The Good, the Bad, and the Commander
Episode 1: The Maelstrom Awaits
Location: Nogura mess hall
Timeline: Day 8 at 1150
Humming a rambling tune as she walked down the corridors, Deila approached the mess hall doors. She hadn't even been aboard the Nogura, and likewise the station where it was being refitted, for a week, but she already felt like she was making connections with the crew. This would be her first time going to the mess hall and having a meal outside her quarters.
Putting on a charming smile, she stepped up to the doors, which opened automatically, and walked through. The mess hall was a tidy and spacious room, with various tables and counters set up to provide the maximum amount of occupancy without it feeling cramped. Deila was certainly a people person, and she was glad to see at least half a dozen other officers in various stages of eating. As she walked, a few of them saluted or nodded out of courtesy. That made her cringe internally. She even after all this time, she still wasn't used to being a Lieutenant Commander. For so many years Deila was the one following orders, she never thought she'd be the one giving them.
She walked over to one of the replicators, and stopped to think about what she wanted. Hmm. So many delicious options...but which one to have?
In contrast, the young counsellor Helin Lahm, had been aboard less than a day and was practically still wet behind the ears in terms of service duty time. He did, however, know exactly what he wanted as walked up to the replicator beside the strategic ops officer and ordered a grakizh and beetroot salad along with an iced coffee with extra cream and extra sweet.
Deila glanced to the side, at the young Trill. She smiled at his selection of food.
"Now that's an extremely sweet beverage Ensign. I could never handle that much sugar, but to each his own," she said before turning to her own replicator and ordered a large omelet with a side of toast and a small glass of tea. "Now, breakfast for lunch, that's my line." Before picking up her tray she turned to the young ensign beside her, hand outstretched.
"Lieutenant Commander Fargold. And you are?"
"Counsellor Lahm. Helin Lahm," the blue-shirt replied with a smile as he met Fargold's outstretched hand with a noticeably cold hand of his own. "And breakfast for dinner sounds wildly rebellious," he chuckled and picked up the tray from the replicator. "Mind if I join you? I hate eating alone, and it's my first day, more or less."
Smiling warmly, Deila, with food in tow, gestured over to one of the empty tables. "I don't mind at all! I always prefer to eat with company anyway."
She walked over to the table and scooted into one of the seats, setting the tray of replicated food down gently, so as not to spill anything. As she waited for Counsellor Lahm to situate himself, she spoke again.
"Well, Counsellor, how do you like your first day on the job?" She asked.
"It's a little hard to tell yet," Helin said, picking up his sweetened coffee. "I've met the captain and just a handful of crew so far. I don't really feel like I've landed yet, you know?" He paused a second before reciprocating the question, "And you? Have you been aboard long, Commander?"
She shook her head, taking up a fork to begin cutting away at her omelet. "Only a few days, but I already feel at home here." She paused to take a bite and ponder the question. "Well, as well as I can. I spent six years at my last post and...well it's going to take some getting used to."
A sudden pain in her left arm caused her to start. She looked down at her hand, unable to open her fingers. She grumbled under her breath.
"Damn cybernetics..." she said quietly, pulling up the sleeve of her uniform, revealing that her entire left arm from the elbow down was a cybernetic replacement, a shiny blue-silver in color, and rather smooth-looking as well, with very few access panels or anything like that to be seen.
Then she finally remembered she had company, and looked up to Ensign Lahm. "I apologize for the expletive, but as you can see my...arm...is acting up."
"You certainly don't have to apologize," Helin replied, brows knitted out of sudden concern. "That looked painful. Do you need to go to sickbay to have it checked?"
She shook her head, wincing slightly. "No, no. It's fine. I just need to recalibrating the bio relays between the prosthetic and where it connects to my arm."
There was a small indentation on the surface of the cybernetic arm about one inch from the elbow. Deila pressed this indentation, which activated a spring-loaded mechanism, which in turn released a small panel on the side of the arm. Using one finger she reached into this opening and fiddled around for a moment, before her finger caught on a sort of latch. She flicked the latch, and all the systems in the cybernetic arm went down for a moment, before rebooting mere seconds later.
Closing the panel, she tried moving her fingers again, and this time they moved. Deila sighed and rolled her sleeve back down, looking across at Helin.
"Sometimes the servos lock up, to the point where I can't move anything in the arm at all. All I have to do to fix it is put the system through a complete reboot."
She blinked, before smiling embarrassedly. "Oh dear, I'm rambling, aren't I?"
"I asked, so it's not rambling," Helin smirked and picked up his fork to poke at the salad. "Do you mind if I ask how long have you been using it?"
She looked down at her arm, though you couldn't tell it was cybernetic because she was wearing a thin black glove over her hand at almost all times.
"Two years, three months and twenty-two days. A bulkhead exploded right in my face, sending shards of metal and wiring straight into my arm. The doctors on the Panama tried to save it, but the arm was basically severed from my elbow by the time they rushed me to the medbay."
She was quiet for a moment, thinking about that day, and all the vivid memories.
"It's not so bad, having a cybernetic arm. I can do wonders with a hyperspanner," she said, chuckling. "Plus, it's more resistant to things my organic arm wouldn't have been able to withstand."
Helin swallowed the bite he'd been chewing as he was listening and nodding along to the commander's story. "That's incredible," he commented in awe. "And your attitude about it is impressive... I.. I don't know how I'd feel about it, it's hard to imagine. I don't have a need to spin a hyperspanner most days, I just want to scratch my nose without, you know, putting a hole in my face or something." He smiled, hoping the levity wasn't taken wrong.
Deila broke out laughing a long, melodic laugh. She brushed a few strands of hair out of her face that had shifted over there as she had been shaking with her laughter.
"There's something I haven't heard before," she said to Helin, taking a deep breath to control her girlish giggling. "Anyway, my attitude is just a positive outlook on everything. I may have lost my arm, but I kept my life. I may have lost a part of me, but I gained some serious advantages too. I always look on the bright side, even when things are bleak. It helps me cope."
"Exactly the advice a good counselor would recommend, I think.. If we only had one of those," Helin said with a wink as he speared a beet on the end of his form and then twirled it around before popping it into his mouth.
She smiled again, taking a sip of her tea before responding. "You'll do fine, Ensign. I can already tell you're going to be a great counselor." She paused, looking at him quizzically. "Pardon the question, but are you...erh what's the word...joined?"
The great counselor comment made him smile, "Thank you. No, I'm not. It's actually quite a rarity, a great honor to se selected." He gave a light shrug. "Not that I don't want it, but it's not very likely."
"Why not? I'm not to fluent in Trill culture, but it seems to me that you'd make a great host." She forked another bite into her mouth, chewing thoughtfully. "Of course, like I just said, I'm quite blank when it comes to your people's ways."
"It's a very competitive selection process. There's only a few hundred Trill selected any given year to receive symbionts," Helin answered as he leaned forward a bit on his elbows conspiratorially. "And, honestly, I'm not sure I would be the best candidate. When you think about the wealth of knowledge and wisdom a joining gives a person, do you really think a simple counselor is the best use of that? Why not a scientist, a doctor, or even a diplomat? Someone who can make huge differences for society."
"Surely not ALL joined Trills are people who do great things for society," Deila queried. "Not every Trill in Starfleet is joined, and not all Trills in those professions you just mentioned are joined either. Once you're joined, there's no law directing you to choose the 'best use' of your newfound knowledge and skills, is there?"
Helin chuckled. "No, of course you're right. I know that. There's a value in diversity of knowledge and life experiences." He picked up his coffee and held it for a moment as he confessed, "It's just me, trying to keep myself from getting hurt, you know? Are you sure you weren't a counselor in a previous life?"
She giggled again. "Humans only have one chance to live, unlike Trills. I've been in the Command and Security divisions my entire Starfleet career, but along the way I've picked up a few diplomatic skills that have helped me diffuse tense situations before they got worse. I don't think I'd have the patience to be any sort of good counselor anyway."
"Every job that's very rewarding has it's own challenges. I'm sure I could never do your job.... as anyone whose seen me on the firing range would certainly attest," Helin replied. "It's what makes us good at what we do. People are our most valuable assets because we're not interchangeable." He gave a smile. "This has been a really welcome surprise, running into you at the replicator. I'm glad that we've clicked so well."
Finishing off the last of her lunch, she smiled again, this time even wider than before, her joy at the remark quite obvious. "It's always fun to meet new people. It's one of the things I enjoy about new assignments. And I just think I get along with everyone rather well, even Vulcans, though heaven knows they look down upon my "illogically optimistic attitude towards life," she finished jokingly.
"Illogically optimistic," Helin smirked as he gathered up his dishes and utensils back onto the tray. "I like that. I might start using it." He stood up and picked up the tray. "Until next time, Commander."
Picking up her own things to put back in the replicator to be recycled, Deila grinned. She loved to smile, mostly because it made her feel good, but also because smiling seemed to make other people feel more comfortable around her. "Likewise Ensign Lahm. I already feel you're a great addition to this crew."