Kepler Station
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Reporting for Duty

Posted on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @ 5:38pm by Ensign Orlando Richards & Lieutenant Commander T'Lara MD

Mission: Hopkins the Line of Fire
Location: XO's Office, Deck 100
Timeline: MD 1 0900 HRS
Tags: Orlando

Lieutenant Commander T'Lara's office contained only regulation furnishings. Desk, walls, and other surfaces were clean and bare. This gave her current visitor little information with which to understand T'Lara, other than the basic facts - she was the XO and she was a Vulcan.

She stood calmly behind her desk as the new security officer entered to report in, arms at her side, seeming as welcoming as one her species could be.

Taking one quick and exaggerated step across the threshold, Orlando stood fast and ready at attention. "Ensign Orlando Richards reporting for duty as order, Commander." 

"Good morning, Ensign," she replied to his greeting. "Before seating yourself, feel welcome to procure a beverage from the replicator."

A summons to the Executive Officer was not something Orlando was unfamiliar with, but this time at least, he was fairly certain he had not done anything to cause himself trouble. Not yet anyway. This time he was determined to turn a new leaf and be the best officer possible. Uniform clean and wrinkle free, hair tied back in a neat man bun and facial hair trimmed to perfection, he at looked like a professional security officer. He gave a quick glance around Commander's office, Orlando was not surprised the Vulcan had little in the way of decor and personal artefacts. In one word, functional summed up the space used by the XO to conduct business. 

Seeing the replicator and hearing her words to get his own drink, Orlando nearly declined. Was this a test? Relaxing a little, the corner of of his mouth moved upwards to a near smile. No point in being tense and nervous. Even if it was a test she was too smart for him to attempt to figure out what exactly she was testing him for so he might as well just be himself. Nodding he moved to the replicator and asked as he walked past T'Lara, "now that you mention it, I am a little thirsty. May I get you a drink Commander?"

"No, thank you," T'Lara replied politely. She waited calmly for him to tend to his needs and seat himself, before sitting down at her desk. "I meet with every officer assigned to the station. Given the size of the staff, it is the most efficient way to learn about the crew. We will have an opportunity to discuss your duties, but that will primarily be the responsibility of Security Chief Harper."

Politeness from a Vulcan or did he imagine that was the tone of her voice. Most of her species he had met seemed and sounded indifferent and even came across as rude. T'Lara may have adapted some human pleasantries for the sake of necessities he figured. Humans were complicated and sometimes tended to judge behavior by their own expectations even after decades of space travel. This habit was not something humans did on purpose though. Just a quark of his species. Orlando gave her a side look, trying not to be rude by staring at the XO directly, but still taking in her facial features. Passing through the hallways he had overheard a conversation to which the XO had been the subject matter. She was indeed as attractive as the men had claimed. One of the men he thought had been in the medical department, but could just as easily had been a science officer. A small smile crossed his lips as he wondered how much luck the man would have getting a dinner date with T'Lara. "Thank you for meeting with me Commander. Sometimes it can be a little difficult knowing where to start when I first come aboard a new assignment. Everyone is so busy working that it is hard to start a conversation. So it's nice to just sit and actually talk to someone." 

She folded her hands on the desk and watched him with a flicker of curiosity. Most security types had a tendency to be 'clean-cut,' but this one was different. "Why did you pursue a position on this station, Ensign?"

"That is a good question, Commander," Orlando said as the corners of his mouth moved downwards slightly. His muscles around his eyes tensed up closer to the bridge of his nose and he considered her question. Realising he was making far too many facial gestures, Orlando changed to a blank expression before the XO thought he might be having a seizure. "Sometimes I don't think I fully know the reasons why I do things except that it is just something new. A place I have never been, people I have never meet or just a new experience that sounds like it might be a challenge and hopefully I learn something from it all. The Kepler Station I believe might push me to be a better officer, bring new things I have never faced before and it just sounded fun."

Orlando thought the last part of his statement might not have been typical or necessarily the right answer, but it was an honest one. Taking a sip of his water, he relaxed back against the chair and smiled. 

T'Lara's head tilted slightly. Of course, she had heard him correctly, but his choice of words made her pause. Certainly, the station, with its amenities, provided a scale of leisure and social life unavailable on a starship, but alongside it came the constant flow of injured, dying, and traumatized from the front.

"What sounds fun about serving in a war zone?" she inquired, more curious than judgmental.

Orlando raised one eyebrow and moved the glass in small circles watching the ice cubes hitting the sides making small clinking noses. As he considered her question and how to form his response, he pushed back a growing fear and apprehension about his own life and death. Finally, he looked up with a weak smile on his lips and fixed his gaze on a spot directly behind the XO's head.

"I have been living the last five years in a haze, hiding from myself, from people who love me and know I just want life to happen. The good, the bad, everything that is beautiful and terrifying. Life is either everything or it is nothing. I have been existing just going through the motions and now I am going to feel everything, enjoy every second of this life and yeah, have fun even in a war zone. And at the same time, I want to learn to be the best officer I can be so my son can have the role model he deserves me to be." 

"While I might question your philosophy, your conviction is admirable," T'Lara stated, with a nod. Lacking both a desire to 'feel everything' as well as progeny of her own, she was not certain how to make his experience on the station a helpful one. "I am reminded of the ancient human poet writing 'carpe diem.'"

"Exactly. Seize the day." Orlando said enthusiastically. Draining the glass in one large gulp, he sat the empty container next to his chair on the floor. As he stretched his legs out making himself more comfortable, he rested his hands behind his head for a moment before resting them back into his lap. Glancing around the room again, he noticed the lack of family pictures, the total opposite of his personal space. Perhaps she kept them in her quarters. Orlando's wall space would shortly be covered in images of his loved ones. Family was everything to the young security officer. 

"What about you Commander? What made you want to serve all the way out here and so close to the front? Does it make your family worry?" Orlando asked looking more directly at T'Lara. He was curious if she was married or had children and if it was as difficult for Vulcans as humans to be away from home. Politeness did not permit such questions given the difference between positions and rank. 

"Choosing Kepler was a matter of assessing where I could be most effective, after injuries limited my abilities as a surgeon," T'Lara explained calmly, accepting the personal nature of his questions. There was little she had to hide from him.

"I am sorry about your injury. That must have been difficult to give up something you studied for and trained for years. And I am sure you enjoyed being a surgeon, or at least it gave you satisfaction. That could not have been an easy transition to get out of the action and stuck behind a desk," Orlando said sincerely.

While the Ensign was making assumptions on her part, T'Lara's eyes narrowed slightly. "A medical doctor spends more time filling out records in a computer than they do practicing their craft," she corrected him. "As to your second query, I do not have a biological family, and if I did, they would recognize that it is logical for a medical doctor to serve as the administrative and logistics officer of a Starfleet hospital facility, rather than worry."

He did not pry into her statement of having any biological family, but it saddened him to think she had no one in the universe that cared for as a family member would do so. "Well, family is not always about who we share our DNA with, but it is about who we love and choose to share our lives with as well. You can never have too many people who care about you."

"A mentor of mine described this notion as a 'logical,' rather than 'biological,' family," T'Lara concurred dryly. "I must remind you, Ensign, that not every species in Starfleet has the same social and biological hierarchies as humans. When interacting with other crew members, you must take care not to assume that they experience life the same way as you do."

Orlando hesitated as he had accidentally offended T'Lara in some way. Or as much as a Vulcan would admit to being offended. Of course, not everyone experienced life exactly the same way, but the standards of life and family were somewhat similar. He had yet to meet anyone of any species that did not have a biological or some sense of familial connection. Even if that individual had never meet kin, they did bond with others. He remained silent uncertain how to respond to her statement that was sounding like a dressing down. 

Before he could apologize, she stopped him with a wave of her hand - which up to this point had not moved at all. "Don't interpret that as scolding, but as advice offered in good spirit. It will be your role as a security officer to facilitate misunderstandings among our crew, the civilian population, and any diplomatic guests. Your empathy is a great asset in that task, but understanding and open-mindedness are equally important."

"Thank you for the advice, Commander. I will keep that in mind and strive to do better in the future," Orlando said not smiling this time. He was still unsure what to say next for fear of offending her more. The Ensign was aware he could grate on others nerves easily and would wear out his welcome quickly. Waiting quietly for her next question, he folded his hands in his lap and sat up straight trying to adopt a posture to match her own. 

"Do not worry, Ensign. I have a sense that you will do quite well on this station," T'Lara offered. "If you have no further questions, I suggest that you report to the Security Office for duty."

"I hope so Commander. Thank you for taking the time to see me and welcome me aboard. I look forward to serving with you and the Captain," Orlando said as he stood up. It had been an unexpected summons to her office, but he was glad to have a chance to meet with her. For a Vulcan, she had given him a warm welcome, one that was greatly appreciated given his apprehension about the new assignment. Meeting his immediate boss, the Chief of Security, though, was still to be done. It was going to be a long and busy day. 


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