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Petals and Pips

Posted on Wed May 15th, 2024 @ 7:54pm by Captain Björn Kodak & Lieutenant Commander Victoria Cross

Mission: Mean Green Queen
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: Mission Day 3 at 0915

[Ready Room]
[USS Sojourner]
[MD 3: 0915 Hours]

"Kodak to Cross," the Captain said, rising from his chair and tapping his combadge. "Could you join me in my ready room when you have a moment, please?" He knew the woman was currently on the Bridge and probably looking in the direction of his door as the call was made.

Victoria's combadge chirped, and from the other side, Captain Kodak wanted to see her in his ready room. Victoria tapped her badge. "Right away, sir, just a minute." She swiped through her console and began to sign off, activating a security system on her computer.

"Acknowledged," Kodak said in response, tapping his badge to close the channel.

He had a few moments before Cross could sign out of her console and head his way, so Kodak picked up his golden watering can -- a miniature version meant for attending to the bonsai trees arrayed on a shelf behind his desk -- and approached the strange plant Debbie had brought back for him from Hukatuse Tagumik. He'd chosen to use it as a centerpiece for the table in the sitting area of his office, finding that he enjoyed passively looking upon the plant's colorful hues while sitting on his couch and reviewing reports. Debbie's had been a thoughtful one and he appreciated the way it made his ready room a little more homey.

The plant's slender stem -- a vibrant shade of green -- rose from a small, elegant pot, curving gracefully upward before reaching its pinnacle. Atop the stem sat a curiously large bud in sky blue: arrayed around it was a lion's mane of mango and canary leaves and offshoots. It was the bud's mouth that truly captured the imagination, however. As the Captain approached with his watering can, the bud seemed to come alive, its mouth opening slowly, revealing a deep, velvety interior that beckoned for the water as the bud turned to "look" towards the Chameloid with expectancy.

"Can you smell the water or something?" Kodak rasped, his tone curious. This wasn't the first time the plant had done this and, given that it was a brand new species never before encountered, the computer had no information about it on file to confer with.

The bud almost seemed to nod at Kodak's question, continuing to hold its mouth open, doubling down on the request for hydration. With a chuckle, the Captain tipped his can forward and let gravity draw the water through the spigot and down into the mouth of the bud. After a few long moments, the bud drew closed, apparently satiated. This was fortuitous timing because that's when the Captain's door chime went off as well.

"Come on in," Kodak said, turning away from the plant to look towards the door.

The door slid open with a mechanical swipe, and Victoria entered, tugging her uniform tight and offering the Captain a smile. Folding her arms behind her hips, she went prim and rigid. "Sir, reporting to you as requested." Maybe she was a little stiff; She thought briefly of her wife, a Vulcan, and unconsciously slightly relaxed.

"And promptly, too," the Chameloid said, the right corner of his mouth tugging upward into a curve of amusement. "Please, have a seat, Lieutenant," Kodak offered, gesturing with his sans-can hand to the comfortable L-shaped couch behind him. The other hand deposited the watering can adjacent to the plant before he turned to move towards a seat of his own. Lowering onto the couch's soft, curved cushion, the Captain leaned back and folded one leg over the other, deciding on a seemingly innocuous conversation starter.

"How are things going post-LCARS update?" Kodak asked, his tone innocent of the ulterior motive he harbored. The operating system upgrade had been installed the day prior. While overseeing the process from the Bridge, he and Cross had discussed his rather poor opinion of the new aesthetic.

"Thank you, sir," She said, her tone respectful, stepping over to take a seat. The woman looked at the xenoflora's bud and watering can, her attention perking at the Chameloid's question. "Oh, things are running smoothly, sir. The design is a bit unconventional, but the ship crew is adapting quickly. At least I am. I think given a day or a week, things will be as if there was no update at all. I- think, personally, the design is nice and streamlined, but taking the Boimler Effect into account, the addition to efficiency shouldn't be that super noticable. Maybe shaving some time off of more difficult tasks related to the computers."

"As for the plant, this thing is fascinating. Does it have a name?"

“Well,” Kodak drew a breath, “I suppose its good that someone likes the aesthetic.” It was clear that he was alone in his particular complaint — at least in terms of the people currently in the room. But that said, Victoria had just passed a very important test without even realizing it.

Instead of telling the Captain what he’d wanted to hear — that the new LCARS update was an eyesore indeed — the Operations officer had, instead, focused on the efficiency benefits and given supportive encouragement that the change would quickly be adapted to. She was looking out for the whole crew rather than just her Captain, which proved that she was not, as it was proverbially put, a “Yes” person, prone to agreeing with authority just to immure themselves. And if that held true over minor issues like the computer, that meant he could count on Cross when things were much more high stakes.

Kodak had been about launch into the words he’d prepared but Victoria’s sudden question caught him a bit off guard. Golden eyes flicked to the plant in question and he realized the woman must have been studying it while he was studying her. Letting his shoulders rise and fall in a shrug, the Chameloid shook his head in a negatory fashion.

“If it does,” the Captain smirked, “I don’t know it. But yes, I agree,” he rose from the couch and again crossed to the plant, “it’s a very interesting plant indeed. Did you see what it was doing when you came in?” Kodak asked, nodding to the watering can. Bringing his hand close, his right finger pointing towards the budding mouth as he looked back at Victoria, the Chameloid said, “It’s like it knew I was bringing it water and opened up for me. Could it somehow sense that — oh,” his eyes narrowed, swiftly turning back to the plant, “so that just got weirder, hmm?”

Indeed it had. With his finger so close, the plant had opened its bud and wrapped its “lips” around the tip of the Captain’s appendage. It did nothing else for the moment; it merely maintained its hold on Kodak’s finger, ceasing all movement.

"I ...Skippa, I don't think it's terribly wise to stick your finger into the mouth of an extraterrestrial plant we know little about. I think that's Xenobotany 101, actually. Anyway, before we get into an Audrey II situation, sir, and I have to sing "Somewhere that's Green" like I did in secondary, uh, what did you call me in for, with respect? The LCARs is running smoothly as far as I'm aware so - do you want an after action report of my command of the secondary team in th' junka station? Because things went fine, though truth be told our Kazon guest is about as hospitable as anyone else on that heap."

"Did- did something happen to T'Kass?" She asked, abruptly.

Kodak, finger still in the plant's mouth, had been about to ask about this "Audrey II" -- was that a planet with strange flora? -- when Cross' question about her wife immediately sparked a need to clarify. Idly trying to pull his finger away from the plant, which seemed to tighten its grip on the appendage even more in response, the Captain looked at the Operations officer and quickly shook his head to dispel the worry.

"No, no...nothing's wrong, I promise," the Chameloid clarified, golden eyes containing half alarm at his finger situation and half-attempted warmth directed at Cross. "In fact, it's something very good. If I can just get...this...out," Kodak said, turning back to the plant and pulling his finger back even harder. The verdant mouth seemed to be violently suckling but, after a particularly hard pull, it let go and then looked all the sadder for having lost its prize. The Captain looked down at the skin of his finger but saw no evidence of damage to the skin so shook his head and then pinned his full attention on the Operations officer.

"Lieutenant," he drew himself up to his full height, "I was impressed with how you handled yourself on Hukatuse. Your handling and approach -- as much as I despise the update," Kodak chuckled, apparently not going to let that go, "of the LCARS update is also commendable. With Gar'rath having left us, Starfleet asked if I wanted a new Chief Operations officer. They're offering to send one -- a particularly affable Ferengi named Blinx. But I thought I might see if you were interested in the gig first," he smiled expectantly.

"Sir - " Her breath caught in her throat. "While, while I appreciate and wholely approve of the Ferengi in Starfleet, and I very much assume that Blinx is a wonderful woman, I j-" She couldn't help but beam. "I'm happy to take the posting, skippa'. I hope I've served the Sojourner proud and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability. Ground missions are tense, but there's no danger I wouldn't send men into without facing it myself. I would be honored to take the role of second officer of the ship that's coming with the posting."

"I'm glad to hear that," Kodak rasped warmly. "And I think the ship and crew would benefit from you in the Operations role, absolutely. But," some of the warmth was replaced with reflection, "I want you to be really sure about the second officer component of this. Hukatuse was just a start," the Captain underscored. "And I anticipate things aren't going to get any easier for us out here. Being second officer is going to mean leading more away teams, commanding the Bridge, helping Commander t'Nai with crew evaluations and reports...and the paperwork that goes with all of that is, well...daunting at best," the Chameloid huffed before adopting a smirk.

"Are you absolutely sure you're up for that?" Kodak asked, producing a small black box from somewhere. Opening it, a gold-rimmed black pip sat atop a velvety cushion inside.

Victoria stood and primly held her arms behind her back, unable to hide the pride in her face as she attempted to assume a stoic, professional air. "I absolutely do, sir. I know the responsibilities and risks that come with the position and I'm ready to face them. The Sojourner is my home for the next few years, I might as well serve her to the best of my ability. As you're probably aware of my credentials, I do have some experience in bridge command simulations, but I know the real thing isn't anything like the simulations. Real life is chaotic, violent, and unpredictable, but I'm ready."

Kodak studied the woman's facial expressions as she asserted this, perhaps verifying for himself the validity of her intentions, and then nodded with formality. "Alright then, Lieutenant Commander Cross," he smirked, removing the pip from the box and stepping forward. He gestured to the woman's lapel and then placed the pip there next to the rest, feeling it affix to the fabric. "We'll make an announcement to the crew but don't be afraid to show that off around the halls in the meantime," Kodak chuckled, pointing at the new pip. "Congratulations again. Commander t'Nai will get you briefed and started but I'm here if you need anything," Kodak rasped warmly.

Lieutenant Commander Cross stood rigid but beamed with pride as the Captain affixed her new pip to the lapel of her uniform. With tears of pride welling in her eyes, she nodded in regards to the announcement and shook the man's hand. "I won't let you down, Skipper."

So long ago, her father stood in her shoes, receiving the same promotion on his track towards leadership. Though her thoughts were of her new rank and the responsibility it bore, she couldn't help but try to imagine the old man and how she hoped to do him proud. After a moment of composing herself, Victoria saluted with a crisp Vulcan gesture, then stepped out of the ready room.

Watching Cross go, Kodak smiled to himself. This was part of the job he loved. He remembered when he had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander. It'd been a particularly difficult mission on Xendau Praylor II, where he'd led an away team to -- before he could reminisce further, his thoughts were suddenly cut short as a strange sensation was felt at the tip of his right pointer finger. Looking down, the Captain found the plant had extended itself by several inches to suckle at his finger once again, it's petals held out like hands to secure his finger in the bud's mouth. As before, there was no pain or discomfort -- just the odd sensation of moist plant matter brushing against his skin.

"That's...a little weird, you know," the Chameloid smirked down at the plant. "What is it about my fingers that you like?" Kodak wondered aloud, the face of Jyl-eel Tor swimming to the forefront of his thinking. Maybe it was time to engage the ship's botanist to figure out a bit more about this alien plant Debbie had brought onboard for him...

=/\= A joint post by... =/\=

Captain Björn Kodak
Commanding Officer


Lieutenant Commander Victoria Cross
Chief Operations and Second Officer


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