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    Elgor Rae
    Elgor Rae

    A joint post by:
    Elgor Rae (as Sam Rhys) and Rosheen Hughes

    // U.S.S. Diligent, Sickbay
    // Day 06, 17:00 Hours
    // Ensign Samuel Rhys (PNPC)

    Ensign Rhys strode into the ships Sickbay, determined to retrieve his captains pet. The doors slid open to allow him to enter. He scanned the room in search of the ship’s doctor.

    The sound of loud music blasted into the corridor when the doors opened.  Rosheen was sorting through a pile of what appeared to be cards from a physical filing system, deep in thought.  After a few moments and with a loud sigh of frustration, she leaned back in her chair and noticed the Ensign.

    “Computer,” she said hastily as she stood, “reduce volume by 50 percent.”  Stepping out of her office, she waved cheerily.  “Good afternoon.  What can I do for you?”

    “Sorry to interrupt, I’m Ensign Rhys, the captain’s Yeoman. I was sent to pick the captain’s pet up. He said Edo had a bug and was being kept around here for a few days.” Rhys paused for a moment, “that was an interesting choice of music for a medbay. Always soothe patients with that?”

    Rosheen blushed.  “God, no.  If I’m looking for soothing music, I usually ask the patient what they’d consider ‘soothing’ – my previous Captain absolutely HATED classical orchestral pieces, for example.”

    Going back into her office, she picked up the goklin and carried it back out to Rhys.  “He’s looking much better now.  Remind Commander Rae to make sure he eats – one of the few constants among the immune systems of every species is that they burn calories.”

    Rhys took the creature from the doctor with a nod and a look of suspicion, keeping it at arm’s length. He hadn’t interacted with Edo much before, and only knew it was a native species to the captain’s homeworld. “Domesticated pets are so weird,” he mused while studying the creature. Rhys was raised on a remote colony with few native fauna and even fewer household pets, usually just those visiting with a crew from whatever ship was passing through at the time.

    Sensing Rhys discomfort Edo took advantage of the opportunity. It shifted its weight, wrapping its tail around of one the ensign’s arms, surprising him and loosening his grip enough for Edo to wriggle from his hands and scale his arm. In the blink of an eye the creature had made its way up to his shoulder where it attached itself comfortably, releasing a loud, wide-mouthed sound somewhere between a high-pitched yawn and a growl, seemingly signaling its victory.

    Visibly uncomfortable with the situation Rhys decided to leave it to its own devices until he could secure it in the captain’s quarters. “Guess I better get used to this little guy though,” he said under his breath. As if on cue the creature produced a small device it had been holding onto – a medical scanner it grabbed during the handoff. Rhys snatched it away and passed the scanner back over to the doctor. “Well, maybe not if it keeps this up,” he said wryly.

    Rhys handed the device to the doctor. “So, how’s this place coming together? This long-range sickbay looks a lot nicer than the standard Diligent-class spec.”

    Rosheen could only chuckle at Edo’s antics.  “He likes you.”  She took the scanner from Rhys.  “It’s…  coming.  I don’t think I’ll be done unpacking, sorting, re-sorting, and settling in for a few weeks yet.  Don’t worry,” she added hastily, “all the things I need to run a proper Sickbay are already in place.  I’ve still got a few pieces of specialist equipment and an experiment or two to get situated.  We’re ready for just about anything – though if we needed to do other things it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to get prepped.  Lieutenant Akaigan and I will be finished getting the rest of my equipment out by 0800 tomorrow.  In the meantime, don’t do anything that would require me to actually cut you open to fix, alright?”

    “I’ll uh, keep that in mind,” he chuckled. “So, are you going to be up on the bridge when we pass through the gateway? I’ve never been through anything like it. I guess the closest experience might be the Bajoran wormhole, but I haven’t had much need to visit the Gamma Quadrant.”

    “I’m sure I’ll be reminded to make my way up there if I forget,” she said with a nod. “This is going to be an interesting mission, that’s for sure.”

    Rhys nodded, “I’m sure. Well, don’t miss it, It’ll be a spectacle. Anyway, I best get going. Thanks for taking care of Edo, the captain appreciates it. See you around, doc,” he said, turning on his heel and heading for the exit.

    Elgor Rae
    Elgor Rae

    A joint post by:
    Elgor Rae, Clara Watson, Aerith Terovn, and Cælestis Everett
    Excerpts from Admiral Paka from TF canon post found here.

    The Diligent now flew amongst a fully formed fleet of ships, large and small, numbering fourteen including. The frigate sat in formation with the heavy cruiser wing, providing a nimble set of eyes on the outside of the group. The Fourth of July nebula clouded the view with a mix of red, white, and blue gasses as the flotilla awaited the opening of the Epatha Gateway.

    // U.S.S. Diligent, Bridge
    // Episode Day 07, 14:00 Hours

    Commander Rae sat in the center chair of the bridge as the crew made final preparations to pass through the gateway and into the Delta Quadrant. On-screen, a Galaxy-class and Sovereign-class starship sat partially obscured by the nebula. The gateway would open in ten minutes.

    “Helm, move us into formation with the Meridian,” Commander Bancroft ordered, referring to the lone Insignia-class ship of the fleet. “Match roll axis and velocity.

    “They’ll be the last cruiser through?” Rae asked to the side.

    “Yes, sir. And we’ll fall in behind them. Ensign Watson,” Bancroft continued, raising his voice again, “transmit our final status report to the fleet.”

    “Commander Everett,” Rae said, “maintain active scans of the area. We should see gravimetric readings spike and a shift in tetryon emissions soon.”

    // 14:08 Hours

    “Fleetwide transmission coming in, sir,” Chief Mora announced from tactical. “Admiral Larem aboard the U.S.S. Martinsson.”

    “Let’s hear it,” Rae replied from the center chair. A chime sounded signaling the transmission coming through.

    “This is Admiral Paka Larem to the Epatha Task Group.” The Epatha group was the name given to the Task Group of 14 ships heading to the Delta Quadrant. “You have all spent the last few weeks preparing for this mission. I know it hasn’t been easy, saying your goodbyes to your friends and families. For those lucky enough to have their friends and families coming with us, cherish the moments. You are going to be the first, of what will hopefully be many, new colonists to the Ourea system. With the wormhole estimated to only open every 45 days, that means just over a month and a half before we have any more contact with Starfleet. If it doesn’t open every 45 days, then we will continue our mission until it does. That is our job and our duty. So let’s do this. It’s time to pack and go on our own voyage. Good luck everyone. Captains, please signal your acknowledgment. Paka out.” The channel closed.

    “Signal message received, chief,” Commander Bancroft ordered.

    “Yes, sir. All ships have acknowledged receipt of the message,” Mora replied, working steadily on her console.

    “Green lights across the board,” Bancroft continued, looking at the readout coming in from the fleet of ships.

    “Another message from the flagship sir,” Mora announced again.

    Rae nodded to the tactical officer, and she opened the channel.

    Martinsson to the fleet, yellow alert. Move towards the departure point.”

    “You heard the admiral, take us to yellow alert. Helm, form up and standby for aperture opening,” Rae ordered.

    “Aye aye Sir.” Aerith moved his hands across the helm console in a delicate manner, he tapped rather precisely.

    Much effort had gone into the coordination of various CONN officers from the convoy. It was now time to put that coordination and practice into play.

    The Diligent altered its angle slightly on the z-axis, to more closely align with its neighboring vessel.

    “Ready to engage Captain.” Aerith looked back at Rae for a moment, making eye contact as he announced. One might think it was unnecessary, perhaps it was. Aerith did find himself locked in on the Captain for slightly longer than needed and sheepishly turned back to his console.

    With less than a fifteen minute opening for the entire fleet to pass through, time was of the essence. Each ship would need to enter the gateway, successfully navigate, exit, and make way for the next ship which would materialize shortly after. This was rehearsed time and time again in advance. Rae heard the sound of a sensor warning chime as space began to visibly distort before them.

    Clara was manning her station at the operations console on the bridge. She was a little eager to get started, and being out of contact with Starfleet for 45 days, did not seem very long. But this was her first deep space assignment. She had nothing to compare the experience with. She was a little sad to be leaving her family behind. But this was a great opportunity, for her to see what is out there in the delta quadrant. “Operations systems are all in the green, Captain. We are approaching the event horizon of the wormhole, reading tachyon emissions within expected perimeters.” Clara said, with a big smile. She was also distracting herself. With her work.

    “Right as planned. Thank you, ensign,” Rae responded. “Starfleet seems to have gotten this down after the first few convoys through. Commander Everett,” he continued, directing his attention to his science officer, “verify probe telemetry coming in from the flagship. We should see a message relayed from Starbase Thirty-Eight momentarily.”

    Cal quickly begins to verify the information spilling into their console. While it’s not their specialty, the math comes quickly from years of practice. As soon as this work is done, they’ll all be so far away from home and the supportive embrace of Starfleet. Cal wonders how everyone on this bridge will handle the separation – handle the absolute isolation – let alone how they’ll handle it themselves. But the musings are useless in the face of the action ahead of them. The moment they’re sure of their math, they straighten ever-so and say, “Verified, Captain.”

    “Incoming transmission, fleetwide,” Chief Mora announced. “Putting it through.”

    The comm chimed to signal the addition of the fleetwide channel overhead. “This is Admiral Paka to the fleet. The wormhole is confirmed as stable. Let’s go. We don’t have a great amount of time. Move out. See you all on the other side. Paka out.”

    Rae nodded and felt himself subconsciously grip his armrests tighter. It was time, in minutes they would be hurled across the galaxy, to a corner of space the starship Voyager had spent years trying to return from.

    “Helm,” Commander Bancroft began from the XO seat, “thrusters ahead. Match velocity with the ship ahead of us. Take us in.”

    Aerith took a deep breath before engaging the thrusters of the Diligent – a simple tap of a control caused the ship to tighten up behind the vessel in front of it.

    “Thrusters engaged. Taking us in Commander.” Aerith made sure to match the velocity of the ship ahead. His job now would be to maintain a safe distance and navigate the corridor, adjusting for sheer forces. Each vessel would need to maintain their respective times in order to facilitate the success of the convoy transfer.

    Perhaps it was now that he had a moment to think but Aerith’s mind wandered to the quadrant they were leaving behind them. It was almost as if a chapter was closing in a book he was reading. He could only hope that this next chapter would provide a better path in his journey through life. As much as he hated it, he couldn’t help a slight guilt in thought about his father. Had he done the right thing in leaving him behind? In cutting him from his life completely?

    These were questions better answered at another time. Or perhaps never. Aerith shook himself from his thoughts and re-focused on the navigation trajectory in front on him.

    Minutes passed before the Insignia-class starship ahead of the Diligent disappeared into through the gateway. Commander Rae held his breath as the ship hit the event. He knew it was psychological, but it seemed he was pulled back into his chair as the ship entered the phenomenon and the stars disappeared. What seemed like an eternity was only thirty-nine seconds. Thirty-nine seconds and the ship was back in normal space, joining the line of starships it had entered with. They had reached the Delta Quadrant.

    “All ships present and accounted for,” Bancroft reported from his readout.

    Rae exhaled louder than he meant to and relaxed into his seat. “Excellent work everyone. We’ve made our first successful navigation of the Epatha Gateway.”

    “The convoy is breaking apart and setting course for their respective locations, sir,” Chief Mora reported.

    “Let’s do the same then. Deploy the nacelles. Mr. Terovn, set course for the Solaria Nebula. Warp seven. Engage when ready.”

    Clara Watson

    A joint post by Commander Marcus Brancroft and Ensign Clara Watson

    // USS Diligent
    // Turbolift off the bridge
    Episode Day 07, 1430 Hours

    Clara was just getting off duty for the night, thinking to herself, they finally made it to the Delta Quadrant. She was excited to see what was beyond the gate. What laid out in the darkness of space, what they would find in deep space. The Delta Quadrant was massively unexplored. As she started to walk off the bridge, she called out from the turbolift, “Deck 2.” Her first stop, was getting something to eat. She was starving.

    As Clara stepped into the turbolift, there was a chime, before the computer intoned a new order: “Ensign Watson, report to Main Engineering. Repeat: Ensign Watson, report to Main Engineering.

    Clara was curious about the call. Her shift was suppose to be over, but if Commander Bancroft needed her help in Engineering. She would be offering it. She was eager to meet the staff, being in a meeting with them or working on the bridge was not a good way of getting to know people. She told the turbolift to send her down to engineering.

    // Main Engineering

    Lieutenant Commander Bancroft was standing at the primary control console in the center of main engineering–commonly referred to as the pool table–splitting his attention between a diagram of the ship’s computer network and a PADD in his hand. It was far past the end of his normal shift, and engineering wasn’t one of his normal duty stations, but he was intensely focused on the work he was doing. Curiously, the EMH was hovering over him as he applied a dermal regenerator to an obvious plasma burn on his neck, the attention more than the injury seeming to be the main cause of his obviously negative disposition.

    Bancroft moved his eyes from the console and the PADD to Clara for a split second. “Ensign, I am making modifications to our computer firewall systems in advance of our mission into Iconian territory–,” he started, but was interrupted when a hypospray was applied to his neck. “Are you quite finished?” he snapped at the hologram. Normally taciturn, and almost robot-like, it was rare for him to express emotion with an audience.

    “Just an analgesic, commander. You’ll need to report to sick–,” the EMH replied.

    “I’ll take that as a yes. Computer, deactivate EMH,” Bancroft ordered, curtly, which caused the program to vanish. The hypospray fell onto the deck next to him and he bent down to pick it up and place it into the open medkit next to him. “Ensign, I see in your file that you passed Advanced Computer Operations at the academy, so I’m sure you’re more than capable of describing the manner in which NCC-71807, the USS Yamato was destroyed in orbit of Iconia, so we can start on the same page,” he continued, an observation that was another order.

    “Yes Commander I have training in that field, sir I should point out to you, that its not wise to dismiss the doctor’s warning.” Clara said, as she started to approach the display table, were he was standing. She had a feeling this was going to be a long night. It would feel even longer, if he snapped her head off for suggesting sickbay, it would feel like an eternity.

    “Ensign, I know we don’t know each other very well, but I apologize if I’ve given you the mistaken assumption that I either need or desire your appraisal of my sagacity. I also know that you’re fresh out of the academy and have recently been repeatedly exposed to the idea that the Federation is the galaxy’s greatest democracy–which is true, however, Starfleet is a feudal monarchy. The captain reports to our emperors at Starfleet Command, I report to the Captain and all of the rest of you report to me, as First Officer. If I were you, I’d adjust my way of thinking post haste,” Bancroft replied, without missing a beat. His tone was dangerously quiet, like the sound of a snake before its tail rattled. Bancroft was clearly not accustomed to being questioned by a subordinate and it showed in his features, his cheekbones seeming to get higher with his indignity.

    “Now, since I must assume you’re referring to General Order 27, which states that the recipient of any field treatment must report to sickbay once the field situation has been contained, I’d like to point out that the situation is in the process of being contained, and since I don’t see in your file that you have a medical degree, let’s continue,” he added, in a louder voice. He glanced at her file, which was still on the console, before gripping it with one hand and making a motion to lift it off of the screen, which closed it.

    “The Yamato was the single greatest loss of life that Starfleet has ever suffered with the destruction of a single starship, in part because it was one of the largest starships ever destroyed, but primarily because it lost antimatter containment so quickly that no evacuation was possible for any personnel. Over 1,012 souls were vaporized instantly, because an Iconian virus overrode her antimatter containment system. As far as we can tell, from the records of NCC-1701-D, this was caused by a directed power failure,” Bancroft said, his tone now at his standard Vulcan-like middle. “I have isolated the antimatter containment fields, both for the storage pods and the warp core, to an independent network that is controlled only from Main Engineering and the Operations station on the bridge, following standard procedure for circumstances in which Starfleet assets are knowingly attempting to inferface with invasive technologies. You will need to liaise closely with engineering, because this system will now no longer be included in the computer’s readout of our power allocations–you will have to make sure that your calculations include the containment fields when you are assigning power to ship systems. I assume that won’t be a problem?” he asked.

    Clara was not really fond of the first officers narrow minded view of the federation leadership. She was a little annoyed that he made assumptions, based on his own observations. He reminded her of one of her 21st centuries show, he reminded her on a conspiracy theorist. Making up assumptions, about starfleet politics. He was right about one thing, he was the first officer, and he does report to the Captain. She stomached her pride, as she listed in to the rest of what he was saying. “No sir, that will not be a problem.” Clara said in a calm and collected voice. Deep inside her thoughts, she was wanting to scream at him.

    Elgor Rae
    Elgor Rae

    // U.S.S. Diligent, Holosuite 2
    // Active Program: Halii, The Cliffs of Isaan
    // Episode Day 08, 19:00 Hours

    Waves crashed against the sheer faces of cliffs, carving the ages into the bold wall of stone. The sun beat down, glistening from the soaked rock, reflecting a soft pink hue and warming the surrounding area. Elgor Rae let his legs dangle over the edge, occasional droplets of water sending pleasant jolts through his body. This was Halii, the birthplace of Elgor, and the home he exiled himself from years before. He lay now as bare as the day he had been born on the world, reveling in the isolation and drifting in and out of sleep under the warmth of the sun.

    It was Gamma shift, and Commander Rae found himself with a few hours of downtime. With days of transit ahead of them and with the ship having just resupplied in dock, the crew had unexpected freedom to become accustomed to their new surroundings without the hectic rush of many maiden voyages. Elgor spent some of this time on an imitation of the home he hadn’t stepped foot on since before the academy. It was quiet here, there were no voices, no empathically imparted emotions to weave and dodge, just the sound of nature itself.

    He had left this place in search of freedom through a life in the stars and he had found it. Elgor had faced the Borg at home, faced the Dominion in the war, and faced rebuilding what was destroyed during those days of conflict. After helping refugees build new homes for themselves on Betazed, he had begin a life of exploration anew in the Gamma Quadrant. It was his experiences there that made him a shoe-in for command of the Diligent.

    He wrestled now with the emotions he did the first time he passed through the Bajoran wormhole. Excitement, fear, anxiety, but above all else, a feeling of freedom. Of physical space from home. But here he was now, on a fake. Elgor shook the thoughts from his head, he‘d dwelled enough on this and now it had ruined his nap.

    He pulled himself up, moving his right arm up and shielding his eyes from the raw light of the projected star above. Their assignment to the Solaria Nebula was particularly interesting to the commander, and he found himself eager to begin. Preoccupying his mind with work had become a past-time of his by now, as it did with every person tasked with the care of a starship, and the nebula promised plenty of that.

    Without warning Elgor felt the tail of his pet, Edo, wrap around his arm as the creature latched onto his shoulder — punishment for the commander deciding to sit up, he supposed. Edo had been snacking on some of the indigenous fruit here, replicated to be almost as good as the real thing. Elgor felt a slight pang of guilt for having taken his childhood companion so far from home, but Goklin’s bonded for life, and Edo had definitely bonded to him. Edo was as much a veteran of the Borg and Dominion encounters as Elgor was too, Elgor mused to himself, and had seen a good number of the worlds he had in the Gamma Quadrant.

    A fruit covered lick to his cheek from his pet signaled shoulder time was over. The commander pried the creature off and dropped back down comfortably lying on the rock. Home was where he made it, but Edo at least let him take a piece of that first place with him.

    Clara Watson

    // U.S.S. Diligent
    // Aft Lounge Area
    // Episode Day 08, 20:00 Hours

    Clara was sitting in the mess hall eating alone, like she did most days. The USS Digent, was an impressive ship for her size. She felt cramp like a defiant class, but had a few creature comforts of home, with one of them being this mess hall.

    Clara watched as the doors to the mess hall opened and closed, she observed the crew, from a far. Learning their behaviors, there ticks. She often found it soothing to observe.

    The crew’s lounge, did not have a bar. It was a series of sofa’s placed throughout the lounge, that were designed for you to sit in the chair, and enage in small talk with the crew.

    Clara found a loop hople she sat in single chair, and read a data pad. If anyone asked what she was doing, she would tell them reading a story. In reality, she had already read the story. In reality she was observing human behavior.

    Clara was not really anti social. She was just trying to figure out the crew, they had only been together for a week. There was still a lot to learn, and she could not wait to learn it all.

    So far the only thing she learned was, it was boring to sit in a lounge, and not talk to anyone. Even in the name of science. She wanted to reach out and make a new friend. She was debating, on who she would reach out to first.

    Clara Watson

    // USS Diligent, Deck 2
    // Day 8, 20:10 Hours
    // Ensign Clara Watson & Ensign Emily Patterson

    “Mind if I join you Clara?” Emily asked, with her tray in her hand. She was starving, and just completed her duty shift in engineering. She really could use a friend to talk too.

    “Not at all please.” Clara said, as moved her tray over a little. And took a few more bites, from her tray. “You heading over to the gym, later on?” Clara asked her? Not that they needed to go to the gym. Both of them were very skinny, and had high metabolisms.

    “Its either that or the bar, or have a solitude night in my quarters.” Emily said, realizing she did not answer the question. “I mean, yes I planned on stopping by. Wanna work out together?” Emily asked her. She hated spending any time alone.

    “Ya, my experiment in the lounge, is a bust. But can’t win them all, right?” Clara said, with a big grin on her face.

    “Very true, especially on a ship this small, and with limited resources, we need to find a way to entertain ourselves, and fast.” Emily pointed out to Clara. It was bad enough both girls, were eating at 2000 hours. Both of them barely gotten off work. Both had worked long hours. Clara wanted to burn off the calories, they were consuming.

    “Well this room, appears to be designed for socializing. I find it to be distracting.” Clara said, as she looked around the room, once again. Both ladies spent the next few minutes, eating the rest of their food.

    “I forgot to ask you, is this your first time in the Delta Quadrant?” Clara asked Emily. She did not remember asking her before today.

    “Yes. I must admit, its seems so mysterious and a wild frontier vibe going on for it.” Emily said, as she wondered, if this was her first time. She assumed it was, since they were both ensigns.

    “Me too.” Said Clara, as the scene starts to fade.

    “Lets get out of here, we have a gym calling our name.” Emily said, as the scene fades.

    // USS Diligent, Deck 2 (GYM)
    // Day 8, 20:10 Hours
    // Ensign Clara Watson & Ensign Emily Patterson

    Emily and Clara walked into the gym. The place was pretty packed, which surprised Emily a little bit. It was already 20:30 hours, wouldn’t most personal be in their quarters relaxing?

    Clara smiled as they walked in. She had a feeling that this place would be packed, after eating a big hearty dinner. Both ladies walked over to the treadmill, they had two open right next to each other. Clara put her towel on her treadmill, and prepared her run program. She noticed Emily doing the same thing.

    “For a ship so tiny, she does a have a lot of ammenties of home, which I appreciate.” Emily said, as her running program starts off. Emily started to run at a moderate pace on the treadmill. She noticed that Clara was doing the same thing.

    “I hear ya, when I heard I was going to be on a diligent class, I instantly had to review the files, to see what ammenties the class had. I was relieved to learn they have a holodeck and this gym.” Clara said, as she continued to pace along.

    “Met any cute boys yet?” Emily asked, as they continued on. Emily started to pick up the pace on the treadmill. She wanted to break a sweat.

    “Not yet, I know sad right, been on the ship for eight days, and not had my eyes starring at anyone. Maybe I am a workaholic?” Clara said with a big teasing grin on her face. In reality, she was still trying to adjust to living on the USS Diligent.

    “I must be one too, a workaholic.” She said, as they continued to on with the treadmill program. Both ladies picked up the speed, which ended the conversation. They did not always need to talk, it was nice to have a gym partner.

    Clara Watson

    //USS Diligent, Deck 5
    //Episode Day 10, 20:00 Hours

    A couple of days had passed, and Emily was itching to get some holodeck time in. She wanted to go on a hike. Yet Clara told her no, something about being the early evening, and they should not do anything to strenuous in the holodeck.

    Emily caved in, and decided to run a less strenuous program. She instead ran a holographic program, of a classic book she like. She was pretending to be Cinderella, while Clara played the evil step sister.

    Clara felt a little silly as they started the program, about 45 mins later, the program completed, and she still felt just as silly as she did, when she first entered. “Not sure why people like this folktale. Do we really need a prince charming kissing us to awaken us form our imprisonment. We do not need a man for that.” Clara said, a little annoyed at the level of sexism in the folklore.

    “It’s an old folklore, a different time. Just take it with a grain of salt.” Emily said, as they started to walk out of the holodeck.

    “I suppose your right. You have to admit, it felt pretty cheesy.” Clara said, as she looked at her dress. She did not like how it looked or felt.

    “Well, what do you want to do next?” Emily asked, as she looked over to Clara. The night was still to young, to call it a night.

    “Lets head to the lounge.” Clara said, as the scene starts to fade.

    Cal Everett
    Cal Everett

    A joint post by:
    Cal Everett and T’Laruk Akaigan


    //USS Diligent, Deck 5
    //Episode Day 10, 13:10 Hours

    Cal rubs a knot in the stretch of their shoulder as the turbolift doors close behind them, whisking them away from the bridge after their duty shift. They’re holding tension in their shoulders, neck–all places where they tense when they feel people brush against them, where the emotions of the bridge settle their burden over hours of prolonged exposure.

    Hopefully, they can take time today after they finish up paperwork for the department. They’ve successfully managed to get the Science department up and running in the past few weeks, and several of their subordinates have begun personal experiments that Cal has to personally oversee. Since The Diligent is through the gateway, and separated from Starfleet, any and all experiments must be without the possibility of catastrophic failure. But they’re beginning to delegate those tasks to their assistant chief, now that the experiments have their legs under them. Cal has trouble letting things go without checking themselves, but when the department really gets going, it will be impossible to indulge in that little quirk, so they’re working on letting go now.

    Cal suddenly finds themselves jerking instinctively as someone brushes past them, nearly touching. They blink rapidly as they rub their arm and realize they’re stood on Deck 5, near Medical. They’d been meaning to go to their quarters on an entirely different deck. In the daze of their upcoming duties, Cal’s hind-brain had led them mindlessly towards their old life instead of the one they’re living now.

    “Oh, sorry. Didn’t see you there.” Keeping one’s head buried in a padd was a surefire way to run into someone in the corridor. “I really should pay more attention to where I’m going. Are you alright? I didn’t force you into a wall, did I?”

    Cal shakes off the weird energy that had briefly overtaken them, curling up their shoulders in as an easy smile opens their face. They hide the perturbed expression that must have been flashing bright on their face from finding themselves somewhere they didn’t expect behind it. “No worries at all, Counselor. I was a little distracted too, to be fair.”

    They laugh a little disparagingly, running a hand through their hair. “Forgot for a second I wasn’t in Medical anymore. Happened all the time on my last posting, thought I’d be able to shake the habit of wandering into sickbay on a new ship.” They shrug, head tilting. “Probably something to do with all this stress, huh?”

    T’Laruk returned the smile. “I know the feeling. I almost walked into Engineering this morning.” He shrugged. “One of these days I’ll get used to my new job. Of course, I have to finish helping Doctor Hughes unpack first, and the odds of that happening anytime soon are, well…” He smirked. “Let’s just say that it’s going to take a while.”

    Cal laughs. “I’ve heard about Doctor Hughes’ unpacking situation. I can’t say I don’t relate – I’ve done my own reorganization in the labs, too. But she’s in good shape if she has you to help, Counselor.”

    “Yes, well, sometimes I think she’d be lost without me.” T’Laruk winked. “Don’t tell her I said anything, but I think she’s got off the lift on the wrong Deck a few times so far – she’s still getting used to where Sickbay is on the Diligent. A bit of her old life bleeding through, just like what’s happened to you. And me,” he added hastily. “As I said, nearly walked into the entirely wrong Department.”

    Cal quickly and ruthlessly smothers the instinctive rise of color to their cheeks before it can show (hopefully), laughing and grinning a little wider than before to hide any redness that warms their skin. If Cal is anything, they’re good at suppressing.

    “I suppose we’re just a crew of mismatches, right now,” Cal agrees, warmly. “But I’m sure we’ll all fall into our roles and be a well-oiled machine before long. I really have a good feeling about everyone here. Just seems like a good team of people. Maybe a little green behind the ears, but good.”

    T’Laruk nodded. “Our crew is the happiest I’ve seen in a while. Emotions are close to the surface here, too – of course, that tends to happen when everyone’s content about the mission. With no reason to hide them, everyone’s being openly happy. I hope it continues to be that way once we really get underway.” He looked quizzically at Cal. “Speaking of emotions. You seem to be more… attuned to others’ feelings than one might expect.”

    Cal shrugs and smiles wryly as they do. “Well, command knows, but I suppose you should be in the loop since you’re counselor. I’m a Betazoid, but I don’t have psionic abilities beyond a little bit of empathy. Something to do with childhood suppression. Never really looked into it beyond that since it can’t be reversed. But you’re a telepath, right? It’s why you probably can’t get a read on me. The suppression, I mean. Makes my mind and my thoughts seem like they’re not even there.”

    T’Laruk nodded thoughtfully. “Well, not quite. Your mind’s lack of perceptibility is just as distinguishable as a normal mind’s presence, though the lack of surface thoughts and emotions is a little disconcerting at first. I’m still exploring the depths of my abilities myself – until recently I’ve only been tapped into my Betazoid side.” He smirked. “I’m told my Vulcan abilities will be greatly troubling when I begin to master them.”

    Cal cocks their head, a curious animal tilt. “I’ve never heard my mental presence described that way, that’s very interesting.” They smile after a moment, dismissing that line of thinking for now. “I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it quickly. With a psionic foundation from your Betazoid heritage, you’ll have a lot of skills to pull from.”

    Then, Cal has a brief realization, and thinks for a moment before asking, “How are you handling the touch telepathy? It must be quite the change from the usual. Has it come up at all yet?”

    “You know, I’m not actually sure,” T’Laruk admitted. “It may have, but I might have just assumed it was something else. Like when I pick up an object and get an empathic imprint from it. That might have been some combination of both, but I just assumed it wasn’t. Though that isn’t to say I have any idea what’s really happening. I don’t know of too many Vulcan-Betazoid individuals. The Vulcans usually keep to themselves, and the Betazoids aren’t exactly known for hiding their emotions. My parents were an unusual match.”

    Cal nods, interested. “That’s very true. I can only imagine the ways your biology has adapted to their two separate telepathic and empathic genetic sources, so perhaps it very well may be a combination, as you’ve described. Anyhow, I don’t mean to pry into your private life, Counselor. The captain brought up a point when I first boarded–connecting to other psionic senior crew is…useful, I think, for our own mental health; it’s why I bring any of this up at all. I don’t know about you, but my shields feel wafer-thin after my shifts on the bridge. Maybe we can find a way to support each other, if possible.”

    “It’s not as though I’ve made any attempt to hide anything about my life, you know. Very few people bother to ask about it, though – I think it’s the ears.” He thought for a moment. “I believe it would do us both some good to make a new friend or two while we’ve still got the time,” said T’Laruk after a minute. “I’m perfectly willing to continue discussing the subject of psionics at a later time. Speaking of later times, what do you do for physical recreation?”

    Cal grins. “I do a little yoga when I have the time–which is never,” they laugh. “I’ve been so busy the past few weeks I’ve barely had the time to eat, let alone to get to the gymnasium.”

    “I do hope you get some free time soon, then,” said T’Laruk with a wry smile, “because if you pass out from malnutrition you really WILL be calling Sickbay your home.”

    Cal barks out a laugh before they can catch it. They run their hand over their mouth briefly, as though to rub away the smile. “You’re right, of course, Counselor. Even though I’m not licensed anymore, I am still a terrible patient, so I’ll make sure not to inflict myself on Doctor Hughes. Speaking of inflicting myself on others, I won’t hold you any longer than I already have. I’m due back on bridge for gamma shift–since we’re nearing the nebula any day now–so beforehand I’m going to try to catch up on paperwork and maybe, just maybe, get some sleep.”

    T’Laruk chuckled. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you stopped by every now and then. I’ll leave you to your attempt to sleep. See you around, then.” He continued on his way down the hall.

    Cal lifts a gloved hand in goodbye, watching the Counselor turn the corner. They take a deep breath and turn on their heel back towards the turbolift, back towards the endless work that awaits them.

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