A meeting of Mind and Culture.
Episode 2: Inevitable
Location: Deck 4, Officer's Lounge
Timeline: Prior to arrival of Object
Since the 'Typhon' event Niamh had been making a marginal effort to relax beyond the confines of her office. There were times when she realised that she needed to practise what she preached and begin taking steps to ensure she was at her best for the crew. She hadn't made much of an effort tonight though and had turned up at the officer's lounge wearing a pair of skinnies, some pumps and a slightly too big hoody. She fully intended on relaxing and tonight was all about her comfy's, somewhere quiet, a latte and her book. Given her commitments, the corner of the lounge would suffice.
Entering the room, she was pleased to be taken in by the vibe of the room. Given that beta shift had just started the only people occupying the lounge where the Alpha shifter's who had just finished and a few gammas who were probably struggling to sleep in preparation for the night rotation. As a result, instead of an atmosphere akin to a small town bar, it felt like she'd walked into a coffee shop back on earth.
Ordering a latte from the food synthesiser the Chief counsellor surveyed the room looking for an optimal seat. Despite its lack of patrons, all the best seats had seemingly been taken but she noticed a few booths only had one occupant and decided that'd be good enough for her. It did the crew good for her to be out among them, maybe even socialising a little. Being present made her seem less like someone they had to share themselves with and more like someone who could relate to them.
Her drink secured she made her way towards a booth occupied by a young man who looked familiar but at a distance, she had trouble placing. As she got closer, however, she recalled his identity from a report she had read that morning. Blonde hair, blue eyes, transferred in straight from the academy. Ensign Ethan Edwards, she'd been reviewing his file as was the procedure when a new crewmember joined their ranks. As she drew closer, she noted the casual formality in the way she dressed.
"Mind if I take a seat here?" Niamh asked, "I'd prefer not to sit one of the tables".
Ethan looked up at the visitor. "No, of course not. Please." He slid out of the booth and waited for her to sit. Once he did, he returned to his seat on the bench. In front of him, there was a tricorder, a drink which appeared to be a tea of some kind and a small bowl, which once held a salad.
"Thank you," Niamh said once she was seated, "Niamh O'Donoghue, ships chief counsellor and occasional mission advisor" she introduced politely, placing her book on the table so she could focus on meeting Ethan.
"Pleasure to meet you, Niamh O'Donoghue. Ethan Edwards, science officer specializing in alien archaeology and anthropology. It sounds more impressive then it really is." He smiled at her and then took a sip of his drink.
"I wouldn't say it isn't impressive," Niamh replied, "I imagine there's some overlap between our disciplines. Don't archaeologists profile the behaviour of our ancestors?" she asked.
"They would, normally, but I'm more interested in alien archaeology and anthropology. Say we investigate a barren alien planet, and we find ruins, it's my job to determine how those individuals lived, and would it pose a threat to the landing party." he responded.
“An interesting approach, I never expected threat analysis to be a part of your role” Niamh admitted before taking a sip from her drink.
Ethan nodded, "Maybe "threat" was the wrong word. I should have said that my job is to determine what the people looked like, how they lived, were they farmers and warriors. I guess the only real threat would be if there was some kind of virus on the planet...maybe the virus killed the people who lived there ages ago. but that would be the medical staff's work."
"I see," Niamh replied, her interest clear, "Any particular cultures that draw your interest? Who has the best mythology?" She asked curiously. She had always had a fascination with the cultures that spanned their galaxy. Despite the vast distances between them, sometimes the differences were minimal, others they were profound; generally, there were always similarities to be found.
He leaned back, thinking. "Vulcans are fascinating, a culture based on logic and no emotions. We know so little about the Klingons and Romulans...I'd like to be the one that discovers what makes them tick. Andorians are another race we know so little about. Did you know that they mate in pairs of 3? Tellarites….why makes them want to argue with everyone? Is it their height? Denobulan..each male has three wives...and each wife has 3 husbands. Interesting family structure. I can't wait to find an unknown species and find out what are their beliefs...their customs...their religion."
"Then you're in luck," Niamh promised, "The Defiant will surely keep you on toes. We're always stumbling across something new, I have no doubt we'll have something for you to sink your teeth into sooner rather than later" she said, finishing the last of her drink.
Edwards looked at her and smiled. "I certainly hope so. I would rather be given an important assignment right off the bat, as they say, then forced to wait....all I'm really good for is what I was trained to do. True, I can assist in any of the science labs, but I want to be able to be the lead on an assignment." His glass stood half finished, but he wasn't in the mood to finish it now. "I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It means a lot to me."
"You're more than welcome" Niamh beamed, "I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you," she said realising Ethan was ready to leave. She wouldn't have minded further discussion but she couldn't deny that she was happy to be getting to some reading soon. "Welcome to the Defiant, Ensign Edwards," she she, her tone faux formal, "I'm sure you'll fit right in with the other scientist, they're a friendly bunch" she assured, rising from her seat politely.
Ethan stood up from the table when she stood up. "I'm sorry you have to go. But it's been a pleasure talking with you. I thank you for the friendly words of encouragement. I hope we can talk again soon."
"I think every assignment we get is important, more so yourself. You literally analyse and interpret what remains of cultures long gone. You make sure that people who may otherwise have gone forgotten are remembered" Niamh reminded hoping to inspire a little more positivity. "You shouldn't undervalue the work you do. Leadership opportunities will present themselves from time to time" she finished her speech with a reassuring smile.
"Also, it's my pleasure" the Irishwoman assured, "I enjoy meeting my fellow crewmates".
"And I have enjoyed meeting you, as well." He took her hand and raised it to his lips. "I am always available if you wish to get another drink and talk."
Niamh pulled her hand back slowly and straightened her back, her expression confused, "I think we might be on different pages," the counsellor replied awkwardly, "I prefer friendship only when shipside, I'm very career orientated..." she trailed off looking around the room before squaring her gaze back on Ethan.
"I wouldn't be opposed to a drink and a catch-up in the future, but it's important for me that you understand our boundaries must remain platonic in nature" She'd never been in the pursuit of a relationship through-out her career. No matter how much she tried to make space for relaxation she had a knack for filling it quickly with work. So far Ethan had interested her and she hoped they could move past this; up until this point they had been getting along just fine.
Ethan held his hands up in front of him. "I will follow any rules you lay down. On my word of honor. If I offended you in any way, I apologize."
"It's okay, thank you for your apology," Niamh said after a moment her relief visible. "I think friendship should suit us both just fine" she finished.
"That's fine with me. I need someone on the ship who I can talk to from time to time...and maybe even get dinner together sometimes." Ethan smiled at her.
"Of course," Niamh said grabbing for her empty cup and book, "I best get off, may as well grasp the opportunity for an early night when I can," she said as she rose from the table, "It was nice meeting you, Ethan," she said squaring on the Ensign once she'd tucked her book under her arm.
Ethan nodded. "And a pleasure meeting you, Niamh. I look forward to our next encounter."
"As do I" Niamh replied, "Goodnight Ensign Edwards" she finished with her usual smile before heading towards the exit.