When the bands of blue light refracting across his field of vision faded, Lieutenant Tumaini Calumn was taken aback by the sight of the USS Achilles’ transporter room. Taken aback, literally. After materializing on the transporter platform, all the other crew replacements from the USS Tolstoy stepped down onto the deck. Calumn, instead, took half a step back on the transporter pad. This Ambassador-class transporter room was far larger, and brighter, than the ones on the Callisto or even the Tolstoy. The transporter operator’s freestanding console was slimmer than the one’s he’d seen; as isolinear processing chips were being designed smaller and smaller.
Stepping forward, Calumn looked at the step down from the platform. With his eyes on the down, he took a moment to check there were no crumbs on the red breast of his uniform jacket. There weren’t any. With his other new crewmates filing into the corridor, Calumn quietly asked the transporter operator if he had anything in his teeth. When the transporter operator assumed him that he hadn’t, Calumn nodded a greeting, and shuffled out of the transporter room between the parting doors.
Another set of doors pulled apart after the turbolift car had carried him to deck one. Lieutenant Calumn stepped out onto the main bridge, his boot heels rapping against the deck. Once again, he hesitated, overwhelmed by the clarity of the image on the viewscreen and the newest generation of blue and green LCARS graphics on all of the consoles. Calumn sidled up to the officer at the tactical console, offering a solemn nod and brief pleasantries. The tactical officer pointed out where Calumn could find the Captain, and sent him on his way. “Good afternoon, Captain,” he said in his formal timbre. “Lieutenant Tumaini Calumn reporting for duty.”
Looking up from her reading, the blonde Captain of the Ambassador-class surveyed the man before her momentarily before letting out a slight smile. “Welcome aboard, Lieutenant,” she welcomed him.
With a slow nod, Calumn replied with a, “Thank you kindly.” A hundred different questions crossed his mind: questions about this new ship and crew, about the performance of her tactical systems in the shakedown, and about Captain Nazir, her career and experiences. He’d read the official logs on her encounters with the Cardassians, but he knew the official logs were often only half the story. Given their shared location, Calum restrained his questions to the current ship status. “Are we still en route to the Cardassian border, Captain?” Calumn asked. When he had boarded the Tolstoy, those had been the mission orders, but that had been days ago.
Gesturing for the seat opposite her, the Captain nodded and watched the man take his seat. “Unofficially, we are on patrol in the area,” she confirmed, “but unofficially, we’re on alert for any Cardassian movement. We’re not expecting any boarding action, but we will be going on away missions, and I will want security on every single one,” the Trill instructed, sliding some orders across the table to her chief of security.
Calumn nodded his acknowledgement of Nazir’s intentions. After clasping the PADD between his hands, Calum took a cursory look at the orders, scrolling through the main points on the display. “May I ask about the optics Starfleet Command would like us to present, Captain?” Calumn asked, as he took one last look at the orders. Raising his eyes to Nazir, the curiosity in his dark irises was plain to see. He tilted his head and he added, “Should we present an appearance of to trust the Cardassians, or will we select our away teams to appear well-defended?”
“The Cardassians are our friends, Lieutenant,” Keziah told with all the sincerity and believability of an Andorian sunbathing on Risa. It told the man all he needed to know, or so she hoped.
Meeting Keziah’s eyes, Calumn nodded at her choice of words without blinking. He affected a casual air, when he said, “I can be friendly. I know how to smile and to curtsey. And phasers are smaller than ever.” He paused between each statement to give each one its due import, especially as his timbre became increasingly wry. He squinted before he continued, but he only hesitated for another moment more. “Captain,” he asked, “would you mind if I ask you a personal question about leadership?”
At this point, the spotted woman shifted her stance, and demeanour, sitting forward in her chair and clasping her hands together on the table top. “Please do, Lieutenant,” she smiled. So far, his openness was impressing her. It was a stark difference to other members of the fledgling crew. Her standoffish manner probably didn’t help with that, though.
As brief preamble, Calumn shared with her, “I know about myself that semantics matter to me. Occasionally they matter too much, but they never control me.” He also explained, “In my new role as security chief, I will be responsible for representing the interests of Starfleet Security, along with my own perspective, and sometimes those may be two different things. I will strive to share both when it’s important.” He hesitated momentarily, self-conscious that this was turning into a Starfleet Academy lecture, but he took a breath and pushed on. “What I’m asking is,” he said more quickly, “when we find ourselves in the friendliest of situations, how can I best observe the difference between when, as our Captain, you’re open to more suggestions versus when you’ve made a decision decision.”
Nazir smirked as she sat back in her chair and relaxed. “When I need suggestions, I’ll ask for them Lieutenant. Until I do, its safe to say that whatever I’ve said is my final decision on a matter,” she assured him, “the only person who ever gets to question my orders, and they do so in private, is the XO.” With that, she rose from her chair and walked around the desk. “You’ve got a couple of pay grades to go before you earn that right,” she smiled, offering a hand to the man. “Welcome aboard, Chief. You’re going to fit right in.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Calumn said more warmly. He accepted her handshake as he stood. In an undertone, he added, “That means a lot to me. I’m excited to begin.”