Location: Star Fleet Medical, Earth
“Students, remember, you are there to learn, and you must be on time for your shifts, ALL of your shifts. I will be contacting your ships PERSONALLY to make sure that you have done that on a random basis. You won’t know when the contact will be made AND your ship won’t know when the contact is made. You will reflect poorly on me and the high standards that we have at the Academy for punctuality,” the middle aged battleaxe told Yllek and Yllek’s three fellow students who had been assigned to her, “do I make myself clear?”
The four young potential nurses mumbled a response to her, and Ms. battleaxe said, “I didn’t hear you! I know you speak louder than that.”
“Yes Ma’am,” they repeated louder, and curter and she nodded.
“But remember, wait to be told what to call your CMO and the Doctors and the other Nurses and the Medical Technicians. They have all completed their training and are working in the field, you on the other hand are still students. You may think you know everything, but you don’t. Don’t assume they want Sir or Madam or Doctor or Nurse or their rank, ask them, or let them tell you! If I get a report you’ve been taking liberties with names or titles, on the ship, I will personally come out and yank you back here quick. And I will be angry, very angry, you won’t like me when I’m angry.” Ms Battleaxe continued.
They nodded, and she went on, warning them against engaging in ‘pleasures of the bed’ with other crewmembers, of being taken advantage of and of not going to the gym on a regular basis. Finally, she announced the placements, starting with Taw Yllek. Ms Battleaxe advised that she would be placed on the USS Atlantis with Dr Alexxander Ryley as her CMO and her direct report being Dr Ashlynn Summers and the ship’s captain being Captain Kelly Schultz. Though Yllek had mostly tuned out after Ryley’s name was mentioned, she smiled remembering him from her youngster, she remembered looking up at him and at his cane and … she smiled and decided a gift for him would be a nice touch. She thought through the Battleaxe’s lecture, but didn’t remember being told not to bring a gift with her. She would have to find something nice and understated for him, and she already knew what it would be and where it would come from.
They were dismissed, and the four of them grinned at each other, excited about the news of their placements and determined to show their best. Yllek farewelled the other three and headed to where her mother was living at this time, a small country estate in Tasmania.
“Mother, it is good to see you,” Yllek said to Elocin, “have you finished the gift I asked for?”
And it was good to see her, Elocin was looking well. Life in Tasmania suited the older Bajoran woman who had turned the loss of her eyes into work post her Starfleet career. Her artificial eyes could be offputting to visitors who weren’t expecting it, but the eyes permitted her to bring the beauty of each individual piece of wood she worked on out into the open. In a galaxy where replicators could pop out cookie cutter perfectly formed items of whatever it was that was needed, Elocin returned to the craft of wood turning and wood carving by hand with a fresh set of eyes.
“Patience child,” Elocin replied, not looking up from her work, “unlike transport by shuttle, and communication by subspace, this takes time to get right. You are really going to be on the Atlantis?”
“Yes, mother, I am,” Yllek said, a glint of satisfaction in her eyes, “and Ryley-with-cane will still be there.”
“You are no longer a toddler, my daughter,” Elocin said as she continued to turn the piece of wood on her lathe, “calling him Ryley-with-cane may not be as cute as it once was.”
“Oh, I know, mother,” Yllek said with a laugh, “besides Ms Battleaxe would have a coronary if I were to do so … no, it’ll be all Dr Ryley and Sir from me, until he tells me otherwise. But he will be my supervisor … and my mentor. Can you believe it, I’ll be taught to be a better Nurse by my hero.”
“He’s also an old grump,” Elocin said frankly, stopping the lathe briefly to blow the shavings away, and then stared at her daughter, her artificial eyes seeming to pierce Yllek, “just be sure you listen to whatever he and his staff tell you, and do it. It might save your life, or the life of a patient one day.” She then returned to the wood turning.
“Oh, of course, Mother,” Yllek said with a laugh that seemed to dismiss the concerns, “I’m there to learn from them, I worked too hard for this to jeopardise it now. On that note, I have some journals to review. Is it the usual space inside?”
“Yes,” Elocin replied, not looking up from her work, “help yourself to dinner, made you hasperat, its in the fridge.”
Yllek said, “thanks” and went inside the cottage that Elocin lived in, like normal was clean and tidy. It was simple and uncluttered, much like Elocin, herself. Simple but sophisticated and well laid out. Yllek went to the table from which she worked on past visits and sat down. Pulling out her padd, Yllek proceeded to revise the journals and their updates that were the focus of Yllek’s studies at the moment. At some stage, she got the hasperat out, ate it, and washed the dishes before returning to her studies. In time, her eyes, becoming heavy with sleep, told her it was time for bed, and she packed up her padd and went into the well appointed guest room that Elocin maintained. Yllek fell asleep to the sound of the lathe and other wood working tools being used by her mother, a woman of great patience and one that Yllek admired greatly.
Did the woman ever sleep? Yllek wondered to herself, as she woke to the smells of breakfast wafting into her bedroom.
Putting a dressing gown on, Yllek made her way into the kitchen area of the cottage and sat on one of the stools at the kitchen bar.
“Good morning my daughter, did you sleep well?” Elocin asked, her back to Yllek as she worked at the stove.
“I did, thank you mother,” Yllek replied, “wherever did you get that meat you are cooking?”
“I replicated it, dear,” Elocin said with laugh, a beat and then she continued, “I’m many things, but a farmer is not one of them. I’m not adverse to using modern technologies when they help me and make things easier around here. Self sufficiency is a good thing, but farming isn’t my area of expertise.”
Yllek laughed at that, and said, “whenever I think I’ve got you worked out, you change the rules of the game, mother.”
“Of course, my child,” Elocin replied, “I am an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, I have artificial eyes but engage in word work. I have a replicator but refuse to replicate finished wood working pieces, instead replicating raw ingredients for cooking. I had a promising career in Starfleet as a Counselor, but gave it up for a simple life in Tasmania on Earth, a planet far from the home I love. What ever made you think you’d ever work me out, Yllek? That kind of thinking is sloppy for a Starfleet officer.”
Elocin said it nicer than the battleaxe, but that didn’t make the rebuke any less painful, or any less true. Yllek nodded to the comment.
“Yes, nother, thank you.” Yllek said before devouring the breakfast before her - bircher muesli and a juice, followed by the cooked part of breakfast that Elocin had cooked them. After serving the breakfast, Elocin sat down on the stool next to Yllek and the shared bits of their life, no, neither had someone in their life, and yes, both were happy with that state of affairs. Then they got to talking about the Real Desperate Housewives of Betazed, both had become addicted to that holoshow, sad to say.
Then the end of breakfast came, and Elocin presented the item she’d been working on for Yllek the night before. Yllek held it in both hands, admiring it, before smiling broadly.
“Mother, this is perfect,” Yllek said, “he’ll love it. Thank you.”
Yllek kissed her mother on the cheek, and Elocin pulled her in for a hug, “I’m so proud of you, my daughter, I know it’s been a struggle for you at times, but know that I am always proud of you, and your father would have been too.”
“I know, mother,” Yllek replied, “and I am proud of you. Can I give you something for this, do something for you in exchange?”
“Your love is enough, knowing you’re happy is enough,” Elocin answered with a smile, “don’t you need to be departing soon to head back to the Academy for your trip to the Atlantis?”
Yllek checked the time and nodded, “yes, I do.”
Yllek packed and returned to the Academy and headed towards the departure point.
“It is a gift for an old friend,” Yllek explained for the fourth time since boarding the runabout. This time it was to the battleaxe that she explained it.
Ms Battleaxe hurumphed at that and spoke to the pilot, who nodded and proceeded to complete the final checks before takeoff.
“Just make sure it isn’t a bribe,” Ms Battleaxe commanded, and Yllek rolled her eyes as she entered the starboard bunk room to stow the item away. It was too large for her satchel, and so she stowed it just behind the bag.
She came out and headed into the medical bay for another lecture by Ms Battleaxe with her fellow field placement Nurses.
It was now just Ms Battleaxe, Taw Yllek and the pilot remaining on board and they could see the Atlantis ahead of them. Yllek was looking forward to getting on board the ship and out from under the thumb of Ms Battleaxe.
The pilot contacted the Atlantis to inform them that Nurse (Crewman) Taw Yllek was ready to be transported across, and Yllek stood on the transporter padd ready for the transporter process to take effect. The transporter took hold of Yllek and she disappeared in the usual sparkles, appearing moments later on the Atlantis in transporter room 1 on Deck 8.
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