Give Me This One...
A Camping We Will Go
Location: Junior Officers' Quarters; Holodeck
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 0700
[Junior Officer's Quarters]Noah sighed. It was long, emptying until he slumped and then rolled his head until his neck gave a satisfying pop. "OK," he husked out to the empty air of his quarters. "Computer, begin dictation. Send to the following recipients: Simon Balsam, Proxima Fleet Yards, Proxima Centauri. Doctor Noah Balsam, Vassbinder Thinktank, Ganymede, Outer Worlds Commonwealth. Doctor Nora Tempe, Shem-ri Astro-engineering Forum, Hill Province, Bajor. Doctor Noah Balsam, Sr. New Sanibel, Toliman. Alpha Centauri Colonies."
[Mission Day 1]
"Dictation open," the computer stated as Noah settled down into a lounge on the couch. He raised his knees, tucking his bare toes between the last cushion of the couch, and the armrest. His eyes fluttered shut.
"Hi everybody..." He began. "This is Noah-3 coming t-to you from the Delta Quadrant. And it's been.... well, weird. Being on this tiny ship thousands of light-years from you." Noah winced at the rough start. He could feel himself stalling.
"Computer pause." Noah got up and strode rangily to the replicator. "Ice water, 1 degree Celsius. Bowl of salt water taffy. And..." He sighed. "Slice of sage sausage and egg breakfast pizza." As the computer hummed and swirled to life a very odd breakfast, Noah mumbled to himself. "You've gotta tell them... it's been months...." Still, he felt the weight of it. The crushing disappointment. He'd been rejected from the University of Cendo Prae and he still hadn't told them.
With the clatter of glass and ceramic, Noah picked up the plates- balancing the handful of taffy on the rest of the pizza dish. When he sat he took a deep swig of the chilly water. Noah liked water. It was simplicity and he loved that ultra-cold, quenching feeling that seized the throat. Intent on leaving some, he found himself gulping and downing the whole glass until he came up with a satisfied "ah!"
He blinked and stared at the wall. "Start with the good news..." He muttered to himself. With a clink, he set the glass down and momentarily forgot about the pizza. Instead, he hip-swiveled, dropped his head down to the headrest, and tucked his toes in again. "Resume."
"We-we met photonic life forms a few days ago. It started out badly. A-um- a lot of cultural misunderstandings. Um. But.... I'm hoping it ended OK. We returned them to their native home. I was excited to-to meet non-biological life. But I never got to talk to them about it. The ending all happened... really fast." He fumbled over and retrieved a paper-wrapped piece of taffy.
[Three Hours After To Catch an Alien] "Are you my mummy?" The sound of water- rather than pulsing soundwaves- crackled against the floor of the shower stall- and bounced off the skin of one Noah Balsam. Steam rose, obscuring the stall and a holographic projection of what appeared to be ancient film. "Are you my mummy?" A small voice asked. The sound of a sobbing, emotion-filled woman was nearly drowned out by the shower. The other, asking for his mother, was a muffled boy's voice.
[Mission Day 4]
Noah's back was against the wall resting with a slump that favored the rivulets of water. With his finger and thumb together, Noah blew a soap bubble into the ring they made. It popped almost immediately. Noah glanced at the wall and watched with half-interest the bleak scene from his cultural study of twenty-first-century science fiction. In the projection, across a bomb-cratered and desolate cityscape, a child in a gas mask was tentatively hovering in front of a strange crowd of gas-masked people, all in different clothes. A man in a bomber jacket pensively stood nearby along with a buxom girl in a jacket and a union jack shirt. A second girl in braids knelt down, her clothes were drab and ragged.
"I'm here," the girl with braids said, trembling with fear controlled.
"Are you my mummy?" The masked child asked again.
"Yes," she said again, a grimace of emotion on her dirt-smudged face. Noah blew another attempt at a soap bubble which also popped almost immediately. Rather than try again, he started to suds and massage his lengthy head curls.
"Are you my mummy?" The boy said again- almost like a recorded voice- same tempo, same pitch.
"He doesn't understand," the man in the bomber jacket said, "There's not enough of him left."
"I am your mummy," the braided-haired girl said fiercely, gritted determination despite a sense of apprehension on her face. "I will always be your mummy. I'm so sorry." The girl went to hug the child while Noah ruffled at the back of his head to get those nape tresses good and clean. "I'm so... so sorry." The mother hugged the boy. Strange amber glitters began to surround her and the child in the gas mask.
The blonde girl asked, tensely, "What's happening?" But the man in the bomber jacket shushed her and held her back with a protective arm throw.
"Come on... come on you clever little nano-genes. Figure it out." He said. "The mother. She's the mother..."He said like it was plain as day, hope thick in his voice. Noah blinked, fingers stilling in his hair. He looked at the scene. "It's gotta be enough information, figure it out!" The bomber jacket man said.
"What's happening?" Unionjack girl asked. The man pointed eagerly, wild-eyed.
"Y'see? Recognizing the same DNA." Suddenly the girl with the braids collapsed back. The blonde and the man rushed forward at the wavering-standing child. Dramatic music swelled. Noah's eyes narrowed. Wheels turned. "Oh come on," the man said with a quiver of hope, "Gimme a day like this. Gimme this one." He stooped and unfastened the mask off the child- to show the bright-eyed visage of the boy, alive and fine. "HA!!!! HAAAAA! Welcome back!" The man crowed as he lifted the kid skyward. "Twenty years til pop music, you're gonna love it!"
"What happened?" The astonished mother asked.
"The nano-genes recognized the superior information!" The man proclaimed. "The parent DNA!"
"Computer pause playback, Doctor Who. The Doctor Dances." Noah said suddenly. His eyes searched the empty space, percolating thinking behind them. "End program," he said hastily. The computer chirped and the projection of the video disappeared. Noah quickly scrubbed out the soap from his hair, from under his arms, and then slapped the end shower button with his palm. In his excitement, he'd forgotten that that wrist had only been mended an hour ago. It stung at him, rattling, but Noah moved on.
Quickly Noah dried his hair in a rush and then pulled a towel around his naked midsection. He strode out of the showers. "Iry!" He slap-pounded at the Flight Controller's quarters door. "Hey Iry, w-wake up!" Then he punched the door button with an insistent finger- twice.
Irynya came awake slowly and then all at once as the pounding and sounding of the door chime roused her from a dream. She sat up quickly and just as quickly regretted the motion wincing and muttering "ow" softly as she rubbed at her sternum. "Come," she rasped and obediently the door parted to reveal a damp and barely clothed Noah.
The doors parted, like the curtain of dark suddenly bursting into warm light. The skinny form of the cadet hovered outside. Was he... naked? No. He was holding a towel at his waist.
"Noah?" she asked, completely disoriented. Maybe she was still asleep? That wouldn't be the worst thing albeit a bit unexpected. But her chest still hurt and that was enough for her to be certain she was awake. "what's wrong?" She asked, concern for her friend clear in her tone.
"We can bring him back," Noah sputtered, "I-I think. I need to pull the logs from the Holo-grid before Dravor had to shoot the emitter. Th-then I'll compare the fragment files to any anomalies in the grid from before. And try to triangulate if he formed somewhere. If he did I can compare the fragment files to the logs and rebuild his photonic structure. But-but I'll need the help from the aliens."
Noah was still mostly dripping wet- and a bead ticked off his nose as he spoke. "I'm going to change. Can you get ahold of D-Dr. Munro?"
The half-asleep Risian nodded, still not fully processing what was happening. "Yeah," she said. That must have been enough confirmation for Noah because he whirled abd disappeared from the doorway.
Fumbling for her commbadge, Iry finally laid hands on it and tapped it roughly. "Irynya to Munro," she said, waiting patiently for the biologists reply.
Andrew sipped his warm cup of cocoa as he lay on top of his bed, browsing his PADD for something to read that was fairly light. He wasn't sure exactly where Björn was, but he knew after an incident like the one they'd just been through, the captain liked to drop in on various people to check on how they were doing. The chirp of his commbadge saved him from his indecision.
"Munro here," he answered, glancing at his bedside ship time display. "Is everything ok Iry?"
"I'm not sure," she answered, because she genuinely wasn't, "but I think so? Noah was just here saying something about fragment files and the alien that was in our room and..." She trailed off. "He asked me to get you. How quickly can you get here?"
"I'll be right down, just give me five minutes." Andrew drained the last of the cocoa from his cup and left it beside the bed as he hurriedly made his way to the closet. He picked out a fairly smart-looking sweater and paired it with black trousers, figuring that there was a good chance he may end up in some cooled computer room. Attaching the commbadge as he exited the room, he guessed that he had about two minutes remaining of his estimated time.
An odd pang of anxiety hit as he reached the door to the junior officer's quarters. Technically he had been in a hostage situation the last time he was there, but it was still a place where he'd socialised with friends. He wondered how they felt about the room now. Putting it out of his mind, he activated the door chime.
Irynya was already up and dressed in leggings and a flowing sort of black tunic that had long sleeves and a deep V in the neck. She wore her duty boots over the leggings giving the look an odd sort of appearance as she called for Andrew to enter. Perhaps it was something in his expression or perhaps it was just an intuitive leap, but she made a quick beeline for the burly scientist and wrapped her arms around him in a hug. "It's weird here," she said simply and then, pulling back, shrugged.
The rangy cadet reappeared from his bedroom where he made a beeline to the wall where Dravor had pitted the main holo-emitter. In his hand he had a tricorder with an engineering peripheral. A look of determination held his face in a sort of grimness. He barely acknowledged the two for the moment while he approached the bulkhead. The pinging, repeating sound of his tricorder robbed the room of its weird silence; Noah passed the tricorder over the blackened wound in their wall three times.
Noah tapped at the tricorder a couple of times and then closed the tricorder. He'd dressed since he'd seen Irynya last- a SOJO shirt and what appeared to be uniform pants. But he was still barefoot- slender and long, pale feet stuck out from the break of the cuffs of his pants. He chewed his lip, the furrow of his brow at his eagle beak nose the betrayer of deep calculating thought.
He gestured a finger at Munro and Irynya. "The emitters d-destroyed but some of the data buffers survived the thermal damage. I-I don't know if it's enough..." He said cryptically.
"Is there a way we can find out for sure?" Andrew asked. He had no idea how the holographic systems work, but Noah seemed to have a theory and the next step would be to test it.
Perhaps she was still half asleep, or maybe it was the way that Noah and Andrew seemed to be have a conversation without needing to clarify what, exactly, they were discussing, but Irynya was still extremely confused. "Noah, I don't think I understand what you're talking about. "Enough what? Rebuild who... what is it..." Understanding struck her mid-sentence and the expression on her face was nigh on comical. "Oh..." she said softly. "You think you can bring him back?"
"The-the photonic in here." Noah said almost breathlessly. His eyes clinched shut to emphasize his words, "I-I know they threatened Sheila. Sheila's my-my friend too. But we killed them." Noah said, shaking his head. "Because we didn't understand each other. If we could restore them..." Noah gestured at the scorched wall, "Or-or at least give them back a... a packet of data, something to remember them. Wouldn't that be a-a good gesture?"
Forehead creasing, making the ja'risia in gold shift slightly, Irynya considered that question. "We don't know how they would react to receiving one of their people back," she said softly. "They might be ecstatic, or they might... I don't know... ostracize them." She was thinking out loud, not really considering what she was saying as she tried to work through an answer. She glanced over to Andrew, hoping to gauge his reaction as well. "If it can help build any good will then, yes... it's worth trying. Should we ask them first, though? Since we don't know anything about how their people deal with or view death?"
Noah paused for only a moment, realizing he'd thought like an idealistic Human and an Engineer. Fix a system. How would the aliens react? Would they want it? Did they have a concept of permanent death? Hesitant for only a genuine moment, Noah's own experiences with death pushed back. "We should try to help." He said. "Bu-but I think we'd need their help too. I can repair the data we have but... I-I still need help from Dr. Munro and them to understand their..." He shrugged, lacking a better word, "Biology."
"Hmm. I saw the neural structure of the one that inhabited Index." Andrew's eyes didn't seem to be focused on anything in the room, but his expression looked troubled. "It wasn't organised like anything I've ever seen, and there's no way to know if it's changeable at all given that they don't have the physical constraints we do." He glanced at Irynya. "I'd certainly feel more comfortable with their assistance, but they might be offended that I've even seen what I have."
Looking back and forth between the two men Irynya sighed and stuck her hands on her hips. "Then we start by asking them for help. What's the worst that could happen? They say no?"
Noah knew he'd gotten ahead of himself in his epiphany and inspiration. He reigned himself back, mouth a firm line. "That-that's probably... yes. Yeah. So... to-to the Holodeck? They're accessible in there."
"Umm, do we have to ask for permission to do something like this?" Andrew wondered, unsure how things were normally done when they weren't in a crisis.
Irynya considered that question. They weren't currently in conflict with the aliens. As she understood it they had agreed to the arrangement the Captain had offered and were, for all rights and purposes, guests on board the ship now. She didn't think that meant that it was off limits and she also didn't feel confident of what might happen were they to ask for permission at this point. So she shrugged uncertainty. "I'm... not sure... honestly. They're guests now. And there's no rules against talking to them that I can think of. Maybe we should... let a senior officer know what we're doing? I don't know."
"I could tell Björn .. I mean Captain Kodak?" Andrew offered. "I left our quarters in a hurry and didn't even leave a note."
Irynya nodded her agreement at that. "That would work. Maybe more of an FYI?" She turned to Noah then and looked him over carefully. "It's your idea though, Noah. What do you think?"
Noah was chewing his lip, "Y-yeah. That's probably the right thing to do."
"Computer, record a message for Björn Kodak. Deliver in his quarters." Andrew waited for the confirmation tone before proceeding. "Hey, sorry to be out late. Midshipman Balsam thought there may be a way to recover the alien from the damaged holo-emitter in the junior officers' quarters. Lt. Irynya and I are assisting. Love you." He paused for a moment to consider whether he was satisfied with the message. " Computer, end message and send."
Noah's brow knit kept it's crease. "I-I feel like we need a higher-up to say this is OK... Commander t'Nai used to a be Doctor."
Irynya nodded her agreement. "Do you want to call her or should I?" she asked, hesitant to take control when this was Noah's project, but eager to help.
Noah grimaced. He located his commbadge and after expelling a slow, steady breath he tapped it. "Cadet Balsam to Commander t'Nai. Could-could you please meet us- me, well... there's an us. But I don't want to speak for everyone. Anyway. We have a theory that we might be, um, able to revive the lost alien."
The tinny voice of the XO filtered back across Noah's open comm link. The XO sounded as if she were tired, but then they all were after the activities of the day prior. That's an interesting theory Mr. Balsam. Where would you like me to meet you?"
Noah looked between Andrew and Irynya. "The holo-lab, or the holodeck?" He asked the two. "We'd have to download the logs from the lab...."
"The lab," Irynya agreed and then, piping up, added. "Good morning Commander. This is Lieutenant Irynya. Mr. Munro is with us as well. Meet at the holo-lab as soon as you're able."
There was a brief pause on the line before the XO's answer. Good morning Lieutenant, Mr. Munro. I'll see you in the holo-lab shortly. t'Nai out."
"Ok," Irynya said looking between the two men. "Let's get to it."
A Post By:
Commander Emni t'Nai
Lieutenant JG Irynya
Assistant Chief Helmsman
Cadet Noah Balsam
[ Video reference clip: The Doctor Dances ]