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Part of USS Altai: Spectres in the Dust

A nice dinner conversation

Ship's Mess
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Alton walked into the mess to get some dinner. His dinner was a steak salad, boiled potatoes and an iced green tea. When his tray was filled, he looked around for a table to sit at, but, sadly, the mess was filled tonight. He looked around for an empty seat…and saw on. So, he walked over and asked the LtJG, “Is this seat taken?”

A slight jump came from Katsu as she looked at her side seeing Alton “Oh….well it is free” She felt still that social awkwardness but tried her best as she shoves a few PADDs aside.

Alton noticed the slight jump she made when he spoke, he put it down as surprise, since he basically did just sneak up on her. “Thank you.” He pulled out the chair, placed his tray on the table, then sat. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Alton Jackson.”

“Uhmm Oka Katsu, my first name is Katsu….old tradition of my people on Earth” Katsu tried to explain to avoid confusing moment “You are new right?” She took a sip of her drink. 

“Basically, yes, I am new. I arrived about 2 weeks ago. I’m the Operations officer.” He took a sip of his drink. “An Earther, eh? I was born on a starship, the USS Gotham.”

Nodding to him “Yea, born and raised on Earth. Born on a ship, what is that life like?” Katsu tried to keep herself into the conversation. Her introvert character is screaming to run for her life and get back into the lab. 

“Life on a ship. It’s very regimented, you’re told where you can and can’t go, unescorted. You know most of the crew, and they know who your parents are, so if you step out of line, the roof falls on your head. But….it was an interesting experience, something that prepared me for the Academy.” She seemed nervous, like she thought I was going to attack her, so he kept his voice soft, so as to not scare her. “What do your parents do on Earth?”

Taking a bite of her snack as she tried to not feel so uncomfortable. Katsu looked at him “Sounds like life on a planet really, being strict and such runs in my culture” Katsu thinks a second remembering the discipline training she had to endure over time “My parents?” She took another bite “They are active shrine keepers. An old tradition in my culture that was restored over time. My mother teaches at an elementary school”

“Two very honorable professions. You must be very proud of them.” Alton asked. “To be a shrine keeper, that must be very hard thing to do. I think I would like to visit this shrine, the next time I am on Earth. Do you think I would be allowed?”

Nodding to him, “Yes, the old tradition would decline that, but the culture opened up more overtime. So you can visit it without a problem” Katsu pointed out, “What about your parents, what do they do?” The whole socializing concept was new to her, that was for sure.

“When I was five, my parents transferred to the USS Kennedy, where my father was promoted to captain and assumed command. My mother was promoted to lieutenant commander and she’s the ships chief medical officer.” Alton took a sip of his drink. “I just had a letter from them, and everything is fine. My mother hinted that I could transfer there, and my father would make me the Chief Operations Officer, with a rank of lieutenant commander.” He smiled at her.

“Sounds like a step-up, but also sounds like….privilege” Katsu shrugs a bit. “If I offended you, I am sorry for that” She didn’t like the idea of people getting a step-up just because they were in a favorable position. On the other side, why would one want to work with their parents? Is it not the entire idea to leave the bird’s nest to develop yourself further? Katsu was a bit struggling with the idea. 

“No offense taken. I do have the requirements for the position, and as far as the rank is concerned, promotions can be made by the senior staff to promote crewmembers on their staff.” He finished his salad and moved the plate to the side.

Taking another bite of her food, she nodded. “What requirements do you have,” Katsu asked curiously.

Alton looked at her…curious question that she asked. “I’ve took advanced science and engineering courses at the Academy, if needed, I can assist in main engineering during a crisis, and I can a science officer is needed, I can assist there as well.”

Thinking for a moment, “But is that a requirement to get promoted to Lieutenant Commander?” Katsu looked at him, “Think about it if you are doing it to get promoted. The calculated outcome might be that you get rejected, as they would rather take someone interested in Engineering and Science. I come for science and don’t desire to be in a different department. So it would be weird if I would expand my knowledge in an area I am not good in” She noticed that she was rambling on, “Sorry….though train”.

“No need to apologize, I understand.” He sipped his drink. “Operations officer entails a wide variety of specialties that other departments have. I can be an ops officer one day, helm when needed in an emergency, science officer another, or an engineer, so our training is more intensive and demanding.” He smiled at her. “And I enjoy the challenge.”

Giving a nod to him “So you rather be the on the fly officer then stick your passion to one career path?” Katsu asked wondering why he wouldn’t pin it down. 

Jackson started to laugh. “The more a person does, shows that he or she, is a valuable asset to whatever ship they’re on. I can do more than one thing ever well, which can go a long way towards being promoted. I probably wouldn’t be a very good science officer compared to you. You have the experience, but, and it’s a big but, if you’re not available for a mission or in an emergency on the bridge, then someone would be needed to take over the position.” He leaned forward in his seat. “I have some knowledge about handling the science station, nowhere as much as you do…..but if needed, I can fill in in a pinch.”

“But is that not the excitement of the job? To do something solid and be a specialist. We got enough science officers to pitch in if I am not around” Katsu pointed out taking a last bite of her lunch. 

“Again, it was part of my training. I am not trying to have the entire science department put out of a job.” Jackson responded.

Giving him a soft nod “Well if it brings you excitement to be a ….spider on the web to all kinds of functions around the ship. Then that is good for you” Katsu smiled. 

“Thank you. I hope we’re able to have more conversations like this one.” Jackson nodded.