Change of Pace
Posted on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 @ 5:07am by Captain Charybdis MacGregor
Location: USS Victory, Deck 11, Enlisted Mess
The bridge crew were on Captain Charybdis' short list of staff that she had to interact with... while engineering and maintenance were currently the most important functionaries of the vessel while she was still in the shipyards, she still had to work with the bridge crew eventually, and in a perfect world they were the ones who would be serving directly under her on a regular basis.
Next on the list of her interviews today was one Ensign Efrem Valaxar, navigator. There was no senior navigator as yet, and seeing as how she was dividing the navigation and fire control duties, there was a distinct possibility that the navigator's position would be phased out and incorporated into the helm or tactical positions. Which was part of what she needed to discuss with the ensign today.
She sipped her fourth cup of coffee while she read his service record, sitting in the enlisted mess where she was holding her interviews today.
Efrem tugged his uniform jacket straight for what must have been the hundredth time that morning.
He hated interviews.
Even though he was outgoing and good-natured, these sort of things always put him off.
He'd never admit it, but he had spent the last two days in his quarters going over technical manuals and charts in hopes of impressing the captain... especially after hearing the rumors of her run-in with the previous captain. Efrem usually ignored the standard scuttlebutt that happened aboard any vessel... but the word 'crippled' had been thrown around more than once and he felt as if this interview could very well determine the rest of his career.
He straightened his jacket yet again.
He'd inherited his father's skills when it came to navigation and weapons systems... but when it came to attitude, he strongly favored his mother. He wished he could talk to her now. Her stern demeanor and ability to make light of fearful situations had always been soothing to him, even as an adult. Like her, he was quick to laugh, and passionate about excellence in what he did... which were traits that lead to great friendships and camaraderie among crewmates... but didn't translate well to one-on-one sessions with senior staff.
Often times his grim visage and silent respect were misunderstood as negativity or even hostility. It didn't help that his bulk tended to lead to assumptions about his intelligence, or lack thereof.
A slight noise at his elbow startled him out of his reverie.
"Ra' lu', luq lagh ?"
The question came from a slender Andorian who was staring up at him with a concerned expression.
Valaxar's brow furrowed, causing the blue skinned woman to step back worriedly- her antennae weaving a signal of perplexion.
"Oh... I'm sorry... lIj Ha'DIbaH taH buy' Hu' tlhej 'oys?"
Efram said nothing, but continued his stony glare.
The poor woman was beside herself in fear at this point...stepping back even further she raised her hands defensively.
"I'm...I'm sorry, I meant no offense...you had been standing there in front of the doors for some time...and I...I just wanted to see if you were ok..."
Efrem's explosion of laughter cut her off.
Chuckling, he clapped one hand on her shoulder as he wiped a tear from his eye.
"No, no it's ok ma'am- I've been getting that since I was young...and I assure you- I have no dog and if I did he wouldn't be covered in sores."
The well-meaning crewmate looked perplexed again, but it passed quickly as Efrem's contagious smile spread between them.
"I've got an interview awaiting me just beyond those doors and I was being nervous about it...I think I'm early...why not join me for a coffee and we can work on your Klingonese before you inadvertently start another war?"
The young Andorian giggled at this and nodded.
The doors slid open and they both entered the crowded mess, Efrem scanning the room in hopes that he was right and could enjoy this brief distraction before he was forced to meet his new commanding officer.
Who was sitting at a table for two in the dead center of the room with a PDD in her hand, and she looked up as he entered.
He winced unintentionally, realizing all too late that he hadn't considered that she would already be in the mess hall.
Leaning down so as to be at ear-level with his newfound companion he hurriedly whispered an apology along with a promise of that coffee at a later date...if he wasn't thrown out of an airlock first.
Straightening up, Efrem put on his best serious face and approached the center table as boldly as he could.
"Ensign Efrem Valaxar Jr. reporting, sir."
The curvaceous captain stood and smiled, holding out her hand. "Captain Charybdis, Ensign Valaxar. Please, join me?"
Efrem took the Captain's hand and shook it, trying hard not to squeeze too tightly while silently praying the his palm wasn't all sweaty. He was taken slightly aback...he'd worked with Vulcans before, and he had heard that Captain Charybdis was different... but he never expected a handshake.
Come to think of it, he'd never shaken a Vulcan's hand. His nervousness redoubled as he did his best to keep a serious face. Pulling out the chair he sat down, keeping his posture rigid and perfect- recalling to mind every bit of etiquette that he could muster.
"It is an honor to meet you, Captain. I've heard much of your exploits and look forward to serving under your command."
Efrem winced inwardly...two sentences in and already he could tell that he sounded like some sort of bad holo-vid.
The Vulcan vixen smiled bemusedly. "You have no idea who I am, do you ensign?"
Efrem exhaled loudly. "No sir...I mean, there's been rumors flying about...but they all vary wildly and well...my father served on the Bonaventure...and I'm babbling. My apologies Captain, I've never done this sort of thing very well."
"Honesty is the best policy, Ensign. And it will get you a lot further than flattery, believe me. Small fleet... our master at arms and security chief served with me on the Bonaventure as well. So," she folded her hands before her on the table. "Fleet family, following the tradition... how is that working out for you?"
"Well...I don't know if you could call it a tradition sir. My father, Efrem Sr., was the first on my father's side to ever leave Earth. The rest of the family never quite got over that. My mother's side... well... she doesn't really talk about her past much. She met dad while he was serving aboard the Bonaventure and they fell in love. They both run a survey ship these days. His stories of serving in Starfleet always inspired me as a child, so I joined the academy and here I am."
"I see. And how are you enjoying this assignment so far? And please," she waved her hand dismissively, "no politic answers, don't look for what you think I want to hear, just tell me what's really on your mind. I'm not interested in handing out disciplinary actions. In fact that 'improper uniform' violation you got for three days running because your sleeves weren't long enough thus resulting in a captain's mast has been expunged from your record... I have better things to do, so do you and so does the fleet. Please... assignment thus far, thoughts?"
Valaxar leaned back in his chair, trying to take in what he had just been told. He'd never had a commanding officer ask such a thing and his mind was racing with possibilities and outcomes.
He spread his hands on the table before him, unconsciously checking his sleeve-length as he did so. Warily he looked about the room before leaning forward and lowering his voice in an almost conspiratorial manner.
"Well... to be perfectly honest... I can't say that I'm enjoying it all that much. Don't get me wrong, I love Starfleet and all that... but I was raised on stories of action, and adventure. Stories of exploring new planets and meeting new species. Tales of daring and bravery. I strived to be the best I could, to push a starship to the limits and face the unknown daily... and instead... instead I get criticized for my sleeve-length while making milk runs around the solar system. I could do so much more. It's rather frustrating. I'm not a quitter by any means. I took an oath of service and I plan to fulfill it to the best of my ability. I just thought it would be more than this."
Efrem finished his gushing and leaned back, fully realizing that he probably just ended any hope he had of ever being anything but a desk jockey for the rest of his life. Folding his arms across his chest, he adopted his stoney visage once again. It was the only defense mechanism he could think of really... and well... if his life was about to go down in flames at least he could look stoic while it happened.
the Cheshire captain laughed at that. "Glad to see you know how to follow an order, Ensign. Well, careful what you wish for I suppose will be the order of the day. We'll be setting out for some territory and missions that will most certainly satisfy those desires... I guarantee a life less boring than this has been."
"Now my question is, which is your passion, Ensign- navigation or weapons control? I'm dividing the positions... so navigation will be folded into helm, and tactical will be its own branch. If you were to have to choose, which would you choose? Keeping in mind," she said with an upraised hand, "if neither of those options appeal there are other departments to join as well, and I am making a standard offer- if you want off this boat, I won't keep anyone who doesn't want to take a chance on a new command and has just had enough."
The young ensign raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
"What other departments are we talking about here?"
A quizzical and enigmatic smile was his response. "You tell me, Ensign. Unfulfilled dreams and ambitions I have to probe your mind to discover, and this isn't that sort of interview."
Efrem grinned... he couldn't help himself. He'd never met a C.O. like this, and since he wasn't being escorted to the brig... well... things were looking up.
"You know... everyone sees a big guy and assumes security or tactical. I've been sitting behind a navigational console since before I could walk. If you'll allow it captain, I'd like to take the helm and show you what I can do.If worse comes to worse, I'm also good at carrying cargo."
Those violet eyes narrowed and she studied him for a few seconds, then she smoothed out the front of her hair where it formed a widow's peak and nodded. "Helm it is, Mister Velaxar. Lieutenant Commander Selune will likely tell you some wild stories of what might be expected of a helmsman under my command... and those stories will likely be factual. But I'll give you your chance, Ensign... thanks for taking one on the Victory."
At that she angled her head slightly and asked, "Anything else we need to get off the table while we're here and you have my undivided attention, Mister Valaxar?" She was tapping at the PDD as she spoke now.
The grinning ensign leaned forward one last time, beaming with unbridled enthusiasm.
Cocking his head to one side he directed his gaze to the Andorian he had walked into the mess hall with, who was drinking coffee by herself near the back.
"Permission to flirt, captain?"
"HAH!" That got a genuine laugh out of her and she stood chuckling, still laughing as she spoke. "Dismissed, Mister Valaxar... hahaha... dismissed." She held out her hand to shake his once more.
Ensign Efrem Valaxar Jr. stood and took his captain's hand in a firm shake.
As he turned to leave and make his way to his fellow crewmate's lonely table, he couldn't help but feel this was the first interview with a commanding officer that hadn't ended terribly, and his grin widened even more. Somewhere deep down he could tell...if this didn't turn out to be his best assignment to date, it would at least be his most interesting.
Maybe interviews weren't so bad after all.