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Pillow Talk
Posted on December 12th, 2018 by Kathryn Harper

by Alexis Wright and Kathryn Harper

Kathryn Harper crept softly into her dark bedroom, careful not to wake her sleeping wife. It had been an exhausting day, with the final battles against the Kvolir followed by the festival honoring them, and Lexy had already turned in while Kate was completing the last of the necessary reports on the matter. After detaching the finely-crafted sword given to her by Colonel Jaire from her belt and gingerly propping it in a corner, she began to undress. While quietly removing the Kvolir warrior garb that she had worn to the party—a short cropped studded-leather top with matching pants, and a bandolier with iconography representing her kills in her past career as a fighter pilot—she watched for any disturbance in the rhythmic rise and fall of Lexy’s sleeping form.

Seeing no change in her wife’s slumber, Kate added her underwear to the pile of her clothing on the floor and stealthily joined Lexy in bed, taking a moment to luxuriate in the sensation of the linen sheets against her bare skin, finding it incredibly relaxing after such a difficult day.

Despite Kate’s attempts to avoid disruption, she felt the warmth that was Lexy stir with the movement of the bedsheets and shift closer a few moments later, snuggling against her side. “Sorry… I tried to wait, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore,” Lexy murmured drowsily. “I left the nightlight on for you,” she added helpfully, as if this were not obvious.

“Thank you, love, and after today, who could fault you for falling asleep? I am almost there myself, but those reports could not wait.” Caressing Lexy’s hair, she added, “Sorry to wake you.”

“It’s okay,” Lexy replied, nodding while stifling a yawn, “And I understand. The higher my rank gets, the more paperwork I seem to have to do… I almost miss just being a scientist. I don’t envy your paperwork at all.” She snuggled closer, trying to add her warmth to Kate’s cooler skin. “Mm, I enjoyed watching you work tonight, though. You never cease to amaze me with how masterfully you handle situations like those.”

“You gave me the information I needed to do it, you know. That documentary you took from their network contained a wealth of knowledge about their culture, and without it, my attempts at diplomacy would have never succeeded.” She idly twirled a chocolate tress around her fingers and continued, “So, thank you, Lexy. I could not have done this without you.”

Kate couldn’t see Lexy’s grimace, but could hear it in her tone. “You’re welcome, of course, but I think I need to work on developing my skill set so I can be more helpful in the future. I think if you’d had someone more experienced at that sort of thing, you might’ve gotten more useful information sooner.” Her voice was still soft, but self-reproach and determination nibbled at the edges of the drowsiness.

“For a different definition of ‘useful’, perhaps.” Kate leaned up on her elbow and tilted Lexy’s face toward her with a gentle nudge of her fingers. “Such a person might have discarded the documentary as useless while trying to access weapons or defense systems. In the end, I needed cultural knowledge just as much as I needed to interrupt their drone network.”

Lexy favored her with a small smile. “Well… that’s what we said when we got married, isn’t it? We make a good team. I might not know much about accessing enemy systems—yet—but I do know you. I’m an expert in Kathryn Harper, and Kathryn Harper prefers to solve things diplomatically when she can. The harder the diplomatic nut is to crack, the harder she’s going to try to crack it.” She grinned at Kate, her mirth unmistakable despite the fact that her eyes were difficult to see in the dim light. “So, I just tried to get you the tools that you needed to do that. It was you that did the actual work of the thing.”

“Those tools were essential to successfully cracking the nut—the nutcrackers, I think you say? I could not have challenged Jaire as I did, or hosted such a celebration, or actually learned an alien ritual dance well enough to perform it, without you. And the rest of the crew, as well, but I will thank them later, since I do not share a bed with them.” Kate cut off her tired rambling and touched her forehead to Lexy’s before whispering, “We do make a great team, so thank you.”

Raising her hand to cup Kate’s cheek, Lexy whispered in reply, “You never need to thank me for that, my darling.” She tipped her chin up and stole a kiss before adding, “I made a promise that I would always be there to support you. And I always will be, for the rest of our lives.” Lexy gently pulled Kate back down and cuddled up against her, stifling another yawn. “But right now, I support us both getting some well-deserved sleep. Sound good to you?”

Kate tightened her arm around Lexy as she closed her eyes and, after exhaling a long breath, finally answered, “Mmmmm, yes.”

Lexy closed her eyes, relaxed and content. “Computer… Lights out.”

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A Doctor, an Empath, her Struggle; Part 1: First Battle
Posted on November 22nd, 2018 by Emilaina Acacia

Emilaina walked down the hallway, much slower than her usual brusque pace. With her long legs, she was usually walking pretty fast even if she was–or wanted to seem–perfectly relaxed. Now, she was simply exhausted in every way, her legs numb as she trudged beat by beat toward her door. She entered her room, slowly slumping into the chair at her desk.

The desk in her quarters was completely void of anything medical or academic, instead she leaned over, peering through a microscope-like device at her current project. She held in her hand a small clay replica of an alien flower, the real flower sat beside it for reference. Various tools were scattered about that she grabbed one-by-one, using the magnifying device to carve incredibly intricate detail into the clay. Scratch-by-scratch, she worked on the piece that would be used to make the next mold for her metal casting, trying not to think too hard about anything else and let her stress melt away.

***

“I want to talk to you,” Doctor Galahar stood at the front of the class. He rested the end his pointer stick in his left palm, leaning back on the desk. Emily felt herself sitting up straighter, as did many others in the room. When Doctor Galahar dropped his professorial formality, it usually meant that he was about to say something very important, “about what a ‘hard shift’ looks like when you’re a doctor.”

A beat passed, but no one said anything. As medical students at Starfleet Academy, of course they all knew to expect “hard shifts”… but as smart people, people who had made it past the first year, they all had a vague idea that there was no way for them to really ever be prepared. Doctor Galahar opened his presentation for the day, and the pictures were unusually graphic. He told their story, about how he had once gathered mangled limbs from a battlefield, dragging them back to the medical tent to see if he could reunite anyone who was still alive with their missing arm.

The pictures didn’t really bother Emily, she never had a problem with blood or gore visually. The reason she would never forget that lecture was the indescribable feeling that rolled off of the doctor like a dark cloud. Emily was still bright-eyed and full of hope, she was yet unprepared for the depth of emotion that would come with age.

***

Emily stood on the bridge of the Atlantis, watching the first blows of the battle. She was tense. Her memory flashed to reading about the Tzenkethi War, and how the Atlantis had basically won the battle at her own expense. She had been trying to mentally prepare herself for battle for years, since she decided to join Starfleet, and now it seemed she was out of time. Attempts at diplomacy had failed, the attacking fleet had returned with reinforcements, and the Atlantis was being fired upon.

She grabbed the edge of her console as explosions rocked the ship, her eyes widening at the flashing warnings appearing on the screen. Directs hits on four decks.. One–two–… six emergencies, and climbing. She looked back to the viewscreen as the fighting continued. She felt a hand find her stomach, and for a moment, she was nauseous, dizzy.. She shook her head hard to clear it, heading for the turbolift with a nod to her Chief Medical Officer, Velina Tailor.

She stopped at the closest deck where an emergency was reported. Each step toward the point felt more and more and more like a step through water. When she turned the corner, she felt her blood run cold.

A medical crewman and three nurses had already arrived. Two crew members were unconscious, and five more had burns on more than one part of their body. Each step laborious, as her limbs swam through a thick cloud of pain, Emily knelt next to one of the patients. Looking at her from the outside, it would have been hard to tell she felt anything at all, her expression hardened and her movements pointed. The nurses looked to her, and she pointed to each person, giving them a category of red, yellow, or green.

Emily recognized each one of the people she saw, whether she actively knew their name or not. She briefly made eye contact with a woman from the science department, the left side of her face badly burned. Emily clenched her teeth, managed to stand back up, and followed the nurses with their stretchers towards sick bay as a second team of nurses passed them going the other way to help the patients who were still able to walk.

***

Emily sat in Doctor Galahar’s office between two other students, another half-Betazoid girl and a full-blooded Betazoid boy. Before these meetings, Emily hadn’t known either of them, but they were the only other medical students from her year with Betazoid blood. Doctor Galahar had made them all tea and sandwiches, something they would come to learn he actually does for every meeting with a student.

It was in her very first semester that Doctor Galahar began to meet with them. He felt it was important for them to understand the unique challenges that come with being a doctor with empathic power. It wasn’t exactly news, of course, to a part-Betazoid medical student that they would be able to feel their patient’s emotions, they’d had that their whole lives and they were old enough to make an informed decision, but Doctor Galahar regularly insisted on giving them his undivided attention anyway.

“Now, I don’t know about you,” he began, adding a cube of sugar to his tea, “but I’ve always found that my empathy is strongest with those I share a bond with. Family, then friends, then people I know. Then, of course, strangers at their own level.”

The three shrugged and nodded.

“I think it is best you start thinking now about how that will affect your life as a doctor on a starship. You may spend years in space with the same people. You start to get attached,” the man pulled a picture from his desk, offering it to the students. He told them the story of the man in the picture, his late Captain who had died defending his crew’s escape pods from some of the most terrifying aliens the doctor had ever seen.

The three students felt every dripping moment of the doctor’s story, their own hearts heavy with loss and fear. The other girl ended up switching track to be a counselor.

***

“Crash cart!” Emily barked at one of the nurses as the fourth round of patients came through the doors. The woman scurried off without hesitation, hurrying back with the cart loaded with equipment. Emily grabbed the defibrillator, rubbing the charged paddles together rapidly. The room was abuzz, chaotic, though for just a moment as she pressed the paddles to the young science officer’s chest, there was silence…

Emily felt a ringing in her ears, her teeth gritted together as tightly as they could be. She looked at the man’s partly-burned face, a face she knew… he was a recent Academy graduate, a bright young Ensign with his whole career ahead of him. He was also so kind, a good friend to everyone on the crew.. he had expressed an interest in metal casting, and Emily had planned to teach him… She pressed the paddles to his chest again, “Clear!”

…and then a steady beep. A sound of visceral relief escaped Emily somewhere between a groan and a gasp, but there was no time to celebrate. The sounds of sick bay came back into focus as Emily, remembering to turn them off first, haphazardly dropped the paddles back on the cart and moved on to the next patient. She glanced around, most of the patients now sitting up under their own strength, though a few still could not.

The doors slid open again, and Emily stared at the two stretchers coming in, expression unreadable. She spoke to the nearest nurse, “Keep moving people who can walk out of the way.”

***

Emily was at home on the Acacia family farm in Iowa when Tori had her accident. She was about to start her sixth year at Starfleet Academy, and she had spent most of the summer at home. It happened just over a mile from their house, but Emily knew the instant that it happened. She was standing in the kitchen, the girls’ mother sitting in front of the television.

“Tori’s hurt,” Emily blurted out, her hand finding its way to her stomach. For a moment, she was stunned by the sensation. She could, though only briefly, feel pain, and terror… it was not the sensation that was unfamiliar, but the directed intensity of it being her own sister. The fear lasted many moments longer, before both abruptly ceased. Blinking back to reality, Emily looked at her mother, her eyes wide.

“What?” Janessa Acacia immediately paused the television, looking up at Emily. Without another word, Emily darted for the door and began running full-tilt down to dirt road in front of their house as fast as she could, headed for a familiar patch of trees. Janessa tried to follow, but she couldn’t keep up.

Tori’s brand new car was wrapped around a tree by the side of the road, the girl unconscious under her airbag by the time her sister got there. With shaking hands Emily grabbed two things from her belt, her phone and her pocket knife. She was somewhat surprised by the steady sound of her own voice on the phone as she called for an ambulance, and even more surprised at how steady her hands became when she began cutting away the airbag to make sure Tori could breathe.

Looking down at her sister’s bruised and bloodied face, half of Emily’s body stuck through a car window as she worked on cutting her free, Emily could feel the girl slipping in and out of consciousness as Tori’s pain and fear would occasionally slither up Emily’s spine, making her shiver each time. Time seemed to bend, Emily has no idea how long she was alone with Tori. The ambulance arrived, along with firefighters, and they were able to get Tori the rest of the way out of the car. Emily tried not to look for too long as she thought, seeing her sister like that on a stretcher, it couldn’t get much worse.

***

Emily sat for the first time in what felt like hours, glancing up at the clock to find that she had been at it for less than one. She had removed her uniform jacket when a spot of blood had gotten on it, though she still wore her lab coat over her uniform shirt. That lab coat felt to her like a suit of armor of sorts, feeling it on her back helped her stay aware of her surroundings. Somehow, her hair had stayed in its tight ponytail. She was somewhat grateful she had felt the need to look good for ‘diplomacy’.

The red lights around the room flickering on made Emily’s head swim for a moment, her blood leaping to life. She heard the warning that the enemy frigates had re-engaged as if it were yelled from across a field. She jumped to her feet, charging forward a single step before stopping dead, looking slowly around the room at a handful of the worst from the last round who couldn’t be released yet. She felt her bones sticking together as she said to a nurse with deadly calm, “Move everyone who’s stabilized to the triage center and flip the beds.”

For a moment, there were no words, only the footsteps of nurses. Emily slowly sat back down. The room shook as the Atlantis took a hit. Emily took a deep breath… and waited, the moments ticking by like bee stings.

***

“The hardest part is that I cannot turn off my empathy,” A black-haired Betazoid man told his ten-year-old half-breed daughter as she sat on his knee, “I can often feel my patients’ pain.”

“But you can read their mind to tell what’s wrong with them, right?” Emily looked up at her father, the very picture of youthful innocence.

“That would only work if they knew what was wrong. It’s more like what you have than you seem to think, Laina,” he touched a finger to her nose, “Just don’t go into medicine. Be an engineer, like your sister. Ships don’t feel pain the way people do,” he half-joked.

“Averi’s so boring, though,” Emily protested, then shrugged, “and I want to be a doctor. I want to save people,” When her father gave her a dramatic pout, she rolled her eyes and amended, “Or who knows, dad, maybe I’ll be a really good pilot.”

“Oh, Mercy, that’s even worse!” the man laughed, squeezing his daughter to his chest in a tight hug. Young and disinterested, she groaned at the affection and wriggled herself free of him, running off to join her younger sister in the yard for hopscotch.

***

Emily once again stood by her usual console on the bridge, this time ragged. Doctor Tailor had taken over sick bay, the action had died down, most of the patients were recovering well, and nobody had died, but every muscle in Emily’s body was still tense. She felt numb as she watched Captain Harper stand up, shouting threateningly at the viewscreen. The sound of sirens flashed through her mind again, but she was amazed when the alien laughed, and then declared Captain Harper the ‘victor’. When the screen went black, Emily finally felt herself start to relax.

Officers on the bridge began planning for the upcoming ‘feast’, a cultural celebration for the aliens having.. lost the battle. To be honest, Emily didn’t really care, she received the instructions for traditional garb and behavior and forwarded them to sick bay. She was more just overwhelmed with relief that the battle was over.

The Captain sat back down, and told Commander Kuari to gather status reports from every department. Then Emily saw something she had already seen once before–it was subtle, but just after asking that, any time there had been serious damage to the ship, the Captain’s eyes always flitted first for the Chief Medical Officer’s chair, then she’d look for anyone else on the medical team, this time her gaze settling on Acacia. Other departments sent their reports in digitally, and thus silently, but Emily had a feeling that certain words needed to be said out loud. She looked to Kuari, but spoke so anyone could hear, “We’re holding seven patients overnight for serious injuries.. no casualties.”

Captain Harper sighed with relief, an emotion echoed by everyone who overheard. The words felt like peanut-butter in Emily’s mouth as her mind wanted to linger of the face of the young science officer who almost didn’t make it, but then, it occurred to her. He’d lived, and would be able to carry on as good friends with so many of the crew, not to mention his career, because she was there. She knew it was unwise to place value on her actions or worth as a doctor based on how patients fared, she knew there would be things beyond her control, but still.. it felt good, for just a moment, to bask in that success, and allow it to calm her.

***

Emily awoke unexpectedly, staring at the ceiling for a long moment. She felt light, her hands slowly tingling to life to paw at her silk sheets, an open window to space beside her glinting with the prismatic colors of a cloud of translucent dust. Each particle reflected its own rainbow, casting colors in small, focused beams across the room and in a dozen directions into space, the flashes of light cycling slowly as the Atlantis passed through the cloud. Next to the window a poorly-made vase contained almost a dozen beautiful silver-cast flowers, the polished metal refracting a halo of the rainbow beams around itself.

The doctor slowly sat up, looking around. Apollo remained fast asleep at the foot of her bed. She then slowly leaned back, resting her back against the headboard of her bed and simply enjoying the view, allowing a small smile to creep onto her face. She thought for a moment, then said, “Computer? Replicate a bowl of rocky-road ice cream.”

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TAC2 2LT Ryleigh Grey
Posted on November 1st, 2018 by Ryleigh Grey

A deep breath. A flicker of pale eyelids. A pair of hands smoothing down their uniform. Attention moving from their uniform to pulling their hair back into a braid. Opening their eyes to gaze into the mirror, Second Lieutenant Ryleigh Grey let out a barely-audible sigh, standing from her bed to look around the once-occupied room. She once had a roommate, but with her assignment to another ship, it left Ryleigh all by her lonesome. Turning away from the empty bed and walls, striding into the split living room/kitchen, Ryleigh’s lips upturned briefly before she bent to pick up her small suitcase of things and head towards the door, preparing to venture onboard her new assignment, that of a tactical officer under CTO Major Wolfe aboard the U.S.S. Atlantis.

Disembarking from the shuttle, she looked around briefly, cursing her height silently, and began to move her way through the crowds. She had left her friends and family behind, back in Texas, and now her mind was returning to the farewell party they threw for her the same day she had received her assignment notice. Falling into pace with other Starfleet officials dressed in kelly green like herself, Ryleigh followed them down to where it seemed that a large crowd had gathered. She spotted the gold of operations, red of security, and blue of sciences mixed in, even the different presences of various other members of Starfleet, as she halted at the edge of the crowd. Every so often, silence fell as a loudspeaker announced names and assignments.

It seemed to take forever for her name to be called, and by the time it was, Ryleigh had turned her attention to her surroundings, taking in everything and everyone surrounding her.

Ryleigh Grey for the U.S.S. Atlantis!” Now the time was coming. She didn’t have anyone to hold her back, no romantic relationships leaving behind, only friends long out of memory and family also out of memory. Ryleigh stepped aboard the shuttle, taking a stabilizing breath calmly before she watched the doors close behind her.

She couldn’t wait for what was coming, and what was going to change for her throughout these years aboard the U.S.S Atlantis under the command of Captain Kathryn Harper and CTO Major Wolfe.

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Broken Rites
Posted on October 29th, 2018 by Linxi Jude

by Linxi Jude and Velina Tailor

Linxi took deep breaths, as she stood inside her quarters, pacing back and forth. She paused at the door, and took a short step forward- it reacting by opening up. ‘You have a problem. You need to fix it. Now, move.’ Linxi took a step out, the door shutting behind her, and walked to the turbolift. She kept her head down, as she sharply turned in the turbolift, “Deck fifteen.”

As the door promptly opened at the fifteenth deck of the Atlantis, Linxi inhaled deeply, and stood straight, walking off, and straight to Sick Bay. She paused outside the doors, and walked in, standing at attention. She waited until Tailor walked by, and she cleared her throat, “Doctor Tailor, would you mind if I spoke to you… in private?”

“Of course, Lieutenant.” Velina nodded, knowing Jude probably wouldn’t be here in sickbay unless she absolutely had to be. “We can go to my office. Right this way.” She walked down the short corridor to her office and passed through the door, inviting the young science officer inside. “Have a seat.”

Linxi sat down, and clasped her hands, feeling a lump build in her throat. “I have an issue with something… that one of my friends pointed out to me after the wedding reception.” She clenched her jaw, her knuckles turning white.

“I’m intrigued.” Velina commented, sitting down at her desk. “Please, go on.”

Despite it being part of her culture to be open, Linxi found herself having difficulty doing so, “Well, um… it’s just that every time I am off duty I just go and… drink. Every party- drunk. Wedding reception- drunk. Shore leave- drunk. While it isn’t impacting me while on duty… I could… I’ll… It is a problem regardless, and I need to fix it.”

“So, we’re not talking about just one or two drinks here? And real alcohol, I take it? Not synthehol?”

Linxi nods in response to both questions.

“Ok, so let me ask you something else then… Do you think anything in particular is behind it? Job stress, or maybe a way to cope with something that’s happened in your life?”

Linxi exhaled sharply, and thought a moment, trying to put together a mental timeline. “The drinking… it started in the academy, and it got worse over time. It started as just a social thing, right? Next thing I know, I can’t go to sleep without a downing a shot of vodka without getting the shakes in the morning.”

Velina hesitated. She was trained as a surgeon. Surgery was more straightforward. Diagnose a problem, fix it, the patient gets better. This had more grey areas than she was used to dealing with. That is, had dealt with in the past. Now that she was CMO, she was doing more and more general practitioner’s duties which meant more counseling type of work. Which she didn’t feel she was as good at. But she’d give it a shot…

“So,“ She twiddled with a PADD on her desk, to help her think. “You’re using it as a means to relax, which previously helped you to deal with the stress of taking classes at the Academy, and which has become a habit now? Maybe there’s a different, healthier habit that you could replace it with? Gradually, I mean, since this isn’t going to change all at once. You could start by replacing the real alcohol drinks with synthehol. Or use exercise or meditation instead, when you want to relax.”

“I’ll try to cut it out, or I’ll just be like, ‘Oh, I’ll only have one’ and it it turns into six without me meaning to. Or I’ll go to the holodeck for rock climbing or archery or something until the start of my shift, but that usually ends up in me feeling like crap for the entire eight hours, and when I feel like crap, it is not good for anyone involved.”

“Hmm.. “ Velina swiped through her PADD, studying a file that she’d brought up as Jude was speaking. “It sounds like you may be a good candidate for a medication called Naltrezine that may help you crave alcohol less. It works in your brain to to help you disassociate drinking with the reward of feeling drunk. It’s not supposed to cure your addiction, but it may help you to drink less over time.”

“And I can give you a med to help with withdrawal symptoms. Would you be willing to give those a try?”

Linxi listened intently, then looked off to the side. She fidgeted with the ends of her sleeves, and nodded. “Of course.” She paused and looked up at Tailor, and added, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Velina nodded, giving her a kind smile. “It’s a monthly injection, so I will get that set up in the schedule for you. I’d like to set up counseling sessions at the same time so we can keep track of your progress.”

‘The Four Deities, grant me strength,’ she thought to herself, when she heard the words, “monthly injection”. She took a deep breath and nodded, “Right, makes sense. When would that start?”

“I’d say this qualifies as your first session, so you’ll get your first dosage today. Then we’ll follow up in a month and see how you’re doing.”

Linxi nods, “I suppose that sounds like a plan.”

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11809.26 A Chance to Live (joint log: Tailor and Kuari)
Posted on October 3rd, 2018 by Velina Tailor

11809.26 A Chance to Live
(Joint log with Tailor and Kuari)

Set inside the incubator, the pair of eggs were mottled green with flecks of silvery bioluminescence, giving it them a dragonesque appearance. One of the eggs rocked back and forth. A crack had appeared on one side of it, and a tiny squawking sound could be heard from within. Velina brushed her dark purple hair back from her face, peering closer at the incubator’s viewscreen. She was concentrating so hard that she didn’t notice the characteristic ‘swish’ of the door to the science lab, and the soft padding of four Rucara feet approaching behind her.

“Is one hatching?” Kuari asked excitedly as she approached, her eyes as large and round as the alien specimens within the incubator.

“Oh!” Velina startled and turned around, almost knocking over a cart in the process. “Kuari, I’m glad you could make it!” she grinned excitedly. “Yes, one of them started hatching in the past hour. Come have a look!” She stepped aside so Kuari could see better.

Rushing forward in excitement, Kuari immediately sniffed at the active egg, but the pointed tip of her nose smashed into the glass. A particularly impressive feat of strength caused the egg to jump more than she expected, and she reactively jerked her head back a few centimeters. From there, she stared at the egg in wonder, speaking without moving her head.

“I can’t wait to see it! Is it healthy?”

“As far as I can tell, yes.” Dr. Tailor brought up the scans of the embryo that she’d been taking periodically. “Of course, it’s a completely new life form, but I can compare it to similar creatures in the database.. It seems to be strong though, that’s a good sign.” She grinned at Kuari’s startle reflex, and turned to her curiously. “Your species lay eggs, correct?”

“Yes, usually one at a time.” Kuari finally dragged her gaze from the cracking egg to Tailor’s eyes, then to the scans on display.

“Have you attended a hatching before?” The egg rocked forwards, touching the inside of the incubator where Kuari’s nose was touching the glass. The beak of the small creature poked out a little bit more this time, opening in another squawk from the hole in the side of the egg. The crack opened wider, showing dark bluish-colored skin.

Kuari angled her head, trying to get a better look inside the egg at the hatchling inside. “I can see it!” She paused, waiting for something more to happen, but the arduous process took a while. If anything, the baby retreated somewhat inside, probably resting. “No, I’ve not seen a hatching before. Usually only the parents witness them, and I have no siblings.” She looked at Tailor. “My mother told me it’s best to let it hatch itself, not to help it. If you have to, though, it’s a sign you will have to help it much more as it grows up.”

“That’s true, if it has problems hatching, it’s probably a sign that it’s going to be weaker later on, but so far so good for this one.. And, oh wow…” The creature inside seemed to regain its strength and seemed to struggle for a bit, and then a larger crack opened up around the circumference of the egg. “This is going a lot faster than I expected..”

Her attention refocused on the tenant of the splintering egg, Kuari watched and listened closely. She attempted to mimic the tiny, high-pitched squawking, then lowered the pitch to what she hoped sounded close to its mother, encouraging the little alien newborn.

The little one’s response was immediate, crying out with more urgency; the egg seemed to jump again, and the crack split open wider. A miniscule leathery wing poked out, and the top of the egg came apart at a forty-five degree angle, revealing the rounded back and the wing, with hand-like claws, and a wet down-like fuzz on the back. The head was still covered by one end of the egg, but the shell was almost split apart now.

“Ohh.. it’s almost out! Keep calling to it..” Velina had attended many births of various creatures in her time in Starfleet, but this part never got old.

Kuari had been so surprised to finally see so much of the little creature that she had stopped and smiled. She began the vocal encouragement anew, adjusting to the proper sound over time. Her nose bumped into the glass, and it reminded her of the barrier between them.

The baby wobbled itself back around towards the sound, its head still partially stuck in the top of the eggshell. It stretched and wiggled its body some more, pausing to rest a few moments in between, still calling out in response to Kuari’s vocalisations. Eventually it dislodged the shell and it lifted its head, showing off a small boned crest that ran the length of its nose to the top of its skull. Another final wiggle a moment or two later, and the halves of the shell lay empty, with the baby curled up in between the two sides of its former home, using its claws to drunkenly propel itself forwards towards Kuari’s nose, still giving out its tiny squawks.

As the hatchling bumped against the glass, Kuari looked at Tailor with pleading eyes. “Can it come out?”

Velina had to stop and think about that one. “It’s in a specialized atmosphere to match the planet that they came from.. about fifty percent more oxygen than is in ours. I’d also worry about microorganisms infecting it at this stage.. And I don’t know enough about its physiology yet to know if its immune system would be able to fend off foreign contaminants easily. So I have to say no, for now. Until we learn more about them..” She could see the wistful look Kuari was giving the hatchling, and wished that she could do it, if only for a few minutes. But she didn’t want to risk something going wrong.

“We do have to feed them, though. I can set up a second observation tank with a quarantine field. It would keep the atmosphere in and still allow us to feed them with sterilized equipment and gloves. It would let us get a closer look at least.”

Kuari nodded her acceptance of this with ears drooped in disappointment, still watching the baby scrabble against the glass. Her narrow tongue slipped out a couple of times, and she realized she was salivating, wanting to clean the newborn. The thought that doing so could very well kill it was sobering. No, she would defer to Dr. Tailor’s expertise in this, as difficult as it was to resist what seemed to be instinct. Kuari offered the hatchling a few cooing sounds in consolation, then brightened with a hopeful smile at Tailor.

“I assume you will just replicate food for it, but if you need any help feeding it, let me know.”

“Absolutely. We’re gonna need all the help we can get.” Velina returned the smile, and peered at the baby some more; it looked so small and so helpless, and they still had a lot to learn about keeping it alive. Not to mention, how would they raise such a beast on a starship? But, one step at a time. “So.. what do you think it would eat? From what I could see of the mother, she looked like a hunter. And if the eggs were laid next to a lake, maybe a diet of fish? What do you think?”

Kuari grinned, her eyes shining back at Dr. Tailor, hopeful for the future. Perhaps the baby alien creature and its sibling from a destroyed world could survive, and she would be able to help. “That sounds like a good place to start.”

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Singularity
Posted on September 5th, 2018 by Kathryn Harper

by Alexis Wright and Kathryn Harper

Breathe. You must remember to breathe!

Alexis was seated in the holodeck, her cello cradled gently between her knees, trying to look more relaxed than she felt. She’d set up the holodeck to look just like the small room in which she used to play with her mother when she was a child, which was an intensely private space for her — but the familiar acoustics calmed her nerves.

Even though she’d been warming up for half an hour, she tried to look as though she’d only been there for a few moments when the holodeck doors swished open, heralding Kate’s arrival. Carrying a small case made of lacquered wood, Kate smiled as she looked around, realizing that the room her new friend had chosen for their musical meeting was far too detailed to be random. “Hello, Lexy.”

— That beguiling pair of eyes had transfixed her while they played. Even then, it had been inevitable.

How close had she come to dying today? More importantly, how much closer had she come to losing her best and only friend? When she had seen Kate on the bridge, she had wanted to jump up and hug her, just to make sure she was real and alive and okay. A part of her still wanted to.

Was Kate more than just a friend? Was she developing… feelings for Kate? If she was, would they be welcome? Was she willing to jeopardize their friendship based on these feelings? How serious was she about them? She wasn’t sure. This was uncharted space.

— Those seemingly far-away tears had stung bitterly, but these are infinitely happier. Blink.

“The truth is that I really care about you. Maybe as… more than just a friend. But our friendship is more important to me and I don’t want to lose it even if you don’t feel the same way.”

Kate’s face seemed to light up, and she swept Lexy into a quick hug. After but a moment, Kate pulled back to meet Lexy’s confused look and gushed, “You really feel that way? I had dared to hope so, since I do feel the same way!”

Lexy blinked at Kate, her heart beating wildly as Risa’s ocean crashed upon the sandy shore near where they stood. She took a step closer so that their bodies were almost touching. “Tell me,” she whispered, meeting those tantalizing green eyes as she lifted a hand and tenderly brushed strands of hair from Kate’s face, “is this body language difficult to understand?” She cupped Kate’s cheek softly and tipped her own chin upward, slowly standing up on her toes, and closed her eyes at the last moment…

— She shivers in anticipation of soft warmth, curved into a smile. Blink.

Lexy wrapped her arms around Kate’s trembling form. “But I do need to,” she said softly, “I want to. I choose this. I won’t pretend to understand the hell you’re going through, but you don’t have to do it alone anymore. You have me, now.” She blinked away tears.

Kate’s wild, wet eyes pulled back and found Lexy’s. “But it is my fault that they are all dead! You said yes because of me, and if you die too, I could not bear…”

“It’s not your fault, Kate. And I am not planning to die.” She pressed her lips together into a grim line. “Like I said, we’re going to make it back home together.”

— Meaningful words that pierce straight to the core of her being. Blink. Yet, she still notices the birdsong.

Kate pulled her close into a reassuring hug. “At the time, I thought you asked that because of our reputation as a species, but now I understand.” Pulling back from the hug to look Lexy straight in the eyes, she continued, “Do not worry. I will commit to you, and only you, as I said.”

Lexy gave Kate a pensive look. “Even though I’m moving so slow? That was his complaint.”

“Mmmm, it is nothing,” Kate purred. “Your ex-boyfriend was a pig, you know. I am comfortable with whatever pace you wish to take.”

Lexy smiled brightly, her eyes shining. “Shall we head back to the house? There’s something there I… think I’m ready to show you.”

— Blink. The light, warm breeze is welcome. Everything is perfect, she muses.

“It’s okay if you don’t want me,” Lexy mumbled self-consciously.

“Oh, believe me, I want you,” Kate growled, her voice acquiring an undercurrent of primal lust as the restraint she had been exercising around Lexy began to crumble. She dropped Lexy’s hands and pulled their bodies together with a surprising amount of force. “As for not knowing how to ‘have the sex with a woman,’ do not fret. I will. take care. of that.” Each staccato assertion was punctuated by a light tap of her finger on the tip of Lexy’s nose.

A shiver of anticipation went up her spine at the sudden huskiness in Kate’s voice and the roughness of the embrace.

— She has never felt more beautiful in her life than she does now, standing with her beloved in this magnificent cathedral of nature.

“I’m fine, though I could use a shower.” Giving Kate an appraising look, Lexy’s brows knitted together with concern. “And you? You’re… all right?” she asked hesitantly.

“Yes,” Kate answered with a relieved smile, then added, “Somehow, after all of that.” The STAR mission was finally over, and it was a near-miracle that they were both unharmed.

They walked silently down the corridor together until they reached Lexy’s quarters; Lexy stepped inside and roughly pulled Kate in behind her, drawing her into a fierce embrace and fervid kiss before the door had even finished closing. Lexy’s heart raced as she clutched Kate close to her, kissing her with an urgent need like that for water in the desert. Her sudden passion caught Kate by surprise, startling her awake from the exhausted reverie that had carried them here. This level of intensity from Lexy was something new. Returning her embrace and kisses with equal ferocity, Kate answered with a fire of her own.

After a moment, Lexy began tugging at the fastener of Kate’s uniform while backing toward the bathroom. “Come on,” she purred, her voice low and husky. “I wasn’t kidding about that shower.”

Kate’s breath caught at her tone, also new and exciting. She reached for Lexy’s zipper, whispering against her neck, “That is good, because this side of you is really arousing.”

“Shut up,” Lexy whispered simply, covering Kate’s mouth with her own.

— The moment feels surreal. Exhilaration juxtaposes with serenity.

Kate was unable to suppress her laughter at Lexy’s wholly scientific approach to the future of their relationship. After a few mirthful moments, she finally answered, “Forgive me, please, I did not mean to offend. That was just so… scientific! And yes, I suppose your analysis is technically correct.”

Quietly regarding Kate, her sober expression unchanged, Lexy carefully considered her situation. Her true feelings ran deep and passionate; she suspected she was falling in love, but chose to keep that to herself for the time being, since she was now fairly certain that it wasn’t yet reciprocated. Her heart ached at the sudden realization, but she forced herself to focus on the ‘yet’. Given all of the variables, Kate was right — it would be better to slow down and build a strong foundation. It was just so hard to wait when you longed to be living in the house.

— Tree-dappled sunlight caresses her bare ivory shoulders. The golden hour.

“I’ve told you this before, but let me say it again. I won’t pretend to understand what you are going through, but please remember that you don’t have to do it alone. You have me now. Okay?” Blinking unbidden moisture away from her eyes, Lexy pulled Kate into a protective embrace, feeling helpless in the face of her lover’s despair over the pilots that had been lost in combat.

It was what Kate had been seeking, if only subconsciously, but the sudden offer of help gave her pause. Her instinct, as it had always been during the years since she had last been in a relationship, was to deflect. Now, she actively fought that urge as she began to speak, her voice tremulous. “Lexy, I am sorry that I have ignored you so much lately; it is not what you deserve. But you… you are not what I deserve, yet here you are. No — ” An abrupt sob and upwelling of tears choked off her sentence until her instinct reasserted itself and she finished, “I cannot do this now.”

Torn between a desire to be gentle to her lover and the fear that she was slipping away, Lexy agonized over how to respond. “Then when? Will it ever be the right time?” She shook her head, tearful eyes searching Kate’s stony face. “Please, please talk to me. If not now, soon. I… I’m so afraid I’m going to lose you.”

— Laced fingers, holding tightly. Blink.

Kate pulled back, offering a reassuring smile as she wiped at her eyes. “I am — well, I will be OK. Even Doctor Endilev thinks so. I just need a little time to sort myself out, but I will be alright.” With a gesture toward the intricately carved model of her lost Mustang that Lexy had given to her for her birthday, she added, “Right now, looking at the Boudica makes me a little melancholy, but overall, I am touched at how thoughtful of a gift this is… especially after how I have treated you lately.”

That’s what love is, Lexy thought to herself, but simply smiled at Kate, not wanting to press the issue. “When I said that you have me now, I meant it, darling. On Earth, there’s an old expression — to be there through thick and thin. Are you familiar with that one?”

“No, but I think I get it,” Kate answered quietly as her melancholia was washed away by a wave of warm affection. “Thank you.”

Lexy bubbled with laughter. “Are you sure you want to thank me? It means you’re stuck with me!” She flung her arms around Kate and hugged her close. “I mean it, though,” she continued once the giggles had subsided, “You have me through thick and thin, and that’s a promise.”

— Gifts are special things when replicators exist. Today, so many had been brought by their friends and families.

Lexy looked over toward where her everything slept next to her in the dark, quietly choking back tears of relief that they’d both survived the ordeals of the past year and were now here together. The comfort that this thought provided, however, was no longer sufficient to ease her mind. Kate was the Captain of the whole ship now, and Lexy’s troubles were obviously unimportant compared to that. Though aching for closeness, she rolled to her side and faced away, berating herself for the desire to bother Kate with her selfish needs. She so desperately wanted their relationship to continue, despite the fact that everything was different now and that this scenario was far beyond anything she was emotionally equipped to deal with… she felt obligated to hide her own struggles in order to be a supportive partner, but lacked the strength of will to do so successfully. I am weak and worthless, Lexy thought angrily. Kate deserves so much more than I can give her in her new life.

— No matter who is watching, those eyes are the only ones that matter. Blink.

“No,” Kate interrupted, since her meaning had not come across correctly. She stepped forward to take both of Lexy’s hands in her own and then began to clarify, “I would like it very much if —” Biting her lip as she found Lexy’s eyes looking up at her expectantly, Kate hesitated as a realization hit her. Since she had stopped drinking herself into oblivion and been able to see their relationship with mental clarity, the reason she was now feeling comfortable enough with it that she found herself about to ask Lexy to move in with her came into focus. Her true feelings were probably obvious by human standards, but her own were a bit more rigorous, and even through her mind’s constant issues with the flowery idioms of the English language, the word to describe what she felt was suddenly unambiguous.

In anticipation of what she was about to say, butterflies flooded her stomach with an intensity that she had not felt since her first relationships as a teenager. Willing her knees not to buckle as she fell into those eyes, Kate finally confessed, “I love you, Lexy.”

With those words, the puzzlement on Lexy’s face was immediately replaced with radiant joy, like a flower opening to the morning sun. Thoroughly unable to formulate words, she squeaked with pleasure and threw herself into Kate’s arms, her elated exuberance proving somewhat detrimental to Kate’s balance and ability to breathe. She eventually pulled back her arms, instead reaching up to cup Kate’s face and look into her eyes, wearing the most incandescent smile of her life. Drawing Kate down toward her until their foreheads were touching, she managed a whisper, “…Could you say it again? Please? I need to make sure I’m not dreaming this time.”

Having said it once, she now was eager to repeat it, or even to yell it, but Kate managed to keep to the tender tone of the moment. Her knees were still weak and her stomach continued to flutter as she softly repeated, “I love you.”

— After all, it was inevitable. They had passed the event horizon long ago. Blink.

Kate’s face fell, being as unaccustomed to rejection in romance as she was to nervousness. The sting was also evident in her voice as it grew quieter. “I do not understand, Lexy. We love each other, yes? At least among my people, this would be enough to live together, but perhaps you are not ready?”

The pain in Kate’s tone cut Lexy to the core, and her hands hurriedly scrabbled for Kate’s. “Please, don’t misunderstand me,” she pleaded, panic creeping into her tone with the conclusion that she had indeed said the wrong thing, “I love you, and I want this so badly that it almost physically hurts. It’s just that there has been a lot of change in the past couple of months, and introducing another variable at this stage is simply bad science. It’s so important to me to have this with you that I’m willing to wait until everything else settles down. Do you see my point? It kills me to do this, believe me, but… I think I should say no today. But please,” she begged, willing Kate to understand her, “Please please please. Ask me again in six months and my answer will be different.”

— Blink. That six months had seemed like forever, but they had passed… and had led to this perfect day.

“Look. You know that I trust your judgment and I would follow you anywhere. Right? It’s just that I don’t trust Vallero.” At this, she locked her eyes back up to Kate’s, radiating earnest sincerity. “I love you, Kate Harper. And if he betrays you… well, I can promise they won’t take you without taking me.”

With a squeeze of Lexy’s hand, Kate smiled through suddenly moist eyes, the unexpected profession of Lexy’s willingness to defend her catching her off guard. “I love you too, but please, do not ever —”

“Whatever you were going to ask me not to do, I’m sorry to disappoint,” Lexy interrupted, her voice soft but matter-of-fact. “It’s absurd to expect me to do nothing if they take you. If you would do nothing in the reverse situation, then I’ve dramatically misunderstood how this relationship stuff works.”

— She would have pursued her to the end of spacetime itself. Blink.

Bill smiled down at his daughter affectionately, almost as if he could memorize her face in this moment, before brushing the hair out of her face with his hands and leaning down to kiss her forehead. “You know, you’ll always be my little Rosie no matter what, but having spent time with your intended, I think you’re making an excellent choice. I’d be thrilled to have Katie as a daughter-in-law, and I know your mother would agree. In fact…” He paused, considering. “…I’ve been holding on to your mother’s wedding ring, but I think she would want you to have it. You can give it to your love when you’re ready to ask her. What do you think?”

Lexy looked at him in surprise, her eyes suddenly brimming with tears. “Oh, Daddy…”

— Blink. She is stunningly, breathtakingly gorgeous in that dress.

“Oh, really?” Kate jabbed. “Not how you wanted today to go? It certainly was not my plan for an ideal day either, so perhaps you should put more thought into how you treat others, Alexis!

At Kate’s words, Lexy suddenly shrank as if stung. She had tried to make their home together into a pleasant space, and this was the thanks she got? “Fine. Have it your way. I’m done arguing about it.” Brushing past Kate, she walked toward the bedroom, pausing in the doorway to cut off Kate’s immediate protest without turning around. “I’m taking your advice — I’m going to my room to think about what I’ve done, Kathryn.” Her flat tone carried an edge of snark, and further argument was thwarted by her disappearance into the bedroom, the door abruptly swishing closed behind her.

Kate angrily flopped onto the couch with her arms folded over her chest, fuming over what had transpired. A few minutes later, her anger had calmed to mere sulkiness, and she reached for the pillow Lexy had been using. Intending to lie down, she instead paused upon finding a wrapped package, formerly hidden behind the pillow. Opening the attached folded tag, she read the hand-written message: “Happy Birthday to my one and only, with love -Lexy”

“Oh, fuck me,” Kate said aloud.

— She is aware of every breath she draws as she wills this moment to pass both more quickly and more slowly. Blink.

“And your Lexy, we worried at first that maybe she was too shy, but when she came to us… she loves you, Kathryn. This is wonderful! Now we will have two daughters!” Jhnal’s excitement was nearly palpable, even through the screen.

“She does love me, yes. Me, of all people! I mean, you two are obviously biased in my favor,” Kate gestured at the viewscreen, “but I had given up on finding actual love years ago. But here… well, here she is.” Kate finished the thought quietly, now having to wipe a tear from the corner of her own eye though her smile remained intact.

Rolik leaned toward the camera, and although he spoke softly, he still maintained an air of gregariousness. “Kathryn… you were never like the other girls. Always with the playing of the sports, and the studying, and the music… but look what you have done with your life as a result. You have made all of Risa proud, not just us. To do all of that takes someone truly special, since such ability and insight is quite rare, indeed. But when you are so different, it is harder to find the right person to settle down with, though the one you eventually find is likely to be as special as you are.”

“Yes,” Jhnal added, nodding, “You and your Lexy are both special people. It is lucky that you found one another.”

— Lucky, indeed. It has all been more than worth it. She really is special.

“Despite our differences, you and I make a really good team when we actually work together.” Lexy paused, then added, “Maybe because of our differences. I guess that’s why we’re doing this in the first place, right?”

— Trembling smile as rings bind them. Lock gazes with her and speak vows eternal. Blink away tears of joy as two hearts spiral together ever faster. Blink.

Admiral Ian Blackthorne’s sonorous baritone resonates through the crowd. “By the power vested in me by Starfleet Command, and as one of my favorite duties, I hereby pronounce that you are married. You may kiss your bride!”

— A passionate, tearful embrace, somehow finding her lips for a breathless kiss. Eyes pressed shut, amplifying the sound of happy cheers that accompany their shared fall into singularity.

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Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News
Posted on September 4th, 2018 by Emilaina Acacia

Emily arrived via transport at Starfleet Academy, duffle bag slung over her shoulder, her cat Apollo in a small carrier in her off hand. She had, at last, after years of research, received her Doctorate after her thesis had been finalized and published, coincidentally just before the ship she was posted on had been scheduled to arrive back at earth. She hadn’t even had time to tell her new Captain before shore leave had started, but she had already all but forgotten for the excitement of seeing her family. She had planned to visit and thank her professors anyway, but they had contacted her first to ask her to give a series of special lectures in her research area for Starfleet Medical.

She was going to visit her home after her lecture, but she didn’t have time to find a better place for her things, so she found herself and her cat in the lecture hall a half hour early, writing out some DNA sequences on the chalkboard, her duffle bag tucked under the desk– the professor’s desk.

“Emilaina Acacia, Medical Doctor and Doctor of Medical Research… now that suits you,” a voice came from the back of the hall. Emily whipped around, nearly dropping her chalk as she made a running beeline for back, tackle-hugging the source of the voice.

“Tori!” Emily squealed, squeezing her younger sister within an inch of her life, “How have you been?”

“There’s a lot to go through,” Torinessa replied, pulling back to get a look at her sister’s face, “You’re coming to dinner, right?”

“Of course,” Emily scoffed, bemused by the notion of skipping out, “Are you… staying for the lecture?”

“It might be a bit over my head, but I’d love to see you teach,” Torinessa claimed a seat near the front of the class. The two were beginning to chatter when the first of the Starfleet Medical students arrived, and Emily changed tunes to begin acting more upright.

The whole experience was a bit overwhelming. By the end of the lecture, Emily had answered more questions than she even knew she would know the answer to, and shaken hands with half of the professors at Starfleet Medical. Students and professors particularly interested in her research exchanged business cards with her. She stayed for almost a full hour after the lecture was over, waiting for the last of the interested students to speak to her one-on-one. She took one last look at the mostly empty hall, briefly flashing back to attending one of her father’s special lectures. She returned to her sister’s side, and her sister walked with her to the transport that would take them home.

“EMILY’S HERE! AND SHE’S A REEEAL DOCTOR NOW,” Tori shouted into the house as she threw open the door. Emily rolled her eyes as she sat down Apollo’s carrier. She turned him loose, the cat quickly darting off to find something to eat or destroy. Some sort of clanging metallic chaos ensued in the kitchen, Emily’s mother scrambling to put lids on all the pots on the stove before darting out into the foyer to embrace Emily in a tight hug.

Emily’s intuition twinged as she wrapped her arms around her mother. Being half Betazoid, she could sense a familiar, rather distinctive presence in the house. It also wasn’t as hard to detect as her sisters, considering he was a full-blooded telepath.

“…is dad here?” Emily posed, her mother visibly distraught the moment the words left her lips.

“Bah! You girls and your psychic powers, can’t even have one tiny surprise for my little Doctor,” Janessa Acacia lamented dramatically. Emily released her, moving into the living room and hugging her father right through the floor-length curtain he had so vainly attempted to hide behind. The man laughed, lamely brushing the fabric away to escape from his hiding spot. He grabbed Emily by the shoulders, smiling down at her warmly.

“You know, I told you not to go into medicine. And if you did, I specifically said to stay away from germs,” he joked. Emily’s mother scurried back into the kitchen, followed by Tori. Emily gripped her father’s hand, beaming up at the much taller man.

“I recall,” she mused, “I just didn’t listen. You know how I can be.”

“Emily?” Janessa called from the kitchen. Emily made her way in, and immediately covered her face in embarrassment. There was a cake topped with lit candles on the table, and a computer sitting at one of the places with her elder sister Averianna’s smiling face on it. She was in uniform, in her quarters on her posted ship, and she had replicated her own slice of cake. It was rare for her whole family to be on earth at once with three of them being stationed on different starships, and it seemed today was no exception, yet her family still had to find a way to throw her a party.

It took coaxing to get Emily to sit down, but when her mother started bringing out dinner, of course comprised of Emily’s favorite foods, she was able to relax and even somewhat enjoy the attention. She got to have dinner with her father in the flesh, and her family got to do their catching up. She learned about her father’s adventures, including a brief posting on a deep space vessel, and her elder sister’s promotion to Lieutenant Commander. Averi was a Starfleet Engineer, and Tori had just started her sophmore year at a non-Starfleet college with a major in psychology.

The Acacias were a lively, rowdy bunch, laughing unabashedly all evening. After dinner and cake, they played some card games together. That night Emilaina slept in her old bed. It was nice, but still somehow, staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars taped to her bedroom ceiling, she already missed the Atlantis. This was the night that she became certain, once and for all, that joining Starfleet was the right choice.

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Unforgotten Time
Posted on August 29th, 2018 by Linxi Jude

‘Thank you,’ Linxi spoke telepathically to the Betazoid pilot. She stepped onto the transporter pad, ‘I’m ready to beam down.’ She clutched her hands together as she was transported to the surface of Betazed. Linxi looked around the room as she appeared, and stepped out, into the street. She started rapidly walking down towards the familiar roads, her boots clicking behind her. It was not long until she reached an old building, with ladders on the side. She jumped up, grabbing the first rung, and lifted herself up, before climbing halfway up. Linxi carefully climbed onto a ledge, and scooted her way to a window, before opening it, and sticking her head in, ‘Hello, anyone home? Jan?’ she telepathically shouted out to nobody in particular.

A woman with long dark hair wearing a bright yellow floral dress ran into the room, stopping in the middle, before telepathically yelling ‘Linxi!’ and running to the window, pulling her out.

“Augh!” Linxi exclaimed as she fell to the floor.

‘Oh, sorry!’ Jan pulled Linxi up, then hugged her, ‘I didn’t hear from you for four months!’

Linxi grinned, ‘Sorry peaches, but it was only a few minutes for me.’ She then hugged Jan back before walking over to her bed, and plopping down on it. ‘You really don’t have any idea how much I missed your bed.’

Jan gracefully climbed onto her bed, laying next to Linxi. ‘I imagine those Starfleet beds are not this comfortable.’ She gets on her knees and bounces around the bed, as Linxi laughed, who eventually shoved Jan to get her to stop.

Jan climbed back on, grinning, then tilted her head, laying back down next to Linxi. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘It’s hard, you know? We’ve been best friends since primary school and we’ve done literally everything together. Went through goth phase, complained about boys, went to prom, got into mischief and shenanigans.’

‘Oh, I didn’t get into shenanigans. You got into shenanigans, then dragged me into it!’

‘True. True. But point being, I’m off playing astronaut and you are here, painting fields of flowers… and whatnot. In your point of view, I went off to the center of the galaxy and then completely went off the grid for four months. I don’t… I really don’t understand how you are not mad, or pissy about it.’

‘Because it’s what you love to do. You love going off and discovering things. I love looking at nature and placing it on a canvas. We are two vastly different people, Linx, by that doesn’t mean our friendship is any less.’

‘Awh, I love you too.’

‘Now, knowing you, you have more shenanigans planned for the next few days… What are you thinking?’

‘Weeelllll, I was planning on…’

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The Doctor at Play
Posted on August 7th, 2018 by Emilaina Acacia

Emily sat in her quarters, sipping from a cup of tea and finishing up her log for the day. The CMO and Captain had both told her that on her first full day off, she shouldn’t do anything resembling work. Neither of them had made it an order, but at this point, they didn’t have to. Emily could tell that her nerves were getting frayed, and she couldn’t treat herself like a student anymore. She had to act like an officer, and that meant keeping herself rested and healthy. So, she’d taken a break from her thesis, and Nurse Darcy was watching her ongoing experiments for her. Ensign Razyn had been kind enough to show her how the holodeck worked, and she’d spent the better part of the afternoon creating a few programs of her own. Razyn had even been kind enough to show her how to randomize program elements, so she could be surprised by events, to an extent.

“I think I’m starting to get along here. I’ll admit, I do miss Earth, but I’m finally getting comfortable. I look forward to going back to my quarters each night. The adventure of it is intoxicating, the science fascinating, and this ship is really something. I consider myself fortunate that I’ve had so much time to work on my experiments, and that I’ve had so few patients so far, but I know that can only be a temporary state of things. I’m… ready for, but not necessarily eager for, whatever’s to come. Acacia out,” the computer beeped once, shutting down the microphone. Emily pinched the bridge of her nose, already feeling stupid for getting so sappy, even in her personal log.

She stood, setting her tea aside an giving Apollo a nasty look for biting the corner of her bed. She grabbed the costume from her closet, examining it with a wry smile before donning the long tan trenchcoat, and colorful scarf.

Acacia found herself standing on a cliff, near an ocean. She inhaled deeply, her eyes darting to the glint of the sun off of the white rock making up the cliffs. She then turned her gaze back to the large, solid black starship entering the atmosphere at an alarming rate.

“Doctor,” Emily’s attention was drawn to a nearby middle-aged woman with a tight red ponytail, “They haven’t stopped, they haven’t answered our hails. We need to go up there! Board their ship, get their attention, stop them before they crash.”

“Ooh,” Emily couldn’t help but coo excitedly. She hadn’t even thought of that plan when she’d written the program. She had a gun in her coat, contrary to the character from ancient science fiction she’d drawn from, she had planned to have an all-out firefight on the surface for a little adrenaline, but she actually liked this better, “Good idea, let’s go.”

The two set off running towards their vessel, a nearby blue telephone box from ancient England. Emily leapt inside, wildly and randomly throwing levers at the console. She laughed madly, the flashing lights indicating that her exercise in nonsense was working. With a whoosh, they took off.

Emily awoke with a gasp, sitting up sharply. She groaned, holding her back, where she had been laying on a bent piece of rebar. The redheaded woman was nearby, laying limp, a sharp piece of metal sticking out of her chest. Emily shook her head, grunting, “Computer, end program.”

With a soft sigh, she looked around, re-acquainting herself with the empty holodeck, “Computer, how long was I unconscious?”

The computer bleeped itself to life, replying, “All holodeck safeties are operating normally. You did not lose consciousness. Twelve seconds have elapsed since the last scene change in program Acacia one.”

“Huh,” Emily rubbed her forehead, perturbed. She made a mental note to tweak her program to make it a little easier, and to not program a ship crash into any more of her stories. She laid back down slowly, “Computer, run program… Acacia two.”

A flash of light made her clench her eyes shut, and when she opened them, she was laying in white sand, a holographic sun beaming overhead. With a smile, she let her eyes shut once more, and let her tension melt away, her thoughts drifting occasionally to ways to improve her adventure program.

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Doctor EBT – Everything But Thesis
Posted on July 29th, 2018 by Emilaina Acacia

Emily had been sitting in the medical research lab for an amount of time that she could only count thanks to the ship’s internal chronometer. She had made an effort to stay in her quarters for most of her writing, but the fact that it had windows only served to remind her of her internal clock, and that she would rather be sleeping. However, her tactic of depriving herself of external stimuli had only worked for so long. The CMO had just found her, exhausted and hunched over the computer terminal, and had immediately ordered her to bed. She gathered her PADD, some papers she had scattered around, and the few sample jars she had been examining, and put them all back on her research station.

She pressed a key to bring the computer to life, “Medical Ensign Acacia’s Log, Stardate 11807.29. I’ve just been told… to sleep. That’s probably for the best. My thesis is up to one hundred and sixty pages. It’s a bit of a dry read, if you’re not into exogenetics, so… I’ll tell you about it.”

Carrying her things, Emily began down the hall for the turbolift. As she walked she tucked items into her shoulderbag, which was usually stuffed with research materials. Given the late time of night, she stuck close to the wall, quietly continuing her log, figuring no one was around for her to look crazy to, “It’s well known, and well researched, that different humanoid species have similar anatomical systems, and dozens of species even have remarkably similar immune systems. I’m studying diseases that can infect more than one species. There are actually two-hundred and forty-six known cases of a ‘disease jump’, where an ailment known to one species is later recorded infecting another. The first instance of this in Starfleet record is the Klingon equivalent of the flu being caught by a human.”

She entered her quarters, setting her bag down on the table. Apollo, her hostile, fluffy white cat with bright blue eyes was sitting on her bed, but fortunately, he seemed to be asleep. She began brushing her hair, all the while babbling about disease to the computer, “So I’m studying the mechanisms by which these diseases are able to do this. Diseases that replicate by RNA do it best, for example, our human flu has infected five other species to date. And—well, if you care about the technical side, the paper will be freely available, but the long and short of it is that I’ve found a way to innoculate species against diseases that have yet to evolve to infect them. A vaccine that out-strips evolution by training the immune system against the parts of the disease that can’t change so quickly.”

She stopped herself, by now putting her pajamas on. She realized she was getting a bit too enthusiastic, and she had promised herself she wouldn’t “nerd out” in any of her logs. With a sigh, she sat on her bed, “I anticipate another month and another fifty pages of writing, but it’s almost there. I can genuinely say I’m proud of my contribution to scientific understanding, so I think I have a few letters to write to the professors at Starfleet Medical. Soon, I won’t have to correct anyone who calls me ‘doctor’. Acacia out.”

The computer whirred to sleep, and Emily switched the lights off with her bedside console. She wanted to sleep, but all she could think about was her petri dish in the medical lab containing Bajoran tissue that had, finally, resisted the human flu. That, and the moment when she had actually been invited to stand on the bridge when the CMO was off her shift, and how she’d had to tell the captain herself that she wasn’t a doctor yet. Of course, it was a technicality, but it did bother her. That said, she’d been given this assignment because her professors thought she was ready, and that her research was too important to rush and risk getting wrong. Her ambitious choice of topic meant it had already taken a long time, but when she earned that title, she wanted to really deserve it. That and, of course, it was important that she get this right for a lot of reasons, even some diplomatic. The implications for every field from genetics to exobiology to many more were significant, and future research could draw on her conclusions. The way it should be, she would say.

She laid down, closing her eyes, and making one last note, “Computer, set reminder with tomorrow morning’s alarm—write Doctor Galahar and Professor Jones.”

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