Posted by Lieutenant Tal Abara (Senior Researcher (Cognitive Science)) in Check-Ins | Step 1: Bug the Captain
Posted by Captain Zachariah Cobb (Commanding Officer) in Check-Ins | Step 1: Bug the Captain
“Both, sir,” Tal hummed. “My research – cognitive research – shouldn’t be limited to ‘anomalous’ or ‘non-anamlous’. To comprehend the effect one has on the other, we must first understand what makes them tick. How do they respond to external stimuli? What effect do their responses have on the environment, the people around them? What subtle and vast elements separate their neuropsychology from a humanoid’s – from each other?” She shrugged, but it wasn’t enough to mask the unfounded enthusiasm dancing behind her feigned composure.
“How they respond to external stimuli?” Zachariah repeated. “You mean like a phaser?” He shrugged and shook his head, a few strands of long, silvery hair disrupting his attempt at a dignified hairstyle. “I’m not serious. I know as well as anyone on this ship that the lives of these things we have in containment rank far higher than the lives of any members of this crew. Myself included.”
There was no anger in the man’s tone as he admitted knowledge of his own, lowly ranking in the scheme of things. Merely apathetic resignation.
Untempered by idealism as she’d come to associate with Starfleet Officers, Cobb’s words struck harder than she’d expected. They didn’t shock her. Tal was disquieted by the familiarity she found within them. She refused to entertain a daydream, knowing on ships like Leviathan that apathy was as much a weapon as a means to survive. Abara couldn’t bring herself to question it. Instead, she offered an earnest smile and nodded.
“I have limited data on these anomalies, so I cannot detail elaborate hypotheses or experiments just yet.” She was tossing a match into a cavernous abyss, hoping to illuminate something she knew almost nothing about. Tal Abara was a woman driven by wonder and concern. “But.. I can say I’m interested in examining the effects of anomalous encounters on the humanoid psyche, and vice versa.” She paused. “My service aboard the Viking has rendered me a little more.. conscious of methods to improve these encounters. I believe a key factor is recognising the behaviour, motivations and needs of these beings. Well.. at least the anomalies that take corporeal form.”
– Tal Abara, Cognitive Researcher
“The Viking?” And now Cobb’s own interest was piqued. “Its former crewmembers seem to be gathering on my ship like stem bolts to a magnet. Oh, I’ve heard the rumours. I know some of what occurred on that ship.”
He leaned forward, conspiratorially. “There are some who believe that the ship itself is an anomaly. Or…was. Its current whereabouts are entirely unknown. But I suppose you already know that.”
Tal made no effort to hide the smile teasing her lips. However faint, she had a hope a certain half-Klingon was among Cobb’s ‘bolts’.
“You say that as if there’s any doubt,” Tal downed the contents of her glass and inched forward to present Cobb a clandestine grin. “Viking’s got everyone suspended by string,” the former counsellor hummed, “she’s smart. She understands our mortal condition – conceivably better than we ever could – and she exploits it.”
Viking braved the waves of her subconscious, eclipsed by deep and impenetrable darkness, but never managed to escape. And though contempt ached to torment her words, reverence hypnotised them before it had the chance. Viking wasn’t a knight in shining armour fortified by Starfleet’s finest, but she’d been their ship, and her crew was the closest Tal had to family. She didn’t have it in her to regret knowing them.
“I have cause to wonder whether those strings that you speak of have truly been cut?” the captain admitted. “Amongst her former crew now gathered here, not a one seems to have lain their demons from that ship to rest. And I worry that whatever plagued you all on that ship might also find itself drawn over here.”
Reclining back into his seat, the captain sipped silently at his whiskey for a time. There was no denying the woman’s enthusiasm for the role. Or her intelligence. But the Leviathan was a ship like no other. And very few could predict their own reactions to their very first containment breach.
“Your service record and published research speaks for itself, Miss Abara,” he finally continued. “And I have no doubts that your work onboard this ship will be valued most highly by the ARU. But I am no captain of science, Lieutenant. I am a captain of people. I have witnessed firsthand what an encounter with one of these anomalies can do to a human, especially one who is tired or stressed or otherwise distracted. So while I feel confident that you will have ample research data to draw conclusions from, I would not want to find you a statistic of your own experiment.”
There was a strange dichotomy between being equally valued and expendable, but Tal suspected that was the price of admission.
His smile was mischievous, less distinguished starship captain and more backwater rogue. With a wink, he refilled both of their glasses then asked, “So, what does a specialist in cognitive science do for fun on a ship like the Leviathan then, eh?”
- Captain Zachariah Cobb
Tal hadn’t expected the question. Leviathan and fun resonated on opposite sides of the spectrum, but she understood their dependence on one another. On ships like Leviathan, she suspected a work-life balance – or work-fun balance – was as much as a necessity as food or sleep. Without it, she couldn’t begin to consider the damage it would have on the crew’s psyche.
“If you’re asking whether I people-watch? The answer’s a hard no.” A flicker of humour infected her otherwise sober cast. “I’ve never been one for idle fun. Hand me a novel, and I’ll probably lose interest by the third chapter. Challenge me to a spar– different story.” Abara, though branded by her intuition and composure, came from restless roots. “I guess you could say my mind is best tamed by a rush of adrenalin or instability curiosity.”
“Oh, you’ll find your home on this ship surely enough,” Zachariah grinned in reply. “It seems a hallmark of almost all my female officers that they can hold their own in a fight. You should talk to our Security Chief, Lt Surda. She runs the most innovative physical training sessions. I have even been known to take part in a few of them myself,” he added with a wry glance to his own physique, as if daring Abara to doubt him from age or rounded belly.
“I used to kayak and scuba dive,” Tal admitted. “There’s nothing quite like the spray of river water on sunburnt cheeks or the feeling of wonder when you’re 15 metres below. Of course, most of the places I’ve served don’t have rivers. And the holodecks were always too dangerous to bother.” A glint in her eye suggested it hadn’t for lack of trying. “So, I guess the only way to answer your question is to say.. if it sounds fun, I’ll try it.”
“Scuba dive?” the captain echoed, blue eyes sparkling with unrestrained delight. “Why, I hail from the coastlands myself and share with you a deep love of the ocean. I must show you the Leviathan’s lounge, if you have not had call to visit already? There is a wonderful homage to the sea installed in there.”
Some insisted Tal was woefully incapable of consistency – that its permanence terrified her – but she contended her restlessness was fundamental, intrinsic. Tal refused to let habit stop her from enjoying a fleeting existence. So, from mok’bara to Battleships and line dancing to Klingon Opera, Tal pursued, however impetuously, whatever sounded fun. Caution was for the office.
“Beyond playing ‘52 pick-up’ with Vulcan rods..” Her grin enlivened her features, scaling the sides of her flat nose until it reached her eyes “..what does the captain of people do in his downtime?”
– Tal Abara, Cognitive Research
At the reminder of his prior suffering, Cobb unleashed an agonised howl. “Oh, I have neither the precision nor the patience for that damned thing!” he sighed. Then as a roguish smile danced across his lips, added, “But I shall have my revenge on Mr Logan. Tomorrow, twenty-hundred hours, I have plans to meet him on the holodeck and teach him my kind of game. You are most welcome to join us, if you are free? I suspect you might prefer experiencing a novel to merely reading one.”
The captain drained the remnants of his drink, his mind considering Abara’s question. What indeed does the captain do, when not tormenting Vulcan medics for their unfathomable taste in games?
“I, for one, do like to read,” he decided at last, as if discovering the notion for himself. “And to drink. Alone, usually. Although it does seem as if the crew appreciate my presence in the lounge after hours. On an occasional evening, at any rate.”
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