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Means and Ends

Posted on Tue Aug 30th, 2016 @ 12:47am by Captain Avin Singh & Commander Jesse Temple & Lieutenant Ibrim Dakar

Mission: 863
Location: Shuttle | approaching SS Star of India
Timeline: June - 30th -2388

The transport craft slowed with a lurch as it approached the open maw of the shuttlebay. The pilot glanced across to his passenger with a nervous grin. "Sorry about that," he said, trying for the eighth time since their departure to strike up a casual conversation. "These things aren't exactly the nimblest of shuttle designs."

Ibrim ignored the pilot, as he had done so during all the human's previous attempts to verbally engage with the Cardassian. On those earlier occasions, his silence had been a concious choice. The pilot was a mere shuttle technician assigned to this shipyard, and thus below Ibrim's consideration. This time however was due to the Cardassian's focus on the ship growing ever closer in the shuttle's forward viewing port.

The Oberth-class starship was not the most graceful or awe-inspiring of designs, Ibrim had to admit. It had been designed with a particular purpose in mind, and through solid engineering had performed that purpose admirably for close to a century. Ibrim approved of this concept. Like most Cardassians, he regarded functionality over grace as the better virtue in any design - all the more so with a military vessel.

No longer, Ibrim corrected himself as the transport entered the shuttlebay on the prow of the Oberth's upper frame. This was now a cargo vessel, repurposed after several years as a museum ship. Ibrim's mouth curled with scorn at the thought. He would never understand the Federation's mentality of putting perfectly good starships out to pasture for tourists and snot-nosed cadets to stumble around and gawp at obscure design details. A starship of heroic noteriety, he could perfectly understand; Ibrim remembered visting the battleship 'Pride of Cardassia' as a child, reading the display plaques with mounting excitement as they recounted the glorious battles of conquest that the vessel had undertaken. A museum piece like that had purpose, serving to reaffirm the patriotism of the youth and the masses. In all other cases, Ibrim reasoned, a starship was a tool. Its purpose was to be operated until obsolecence or redesignation to another role. At least the Federation had finally seen that logic with the Star of India.

The shuttle touched down with a jolt on the landing deck, and this time the pilot did not bother to apologize. Ibrim turned to the hatch and waited whilst the shuttlebay doors closed and the room outside was re-pressurized. Once the indicator light next to the hatch turned green, he pushed the release button and listened to the whirr of servos as the transport's gull-wing door swung upwards. Ibrim hesitated, and then turned towards the pilot. The human's face broke out in a grin, obviously expecting some kind of parting words. Ibrim raised his chin slightly and looked down his nose at the man. "Your piloting was terrible," he said. "You can rest assured that I'll be mentioning it to your supervisor before we leave the shipyard." With that said, Ibrim turned on his heel and stepped off the transport, leaving the human pilot open-mouthed at the bluntness of the statement.

= Bridge =

The journey from shuttlebay to bridge took only a moment; the Oberth-class was a small vessel and the shuttlebay itself was only two decks below the command center of the ship. The bridge was a mix of old Starfleet aesthetics and modern computer equipment. In his position as Chief Engineer, Ibrim had read all that he could find on the vessel's history and its recent refurbishments. If he was going to keep this thing in the sky, he needed to know every nut and bolt in its hull.

A brief walk across the bridge brought him to the door of the Captain's ready room, and Ibrim hesitated before pushing the alert button on its exterior frame. His doubts about this career choice still festered in the pit of his stomach, and he would be lying if he did not feel some dissonance at the concept of ferrying cargo for a former enemy of the Cardassian Union. Ibrim shook his head, mentally chastising himself for putting details over the bigger picture. The Federation Merchant Marine was his best opportunity to develop as an engineer and a commander, and like all good Cardassians he would use the best means at his disposal to achieve that end. He pushed the alert button and waited to be called inside.

Nuts and bolts were not the only thing holding the old Oberth starship together, yes, it was true, she had been saved from a Federation salvage yard, tractor beam hauling her out into a clearing and then towed to the fleet yard for a major refit and some upgrades. She may have not been the prettiest starship around even after a fresh coat of paint on her hull and some much needed interior decorating. The starship had once been retired from active service and had a good second life as a museum ship. Now? Now, the old girl was back on the ballroom floor in service to the Federation Merchant Marines.

Captain Avin Singh was in his Ready Room with Commander Temple, the two gentlemen having just met and were finishing up their initial first contact between CO and XO when the 'chime' (which sounded a bit more like a buzzer) to the Ready Room alerted the two gentlemen to the presence of yet another arrival. "One second, please" said the Captain as he looked around his desk, reaching for the proper control. "Enter" he then added allowing the doors to part ways, revealing the man who would be soon be working very long hours in the Oberth class starship's Engine Room. Well, you haven't left the starship yet. That's a positive sign thought Avin who stood to greet the man. "Commander Temple, please meet our Chief Engineer, Mister Dakar" said Avin with a polite nod in the Cardassians direction.

Ibrim stepped into the ready room, his eyes falling to the two senior officers onboard the ship. They were both human, which was what he had expected. The Cardassian's past experience of humans was best described as mixed. Like all those brought up on the Cardassian homeworld, Ibrim's youth had been steeped in the propaganda of Cardassian glory and Federation villiany in the border wars that had only just finished. Holovid action movies set during the border wars often showed heroic Cardassian officers fighting off the evil Federation menace, often portrayed by human holograms designed to epitomise all the weaknesses of the human species. Ibrim had not met an actual human until he was fifteen. As he had got older and was able to think on the subject in greater detail, Ibrim had come to the reluctant conclusion that humanity was a lot more complex than his childhood videos had portrayed. They had their flaws, but they were also imaginative and had the capability to be strong warriors. They had, after all, won the Dominion war.

Human they may be, but they were still his superior officers. As a Cardassian, Ibrim had been drilled just as much in the importance of hierarchy as he had in the superiority of the Cardassian people. These were his commanders, and it was not their fault that they had not been born Cardassian. Stepping into the middle of the ready room, Ibrim straightened his posture and came to attention, clicking his heels together and giving a nod of his head by way of a salute. "Ibrim Dakar, reporting for duty sir," he said in a crisp, annunciated tone.

Then Avin approached the Cardassian and in human tradition extended his arm with his hand open in order to shake the Cardassian's hand. Dominion War Admirals would be withering away with their prejudices right now. A Cardassian on a Federation starship and heading a department no less thought the Captain with a small gleam in his eyes. "It is an honor to have you aboard and surely a historical moment. There haven't been too many Cardassians in Starfleet, and I'm pretty sure you are the first to cross into the Merchant Marines for service" admitted Avin. "Avininder Singh, Captain. And this gentlemen is my Executive Officer, Commander Jesse Temple."

Jesse had stood respectfully as the Chief Engineer entered. His hairy chin tensed ever so slightly as the Cardassian stepped forward; a gut reaction drilled into him after years in opposition with their race. He figured Mr Dakar felt the same way but the Star of India had brought them together, and together they would serve.

"Seems our little family is growin' by the hour," Jesse spoke in his relaxed drawl, putting the most pleased-as-punch grin on his chops. "Mr Dakar, welcome aboard."

Temple reached out his hand as well to shake with the Engineer, giving a polite nod as he did.

Ibrim was momentarily taken aback by the outstretched hands being proffered to him. Cardassian military personnel tended to avoid informal physical contact; it was seen as beneath a superior officer to engage as such with their juniors. With the exception of two years engineering on civilian freighters, Ibrim's entire life was shaped in the perspective of Cardassian military protocol. He was sure that this would not be the first cultural clash with which he would have to deal. Also - although he would not say it aloud to either Singh or Temple - there was something in his gut about making physical contact with a human that struck him as wrong. There was a brief second of mental conflict between Ibrim's cultural upbringing and his drilled respect for the chain of command before he finally, hesitantly, reached out and shook both men's hands in turn. "Thankyou Captain, Commander," he said, his tone somewhat stiff. Ibrim turned his eyes to Avin. "With your permission Captain, I would like to accept my authorizations and begin my duties aboard ship."

"Right" replied the Captain, his skin tone darker than the pale Cardassian and slightly darker than that of his First Officer. "If you two would just give me a quick moment..." added Avin as he headed over to his computer that sat on his desk. "I do not have a Yeoman assigned to me, at least not that I have been made aware of. So, I am still getting my way through all these formalities and the beaurecratic redtape," explained Avin as he retrieved two PaDD's from his desk after tapping a few commands into each of them.

He approached the two men and handed each of them one. Ibrim's had all his information and authorization and command codes as Chief Engineer and Jesse's had all of his as Executive Officer. "Computer, recognize Executive Officer Temple, Jesse, Commander" said Avin. He looked at the man and gave a nod for him to provide his voice authentication and state his command codes.

Jesse felt a tingle of excitement down his back, as the Captain handed over the PaDD. He'd accepted credentials before, even a few leadership roles, but this still felt enormously thrilling to him. The Star felt like a whole new kind of posting and a different adventure lay ahead.

He cleared his throat, "Authorisation Temple Beta-3-1-9-5."

The computer processed the information. "Authorization acknowledged. Commander Jesse Temple, Executive Officer - SS Star of India."

Avin nodded. Oh that voice he thought to himself. "Computer, recognize Chief Engineer, Ibrim Dakar, Lieutenant and grant command level clearance for Second Officer to Lieutenant Darkar" said the Captain who then gestured to the Cardassian.

Ibrim nodded in reply to Avin. "Authorization Dakar Omega six-two-nine-four," he declared.

The computer once again processed the information as well as granted the command level clearance to the man. "Authorization acknowledged. Command level clearance applied to Lieutenant Ibrim Dakar, Chief Engineer - SS Star of India."

The Captain looked at the two men and nodded. "Again, welcome aboard both of you. We have a lot to get done in the few hours we have left before disembarking" said Avin calmly. However, on the inside he was nervous about this whole thing. A command of his own and an Oberth class at that.


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