USS Pioneer
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Ingenius and Fanciful

Posted on 03 May 2019 @ 12:57 by Lieutenant Glori Hawthorn & Lieutenant Junior Grade Nandi Reeves

Mission: Scylla and Charybdis
Location: Sickbay
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1200

While the Chief of Science was fiddling away with some mad science project involving, of all things, a warhead, Nandi had the less exciting task of helping Sickbay prepare for potential casualties. Less exciting, but far more preferable. As Nandi made her way into Sickbay, she noted it was vastly empty. The two exceptions were an officer in Engineering gold and a tall woman in a white doctor's coat.

Nandi discreetly folded her hands in front of her, PADD pressed against her pelvis, to provide discreet privacy. It didn't help, as the doctor was speaking entirely too loudly.

"No, no! I insist! Take the rest of the day off, but avoid the holodeck or any other loud and brightly lit areas. Like Sickbay, for instance. Go find a quiet corner of the officer's lounge or a lover's bed to love you through the next 24 hours of leave from duty."

Though the doctor's back was to Nandi, the expression of the junior officer's face was somewhere between horror and fatigue. All the poor thing could do was nod at the doctor's bossy directives.

As the engineer took her leave of Sickbay with all due haste, though, Nandi gasped in alarm. She had heard about the eccentric ship's doctor, but nothing had prepared her for the ghastly sight. The midnight black eyes, the tangle of raven hair, the pitch black fingertips against a silvery pale complexion. It was like meeting a terrible rakshesha from the myths of old.

"You... you must be Doctor Hawthorn." Nandi fumbled over her words as she avoided the black eyes. It was a great force of will to extend her hand. "I am Lieutenant Reeves."

Glori grinned broadly, showing her teeth. "Oh, my!" She grasped Nandi's hand in both of hers and shook vigorously. "You must be the ravishingly beautiful wife the captain was talking about. I can see he robbed the cradle in any event. My, my, but you are just stunning."

The way the doctor was carrying on made Nandi feel like a mouse being complimented by a cat. She politely withdrew her hand from the prolonged shake. "Yes, thank you. You're... lovely as well." She meant to move on, but the doctor wouldn't have it.

"Oh, do you really think so?" Glori's black eyes sparkled in delight as she cocked her head to one side. "Nobody tells me I'm lovely, I'm afraid, not since I left home."

"That's... terribly sad." Nandi rolled her head slightly, unsure of what to say. She quickly changed the subject. "So were you briefed on the Scylla Nebula?"

Glori sighed. "Oh, the days of my youth are wilting..."

"We're only a few days out from the nebula," Nandi said, trying to push through.

"... like a flower in the autumn..."

"Sensors aren't showing anything out of the ordinary."

"... dying in the first cold snap of winter's grasp."

Nandi sighed. "Shall we talk about this another time?"

"What?" Glori furrowed her brow in a questioning look. "No, please, continue. Tell me more of this nebula. Are there known hazards?"

"No," Nandi said slowly, unsure if Glori was really attending to the subject at hand. "But sensors are being upgraded as we speak to give a more conclusive scan. As it is, we still haven't found any trace of the civilian research vessel. It still must be further in."

Glori whirled about with a start and rushed to her office. "Come, come!"

There was nothing on the Pioneer that Nandi wanted to do less than follow. "I'll stay right here, if that's all right."

"Suit yourself," Glori said chipperly, then cut herself off with a deeper tone. "Kidding! I really need you in here in for full effect."

"Very well." Nandi found herself sighing once more as she complied. Entering the CMO's office, she braced herself for any possible shock or jump scare that could await her. Instead, she found Glori standing stock still, facing a painting on the wall.

It was a dusky panorama of a barren prairie at twilight. Clouds obscured any stars that might've shown themselves, but they weren't able to suppress the burning red of a sun less than half the size of the standard Sol variety.

"It's beautiful," Nandi said. In a starkly tragic sense, but beautiful nonetheless.

"It's home." Glori hovered her black fingertips next to the picture. "This is the view from my childhood bedroom window. Third story of a colonial house. Our family's plantation, covered in a hab dome, was the other direction. My room was on the backside of the manor where I got to watch the great emptiness stretch out before me, every day and night."

Nandi listened patiently, waiting for the nugget of wisdom or solidarity that waited at the end of such stories. Their encounter began a little awkward, but after the shaky beginning, it seemed like they might become friends after all. The cherished insight into Glori's private world made Nandi appreciate the token of friendship, at least.

"It taught me nothing is empty. Nothing but our imaginations." The words hung in the air, suspended without greater context or meaning.

At first Nandi nodded in agreement, but as she considered it, she realized she was unclear on the meaning. "Uh, what?"

Glori turned to Nandi and grinned again. "Imagination! It is life! Without it, we're little more than a barren plain."

"Okay." Nandi couldn't disagree, but she really wanted to get back to the point. "So..."

"So, when you're faced with the unknown, do you leave it blank or do you fill in with your imagination?" Glori maintained an amused expression, but the sparkle in her black eye promised a method to her madness.

"I don't know," Nandi said at length. "Scientifically we should follow the evidence, but as emotional beings we tend to fill evidential gaps with our personal feelings. It makes objectivity hard to attain."

Glori nodded. "But sometimes subjectivity is where you find truth."

"Perhaps." Nandi did not come to Sickbay to discuss philosophy. "About the preparations..."

"What is the worst case scenario?" Glori interrupted. "What is the worst thing that could happen?"

That gave Nandi pause. "Well, we could find the ship's wreckage," she suggested.

"No," Glori said, shaking her head. "I mean the worst thing."

Nandi shrugged. "I don't know. The civilians were attacked by raiders who are lying in wait for us?"

"Better. But not bad enough." Glori gnarled her fingers like a monster. "I mean something truly nightmarish. What scenario would make you sit up in bed in a cold sweat?"

This was not a useful line of thought in Nandi's mind, but there was something hypnotic about the Corvan doctor's gestures. Those black eyes and playful voice that all but demanded a response. "An... anomaly. Gravimetric, theta flux, something we're totally not prepared for. Something that destroys passing ships and leaves us unable to fend for ourselves, much less render aid."

Glori snapped her fingers. "That. Right there. Now we know what to prepare for." She drew out a medical PADD and began making notes.

"What?!" Nandi gasped, astonished at the eccentric and confusing conclusion. "You're going to prepare for the unpredictable and unlikely doomsday scenario? Without any evidence?"

"We have no evidence whatsoever," Glori countered, looking down at her PADD. "So we might as well plan for the absolute worst. That way we can continue ruling it out, piece by piece, as the facts come into place, and our only surprises will be pleasant ones."

It did make a twisted sort of sense, but it seemed a backward way of thinking to Nandi. "If you think that's the best approach..."

Glori looked up from her furious notations to look Nandi in the eye. And in that instance, her customary humor was gone, replaced by a stark passion. "If I am to head into the unknown, it will be staring Death in the face." Her solemn expression broke with a girlish giggle before she returned to her PADD.

"Oh...kay..." Nandi backed away slowly.

"You may go now," Glori said, not looking up. "And tell your captain-husband that Sickbay will be ready for anything."

 

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