Posted on Sunday, 2 May 2021 - 12:32pm by Captain Barret Stillwater & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley
Mission: Operation: Peace or P'Jem
“... until we reach a Starbase, I’m afraid having a science officer at all will be pretty redundant,” Lieutenant Kingsley surmised as she handed over the final report detailing the extensive damage she had catalogued with the Standing Bear’s science department. Not only equipment, but supplies too. It had been like a war zone picking through the debris to find what was salvageable. “Engineering promises it is repairable but way down the list.”
She paused, reaching into a small satchel she had brought. “I did, however, find these,” she added, producing a two field ration packs. “They taste a little like Blackberry. Not exciting but one of the nicest. I was fairly sure you had probably not eaten and with replicator use being rationed... lunch?”
"Lunch," Captain Stillwater nodded agreeing with the proposal. "Thank you. I haven't had anything yet, breakfast or lunch. The Commodore has been running the show for the most part," he said referring to. Commodore Kwan who had come aboard after the Standing Bear was out of the fight, assuming command.
He tried the ration pack. "They have made improvements since that last time I had to live off of these," he noted. "Dominion War ones were pretty flavorless for the most part. Some better than others."
“As long as they don’t taste like pineapple I am all in,” Kingsley commented. “Beyond academy survival training I’ve never had to use these, thankfully. I guess in a war, the flavour of rations is kind of the last priority.”
"In war, you look forward to the taste of your rations each morning because it means you lived another day," replied Stillwater. "However, several days of these and the crew is going to mutiny. I have begun to trade some items in our cargo bay with other starships in similar situations as us...just waiting for a tow."
Stillwater continued to explain. "A little ale here, some rum there, extra blankets we don't need. I've acquired a good stock of food items and some independently powered heating units and cutlery. I'll be making some shuttle runs from Standing Bear to the other starships. I plan to get my ass down to the galley and cook this crew some real food the next few days."
Alex thought for a moment, “I’m sure they’d appreciate that. If you go to the Rhodes, I have some stuff their chief engineer definitely would love to have back. Just don’t mention anything to Soral.”
"Oh?" Stillwater was a bit curious.
“I have a confession, I had an ulterior motive for this grand feast.”
"No harm in warning to corner the Captain a bit," Barret replied. "You are my Second Officer, Alex. You don't need to use cloak and dagger to talk with me. I value you as part of my command team."
“It’s more personal than ship related,” she explained, although she was grateful nevertheless for the assurance. “Have you heard of that old expression let sleeping dogs lie?”
Captain Stillwater nodded. "It's an old expression, but I am familiar with it, yes" he confirmed. "Has something been bothering you, Lieutenant? Personal or otherwise, my door is always open."
“Besides my husband finding new children to adopt at every turn?” She said wistfully as she took another bite. “Coincidence is troubling me. Perhaps it is the fact Soral is taking in all these kids ... it’s made me think of my own family. I love my mum to bits, I do. But there is this part of me that needs to know. But I also don’t think I want to.”
"You are curious about your biological origins," replied Stillwater in a very scientific wording. "You love your mother dearly, but you have a part of a puzzle, and you feel compelled to find the rest of the pieces in order to understand yourself?"
“Yes,” she smiled, “exactly. Only I don’t know if I will like those pieces if I find them. But at least I would know. And it might explain so much. But I think it is connected to Sara Kingsley. And every time I try to access anything on her work, or her mother’s, I hit a brick wall.”
"And you came to me because..." He knew why. "Because beyond being Captain, I have an intelligence background that came with high clearance. You are hoping I'll be able to help you get through those walls you are encountering."
“Yes,” she admitted with the expression of a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “It is okay to say no, honestly. And maybe it leads nowhere.”
"Wherever the wind takes us, it takes us together," Barret Stillwater said reassuringly. "Alex, I will help you on this. I cannot promise that you'll like the end result, but whatever it is, you have family all around you."
“I appreciate that, thank you. Full disclosure, she is dangerous. What she did on Earth, it almost killed me and it destroyed the bond Soral and I had. What happened that day is what makes me almost certain she is connected to everything, possibly even in me being adopted by my mum and dad. But all the science can tell me is that while my mother was El Aurian, my father is human. Which really narrows things down, I know...”
She paused, “there is something else. Dr Rose had been running neurological exams for a little while now. I promise I am not insane, although that is exactly what a crazy person might say anyway, right?”
Even as she spoke she stood, beginning to pace back and forth behind her chair. Especially after what had happened with T’Lanna, maybe this would be seen as a line crossed. She still did not know him that well, and there was an element of denial on her part. Don’t speak about and it didn’t ever happen. Yet she needed him to know everything, even if he hadn’t asked. And he didn’t have the same murderous impulses that her husband had whenever Sara Kingsley was even mentioned.
“Regardless, I should have told you this before,” she went on. “I asked him to because... Sir, are you good with weird?”
Captain Barret Stillwater scoffed. "We're Starfleet officers, Lieutenant Kingsley, weird is part of the job" replied the man. He smiled at the Chief Science Officer. "Lay your weird on me."
“I’m definitely sure that was on the brochure now you mention it,” she commented. She paused, how to explain without sounding like you belonged in a padded cell. “The reason for those scans I asked Dr Rose to do? I thought I was going insane. It was little things. Like I’d answer Soral when he swore he hadn’t said anything. I could put that down to our bond and reasoned maybe it was is natural when you have some El Aurian DNA mixed in there. But sometimes it wasn’t just things between Soral and I.
I would reach for something and it would just be in my hands. I mean little things, like a hairbrush or a spoon. Subtle things. It all stopped when Sara did whatever it was to me after our wedding. Like I said, weird.”
And at that she fell silent, bracing herself for whatever reaction she got. It sounded like a psychotic break and she almost immediately wished for a rewind button. Or maybe she should have had Dr Rose here. “Sorry,” she added sheepishly, “again.”
"Do you have anything further? Any explanation of what has been going on?" inquired Stillwater. "You don't need to apologize, Alex. You can come to me when there is any weird stuff."
"Explanation? No. But I'd love one. She blindsided me. This was a woman who practically lived in our house growing up and I would dearly love to know what was going on. But I also know that if Soral finds her, I'll hear about it weeks or months later and he'll just say something like, it's alright Alexandra," the last three words she did a bad imitation of his voice, "and think it's okay to just move on. He's a teeny bit overprotective and seems to think I'm incredibly breakable."
"Teeny?" The Captain countered. "'Wife, be careful' 'Wife, go over there,'" Stillwater said with his own version of Soral immigration. "There's protective and then there's Soral. Sometimes, hearing him address you makes me feel like he wants to child proof your console."
"Please do not give him ideas," Alex laughed, easily able to imagine it. "You do a pretty good Soral impression. How's the rations?"
"Delicious," Stillwater replied. "If you enjoy rations. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to having some actual food later, but I appreciate the lunch." He cleared his throat a bit...the rations were a bit on the dry side.
"Once we get back and underway, I would like to get back to diving into teaching you some command lessons, if you would be up to that? You have the markings if a fine Captain someday, lieutenant."
“I’d like that,” she smiled, grateful for the offer and that he had not had taken everything she had just confided not only in his stride but with a calmness she was sure her husband would envy. “I actually asked Lieutenant Zilth to help me with tactical training as well. With the battle it reminded me that I need to push myself away from my comfort zone and build up my knowledge and experience outside of the sciences. He seemed a logical choice. And he makes good tea.”
"He does make a damn fine tea," Stillwater replied. "Il see to it that you get the best training."
“I look forward to it,” she assured him with a bright smile. “I’ve literally spent so much time finalising my studies that now it’s finished, I feel at ... I think my mother would say loose ends? I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had some research going alongside my duties since I graduated from the Academy. But given the lab is in pieces and I’m inheriting children at an alarming rate, that is probably for the best.”
"He needs to stop inheriting children," Stillwater said shaking his head. "We keep having pregnancies and adoptions, I'll be losing crew. It is just a simple matter of fact. We aren't a family ship, a nine deck patrol ship is no place for them."
“I agree,” she concurred without hesitation.
Stillwater nodded. "Good, because he needs to stop. I don't have much say in the matter of keeping the two of you aboard if he keeps expanding the family. Command will no sooner reassign you both to an aging Galaxy class starship than Soral find another child to take in. If the man wants to run an orphanage, he can submit his resignation."
“I’m starting to worry that is his dream vocation,” Alex sighed. “But it isn’t mine.”
The Captain chuckled. "Glad to hear it. Try to keep him under control, he seems to be very impulsive for a Vulcan, especially when it comes to children."
“I’ll try,” she grinned.
"We're not so dissimilar, you and I, lieutenant," Stillwater stated. "You have always had some pieces to your familial puzzle, but the paternal side has been missing. Did you know that I was an orphan, lieutenant?"
"No... I'm sure I could have read up on you, but I didn't," she confessed. "My mother was always keen on making your own judgements on people and not be worried about what other people thought. What happened, if you don't mind me asking? It's totally okay if it is too personal."
Stillwater crossed his arms. "You are fine to ask, but I am afraid that I do not have the answers. See, that's the thing. I was too young to have any memories of my parents and I was discovered by some Starfleet cadets. I was raised on Mars at an orphanage, never adopted, and when I was of age, I applied to Starfleet Academy. The only parent I have had has been Starfleet."
"Starfleet isn't exactly a parental figure," she observed with a rueful smile.
"Mars was my home too. My mother, I know her name and that is it. But she ended up on Mars and in labour. She died a few minutes after I was born. But I was fortunate, I was adopted and as insane as she could be at times, Laura was the only mother I have ever known or could ever want. And my dad..." her smiled turned a mix of admiration and sadness, "he was special."
"Have you ever tried to find your biological family?" she asked curiously. "Some people seem almost obsessed with it, others don't want to know."
"I tried, but it was not very productive," he replied, informing her that yes, he had tried to track down his biological parents. "My parents are likely deceased. I was named by the cadets who found me and by the orphanage. I was found on an indigenous reservation on Earth's North American continent, in an area known for its bears. One of the cadets who picked me up had said I grabbed onto his hand with 'bear like strength,'" Stillwater said with a chuckle.
He did not often smile, but telling the story allowed for a smile to creep in. "Barret became my name. The Stillwater was from where they found me as well. I was near a very calm stream, they had heard my cries over the sound of the waters gliding over the small jagged rocks. Still water of the stream became Stillwater as a surname."
"I'm glad you were clearly born with a strong set of lungs," she smiled as she regarded him for a moment. "Obviously they could have named you anything but I can't imagine it. How did you go from Earth to an orphanage on Mars?"
Stillwater nodded. "I know, they could have. Imagine looking like me and being named Doug Smith," he said with a smirk. "The cadets took me to a medical facility. After I was cleared and discharged from the facility, I had to go to an orphanage. I just happened to end up being set to one on Mars. I have had a lot of genetic testing done over the years. Though I have not been able to find my parents, I do know some of my heritage, and that is an amalgamation of a few indigenous tribes of Earth's North and Central Americas regions, but what has been perhaps more telling than anything is that certain markers have indicated that at least one of my parents may have been from the planet Amerind."
"Amerind?" she frowned, "As in the planet the Enterprise helped to save, that Amerind?"
Barret smirked and nodded. "That's the one. Familiar with it?"
"I may or may not have studied just about every declassified mission of Ambassador Spock's career," she admitted sheepishly. "As a science officer he was kind of the person to aspire to. Which probably seems kind of freakish when I then married a Vulcan. Okay... moving on."
"Spock fetish?" teased the Captain.
“Not in the way you probably think, ” she retorted as she stuck out her tongue before reminding herself that she was sitting across from her CO. Clearing her throat, she felt a need to explain. “He followed his own path and was a brilliant scientist. Someone to aspire to be like. Just not in the unemotional Vulcan vibe. I am never getting that down.
“As for Amerind,” she went on, “it can hardly be a planet many people visit if at all. And if I recall, not densely populated. In theory if we had DNA samples we could potentially find familial matches to little Doug.”
"I have never been to Amerind," he replied. "I would not mind visiting it at some point. Sickbay has my medical records if you want access to them, but if you want a DNA sample, grab a swab and I'll open my mouth," the Captain joked.
“You get us there, I’ll take all the samples in the world, deal?”
He mused for a moment. "We have a Commodore aboard. Maybe I could manage to make it happen."
“Does that mean she isn’t as terrifying as she seems?” Alex asked curiously.
"She's a diplomat," Stillwater replied. "Don't judge a book by its cover, lieutenant. She may be bit intense, but Commodore Kwan is actually rather pleasant."
“I married a Vulcan, I can deal with intense,” Alex grinned.
"I married a Cardassian that was formerly a Borg drone," replied Stillwater. "Clearly, I have issues."
"We could argue that we both do," she smiled.
Stillwater nodded. "We could," he said. "We definitely could" he added as the two continued having their lunch meeting.