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How the Stars Present Themselves

Posted on Fri Oct 28th, 2016 @ 5:29pm by Lieutenant Elsa Johansson
Edited on on Fri Oct 28th, 2016 @ 6:20pm

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: Chief Science Officer's Office
Timeline: Mission Day 7

Elsa had to admit to herself that getting to know the different people in her department was a lot different on the Vindex than it had been on the Cukela. Of course, on the Cukela, she had been plotting a counter-mutiny, and any casual word or thoughtless action could have given away her subterfuge.

Here, on the Vindex, her main problem was she never planned to be a scientist. She was adept in the field of particle physics, but her inclination had always been toward the applied side of that discipline rather than the theoretical. And now she was the administrator of a department where she was expected to be adept enough in a number of fields, from the mathematical to the metaphysical, so that she could at least point her superior officers in the direction of an expert, and be able to get those experts what they needed. Or sometimes know when a denial of those requests was appropriate.

Case in point was her upcoming appointment with the ship's stellar cartographer, one Petty Officer Laena. Elsa flattered herself in thinking that she probably had a superior knowledge of the operations and uses of the stellar cartography bay than the majority of the people she graduated with from the Academy. Elsa would even go so far as to wager she had a superior knowledge on the subject than most of her fellow officers on the Vindex.

And Elsa was almost certain that Petty Officer Laena would put Elsa's supposed knowledge to shame.

Which led to a problem. The next time the Vindex went in for maintenance and upgrades, the stellar cartography bay had the option for a major upgrade. Not that Elsa's voice was the sole and final arbiter on the matter. But traditionally, the voices of Department Heads were given more weight than others on upgrades in their own departments. From what could tell, the design changes in the cartography bay looked like a good idea. But Elsa wanted the Petty Officer's input on it, to see whether or not the suggested upgrade was just change for change's sake. Of course, Elsa was hoping the Petty Officer wasn't one of those who was so entrenched that they objected to any change.

I guess we'll see, Elsa thought to herself, waiting for Patty Officer Laena to arrive.

The woman didn't have to wait long, as a few moments later, the chime rang in her office.

"Enter," Elsa said, putting her PADD down and looking toward the door.

The doors opened with a swish and a petite woman with mint green skin and jet black hair gracefully walked in. "You asked to see me, Lieutenant?" the woman asked.

"Have a seat, Petty Officer," Elsa said, gesturing to the seat on the other side of the desk. "Can I get you something? A cup of tea perhaps?"

"Some tea would be lovely, thank you," Laena said as she slipped, softly, into the seat that was offered to her.

"Two cups, Soderblandning, hot," Elsa ordered from the replicator.Two clear cups containing light brown liquid appeared. Elsa set one down in front of Laena before she settled down with her own. "This is a close approximation of the tea my parents sell in their shop in Stockholm, though my mother would consider it heresy that a replicator could ever come close to the 'real thing.'"

"I do have to admit, sometimes replicated food and drink just can't compare to handmade," Laena said, bringing her nose close to the cup to take a long sniff. She smiled, "It smells amazing."

"When we're able to get back to the Alpha Quadrant, I'll make sure you get a taste of the real thing," Elsa replied, giving Laena one of her rare smiles. "Family legends holds that we're descended from the original inventor of this blend, more than four hundred years ago." Elsa's face took on a more somber countenance as she continued. "Yours is probably one of the few sections of our department that's not going to feel the pinch in the coming days, as our conflict with the Consortium intensifies. In fact, you may find the requests on your section intensifying. So I don't want you to be shy about asking for help if you feel you need it."

"Of course," Laena said, resisting the urge to smile. Her life aboard the Starbase was boring, to put it mildly. The chance at being part of the action and excitement was thrilling. And the feeling of being needed was validating. "I look forward to serving your needs in any way possible."

Elsa nodded, making a notation on her PADD. "Do you have any outstanding projects that you're currently working on, or some pet project you'd like to get started? For the immediate future, I can't promise you all the resources you'd like for any project that might be considered extrinsic to our goal of defeating the Consortium, but neither do I want any scientific research left withering on the proverbial vine."

"At the moment, the Stellar Cartography is not working on any specific projects outside of mission-related work. Back on my last posting, I was working on a project regarding black hole singularities and I had intended to continue that study while on board the VIndex," Laena said.

"Just let me know what you need, and I'll see what I can do," Elsa answered. "Which leads me to the next subject. Right now it's hypothetical, but at some point, when the Vindex goes in for maintenance and upgrades, there is a recommendation for an adaptation of the cartography bay. I assumed you're aware of this, and I wanted your thoughts on the matter."

Laena's eyes widened a bit with questions, "No, I wasn't aware. I'm not very high on the totem pole, so I just do what I'm told. May I ask what sort of changes?"

"I'll send you the file with the suggested upgrade," Elsa replied, making an entry into her PADD "As I understand it, they would replace your present work space with a 'flat' screen. I confess I did just a cursory examination of the file, After all, it's contingent upon us being able to get to a shipyard in the Alpha Quadrant. And I wanted to get your thoughts on it before I tackled it myself."

Laena felt a bit defeated at hearing the woman's words. She's seen these new screens before. Some people were calling them astrometric labs, and she wasn't a big fan. "I'm sure any upgrade to the ship is warranted," she said.

Elsa raised an eyebrow as she caught something in the other woman's tone. :The way you couched your response makes me think the upgrade doesn't meet with your approval. Feel free to speak your mind on the issue, Petty Officer."

"I have never used one personally, so any opinion I may have is not based in first-hand fact. Voicing that opinion would be a disservice to you and make me appear foolish," Laena stated, choosing her words wisely.

"Of course," Elena said, keeping her tone carefully neutral. "Tell me then what aspects of the present system that you would want to make sure were incorporated into any upgrades."

"There aren't any," was Laena's short reply. "The thing I would miss the most is the immersive experience of stellar cartography. It would be impossible to incorporate that into the new astrometrics lab."

Elsa leaned forward, resting her lower lip on her steepled forefingers, letting herself get lost in her own thoughts. Finally she leaned back in her chair and began quoting: "Press close bare bosomed night. Press close magnetic nourishing night. Night of south winds, night of the large few stars. Still nodding night, mad naked summer night." Elsa paused before explaining, "Walt Whitman, an Earth poet who lived more than five hundred years ago. Some say that poem inspired one of the most famous paintings of an Earth artist by the name of Van Gogh. If you're not familiar with either, you might look them up in the ship's library. I think either work might appeal to someone in your profession." Elsa picked up her PADD and made an entry. "I'm recommending against the upgrade, if and when we ever get to to somewhere that the Vindex can be refitted. And at some point, if you have no objections, I'll try to make it down to stellar cartography. Anything else we need to cover, Petty Officer?"

A smile spread across Laena's face, "No ma'am," she said.

Elsa return Laena's smile. "You're dismissed then, Petty Officer. Just let me know if there's anything else I can do for you."

"Of course," the Orion woman said as she stood, leaving the room.


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