Backpost: Seeking the Future
On the Road Again
Location: Runabout De La Guardia
Timeline: Mission Day 0 at 0042
[Runabout De La Guardia]
[Between Pathfinder and Sojourner]
[0042 Pathfinder Time]
The runabout hummed with the comforting pulse of warp engines, and the somnolent atmosphere of sleeping sentients. At this hour, in fact, almost all the sentients-- the majority of whom were keeping a diurnal schedule based on Pathfinder's chrono-- should have been sleeping. Of course, there were always exceptions. In the cockpit, the duty pilot was monitoring the ship's systems and progress toward the Sojourner. And here, in the crew lounge, a silvery skinned doctor was standing in front of the replicator, staring at it as though it were the most complex puzzle he had ever seen.
Clothed casually in loose-fitting pants and a t-shirt emblazoned with the Starfleet logo, his bare feet tapped an impatient rhythm. He cradled on elbow in his hand, tapping his chin with blunt fingers, his expression a mask of concentration.
Arriving behind him in the crew lounge was a bleary-eyed woman in a casual tank top and skirt, some eight inches taller than the doctor scanning the replicator. She had her attention focused on her PADD, and quietly yawned. "Good morning, Doctor Xex, for some measure of morning. Deciding on breakfast or supper? I was going to get a cuppa and reading."
The unexpected voice made Xex's shoulders jump and he half turned, his surprised expression melting into an uncomfortable-looking combination of disbelief and pleasure. "Ah, lieutenant! I was not expecting company. I'm not entirely sure most people would categorize this as morning-- the pilot has assured me it's the middle of the night," he added with a rueful grin. "Please, don't let me detain you," he said, stepping back with a grand invitatory gesture toward the replicator, "I might be some time. And please, just Xex is fine. Cuppa what, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Oh. Computer, Black Tea for two, hot with milk and sugar." Victoria asked the replicator. The bay shimmered and then came two glasses of hot tea. She offered a glass to Xex, before taking her own and blowing across the surface and taking a sip. "Black tea. Can't start my day without it, and besides, late at night, I'm still adjusting to starlight schedule."
Xex's face lit as though she had divined his greatest desire and he accepted the glass gratefully, "Thank you," he said with feeling, "Turns out this is exactly what I was craving." Canting his head to the side, he glanced at her PADD and then up at her. "You don't think you'll get back to sleep?" he asked solicitously, then added, with a tilt of his glass, "With this, I suppose not. What are you reading?"
"Yeah, nah, my day is pretty much starting. I'm expecting the Captain or Executive Officer is going to put me on the beta shift, so I've gotta get used to working nights." She took a sip of her tea, before adjusting grip on her PADD to read the title of her book. "Humanity's First Contact: An Analysis, by.. My step-mum, T'Pim. It's about human first contacts through the ages, but mostly about Bozeman and Cochrane."
"Ah yes," Xex said, sympathetically as he sipped his milky tea, "I know that feeling." He lifted the glass in a salute-- he had had his fair share of being assigned the most antisocial of shifts. Even if he was to be able to choose his own shift this time, he doubted he would take the expected CMO timeslot. "That's heavy reading for this time of the day, even if it is a relation," he commented casually, taking another sip of the tea, "Do you expect to finish before we meet the Sojourner?"
"Oh, no, not by a long shot. She spent six years writing this and it's a doorstopper. I think it'll keep me busy for a couple of weeks, easily." She asked a quick aside. "Do you know if the Sojourner has a holodeck, Doctor? I.. was thinking of replicating the beach back home and spending some reading time there."
Something about this answer relaxed Xex somewhat, and he slid into a seat at the little table, slouching down in the chair and taking another sip of the tea. Her question gave him pause, however, and he lowered the glass, canting his head to the side in thought. "You know, I actually don't know." His eyes unfocused slightly in thought, "But she is a Rhode Island refit-- I would be very surprised if she didn't have one. What beautiful place do you come from to have a home beach?"
Victoria took a seat across from him, taking a drink of her tea. She cracked a grin, setting her mug down. "Brisbane, Australia. Live just a few dozen feet from the Pacific Ocean, so a lot of my relaxation came from beach jogs, surfing, that sort of thing." She swiped through her PADD, showing him photos of the ocean. A few of the photos had a woman with short black hair and pointed ears wearing a bikini and swim trunks, her expression placid. "Oh- sorry."
"Australia? Stars, I wish I'd managed to get down there. It seems like a fascinating place. The Pacific is the big one, isn't it?" he said as he abandoned his tea to the table and leaned closer to look at the photos. As the vulcanoid woman swiped past and Victoria apologized, Xex glanced up. "Does that mean I shouldn't ask about her?"
"Yeah, Australia. Born and raised in the same neighborhood I live in. Yes, the Pacific is the big one, but it's kind of a misnomer, you see, it's all one ocean, just separated by currents and location." *She allowed Xex to take a look at the Vulcan with a smile. "Oh. No, yes, sure. That's my T'Kass. Happy as a clam in this photo, though you know how Vulcans are. We've been married for about eight years or so now, and I wanted to take her windsurfing. She was a quick student."
Xex's lips quirked to the side in wry agreement, "I do know how Vulcans are-- but I was not aware clams were especially happy?" He lifted an eyebrow in inquiry, but immediately was sidetracked from the question. Interest made him sit further forward in his chair. "I don't believe I've ever windsurfed-- this is done in the air?" he asked, utterly drawn in by the erroneous idea of surfing the wind.
"Oh, it's a turn of phrase. Windsurfing is like regular surfing, but uh, there's a sail. It uses the sail for forward momentum and requires rapid adjustment to maneuver. It's really exciting." She took a sip of her tea, before gently raising a brow. "Tell me more of yourself. Where do you call home, what are your hobbies?"
Xex muttered 'happy as a clam,' under his breath, as though committing it to memory. He took a sip of tea, his eyes flittering with interest over the glass' rim. "A sail? Ah, hence 'wind.' That sounds delightful. Do you by chance have any windsurfing holodeck programs? I would love to try it."
Draining the dregs from his mug, he slid it across the table in an absent gesture, shrugging. "Oh, I am not so very interesting, if you're used to windsurfing in the Pacific Ocean with beautiful Vulcans," he said, with a self-deprecating nod-- the compliment to T'Kass flowed naturally, as though he really did find her beautiful, but not in any way that constituted sexual or romantic interest in her. "At the moment, I'm calling the Sojourner home," his face animated brightly, "The Delta Quadrant-- can you imagine? I've never been out here and she's just out here, exploring and sampling like the Voyager, except for longer, now we have Pathfinder station. I literally can't imagine what we'll find out here, and I simply can't wait to get started. But then, a long tour is less of a chore for me; I am unattached so far as marital partners go. Will T'Kass be joining us?"
"No, unfortunately. She's got a job as a school teacher back home and the Sojourner isn't large enough to host junior officer families like mine. I'm just going to have to do as well as I can without her." She said with a placid smile, taking a drink. "Anyway, yes, sir, I do have a wind surfing program, it even has a programmed instructor and various weather modifications, so if you're keen on learning, the program can teach you."
He grinned, as delighted as if she'd given him his heart's desire. “That sounds like an excellent way to spend some off hours! You will join me to watch me presumably get very wet as I learn, I hope? I do regret T’Kass will be unable to join us, but perhaps the physical activity will do us both good, out here with little Federation contact. I can already feel this vessel’s confines wearing on me— I can only hope the Sojourner has at least a few more amenities. He flashed her a self-deprecating smile, poking fun at his own weak joke. “Tell me, what brought you to this posting? I’ve been asking most of the oncoming crew and I would love to add your answer to the mix.”
"Truth be told, I want to follow the path my father set. Ed Cross, maybe you heard of him. He was Captain of the USS Grant, and he gave everything he had to Starfleet in the name of it's tenets and ideals. His time, his dreams, his life. I tried to run away from him for a long time, but my wife helped me understand this is my calling. I venture into the undiscovered country who's bourn no traveler returns, the great thing that shook the souls of Edmund Hillary, Marco Polo, and James Kirk, Doctor. I seek the future, with my father's memory cast against my sails."
Xex’s brows arched with surprised interest and he leaned forward in his chair as she continued to quite eloquently sum up not only her reasoning, but quite probably the reasoning of a significant portion of officers for joining Starfleet. “Well that, Victoria, was simply beautifully put,” he told her with quiet honesty. “And a better reason I simply cannot imagine to venture with Starfleet into the Delta Quadrant.”
A Joint Backpost by:
Lieutenant Victoria Cross
Soon-to-Be Assistant Chief Operations Officer
Lieutenant Xex Wang
Soon-to-Be Chief Medical Officer