“Thanks,” Tallera said with a small smile as Dreval handed the ensign her bag from the shuttle’s overhead compartment, to which he responded with a nod. Despite all she’d heard about Vulcans from her own people, she couldn’t deny that she was beginning to like the guy. Everything about him was just… genuine. Romulans tended to be a bit secretive about their emotions, and while Dreval didn’t exactly have emotions, he didn’t hide how he perceived things and he certainly didn’t lie. There didn’t seem to be any ulterior motive to anything he said, and that was enormously refreshing.
“Have you ever been to Starbase Bravo?” Dreval asked as they stepped from the shuttle onto the floor of the relatively small shuttle bay.
“Nope,” Tallera said, adjusting how her duffle bag sat on her shoulder. “Saw it on the way to Mellstoxx, but this is my first time inside any Federation starbase.”
“Then your reactions should be intriguing to observe.”
Tallera shot him a bemused glance, which Dreval didn’t seem to register. He simply followed the crowd into a turbolift, with Tallera following him in turn.
When the turbolift doors opened after a brief trip, her jaw dropped.
The station’s promenade was massive. It looked like she was looking upon a mix of a city, a mall, and an outdoor park, with the ceiling dozens of meters above them. Shops, restaurants, utility stations, and relaxation areas stretched out in seemingly all directions in front of her; so much so that she was nearly overcome with vertigo upon remembering that she was in fact on a station and not on a planet.
“There… there’s so much wasted space…” Tallera finally managed to mutter, to which Dreval raised an eyebrow.
Tallera gave her head a small shake. “Yes, uh, sorry. That sounded odd. I grew up on refugee ships fleeing the Romulus supernova, and they were… very crowded. It’s still weird to see something so open on a spacecraft.”
Tallera couldn’t help but feel a twinge of anger at the Federation. They can build something like this, with all its grandeur and luxuries, but they couldn’t be bothered to help save her people? Even if their initial rescue fleet got blown up by a bunch of angry robots, how could a civilization with such endless wealth not be able to do more? Hundreds of refugees could have lived comfortably in just the area she saw before her.
A few of the Betazoids that had traveled on the shuttle with her gave Tallera a suspicious gaze, seeming to pick up on her suppressed spite. She had the urge to shoot them obscene gestures as they dispersed to wherever their journeys led. Tallera knew prejudice was heavily stigmatized within Starfleet, but she was quickly developing a prominent distaste for the nosy empaths.
“I am sorry you had to deal with such tribulations,” Dreval spoke up after a few moments. His tone was more timid than it had been, as if he hadn’t been sure what to say.
“Don’t worry about it,” Tallera replied with a sigh. “Let’s just go find the Achana. We’re supposed to head to a departure kiosk, right?”
“Yes. There’s one over by the fountain,” he motioned, then immediately made off towards it.
A fountain on a Space Station, Tallera mused as she trudged after him. These people really are as decadent as the old propaganda films claimed.
She peered at the kiosk’s console over Dreval’s shoulder as he typed away, excitement brewing in her over what class she’d be serving on. Despite her issues with the Federation, she’d always had an interest in their military vessels.
Not military, she reminded herself. Whatever Starfleet pretended it was instead of a military.
“Oh, interesting,” Dreval stated flatly. “The USS Achana is a Raven-class.”
Dreval stepped aside to show her the image on the console, and after a brief look at the Achana’s information and photograph she shot him a heavy-lidded stare.
“That’s a runabout.”
“No, it is a corvette.”
“On New Romulus, that’s a runabout.”
“Within the Federation, it is a corvette.”
Tallera looked back at the image on the console and scoffed. The Federation must really not want to publicize the presence of a Republic exchange officer, she thought. And here I was hoping for a Defiant-class…
Lost in thought about what such a tiny craft would even be doing, Tallera didn’t notice Dreval turn around until the Vulcan spoke up.
Tallera immediately spun around and found herself face-to-face with a human female officer bearing the pips of a Lieutenant Commander. Tallera’s Republic Academy training jumped into effect without her conscious thought really even taking notice; she quickly snapped to attention and gave the Romulan across-the-chest salute, only to immediately remember that Starfleet didn’t even have a salute.
“At ease, Ensign Tallera,” the Commander replied with a chuckle. “No need for such formalities here.” She was a rather tall woman, roughly the same height as Dreval, with a dark tan complexion and a slightly prominent nose. Her accent sounded similar to one of the old Enterprise crewmembers she’d seen interviews with during her Starfleet acclimatization training, but she couldn’t remember which. One of the two men who sat at the forward consoles, she thought.
“My apologies, Sir,” Tallera responded, inwardly scolding herself for making such a stupid first impression.
“No apologies necessary. My name is Jimena Zelenko, I’ll be your commanding officer on the Achana. Your name is Tallera, correct?”
“And I see you’ve already met our friend Mr Dreval.”
Tallera turned to look incredulously at Dreval before looking back at Zelenko. “You’ve… already met?”
“Yes. Commander Zelenko was the executive officer of the vessel on which I performed my cadet cruise.”
Tallera briefly felt the urge to ask Dreval why he hadn’t seen fit to tell her that he knew their commander; after all, the name of their commanding officer had been known to both of them since they’d been given the name of their ship. It then occurred to her that she hadn’t specifically asked him whether or not he knew her, so he’d have had no reason to mention it.
More Vulcan culture clashes, Tallera thought. Maybe I’ll figure out how to communicate with this guy before I go back to Mol’Rihan.
“Dreval, would you mind giving Ensign Tallera and I a few minutes?” Zelenko asked. “I’d like to get to know my new officer, and I’m afraid I already know you.”
Dreval nodded in affirmation, then simply wandered away as Zelenko ushered Tallera to a nearby table. Tallera deeply inhaled and kept her best posture, determined to make her subsequent impressions better than her first.