The junior officers hold the founding meeting of the JOPA (Junior Officer Protection Association) in this epic joint point!
I like it for three reasons. First, the JOPA is a neat conceit to get newly assigned junior officers together and bond. Second, the joint post itself gets the characters and their backgrounds introduced (super helpful OOC wise). Third, the collaboration and organisation that has gone into making this post happen is neat!
((Kofi Bar Patio, Duronis II))
The 32-year-old man stood next to a large wicker table with seats for eight. The view was gorgeous, overlooking sun-kissed beaches on the waterfront. The sun, low in the sky this late in the afternoon, beamed over the sand, stretching for miles in either direction along the coast. Beachgoers could be seen enjoying themselves in the water just a hundred meters away.
The ocean breeze swept across the patio. Wes’ short-sleeved shirt, white with a black grid pattern on it, rippled in the light breeze. He wore it unbuttoned with a tight-fitting dark green T-shirt underneath and beige shorts. The wind brushed at the edges of the loose clothing. Having encouraged the other officers to come relaxed, he had dressed for the warm sunny weather.
The scent of the saltwater and the sea was relaxing, and Wes sat down at the table to wait for the rest of the junior officers to arrive. Seeing the first walking through the interior of the half restaurant half club, Wes waved and called out.
Greaves: Out here on the patio. The weather is perfect to sit outside!
Dar walked out onto the patio and gave Greaves a subtle wave back with a smile.
Dar: The weather is almost perfection and thank you for inviting me.
Greaves: Of course! The whole point of this shindig is to get all of us together. The filthy senior officers are no match for a cohesive group of us!
She grabbed a chair and sat down as the others began to arrive, she was curious as to what this was about. She had chosen to wear a loose-fitting pair of beige slacks and a maroon sleeveless vest with a pair of sandals, she was glad to see she was not overdressed.
Wes looked around and didn’t see anyone else approaching yet, so he decided to try and carry on a conversation. He was never great at small talk. Put him in a big group setting, and he could joke and vibe with the best of them. One on one and Wes just stumbled over his words and felt awkward.
Greaves: oO No better way to get better with small talk than to do it! Oo So, I know we met once already right before the mission, but it was brief and we all were busy. To try again, I’m Wes Greaves. You seem a little old to be a junior Ensign. Join Starfleet late, or were you prior-enlisted?
Dar couldn’t help but chuckle at Greaves candid and very direct approach to his question pertaining to her age and she knew that it was bound to be only a matter of time before someone mentioned it.
Dar: Well, yes I am a bit more seasoned than the rest and yes I was enlisted before...a few years back but I returned to Bajor to work with the government.
As she spoke she peered up seeing the familiar stoic form of Dr Alieth approached.
Alieth arrived at the meeting place neither too early nor too late, but just when she intended to.
For the occasion, she had chosen to dress in civilian clothes, something she rarely did since she had joined Starfleet. The young Vulcan wore a high-collared tunic that stretched to the floor, producing a soft rustle with every move. It was a traditional garment of multiple shades of gray and copper, which left only her face and hands exposed, which she was able to conceal within the wide sleeves. Or, that she would do so if it had not been for the tray she carried on her hands. Over it was a steaming teapot and half a dozen minute cups.
Alieth: Mister Greaves, Miss Dar. :: She said as a greeting while she placed her load on the table. :: Is everyone here?
Wes smiled as the Vulcan appeared on the patio with tea. He had been drinking the stuff Alieth had introduced him to every morning along with his coffee and he had finally begun getting used to the shock of the taste and the caffeine-like energy it gave him.
Greaves: Alieth, glad you could make it. And with tea even! Is it the kind of tea I think it is?
Alieth: :: Nodding solemnly. :: Indeed, I considered that it might be a suitable method to...:: She remained silent for a second, in search of the proper Terran proverb. :: ... to break the ice.
Greaves: Great idea! I could use a pick-me-up. Pour me a cup?
Alieth: By all means.
The Vulcan took a seat in one of the vacant chairs amidst a flurry of greyish fabric. When she finally settled down on the seat and began to pour a couple of minute cups of the sour-smelling liquid, her outfit had arranged itself around her in such fashion that it seemed as disciplined and stoic as the doctor herself. Alieth pushed one of the cups towards Wes and took another for herself, cradling in between her slender finger to warm her hands.
The weather was mild for the first time since they had arrived to the planet, the heat of the twin suns were almost agreeable. The nearby beach was, however, disconcerting to the Vulcan: the combination of the familiar sands with the sight of the massive body of water and the salty smell it produced was alien to her, no matter how many times she experienced it.
Dar watched Alieth as she seemed to be agreeing with the current mood that was being set by the table. It was rather relaxing here on the patio, the weather was fine, the sun was warm and the company did seem agreeable.
Dar: Anymore to come still?
She took a sip of her coffee as she waited for Wes to respond.
Greaves: Looks like we’re still missing a couple of the others … :: He paused noticing another Starfleet Officer. :: Oh wait, it looks like … Wilkins just got here too.
Tara made her way to the table where she saw two people already sitting down. She knew the Vulcan medical officer, but she recognized Wes from when they had lunch earlier. Tara was holding a bowl of mixed fruit as she sat down with the three of them. She was dressed informally with some form-fitting pants that went down to her ankle and a top that had short sleeves with a dropping neckline.
Tara: Thank you for inviting us here Wes, and please call me Tara. We’re off duty now.
Greaves: Long time no-see Tara :: Winking. :: Good to see you again.
Tara: Thank you for lunch earlier. It was lovely.
Greaves: o0 Okay, was she taking that wink out of context? Oo I had a good time too. It’s been nice to have some down time to meet up with people after that mission.
Alieth poured a couple more cups, pushing them in front of the other women. Then the Vulcan took care of her own tiny teacup and took a small sip.
Alieth: I realize we have not had the opportunity to formally introduce ourselves. :: Turning slightly to face the Trill. :: I'm Doctor Alieth, Ensign Wilkins, I presume?
Tara: That’s correct. I think we met briefly when the shuttle went down.
Alieth: :: Nodding soberly. :: I have been unable to visit the science tower to retrieve the residual anaesthetic I left on your facility. I hope that I have not caused you any inconvenience.
Tara: No inconvenience at all. Honestly, I haven’t been in the science tower myself. I’ve been enjoying my down time instead of working.
She gave Wilkins a smile and a slight nod.
Dar: Ensign Dar Elandra, I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure of meeting yet.
At that moment another Vulcan approached the table.
Dar: oO How many Vulcan officers are here?Oo
Dar offered him a curt but polite smile as she took another sip of her coffee.
Greaves: :: Noticing the Vulcan approaching the table. :: And last but not least, here’s Sirok.
Sirok joined the group, wearing a long gray Vulcan-style robe, it was a sober and elaborately manufactured garment. The Vulcan engineer was looking out over the beach more than the people around him. The weather seemed suitable for such a meeting. At the academy he used to skip that kind of reunions, always having something to study or practice on. Since he had arrived at the embassy he had always had something to do and was partly there on the recommendation of his superior officer. But also he found it logical to know the officers he was going to work with, and for emotional beings it was useful to create bonds to do their job.
As he approached them he saluted by bowing his head slightly. He went over to the table and pulled up a chair to sit down. In a way, Sirok moved as he spoke in a robotic way. His way of suppressing feelings was reflected in everything he did.
Greaves: Well looks like we’re all here finally. Let’s get sta....
As Wes announced the arrival of all parties, he was interrupted by a short red-headed waitress who seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
Sami: Hello everyone, welcome to the Kofi Bar. My name is Sami and I’ll be taking care of you all today. I see that you’ve gotten tea and fruit already. Can I get anyone started with some more drinks or appetizers?
At the mention of food, Wes’ stomach growled in protest for the third time that day.
Greaves: Getting started can wait, let’s get drinks and some food. :: Half turning in his chair toward the waitress. :: I’d like a Jack and Coke please, and a plate of vegetarian :: winking at Alieth. :: nachos for the table.
Wes offered a beaming smile to the waitress and turned toward the rest of the gathered officers to let them order.
Alieth bowed her head to the deference the Marine showed to Vulcan food preferences.
Sirok was going to try the tea that Alieth brought, but part of the gathering ritual seemed to consist of consuming products from the place where they had gathered.
Sirok: Spice tea, if you do not have one, a juice of your choice.
Dar: Another cup of coffee, black no sugar and no milk.
Tara: A glass of your best white wine, please.
Alieth: Plomeek tea :: She tilted her head to the side before adding. :: Black coffee if it is not available.
A drink native to the host's home world sounded like a fitting accompaniment to the gathering.
Sami arrived shortly after with the first round of orders. The drinks were distributed around the table efficiently, while the woman never blurred the wide smile painted across her face. When all the refreshments had been served in front of the guests, the chirpy Laudean retraced the short journey to the counter and then came back with some appetisers.
Alieth blinked with astonishment at what was in front of her. It was a sort of sliced... something... roughly triangular, covered with a thick, green, radioactive-looking sauce. On one side of the plate there was a handful of dark, steaming beans, and on the other a pile of carefully cut vegetables, among which the Vulcan could recognize onions, tomatoes, and various types of peppers.
The dish itself did not seem intimidating, but the absence of instruments to consume it was frankly disturbing.
Alieth stared at the plate for 5.44 seconds before turning to the waitress.
Alieth: Provide me with a set of chopsticks. :: Looking at Sirok. :: Preferably two sets.
Sirok nodded, not as a sign of gratitude; that was a feeling. He simply confirmed to Alieth that he wanted a pair of chopsticks, as most Vulcans try not to touch food, so it was a good solution to follow the ritual of sharing food in a group and not having to touch it with your hands.
Wes leaned back in his chair. As the waitress departed again to fill everyone’s orders, the warm afternoon sun was beginning to peak under the awning over the patio. In a matter of moments the table was bathed in direct sunlight.
Greaves: Okay. :: With emphasis on the word. :: Now let’s get started.
The human paused to take a sip of the tea Alieth had brought.
Greaves: So, I know I laid it out in the e-mail, but the JOPA is an informal organization for all of us junior officers to get together. The target audience is the first two ranks of officers. Ensigns and Junior Grades for you folks. Second and First Lieutenants for us in the Marines. Really the goal is to share ideas, share professional education amongst each other, let off steam from work, and have fun together to build camaraderie.
Wes took another sip of his tea and looked around for the waitress, hoping some food was coming soon.
Greaves: Today, I’d like us to get to know each other a little better, decide how formally we’d like to run the JOPA, and then have some fun together. This is as good of a place as any. So to start, let’s introduce ourselves. I’ll start. I’m Wes Greaves. I’m from Seattle Washington on Earth. I joined the Starfleet Marines when I was 18, became a combat engineer as an enlisted man, and eventually decided to become an officer. Not married, no kids, and I’m an only child. Not much family to speak of, but both of my parents are still alive and living happily back on Earth. In my free time, I love to run, read, and I dabble in photography. Mainly nature and landscapes. :: Pausing. ::. And that’s me. Anyone else care to share?
Alieth: My name is Alieth, daughter of Saros and N'Keth. I am a native of Chi-ree, in Xial province, in Vulcan :: Probably that would tell little to the non-Vulcans present, after all Xial was the province of the planet least familiar to off-worlders. :: I started my training at the VSA before moving to San Francisco, where I graduated from the Starfleet Medical Academy.
Alieth took a second to compile the data that Wes provided before she continued following his example.
Alieth: My parents are alive and in a satisfactory state of health. I have an older sister and a younger brother. My current marital status is un-bonded.
The Vulcan took another pause, considering what part of her daily activities might be considered as recreational by human standards. Once she found a suitable activity, she resumed her speech.
Alieth: Outside the medical centre, I care for lesser beings whose health has been compromised. And I prune plants. :: She added eventually, in the light of the latest developments. ::
Dar listened to the introductions as they went around first Wes, then Alieth and now it was her turn. She was quite a bit older than most of them and she was sure that most of them knew about the history of Bajor, it was part of the Starfleet syllabus after all.
Dar: My name is Elandra, Dar is my, as you terrans would call it, surname. In Bajoran culture it is always said first then the name anyways I digress. I was born on Bajor in a Cardassian Internment Camp, Batal which was liberated by Bajoran resistance fighters when I was 11.
She took a sip of her coffee as she gave the others a few minutes to process what she was telling them.
Dar: Long story short I joined the resistance at 16 fought till Cardassia withdrew, joined the Bajoran Military, when the Dominon war started I decided to join Starfleet. :: She paused. :: Well that was a few years back I took a long break after my son was born and returned to Bajor to raise him. Well he’s older now and here I am.
She took another long swig of her coffee waiting for the next person to speak.
Tara: Hello my name is Tara Wilkins. Wilkins is my family name. If I was joined, which I am not, I would be taking on the symbiont’s name as my last name. I grew up in Gheryzan located on Trill. I studied science at Manev University, which is also located on Trill. I then went to Earth where I was a doctoral student in Xenology at Princeton University. I joined Starfleet when I was twenty-six-years-old. I was placed in the six-week Starfleet Academy Preparatory Program. I joined Starfleet because I wanted to explore the universe. Go where no one has gone before. That type of thing.
Tara popped a grape in her mouth.
While the others were completing their presentation, Sirok tasted his drink. As he assumed they didn't have the Vulcan drink so they brought him the juice. He didn't know its precedence but it seemed appropriate. And in the time that the others had been presenting themselves Sami had been able to bring the chopsticks and could taste that traditional food. He did not find it so adequate.
Sirok: I am Sirok son of S'Vek and T'Lil. I was born in the region of Kyr on the planet Vulcan. :: Unlike Alieth's parents his family was known in certain areas of Vulcan society, especially in the rich region of Kyr. :: I have an older brother and I am un-bonded.
Sirok: As a complement to my work activities, I practice suus mahna to maintain my physical condition and I draw by hand mechanical pieces as a method of concentration and memory improvement.
Alieth: :: Tilting her head to the left. :: I had the knowledge that Osu S'Vec of Kyr had only one male progeny, his heir Sopeg.
Sirok: My parents decided to keep me out of public life.
Alieth: A decidedly unusual arrangement.
Sirok: My brother is more than enough to take the lead of the family in the future, which has allowed me to develop my career in Starfleet.
Alieth nodded at that explanation. It was a logical conclusion, albeit one that did not fully justify why one of Kyr's most prominent families had concealed the existence of one of its members for several decades. However, prying was a decidedly un-Vulcan behaviour, so she refrained from further inquiries.
While the group went through introductions Wes grabbed a small plate and began piling some of the Nachos onto it. The Vulcans’ earlier request for chopsticks had been worth a good laugh to Wes, but he kept his amusement to himself. Biting into the first chip, Wes listened as Sirok finished up. He took a sip of his drink before addressing the group again.
Greaves: Great! Good to get to know everyone a little better. On to more business. I figure we have two things we should all agree on for the group. First, how do we want to run the JOPA? I’ve seen things be satirically formal, or just an informal gathering. Personally I have my preference, but I won’t taint the conversation. What do you all think?
Alieth took the chopsticks that Sami had supplied her with, split them up with the elegance that came with custom, and guided them to the plate in the centre of the table. She tried to catch one of the triangles sunk in the sauce but despite all her skill the edge cracked, leaving her with nothing between the chopsticks but thin air. Before she attempted a second try, she opted to answer the Marine.
Alieth: Formal or informal makes no difference for me. :: Looking at her table partners. :: I delegate that decision onto you.
With no more to add at this time, she focused again on attempting to catch one of the triangles. After five rounds, her endeavours remained largely fruitless.
Dar listened to everyone, placing her now empty coffee cup down on the table before her she stretched a little in her chair. While they spoke she dished a plate of the nachos for herself. She couldn’t recall ever having tasted them before but she definitely smelled something spicy.
Sirok: Perhaps a more formal structure will serve to set the ground rules and once established we can act more out of habits.
It seemed to Sirok the most logical way to act with emotional beings. If the norm became a habit, it would be easier for them to maintain a basic structure. After talking, he continued to taste the juice that had been brought to him.
Tara: I would rather keep it informal myself. Something a little laid back, so we can unwind.
Greaves: Well if we do things formally we should identify positions for the group. A senior member as the leader, and set some recurring times for a get together. We could even go so far as to call the group to order, have an agenda and the such.
Wes took another bite of the dripping nachos from his plate. He realized his mistake too late however, as he hadn’t finished his thought. There was a brief pause of indecisiveness, and eventually the man just spoke through a mouthful of food.
Greaves: Personally, I prefer informal.
He swallowed the last of the chip in his mouth and followed it up with a sip of his drink.
Greaves: Ultimately, majority rules. Looks like our Vulcan comrades prefer a formal arrangement. :: Playful smirk toward Sirok and Alieth. :: And myself and Tara prefer informal get-togethers. Dar, you’re the tie breaker. What do you think?
Dar watched Greaves shovel the nachos and speak through them, trying not to reveal the amused expression that was threatening to break free from her face. Sitting up a little straighter, a silence for a moment before she spoke. She was now regretting not having ordered.
Dar: I would have to agree on a more informal structure, too many head chefs can sour the dough.
She picked up a fork, forgoing the fingers and chopsticks the others seemed to opt to eat and took a mouth full of the nacho’s, the texture was different but it was nice, surprisingly so. Crunchy and spicy...she paused...a little too spicy. Coughing slightly, she swallowed quickly as the spice from what she could only assume was chillies.
Alieth: So this is done. :: The Vulcan sentenced when Dar leaned the election towards one of the options. ::
Greaves: :: Nodding. :: So that’s settled then. The next thing are traditions and the character of the JOPA. This is unique to our group and really extends to whatever we come up with and all agree on. What kind of ideas do you all have for things we can do within the JOPA? Traditions, rituals, rights of passage, unique roles within the group, etcetera. It’s all on the table. What do you got?
Sirok: If the objective is to help junior officers, any officer who is a junior ensign or lieutenant should be able to join the association. By the same token, anyone who becomes a senior officer would leave the association.
Alieth nodded at the other Vulcan's contribution before she spoke.
Alieth: Given the private and protective nature of this association in regard with other Junior Officers, it is essential to establish confidentiality of what happens or is shared in these meetings.
The minute doctor took a moment to re-word it in a more concise manner.
Alieth: The first rule of JOPA is: you do not talk about JOPA. The second rule of JOPA is: you DO NOT talk about what happens in the JOPA.
Tara: This is all new to me. I was thinking the main thing about JOPA was for us to share ideas and vent our frustrations. I never thought about it being ritualistic. I guess I was looking at it as being just a relaxing place to unwind and bond with each other.
Greaves: In my mind the traditions or little rituals are more of a thing to bond us together, build camaraderie, and whatnot. I was thinking more like little rites of passage as new members join us and the senior members are promoted out of the group. Little jokes to play on each other to break the ice and keep us engaged. The idea is all in good fun. Here’s a thought, as a send-off to officers promoted out of the group, we get together and roast them as the send-off.
Tara: I don’t know what you mean by roasting them. Do you plan on cooking them or something?
Alieth acquiesced to the Trill's words. Baking one of their peers didn't seem like an optimal methodology for building camaraderie.
With a mouthful of whiskey and cola in his mouth, Wes nearly choked on his laughter. It took several seconds for the unpleasant burning sensation of alcohol in his nostrils to subside before he spoke.
Greaves: No, no. My apologies. It’s just an idiom. It means we get together and tell funny stories and jokes at their expense in good fun. A way to remember their exploits, contributions. Their successes, but mostly their failures.
Tara: That sounds like that would be okay, but I don’t know about joking about someone’s failures that just seems so cruel.
Alieth: Highlighting someone's faults and mistakes is an efficient basis for improvement and it is the duty of their peers to point out these deficiencies. I find it a satisfactory arrangement as a farewell ritual for the group. :: She tilted her head to the side. :: Moreover, I have noticed that the pointing out of faults and defects of one’s acquaintances is a sophisticated humoristic skill on Earth. You all could benefit from the advantages of humour in emotional beings.
The Vulcan doctor took a sip of her tea and made another attempt to catch one of the green-sauce coated triangles. To her astonishment, this time she succeeded and finally got a taste of that "appetizer". She nibbled it thoroughly for a long minute. The taste was... foreign. Salty. And much more intense than what she was used to.
She found it quite palatable.
Once she had found the technique to catch the nachos with the chopsticks, Alieth repeated the process a couple more times, efficiently consuming half a dozen triangles in quick succession.
Sirok listened carefully, social rituals were not something he was used to. He found the reason for ordering social behaviour, but the fewer of those rituals he had to satisfy, the more time he could spend on things he considered more important. Even though as a Starfleet officer he recognized what Teller was saying, it would help create camaraderie among emotional beings.
Therefore the Vulcan did not have much more to add, so Sirok nodded in agreement with his companions, before taking another sip of his juice.
Suddenly it seemed, Wes’ plate of nachos was empty and his glass of both tea and Jack and Coke were drained as well. The man blinked in surprise as he reached for another chip, only to find all of his refreshments already eaten. Looking to the larger plate of nachos, Wes was able to catch a glimpse of the final three chips being rapidly devoured by the chopstick wielding Vulcan woman. Wes took a mental snapshot of the moment as he found it wildly humorous.
Greaves: Okay, so let me summarize. :: Counting on his fingers. :: One, we will be informal. No titles or rules of discourse. Two, we don’t mention the JOPA to anyone except members and we don’t talk about it openly. Three, all officers in the first two grades are invited to the group, and we kick out anyone who promotes to Lieutenant or Marine Captian. Four, before we kick someone out of the group, we gather to commemorate their accomplishments and failures, preferably in a humorous method. And finally, the purpose of the JOPA is to share professional knowledge, build camaraderie, and decompress as peers.
Wes looked about the table, making brief eye contact with each Ensign at the table.
Greaves: Well that sounds like a successful meeting of the JOPA. I hereby rule this meeting adjourned! Now, who wants to explore the city and get some drinks?
JP Written By:
2nd Lieutenant Wes Greaves
Embassy of Duronis II/USS Thor
USS Thor NCC-82607
Author ID number: E239702A10
Ensign Tara Wilkins
Duronis II Embassy & Support Flotilla
Ensign Dar Elandra
Duronis II Embassy/USS Thunder-A
Embassy of Duronis II/USS Thor