Part of USS Sarek: Sometimes Bones Are Wrong

Missing Bedrooms

USS Dvorak, Planetarium Lounge
Stardate 77110.2
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“–and then on Vega Colony, we lived in the house with not enough bedrooms.  If you ask me, mom and da forgot how many kids they had!” Kellin blurted out.  His companions were already laughing by the time Lieutenant Kellin Rayco had hardly said the words.  Grinning at their reactions, Kellin knew it wasn’t the funniest of punchlines, but he had learned a little something about comedic timing from his da.  Past lovers had also told the Trill there was something comical about his emotive face.  Between his open blue eyes and a heart-shaped face, Kellin’s expressions came across as simultaneously earnest and hyperbolic.  He wasn’t always a portrait of a Starfleet security officer.

Sitting beside Kellin, Commander Taes was laughing the loudest.  Kellin always loved to see the way her Deltan poise fell away when she laughed.  Sitting at the edge of the dining table, Lieutenant (JG) Leander Nune had been the first to laugh.  Even though the engineer had been tinkering with a memory module throughout Kellin’s story, Leander’s Betazoid senses must have clued him into Kellin’s punchline before the words were said aloud.  And even sitting across from Kellin, the sharp Arcadian features of Sootrah Yuulik cracked when she snickered out a single, “Heh.”

Kellin went on, performing a vocal impression of his father’s drawl, “Da said he was teaching us a lesson.  Freeing us from the shackles of materialism.”

The smile fell away from Yuulik’s face and she pursed her lips.  Between her pointed ears, bulbous head and the sharp focus of her eyes, Yuulik’s visage resembled no one so much as the mythical Nosferatu – albeit styled with better cosmetics and jewelry.  “Education by way of bunk beds?” Yuulik asked.  The disdain could always be heard clearly through her Arcadian accent, but Kellin swore he saw a glint of amusement in her glassy eyes.

Between chewing on a strip of bacon, Kellin interjected, “Not even!”  He washed down the bacon with a sip of iced coffee before he continued his story.  “The whole time we were moving, my sisters fought over the rooms.  I couldn’t stand it.  To dodge the shrieking, I let my sisters take their pick of bedrooms,” Kellin said.  He sighed, but he loved it.  “I slept in the treehouse for two years.”

Commander Taes’ loss of poise from her last laugh was nothing to the barking laugher that came out of her this time.  (In his peripheral vision, Kellin thought he saw a spittle of scrambled egg fly out of her mouth too.)  “No!  You couldn’t have done,” Taes declared, delighted.  She waved a hand at Kellin’s 6’5″ frame and the way his uniform was repli-tailored to barely contain his shoulders.  Incredulously, she asked, “How big was that treehouse?”

It certainly hadn’t been the first time Kellin worried that everyone assumed he spent his time as a security cadet in the academy gym, rather than the library.  The though occurred to him, he noticed it, and then it passed.  Shaking his head, Kellin snorted a laugh at the Commander’s question.  “I was a daddy long-legs back then.  Skin and bones and gangly limbs.  My bed was snug enough.  And when the sun was setting, I got the front row view from that treehouse, y’know?” Kellin said.  He sipped at his iced coffee and then he asked Taes, “Do Deltan children never sleep in bunk beds or treehouses?”

The remnants of her laugher still showed as smile lines on Taes’ face.  When she looked away from Kellin, it was only to eat another couple forkfuls of scrambled eggs.  She chewed each bite at least ten times.  Taes set her fork down on her plate and then she reached out to gently pat Kellin on the shoulder.  Squinting at Kellin, Taes requested, “Ask me again another time.”

Feeling oblivious to the conversational shields Taes had raised, Kellin started to say, “What do you mean?” before he fully thought it through.  Yuulik didn’t have eyebrows to raise, but she looked directly at Kellin and her forehead creased between her two fins of dark hair.

“I owe Captain Sefton companionship on his daily tour of the ship,” Taes said, taking her social obligations to Starfleet as seriously as her duties.  Sliding her chair back from the table, Taes rose to her feet.  “While the Nestus is in for repairs, Captain Sefton was kind enough to ferry our archaeology team aboard USS Dvorak,” Taes said, gesturing to the ceiling with her raised palms.  The planetarium-styled viewscreen across the entire ceiling was a technological marvel compared to the humble dining room aboard the USS Nestus.  The lounge was also large enough to accommodate her senior mission staff and thirty archaeologists at a smattering of tables around the compartment.  

“A daily genuflection is the least I can do,” Taes affirmed.  “Captain Sefton has served Starfleet for more than fifty years.”  –Taes met Yuulik’s eyes briefly with a wry expression– “I’m sure there are a couple of things he could teach me.  Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Taes said, and she paced out of the lounge.

Only after the doors had closed behind the commander, Yuulik remarked to Kellin, “That’s suspicious.  Frigid almost.  I thought Deltans were supposed to be sex goddesses?”  –Yuulik shook her head, a theatrically glum frown on her lips–  “She must not like you very much, security boy.  Don’t you think?” she said, asking Kellin to agree with her petty accusation.

“What?” Kellin asked, startled, and his voice went high.  Lowering his timbre with more confidence, Kellin said, “Taes likes me.”  That certainty in his voice wasn’t long-lasting.  He looked over at Leander for confirmation, but the engineer only had eyes for the memory module sitting on his empty breakfast plate.  “Doesn’t she?” Kellin asked.

Yuulik tiled her large head at the door where Taes had just walked out.  “You drove her out of here with your pestering, Lieutenant.  All those questions about her childhood.  You should know better.  Deltan family and social hierarchies are complex organisms,” Yuulik said.  Like Commander Taes herself, Lieutenant (JG) Yuulik was an anthropologist, serving Taes’ team as interim chief science officer.  She spoke to Kellin with as much authority on this as she did most matters.  “Maybe Taes was sparing you the anguish of… not comprehending her childhood?”

Lowering her voice so only Kellin would hear her, Yuulik leaned across the table.  She whispered to him, “Or there were no bunkbeds on Nivoch after the colony collapsed.  Maybe she spent her sixteenth birthday sleeping on a pile of bones.”

Kellin gasped at that and he started to say, “Don’t–“

Leander Nune finally looked up from his miniature computer core.  Dumbfounded by Yuulik’s suggestion that Kellin wasn’t capable of comprehending a Deltan childhood, Nune said, “Kellin’s not a caveman in astrometrics.”

Leander’s support quickly convinced Kellin to swallow the harsh words he was about to say.  Staring down Yuulik with a challenge in his hardened gaze, Kellin bit a strip of bacon in half and he chewed it thoroughly.  He could only imagine what Yuulik thought of him after their last mission together.  He supposed Yuulik never made it terribly difficult to imagine what she was thinking.  Sharing a softer look with Leander, Kellin said, “Thanks, buddy.”

Also looking over at Leander, Yuulik said, “Keep on tinkering, Lieutenant.”  Even though she was nominally the same rank as the engineer, Yuulik spoke to him as if he were a green cadet.  “We’re not here to make friends–“

Kellin snorted a mirthless laugh at that.  Before she could finish, he echoed back the words he’d heard Yuulik say so many times before: “We’re here to get published.”

***

“Mission Log, Stardate 77110.2.

 

“Commander Taes reporting.  I log this report as a commanding officer without a starship.  The USS Nestus completed her anthropological survey to understand the emergency management needs of refugees from the Century Storm.  Although my crew identified flaws in our line of questioning, we were able to continue our ethnographic interviews to completion.  There was only a need to re-interview a small number of participants.  I wish our flight home had proven as uneventful as that mishap.  After our brief flirtation with one of the ion storms, the Nestus’ nacelles incurred damage that was overlooked by our crew of anthropologists.  We lost all warp drive systems halfway back to Starbase 72 and had to be towed the rest of the way home.  Our data remained secure and we have relayed it to the anthropology team on Starbase 72 to begin their research.

 

“In the aftermath of the Century Storm, time and tide can wait for no Nestus.  Starbase 72 has assigned me an archaeology team to conduct a heritage survey of the capital city of New Tenar: a Trill colony in the Paulson Nebula.  When ion storms surrounded New Tenar, every weather system on the planet turned to hurricanes.  Starfleet evacuated the population centres before, and during, the ion storm barrage.  Most of the population escaped and only Vrans City fell.  Vrans City had stood for centuries, dating back to the original settlement of New Tenar.  Almost every home, utility service, and office tower has been damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes.  The city lays uninhabitable.  Decimated.

 

“That’s where the science ship Dvorak comes in.  The USS Dvorak has been diverted from her shakedown cruise to ferry my archaeology team to New Tenar.  My mission’s senior staff, and our archaeologists, have been assigned to the upper deck of Dvorak’s mission module.  Dvorak’s skeleton staff will offer us operational support well beyond what a Raven-class corvette would have been able to provide.  Captain Aloysius Sefton has shared with me… at length… the devotion he’s poured into finalizing his own personal research projects in this time, while the Dvorak has undergone a lengthy refit and shakedown cruise.  Captain Sefton put his trust in his executive officer, Commander Elbon Jakkelb, to oversee the refit.  Even without a contemporary warp core or the latest technologies, this old girl keeps its crew in the sky.  

 

“Now, New Tenar’s Commissioner Gandres intends to level the capital city and rebuild with the most modern architecture available.  Before he can begin, he has invited Starfleet to help the colony identify Vrans City’s heritage sites.  In his initial review, Gandres has discovered the historical records between New Tenar, the Federation, and the Trill homeworld are incomplete and inconsistent.  I’ve been ordered to lead an archaeology team to conduct a heritage survey, identifying sites of cultural and historic value to be retained or restored — rather than paved over.

 

At least… that’s the mission we’ve disclosed to Commissioner Gandres.  Our secondary mission… that one’s for my own curiosity.”

Comments

  • Such an ending! What is the secondary mission? I MUST KNOW! Love the relationship between this motley crew. Taes seems very Picard-esque in that she joins in with social stuff, but only to a degree before keeping a distance. I am also going to steal your 'Captain's Log' formatting. That's a great idea and really separates it from the rest of the text.

    April 3, 2022
  • Thank you kindly! (For the record, someone much more clever than me suggested the Captain's Log formatting. I think I found it somewhere in the depths of Bravo Fleet's wiki or Academy training.)

    April 3, 2022
  • The interaction between the characters is top notch, I’m very much feeling that Kellin could qualify as one of BF’s top ten himbos!!! Takes feels like she is quite the reserved woman, a good professional leader that knows when it’s good to socialise with her crew while maintaining the right distance.

    April 8, 2022
  • The dialogue and character exchanges remain top-notch. I love Yuulik; she's not quite an antagonist but she is absolutely an inciting figure and keeps the somewhat more clean-cut characters like Kellin and even Taes on their toes. Diving in at last to this story and super looking forward to how the tale's going to pan out - mysterious secondary mission and all...

    April 14, 2022