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Part of USS Lafayette: Old Dog, Same Tricks

Of Racquetball and Vulcans

Recreation Level - Racquetball Court - USS Lafayette
MD02 - ~1000hrs
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The loud ‘pok pok’ of the racquetball against Pete’s racquet had reached a steady rhythm as Pete got his early morning round in. He’d never been much of a sports person, but there was something about the solitude and predictableness of the sport that made him relax. He played with others from time to time, but loved to just volley with himself most of the time. It was more for relaxation and exercise than any for of competition. 

It was always a good time to reflect and gather his thoughts. He ran back through all of his conversation with Meg from the night before, and meeting the Chief this morning. He wanted to make time to meet with all of his senior officers before they launched on their first mission, whatever that may be. He wanted them to all know that he was in this for real. That this wasn’t some grand pleasure cruise. 

He couldn’t identify why that mattered to him so much. He didn’t know why he wanted them to know that. Maybe it was because he needed to know that. He knew it wrenched his guts to leave his family again, and in his mind he wrestled with that and whether or not he was being a fool. But it was too late now. He was here. He had his assignment. He was going to see it out and make sure this run counted. 

Pete caught the ball on the rebound as he heard the door behind him slide open. He turned back and found a slender Vulcan man walking in behind him, racquet in hand. The man arched an eyebrow at Pete, “My apologies, Commodore. I did not realize this court was taken.” He said, giving Pete a slight bow. 

“Nonsense. I could use a challenge if you’re in the mood,” Pete offered. 

The Vulcan gave a slight ‘hm’ and a nod and dropped the gym bag on his shoulder, “Very well, but I must warn you my back hand has been referred to as ‘bitchin’’”, He said, in typical Vulcan monotone. 

Pete let out a laugh, “Was that a joke, Mister Vulcan?” 

“It was a factual statement, however, I was hoping it would be perceived as humorous,” The Vulcan admitted. 

“I was not aware that Vulcan’s even remotely attempted anything like that. Humor was firmly illogical, I assumed,” He said. 

The Vulcan nodded and offered what might be considered the hint of a smile, “When I was young, my father was a diplomat for the Vulcan High Council to the Federation. He had a human assistant named Mary, who taught me to see the logic in humor,” He explained. 

“I would have thought that would have been a challenge to your Vulcan logic?” Peter asked. 

“Indeed, so much so that my father tried to end our friendship. Mary, however, was quite persuasive and reminded him that challenging my logic is what would make it stronger. That if I had to defend my beliefs with a friend, it would make me more able to defend it to an adversary,” He explained. He offered the Commodore a salute, and then a hand to shake, “Lieutenant Stravek, Chief Science Officer, reporting for duty,” He said. 

Peter returned the salute and shook the proffered hand, “Pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant,” He said. “I’m glad to have you aboard.” 

“I, too, am glad,” He said. “Serving under such a seasoned Commanding Officer should provide much… wisdom,” Stravek replied. “Your serve or mine, sir?” 

“All you,” Peter said, tossing him the ball. “So you don’t think I’m crazy for taking one last command?” He asked, stepping back and getting into position for the serve. 

“It seems logical to me, if you are still in acceptable mental and physical condition, that you should continue contributing your well-earned knowledge and skillset to Starfleet,” He said, delivering a perfect serve. “Do others disagree?”

“Some people worry,” Peter replied as they continued their volley. “They worry that I’m trying to live out some final fantasy adventure,” He said. 

“And are you?” Stravek asked. 

“God, I hope not,” Peter replied, grunting in frustration as he missed his return. “Ah, dammit. Nice volley, Lieutenant.” 

“Thank you, sir,” Stravek replied with a nod. “You say you hope not? Do you not know?” The Vulcan asked. 

Peter signed, “I … I don’t feel like I am. I don’t think I am, but it’s very out of the norm for someone at my age and rank to take another ship. Seems like everyone else is ready for that comfy desk job,” Peter replied. 

Stravek served again as he responded, “Often times, sticking to the expected action leads to a lack of innovation and progress,” He replied. “Why are you unsure?” 

“The desperation?” Peter replied, flatly, as he returned the ball quickly and flicked it just past the tip of Stravek’s racquet. “Nice try,” He said, laughing. 

Stravek gave him an appreciative nod, “What desperation is that, Commodore?” He asked. 

“I couldn’t let it go,” Peter replied, readying up to serve. “It was like… it was like a panic,” He explained. “It felt like life or death. Like if I didn’t get another assignment, I’d just… waste away,” He said, looking distant for a moment like a million thoughts were in his head, before shaking his head a little and tossing the ball up in the air and serving. 

“Desperation,” He repeated. 

“Some could call that drive,” Stravek replied, deftly returning the serve. “You are driven to make the universe a better place, to explore and discover,” He replied. “You’re not ready to stop serving in the best way you know how,” He explained. “Change is difficult, Commodore. Even for the most logical of us.” 

“Have you struggled with change, Lieutenant?” Peter asked, grunting as he returned a particularly wild volley. 

Stravek nodded as he continued to play, seemingly effortlessly, “Indeed. I spent quite some time as a part of the Vulcan Science Council and … found it difficult, the move to Starfleet and the Federation,” He explained. 

“Why?” Peter asked, narrowly catching the ball with his racquet. 

“It is a different mind set,” Stravek replied, returning the ball. “Vulcans… we study and research because it is logical. It is because we desire to know how to live in the world we are in more effectively. We desire to know how it works in order to make it work better. It is flawlessly logical, and effective,” He explained. “Humans are… different. Idle curiosity and excitement dictate how the research goes. You will often follow… I believe the colloquialism is ‘rabbit trails’ and discover things you never intended to, just because it makes you happy,” He explained, finally causing the Commodore to miss a return. “I believe I am up a point,” He replied, that devilish hint of a smile on his features again. 

He caught the ball from Peter and setup for another serve, “It was… difficult for me to deal with that change. I felt as though I was losing my mind and making poor decisions. But in the end, I do believe it was worth it.” 

He served the ball and the two played in silence for a bit, before the Commodore bested him one more time, “Hah! All tied up, Mister Vulcan,” Peter said with a grin. He sighed as he considered the Vulcan’s words, “I feel like this is worth it. I feel like I’m doing the right thing for the right reason, I just… It’s a heavy cost.” 

“Indeed,” Stravek replied with a nod. “The right thing often is, Commodore.”

Pete laughed at that and nodded, “So it is, Lieutenant, so it is.” 

He was about to serve when his commbadge went off, “Cromwell.” 

“Sir, this is sickbay. The CMO has requested you drop by for your physical evaluation,” A woman’s voice said over the line. 

“I’ll be there shortly,” Peter replied, tapping the channel closed. “Well, I guess we’ll have to pick this game up another time, eh?” He offered with a smile. 

This time, Stravek did grace him with a grin, “Indeed, Commodore. I enjoyed playing with you and I look forward to further opportunities to do so,” He said, bowing his head slightly toward the Commodore. 

“Likewise, Lieutenant. Get settled in, I’m looking forward to working with you,” Pete replied, tossing the ball to Stravek and sticking his racquet back in his bag. He hoisted the bag over his shoulder and patted Stravek on the shoulder as he walked past to the door, “Nothing but good changes for us, Lieutenant. Nothing but!” 

Stavek watched him as he left and a smile curled his lips, “Nothing but, Commodore. Indded.” He said to himself, before setting up a serve and getting back to playing.