USS Adelphi


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Post 42 - The Karim Files: A. t'Aenikh

Posted on Thu Apr 30th, 2020 @ 3:16pm by Ensign Ariennye t’Aenikh & Lieutenant Commander Karim MD

Mission: Prologue: Back In Action
Location: USS Adelphi (Docked at Starbase 38, Barzan System) - Primary Science Lab - Deck 8
Timeline: Mission Day 01 - Post-Briefing ("Departmental Readiness")

[USS Adelphi - Docked at Starbase 38, Barzan System]
[Primary Science Lab - Deck 8]
[Mission Day 1 - Post-Briefing]

Ensign t'Aenikh had moved from her own office to the larger laboratory space, her mind still very much engrossed in the mysteries that had presented themselves when she had first come back from the staff meeting. She wanted to test a few things that had come to her mind, which was made slightly easier by the ship being in orbit around a planet at the moment.

Ariennye was in the middle of seperating rock layers that had been transported up from the planet surface when she started to mutter to herself, "I wonder if density of matter in the that region is different for some reason... Did Voyager even do those kinds of scans when they were there...?"

"Perhaps there is an experienced member of your department that could assist you, Ensign?" A voice from just behind the Romulan officer, and altogether too close to her left ear, suddenly interrupted her thoughts, its owner apparently having found some way to enter the science laboratory without alerting her.

The sudden and dangerously close voice triggered Ariennye's subconscious survival instincts. Without giving the action all that much thought, the woman flipped the specimen trowel she'd been holding properly a second before in her hands and spun around, missing the intruder's neck by less than a centimeter. Had she not stopped herself when she had, the man standing behind her might very well now be bleeding on the deck. When she fully registered what she had done and who was standing there, she recoiled and dropped the trowel unceremoniously to the ground.

Standing behind her, but now mercifully leaning back away from his ear-assault position, was the muss-haired lieutenant commander - Karim - that had sat at the end of the conference table during the very recent briefing. The pointed tips of his ears, a mirror of her own, were just about visible through the dark tangles crowning his head. His hands were clasped behind his back, and although there were ridges lining his nose, there was no hint of a Bajoran personality in his cool demeanour.

"Chief Geoffries, perhaps?" He added with a quirk of a Vulcan eyebrow, seemingly entirely unperturbed by his near-death experience. "He seems ambitiously helpful."

The first words out of her mouth surprised Ariennye as she hissed, "Nohtho veruul."

A few seconds with that phrase in Romulan lingering in the air was enough to jar the young Ensign back into the reality of the situation, "I'm... I'm sorry... you just... um... you scared me..."

"Apologies are not necessary; it is highly unlikely you will offend me. We do not know each other personally, so your opinion will be fairly immaterial to my character," he explained, coming round to examine the rocky display Ariennye had been tinkering with. His expression did not change. "I am also certain that similar apologies to a board of admirals would not have pardoned your culpability for any homicide offences. 'Troubled refugee' is not a recognized psychological condition."

"No..." Ariennye admitted in a quiet voice, "But I'm sure some of the things that I lived through while being a... 'troubled refugee' would at least... mitigate a sentence a little."

She didn't look at the Vulcan in front of her in the eyes when she said that. In fact it took several minutes for her eyes to actually focus on anything that wasn't far away in her past. Once they did seem to find some manner of anchor in the present, however, she did at least attempt to be somewhat cordial.

"Is there something that... you needed?" she asked, settling back down on the stool she'd leapt from a few moments earlier.

Karim did not answer immediately. Instead, he continued to examine the equipment and samples that the Romulan had been working on. He did not touch anything, but his eyes quickly flitted from one item to the next. "This is your first assignment, let alone your first deep-space assignment," he finally stated, still not looking at the woman. "It is my responsibility to ensure that the senior staff and crew are psychologically equipped for the rigours of the Delta Quadrant. In your case, Ensign, that includes the demands of your new-found responsibility."

He now looked up from the table and stepped away, putting more space between the two Vulcanoid officers. "Is it daunting being given departmental ownership as your first assignment, the burden of scientific oversight for an almost-uncharted region of space with untold mysteries and threats on your young and inexperienced shoulders?"

"I like solving mysteries... and I've been in danger more than I haven't..." Ariennye stated, "I just don't have any... experience leading people. Commander Kodak said that... if I worked at it... I would be ok... probably."

"Probably?" Karim repeated back to Ariennye. "Are you not convinced by the kind and encouraging words of your immediate supervisor? Even as a Vulcan, I would agree it is a logical conclusion to doubt one's own ability to manage the various pressures associated with leading a department. One would trust that the command structure of Starfleet would have good reason for making the decisions they have. Do you doubt your superiors?"

Although the comment was as passionless as any delivered by the counsellor thus far, it conveyed enough tone to make it clear Karim was not necessarily declaring that an inappropriate response for someone to have.

"Well..." Ariennye said as she took on another far away look, "kind words are just... words... aren't they? I've heard a lot of them before. Like my aunt... she said we were all family right up until the day Romulus was destroyed and my parents were killed. Then suddenly I was a liability... There were soldiers who... promised things... in exchange for... well... anyway those were just words too. Saying pretty words doesn't cost you a thing... believing them can..."

The Romulan heaved a heavy breath from her lungs, "I'd like to think that the First Officer wouldn't tell me something that wasn't true but... I'm not sure I can afford to just... take the words at face value. I'm not sure I want to... be disappointed by people here... because I believed pretty words that have no substance."

Karim nodded - the closest expression to approval the man seemed capable of mustering. "Then you are displaying a wisdom that exceeds your professional experiences already," he said, clasping his hands behind his back. "The tumultuous existence you endured prior to your commission in Starfleet has provided you with a unique insight to the neuroses of sentient beings others must survive years of service to rival. Ensign, I think you are uniquely equipped, amongst the lifelong Federation citizens crewing this ship, for the dangers of the Delta Quadrant - and to see through the-" Karim paused, looking up to the ceiling for a moment as he summoned the word, "-bullshit."

The Romulan couldn't help but smirk at the comment, "I think you might be right..."

"I am," Karim inserted as his companion continued.

Ariennye shrugged, "The Delta Quadrant can't be any worse than the Romulan Empire... or what came afterward... At least with a place that's overtly hostile... you know what to expect."

"Curious that you should make such a comparison and comment, Ensign," Karim replied, appearing genuinely interested. "Curious that you would show a preference for a certain existence of guaranteed conflict and hostility over the prospect of an unknown end - one that could just as feasibly promise you security and comfort, as much as strife and adversity."

For a moment, Karim was quite obviously pondering the conundrum he had openly posed, examining the bulkhead as he made whatever internal considerations he was making, keeping them unspoken. No incisive comment or dark observation then followed - only a simple question. "Do you miss your home?" He asked, perhaps purposely open-ended.

"Do I miss home...?" Ariennye repeated as if the thought had never crossed her mind, "I... don't guess I ever thought about it in... in terms of home... I think what I miss is my parents more than... more than some abstract thing like... a home... I don't miss the rundown complex we lived in... or the things that filled it... I don't know... I think if my parents had been with me even after Romulus was destroyed, I wouldn't have worried about it that much."

"I guess what I miss is what made where I grew up a place to call home... not the place it was," the Romulan shrugged after giving it a little more thought.

"Was your decision to join Starfleet also predicated on this apparent lack of consideration?" Karim posed.

"If you mean... did I join because I didn't have any better plans when I came of age... then yes... that would be the case. My foster... family... they had a child that... died... when I was dumped on the colony by a refugee ship... and I guess that child... they wanted to go to Earth when they got old enough... so I got the ticket that was meant for them. And when I got to Earth... I just happened to stumble in to a... recruitment center... and they made it sound just believable enough... that I gave it a try," Ariennye explained.

"I would be interested in learning if it has been all that the recruiters promised you, Ensign," Karim replied to that evenly. "Indeed, I am interested in your general development aboard the Adelphi, being mindful of my previous comments regarding you and your unique position. I do have a requirement of you already, however, as the ship's counselor. I wish for you to be more forthright with other officers. Whilst your rank is the junior-most officer rank, you are a senior officer. Your insight and knowledge will be necessary for this excursion. I want you to speak more than fifty percent of the senior staff at the next meeting, but not unnecessarily."

The Ensign's face scrunched up at being told someone had an expectation of her she wasn't prepared to live up to, "That's... a lot..."

"No, what you are currently doing is insignificant when compared to your obvious potential, Ensign," Karim rebuked her. "It is my ambition, as it will be yours, to see you flourish in this environment to surpass those limited by their misconceptions of culture and delusions of civility."

"Delusions of civility," the young Romulan repeated before a rather strange look crossed her face. She might not have understood him completely, but something in what he'd said had struck a cord. After wrestling for a long moment with the implications of whatever information she had gleaned from his words, Ariennye looked up at the Vulcanoid.

"I'll try... but don't expect any great miracles..." she said, looking him in the eyes for the first time with a look of resolution.

"Miracles are indicative of a mind that does not accept true self-determination and control over their characters' and lives," Karim said, already making for the door. "There are two options: to succeed or to fail. There is only one logical choice. Good day, Ensign." And he left.


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