Posted on Mon Mar 13th, 2017 @ 5:17am by Lieutenant Junior Grade Taavis
After the ship got underway Taavis had collected her personnel at the office, the whole six of them not including herself, and they now sat in a circle in the department talking with each other. All had been in infiltration at one time or another, but aside from herself and Ensign Billi, the others had diverged into other areas. Taavis and Billi were also, conveniently enough, the only aliens present, with the other five being Human. Starfleet was a Human organization, the Federation being founded by Humans and four other species, Vulcans included. The Prime Directive was a Vulcan ideal and belief, and they had stressed the need for a government like the Federation to not go out and play god over less advanced civilizations. To not interfere in their natural course of evolution. But, that was another era and not worth worrying about so Taavis came out of her reverie as the others were sitting and talking, a few chuckles and light laughter filling the space.
"Since we are heading to Romulus," said Taavis. "I want all of you to look to your Romulan, all three dialects. With Romulans it is not what you have to say as much as it is what you are truly saying behind the facade of conversation. They are suspicious, and the belief in D'era, or 'Endless Sky', in translation is deep-rooted."
Billi gave a grin and a mild waving off. "Is that the belief that they are the master race, or some shit like that?"
Taavis, a bit of mirth in her eyes, glanced around at the others, that ever-so-slight grin appearing in one corner of her mouth. "Yes, to put it bluntly, Ensign. It is a racial destiny that the Romulans will become rulers of the universe. It became the guiding principal for the Romulan way of life and determins how they will react with one another and how they view other races. The psychological urge to complete this destiny is the catalyst for both their military and their government. It also became a religion of sorts and it gives them justification for violent, war-like ways. D'era is the reason why Romulans have a superior, arrogant attitude towards other species."
"So," another ensign piped in. "Just a bunch of A-holes on a power trip."
"To outsiders, yes." Taavis let her mirth and grin fade. "It teaches more than just that. It is about obedience, discipline and other similar traits that keep the Romulans, and their Empire, a unified force to be reckoned with. Without these teachings then their society would fracture and they would consume themselves in the fires of internal conflict and destroy themselves. From birth Romulans are taught this belief, constantly as they grow, to make sure it is taken to heart and they act accordingly."
"Wow," said Billi, shaking her head and giving a derisive giggle. "And I thought learning to navigate the intricacies of Orion culture was tough as a kid. I can only imagine being set upon by my mother on a daily basis so she can twist my mind into a war monger and brainwashed puppet."
Ensign Newman gave a giggle of her own as she listened to that. "Instead, you got taught how to be a criminal and a prostitute."
Ensign Billi merely gave a sideways glance at Newman, still grinning as she rubbed her chin. "What is criminal to one person, may not be so to another. As for prostitute, yes. I prefer whore, hooker, or working girl, but that's just me."
"Enough," stated Taavis, her tone brooking no argument. "As it stands we need to compile everything we know about the Romulans and send it upstairs. They need all data and sensor logs from Starfleet as we head for the Neutral Zone. The meeting is at a close. Carry on."
The group stood and put their chairs back where they belonged, then broke up, leaving Taavis and Billi alone. "Lieutenant," said Billi. When Taavis turned to face her she stepped up almost toe-to-toe. "I need to know I can trust you, Sir. Beyond the trust of superior and subordinate."
Taavis arched an eyebrow. "And how exactly do you propose I do that? Is it not enough that I am new to this ship and I am finding my own niche within the hierarchy?"
"No, it's not enough," responded Billi. "We all sat here and did a roundabout of conversation, each of us giving up a piece of ourselves for others to know. All except you. Not one iota of personal information was given, and within Intel, when there is no trust then there is no Intel."
"Vulcans do not share personal information," replied Taavis. "We do not ask after another's family, or try to insinuate ourselves into their affairs. If that came off as wrong to you, then you have to learn to deal with it."
Billi stepped in even closer, hands now on hips. "Bullshit. I know Vulcans...and Romulans." Her head tilted a bit, her eyes showing she was in the know about something. "You didn't even divulge that you yourself are half Romulan. That that is how you knew all that crap about D'era."
Taavis, her ire now starting to build. "I was raised Vulcan. Who my sperm donor was is of little consequence. I choose to embrace my ancestry on both sides, less so for the Romulan lineage, despite the fact that my father was a Tal Shiar agent in disguise on Vulcan. My mother found him agreeable, so they married. One day he up and disappeared before I was born, no trace anywhere. It was not until years later that he contacted me, explaining who he was and who I was due to heritage. Is that enough, so far, Ensign?"
Billi's expression softened a bit and she stepped back a pace, letting her arms fall to her sides in a more relaxed pose. "I didn't need all that, Taavis. I was expecting something a little less personal. I now see why you have the mindset you do."
Taavis, for her part, began to calm herself. "The topic of mindset is subject to interpretation. To me, mindset and attitude are synonymous. One's mindset can be cultured, matured, and adjusted. The definition of mindset is; 'a mental attitude, disposition, or mood that determines how we interpret and respond to situations'. A proper mindset can assist us in acting decisively with little hesitation in day-to-day life."
"I get that," Billi said. "It makes us who we are. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself, Taavis, now I can begin to put trust in you."
"Perhaps you should hold off on that," replied Taavis. "Years ago I fell into despair over all these life-changing events and the discovery of my lineage. The lens through which we view life can become distorted by domestic issues, strife, and overwhelming workloads. As a result, your mindset and attitude may end up in the toilet. For me it was a combo platter, and my darkness, masked by a lot of faking, lasted for more than a year."
"Stop," Billi stepped in and placed a finger delicately on Taavis' lips. "Let's take this to your quarters or mine. We're neighbors with a shared bathroom, so not a long walk home. Just promise me I'll get invited over once you actually make department head, to visit your big cabin." She grinned.
Taavis allowed the touch, but then casually reached up and grasped Billi's wrist, removing the offending finger from her mouth and lowering the Orion's hand before letting go. "Talking here, or there, makes no difference. The story would be the same, so your thinking is not logical."
Billi giggled. "Pfft. To blazes with logic! It's about PJ's, a bottle of wine, and sitting comfy on a sofa while talking up a girlfriend. What's so wrong with that?"
Taavis gave a grin, the first true grin she had let anyone see since she had come aboard. There was a twinkle in her eye. I have had better proposals in my day, but yours will suffice. Very well then. My quarters, half an hour, bring your wine." Walking around the extroverted Orion, Taavis walked out of the Intel department.
Billi, watching her leave, gave a fist pump and laughed to herself once Taavis was out the door. "Yes! Another stick removed from a butt, successfully." She walked out with a bounce in her step, heading for home.
Passing through the bathroom, Billi had her wine bottle crooked in an arm, a pillow under the other, her hands carrying a glass and PADD. Instead of a sports bra she was wearing a cotton tank top, blue in color to match her boyshorts undies. Her feet were covered in fuzzy targ slippers. Opening the door to the Taavis side she was hit by the warmth of the interior first, seeing the lighting had been turned down and changed to an amber hue, and there were several candles lit around the main room.
Taavis was lighting the last candle as Billi came in, wearing her Andorian silk pajama set, which was also a royal blue in color. She wore no slippers. "Have a seat," she said, chinning toward the sofa. "The bottle on the table is not Romulan Ale, but Kali-fal. Help yourself."
Billi went and sat on one end of the couch, getting herself sitting lotus and diagonal with her back to the corner of the cushions so she could talk to Taavis, and reach the table at the same time. She pulled the cork on her bottle and poured some wine. "Kali-fal isn't much of a favorite. I drank it too fast once, about seared the sinuses."
Taavis smiled and set her lighter aside, coming around and sitting opposite Bille, and matching the sitting pose. She picked up her own glass of Romulan booze, sipping. "It is an acquired taste. However, this vintage is aged well, and opens the nasal passages well before each sip. Where is your wine from?"
"Earth, babe." Billi took a sip. "Mmm, I love a good Terran Merlot."
"As do I," said Taavis. "May I?" When Billi said yes, Taavis went and got herself a wine glass as Billi ran next door to get another bottle. When she got back and both got situated again, Taavis gave her a look. "One bottle, Miss Billi. Alcohol does not affect me like it does others, so I will be fine. You, however, may not be. And, seeing as how we're over Romulus, and anything could happen, stay sober."
Billi gave a laugh. "Taavis, this is nothing. I can handle my liquor, but I will play by your rules, Boss." Waving that off, she then got them on a topic again. "So, you were in a dark place years ago, feeling all shitty about yourself and life. I'm curious how that all turned out. I mean, you're here, which means no phaser pressed to your temple in a self loathing moment of suicide."
"No, suicide is not an option," said Taavis after sipping some wine. "What it came down to was I was missing the camaraderie of being a part of a unit with such a level of intimacy with those surrounding you that cannot be found in many places. When I finally hit that truly dark place within myself I did a self-diagnosis and some research, concluding that I was depressed."
"No friggin way!" Billi's eyes lit up with both surprise and mirth, her giggle warm and friendly, not abrasive to the situation. "Vulcans suffer depression? Who knew?"
Taavis, hearing that giggle and seeing this...friend, caring enough to listen, felt good and continued. "Well, some of us are, but on average not so much. And, this is me. My prognosis, naturally, was that depression was for weaklings. I know now that depression is very serious and shouldn't be taken lightly. But, at the time, I plugged that into my mind and never sought aid." She took a few moments to go quiet, all the happiness and mirth gone from her visage as she sipped her wine and thought on things; how much to expose to her subordinate. "I nearly capitulated to darkness. But something reminded me that life isn't objective. Life is malleable. My remedy was to physically train harder than ever. I hit the weights and holodecks, practicing my martial arts and keeping myself fit and trim--a warrior. I had a mindset that was already engraved in my hard drive, I just needed to dig deep, into the far recesses of myself, to adjust it. My timing was askew, and I wasn't running on all reactors."
Billi simply sat and listned, seeing that this was hard for Taavis to speak about. But, now that she had opened the spillway, it was all pouring out.
"Some time back I was a part of a small group," continued Taavis. "This group of individuals had the mindset that there was and there is no second place. It wasn't shouted in some lame mantra nor was there any chest pounding. It's a fundamental mindset that resonates with certain people or groups of people. That mindset had become an ember, and I just needed to set fire to it again. We are all different. Not all of us can put our minds to achieving a grandiose task of epic proportion and succeed at it. Regardless, there's fire within us all that allows us to be whom we want to be. We can choose our own paths."
Billi reached out and patted Taavis' knee. "Trust me, I know how that goes." She had been a whore and a criminal, ran her own crew of Orions and others for the clan, and pretended to be the muzzled, enslaved little green woman the galaxy expected her to be. Too bad most of the galaxy didn't realize it was the women who were in charge, the males the slaves, and that playing the victim always-always led to riches and power. But, Billi had decided to go a different route in life, and just by being Orion, Starfleet was more than willing to take her in and train her for Intelligence work. As an Orion she was a natural linguist what with all the species she had met in her day. Beyond that she had a knack for codes and deciphering, being able to see patterns when no one else could. As an Orion she was not a fan of sitting in an office for the rest of her career, so when the choice was offered Billi jumped at the chance for infiltration. Pretty easy to do when one wears a slave girl's outfit, all bikini style and lots of flesh exposed.
Taavis finished her glass of wine and set the glass aside, then got up and started to put the kali-fal away and dispose of the dirty crockery, talking as she went. "Not only can a bad sequence of events put you in a downer of a mood, but it can spiral to the point where you question your self-worth. Don't look where you don't want to go. Before buying a ticket to the pity party remember that the world is bigger than you--than we--are."
Billi watched her new friend as she moved about, speaking and making sure to show her guest attention. Plus, Billi had to admit to herself, this little story was interesting and she was wanted to see where it led.
"The mind navigates the body," said Taavis, reclaiming her seat on the sofa. "In other words, how you think will determine your attitude and mindset. The brain intuitively tells the body what to do--mindset, to what degree." She noted the attention Billi was giving her, truly interested in what she had to say. Curious. "My mindset has directives that give me direction. I have added these directives to the departmental directives, so others may use them as guidelines to keeping themselves on the right path. I am willing to guess that you and I will parallel on some."
"Fire away, bitch," giggled out Billi, hoping the friendly use of the derogatory name would be received well. She noticed, too, that Taavis was speaking more casually, using words and phrases that a Vulcan normally wouldn't. To see her in the field, in a role for infiltrating, Billi would love that.
Taavis grinned at the use of the word 'bitch', which she had used quite often when in the field and playing a role. No offense was taken. "As you wish. Here they are:
1. Maintain condition yellow. Stay out of the white. Stay switched on instead of switched off.
2. Take the stairs and ladders rather than a lift, when you can. Take my own path and stay away from the sheeple.
3. Workout several times a week because a strong body equals a strong mind. My mindset preprograms how and what I'll attack in the gym the day before I get there.
4. Never be late, light, or out of uniform. If I'm not early, I'm late. And if I'm late, pleaase come look for me because I am probably face down somewhere.
5. The best way to get out of an altercation is not be there in the first place. But when things escalate, I'll put a fist through the face of the antagonist who closes the gap.
6. I will not draw my sidearm with the intent to merely aim and give warning. If I have made the decision to draw, I'm dropping the hammer with precision and lethality.
7. My mindset allows me to be introspective and to recognize my faults and weaknesses. It states, "you can probably do better."
8. Do what's right instead of doing the right thing. Innately, sentients know right from wrong. We should be good to others and do what's right instead of doing the right thing to appease someone of some higher power.
9. Train in the holodeck ranges with an objective and with intensity. Perform at the next level.
10. Don't plan to fail by failing to plan. Be prepared for whatever may come. I need to be prepared to save my life, someone else's life, or to kick someone's ass.
11. Check my anger. Though I will not be victimized, I should exercise keen intellect instead of rage when avoiding being victimized by some dumbass. Mind you, there are a lot of them out there. And there's no cure for being a dumbass. I'll try at all costs to defuse a situation before I crush dipshit's windpipe.
12. My mind says that everything is a competition, and I can do better at anything than anybody. Is that true? No. It doesn't have to be true.
13. Don't rest on my laurels. What's done is done. Yesterday doesn't mean a thing unless you can perform tomorrow.
14. Don't underestimate anyone. Looks can be deceiving. Cunning and moxie rule the day.
15. Don't be a jerk. It doesn't resonate well. I'd rather have assets than liabilities.
There you go, that all of them." Taavis raised her eyebrows in a look of 'what do you think'.
"Nice," said Billi. "You're right, there's a few in there I live by, myself."
Taavis, her face relaxing, nodded. "My mindset reminds me that my positives outnumber my negatives. Plus, being Romulan, I have to keep my Mnhei'sahe in mind. I served on a Romulan merchant ship for a few years, in disguise, and found the Mnhei'sahe, or 'Ruling passion', intriguing. It is a concept I agree with."
"What the hell is Mnhei'sahe," asked Billi, pronouncing the word perfectly.
"The Ruling Passion, or Mnhei'sahe, is a concept-complex that rules most of Rihannsu life in terms of honor," explained Taavis. It is primarily occupied with courtesy to people around one. Not quite honor--not quite loyalty--and not quite anger or hatred or about fifty other things. It can be a form of hatred that requires you to give your last drop of water to a thirsty enemy--or an act of love that requires you to kill a friend. Of the chief Parts of the Ruling Passion, only this can be truly said: Hate has a reason for everything. But love is unreasonable."
"Oohhhh, I like that!" Billi smiled. "I need to learn more about this stuff. Hey, I'm a linguist and I do speak all three Rihannsu dialects. On occasion we should speak in Romulan, just for kicks."
"Mnhei'sahe is centered around strong respect and appreciation of honor, duty, courtesy and strength." Taavis had decided to not say a word about speaking Romulan. She kept that side of herself on the down-low, because too many people she had met over the years looked at her suspiciously for the mere mention of her other half. "In all interactions between Rihannsu, it is imperative that all parties leave afterward feeling that their honor and 'face', is intact. Something the command staff needs to keep in mind when dealing with Romulans. Make them feel slighted, lose face, even on a minor level, and all negotiations are right out the window."
Billi set her empty wine glass on the table, not refilling it as she corked the bottle. "Damn. I hope they know all this because we're in the center of Romulan space and greatly outnumbered."
Taavis gave a tongue-in-cheek look to her friend. "They better know it all, I sent an entire datafile upstairs. Not my problem if they can't find time to sit down and read. Plus, the chief diplomatic officer should know at least some of that. If not, they need to bone-up on their Rihannsu knowledge." She sighed, showing her own emotional content. "Above all Mnhei'sahe is sensitive to the context of the situation and is a rather interpretive concept. It is not a specific codified set of rules, but an unspoken understanding which guides the actions of all Rihannsu throughout life. Rihannsu honor their word when it is given to another Rihannha."
"Orion females, we do the same, unless it's a power play," said Billi.
"With Rihannsu, it is always a power play, but Mnhei'sahe dictates how one goes about it," instructed Taavis. "Politeness, respect, and quiet dignity are always required if Mnhei'sahe is to be satisfied."
Billi got up and collected her things, leaving the unopened and full bottle of Merlot for Taavis. "A gift from a guest. Have a good night L-T." She leaned over as she stepped between the table and sofa to go toward the bathroom door, kissing Taavis on her cheek and whispering huskily into her ear. "You're fun to hang out with." Then she swaggered into the head.
Taavis, sitting in her spot, arched an eyebrow when the kiss hit her cheek. Then the husky words in the ear, and after playing a rock band princess on an assignment in Wild Space, she had to admit she liked it. But, the little Orion arse had taken off quickly, on purpose Taavis was sure, trying to leave her boss stumped. Good luck, darlin', good luck thought Taavis. Stretching out on her couch, Taavis decided to get in a nap before getting up and dressing to go back to the office.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Taavis
Acting Chief Intel Officer
Ensign Billi (not a char. yet)