Part of USS Dvorak (Archive): Sometimes Bones Are Wrong

Unreluctant at Treacherous Ledge

New Tenar, Vrans City
Stardate 77124.2
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“Senior Mission Officer’s Log, Stardate 77124.2.

 

“Commander Taes reporting. 

 

“USS Dvorak has entered standard orbit around New Tenar.  While the Dvorak crew begin searching for survivors, my mission team have beamed down to the decimated Vrans City.  Before we can begin field procedures to identify heritage sites, Starfleet Science has approved a research design that asks broader questions about the social and political context on New Tenar and how it may have contributed to the successes of the evacuation.

 

“Considering the entire population of the New Tenar colony has been temporarily resettled, Starfleet’s rescue operations were truly Herculean.  Only seventeen Trills were left behind on the planet.  Initial orbital scans by Dvorak have located no life signs on the planet; those seventeen are presumed lost.  In my review of the census profiles, I recognized those seventeen were all unjoined Trill.  Occam’s Razor would suggest this to be a likely statistical probability, given the relatively small population of joined Trills.  If we pause and we take a step back, it may also shine a light on other vulnerable populations among the Trill colony.  

 

“In emergency management, vulnerabilities are considered to be the conditions that make it difficult for a person to prepare for or survive a disaster — like the Century Storm.  These vulnerabilities are usually structural in nature.  Histories of oppression, which have been seemingly forgotten in our enlightened age, can still echo within our governmental policies and infrastructure.  If not a question of being joined or unjoined to symbionts, there could be other vulnerable populations on New Tenar.

 

“Perhaps the elderly or the young are the most vulnerable, or parents or the childless, or those whose skin is marked with spots versus those with noticeable forehead ridges?  Whose neighbourhoods had the easiest access to transporter hubs and shuttles?  Are hospital facilities distributed equally throughout the population?  These are the questions we’re here to ask.  My mission team will begin to examine these vulnerabilities as we complete death scene investigations.  Once our data is gathered, we will provide all research to the archaeology department on Starbase 72 to begin the search for answers.

 

“I, ah, I received notification this morning that I have graduated ATC’s command training program.  Without the Nestus, I’m only a senior mission officer.  I’m no captain, but it’s important to me I carry myself like a captain.  The mistakes I made on Haven, holding myself apart from the crew, I can’t make them again.  With Lieutenant Yuulik leading the science team, I have time to check in with every team member.  It’s important that I listen with assertive attention; make certain I can understand the mission as they see it through their eyes.  If I don’t make the effort, there could be new approaches, new innovations, we could be missing.  I don’t– I can’t remember the last time I even held a trowel in my own hands.  The most junior officers among us are just as likely to see problems in the survey as I am.

 

“At the end of the day, though, it’s another survey mission… playing fetch like a dog, carrying the bone back to the starbase team…”

* * *

Commander Taes craned her head back and she breathed out through her nose.  “Computer,” she said, “Please delete that last sentence and end log.”  Once she heard a mechanised chirp in response, Taes thumbed the switch on the holo-pod in her hand.  Her log complete, the holographic PADD interface flashed out.  Taes put a hand on her chest, instinctively, to make sure her red-shouldered uniform was still closed in the front.  She was still acclimating to the new closures of the double-breasted uniform tunic, let alone the textures of different fibres against her skin.  After deeming herself presentable, Taes stepped out from the parking garage she had used for privacy

Stepping outdoors, Taes was overcome by an ache in her chest at the state of this residential street.  The rows of houses still retained their vestigial shapes, but they offered no utility as dwellings for humanoid beings.  Many of the roofs were caved in, entire walls had been collapsed or shattered. The paved streets were littered with steelplast refuse, furniture, and abandoned vehicles.  Taes’ eyes were particular drawn to soggy diaries and tattered plush toys.  Even on her last day on Nivoch, before Starfleet had finally rescued her as a teenager, the colony hadn’t looked this bad.  Between the wind damage and the flooding, Taes found it troublesome to imagine what restoration would look like.

Rejoining members of her away team, Taes padded back to one home that had been completely obliterated.  All that remained was crumpled sheets of steelplast, snapped shards of transparent aluminum, loose wiring, and a shattered piano.  A holographic grid pattern, of one meter by one meter squares, had been projected over the entire surface area of the leveled home.  

Taes closed the distance between herself and Ensign Melchor Dolan.  Between his slim build and tentative posture, Dolan looked like his teal-highlighted uniform was a hand-me-down from a larger sibling.  The junior archaeologist was standing two metres away from a particularly deep pile of refuse in the nearest grid.  He looked like he was afraid of accidentally stepping on any artefacts.  Keeping far back from the grid, Dolan had extended his arms to their full length to point a two-pronged spectrographic scanner with his webbed hands.

“What have you found, ensign?” Taes asked, as she sidled up to Dolan.  She flashed a quick smile at the archaeologist and then she made no secret of eyeing the calibration settings on his scanner, along with the scanner result display.

“A small chest or end table, I think,” Dolan replied through a thoughtful frown.  He further contorted his upper back to tilt the scanner without letting the scanner aperture drift into a different grid.  From what he could interpret from the scanner readings, Dolan said, “The furniture contains a food product and a bottle, I believe.  I can’t see if the bottle is full of rainwater or alcohol.”

Taes suggested, “Try narrowing the aperture by one click.”  She peeked to see if that changed the scanner’s output, but she found herself more curious to watch Dolan’s reactions to his discoveries.    “What would all of that mean to you?” Taes asked, seeking out his point of view.  “Finding a chest like that in this place?”

“An alcoholic died here,” Dolan said without intonation.  Like many Zaldans, Taes knew, Ensign Dolan lived by a culture of strict honesty.  Absolutely any form of communication other than unfiltered truth was perceived as deception.  Certainly, Taes was growing a thicker skin with Yuulik’s brutal honesty for the past couple of missions.  Dolan’s shoulder twitched and his eyes cut in Taes’ direction.  He boggled at her, as he seemed to notice the way she was staring at him, appraisingly.  “You’re standing very close to me,” Dolan said in a soft voice.

“Is everything all right over there?” Lieutenant Yuulik interjected.  She was already in motion, stalking towards Taes and Dolan.  Taes would have liked to imagine Yuulik had noticed discomfort or awkwardness from Ensign Dolan, and was coming over to encourage one of her junior officers.  However, from what Taes could see, Yuulik was looking directly at Taes and Taes only.

It was practically subconscious when Taes puffed up her chest and straightened her back.  Some primordial instinct within her told her to present herself as larger than her wiry, athletic frame.  For all her physical posturing, Taes affected the soothing timbre she’d heard from so many counselors who had treated her before.  “I was about to ask the ensign what he’s learned so far,” Taes replied.

“It’s been three hours commander,” Dolan said.  “I’ve learned that I don’t want to live on New Tenar.”  Total honesty.  No idle thought left behind.  “And to narrow the aperture.”

“Mmmmmmmm, riveting,” Yuulik said, and it was a pleasureless sound.  She approached the grid reference where Dolan had been scanning and she crouched low to watch it from up close.  Without looking at Dolan, she asked, “Are you prepared to remove the debris in grid 42-G, ensign?”

“Yes, lieutenant,” Dolan rattled back, like it had been a call and response.  He submit his scanner readings to his tricorder and he set aside the large scanner.  Using his tricorder’s interface, Dolan submitted precision coordinates to the transporter hub and he ordered, “Energize.”  The whizz-bang of the transporter effect stole away a pile of construction debris, where it would be examined by a secondary team through the filtering subsystems, to ensure no artefacts were whisked away accidentally.  In grid 42-G, a small piece of crushed wooden furniture was revealed along with its contents.

“It’s chocolate,” Dolan said, a little disappointed.

“And a bottle of whiskey,” Taes enthused.  “Well spotted.”

Comments

  • This was a great post! I liked the honesty of Dolan in fact it made me chuckle when I read it. This is an extremely good way of showing the diversity of the crew. It also shows how even as diverse as a crew is they have the ability to band together and do what is needed for the mission. The detail alone in the story is great and I applaud the work that goes into making this so excellent.

    April 8, 2022
  • Taes is certainly a complex character, I’m enjoying reading her inner thoughts as she tries to ride the waves of command and leadership. Also bravo on bringing the science of Trek to life within the story. It’s unique and I’m enjoying it!

    April 8, 2022
  • I'm disproportionately happy at the discussion of how to situate unjoined Trills - a majority? A vulnerable population? I'd love to think Trek is beyond such things, but I'm incapable of eradicating a critique of class from my own writing, so I'm here for this. I am enjoying the use of the mission logs to exposit effectively, not just events but thoughts, particularly with Taes expressing and then deleting such thoughts. It's done with a light hand instead of spoon-feeding me a simple summary of events. The description of the wrecked city is effective; you're not getting bogged down in detail but using snapshots to convey the situation, and using Taes's perspective very well to bring the emotions in. We notice what she notices, and that tells us something about her as much as the scene. The exchange with Taes and Dolan is solid, too; we learn a lot about Dolan in just a few back-and-forths, and see Taes's approach to her crew start to shift - with, perhaps, the exception of Yuulik, who's proving an outstanding antagonist or at least foil. Good stuff!

    April 20, 2022
  • Oh, what a delicious little tidbit Taes deleted from her log there. I appreciate that as a way of telling us that she’ll put her all into every study she undertakes, even if she sort of does agree with Yuulik that it’s beneath them. And hooray Melchor! I recall seeing him briefly in a JP you did with Kai in one of his missions and being immediately taken by the character. His introduction scene only reinforced my adoration. Also, I love the sort-of-dark humor of the final line about the whiskey bottle. It fits the vibe of their whole investigation very well.

    June 18, 2023