Newbies, for Different Reasons
Episode 2: Inevitable
Location: Officer's Mess, USS Defiant
Veronica Rios had found herself in the Mess Hall on off hours again. The tables were mostly empty, save for a few officers chatting away in he corner. She was still not back in an official sense. Though the Captain had accepted her transfer request, she'd done so on the condition that Veronica give herself a few days to breathe. The young Lieutenant didn't love that requirement, but she was sure the captain was right.
She was in some casual civilian clothing, a thin purple sweater over her white short sleeve shirt, and a pair of comfortable thin jeans. She'd been absently eating her food and scrolling through some local news events when she noticed someone who seemed to be searching for a place to sit. By the looks of him, he was new here too. "Um...you're welcome to sit here if you'd like," she replied, gesturing to the large table she had to herself.
Ethan smiled and approached the table. "Thank you." He pulled the chair out, set down his drink and a small plate, and sat down. "Been on the go for several hours. Feels good to get off my feet."
“I can believe it,” Veronica said, as he settled down. “You haven’t been aboard too long, have you?”
"This is my second day. I unpacked my belongings, visited the archaeology science lab and started cleaning it up and updating the computers. Seems what passes for the alien archaeology/anthropology lab was used for was storage and as an extra lab for whoever needed it." He looked at her. "And so, what do you do on this ship?"
“Oh, I’m a diplomatic officer,” Veronica replied. “I’ve actually only just gotten approval to join the crew. Defiant sorta...picked me up along the way. I didn’t have anywhere else to go to, so I asked if I could stay. And the captain was nice enough to let me.”
Ethan nodded. "So you were in the right place at the right time. Our jobs almost have the same function: I have to determine who lived in what ruins we find, and you have to try and negotiate peace with anyone we find...our jobs may actually help the other person."
Veronica bit her lip in thought. Right place at the right time was a fairly simple view of it. But he didn’t know what she’d been through. He couldn’t know that it sounded too easy. The job descriptions though... “I think our jobs are a bit different. But I admire yours a lot. You need to do a lot of analyses and figure things out with few clues. I mostly talk to people and read history reports. By the way, don’t think I caught your name. I’m Veronica Rios.” She extended a hand in greeting.
He took the hand. "Ethan Edwards. Pleasure to meet you, Veronica Rios." Ethan looked around. "Can I get you something to eat or drink?" He was new here, and he wanted to do a good job, but he was trying.....he doubted the captain would allow him to just spend all his time in the lab.
Veronica gave an amused smirk before gesturing to the mostly eaten food and full glass in front of her. “I’m good, but I appreciate the offer. What have you been up to so far today?”
"I've been trying to get what passes for my lab, up to Starfleet standards. I had to download some programs I brought with me to assist me in my work." He took a sip of his drink. "Seems the lab I'm using was used for storage, so I had a lot of cleaning to do." Ethan looked at her, then realized that she looked a lot like Abigail, the woman he loved once.
Veronica tilted her head ever so slightly at the second mention of how small his lab was. Given how large and advanced Defiant was, she felt that unlikely. But she could be wrong. "Well hopefully they don't have you cleaning for too much longer. Once we arrive at our mission location, I think we're both going to be kept pretty busy. Our mission seems pretty...momentous, to say the least. Not every day that you meet someone from another galaxy."
"From what I understand, I have use of all the labs, so if I need something not available in my lab, I can move to one of the others and link to the computers in my lab and work from there." He replied. "And I'm looking forward to this mission and hope I have a lot to do."
“I’ll be genuinely surprised if you don’t,” Veronica replied, as she finished her plate. “Enough about that though. Plenty of time to talk about work later. Where did you come to Defiant from?”
"Straight from the academy. I did spend some time at the Daystrom Institute though. I was on a archaeology expedition, sponsored by the institute, that was for only the best students. I helped discover some lost artifacts, actually I stumbled upon them. I even won an award." He sipped his drink. "I was offered a job at the institute, assisting one of their professors. Turned it down to be here."
“Well...that’s quite the impressive Academy Tenure,” Veronica replied, trying to decide whether or not to mention her own prestigious assignment...the one that had ultimately landed her here. She opted against it. “Well, I doubt you’ll need it, but if you ever need assistance with some of your anthropology work, I’d be happy to assist. Diplomacy was my primary study, but I’ve tried to include a good dosage of social sciences and linguistics. Plus anthropology can be really fun to get into.”
"I would be honored for you to help me,” he replied. “If you want, I have several files that you might want to take a look at, sort of a fresher course, if you will."
“Sure, I have some time before we arrive at the destination,” she replied smoothly. “What are the files about? Got a major project you’re already working on?”
"Nothing happening right now....the files are about some of the digs that I assisted on. How we started. How to uncover fragments of something, like a piece of pottery. How to determine what kind of people lived in the area. Things like that."
She failed to suppress a laugh. After a moment, she caught herself. “I’m sorry. I meant with I’d assist you with cultural analyses, since that’s in line with my own field. I meant I could lend you my expertise. I’m not looking for an Archeology lesson.”
He thought she had a lovely laugh. "I would welcome any input you could provide. I know that people in my field have a reputation of being snobbish and feel anyone not in their field is below them. Be assured...I am not like that."
“It’s easy for people to become a bit snobbish about their work. We’re all relative experts in our fields of study. Sometimes when someone doesn’t know the specifics of our work, it’s easy to forget they know intently more about a different subject. For example, I can rattle off negotiation philosophies and historical events for hours, but I couldn’t tell you the slightest about pottery or a warp engine,” Veronica replied. Her smile came naturally. She sometimes wondered if it was diplomatic training that made it come so easily, but figured it out as just her sunny disposition. “So I don’t mind working with you on some larger cultural analytics. That’s something that makes use of my years of academy training. The digs I think I’ll leave to you.”
Ethan smiled back at her. "Then it's a deal." He thought about something, for a second. "Would you be interested in getting dinner....sometime?"
Veronica felt herself freeze at the question, for what must have been several minutes. It took a decent amount of effort to free herself from the freeze. For a moment her reply was a quick shake of her head as she found the words. Finally, she spoke. "I...I'm sorry. I've just gone through something very...very traumatic. And I don't think I'm in any sort of place for that kind of thing right now."
Ethan held his hands out in front of him. "No, no, no....I didn't mean that like it sounded. I thought we were having a pleasant conversation and I was hoping to continue it over dinner. I had no romantic intentions. I'm sorry for what happened to you, and I hope we can still be friends."
“Oh...sorry. Uh, yes. Grabbing dinner with a friend would be nice,” Veronica replied with a nervous laugh to relieve the tension. “Sorry. I just thought...never mind. I think my schedule will become a bit more regular once I’m on duty in a day or two. Should be easier to plan then.”
Ethan nodded. "A couple of days also works for me. Glad we cleared up that issue. Contact me when you know your schedule." He stood up. "Pleasure meeting you and talking to you."
Veronica gave a parting wave. "I'll see you around, Ethan."