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

The Way You Move is a Mystery

New Tenar, Vrans City
Stardate 77143.1
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“Senior Mission Officer’s Log, supplemental.

 

“With the assistance of the Dvorak’s executive officer and crew, the archaeological excavation of Vrans City has progressed ahead of schedule.  We’ve been on New Tenar for a week and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Yuulik’s predictive model to prioritise potential heritage sites has proven most useful.  My senior forensic engineer, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Leander Nune, has fed the predictive model all of the additional data we were missing from New Tenar’s current computer libraries.  

 

“What continues to elude us are the colony’s oldest archives, stored in duotronic computer cores.  Over years of neglect, the computers have settled into disrepair, and Commissioner Gandres can’t tell me for certain if those records were ever backed up or transferred to newer libraries.  These final secrets locked up in the duotronic computer cores could tell us so much about this community’s memory and identity.  This mission holds tight the potential to create symbols that will represent a shared narrative for all New Tenar’s present, past and future.”

* * *

His body moved like a dancer as he swept his tricorder around the horrid little room.  Leander Nune reached his tricorder to the four upper corners, and then the four lower corners, of the forgotten server room that had become like his home for the past past week.  Leander had to reverse step around a stack of mops because this server room, carved out of the caves beneath city hall, had been converted into a janitor’s closet some decades ago.   Every now and then, the traditional dances he’d been taught as a child on Betazed came back to him, like muscle memory, even when he wasn’t thinking about it.  Leander kept his dark eyes locked on the tricorder display, watching it cycle through the whole range of Starfleet’s standard subspace and radio frequencies.

“What is that interference?” Leander murmured, as he hopped over a tangle of optical data cables across the floor.  In the past days, the engineer had lashed together portable generators and a web of connections between three different computers cores that were refusing to talk to one another.  They were like three sisters at an awkward family reunion.  The colony’s massive duotronic computer core had literally been built into the cave wall.  (By comparison, Leander’s tricorder contained exponentially more storage and computing power in the palm of his hand.)  The original duotronic computer was strung together with two other computer cores Leander had brought down from Dvorak: one was a modern bioneural memory module, and the other was a freshly replicated duotronic computer core of a similar design, if much smaller.

From the doorway, Lieutenant Kellin Rayco asked, “Should I be tipping you right now?”  He leaned a shoulder against the door frame, an amused smirk on his lips.

Leander made no effort to fix his posture to something less dramatic.  “I didn’t see you there,” Leander said.  Only then did he turn and, because of their height differences, he had to look up to meet Kellin’s eyes.  If their conversations ran long, or if he was staring at the floof of curls in Kellin’s ginger hair, Leander would literally feel a pain in his neck from the prolonged flexion.  Oddly, he was starting to like it.  It was a little reminder of Kellin.  By Leander’s assessment, Kellin was one of the most guileless men he knew in Starfleet, and the lack of cognitive dissonance between what Kellin felt and what he said was awfully comforting to the Betazoid engineer.

“How’re you coming along?” Kellin asked.  Without saying anything about it, he proffered a coffee to Leander.  This wasn’t the first time Kellin had noted Leander’s caffeine cycles and showed up just in time to prevent Leander from spiraling into tantrums when he lost track of time.

“I’m the SS Kobayashi Maru,” Leander replied and he took a long pull from the mug of coffee.  “I can’t access any of the data on the computer monitors.  I can’t transfer the data over wires.  The transceiver assemblies aboard the Dvorak know how to receive the backwater radio frequencies this computer can wirelessly transmit, if only its RF transmitters weren’t burned out.  I replaced the RF transmitters, but they still don’t work,” Leander said.  With each of his failures, the doom in his timbre grew greater.  There was a growl in a couple of his elongated vowels.  He sipped more coffee.  “I even tried disassembling one of the individual memory cartridges, to install in one of these cores, but they’re too fragile.  It came apart in my hands.”

Kellin’s eyes softened and he tilted his head in sympathy.  “The computer’s depressed from living in these caves,” Kellin said sweetly.  His mood shifted quickly, though.  “And Yuulik is going to be angry.  If you can’t get the data, she’s going to start slandering you the way she talks so poorly about Commander Taes.”

At that, Leander sensed a spike of emotion from Kellin.  It was something sharp, like broken glass.  “Why does it bother you so much,” Leander asked, “the way Yuulik talks about Taes?  Yuulik’s personality is grating, but she’s… basically telling the truth.  You’re not on this mission just to be the muscle, big guy.  I have to imagine you have… better things to worry about.”

In a sudden panic at that suggestion, Kellin whipped out his tricorder and checked in with the planetary defense systems.  If pirates were to decide the other abandoned cities on New Tenar made for an easy target, the USS Dvorak didn’t exactly possess the tactical capabilities to fend off more than a ship or two.  As the security officer’s eyes scanned through the telemetry readings, Kellin said, “The extra sentry pods we seeded in orbit are operational.  No sign of intruders.”

“That’s not what I mean,” Leander said tartly.  He never stopped smiling at Kellin through it all.  His eyes half-lidded and his posture loose, Leander remarked, “I was going to suggest you give me a scalp massage to help me think of a genius solution.”

Kellin interlaced his fingers and then stretched his arms out to crack his knuckles.  Kellin said, “My boyfriend Chareth has been teaching me everything he’s learning in massage therapy classes…”

“I thought,” Leander asked, “you were dating Emem, a flight controller?”

“Don’t be so human,” Kellin said, as he stepped closer.  “Best of both worlds.”

*   *   *

Stomping down the stairs into the caverns beneath city hall, Sootrah Yuulik noticed the change in atmosphere immediately.  The environment in Vrans City was temperate, perhaps a little too humid for Yuulik’s liking.  She had tied back her two strips of dark hair into tight braids.  As she descended beneath the city, a chill emanated from the carved cavern walls.  The stairwell led out into a cavernous space that had once served as symbiont pools. For reasons lost to history, the pools had been allowed to dry up, disused.  This, Yuulik raged, was one of the hundreds of mysteries that remained locked up in the colony’s oldest computer cores.

Turning a corner into the retired server room, Yuulik found Leander Nune and Kellin Rayco sitting on the floor, eating sandwiches and giggling about a Betazoid singer.  Talking over them, Yuulik declared, “This is intolerable, Lieutenant Nune.  I cannot wait a moment more.  The data in those archives is irreplaceable to our heritage survey.  If this task is beyond your technical abilities, I will hail the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, or even a passing ship of cadets, to find someone with the abilities to get this done.”

Leander audibly groaned.  He took another bite of his sandwich –it looked like a spiteful bite– and he talked around his chewing.  “Do you really care, Lieutenant?” Leander replied with a question.  “You’ve been telling everyone this is work for urban planners.”

Impassioned, Yuulik retorted, “This work is vitally important.  I need to prove I’m worthy of this mission.  I need my director to see I’m ready for a department head role on the starbase.  We all know I’m meant for better than this.”  She shrugged at the two men with her palms facing up in a gesture of it’s-obvious.  

Yuulik explained, “As soon as we leave New Tenar, we hand off the data to the Heads of Archaeology and Anthropology, and I may never see any of it again.  That’s why I have to identify all of the heritage sites now.  I have to finish this mission before we leave, even if have to carry it all on my back.  I’m not as easily amused as Taes.  I’m not satisfied with this brand of drive-through science.”

If Commander Taes invites you back,” Nune said, as if to finish Yuulik’s sentence.

Kellin shook his head.  “I don’t see it happening, lieutenant,” Kellin said.  He gave Leander a meaningful look and he said, “Tell her what you found.”  When Leander hesitated and didn’t say anything immediately, Kellin raised his eyebrows at the engineer twice.

Tentatively, almost apologetically, Leander said, “I was experimenting with a way to piggy-back duotronic RF signals off the data bursts, from the archaeology teams, being transmitted back to the Dvorak.”  He put down his sandwich and he wiped his hands on his thighs.  “I found two distinctive encryptions being used for the data bursts.  Our libraries posses no encryption key for one of them.”

Yuulik took a step back, as if Leander had punched her in the stomach.  She breathed out a, “tt,” and she backed the rest of the way out of the server room.  On his feet in no time, Kellin followed Yuulik out into the wider cave system.  Yuulik strode purposefully towards the stairwell, but she wouldn’t run.  Her dignity wouldn’t allow it.

Kellin said, “I tracked the mystery data bursts to a fractal encrypted server,” raising his voice.  The strange acoustics of the dry symbiont pools amplified Kellin’s voice with an echo.  “You’re stealing half of the archaeology research, Yuulik,” he accused.

That stopped Yuulik in her tracks.  She spun back to face Kellin.  Yuulik forced out a titter of laughter, but even she could hear it sounded desperate.  “You’re overreacting,” Yuulik said.  “I’m not Tal Shiar or anything.”

Staring back at Yuulik, Kellin didn’t let up with the intensity of his staring.  “I could never catch a Tal Shiar,” he admitted mirthlessly.

“Not in a hundred years,” Yuulik replied.

“But I did catch you,” Kellin said, “sending Starfleet research to your private server.”

Yuulik waved her arms, gesturing for Kellin to slow down.  “My private Starfleet server.  It possesses all of the same data security as the main computer.  I’ve broken no security protocols, lieutenant.”

Nakedly incredulous, Kellin questioned Yuulik’s logic by pointing out, “You’ve violated the mission protocols.  You’ve cut your integrity off at the knees with your peers and with Commander Taes.  What do you think the Director of Social Sciences will think of you when he finds out you’ve been hoarding data for your own research.  You won’t get published then.”

“I lead this excavation,” Yuulik said in quiet certainty.  “I deserve to study the data myself.”

“You, you, you!  All you care about is being published!” Kellin said, clearly exasperated.  “Talk to your director.  Ask to join the research team.”

“I can’t!” Yuulik spat back.  “Imposter-in-a-red-shirt Taes keeps dragging me back to Nestus.  I could be so much more than a raven or a trowel.  I could offer Starfleet true brilliance if they would only support my growth.”  Yuulik chopped her hands through the air emphatically.  “I think Taes might be right, Kellin.  Trill emergency services may prioritize the joined or those in child-bearing ages or something.  If you give me a few weeks to steep in the data, I can solve this.  I could save the lives of your parents or your sisters in the long run.”

“That’s not what I’m doing here,” Kellin said.

Through gritted teeth, Yuulik said, “Look, I’ll stop.  I’ll transfer all of the data back to the main–“

Emphatically, Kellin said, “No.”  He shook his head and he narrowed his eyes at Yuulik.  Kellin’s expression went stone-faced.  Yuulik had never known Kellin to hide what he was feeling like this; he usually wore six hearts on his sleeve and a few more on his pants.  Kellin remarked, “My grandpa used to say, ‘the right thing starts at the beginning of the day’.  It’s too late to go back.  How about… you do your research, you find out what unconscious biases might endanger my life, and you publish your article.  In exchange, you keep Taes’ name out of your mouth.  You never, ever gossip about Commander Taes again and I don’t have to mention your secret server.”

Yuulik squinted at Kellin in disbelief.  “I keep the data?” she asked.

He sounded half-hearted, but Kellin said, “It’s a deal, buddy.”  Kellin held out a hand to request a hand-shake from Yuulik.

Yuulik looked at the floor as she weighed her options.  Kellin had figuratively, and literally, backed her into a corner in these damned caverns.  She raised her hand, she looked at Kellin, and then she tapped her combadge.  Yuulik fixed Kellin with her most vicious grin.  “Yuulik to Commander Taes,” she said.  “I want you to know, I’ve been omitting data from the mission logs to keep for my own private research.  Love you lots.”  And she tapped her combadge to close the comm link.

Looking Kellin dead in the eyes, Yuulik promised, “You keep my name out of your mouth.  You never tell me what I can say.” 

Comments

  • Oh damn, Yuulik is not who I was expecting! She is horrible...I love it! I love the twist and further change with her character. Seeing the real her here was fun. Plus huge points to Kellin for trying to find the best in the situation here. I'm enjoying how he tries his best help people out. Now will Taes loose it with Yuulik? I hope so!

    April 9, 2022
  • Ooof, Kellin makes a very dangerous and foolish play trying to bribe Yuulik into behaving. Not just because she backstabs him, but it's not exactly the best response to what he's learnt - especially with Leander suggesting Yuulik is an Asshole with a Point about Taes. Even IF Yuulik keeps her trap shut, it won't make the problem go away. And that's aside from the deeply unethical research practices Yuulik is getting into and Kellin would be making himself complicit in! But it 100% makes sense for the character, for his puppy-like loyalty, and I enjoy it a lot. It's made only spicier by Yuulik refusing to play ball, with her pride making her her own worst enemy again.

    April 20, 2022