Star Trek: Apollo


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Post 12 - The Warrior's Way

Posted on Thu Nov 28th, 2019 @ 2:28am by Commander Cælestis Everett & Commander Niun
Edited on on Thu Nov 28th, 2019 @ 2:29am

Mission: Episode 0 - War Games
Location: Main Engineering
Timeline: Mission Day 01 - 1830 Hours

[USS Apollo]
[Main Engineering - Lt. Commander Niun]

The feel of the XO's touch, the violation, stayed with him. Rankled. His people, the Mri, did not welcome outsiders in the way that other worlds did and the whole process of blending with a new crew was for him, something of a struggle. Difficult. Especially now when everyone felt more Tsi-Mri (outsider) than Edun. He would make the transition but it was never instantaneous. Seldom easy. And so, he had left the social gathering to prevent any further ... touching ... and instead, made his way to Engineering. This was a place he understood, where the rules did not change from place to place, and over time, he had come to make it his own. Then too, there was considerable work to be done. On the trip out, he had taken the time to study the specifications, maintenance and test reports from the refit. Now, he would begin the laborious process of matching each system with its counterpart in the ship's engineering records. He was happy to see that there were (virtual) 'books' for each system containing data collected on symptoms, length of time offline, parts used and more. This data could be used to analyze breakdown trends and determine both cause and better, long term solutions. On a larger ship, ensuring the books were uptodate would be tasked to one of the enlisted but on a ship this small, it would be his job to make sure that everything was logged correctly with support from the ship's computers, of course.

As requested the chair for his desk had no back and the seat was wide enough that he could sit cross-legged comfortably. Before sitting down, he ordered himself a cup of tea from the replicator and that too, was still, sometimes, difficult. This constant need to make choices. In his own quarters, the replicator would be programmed to supply random meal choices based on defined parameters. When not in his quarters, he had fallback choices he could make. For tea, it was a Deltan blend that Tal had introduced him to -- strong with just enough spice to make it interesting. He brought the tea back to the desk and sat down; beside the terminal was a PADD where he could make notes about sub system inspections, upcoming preventative maintenance routines, and of course, expertise among members of the team.

With the discipline that was a hallmark of his caste, Niun let everything else slide away and began to work.

[An Hour Later - 1930 Hours]

The peace of steady work broke with a quiet sound as someone requested entry into his office. After a moment, he heard them say in a non-assuming tone of voice, "It's Everett. I was hoping to chat, if you have a moment?"

From the time he was ten years old, Niun had begun serious training for his caste and he drew on that training now, evident in the lack of subtle movements and expressions, as he rose from his seat and turned toward the door. "Of course, Sir," he said.

Cal entered. When Niun last saw them, they had been standing hunched and casual, with their shoulders loose and legs in a wide stance; now, as they enter, their shoulders are tight and they stand pin-straight, evident either of discomfort or exhaustion. They're waspishly and unusually tall as they stand at their full height.

"Apologies for interrupting you," they said. "I--" they cleared their throat and seemingly switched tracks from polite small-talk to whatever's tightening their shoulders. "I'm glad you came to meet some of the senior crew earlier. I hope that Lieutenant Wilson or I didn't make you feel unwelcome. Or--uncomfortable."

Niun stood still and that was itself a remarkable thing. No subtle shifts in position. No slight betrayals of expression or gesture. Still. He kept his hazel-eyed gaze on the ship's first officer. "Permission to speak freely, Sir?"

Cal blinked rapidly, oncetwice, over their black Betazoid eyes. Unlike Niun, they shifted subtly on their feet. "Granted."

"Imagine that right now, this minute, I begin to touch you. Your arms, your shoulders, your hands. You're taller but I could still do it. I'm strong and fast. So, I touch you. I don't ask you first. I just do it ... because I can. Because I want to ... because it suits my purposes to do so." Niun paused for a moment and then continued. "I would be wrong to do that. Agreed?"

While the dark blood drained from Cal's face as Niun spoke, they do not shift or balk. He can audibly hear their gloves creaking as their hands clenched behind their back. "Yes. Is this on your mind because I asked you to not touch me?"

"It is on my mind, Commander," Niun said quietly, "because you had no problem ... touching ... me. Without my permission. Because you could. Because it suited your purposes to do so."

Cal frowned, subtly. "I'm sorry? I didn't touch you--" they stopped, seemingly taking a moment to process. Their eyes widened in slight, burgeoning horror. "I--do you mean my empathy? You felt it?"

"Yes," Niun said. "I am telepathic. I know when I am being ... touched ... just as you would know."

The look of horror grew openly on Cal's face before it shuttered away behind an expression of guilt. "No, I wouldn't know--I'm psi-null, I'm only empathic. Wait, no--first things, I apologize, Niun. I didn't know you were bothered by my empathy. I'm a Betazoid--well, an odd one, obviously, no telepathy--but empathy is as natural to me as breathing, I forget to remember--assume--it's not the case for some people--"

Their mouth shut with an audible sound, and then they took a deep breath, and began again, more calmly. "I was unaware my reading your emotions was crossing a boundary of yours or of your culture. I don't always think about it; I grew up around humans, so it was never something I needed to think of. But that's my fault, and I apologize, again."

Niun listened, a look crossed his face that was difficult to identify so quickly did it pass. He visibly hesitated before responding, drawing in breath, mouth opening slightly, and then stopping. "Among my people, contact with outsiders, any contact, is forbidden. And were it permitted, still I would not touch another without invitation, not physically and not telepathically. This is honor to me. A deep way of being. Were I still an Azhadi warrior, I would go veiled among you. I would speak as little as possible. I would be ... closed." He returned to the still discipline of his youth, maintaining eye contact, emotions controlled, as he said, "That way is lost to me now but it is also true ... the training remains. I accept your apology."

Cal listened intently. After a moment passed, they nodded. "Thank you. I'll--I've passed all the necessary exams regarding my empathy to be aboard a starship, of course, but I may--slip up with keeping the passive parts of it to myself, especially when I don't know you're around. I'll do my absolute best to rectify my behavior, but I want to preemptively apologize for any slip ups in the near future. It's not--well, no, no excuses. I'll do my absolute best to respect your boundaries. If something like this happens again regarding my behavior, please don't hesitate to tell me. I won't abide myself making any of my crew uncomfortable in that manner. I, of all people, should know better."

Niun nodded, a slight warmth returning to his features. "I will do so," he said and a glint of the warrior surfaced in the depths of his eyes as he added, "Immediately."

"Alright. Good." Cal nodded in return, meeting the warrior's gaze and setting the groundwork to further, better communication. "Thank you for telling me. I--well, I understand. If I had been touched physically, as you so...vividly...described, I would not have been able to stay as calm as you. I think that's a compliment and a self-deprecating comment at once," they note, distantly amused. It fades after a moment into seriousness. "I'll leave you be. Tomorrow will be a busy day."

"As is today," Niun responded accompanied almost imperceptible upward tug of the left side of his mouth.

Cal nodded and gave a similar, small expression in return. They turned on their heel and left Niun's office, their shoulders less tight than before.

A mission post by

Lieutenant Commander Niun
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Apollo

Commander Cal Everett
Executive Officer
USS Apollo


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