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Overwhelming Preponderance

Posted on Thu Dec 15th, 2016 @ 6:12am by Lieutenant Elsa Johansson & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E2 - Unity
Location: Science Lab
Timeline: Mission Day 11

With the away missions behind them and the loyal ships well on their way, Akiva eschewed personal leisure time in order to make his rounds. It occurred to him that many new department chiefs never knew him as the former Chief of Ops, and he loathed Command officers who never knew what was happening throughout the ship. After he became one himself, he realized how and why so many XOs and COs became detached. It was an all too easy development. True leadership seemed to mean averting that natural course.

Hoping to catch her during a downswing, Akiva casually strode into the Science Lab with his PADD at his side. The silence among the studiously working science staff felt almost sacrosanct. Akiva felt nearly guilty breaking it.

"Hello, Lieutenant Johansson," he said crisply to her back.

"One moment," Elsa answered, not looking up from her screen. Considering the present status of the Vindex, the members of the Science Department were mostly restricted to either organizing their recent work, or producing derivative works on previous studies. At present, though, Elsa was participating in cataloguing various minutae of the photospheres of various stars that the Vindex had encountered since Elsa had come aboard. Normally, it was the sort of mind numbing task that could be relegated to the ship's computer, but there were characteristics that only an intuitive mind might detect, rather than a programmed algorithm. So Elsa and a few other members of the Department were poring over data, looking for something that might "pop out" at them.

Elsa saved the data she had scoured before standing up and facing her executive officer. Recognizing the slightly shorter man from the staff meetings, Elsa put her hands behind her back and asked, "Commander Avram. Is there something I can do for you?"

"Maybe it is not so on Consortium vessels," he said with an even tone but a smirk teasing at his lips, "but Starfleet regulations customarily state that new department heads should check in with the executive officer as well as the commanding officer."

"At the earliest convenience of both officers in question," Elsa replied. Neither her face nor her body language displayed any reaction to his words, Instead, in an even tone, she added, "Since I've come on board, I've been kept fairly busy. Nevertheless, you have my apologies for not making an earlier attempt."

Akiva held her stare for a moment before breaking into laughter. "So you have. At any rate, allow me to welcome you to the Vindex!" He stepped forward with both hands spread in an open gesture and a wide, thin smile. "You've done a bang up job so far." When he was close enough, he extended the right one for a warm handshake.

Elsa accepted the proffered hand, then looked back at the rest of the personnel still going over the data. "Commander, would you mind if we continued this conversation in my office?"

"By all means," Akiva said, nodding in approval. "Lead the way." He followed Elsa into her office, trying and failing to gauge her mood and temperament.

Elsa led Akiva to her office and, upon entering it, headed straight to the replicator. "Can I get you something to drink, Commander?" For the first time since they began their conversation, a small smile appeared on Elsa's face. "May I recommend a cup of Soderblandning? I programmed it myself. Family legend has it that one of my ancestors invented this particular blend of tea in the twentieth century."

"Absolutely," Akiva replied. "Getting the replicator program just right is quite a trick." He let his eyes wander around her desk and office, taking in her decor. "Many people don't have a sense of legacy beyond a century or two," he mused while Elsa handed him a steam cup. "We know our history from books, but legacy? That's a family heirloom as precious as any jewel."

"My parents would tell you it would be impossible to replicate a good cup of tea," Elsa replied, bringing two clear cups of a light brown liquid to her desk. Setting one in front of Akiva, she took her seat and placed her cup to one side. "They wouldn't evoke Chaos Theory by name, but they would argue there are too may factors in any cup of tea that change all the time, no matter how minutely, to ever be able to adequately duplicate the taste. They run a tea shop in Stockholm, though, so I suppose one might argue their position is biased." Elsa took a sip of her tea and added, "Soderblandning is a little herbal for the taste of some, but as you said, it is a family legacy, and who can deny that?"

"In that case, you might simply conclude that no two cups of Soder-bluh-nading," Akiva tripped over the pronunciation, "um, Soderblandning... would ever be the same." He blushed at his mild accent's failure to properly form the word. "Matters are seldom one way or the other. Truth is often found between two opinions." He sipped from the tea and sloshed it around his mouth. His tongue clicked at the heat. "It is very good," he added before taking a large gulp.

"At some point I will have to introduce you to the 'real' thing," Elsa allowed, "To see if your taste buds can discern the difference between 'uniform' and 'entropic' tea. My father has always asserted he can, but I don't have his palate."

Rather than finish, he set the cup down to allow it to cool. "I won't take much more of your time, Lieutenant. I wanted to touch base and see how you were settling in, if you had any concerns to raise, and the like."

"Science is unlike Engineering," Elsa began. "If I were to use an analogy, heading this department often feels like having an unlimited number of powerful but unstable reactors, and a very limited supply of control rods." Elsa paused and took a sip of her tea before continuing. "There is one situation that I feel the need to address that I would like your input on."

The chief science officer's metaphor raised Akiva's concerns. His face remained neutral but his eyes turned grave. "By all means," he said. "What is it?"

"Among the memorandums I had awaiting me this morning," Elsa began, "Was a set of instructions to review with members of my department the importance of upholding the articles of the Treaty of Algeron, particularly those that deal with cloaking devices. In addition, I have received notification that a member of my department, Lieutenant Saalkan, has had his security authorization rescinded until further advise, and that there is a demotion of his rank pending. It's been a while since I've played connect the dots, Commander," Elsa drawled, "But I still think I'm a fair hand at connecting linear events. So if I might make a suggestion, Commander?"

Akiva's eyes narrowed in rapt attention. "Speak freely, Lieutenant."

"Vulcan and Scandinavia actually have quite a bit in common. Both are hostile terrains whose people have an early history of unrelenting warfare followed by a period where they embraced a philosophy of peace. We Swedes don't spend our winters just snowboarding, you know," she explained with a small smile. "Drinking tea and engaging in philosophical debates is also a favorite pastime on long winter nights. If you have no objection, Commander, I'd like to talk to Lieutenant Saalkan on this matter."

"He has been officially reprimanded by the captain--and myself," Akiva said carefully, quick to add the last two words. "If there is a way to keep him pointed in the right direction, I am all for it. His life experience, knowledge, and, let's face it, telepathic immunity to Consortium subversion... these are all assets that I am loathe to throw away due to an ill-timed superiority complex." Akiva's solemnity turned softer as his stony face cracked into a sly grin. "So, if your Swedish charm can smooth over his rough edges, then I'd love to hear a report." He caught himself gazing at her striking Nordic features and forced himself to return eye contact. Blonde hair was so rare as to be anomalous on Hebron, but Akiva chided himself anyhow.
Akiva, you rhaka fool, he thought to himself. It's not like she's the first blonde person you've met in Starfleet.
Akiva cleared his throat and reached for his tea. "Was there anything else, Lieutenant?" He quickly finished the last drop.

"Closer to Swedish obstinancy than Swedish charm," Elsa replied with an arched left eyebrow. "Perhaps I can use the argument of..." Elsa paused, her eyebrows furrowed as she concentrated, trying to remember a particular phrase. "Lo taamod al-dam reekah. Neither shall you stand against the blood of your neighbor." Elsa chuckled. "My apologies, Commander. My Hebrew is probably worse than your Swedish. What little I know I owe to my instructor at the Academy for comparative philosophies, Commander Isaak Gaster. He used a number of teachings from Judaism when elaborating on a tenet from Vulcan philosophy, I have a whole list of quotes from the Torah and the Talmud that I can mispronounce for you."

Akiva smiled, his awkwardness fading away behind the familiar expression. "You did well for a goy. The glottal stop is difficult for most." He smiled and added, "Yishar koḥakha or Yasher ko'akh."
He stood up and brushed his slacks smooth. "I had never considered that Moishe and Surak held much in common," he said pensively. "Both were lawgivers. Iconoclasts, even. And perhaps Vulcan Logic is not so different from Emeth. Hm. 'Truth.' Perhaps I may have more common ground with our obstinate science officer than I thought."

"I suppose infinite diversity allows for unexpected similarities," Elsa replied, her small smile returning. "I'll have a talk with Lieutenant Saalkan. To be honest, Commander, I've always enjoyed my conversations with Lieutenant Saalkan. He has some interesting and insightful perspectives on a number of subjects. And we can discuss this particular subject logically."

"Truthfully, I have come to appreciate him as well," Akiva admitted. "That is in part why I was more accepting of his preemptive action than the captain was. Had his attitude and explanation matched his initiative and ambition, namely in the form of an apology, then there may have been a different outcome." He clapped his hands together. "At any rate, I have taken enough of your time. Let me know how your talk goes. Until next time, shalom aleichem."

"Ha det så bra," Elsa replied as the Executive Officer left her office. She felt a lot better now that she had the 'go ahead' to deal with the matter. Assuming that her skills at diplomacy and logic were up to the task, she might just able to resolve the matter to everyone's satisfaction.


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