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Bridging The Gap
Episode 11 - Family Matters
Stardate 73834.3
MD005 0900 hrs

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Squash That Ball

Posted on Mon Nov 13th, 2017 @ 9:18pm by
Edited on on Thu May 31st, 2018 @ 11:43am

Mission: Episode 1 - Pioneering Spirit
Location: USS Pioneer: Deck 5 - Holodeck 1
Timeline: MD002 1130 Hrs
Tags: SD 71364.1130



With a loud grunt, Patricia hit the ball square with the middle of the racket, ducking as the bounce back almost hit her square in the side of her cause; causing the woman to laugh. “Perhaps I’m out of practice on this.” The words although spoken out loud seemed to be spoken to air as she lined up to throw the ball in the air once more.

Thalk, having already acclimated himself to the engineering workspace, sought out the Executive Officer. With any luck, she'd have his quarters assignment, and he could end his first day of his new tour by taking a crack at pre-nuclear analog distortion circuit that humans apparently used to alter the frequency produced by a musical instrument that was also, somehow, a crude electromagnetic generator. He was, however, slightly surprised to find her playing what he assumed was some sort of solitaire tennis.

He cleared his throat- humans seemed to do that when they needed to politely interrupt someone- "Ma'am, Lieutenant Thalk, reporting for quarters assignments. I also have a manifest of my personal effects, in case you'd like to go over it." He stood at attention, just outside the court, unconsciously smoothing out the wrinkles in the heavy apron he wore over his uniform.

At the sound of a voice behind her, Patricia swung way too wind as her racket hit air and the ball bounced in the opposite direction. “Shi...” trailing off as she felt her heart racing in her chest from the fright; the officer forced herself to recompose before turning to the intruder. “Lieutenant...hello to you too.”

Turning as she spoke, Patricia found herself a little startled as she found herself confronted by a Klingon. “When did Klingon’s become a quite footed race? It isn’t the norm that your people manage to capture people unaware...”

"My apologies. I did not mean to startle you, ma'am. Any engineer who has spent time in salvage yards or Research and Development will likely have quiet feet. You never know when a colleague is getting their first rest in days in a corner somewhere in the shop. I can return at another time, if you prefer."

He was sure to annunciate, to let the soft vowel sounds be louder that his naturally harsh consonants. He called it his "cadet voice" and he used it reflexively to apologise for being too loud, too quiet, too fast, too slow, or just too Klingon.

Studying the Klingon for a brief moment, Patricia moved away to grab her ball back as she bounced the sphere off of the ground a few times before speaking further. “Have you ever played squash previously Lieutenant?”

"No, ma'am." Physical competition as a method of analysis and communication: this was a kind of social nuance that Thalk was much more comfortable with. He removed his apron and folded it neatly on the floor by the door, stepping forward as he did. “Walk me through the basics."

“It’s actually quite simple...hit this ball with this jacket...” Patricia emphasied each object in her hand as she described them. “...and hit the ball as hard as you can off of the wall and keep hitting it until the wall gets the better of you. Want to try?”

He assumed that protocol could wait, for now. It had been years- since his IKF days when he and Toril would spar in front of the infantry to show them that engineers were still soldiers- that he'd just gotten to hit something. "I'd be honored." He gently gripped the offered racket, being sure not to hold it as he would a weapon. "Thank you." He wasn't quite sure what he was thanking her for, but he absolutely meant it.

Moving behind the Klingon, Patricia placed one hand on the racket and one hand on his wrist, a stretch given the alien’s build, “Grip it loosely, solid enough that the racket won’t go flying when you swing it but loosely enough it has a little movement to adjust to the impact of the ball.”

He listened, carefully. This was a new skill, and one being taught to him by a superior in a moment of informality. He'd give it all the care he gave all of his pursuits. He allowed himself to be adjusted and moved through the motions, let his mind wander down tangents about ball spin and racket angle, and then- finally- made an attempt.

At first, he was silent, as he struck the ball towards the wall, predicted its bounce, and repeated the practice. It was an interesting method of practicing on-the-fly ballistic calculations, but he found himself accelerating. Each strike was a little harder, each return bounce faster still. He thought of it as a duel- parry, riposte, counter- until, after what felt like hours but was only the fourth volley- the ball ricocheted with a will of its own. So it was that Thalk, of the proud House of Martok, soldier of the Empire and decorated engineer of the Federation, was knocked to the ground by a projectile he fired himself, striking him square in the forehead.

Patricia had been leaning against the nearby wall, watching with interest as the newcomer seemed to have a better skill than she would have anticipated for someone so new. She couldn’t explain it, as she watched the ball strike the wall, in those few milliseconds she knew it was going to hit him but only managed half of his name before the heavy body tumbled to the ground.

“Damn it! Thalk? Thalk? Are you ok?” She didn’t move towards him, instead pulling a panel away from the holosuite wall and removing the first aid kit inside.

Thank was fine. He was better than fine. He was laughing, hysterically. It was a very un-Klingon thing to do, laughing at yourself while splayed out on the ground in front of a superior officer. He rolled up to his feat, still finding hilarity in his defeat by a wall. “Ma'am, I'm alright. Though, I think I'll stick to recreational activities I'm familiar with. No need for alarm." Gone was the cadet voice; his booming laugh punctuated his naturally percussive tone, and the result sounded almost jovial.

The laugh caught her off guard as the Doctor in the woman began to worry if there might have been brain damage. A laughing Klingon...it wasn’t something a person was overly used to. “It can take a little getting used to...the balance between your own strength and that of the impact volicity is something that can be under or over anticipated at times. Can you sit down for a second and I’ll just double check that there’s no damage?”

"Yes, ma'am." He sat on the floor, with his back against the nearby wall. How frivolous all this was, to meet the executive officer by playing some human game, to be knocked down by a ball he himself launched; he'd not felt this light in years.

Kneeling down at his side, Patricia used the tricorder in her hand to scan the officer’s crown as her eyes watched the readouts for any indicator that something might be very wrong. “Not the best way in the world for your executive officer to welcome you onboard is it?”

"Personally, ma'am, I think it's a perfectly normal way to make a Klingon feel at home." Thalk wasn't particularly concerned with his health; he knew a thing or two about blunt force trauma and how much of it he could take.

It seemed that the sagittal crest area of the alien’s skull had taken the brunt force of the impact. With the extra thick exoskeleton behind, it meant that the full force of the impact had been absorbed before causing any serious injury. “They don’t say that Klingons are thick headed for nothing aye?”

“We are eminently durable, ma'am. It's a good trait in an engineer. It served me well when a salvaged vessel wasn't quite as sturdy as assumed."

Sitting beside the Klingon on the ground, Patricia propped her back against the wall as she took the squash ball back into her hand and passed it back and forward. “It’s easy to under estimate something so small...you would imagine that it wouldn’t carry much of a punch.”

Thalk paused before answering. If there was subtext or nuance in that statement, he couldn't determine as to why or what the nature of it might be. “Yes ma'am. I'll be sure not to make that mistake again. If it's alright with you, I'll stick to manually soldering circuits for recreation. Those are tiny things with punches I already know to respect."

Patricia smiled at the response before throwing the ball with one hand and watching it barely tap the other wall before bouncing away. “You are our new Chief Engineer if memory serves me right? Aside from fellow officers trying to knock you out, how are you finding things since you arrived?”

"Well enough. The Intrepid class is an odd ship, but I'll learn her working in no time. I am looking forward to my time here. Lieutenant Commander Malbrooke seems to have assembled quite the crew."

“What’s your feelings on the biogel packs? Although your remit it seems to be a little more medical than engineering.” Patricia leaned her head back as she looked at Thalk, weighting up the man while also keeping him talk to ensure there was no further damage.

Thalk was curious as to the woman's goal, but found no harm in conversation; he wasn't adept enough with words to work his way out of it, at any rate. "They're most interesting. My background- as I'm sure you're aware- is in retrofits, decommissioned vessels, and ancient, pre-warp- analog technology. The auxiliary power grid I helped design is based on circuits that have been around for centuries. I look forward to working with biogel: organic circuitry, much like analog circuitry, has more to do with the manipulation of currents than quantum bits. It's a kind of engineering I'm comfortable with, if a new application thereof."

“Does it not scare you to think that through this circuitry the computers are able to think similar to you or I. Have you ever seen an old earth movie called Space Oddessy?” Patricia looked over to the officer as she drew her knees against her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “It’s about how a computer took over and tried to manipulate and control a man and his situation.”

Thalk had heard this line of reasoning before. There was one step, his Klingon superiors in the IKF might argue, between computer assisted weapons targeting and a computer deciding who to shoot and why. The Federation was more open to ideas, new and old, but this seemed to be a personal concern, not a professional one. "Ma'am." The calm and smooth tone had returned. “I assure you, that while the neural pathways are similar, the ship isn't sentient as your or I are. It's a matter of physics, not philosophy."

Patricia laughed softly at the response as again she rested her head against the bulkhead. “I think I’ve gained more of a insight into how technology and medicine intermingle and together try to work as one over the last two years.” Letting go of her knees, thenofficer leaned down to pull up the leg of her leggings to show her prosthetic. It was barely noticeable to the naked eye that something was different; but to the trained eye the skin pigmentation would be subtly off and something just wasn’t right. “Have you been briefed on this yet?”

Prosthetic. Near state of the art. Well maintained. Thalk made a mental checklist of parts he should have replicator-ready designs for in case something went wrong. “No ma'am. I'll make sure my team knows what they need to, in order to keep it functioning optimally. Could you forward the make and model to me? I'll download specifications for replacement parts immediately "

Patricia couldn’t help the slight grince at the thought of becoming the talk of the engineers but it was part and parcel of what this new appendage brought with it and what choice did she have. “I’ll get my records transferred to you from the Academy. There’s been a number of issues in the settling in stages where my natural nerves struggled to communicate signals to the technology itself. It’s still a work in progress but happens infrequently enough that I would hope it shouldn’t be a major issue.”

"I will make sure we are prepared to help you if you need it." Thalk meant that; crewmate are to be protected. Mechanical limbs fell somewhere between her expertise and his, so he'd make ready to pick up where he could,. Crews should be ready to assist in each other's challenges.

Smiling at the Klingon’s response, Patricia moved to get herself back on her feet after pulling the material back down over her limb. “And the same goes for me...should you have any issues or concerns; my door is always open Lieutenant.”


A Joint Post By:

Lieutenant Commander Patricia Montgomery M.D.
Executive Officer, USS Pioneer


Lieutenant Thalk
Chief Engineering Officer, USS Pioneer

 

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