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Just Another Day

Posted on Thu Jul 27th, 2023 @ 8:31pm by Commander Ichiko Gail & Lieutenant Daniel Ellis

Mission: In The Face of Adversity
Timeline: Backpost, while at Tabula Rasa

The Delta Quadrant didn't seem all that different. Dee, formally known as Lieutenant Daniel Ellis, had reviewed all of the pertinent information about the Delta Quadrant during his voyage to Tabula Rasa. Returning to the Alpha Quadrant any time soon was off the radar, something that would be at least years for now. He was determined to make a career, and that wasn't something he could do jumping back and forth between quadrants.

No, Dee planned to invest in the Delta Quadrant, especially wherever he would end up next. His first Delta assignment, the Odyssey-class USS Astraea, was one of the largest ships he'd ever seen. It would certainly be the largest he'd ever served on. He had the privilege back at Starbase 158 of seeing the class's namesake, and only from a distance.

Dee never understood why Starfleet ships had to get bigger and bigger, and why the seemed to favor aesthetics over form and function. To him, the ship's unique dual neck braces made for easy and fragile targets. He questioned the coverage arcs of the ship's twelve phaser arrays, and the four torpedo launchers didn't make sense to him. Even Voyager was better armed for its journey in the Delta Quadrant.

He was just a lowly security officer with opinions of his own. He would do his job to the best of his ability, given the unjust restraints of the assignment.

As soon as he transported aboard, he obtained his bunk assignment from the quartermaster. Dee went straight to his quarters. He deposited his sole duffel bag on the bed, took a moment to freshen up, and sat at the desk. His access codes were not yet activated, a proper security procedure. As expected, his ability to search the ship's library was limited, and he was able to obtain a censored deck manifest. He used that to locate his next destination and then departed the cabin.

After several minutes, Dee finally arrived at the security office, and found it mostly empty. A lone Petty Officer was inside, and barely paid the Lieutenant any attention. At least, none past looking at the new arrival's rank insignia and informing him that the Chief of Security was not present. Dee needed to report in, and if his supervisor was unavailable, it was time to move up the chain of command.

"Computer," Dee called out, "locate the Executive Officer."

"Commander Ichiko Gail is currently is the forward lounge."

"Thank you," Dee muttered as he turned and left the security office. One more request to the computer, and the alert panels sprang to life, directing him to the nearest turbolift. The lounge was only one deck above him, making this journey not as difficult as the last. He soon arrived at the lounge and took a look around.

It was hard to miss Ichiko. Something stood out about her. Was it the choice of drink? Her plate of bacon chips?

No. It was the ears.

She sat alone, reading off a PaDD as she nibbled on crisp bacon chips and spotted her tea while browsing over some reports. Mundane. Standard.

She'll remember them forever.

Though Dee had yet to meet the XO, he'd spent some time studying the senior officer manifest during his transit to the Astraea. While he struggled to remember the name, he could not forget the XO's face. He'd seen plenty of Caitians and Tellarites, but never a Ts'Usugi. The ears were certainly unmistakable and easy to spot from across the lounge. The fact that she wore Commander's pips was an additional tell, something Dee noticed on approach.

"Excuse me, Commander?" Dee asked, stopping just to the edge of the table. He was sure ensigns and new recruits would have snapped to attention upon meeting a senior officer. Dee was not so naïve.

Ichiko gave the newcomer a nod, and then a second glance. "You're a new face." she offered, and she actually sounded pleased about this notion. A new person, a new face. "Please, what's on your mind?" she inquired, genuinely pleased about this new face and this new turn of events.

"Lieutenant Daniel Ellis, ma'am," Dee introduced himself. "I'm reporting aboard as Assistant Security Chief. Seems the Chief is still on leave, and I wasn't about to sit around for however long it takes for him to return."

She gave a nod, "Lieutenant Ellis, welcome aboard. I'm looking forward to your success." especially with a worth ethic like that. "I appreciate someone who has a disdain for idle hands like I do." she finally looked up from the PaDD in her hand to look at Daniel. Her eyes, exactly how the reports said. No shine. No gleam. Just eerie flat matte paintings in a world of glimmer.

"As you no doubt have surmised, I'm Ichiko Gail." she introduced herself without title, without rank. The rank was implied. "I'm a Daughter of Ts'usu, as we call ourselves. Ts'usugi, from the outside looking in. You've no doubt read up on us, and if not my people then me. I'd expect nothing less." she offered.

"I have a neurological condition that makes social encounters difficult, so if I seem a bit distant, please excuse me." she paused, "Be at ease, Lieutenant, and sit if you wish." she offered the chair opposite her.

Dee considered the implications of his next action. He could simply decline the invitation. After all, he was a junior officer and Gail his senior. Dee had to wonder if that decision would reflect negatively on him and generate a poor first impression. Only one logical course remained.

He accepted the Commander's officer and took the proffered seat. If anything, the next few minutes would tell him more about the XO and what to expect from his service aboard the starship. "I've performed some homework," Dee plainly stated. "I did not have enough time once I accepted the transfer to do as much research as I would have preferred. And, I must admit, I have not met a Ts'usugi before."

As he sat, she cleared the PaDDs away from before her. He, would be the focus of her attention. As he admitted never seeing one of her people before, she simply gave a nod. "A phrase, I feel, will slowly come out of style should relations continue to perform so well between our people." she offered. "My people value tradition, discipline, and integrity. Current generations are learning to enjoy the freedom that swaying from rigid tradition offers when one embraces new ideas and new possibilities. Much like any society will." she said with a smirk. "I enjoy the times of old as stories. I embrace the new ideas as the future. I believe in second chances." she assured. "And I'm forgiving of mistakes. I'm not so forgiving of the same mistake twice."

"You don't strike me as a repeat offender." Ichiko laid out, in gentle terms, the expectations of everyone who served aboard the Astraea. They weren't too dissimilar from the expectations on any other craft. The difference here, for good or ill, was she was up front about them. "Now, in Ts'usugi folklore we'd allow travelers three questions. A limit simply means that WHAT you ask is just as important as the answer you get. They say that in ancient times, riddlemasters could piece together the caliber of your soul by the second question." she chuckled and shook her head, "I'm no riddlesmith, just a simple Daughter of Ts'usu. Feel free to ask any questions. I'll never punish curiosity, though I think each question asked should have a weight to it."

Dee found the situation more and more curious as the woman before him spoke. At the mention of tradition, discipline, and integrity, Dee vowed to read up on the Ts'usugi as soon as possible. It would not suit him in the line of duty to be ill prepared, especially if he would be charged with the defense of the ship and its crew. He listened carefully to what Gail was sharing.

And though Gail had ended with an invitation to ask questions, Dee interpreted said invitation as a request. She'd openly admitted that she had a neurological condition and that social situations would be challenging because of it. Gail was, after all, the ship's Executive Officer. Her rank and position alone informed Dee that her intelligence, skill, and wisdom were remarkable. No, this was certainly an attempt to get to know the fresh Lieutenant, regardless of where he fell in the ship's pecking order.

He assumed it would be best to not ask of duty, or where the best recreational facilities were on the ship. Nor, he figured, should he ask about the quality of life or how things were run on this ship. These were all too standard questions and they were information easily gathered by observation and reading reports. His question, then, required a different approach. "Failure is a powerful learning tool. Years ago, I was invested in a particular lifestyle, and it nearly cost me everything I hold dear, including my own very life. In that life, I could not afford the cost of mistakes, even though I made them often. It has taken a lot to deprogram and recondition myself, and I have Starfleet to thank for that."

Dee shifted slightly in his seat, placing his right arm on the table in the process. His hand was open, waving slightly as he continued, "In security, mistakes can be costly, especially in sensitive situations. Your pledge for second chances is commendable. But I have to ask, what inspired your decision to restrict chances beyond that?"

She listened. No, she absorbed his tale. She was nothing if not a good listener, what with ears like that. They stood proud and tall, listening to every word. At the end, she gave a nod. "It's fortunate that you endured, and turned your life around. If for nothing else, I'm glad for the chance to hear this story." she paused, "I won't soon forget it."

There was a hint of sadness to her tone, but it was well hidden. Her tone returned to a more casual note quickly after. "I was taught that making the same mistake twice was a sign that you failed to learn your lesson. Or, perhaps worse, you intended to make the mistake regardless of education or correction."

"Failing to grasp instructions and teachings, aboard a starship, is dangerous. Willful negligence and belligerence will got someone hurt, or killed." a pause, "Neither of which are tolerable."

Dee extended his appreciation of her thanks with a nod. Maybe, one day, he'd share his full story. Perhaps after they'd gotten to know one another better and there'd be less of a chance that his checkered past would create terrible expectations.

"That's understandable," Dee acknowledged her explanation. "Starfleet is weird enough as it is, and any wrong move is disastrous for many. Assess, then act, is what we were taught. Failure to fully grasp a situation always has a cost."

"Starfleet is incredibly lenient, incredibly understanding." Ichiko confirmed. "I'm impressed that you have the mindset you do, and understand the gravity of the situations you'll be dealing with. I appreciate that." she said, honestly pleased with this turn of events.

"Someone who recognizes the power of personal improvement, who sees a path to potentially improve. Reminds me greatly of the ways the Navy handles things back home. We recognized that all it took was one son or daughter of Ts'usu lapsing in their duties at the wrong time and it could spell disaster."

"And for that little bit of peace of mind, I appreciate it." she nodded. "Anything else on your mind?"

Dee nodded once more, and didn't hesitate before asking what he expected to be his final question for now, "While the rest of the crew finishes their leave, I will be familiarizing myself with recent missions and procedures. I'm sure you know that each ship, each crew, has its nuances. Are there any particular nuances I need to aware of aboard the Astraea?"

Ichiko nodded at the notion. She grew distant for a moment, as though remembering something long ago... a world away...

I'm sixteen. I'm fresh out of recruit training on my first cruise. IMS Darkstar, reporting in.
I'm eighteen, I'm reassigned to an interceptor doing patrols of the spinward boarder. IMS Nebular Dawn, reporting in.
I'm twenty two. I'm assigned to report to a research station to study my neurological condition. This is the third station I've been at. I expect similar results. Station K-14, reporting in.

She returned to the here and now. "I try to remember every ship and every crew." she offered a soft smile, but it didn't reach her eyes. Those eyes. They didn't shine or sparkle. They didn't gleam or glow. And now, they didn't smile.

"The Captain is very familiar with Ts'usugi culture, and is well versed in the command structure of both the Federation and the Ts'usu Navy. She is the velvet glove until action is needed, then she is the iron hammer. When the alert sounds, regardless of its hue, assume that it can become a full alert at any time. Report to your station, do your duty, and pay attention. You'll go far." she offered.

"As far as nuance, as a crew of multiple cultures and homeworlds, this ship better than most in the fleet is a multicultural mixing pot. We respect all cultures here, even those merely allied with the Federation. I don't expect you'll have much issue picking up on phrases and notions that differ from species to species. Avoid calling a Dalacari 'Single', and avoid the urge to check to see if my ears and tail are, in fact, real." she giggled gently.

"There are three Children of Ts'usu currently aboard and serving on Astraea. You'll find us off duty here, more than anything. Federation starships keep their view open at warp, while ours do not. It's... a breathtaking view." she admitted, her attention drawn back to it for a moment before sliding back to Dee. "The only topics barred from conversation with the Children of Ts'usu are our home, and our technology." she cautioned. "They're forbidden."

Dee picked up on the XO's pause before replying, even noticed that her eyes lost focus, as if she was momentarily distracted by something. All he could assume for now was that it had been a long day for the Commander, and he should think nothing of it.

At least, for this occasion anyway. He did take note of the taboo topics, and filed that away for future reference. But there was one thing he didn't understand. He'd seen many a ship at warp before, from just about every type of viewport too. "The Astraea doesn't allow viewports to remain open while at warp?" he asked. "Does that apply to every single on the ship, or just public areas? Why is that?"

"Apologies. A bit too nuanced. I meant that Ts'usugi ships close their viewports in warp, not the Astraea." Ichiko clarified.

"Ah!" Dee emphasized. The nuance had finally registered, and he grasped the full meaning. "I understand now. Yes, there is certainly a... hypnotizing effect at times when a ship is at warp. I personally find it calming."

Ichiko nodded in agreement, "It's a wondrous sight, that's certain. Our eyes are a touch more sensitive to light then most others, so I imagine it looks more dazzling to me than to you, but in the end the effect is the same: A rainbow of streaking lines."

"What do the Klingons see? The Romulans? The Slate?" she offered. Not seeking answers, just idly conversing.

"Or the Tholians," Dee remarked, thinking of how the sensitive lifeforms interact with the visible spectrum. "Or the Breen who are always looking through visors. One has to wonder though if the Borg get to see warp streaks at all."

"That... is a very interesting question. If we had the chance to really explore that, I think we'd know a lot more about the people we share the universe with." a pause, "Though, I doubt the Borg are open to philosophy like that. I've read up on some Federation history. There was a war, with a collective governance known as the Dominion. Sounds like another faction more concerned with asserting force than establishing connections." the rabbitess just shook her head.

"It's important to take things into consideration, from both perspectives." she smiled softly, "Apologies, just idly chatting. Something I was specifically warned to avoid and yet, here I am."

"It is pleasant to chat with you, though. New faces, new names, new conversations. I'll treasure these moments always."

The new security officer nodded. "I, too, am grateful, Commander. Especially since I know my usual routine may not allow us to cross paths often."

Dee rose from the table and offered a smile. "I also know how valuable personal time is. Thank you for this conversation. If you don't mind, I'll go settle in."

"Of course. Duty summons, and we must answer. Good luck out there, and welcome to the Astraea." she remarked with a nod. As he turned to depart, she returned to her musings, to the view of the stars streaking by.

"Lieutenant Daniel Ellis, ma'am," "I'm reporting aboard as Assistant Security Chief. Seems the Chief is still on leave, and I wasn't about to sit around for however long it takes for him to return."
I'm 32. I'm meeting the Assistant to the Security Chief. It's the seventh assistant chief I've met in Starfleet. The second security assistant. The fourth male.
Daniel Ellis. Human. Tall. Athletic build. Brown hair.

Another link in the chain of memories.



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