Meeting the New Arrival - Intelligence Officer
S1-A1-Ep. 1: Spectrophobia
Location: USS Poseidon; Deck 5, Junior Officer's Quarters
Timeline: Arrived at Betreka Nebula
Lieutenant Vladinchi rounded the corner into the Junior Officers complex on deck five. He had been assigned to greet the new Intelligence Officer arrival via the recent shuttle and see if they needed anything during their brief time of adjustment. Looking through the Junior Lieutenant's history, Oscar didn't think he would require it, but it was nonetheless a courtesy provided by the Poseidon to have Security or someone else check in on new arrivals. Noticing the door in sight, Oscar stopped before it and pressed the chime.
Jarok was looking around his shared quarters space, which thankfully was unoccupied at the moment, and was pondering the implications of it all. Hearing the chime, he flatly replied with "Approved," opening the door for Lt Vladinchi, and continued looking away from the door at the rather dull interior.
Vladinchi entered once the doors slide open. Right away he noticed Lieutenant Jarok - or was it tr'Jarok? He really had to get a handle on the Romulan naming scheme.
"Lieutenant!" Oscar greeted, going for the safest approach, "very nice to have you on board. I heard that your shuttle got lost along the way. Our sincerest apologies for the hold up. Is there anything I can do help you?
Jarok folded his arms and turned around to face the new voice at the door. He had seen enough of this...room he had been given, so now was the time for something new. He analysed the man standing in front of him, recognising the man to be one of the security officers, Lt Vladinchi if memory served him. Of course, he had read the Lieutenant's personnel file, along with rest of the Poseidon crew. This was a standard Tal Diann practice, and it was an old habit that he would never consciously give up.
"Lieutenant; greetings. I presume by the tactical use of my rank you don't know how to address me properly, so I will educate you. Rihanh will always use their House-Clan as their name, without the clan prefix. So Jarok or Lieutenant Jarok, for future reference." He spoke slowly, but with purpose. He had an overall slightly condescending tone, although to him he was just being helpful for the obviously uninformed Terran before him.
Oscar felt a tinge of guilt at that, inwardly recoiling at his cultural slip. He gave a nod at the instruction from the Junior Lieutenant as he continued.
"I don't expect Terrans to know, so no offence taken there. As for the delay to my shuttle...while I appreciate your words of sympathy, I suspect they're just a standard line - one you give to all the new officers when they come onboard. I suppose it is fine enough, it seems to be par for the course for Starfleet, really." He looked around the room judgingly as he said that, making it plainly apparent to the Terran just how bare the room really was.
Jarok paused at the empty wall, notably one of the few on the ship without a window, then looked back directly at the Lt and sighed heavily reflecting on what the last two weeks had been like for him.
"After I arrived at Deep Space Nine, the strategic operations team there conveniently forgot to register me on the shuttle heading to Starbase 47, despite it being clearly listed on my repositioning order and on their orders from Starfleet Command. The ship left without any passengers, which was again, very convient, so I ended up lodging there for 3 full days while they lazily attempted to find me adequate transport."
"I've noted they're very famous for these types of delays," Oscar managed to quip into the conversation, noting the disgusting oversight on behalf of logistics and operations. He maintained his position as he watched Jarok, allowing him to continue.
Jarok decided to use this time while he was venting about his journey to begin unpacking. He took his dirhja out of his sheath hidden on his back and set it down on the table next to him, continuing his story while he moved around the room.
"After those 3 days, I could not stand being subjected to their incompetence any longer, so I found transport for myself through a rather helpful Cardassian tailor working on the station's promenade. He arranged for a freighter to take me to Betazed, where another Starfleet vessel happened to be on shore leave, the destroyer Sao Paulo. I spent one week in a tiny freighter cabin about the size of the head over there," he said pointing to the room's adjacent washroom.
Oscar turned to look where Jarok motioned and visibly cringed this time. The Romulan had truly been through an experience. He turned his attention back to Jarok as he continued.
"From there, it was another week to Starbase 47 where I had to bunk with enlisted crew, as that was the only bunk they had available. The Sao Paulo is a Defiant-Class destroyer so you can imagine the space someone like me had onboard." He used one arm to gesture about his height, then continued as he looked around the room.
"And then, I have all this space all to myself, but no window to look out of. Now I'm not complaining; I'll take solitude over some chatty hevam any day, but still, it would be nice to actually see something when I sleep for the first time in a month. I think I seem to get all the glorious assignments during my time with Starfleet. I suppose that's to be expected for someone as 'green' as I am, despite my history, but what can I do about it. Cry to Starfleet like some weakling? Ha! I'd sooner join the Klingons. Tell me Lieutenant, is everyone who doesn't fit within a convenient 'box' find themselves as fortunate as I have been?"
Another visible cringe from Oscar, who despite his overtly stern nature decided to display a visage of vulnerability by rubbing the back of his head. It was extremely difficult to gauge a response to such a revelation of both incompetence and neglect on behalf of Starfleet. It was on such a level as to be completely unacceptable, and honestly Oscar felt a rising heat of anger at the prospect of wanting to give those individuals responsible a good what-for. Still, he had been assigned to assist the Junior Lieutenant in situating himself, not furthering any disputes or issues. His job was to solve those issues before they became bigger problems.
"My sincerest apologies again, Lieutenant Jarok," Oscar said, a tinge of his natural Russian dialect coming through as his voice emanated sympathy. "This is by far the most unacceptable treatment I've heard of yet from one of our crew. I can assure you I will be relaying this experience to the Captain and I'm positive corrections will be made. As for your quarters..."
Oscar allowed the words to drift as he glanced around. Being so far inside the saucer there wasn't any window to outside space. It didn't negate the prospect of including a personal viewscreen somewhere, however.
"...I could requisition a viewscreen for here," Oscar continued after the silence. "It would display the outside of the ship, much like a viewport. Considering what you've endured I don't think Operations would object."
Jarok considered what the Terran was saying. "Was he serious? This doesn't sound like the usual Terran line," he thought to himself. He gave the man another look over before smiling just slightly at the offer.
"That would be acceptable, thank you. You know, you seem to be the first Terrhain who's actually greeted me without prejudice...which is a nice change for your kind. Perhaps I was wrong about your original intentions. Come in; take a seat why don't you."
He pointed over to the table, still containing his dirhja, and walked over to one of his bags. Pulling out a dark green velvet-like material bag with a drawstring at the top, then turned back at the Terran and held up the bag.
"Shall we share a drink, Lieutenant?- Computer, two shot glasses."
He opened the drawstring and pulled out a clear crystal-like decanter with a gold neck, Romulan writing engraved into the side and containing a pale yellow liquid filled to about half way. Without waiting for a reply he commanded the food terminal as he walked over to it, taking the lid off as he walked. Jarok arrived at the food terminal just in time to pick up the freshly replicated shot glasses, and brought them to the table together in his free hand. He then sat down, placed the shot glasses on the table in front of him and poured a small amount into each, pushing one glass toward the Lieutenant as he spoke.
"This is a drink called Carallun, it used to be abundant but...since it was only brewed on Romulus-..." He hung on that last word for a moment, clearly deep in thought, then continued as he snapped out of it. "Now though, I only drink it to share with people I would like to have a drink with in that moment, but, that I can't have kali-fal with because we're working. Thus, Carallun, and don't worry Lieutenant, it's like a Terran...ehm, citrus juice I think your kind calls it? But unlike other Rihanh drinks you've heard of, this one is just fruit juice. No poison, no alcohol - you have my word."
Without giving the Lieutenant time to process what he just said, he picked up the drink and raised his shot glass, looking Oscar piercingly in the eye.
"Today, we raise a glass to honour our meeting, and to show my appreciation for your generosity. To this, we say the ancient Rihan code of honour; 'mnhei'sahe'," he toasted and then drank the juice.
"Mnhei'sahe," repeated Oscar as he down the shot.
The fervour of the moment was not lost on the security officer. While it had been sad and downright infuriating to hear of Jarok's misfortunes, it was pleasant for Oscar to know he had left a considerably better impression on the Romulan. Thus it was he had followed as invited and started to share the drink, hopefully bridging a critical gap that would enable others to reach across in the future. That was his assignment and his job and he sincerely hoped he did well in it.
"Thank you, Lieutenant," Oscar said after swallowing. "I am honoured to make your acquaintance."
"As am I yours, Lieutenant. I bet you didn't think you'd be sharing a previously-unknown fruit juice from a now deceased planet now would you? Much less with a Romulan intelligence officer in Starfleet uniform."
He leans back in his seat, sitting himself comfortably and studying the Terran again.
"Tell me, have you acquainted yourself with many Romulans in your time with Starfleet?"
"I do actually, but only briefly," Oscar answered as he relaxed. "Lieutenant Commander T'vek was the first Romulan I've met within Starfleet. He's our current Chief Medical Officer. I've encountered a few exchange officers like him on previous posts, and I've seen holovids of historical encounters. I've always found an appreciation for your culture."
Jarok stopped everything he was doing, what little that he was anyway, and sat forward on his chair. "You mean to tell me that our Chief Medical Officer...is Romulan? There is a Rihanha on board, serving in a senior position on a Starfleet vessel? What do you mean, a mix-race? Or is he...."
Jarok trailed off, his mind racing. He hadn't come across another Romulan since he joined Starfleet. Exchange officers don't usually go through Starfleet Academy, and he hadn't interacted with a Romulan in the Federation, so it had been..."Wow, it has been almost a decade since I last interacted with a Rihanha in person..." he thought to himself. He composed himself and calmly continued.
"I shall have to meet this Romulan at some point. It's been a long time, and as much as I appreciate your genuinely sympathetic greeting, you are no Romulan. I'm sure you can understand - it would be like you coming across someone from Russia who had grown up in St Petersburg."
"I understand," Oscar said calmly. A moment of silence passed, then to change the conversation he asked, "What do you think of Starfleet?"
Jarok looked down at his empty shot glass and pondered the question. "I think...I think it isn't the Romulan Star Empire." Jarok still was proud of the former Empire, and it was evident by the way he even said the name. He said it with pride, that he noticeably did not have when saying Starfleet.
Jarok became quiet for a moment and sat back in his chair. "I think that for the past 6 years that I've been in Starfleet, I've heard every possible excuse, seen every possible façade or watched every possible lazy and incompetent behaviour from Terrhasu, Kah'tannsu and Siallhsu, to name a few. I've watched two people of the same race say absolute lies to each other's face about how much they enjoy the other's company, and then the second they're with someone else, complain about everything they hate or about how life wasn't like it was 'back home' and wondering why they're even serving the Federation in the first place. Or, it's hearing superior officers or officers saying what they think I want to hear, so they can get away with showing just how they feel about my kind behind their 'friendly' façade."
Jarok was lost in his thought for a moment without a discernible expression on his face, before he sat forward and looked up for the first time in minutes.
"The cruel irony here, Lieutenant, is that I can't decide which is worse. The fact that I'm stuck in a windowless, shared room, wearing the most boring uniforms possible that belong to an organisation filled with more liars than Cardassia Prime, on a ship older than everyone onboard, after a two week trip worse than I've had in my entire life...or, the fact that I've just...gotten used to it all, all the façades, all the lies pretending to be truths, all the...so-called moral values. Even the boring uniforms."
There was tangible tension in the air, hanging there, like a cold foggy morning. All the while, Jarok had no expression on his face. He just sat quietly, looking deep into his drink as if the glass itself had a soul and he was looking right at it, piercing it with his gaze. He then chuckled a single, airy, head-moving chuckle and smiled slightly, shaking his head in disbelief.
"You're the first person I've had this drink with, Lieutenant, who actually appreciates my culture, and is actually genuine in what he says. Thank you for sharing this drink with me. I think I will sleep well tonight, and you are the first Terrhain I genuinely wish the same for."
He was smiling at the Lieutenant, almost with pride but not quite - but for the first time that day it was a genuine smile.
Oscar smiled back. He was happy to see the expression on the Romulans face, it made him feel better about his prior slip up.
"When can I give you a tour of the ship or do you require one?" the Security Officer asked.
Jarok thought for a moment and realised how tired he was. "I think for tonight, it might be a good idea for me to get some rest and meet you...tomorrow at 1300 hours? If that works for your schedule."
"That works for me. I suppose I should get working on that viewscreen for you, so I'll leave you to catch up on some much needed rest. Have a pleasant night, Lieutenant Jarok." Oscar stands up and straightens his uniform.
"Thank you Lieutenant Vladinchi. I'll see you tomorrow, 1300 hours."
Oscar nods and departs the quarters, and as soon as the door closes he looks back at the door. "How the heck am I going to make that happen," he thinks to himself as he starts walking towards the turbolift.
Lieutenant Oscar Vladinchi
Lieutenant Junior Grade Vaebn tr'Jarok