Episode 5: Better Angels
Location: Dante's Quarters
Timeline: MD 4 20:00
Scuttlebutt was a way of life on board the Defiant, like any Federation ship. For that matter, it had been part of every fleet not just in the twenty-third century, but going back for millennia. Ian knew that just because he'd heard a rumor, didn't make it true, but he'd heard that the ship's new helmsman had a collection of books. Real books.
He knew it was probably rude to just drop in on someone, especially someone he'd only seen in meetings and never really met, but his curiosity got the best of him and just after his shift was over, his curiosity got the best of him and, still dressed in his Akadian uniform, he found himself at Dante's door pressing the chime.
Dante was tired, weary even, and had only been in his quarters for about ten minutes when he heard the chime go off. He quickly pulled his pants back on and walked barefoot back into the living room area of his quarters in just said pants and his undershirt. "Come in.", he said, wondering who it could possibly be at his door for an unannounced visit.
Ian stepped into the room flashing the other man a rather sheepish smile. "I'm sorry to intrude like this and feel free to tell me to go to Hell and get out of your cabin. I just heard that you had a nice collection of books and I'm something of a bibliophile."
Dante held his arms side, "Nah, it's cool man. I love meeting a fellow book worm. What's your poison?", he asked indicating the shelves of books. "And can I get you a drink?", he asked indicating the small fridge and mini-bar beside it.
"I'd love some juice if you have, otherwise I'm not picky," Ian answered his second question first, "As to my poison, I am a big fan of Dickens, it's an interesting take your world's history and culture at a very unique time. But I'm also a fan of Dumas. But again I'm not picky, they don't have to be that ancient."
"Juice it is, then.", Dante replied, and as he walked across to the bar he nodded to the bookshelves. "Feel free to take a look. See if anything catches your eye. My favorite is already in the hands of our fearless leader, or I'd recommend it.", he added.
"What did you give her?" Ian asked as he began toe scan Dante's collection.
Walking back up with the juice for the other man in one hand, and a glass of iced tea for himself Dante replied, "An old high fantasy novel, actually. First in a series, if you don't count the prequel. The Eye of the World. Ever heard of it?", he asked, holding out the glass for Ian to take it.
"No, I can't say that I have, but as you can probably tell, I'm not human. I know a little about the, how do you put it, classics and at least understand the concept of high fantasy, elves, and dragons if I'm not mistaken, but I haven't heard of that specific set of books. Could you tell me more about it?"
Dante wandered over to the couch set close by his little library and sat down. "Honestly, no, not really. It's an incredibly involved story, and there's no way to really explain it without giving pretty much everything away. I have it in digital form as well, if you'd like I can shunt it over to your personal drive and you can give it a go.", he replied.
"Unless you see something on the shelves that is more to your liking. Either or is fine with me.", he added.
Ian took a sip of his drink and looked a little more closely at the titles, "Who is John Grisham?" he asked, and what is The Firm all about?"
"He was a very popular twenty and twenty-first-century author of legal thrillers. It's a story about a newly graduated lawyer and the situation he gets himself involved in by taking on something that was too good to be true.", Dante replied. "Good book actually. Not my usual read, but I found it interesting enough to find a real copy of it to have around.", he added after taking a sip of his tea.
Ian started to reach for the book, then paused, "Sounds interesting, may I?"
"By all means.", Dante said. "I never mind letting people peruse, or even borrow, I just ask that you give it back in the same condition you took it in.", he added.
"Of course," he replied, "that's just common courtesy. He pulled the book off the shelf careful not to get it too close to his juice. "So, what persuaded you to join Starfleet?"
Settling back on the couch, one arm thrown back over the back of it, Dante pondered that question for a minute or two before answering. "Honestly, it was the way I was raised. I've always been taught that service, and giving back to the community that brought you up is very important. When I was a kid my parents and I were always doing things to help build up the community I lived in. We'd go to community events and volunteer, we'd help organize and run community gardens, and my mom and dad would even do special little educational classes about stuff to help build people up, get them more involved in their own lives, and the lives of those around them.
"Then, when I was older, and in school I was always active in the student government aspect of my school, finding ways to serve my fellow students, and make their lives better, and more fruitful. So, when I got older I guess it just sort of blossomed into a desire to give back to the Federation. To me, it's more than just an alliance of planets. It's a community. I've benefited greatly from being a member of one of the species contained inside it, and I wanted to give back to that. Starfleet gave me an opportunity to do that.", he answered.
"Sounds like very worthwhile motive. How long have you been in and how are things working out so far?"
"I've been in about six years now, counting my time at the academy. I guess I've had a pretty fast career path, honestly, and things are working out well. How about you? What brought you to a Starfleet ship? I've never met an Akadian before, what was it that drew you to serve aboard the Defiant?", Dante asked.
"Well, I've been here about seven or eight months now. A little over a year ago your people, made First Contact with mine Right now there is a war on among my people, some want us to join the Federation, some partner with the Klingons. There are five of us Akadians serving as an exchange officer. I didn't choose the Defiant, it was kind of chosen for me. But, I'm glad it was. I like it here."
"So, I hear you're a pilot. Why helm?"
"Honestly? I suck at science and have no interest in fighting, but I love to fly, and I'm good at it.", he replied. "I also plan to make my way up to command. So helm is a good way to get there.", Dante replied.
"I'm not much good at science either, or engineering for that matter. You say that you've been in about six years. How many ships have you been on during that time?"
"Only three actually.", Dante replied. "My training cruise was on the Reed, then I went on to a five-year mission on the Sarajevo, and now I'm here.", he added.
"Well, welcome aboard, glad to have here. So, besides reading, and flying obviously, what do you like to do?" Ian asked as he took a sip of his juice.
"Sports, learning about politics and economics, listening to music, I even like to cook from time to time.", Dante answered. "I find that if I can see an interesting aspect of something I can develop a genuine interest in it," he added.
"I see," Ian said leaning back in his chair, "I'm curious about other species sports, a couple of days ago I ran into a crewman that taught me about basketball. They don't have that sport where I'm from. What kind of games do you like to play?"
"I played football in school, and I like basketball, and then there's boxing and soccer... It's quite a list really." Dante replied
"What is the difference between soccer, football, and rugby?" Ian asked, "I know you didn't mention that one, but I heard about it in my rather brief stay at the Academy. They sound so similar; games where you kick a ball and try to get it through goalposts."
"There are some pretty big difference. Soccer is far more fast-paced and strategic, football is all about strong plays, and rugby, well, rugby requires one to be willing to combine the two and get the shit beat out of them all at the same time.", Dante replied with a laugh, leaning forward.
"But, I guess the best way to learn about them would be to watch them. There are plenty of vids available to watch, and if you ever feel like it just let me know, we can make an evening of it. Have some burgers, maybe some beers, and watch some games. Be a good way to get some people together and let us all mingle, maybe?", he said, turning the last part into a question.
"That sounds like a great idea," Ian replied, "we'll make it a party. I might even bring a few Akadian dishes. What's your favorite game. what would you recommend?"
"Football is my favorite to play, but soccer is my favorite to watch.", Dante replied, and then continued, "And a party sounds like a great idea. We can find people that are interested and set something up, have everyone bring something to snack on, maybe some drinks, make it a big thing. After the mission is over, obviously, but yeah, if you are up for it I'd love to do that."
"I would enjoy that, "Ian said, his tone taking on a serious note, "But speaking of our mission, what do you think the chances are of our being successful, or for that matter surviving?"
"Honestly, I don't want to guess. I'm just focusing on doing what I need to do and doing it the best way I know how. We will make it, or we won't.", Dante replied.
"Let us pray to whatever god you believe in, that we do make it. Not for our sake, but for those millions of innocent beings."