; I'd rather not meet them with a black eye."

"Only one? I guess I do need to work on my technique."

--

Gorel stood in the spaceport terminal, Niri and Tadao flanking him. The Yorktown was testing the capacity of its power network, so Chief Macchia had his hands thoroughly full, and Gorel had seen no need to trouble him (or risk the ire of Commander Suren) by requesting his presence. This was mostly informal, anyway, despite the presence of uniforms: Megan and Allie wouldn't be officially reporting in until the next morning.

As always, Allie was easy to spot, for two reasons. The normal one was her height, at a gangly 1.87 meters; not too unusual in general, but certainly less common for human women. The sadder one was the invisible bubble that always accompanied her in public settings, a near-inevitable consequence of the borg implant replacing her right eye and exoskeletal modifications wrapped around her left hand. She had been lucky to be taken for only a few weeks, and even luckier to have been one of the drones sent to board a Starfleet ship; her home cube had been annihilated in a barrage of tricobalt torpedoes.

As always, the recovery from a drone back to a person had been difficult, and Allie had pushed her way through by dogged devotion to her work. The Paris had been her first posting after recovery, and she'd put in astonishing hours of work with virtually no time for recreation or socializing. The physical scars had healed, but the mental and emotional ones were harder to deal with.

Until Megan had gotten her claws into her.

"Captain Karn!"

Gorel controlled his twitching lips with some effort, although he could practically feel the grins radiating from behind him as a bouncing projectile in a science division uniform broke away from Allie's side to impact his chest. Megan always studiously observed the proper courtesies, but she was naturally ebullient and willing to skirt the line of appropriateness: clearly, not being due to report until tomorrow meant to her that she was free to act as she wished. After a moment, Gorel allowed himself to carefully return her hug.

Allie followed, towing two lockers, smiling a little ruefully at her wife's display. While she didn't brace to attention, she did stand at a more polite distance and nod respectfully.

"Captain Karn. Hey, Tad."

Megan looked around Gorel, grinning brightly when she saw Tadao in his shadow.

"Hey Tad!" she echoed, significantly more brightly than Allie had.

They would always be a study in contrasts. Allie, tall and slender, pale and borg-augmented, long mousy brown hair drawn back into a simple ponytail, happiest when waist-deep in the workings of a warp engine; Megan, short and curvaceous, evidence of all the strains of humanity in her epicanthic folds, coffee skin, and slicked-back dirty blonde hair, pursuing new stellar phenomena with the devotion of a lover.

"Hello, Megan, Allie," Tad said, smiling pleasantly, "how was Risa?"

"Oh, it was just," Megan sighed, "wonderful. Even if Allie did insist on wearing too much most of the time."

Color rose to Allie's cheeks as she met Gorel's eyes with something approaching horror, quickly averting her gaze earthwards.

"Megan, this isn't," she began, quietly, before Tad stepped in.

"Well, I'm sure Megan wore little enough for both of you, so it all worked out."

"Of course!" chirped Megan. "Oh, Captain, you should have come along, we met some very nice Cardassians who said that the climate was very relaxing, although it was too bright."

"Perhaps next time," Gorel demurred, choosing not to mention that it was difficult to get more relaxing than the actual climate of Cardassia Prime.

Megan looked around Gorel's other side.

"Hello, Commander! I'm Megan Desano, Lieutenant Commander (sciences)."

"Commander Niri Pasakun, security; it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," Niri respondedly pleasantly, neatly swallowing any thoroughly unprofessional urge to step between this curvy, overly friendly little human and Gorel. They knew each other, after all, and Megan's wife was standing right behind her. For her part, Allie mumbled something greeting-like, obviously still rattled by her wife's oversharing.

"I thought it would be good for us to come meet you, now that you've arrived," Gorel said mildly. "We can show you to your temporary quarters, as well as the holodecks we'll start using tomorrow, and give you both your section manifests."

"That quick, eh?" Megan's voice was not exactly rebellious, but certainly regretful. Gorel smiled down at her, a baring of teeth that seemed more appropriate to something from the deep oceans.

"We've been waiting to get started on training for weeks. I am happy to see you both, but we need to get our crew broken in, because we're going to get Yorktown in only a few weeks. There will be many eyes on us, and I do not intend to fail. Consider yourselves lucky, you only have to please one person."

"Yeah, but, he's you."

Gorel arched one brow, and Allie placed one hand on her wife's shoulder.

"We won't disappoint you, sir."

Last edited by thesciencer; 04-09-2013 at 02:05 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,905
# 20
04-09-2013, 04:04 PM
Fantastic introductions to a very diverse crew And as for the sound of the Cardassian cuisine... It all sounds delicious
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