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Log of the Month for May, 2024

Behold a Pale Horse, Pt. 7: Lucy in the Stars with Emeralds
Posted on May 12th, 2024 by Scott Ammora

Lieutenant JG Celeste Davenport, Medical

The click, click, click, of the alkaline stabilizer’s spinning was slowly driving her insane. She was antsy.

Her eyes blurred on the page as she tried to focus on each line of the medical report she was reading. At this point she didn’t remember who she was even reading about. Smith? Smythe? D’Zamba? Who knew. All that Celeste Davenport knew was that she wouldn’t forget ‘Ktarian Inverted Uterine Syndrome’ any time soon. She was tired and a little scarred by the descriptions in the profile.

Tossing the PADD on the desk, she folded her hands in her lap and bobbed back and forth. She drummed her fingers on the desk. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Celeste had a nervous energy about her that day. All day. She knew that most of her colleagues were amped up about the shenanigans that would undoubtedly transpire at the night’s mixer, but that wasn’t what she was jazzed about. She didn’t know what was causing her fidgeting, to be frank, and that is what concerned her. She stared into the stabilizer. Celeste always thought that the swirling module was hypnotic. She was bored, or not, or maybe yes. Again, frantically unsure.

She was feeling all the feelings.

Celeste’s day was set up in what she would describe as ‘the sweet spot’. A full workday that consisted of standard work. Just enough to keep her busy and challenged, but mundane enough and non-priority-laden enough that she could coast a tad. The drawback to that was the boredom. The entire staff had seen one or two people in their entire shift. She needed some social interaction.

The party. If she had an appendage to count every time she glanced at the chronometer, she’d look like some ridiculous finger-and-toe monster. That’s where the anxiousness came in. She wanted to get out, but the workday hadn’t been terrible. She wanted to hang out with her friends for a bit and then call it a night. While wanting to socialize, Celeste was still smart and focused on her career and performance in Acacia’s absence.

She had it all planned out to the letter. It was as if she had created a covert mission to get in and out of enemy territory. Get what you want or need and then leave. Mind you, she didn’t think any of those people were her enemy. She liked the socialization of the evening – with her own friends. Celeste always had a good time with her tight band of cohorts. The aggravation came from getting to them, that was the hard part. They always found the tightest, loudest, and crammed spot to set up camp. She’d find them, sooner or later. And, they’d have fun.

Celeste would do a quick sweep through the party, which would be about to hit its height, and sneak into her people’s embrace, eat, drink, and be merry, and then cruise on out back to her quarters. She’d curl up with a good book on the couch under a blanket and a cup of tea, and she’d get carried away. The handling of the comments regarding her early departure could be handled later.

It was just a party. The portion that really bothered her the most was the whole ‘aura’ of the celebration. Why? There was none. There was no theme, no reason to celebrate, no reason to ‘let loose’ any more than they usually did at the end of a long week. Celeste had planned to do what she normally did at the end of a long week after the party: read. She was tired and needed the sedative of a good chapter of literary nonsense.

“Lieutenant Davenport?”

Shaken from the hypnotizing chains of the alkaline stabilizer, Celeste snapped back to reality. “T’Lar, yes, uh, what’s up?”

Ensign T’Lar and Ensign Lucy Carmichael stood at the desk, the Vulcan had a PADD in her hand, Lucy’s hands were behind her back. “Security has officially submitted their quarterly physical self-assessment evaluations for review, cataloguing, and scheduling. Shall I leave them here?” T’Lar said, pointing to the desk.

“I’ll take those, thank you. By the skin of their teeth. I bet it was Bennett. One hour of holodeck time, I bet you, it was Bennett.”

T’Lar tilted her head, “Vulcans don’t gamble.”

Celeste breezed past that one and thumbed through the list, adjusting it to sort by time of submission. “See? Mr. Bennett, you are just keeping it together, aren’t you? The guy is always the last one, always.”

“I believe that to be incorrect. Three cycles ago, Lieutenant Mekel was the last officer in security to submit his assessment.” T’Lar was as straight-forward Vulcan as they come. Otherwise, how would she remember such a statistic? Celeste assumed there was more to her than met the eye, but the blatant cold front was enough for Celeste to know it would take time to melt.

Celeste shook a finger, “Mekel was on leave, he got a waiver to submit it a day late.”

“Technicality.”

“I’m counting it.” She re-sorted the list alphabetically and perused who was her victim list. First name right at the top: Marine Captain Scott Ammora. “Ah, Ammora, wonderful. T’Lar, I’m going to make sure that you get that one.”

T’Lar didn’t flinch, “I will abide by the responsibility of my duties and the oath I have taken as a medical officer.” There was a moment of hesitation, which didn’t feel at all out of place, “In the event he was to be assigned to another member of the medical staff, I would not be opposed to that decision.” And there it was, that moment that Celeste saw that there was some tenacity and non-Vulcan energy in that woman.

“Noted.” Celeste smirked, “I’ll just make sure to schedule it when I’m out of the office.”

Lucy perked an eyebrow at Celeste’s comment. She was brand new onboard from the last crew transfer, fresh off the boat, and as green as they come. Not green in the medical sense, no, Lucy was more than qualified and smart as a whip. The unseasoned Lucy wasn’t ship-smart yet. The ins and the outs were still in the shadows. “You don’t like Captain Ammora?”

Celeste looked up. Lucy also wasn’t familiar with the ship’s history. She was probably versed in the mission knowledge, but the camaraderie and interpersonal stories are what she really needed to know. She’d find out in due time. Celeste had made a silent vow to herself that she’d guide the young ensign. Atlantis did assign Onboarding Ambassadors – or whatever they were called – that would help transition the new officer. That information was general, policy and procedures, basic information. No, Lucy needed the nitty gritty.

“Let’s just say that his coming aboard was less than pleasant.” Celeste said.

Lucy still looked confused.

T’Lar stepped in, “Captain Ammora, at that time a 2nd Lieutenant, had an insubordinate incursion with our medical staff shortly after his arrival. It ended in disciplinary measures being taken and restrictions on his privileges to access Sickbay.”

“What she means to say is he came in here like a bat out of hell, accused our Chief Medical Officer of not knowing what she was doing, attempted to render aid when fully trained medical teams were standing next to him, and then he had to be restrained.” Celeste stood up and shook the PADD around in a circle next to her head, “Scott Ammora is a ticking time bomb.”

“I always thought he was nice.”

Celeste checked the alkaline stabilizer again, mumbling under her breath, “That’s because the fuse hasn’t been lit yet.” Turning back to her colleagues, she chuckled a bit at her own analogy. “Whatcha got, Lucy?”

Lucy presented another PADD. “Metastatic harmonics for Crewman Erickson.”

Erickson. Wasn’t even close to Smith. Ktarian Inverted Uterine Syndrome. Ick. “That’s good, thanks. Doesn’t do me any good until the alkaline stabilizer is done. Be done faster!” Celeste raised her voice a little bit and directed it at the spiraling machine on the counter. It did not comply with her request. “Thanks, you can go back to whatever it was you were working on.”

Metastatic harmonics. What a thrilling read. The data looked fine as far as she was concerned, but it all depended on the results from the other test. Back to the physicals. There was a whole process that she had to go through to organize and catalogue the results to transfer for scheduling. Again, an easy task hampered by monotonous repetition. Such was life. At least she had it before the end of the shift. That had happened once and she fumed the rest of the evening after that mishap.

Going back to the security submission, she tapped her combadge, “Medical to Lieutenant Hill.”

“Hill, here.”

“Hey Damien, it’s Celeste. I just wanted to say thank you for getting the report in. I would say it was ‘timely’, but I’m sure you were feeling the pressure.”

“Uh, yeah, you know, Bennett. It’s all good, though, because, uh, it’s what the job is. What needs done gets done, right? Glad you, ummm, got it. Yeah.”

Did he have a stroke? It wasn’t a stroke. Celeste was very aware that Damien Hill was interested in her. The problem? He was interested in all the girls on the ship as far as she could tell. Not that when you’re young you shouldn’t sow your wild oats of romantic fancy, but at least be a little bit more private about the escapades. “I’ve got one hour until I’m done. This puts me on time, I appreciate it.”

“Anytime, of course, sure. You, uh, going to the party?”

Bank left, slightly askew. “I think so, probably pop in for a hot minute.”

“Maybe we can grab a drink?”

“Yeah, maybe we’ll bump into each other. Thanks again, Davenport out.”

“Who was that? Sounds like he likes you.” Lucy’s voice from the doorway caused Celeste to spin. Lucy bopped a little into the room and stood at the desk. She did a wiggle of sorts and a smile spread across her face. “Do you like him?”

Celeste was indifferent to Damien Hill. He seemed like a nice enough guy, had some talents, ruggedly good looking, fit, the stereotypical ‘ten’ on the scale. She was still indifferent. “Lieutenant Hill is the kind of guy that never says what he means and never alludes to any sort of ideation one way or the other. Sometimes he’s aloof and sometimes he comes on too strong. The in-between is only when he’s interested in getting laid. Ship crap. What can I do for you?”

“T’Lar said she’d cover the rest of the shift so we could leave early.”

Celeste blinked a couple of times as she registered what Lucy had said, “T’Lar said that? T’Lar offered to work the rest of the shift so we can go to a party that she deemed earlier ‘Frivolous Recreational Activity’? That T’Lar?”

Lucy nodded her head voraciously, “Yeah.”

“T’Lar!”

The Vulcan appeared in the doorway a second later looking perturbed – as perturbed as a Vulcan could look – at being beckoned in such a manner. Celeste knew she hated it, but she did it anyway from time to time just for the fun of it. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

“Lucy here says you’re covering the rest of the shift for us?”

The Vulcan placed her hands behind her back and stepped into the room, “In my conversation with Ensign Carmichael it became apparent that the social interaction of the evening would be conducive to her acclimatization to shipboard life. And, I know your excitement for the evening is causing you mental distress.”

Whoa, mental distress? Who does she think she is? Stop it, Celeste, go with it. “That is very kind of you, T’Lar, thank you. Are you familiar with Crewman Erickson?”

“The Alkaline Stabilizer is in the last stage of analysis. Fourteen minutes to completion. Compare alkaline stabilizer results with metastatic harmonics to ensure equilibrium and both baseline levels. I will then add it to their file for their follow-up tomorrow afternoon.” T’Lar scored a point.

Celeste agreed with the process, continuing, “And the physicals?”

T’Lar almost looked like she wanted to roll her eyes, but the Vulcan blood held fast, “Categorize self-assessments based on the seven bases of scheduling. Onboarding first, followed by current conditions that have recently been addressed. From there, unexpected symptoms from previous physicals. Finish the scheduling with last physical date, absences due to leave, and reconciliation for posting and distribution of an efficient itinerary.”

“And the acronym is?”

“My knowledge of the process components supersedes the need for an acronym.”

Celeste folded her arms, “Humor me.”

T’Lar looked as if she was going to sigh. “OCULAR.”

“Why?”

“It helps one ‘see’ the schedule.” T’Lar stated it directly and without feeling. Celeste loved the deadpan expression that belied just a little bit of frustration, but never quite breaching the surface of the stoic vaneer. T’Lar was going to be a tough nut to crack, but she was positive that, with time, she’d figure out who was under that pale skin.

“Excellent!” Celeste handed off the PADDs, grabbed her bag, and hooked arms with Lucy. “Call if you need anything!” The two women moved towards the door, Lucy giggling excitedly for her first official Junior Officer’s party. She was vibrating so much that Celeste could feel it through her uniform as she held her arm.

About six meters from the door to Sickbay, Anthony Bennett came walking through. He had his hand on his neck with a rag that had seen better days. It was soaked with blood but didn’t look too bad. Celeste stepped up and grabbed a medical tricorder on a nearby tray. “Anthony, what’d you do?”

“Phaser compression rifle diagnostic.” Anthony answered, pulling the towel away from his neck to show his wound. “Secondary barrel fell off the shelf and cut me.”

Lucy smiled, “I was going to say… diagnostics in Security must be brutal if it draws blood.”

“Hazard of the job, miss.” Anthony said in the worst possible cowboy voice.

Celeste finished scanning it, tapping the display to log and transfer the notes to T’Lar. “It’s superficial, but deep enough for regeneration. Take a seat on biobed two. I’ll grab Ensign T’Lar.”

“Mr. Bennett.” T’Lar stepped up, surprising Celeste at her presence, and walked the security officer to the biobed for treatment. “Enjoy your evening, Lieutenant, Ensign.”

Go, move now, get out. Celeste grabbed Lucy and beelined for the door.

The two walked down the corridor towards the turbolift with smiles on their faces. Celeste was grateful for an early reprieve from work, but she wasn’t complaining about the job. She was smart and capable and she was completely understanding of the fact that some days would be fast-paced and busy, others slow and boring, and other days wildly in between. She liked what she did, and she would continue to do the work because she cared. She was a doctor. You had to.

“So, you really don’t like Captain Ammora?” Lucy said abruptly.

Celeste glanced to her left. Hmmm, interesting question, new girl. Lucy was already taking an interest in internal ship opinions, gossip, and social conformity. Good, maybe. But, Celeste hated the generality of that question. The ability to ‘like’ someone was a variable scale. That one word – ‘like’ – encompassed a trove of different mentalities, perceptions, and realities. Celeste had dabbled in sociology at the Academy and enjoyed the dynamics of it all. “It’s not that I don’t like him, but he gives me this… feeling. This… vibe. Like he’s two or three steps away from exploding while thinking he’s two or three steps ahead. He’s ‘The Fuse’. It’s his thing.”

The adorable look of bewilderment returned to Lucy’s demeanor, “His thing?”

“Yeah, his thing. The quality or habit or interest or whatever that defines who he is in the social hierarchy of my brain. Everyone has a thing. And everyone has a thing for everyone else.” Celeste knew that this was the first foray into the seedy underbelly of Junior Officer politics. She didn’t play into it at all, but she wasn’t stupid enough to not to know the players on the field. This was the first lesson for Lucy Carmichael.

Lucy bounced her head in mock agreement, Celeste couldn’t tell if she got it or not. “Everyone has a thing?”

Celeste laughed, “To me? Yes. For example, we just passed Anthony Bennett on our way out. You heard T’Lar and I talking about him earlier. He’s ‘The Procrastinator’. That’s what he does, procrastinate. It happens all the time, the people around him know that is how he operates, and it has now spread into other departments with other social circles, cross-team work, everything.” Celeste waved her hand, “That’s his thing.”

Laughing at the connection, Lucy gripped her PADD close to her chest, “Okay, I think I get it.”

“Ensign Benevente, the guy you treated earlier today for burning his hand. He’s ‘Poker Guy’. The card game. Loves it. Knows everything about it, holds games every week, offers to teach people, holds ship-wide tournaments when he can. He does the works.” Celeste waved her hand again like she had done a minute before, “That’s his thing.”

“What’s my thing?” Lucy asked.

“The ‘New Girl in Medical’.”

Lucy balked, “That’s boring.”

“You don’t get to choose your thing, Lucy, it just happens. You earn it. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s negative. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. I could be, albeit wrongly awarded, ‘That Bitch In Medical’. I could be that to someone. It just is. You’ll start doing it too.” Celeste stepped into the turbolift. “Deck 10.”

“So Ammora is the ‘The Fuse’ to you and only you?”

Celeste shrugged, “He’s probably that way in some form to other people too. It is purely your impression that will create their ‘thing’ for you. There’s the ‘Greater Thing’, which is the court of public opinion.”

“Help me out. Example?”

“Okay, the person I was on the comm with when you came in earlier. His thing, to me, is that he is ‘The Façade’. He puts up a good front. You’ll see that front tonight at the party if we run into him,” Celeste was hoping they wouldn’t and hoped she hadn’t just jinxed it. “But underneath it, there’s a delicate and innocent softness that is struggling with a self-hating, power-hungry, angry hardness that attempts to destroy the fabric of his existence everyday.”

Lucy let out a burst of air, “Harsh.”

Celeste laughed, “No, that’s just my perspective from my interactions with him. ‘The Façade’. His ‘Greater Thing’ is that he is known the ship over as ‘The Playboy’. Different girl every month, or week. He’ll be on the prowl tonight, I’m sure. Damien Hill is always on the prowl.”

An incredulous look wafted across Lucy’s dainty features, “Damien Hill?”

Celeste stopped at her door, looking at Lucy, “Yeah, why?”

Lucy’s eyes darted back and forth for a second as it appeared she was thinking about something, but she shook it off a second later and smiled, “Nothing, the name sounded familiar is all. I’m still having transition shock between the Academy and Atlantis. Everything is blurring together, including people.”

“Yes, we need to talk more about how you’re settling in! First, why don’t you go get dressed and then we’ll talk about the plan for the evening. I have to make sure you’re aware of exactly how tonight needs to go. It will maximize your exposure, limit uncomfortable exposition with random people you don’t know yet, and get us to our people quickly.” Celeste’s mind went back to her plan. It was genius.

Glancing down at her Starfleet-issued uniform, Lucy dropped her shoulders, “I was just going in this.”

“Oh, no, no no. No. I’ll find you something of mine.”

Boy, was she green. No worries, Celeste would polish her up and have her shiny like a gemstone in no time.


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1 Comment

  • Kathryn Harper Kathryn Harper says:

    This is my favorite yet, I think. I quite enjoyed seeing the medical Lower Deckers’ reactions to Ammora’s tumultuous arrival through telling a newbie about it. The different perspectives of the characters blend into a nice narrative structure that works quite well, and the characters themselves stand out even in their first appearances. Bravo!




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