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JL | Com Ivanova, Cmdr Luka | "Noble Causes"

Posted on 241904.23 @ 15:15 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Commander Luka Kane

Mission: Lacuna
Timeline: Shortly after departing CST

When Luka Kane had first set foot upon the USS Orion, his new Commanding Officer had offered him the nickel tour. Luka had stared at him blankly, baffled by the strange Terran expression, one that his Captain had only been able to provide the vaguest of details about. It was a reference to an archaic Earth currency, his Captain had known that much, the metal in question referencing the traditional material of a particular low-value coinage. From what Luka had been able to infer, the expression almost suggested that a nickel tour would be similarly low in value, but on the contrary, such introductions were invaluable to a new officer coming aboard, especially one whose familiarity with Starfleet starships was somewhat niche.

Alas, there had not been time for Luka to indulge in a nickel tour of the USS Vindicator as of yet, the ship's crew too occupied with their preparations for departure to waste time on such a concession. Luka had made do with the ship's computer, for now, logging himself as aboard, and allowing it to guide him to his quarters where he could deposit the few personal effects that he'd carried with him, separate from those which had already been delivered aboard. From there, he had found his way to the duty officers for Security and Tactical, making them aware of his presence aboard, but also making it clear that he didn't plan to interfere with them getting their jobs done on the timetable they'd been given. Introductions, reviews, and the imposition of his own way of doing things would come later. It was a mindset that Luka found strangely comforting, when looked at in a certain way: staying in your lane, and letting Starfleet Security get on and do its thing was a familiar status quo, that reminded him of home and simpler times back on Deep Space Nine.

For an idle moment, he'd wondered if either of the duty officers had even been alive back in those days. He grunted at himself as the thought reared it's ugly head again in the here and now.

With the Vindicator underway, Luka finally allowed himself to begin to roam. His first objective was to meet and greet his new Commanding Officer: a task that the computer had once again helped to guide him towards. Luka hesitated for a moment at the threshold of the appropriate doorway, momentarily wishing there was a reflective surface in which he could see himself. He had been avoiding them lately, not particularly interested in spending any time looking at the unfamiliar face that kept staring back, the one who seemed so out of place in a Starfleet uniform, as if they no longer matched the physical dimensions that the garment had been designed to fit. In this instance, however, he might have braved it, the understood necessity of a good first impression outweighing his desire to avoid the visual reminder of his own mortality.

A breath escaped him, ushering a wave of calm to wash over him, and a hand reached out to press the door chime.

"Enter!" Rochelle's voice carried over the interrupted silence of her ready room. It had been a reasonably quiet morning spent with a raktajino and a number of PADDs. The ship leaving port had given her a chance to relax and begin to decompress, allowing the arms of inky velvet space to fold around and soothe her once more, but with leaving came change and change meant facing the past head on. While the Firebird held the Stenellian Empress in high regards, it was memories of near the fatal near miss in Ascendancy space that curried the overall mood of the crew - including her. The idea of meeting Tr'Bak head on, unprepared, was one that threatened to drain the color from the redhead's face - not from fear for her own hide... Fear for the souls that she was responsible for.

It wouldn't happen, but if it did... She was more than ready. Change, positive change, was most certainly for the better.

The interruption presented by the chime was just one of those changes, no doubt. Ra'lin and Almar rarely used the chime - their nearness to her had afforded them a greater sense of freedom when it came to 'abusing' her personal space and time. Granted, there wasn't exactly much in the way of impropriety that she could get tangled up in while alone in the space. The key word, of course, being alone. A quick hike of a single copper brow, and a fleeting furtive glance towards the corner of her desk, left her more amused than embarrassed by such thoughts.

A quick clearing of her throat and brushing of a wayward lock of hair back behind her ear later, the stalwart little Commodore was the picture of perfect control as she sat waiting behind her desk - hands folded neatly atop it - waiting for her visitor to reveal themselves.

It occurred to Luka that he had never served with a Commodore before. He was aware of Commodores, and had served with people who had been Commodores at some time or another, but his sporadic service with Starfleet had never aligned to place him under a Commodore's direct command. That hardly made him exceptional, he supposed: the same was likely true of a good many Starfleet officers; but in this particular circumstance, it left him with a void in his knowledge and understanding of Starfleet protocol that he had not had the forethought to remidy. How exactly did one address a Commodore, as far as Starfleet's often confusing traditions and protocols were concerned? No doubt there would have been an entire class about such things had Luka ever attended Starfleet Academy, but that wasn't a memory or experience he could fall back upon. In the Bajoran Militia, things were easy: you addressed someone by their rank, their familial forename, or an appropriate insult depending on how personally familiar you were with the individual in question, and that was that. But with Starfleet, things were muddy. Anyone who commanded a starship was the Captain, and your Captain, even if they weren't necessarily a Captain. Someone had once explained this to him on Deep Space Nine, back when Benjamin Sisko was still a Commander, but had assumed command of the Defiant: he was Commander Sisko, the Commander of Deep Space Nine, but the Captain of the USS Defiant. And then, of course, there was the Starfleet Marine Corps, whose Captains were equivalent to Lieutenants rather than Captains in the fleet, but who occasionally, by virtue of some strange tradition and a desire to avoid confusion between them and the Captain, might be referred to as Major. The latter he could somewhat grasp, at least in part, but mostly he felt grateful that, despite the similarities between Marine Corps ranks and the way that those of the Bajoran Militia were translated into Federation Standard, there were no Captain conundrums that the average Bajoran was required to contend with.

Thoughts swarming through his mind as he stepped through the doorway, he decided it was in his best interests to avoid the situation entirely, until he had the opportunity to witness how others approached this particular situation.

"Commander Luka Kane," he introduced, coming to a smart but not excessively crisp halt before the Commodore's desk, hands clasped behind his back. "I apologize for not reporting in as soon as I came aboard: we seemed to be leaving Cold Station Theta in earnest, and I presumed this was a formality that could afford to wait for a slightly more convenient moment."

Had Rochelle known the maelstrom of activity and thought racing through the Commander's mind, she likely would have found a way to recommend that they lay off the raktajino, switch to decaf, and take up some form of meditation. The sincere chaos of it would have been enough to garner not only a steadily risen brow - an arch of which any self respecting Vulcan would have approved - but a nod, patient smile, and of course the memo jotted down that this was a member of society worthy of note... Perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Later introspection would have resolved that she needed to be more patient and remember that he was, in fact, Bajoran and their customs and personalities were far different - and maybe a bit more high key - than those of the average human.

Either way... The woman motioned to one of the chairs in front of her Pietersite desk and offered him a small smile of greeting, "Have a seat, Commander Kane," She began, "I really don't think there's any need for apologies given the nature of the beast. We did pull out of Theta pretty abruptly." And given the option, she'd have done it the same way over again. Putting distance between herself and any place she could be reached for was her idea of a 'tactical withdrawal' as much as it seemed to ooze 'defeat' from every proverbial pore. Not something she necessarily wanted to dwell on while offering a new crew member the 'omini domini welcome aboard' routine. "I had a chance to review your file when the initial transfer request came across." This time the smile was genuine and she paused only to tug open one of her desk drawers and retrieve a PADD, "You have a very impressive record, truly, but I'm compelled to ask why you decided to step out of retirement now?" Small talk among professionals... So intriguing.

"Technically, it's Commander Luka," he corrected gently, settling into the offered seat. His younger self might have been more defensive about the error, but old age had smoothed off those sharp Bajoran edges, and had come to appreciate just how many cultures and concepts a Federation citizen was bombarded with over the course of their lives. Occasionally, the odd tradition slipped outside the scope of notice and memory, and all that could be done was to apply a little patience and understanding. "Family comes first in my culture, so Kane is my given name. But, most people just call me Luka either way: I think the last person who called me Kane was in the middle of trying to sell me a used freighter."

He adjusted his posture slightly as he turned his mind to her question, breezing past any opportunity for her to react to his minor correction, as if to sweep it under the bridge like water under a rug, or whatever the proper Terran idiom was. His brow tugged into the faintest of frowns. "Honestly, I'm not sure I have a satisfactory answer for that question. There's no single grand reason, more a conspiracy of small ones. Boredom, no sense of direction, no sense of purpose, the gentle nudging of old colleagues and comrades feeling old and lonely because there are too few officers from our era still in service -"

Luka shrugged, wishing there really was something pivotal, something significant that had dragged him back. Instead, he was left with a sense of uncertainty: not doubt, or reservation, or anything so negative as that, more a feeling that he was adrift, progressing forward under inertia rather than by the drive of his own thrusters.

"I guess I just missed the adventure, and the discovery, and wanted to forge a few more memories like that for myself, before I reach an age where I'm just not useful to anyone any more."

The Commodore's lips quirked into a smile, betraying her good mood and gentle humor. She'd made a blunder, no doubt, in deciding to gloss over Bajoran culture - but the man had taken it in stride and shown her that he wasn't going to be an ill fitting carpet tack waiting to prick unsuspecting toes as the crew learned how to waltz with him. "So what I'm hearing is that you felt the call of the stars and couldn't deny it." The smile couldn't be contained, it blossomed and bloomed as she set herself back in her chair long enough to push away from her desk and find her feet.

"There's no shame in that call, Commander Luka, it's a form of wanderlust that chooses to pester an elite few," Rochelle continued as she rounded the shining Pietersite desk that had once acted as a barrier between the two of them and motion didn't cease until she stood in front of what could only be described as a wall of 'glass'. From deck to ceiling, the panel boasted an unparalleled view of the stars and Stenellis space that many would have died to see... And many had. Even with the lights on within her ready room, Rochelle's delicate form was well illuminated and bathed in a silver-blue glow of resilient starshine that demanded not only her attention, but her imagination. She studied it with quiet eyes before gesturing to it with a single finger, "There's a Terran scholar that said that we're, and I do mean all of us, made of space stuff and stardust. So what you're saying isn't anything that surprises me. If anything, I'm rather honored to be able to supply you the chance to get back to it."

Wanderlust. It wasn't a word that translated directly into Bajoran, but Luka had always liked it. There was something distinctly human about it, the fact that they had a word for a feeling that made an ineffable and irresistible feeling seem as if it was so simple and rational. For Luka, it felt anything but rational, and any attempt to frame it in such a way made the sensation rattle and writhe around inside him like a reluctant hara cat shoved unceremoniously into a box. Wanderlust was part of it, but it was more than that, and less. It was restlessness, and listlessness, and a whole string of other human words that helped explain their species rapid explosion from unheard of to ubiquitous among the stars within a few generations.

"Counterpoint, there's a Terran scholar who says that we're made of slugs, and snails, and puppy dog tails. Or at least, that I am." He let out a soft chuckle, remembering the lengthy debate he'd had with an infant Takara when that had been the bedtime reading of choice. It's just a poem, Uncle Luke. Don't take it so literally. A lot had changed since then. A lot of growth. A lot of people getting much, much older.

His brow adjusted into a frown. "I suppose we Bajorans have a similar concept. Our ancestors travelled to the stars looking for the Prophets. We didn't know where to find them, just that they came from up there. We reached for the moons, and when we couldn't find them there, we just kept going. Missed the wormhole completely, never knowing it was there, and just kept searching on and on, sailing the solar streams and tachyon flows. All the way to Cardassia, in fact, if you believe what the archaeologists these days will tell you. But things changed. My people learned the hard way that it isn't always something good that comes from the stars. I spent my youth fighting for a Free Bajor, but as soon as we achieved it, I found myself wanting to be anywhere but there. Even a rusty old Cardassian mining station was preferable to the rolling hills and open dales of the world I'd helped to liberate. You call it wanderlust, Commodore, and make it sound so noble, but to me?"

He shook his head. "To me, it feels anything but. I stayed in one place for too long, and eventually that nagging feeling of unbelonging became too much. I've spent these last years roaming the Federation, but my wandering isn't driven by lust, or anything so positive. I'm a crusader, whose crusade is long over, and in all my years since then, I suppose that Starfleet is the thing that has come closest to filling the void."

"Then you have honestly found the right place to serve, Commander." Rochelle offered the briefest of smiles, her words soft and filled with intrinsic understanding. If anyone understood the need to fill a void, it was her - however... Her crusade was far from over. Vrith Tr'Bak still lurked in the shadowy recesses of the galaxy waiting for his chance to rise up and show himself again. The question was, of course, how many more would die in the name of his abhorrent madness. One, she heard her psyche whisper and the shiver that threatened to run along the length of her spine was almost impossible to suppress, but she managed to with a subtle cough and shift of her posture.

"Anyway, it is noble. Someday you'll come to understand that or so I hope. Welcome aboard."

Noble. Luka allowed himself a small smile at the description, whether it felt deserved or not. He shifted from his seat, standing and smoothing out the front of his uniform in one fluid motion. "Someday, perhaps," he conceded, wondering if the sentiment held any chance of reality, or if it was merely wishful thinking. "And thank you, Commodore. I am -" The smile made one last appearance, tugging at the corner of his mouth. "- glad to be here."

"And I'm glad to hear that." The brief little smile seemed to grow, the sentiment curried by the demeanor of the Bajoran departing her officer. Of course, as she dismissed the man, she could only hope that peace would hold fast long enough to keep the chance for extreme nobility at bay. People were often forged by battle, their mettle tested. Luke Kane had seen enough of that sort of thing for several lifetimes, as had she, but then of course came the question of whether prolonged peace would be incompatible with industrious creatures such as them.

Time would tell.

---

Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

Commander Luka Kane
Chief Security Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

 

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