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Post 2 - Two Cups of Coffee

Posted on Sat Jul 18th, 2020 @ 7:24am by Commander Eden Starling-Enigma & Lieutenant Commander Michael Shinnick
Edited on on Sat Jul 18th, 2020 @ 8:09am

Mission: In the Shadow of Thanget
Location: USS Dreadnought, Officers' Mess
Timeline: January 13, 2399, 0900 Hours
Tags: Eden enigma, Michael Shinnick, USS Dreadnought

A long flight as a passenger. Not exactly my favorite task. But at least there's a little work to do. Eden Enigma stepped through the double doors of the spacious officers' mess of the Dreadnought, scanning the room with her eyes and mind until she found who she was looking for - red hair and beard, tattoos just reaching past the wrists of his uniform. Her new executive officer.

But she did not approach immediately. Instead, she made her way to the replicator bank on the far wall. "Raktijino, one cream, one sugar. Extra hot." The mug appeared atop a saucer, and she took them before making her way back to the table where her XO sat. "Are you expecting company, Commander?"

Michael looked at the source of the question and caught a glimpse of her rank pips. Years of training kicked in and he immediately drooped his coffee and PADD in his hands to stand upright in attention. "No, ma'am. You may sit wherever you like."

"Thank you, Commander." Eden took her seat. "And... regulations aside, I prefer to be addressed by my rank. 'Ma'am' hasn't ever tasted right to me." She took a sip of her scalding-hot Klingon coffee, sighing with pleasure. "As opposed to Starfleet's raktijino, which I've enjoyed my whole life. I've been immersing myself in those personnel records for the last month - the people I was visiting on Lagash Prime had to pry my PADD away from me. What do you see when you look at them?"

Michael followed his new commanding officer's lead and took a seat. "If I may be honest, you have a staff of mostly young untested officers." He steepled his fingers before continuing. "With that being said, they do show potential to be officers worthy of the uniform if given the right discipline and a chance to prove themselves."

"Just remember... we were all there at some point in our careers." Eden pulled out her own PADD, scanning it for a moment. "I know we didn't get a chance to talk before you shipped out, and I regret that. It means that I didn't get a chance to tell you why I picked you." She set the PADD down to sip her coffee. "Your service history is of course top-notch, but that was true of anyone I considered. What set you apart were your command style, which I think will work well with mine, and your family. We both believe in leading by example - in being willing to do the work alongside our crew. I'll be less free to do that in my new role, so I will be relying on you for that. And..." She exhaled. "We'll be working in Lagashi space, alongside Lagashi soldiers and civilians. Families are rare in Starfleet - few officers marry, even fewer have children. But it's normal for Lagashi military, and many of the civilians aboard will have family either on the station or in the Pentad. I wanted someone who knew that life from experience. What it's like." She smiled. "When I served aboard Seldon... that's a Lagashi cruiser; I did an exchange tour there... my immediate superior was a woman named Major Sun Rei. Within a day of meeting her, she was showing me holos of her wife, her husband, their children. On our first maintenance docking, after a hard fight with one of Thot Thanget's frigate squads, I met them in person. They were lovely, and even with the fact that the stars have called to me since I was a child I had a hard time understanding how Rei could stand to go back out there and into danger. I wanted someone who's made that choice."

Michael bristled at the Commander’s rebuke. “I meant no disrespect. We all had mentors when we were junior officers and I aim to ensure they have them as well. I believe we owe it to both these officers and the Fleet to help them grow.” The XO’s face softened. “On the topics of families, we Shinnicks have been balancing duty and kids since Starfleet began. My father has commanded the Illinois since before we were born yet he still made time for us.” Tears began to well in his eyes. “I wish I could say the same but not all of my postings made that possible. That’s why I took this position, Commander. I get my chance to try to be at least half the man he is.”

The sudden openness made Michael uncomfortable and he was desperate to change the topic. “I have never had the chance to work with the Lagashi. What can you tell me about them?”

Eden let her XO's frustration with the rebuke wash over her, noting it but not commenting. Her difficulty reading faces made her empathy a must for moments like this, and she took in not only that her comment had bothered him but how. His discomfort, too, was noted, as were his words, her dark, clever, all too-seeing eyes lingering as he spoke. When he finished, and asked his question, she smiled. "Fascinating. Challenging. Almost painfully human. When Ambassador O'Rourke's new senior aid came to visit me during my leave at Jade Sky, he asked me what he should know about the Lagashi, from someone who has lived and worked with them. What I told him is that they value their families like Cardassians do, money like Ferengi do, and freedom like Andorians do." She laughed quietly. "There are going to be a few officers in our first months who are going to be called to my office for lessons in how to handle a per diem... the Lagashi use a market economy, and Starfleet will be expected to pay the Mall merchants for things our officers buy, so staying in budget will be a skill many will need to learn. The Arbiter and I will be working together to make sure no one is scamming our officers, though. A Lagashi will always know a bit more than you expect her to, and she's probably looking up even more on the datanet access in her implants while you're talking to her. Don't mistake their pride for hubris, and hold your own confidence high. That will be especially true for you... while the Lagashi are quite cosmopolitan and used to dealing with the gender expectations of other civilizations, the Star Navy is almost completely made up of women, and the idea of human men in particular operating in hazardous spaces is sometimes offputting to them. Something about Lagash Prime or their early genetic experiments changed the gender balance of their births to almost three-quarters women, which likely has something to do with those norms." She shrugged. "That's historical sociology and not really my area of expertise. We'll just say that encounters between Kzinti and Lagashi military ships are... fraught." She considered a moment. "Also, the current Executor of the Republic, Lu Mingzhu, hates me personally. And their children's edutainment holoprograms are excellent, if sometimes more than a little capitalist."

The Lagashi culture peaked Michael's curiosity, but there was one thing that interested him more than anything else. "Commander, the engineer in me has two questions." A child like smile lit up hardened celtic face. "How advanced is their technology? And will I get a chance to play around with some?"

"Eclectic. Their cybernetic and genetic technology is better than the norm in the Federation, and their small-scale impulse and thruster technology will likely be adopted in future-generation Starfleet shuttles. Their computer systems are similar in power but very different in design from Starfleet's, and other technology tends to be behind ours. They were bootstrapped into the warp era by a Breen ship crash-landing on one of their early colony worlds, which gave them the sort of jump start that Earth got from contact with the Vulcans, but they've carried on their research from there very differently."

"I would love to to get my hand on their nacelles," Shinnick suddenly remembered who was talking to be and his skin turned the color of his hair. "Please forgive me, Commander. That was entirely inappropriate of me. It will not happen again."

"It would definitely be a learning experience," Eden said with a small laugh. "But service alongside the Lagashi tends to be regardless, and there will probably be plenty of opportunities to deal with Breen technology here." She sipped her coffee, sighing in pleasure at the taste. "Commander... I've served with Lagashi marines and spent most of my time as a junior officer falling into one den of villainy after another on behalf of the Chief of Intelligence. You're not going to offend me with a metaphor about your desire to work on interesting technology. You're very likely to hear much more explicit things from civilian techs aboard the station."

"Color metaphors don't bother me. I was raised to have a sense of decorum around senior officers, especially your commander. To do otherwise would reflect badly on the uniform and on my father." Michael paused to drink from his now cold coffee. "Captain Edward Shinnick's name has been hurt enough by the actions of one son, I won't hurt it anymore."

It's always hard, to have a legacy to live up to," Eden said quietly. "Until Admiral Pinna pulled me out of my planned career and into Intelligence, I really only had one goal, and a lot of the reason for that goal was to make sure my father would be proud and my mother remembered through me. I wanted Enterprise. Pinna..." She smiled fondly. "I served as her flag lieutenant. She was a Rish, which meant she was a five meter long hypercarnivore with a penchant for honesty, which rather limited her ability to travel aboard most of Starfleet's ships. I acted as her eyes and ears and hands in distant places. She showed me that making my own legacy would be worth as much as carrying on that of my parents or Starfleet's flagship. More."

"Commander, my children are my legacy and I will do whatever it takes to ensure that they have a future. The way I will do that is the way all the Shinnicks have, by being the best Starfleet officer I can be." Michael looked his commanding officer directly in the eyes. "My children need to know that despite how dark the galaxy can be, there are honorable beings out there. That they can make a positive change among the stars and inside themselves. As an officer, you will have my obedience but if you can help me in this you will have my eternal respect and loyalty."

"That is what we are here for," Eden said quietly. "To bring a brighter tomorrow to this region and to the galaxy as a whole. I will do my utmost to make that happen." She finished her coffee, rising to her feet. "Thank you for your time, Commander."


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