By Christina Moore
“You wanted to see me, Captain?”
Serutian looked up as Dareth entered her office. “Yes, Lieutenant—please, feel free to sit.”
Dareth did as she suggested. The Trill watched, observing once again the reserve he employed. It occurred to her that his manner, although practiced, might make him seem “colder” than other Vulcans. He had to work harder at it, she supposed, because he couldn’t suppress his emotions like they could.
When he had taken his seat, Serutian leaned forward. “I wanted to tell you what I thought of your work translating the Colony’s language. I am duly impressed. Of course, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering your previous work—you did, after all, spend several years with the Tamarians, studying their history so we’d be able to communicate with them. Although relations are still complicated, your efforts certainly helped pave the way to greater understanding between them and the Federation.”
Dareth’s smile was accompanied by a blush. Considering the events that had followed his leaving Tama, that comparable achievement had been greatly overshadowed.
“Thank you, Captain,” he replied.
“Your official listing among the crew is ‘multi-task officer.’ We don’t necessarily need a linguist per se, as that’s pretty much what the Universal Translator is for—although we’ve already seen even it isn’t entirely reliable,” the captain went on. “As such, you really haven’t any specific responsibilities, and I imagine drifting from one department to the next gets old.”
“I suppose,” Dareth replied non-committally. “I’ve been spending most of my time in Engineering, but I’m not certain T’Rae likes my being there.”
“I wouldn’t take it personally. She just isn’t used to—” She stopped, unsure of how to phrase what she wanted to say without insulting him.
“To someone like me,” Dareth finished. “Or more specifically, a Vulcan that doesn’t control his emotions.”
“She knows you can’t, Lieutenant.”
“I know. I’ve mentioned it myself to her.”
She studied him again. “Does her reaction to you bother you?”
He shrugged. “Not really. Anymore, I have to ignore the way people react to me. They either get used to it or they don’t. Among my people, my condition is considered more of a taboo than being v’tosh’katur. You’d think that was worse, given that they have a choice and I don’t, but Vulcans are a rather pretentious species, and even they are not above looking down on the weak and inferior.”
Serutian couldn’t think of anything to say to that—nothing seemed quite right. Instead she smiled, hoping her idea would make him feel better, though not as if she were doing it for T’Rae’s benefit.
“Dareth, I’ve been thinking about something for a couple of hours now, and I’m hoping you’re open to it. I just want to be sure that you understand it has nothing to do with anyone being comfortable other than you.”
His eyebrows rose. “What is it?”
Serutian smiled more. “I was thinking we should revive an antiquated position: communications officer. It’s a job that was deleted from the registry nearly a hundred years ago, when communications became one of the primary responsibilities of operations. But I think we should take it out of mothballs.”
Dareth thought for a moment. “What exactly would I be doing?” he asked.
“You would handle all shipboard communications, ship-to-ships, ship-to-shores, as well as contact with Command. You would also be present on all First Contact missions—so being a linguist isn’t as obsolete as the UT seems to make it—and your primary work station would be on the bridge. I also thought of incorporating the position of quartermaster into it, or requisitions officer, if you prefer. Commander Stadi’s been handling requisition orders, and I'm pretty sure she’d be relieved to have one less headache.
“Overall, the duties are more specific, and you’ll have a lot more responsibility,” Serutian went on.
Then she asked him the question he'd been waiting since their initial meeting for her to ask. He was surprised, really, that it had taken her this long.
“There’s something else I’ve been wondering about since I read your service record, about the incident that resulted in your being suspended for a year… Why did you do it, Dareth?”
He almost laughed. The specifics were confidential, the official record sealed, but as his commanding officer, she was privy to every sordid detail.
With a sigh, he replied, “Saying I’m sorry, and that I made a mistake, just isn’t enough when you consider that I nearly killed a man. I don’t even think I really know why—though I do know getting pissed at him wasn’t the only thing behind it.”
He shrugged. “It wasn’t a good time for me. I don’t know what else to say.”
Though still curious, knowing there was definitely more to the story, Serutian nevertheless nodded. “I’m certain you’ve realized that you almost destroyed your career.”
Dareth nodded. “I know that. I’m also aware that I am very lucky not to have been incarcerated for life .”
“I think that having come so close, you work that much harder to prove yourself,” Serutian observed.
He laughed. “You sound like a counselor. Gil talks like that, and he isn’t even Starfleet.”
“Therapists are universal, I think,” she returned.
“So…what do you think of my proposal?”
Dareth regarded her for a long moment. He glanced up briefly at the wall behind her, at the pictures of herself and Captain Harris beside the dedication plaque. His answer was the same as his thought of the display.
“I like it.”