Location: Starbase 414
If there was any doubt that Daniela Moreno was a workaholic (a sentiment she didn't share), it was the fact that she rarely ate dinner without some form of work in front of her. Tonight was no different. Because of several meetings on the starbase, she'd chosen to take her PADDs to one of the mess halls there, find a quiet corner and plow through more reports and personnel files. She polished off a plate of sushi as she read through the service records of several candidates for Chief Engineer, doing her best to come to a final decision soon; she was tired of having to deal with all the reports and requisitions that came with the engineering department.
Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention and drew her away from the reports to a man hovering above her. "Can I help you, Lieutenant?" she asked with a healthy dose of annoyance after checking the man's rank.
Darenth smiled. Nothing over the top, not the cheesy sort of smile he might throw in the direction of a woman at the bar. It was more an acknowledgement; I know you're annoyed with me, and it's not going to deter me. "Captain Moreno," he began, not even bothering to confirm it was her. He knew who she was, no sense in beating around the bush. He might grovel and throw in a platitude - 'Oh, I'm so sorry to disturb your dinner, do you have a moment?' - but he wasn't overly concerned about interrupting her dinner. And she didn't strike him as the sort to really care about insincere apologies. "I understand you've taken command of the Nimitz, and you're filling senior staff positions."
She already knew where this conversation was going and she shifted back in her seat a little bit, eyeing the man carefully and taking note of his brazen approach to the question sitting on the tip of his tongue. The captain nodded. "Correct." She knew she wasn't going to have to wait long for the pitch and the man didn't disappoint her.
Darenth glanced at the open seat at her table and without seeing any immediate rejection he took a seat. "I've just come back from serving on the Odyssey as ACMO during a deep space mission. Now I'm looking for a new assignment." He paused with purpose - it wasn't unheard of for an officer to look for open positions, but he'd done his homework on Moreno. He wanted her to know he was an advocate for himself. "Word around 414's Sickbay is that you haven't filled your CMO spot yet. Did you have anyone in mind?"
"What is it that makes you so interested in the position, Lieutenant? I find it hard to believe anyone in Sickbay is chomping at the bit to serve under my command," she said with wry smile. "Quite the opposite in fact. So either you're incredibly ambitious and are looking to climb the ladder quickly or you're stepping into something blindly. I don't tolerate the former because it means you lack loyalty and latter makes you an idiot for not looking before you leap. So what's your angle?"
His replying smile was easy and genuine, meant to portray an air of openness and honesty. "No angles here; I'm not trying to game the system to jockey for a hospital ship command or some desk job at Starfleet Medical. I just want to be put to good use in the fleet."
He paused for a moment, thoughtfully, and added, "And I wouldn't say I'm ambitious, but I have a sense of my capabilities. I'm interested in the position, and I'm interested in serving under your command." He adjusted himself in his seat quickly, trying to be more relaxed but carry on before she could interrupt. "I know I'm capable of performing well in the position. My training was excellent, and I'm an excellent physician. I learned a lot under my previous CMO, but... The reason why I'm interested in your command is I've heard you let people think outside the box. People think you're a real hard ass. Reading between the lines I think that means you maintain the expectation that people will perform to their absolute potential but give them the tools to do so. Those are the tools I want to work with."
Daniela was impressed. Far from looking before he lept, he'd actually done his homework on her. On top of that, he'd sought her out. In most cases, that meant unbridled ambition that led to a complete lack of loyalty, but given her reputation, someone would either have to be crazy or incredibly dedicated to doing their best work to want to work under her command. "You certainly know what to say," said said, the wry smile returning. "What kind of out of the box thinking haven't you been able to fully embrace prior to this? Someone from the medical field saying that can certainly raise red flags."
Darenth let out a genuine laugh, images of mad scientists running through his head. "I aced my medical ethics classes for a reason; no worries there. I'm strongly principled." For a moment, a frown crossed his face and he mumbled almost as an afterthought, "The rocky relationship with my father will attest to that one." He paused and thought, regretting he wasn't immediately prepared with an example for her.
"Well...for instance, when we were surveying planet NG-44579, seismic activity opened up some vents in the area of a planetary survey team. Most of the members of the team didn't have environmental suits on, and they inhaled a lot of things they shouldn't...including some things we weren't familiar with. I felt that since we were dealing with unknown compounds, our best bet would be utilizing indigenous resources from the planet. Dr. Suran felt conventional treatments were fine, and he forbid me from traveling to the planet to explore the possibility of synthesizing something from local flora. He said the conditions were too dangerous, even though I demonstrated a standard environmental suit could handle the gases." He inhaled, then sighed. "Long story short, the conventional treatment was only marginally successful. Now there are a few crewman walking around with irreparable respiratory damage. I don't know if I could have done any better, but the point was that we didn't try our hardest by exploring every possible, feasible avenue of treatment.
"That's my medical philosophy, though, and I know it differs from the mainstream. There are a lot of fleet doctors out there that agree with it, but there are a lot that don't. They bring themselves up short with 'do no harm,' and stick with the known. I'm bound by oath to do no harm, but I think we should do all that we can for our patients. Medicine shouldn't be a conservative science; historically, it hasn't been. Otherwise we'd make no progress."
Impressive. Admittedly, a doctor hadn't been high on her list of priorities, but she'd seen the short list and it was mostly the usual suspects. When she was ready to actually fill the position, she'd dig in further, but admittedly, he probably wasn't a candidate that would end up on the list. Still, his determination in seeking her out like this made her sit up and take notice. Few officers were bold enough to do that, let along interrupt someone's dinner to do it.
"And what am I going to hear from your previous department heads when I talk to them?"
Darenth looked a little uncomfortable about the question and shifted in his chair. "I wouldn't presume to speak for them, but I can probably give you an idea of what some of them might say. Dr. Suran is likely to characterize me as someone who enjoys challenging authority and being willfully disobedient. Others are likely to say the same, but my own feeling is that those are the officers who are more comfortable giving orders and having them followed rather than consulting the expertise of their colleagues to arrive at a more...well-rounded decision. I don't shy away from my opinion, sir, but I do know how to follow orders when they're given...in their final form. I just feel like I was given several years of extensive training as a physician to put my medical knowledge to use, not just learn how to say, 'Yes, sir.'
"There won't be any question of my professional capabilities, though, Captain Moreno. I think you'll find they'll also describe me as driven, a risk taker and unafraid of challenges. Off the record..." He drifted off, looking to the side. Off the record, they were likely to describe him as an occasional troublemaker. He liked to have fun - sometimes, too much fun. Better to be honest up front. "Off the record, they'll peg me as a pleasure seeker. Adventurous. Occasionally troublesome. But, in the final analysis, worth it."
"Most people would've failed to mention the less flattering details and left me to stumble on them later. I respect that, Lieutenant." She shifted in her seat and continued decisively. "Lieutenant, I'm no medical expert, so when it comes to anything in that field, I always defer to the judgment of someone who knows what they're talking about, but what I expect from someone under my command is complete and utter obedience when an order is given. Some COs want their officers to show initiative, and I'm all for that, but most of those COs let their crew get away with unprofessional and disobedient behavior in the name of initiative. That isn't me. When I give an order, it will be obeyed to the letter or you'll find yourself off my ship at the next port. Is that clear?"
"I've never disobeyed a superior officer," Darenth said firmly, "but I have been known to disagree or offer alternative suggestions, if it falls under my expertise. Having said that, I recognize the wisdom of our command structure, and I respect my superior officers, even if they don't listen to me." He smirked a little, hoping the slightest bit of humor might offset the seriousness of the conversation's tone. "It's crystal clear, sir."
She wasn't amused at his attempts to lighten the mood. "Good. Get your department head to sign off on the transfer and we'll take it from there." As the man's face lit up with excitement, she jumped right back in. "But know this, Lieutenant, you have one chance. If you can't hack it, I will find someone who can."
"Understood, sir," he responded, looking as serious as she needed him to be despite how very hard it was to contain his excitement.