The Enlightened Path
Location: USS Victory, Deck 11, Enlisted Mess
The new captain had sent messages to a number of the crew, requesting a meeting with them at specific times throughout the day on her second day in the command. CWO Drake's appointment was at 0920, and apparently was being held in the enlisted mess hall on Deck Eleven. He had never known an officer to hold meetings in the enlisted mess before, but it certainly lent a bit of an 'open door' policy to the proceedings.
Enough time to clean up from the midnight to 0800 rotation. Maybe even enough time to find 10 minutes to center. A quick bite from the mess, half a cup of coffee. Shower and shave, clean uniform and time to sit, breathe and find focus then back to the mess deck.
Sure enough, as he entered the mess hall, there she sat. Her posture was straight, her hair smoothed back and perfect yet loose and flowing in the back, her uniform clean and pressed over what appeared to be a rather impressively curvaceous figure, and as he watched the pointy-eared and sharp-browed Vulcan stood, shook the hand of the ensign she was speaking with and smiled at him warmly.
That was a little different. The ensign naturally smiled in return, altho his was obviously more uncertain than warm, a smiling Vulcan being something outside his previous experience.
She sat back down and tapped furiously at her PDD, making notes, orders, who knew what, but her violet eyes flickered over the data at high speed... apparently she was that kind of Vulcan at least.
Drake walked to the opposite side of the table from the captain, a twitch of a smile still on his lip, it looked like he was going to be serving under another Vulcan, and after a short exposure to Herod that was a relief of epic proportions.
"Warrant Officer Drake." he remained straight, not at full attention but respectful, " Reporting... Captain. "
She stood up at that, smiled and extended her hand. "I apologize for dragging you in after a long night shift, Mister Drake, but if it isn't too much trouble, I would appreciate you humoring me?" She gestured to the seat opposite her and smoothed out her skirt as she sat back down.
After shaking the extended hand, another first from a Vulcan; S'tain never touched anyone except when training on the mat. Drake took the indicated seat and waited patiently, using the time to observe the new CO. Strong, he knows this by the ripples of the muscle under her forearms. Trained, it's obvious from her posture. He allows a moment to wonder what technique she trains.
Looking over the PDD for a few seconds, the captain tapped it a few more times then set it aside, folded her hands close to her on the table, elbows spread wide as she cocked her head slightly. "Shoot to wound, aim to cripple and don't squander lives... that's your philosophy as a fire control officer, Mister Drake?" There was no sarcasm in the tone... possibly bemusement, which was a bit unnerving coming from a race renowned for their neutral emotional states, but it definitely did not seem to carry a mocking tone.
"Yes, Captain, " he paused, then continued while maintaining eye contact, "I don't know if philosophy is the right word, I think it implies more cerebral focus. My path simply does not allow murder, but... I have killed, and perhaps may again. But I will not deliberately plan murder. "
She waited for a few seconds, then pursed her lips a bit. Apparently no more was forthcoming, so she pressed on. "Your promotion to Lieutenant was recently blocked by Captain Herod over this policy of yours, yet you did not resubmit new firing resolutions. Can you explain that to me please?"
"I had them written up and ready, Captain. " Drake admits, " But in good conscience I could not submit them. And so, I was assigned to the midnight shift. If you hadn't come along, I might have had to request transfer as have half the department already. "
"Curious and curioser," the lady captain said, then smiled a small piper's smile. "I am no fan of overwhelming force, Mister Drake, and where we're going, knowing when to show mercy and restraint is likely going to go much further than being gung ho and destroying our enemies. I've read your service record... somehow you managed to slip through the cracks to end up here, but I'll be grateful for it."
She held out her hand, with a lieutenant's bars in them. "I need a man watching out for my ship, Mister Drake- safeguarding her and the lives that she protects, and the principles that she represents. By all accounts, you are that man. The promotion is yours- captain's prerogative, I have overriden the block on it, and I apologize for the delay in it getting to you."
"I'll offer you your post here on first watch, or authorize a transfer elsewhere if you wish- I'll not keep anyone in this command against their will. And the promotion was yours to begin with- so it is not dependent on you staying with this command. I made it effective the moment you sat down."
"But I need you, Lieutenant Drake... the Victory needs you." She paused for a few seconds, her sharply-angled brows knitting somewhat at their base above the bridge of her nose, then she added, "I understand that it is a decision that you may wish to take some time to consider, and I appreciate that. If you can get back to me within twenty-four hours, that would be appreciated. What do you say, Lieutenant?"
Drake grinned, that expression that transformed his normally ordinary face to something greater, and took the hand, turning it so that the bars fell into his palm.
"Thank you, Captain, " his head bowed before looking back up to her, that glowing smile still at full force. " I think I'll stay aboard for a bit. There's some improvements in the firecontrol networking that can be done."
At that she stood, and extended her hand once more. "Thank you, Mister Drake. I'll do my best to validate your willingness to take a chance on me, and I'll expect you to be frank, honest and open with me. I'll give you the same in return." Again, the smile split her face and she genuinely seemed happy... different, from a Vulcan, but somehow a bit less unsettling than a moment ago.
He stood as she did, this time coming to full attention for a moment... almost in sequence the rest of the enlisted crew in the mess stopped what they were doing and came to attention, and she did so as well.
The beaming new officer saluted, and the captain smartly returned it, then ordered "At ease, people... carry on, please."
Drake's grin widened, the sudden energy that filled the area a palpable joy that lifted his spirits.
As he left out of the mess he considered sending a message home.