Learning Something New
S1-A1-Ep. 1: Spectrophobia
Location: USS Poseidon; Engineering
Lazarus was not fitting in. It wasn't the fact that everyone hated him; everyone liked him, or were at the very least indifferent, and he was generally treated with respect and given a wide berth. It also wasn't the fact that he was different - this was the Federation, after all. Lazarus wasn't fitting in because he had absolutely nothing to contribute to the crew, at the very least he felt that way.
He had briefly met up with and trained under Lieutenant Oscar Vladinchi, a senior Security Officer. For a few days Lazarus toyed with the idea that he would be excellent at working security detail, and from the reports he had been, but he had felt extremely unsatisfied and underchallenged. Once this was made known, those assisting in his acclamation process with the crew tried other avenues; Science, Medical, even dockworking. Finally they all settled on the one thing he did know; Engineering.
Commodore Gregory Paladin had become involved early on in the process and had been one of Lazarus' primarily handlers as he settled in. With this new situation developing, Gregory had sent for and requested that someone in Engineering be assigned to assist Lazarus in becoming acquainted with Federation systems. Petty Officer 1st Class Jaxson Morris had been chosen. A week later, Lieutenant Lazarus Kord showed up for his first day on the job - first day on the job on the Poseidon, rather.
"Lieutenant Lazarus Kord, reporting for duty," he had stated to Jaxson.
Jax looked up from the console he'd been working on. He'd completely lost track of time as he was running various diagnostics on the propulsion systems. The plasma flow regulators were showing a slight imbalance in their synchronization rate, and he was trying to track it down. It wasn't a problem, and wouldn't likely become one any time in the next twenty or so odd years at the rate it was growing, but you still wanted to be on top of things as much as possible. It took him a few moments to place the rather large being standing before him, and then, like a lightbulb going off, he understood.
"Lieutenant Kord, welcome to the Poseidon. I'm Petty Officer Jaxson Morris, but most people just call me Jax," he said, holding out a heavily tattooed hand for the other man to shake.
The seven-foot Gorn took the offered hand and gently shook it in return. His expression unchanged as he observed his superior officer. Briefly, on the upper part of his scaled arm, a few etched letters could be seen; A M E S, the last almost visible but hidden by his uniform sleeve, the lettering clearly having been knifed in at some point.
"Alright Jax," Lazarus replied. His voice came across with a few hisses as he spoke, distinctly reptilian in manner. "You may refer to me as Lazarus. I was informed you could assist me in acclimating myself with Federation engineering systems. I am, myself, familiar with systems similar to yours."
"Most definitely," Jax replied with a bright smile. "How about you tell me what you know so far, so I don't cover any familiar ground and waste your time, and then we can go from there?" he offered.
The Gorn thought a moment. This time his expression did visibly change, one of pondering. After the moment passed, he gave a slow nod.
"I've disassembled and reassembled warp drives, of destroyer level and above, on multiple ship classes," Lazarus began. "One of my specialties in my enslavement was engineering, which offered me the limited time to have on-hands experience. Additionally, I have personally restructured the power conduit network on a destroyer and battleship-class vessel. However, upon researching your Federation, I noted that the systems I was accustomed to are woefully outdated."
"That's still pretty impressive, I know some engineers in Starfleet that are so specialized in their training that they'd be a bit lost even trying to do some of those things..." Jax replied. "But, nonetheless it gives us a good baseline. How are you with computer programming and software?" he asked.
There was a quiet, however slightly audible gulp. The reptilians expression changed only slightly before reverting to normal.
"Inexperienced," Lazarus finally admitted.
"Well, then let's get you started on that. It's honestly one of the more important aspects of working on the systems on a Starfleet vessel. We have computer systems specialists, but sometimes, if you know how to look into the code yourself you can save yourself some time when a problem comes up. That sound good to you?" he asked, leading the way to one of the larger consoles, with a wide viewscreen that would allow him to pull up more of the screens, more easily.
"Yeah," Lazarus replied, "I think that would be a good place to start."
The Gorn found himself rather comfortable around Jaxson. Unlike most people he had met recently, Jaxson hadn't began their introductions with an expression that implied he was reevaluating something; chances of survival, probability of insulting Lazarus, et cetera. Instead, he had treated Lazarus like a casual, everyday individual. That wasn't lost on the Gorn, nor had he forgotten it easily. It was probably why he found himself talking so casually to the man, where in fact he would usually be strict and uptight. In a very, very odd way, Jaxson almost reminded Lazarus of James.
As he followed the Chief Petty Officer, the Gorn's mind drifted back. James had been one of the few fellow slaves that Lazarus truly appreciated. The Empire had been brutal to all of its slaves, particularly and most especially the Gorn and other non-human species. James had been one of the few that had taken pity on Lazarus, even at the expense of further beatings on his own personage. The culture in the cell blocks had always been manipulated towards the guards forcing a perspective of blame on the non-human slaves for the further punishments of the human slaves, creating artificial rifts that turned into permanent staples of a life in hell. This would mean that even the human slaves would beat the non-human slaves. Lazarus had been at the center of many of these group beatings, but never once had James participated.
In fact, it had been James who had began Lazarus' interest in Engineering. In a prior life, the human had been a part of the Empire, and a skilled Chief Engineering Officer. His only crime had been being defeated in single combat, he had explained. His subordinate had defeated him, and instead of killing him, sentenced the man to slavery. James had often admitted he had been a cruel man outside the walls, that the cell was penance for his crimes that he now understood. The philosophy behind that understanding was never elaborated on, but it was the friendship James had provided that proved the mans sincerity the most. In any case, it was James who had started him on this path, and in some way Lazarus hoped he had found the peace in penance he wanted.
The Gorn gave a quick glance to Jaxson as they both approached the panel, something of a slight shift in Lazarus' perception of the Starfleet officer evident to his mind. He gave a gentle huff as he released the prior memories from his thoughts, rolling his shoulders slightly as his tail swayed behind him.
"I must admit that in the procedures I followed, never once was coding a part of the process," Lazarus elaborated. "It was all hardware technicalities. You inserted one chip here, burned a connection there, hardwired something elsewhere. Then it worked. That is what I'm familiar with."
"For the most part, honestly, it will be more of the same here. But take my advice, if you can learn to read the coding, you can have a leg up. Learn how to diagnose and repair it, and you have another. I've had problems handed to me that would have taken days if I'd had to rely on the normal channels, delegating the software parts off to the computer techs, that I've been able to get resolved within the day," Jax replied, pulling up the various training programs, as well as his private notes on the computer languages used in Starfleet's LCARS. "I'll make sure you've got full access to the training programs, so you can play around with them whenever you'd like, and I'll shunt a copy of my notes over into your own partition as well, so you will always have them." he added.
"I took the liberty of setting up a bit of a schedule for us, but I'm flexible if there's anything you don't like about it, or think needs to be shuffled I'll leave that to your discretion. I admit I'm much more specialized towards propulsion, but I've served in most of the sub-departments at one time or another, and have a pretty good grasp of most of them. I guess that's why they chose me for this assignment," he added, with a smile.
The keen reptilian eyes stared at the panels screen, changing instances as window after window was either accepted, pressed away, or partitioned into another. As the information became available for Lazarus to utilize, he became aware of just how further complex and sophisticated Engineering actually was. A part of him understood in some manner that the only reason he had become so good at what he did was because of the constant looming threat of death. Not for him specifically, but for James, and perhaps the afterthought of what family remained. Now, however, there was no threat looming over him. He had all the time in the world to figure his own way into life, and while a part of his chest yearned to see those he loved again, he knew they were just too far away. That mourning would take place in the privacy of his own quarters.
Carefully bringing a claw up to the screen, the Gorn scrolled through the information. He followed the tutorial Jaxson had provided and pressed on the lesson titled, Starfleet Engineering: Coding and You, the Basics. It was a rather complicated title but, otherwise, presented itself rather well. A video of a man in an older Starfleet uniform began to play, however, most of the instruments seemed to be familiar or slightly similar to those surrounding Lazarus currently. Before the video became too tied up in anything, Lazarus turned his snout slightly so both eyes could face the Lieutenant beside him.
"Thank you Jaxson," Lazarus said, in a softer and more comfortable tone that his voice could provide. "I will learn all I can. You have done me a great service this day."
With a broad smile on his face, Jax patted the much larger being on the shoulder. "It's all part of the job," he said. "And besides, I like helping people learn. I'm thinking one day of becoming an instructor at the Academy."
"I've never been to an Academy before," Lazarus admitted. "In the slave pens they had an educational system of sorts, I was one of the lucky few chosen to train in Engineering. I thought they were training me on everything - seems I was wrong."
The large reptilians eyes never left the screen, watching the instruction video carefully as it showed the basics.
"What do you want to do at the Academy?"
"I would like to teach mechanical engineering, honestly. Help the cadets gain firsthand knowledge of the physical components that go into the propulsion systems we rely on, especially impulse manifolds. There are too many people, especially officers, who don't have a good enough grasp of that, and it's really important. There are far too few people joining the STSA, especially in the propulsion technician courses..." Jax replied.
Lazarus was silent for the moment, pondering not only the words from Jaxson but also the information on the screen. After a moment he replied, but not after the video ended and the intro to the next course began, which was a relatively small wait.
"Thank you for that insight," Lazarus replied after the momentary wait. "I think I have a good direction to start. I will concentrate on these videos now. Thank you, Jax."
Petty Officer 1st Class Jaxson Morris
Lieutenant Lazarus Kord