A Tour of the Poseidon (Part 1)
Location: USS Poseidon; Various Locations
Timeline: Day 03 1600 hrs
Commander Franklin Johnson briskly walked down the corridors of the aged Miranda-class as he admired how clean and crisp it was. Despite untold years of service, the ship seemed as new as it ever had, with a nostalgic hint to her interior design that gave way to an era yet passed but still somewhat present in modern day Starfleet. As he waved to passing crewmembers, he turned a corner and finally made his way to his destination. Before him was the quarters for his Chief Intelligence Officer, Lieutenant T'Pri. He straightened his uniform and pressed the panel beside the door to request entry.
T'Pri looked at the Captain whom she was expecting. She noted his punctuality and the crispness of his uniform.
"Greetings Captain" T'Pri said formally.
"Please come in. Can I offer you some refreshment"? T'Pri said amiably.
Franklin nodded, smiling. "Perhaps a water would do if you're having something also," the Commander replied politely. "Thank you very much."
He took a few steps in, not being too overbearing as he glanced around. Eyes falling back on the Vulcan, he maintained his smile.
"How are you settling in? Any issues?"
T'Pri walked over to her table. She had a pitcher of water waiting. She did have a replicator but rarely used it. She poured some ice water for the Captain and herself. She was making an attempt at being warm and welcoming. At the very least polite and amiable.
"I am settling in fine, Captain. So far the crew has been warm and welcoming. I even have a recreational meeting with the XO later. A sort of getting to know you meeting. Sometimes the best way to really get to know someone is to play games and share interests. I thought it best to establish a rapport with my shipmates. Some find Vulcan's somewhat stand offish. In reality we are a bit reserved, but are always learning. Personally I enjoy the diversity of the crew. It's an environment where anything can happen." T'Pri said sipping her water.
Franklin made note of the change in posture from the Vulcan, then he started to secretly worry that the ship had somehow intimidated Lieutenant T'Pri into acting different. He carefully observed her while she spoke but did not find any apparent indication of intimidation. Instead, all he saw was a very welcoming - if still somewhat stoic - Vulcan. He graciously accepted the water with a nod and sipped.
"That's good to hear! I'm glad you're so eager to associate with the crew. I'll be honest, I never anticipated to see this so soon upon your visit. What changed, if anything, if I may ask? I thought Vulcans were quite reserved?"
"Vulcan's are normally very reserved, Sir. I assure you it is logical to develop a rapport with with my shipmates. I can be a much more effective Intel officer if I get to know the officers and crew of the Poseidon and learn their strengths and weaknesses. During the war I was an undercover operative for the Federation. My job was to find and sabotage the operations, supplies and personnel of the Dominion. This posting is considerably more relaxed considering it is a training vessel. I may make some mistakes in my socialization to this ship and her crew but I have nothing but the best interests of this ship and her crew in mind. These mistakes would be classified as cultural. I've had much more experience dealing with Cardassians and Jem'Hadar than I have had dealing with Humans. I do however find Humans generally much more pleasant than the Jem'Hadar. T'Pri stated.
The Vulcan Intel officer took another sip of her water.
"How about you Sir? What did you do during the war?" T'Pri inquired.
"Mind if I take a seat?" he inquired.
"Please do, Sir" T'Pri replied taking a seat herself.
"Thank you," said Franklin as he sat down. "In your response to your question, I was more involved in the civilian logistics corps than Starfleet at the time. That was where I met a few special individuals, some of which I'm still looking to contact to this very day. The war was over by the time I joined Starfleet, I think. Gregory, as a matter of fact, was the one who influenced me the most. If you wanted to know about experience during the war, the Commodore is the man to talk to. He lived it."
"No," continued Franklin after taking a sip of water, "I'm not some far-flung hero with a resume a mile long. I came on the Poseidon from serving on the U.S.S. Tennessee, a rather uneventful posting but one where I learned about duty and responsibility. I was assigned to the Poseidon after some gentle prodding from Gregory."
My apologies Captain, I just realized that my inquiry might sound like an interrogation. This is supposed to be a social occasion. So tell me what did you want to show me first"? T'Pri asked.
The Commander stood, smiling as he straightened his uniform. He gave a brief nod to the door.
"I was thinking on that," he admitted, "but I believe I have the perfect area to start. The Bridge?"
"The bridge would be a logical start. From the very top to the bottom then? Interesting choice considering that I'm not a bridge officer. This is indeed a privilege. Thank you Captain". T'Pri said politely.
"Absolutely," Franklin replied, giving a smile.
He led the way to the bridge, greeting a few cadets and officers along the way. At this time of day the bridge would just be empty, so it was a perfect opportunity to explore there. Upon taking the turbolift up, he allowed T'Pri to exit first and then followed behind as a courtesy. Scanning around, he waved a hand at the bridge.
To the front of them was a rail that, just beyond it, sat the Captain's Chair. In front of the Captain's Chair were the Helm and Navigation Stations, and at the complete fore was the viewscreen. To the sides were the typical Miranda-class layout; On the right Sciences, Auxiliary, XO and 2XO chair while on the Left were the other bridge stations. To their very right was the entrance to the Foyer, which would lead to the Captain's Ready Room. To their very left was Tactical followed by a door to the bridge's head, a restroom area and refreshment zone for the bridge crew.
Smiling as he gazed about, he looked to the Vulcan. "What do you think?"
"Functional and elegant. Looks like it serves you well Captain." T'Pri replied.
T'Pri circled the bridge there was only a skeleton crew aboard her now. The comm officer was on duty as was the helmsmen, and the duty officer. The others were not needed at this time. T'Pri was familiar with most of the controls and displays but she was not a certified bridge officer. Perhaps she would avail herself of the training. It was logical to be prepared for any circumstance.
"What is our current status, Captain"? T'Pri inquired politely.
Franklin turned his attention to a Senior Cadet who happened to be at the helm station. She was an Andorian. He struggled to recall the name, having only briefly been introduced some days back.
"Cadet Selass, is it?" the Commander asked, moving to stand just beside the station but at a comfortable distance.
The Cadet turned and nodded, her twin antenna moving attuned to her mood at the moment. "Aye, sir. Senior Navigational Cadet Selass Sh'vhesrerh."
"Very good. Cadet Selass, what's our status?"
Selass turned pale-face, if that was even possible for an Andorian. Her expression told it all, however, as her eyes turned from T'Pri to the Commander. It was obvious what had transpired; two senior officers happened to be on the bridge, inquiring about the duties that she was still being trained on. If one could listen well, they'd probably hear her gulp with anxiety. As it was, she regained her composure quickly, turning back to her station and eyeing a few commands before turning back to the Commander.
"We are....presently docked at Starbase 99, power is locked to the station, engines and shields are offline."
Franklin gave an appraising nod, "Excellent status report, Cadet. Very detailed. Thank you. Continue as you were."
The Andorian tried to hide a beaming smile before uttering, "Yes Sir," in response and turning back to her station. Her compatriot next to her, a human, eyed her with an impressed look. Franklin turned away to face his Chief Intelligence Officer, giving a nod her way.
"It seems our status remains unchanged, Lieutenant," he said with a hint of humor.
T'Pri almost smiled, although no one could possibly notice. She was grateful to have a Captain that encouraged his crew and was genuinely capable of bringing out there best. Cadet Sh'vhesrerh had seemed so nervous when they entered the bridge. So young and flustered. Andorian's were typically a passionate and driven people which T'Pri had come to respect. She observed the young Andorian cadet sitting just a bit taller in her chair. It was another interesting observation about the customs, interactions and relationships of her shipmates. So far this tour had been most...Satisfactory.
"Captain when do you think we will get underway?" T'Pri asked.
The Commander gave a sigh as he looked around the bridge following the Lieutenant's question. He adjusted his uniform professionally, making it crisp and straight as he also adjusted his stance. A final gaze at the Captain's Chair, mind reflecting the last time he sat there. A brief memory of the explosion of the fighter craft. He blinked, clearing his throat.
"Soon," he said looking to T'Pri, "Maybe tomorrow. I think we're expecting a few more cadets between now and then so I want to wait. But after that, we're free to roam."
"It would be most agreeable to get back out into space. A star ship in dry dock just doesn't ....'feel' right, does it?" T'Pri said her right eyebrow shot up. It was her way of letting the Captain know she wholly approved of his methods.
"No I suppose it doesn't," Franklin said, taking note of her expression. He gave a smile and nod in return.
"Anywhere in particular next you'd like to visit, Lieutenant?"
"Do you have anything like a ready room, Captain? T'Pri asked.
"Actually, yes! This way, please," he said as he gestured towards the door to the Foyer.
Carefully walking with the Chief Intelligence Officer, the Commander introduced T'Pri to the Foyer. It was a sizable area, around a quarter of that of the bridge, but fashioned length-wise rather than rounded. To their immediete left were a set of stairs leading down to deck 2, to the right a rectangular table molded into the wall facing the outer hull and elongated towards the bridge giving a good gap between for walking; four chairs surrounded this table. At the head of it, against that outer wall, was an entertainment holoscreen for viewing. To the left of the table was a food replicator, complete with cutlery and disposal. To their extreme right was the door with the words, "Captain's Ready Room", across them.
"This is the foyer," Franklin said as he gestured around the room. "Here myself and the bridge crew can relax, and they have easy access to me should I be in my ready room. This way."
He gestured for her to follow, then entered. As they stood at the center, the room was the same as when they first met here. All the stations and appropriate furnishings were still in their place.
"You'll remember this from when you first came on board," the Commander noted, "but now you got a chance to look around. See anything interesting?"
"Interesting? "You have a triangular table with four chairs. Is this place your inner sanctum?"
The ready room wasn't particularly well lit either. Something about that struck her as strange. Her world was very bright so bright in fact that thousands of years previously her ancient ancestors had developed an inner eye lid to protect them from the brightness of their sun 40 Eridani. Vulcan's did have excellent night vision though seeing partially into the infrared and ultraviolet spectrum.
"Is it normally this dark in here?"
"Yes, normally," Franklin said, looking around as if noticing it for the first time. "I've found that dimmer lights help my eyesight, for some odd reason. I'm not sure why."
He went up to the control panel near the door, gently touching the screen and raising the luminosity of the room. The light brightened to normal ship-wide levels. He smiled towards T'Pri. "Better?" he asked.
"Much better, Sir. May I have some water please?". T'Pri asked.
Franklin smiled, "Of course, Lieutenant. Just a moment."
He departed the room to the Foyer, requesting from the replicator a water for T'Pri and himself a glass of cold sweet tea. Grabbing the replicated items, he returned to the Captain's Ready Room, handing T'Pri her water and standing casually nearby.
"Yep," he said trying to bridge the silence, "this is my sanctum."
Taking a sip of water, he casually eyed the display case on the opposite wall, near the viewscreen that was inside his Ready Room. On it were several interesting tidbits, including a replica starship of his last station, the Nova-class USS Tennessee, and a replica of the civilian freighter he had been crewed on. There were some medal cases, nothing war specific, but beside all that was a holo picture of a Gorn female. Her slitted eyes were facing the camera's viewpoint, a slight smile, and behind it what seemed to be a rather intimate locale of a couch and bed inside what would appear to be a spartan quarters. It was by far the least noticeable but most treasured image he had.
Eyes trained on the image, he neglected his guest a tad bit as he took a sip of tea, memories flooding his mind.
T'Pri sipped her water then went over to the captain who was peering at pictures.
"A friend of yours Sir?" T'Pri asked.
He blinked, remembering T'Pri beside him. Franklin nodded and gave a deep sigh, a sense of longing escaping him.
"A close friend," he replied admittedly, "we met on our civilian transport. She became a close friend after, as she put it, found me interesting. Haven't seen her since, though Gregory claimed to know her whereabouts and some information. I've not gained the courage to ask yet."
T'Pri considered her answer. "Two ships passing in the night, it seems she had a greater impact on you than you realized."
"Yeah, she did," Franklin admitted, staring at the picture. For a moment he said nothing, then taking in a deep breath he looked to T'Pri.
"What about you? Any love interests?" he asked.
T'Pri stiffened for a moment. She then pondered the question. That was one of those questions like, "How do you feel?" Very difficult for a Vulcan to answer. Surely a problem in logic. Ponn Farr was a very personal experience. Every seven years, Vulcan males and females become aroused. If they do not mate with someone with whom they are empathically bonded they eventually enter Plak Tow, the blood fever, become violent, and finally die unless they mate with someone or engage in a ritual battle known as kal-if-fee.
A common misconception associated with pon farr is that Vulcan's only have sex once every seven years. However, pon farr is not coincident with the sex lives of Vulcans, and they are able to have intercourse without the affliction, and thus mate more than once every seven years. Pon farr is not the only time that Vulcan's feel sexual desire or engage in sexual activity:
Vulcans mate normally any time they want to. However, every seven years you do the ritual, the ceremony, the whole thing. The biological urge. You must, but any other time is any other emotion—humanoid emotion—when you're in love. When you want to, you know when the urge is there, you do it.
Vulcans not only are able to mate outside pon farr, they are also able to mate with species other than Vulcan, predominantley humans and even Klingons.
"I have never been married Captain, nor have I ever engaged in sexual activity personally. It's not that I have never been interested, its just never really been advantageous to do so". T'Pri said.
T'Pri sipped her water.
"My bond mate was killed during the Dominion war. We were joined but not yet married and then psychically separated. I have since not been re-bonded, Sir."
Franklin noted her silence and after her explanation, seemed somewhat caught off guard and feeling he had offended her somehow. He nodded carefully. "I apologize for bringing that up for you," T'Pri said. "I didn't know. My condolences."
"Thank you. what would you like to show me next Captain?" T'Pri asked
The curt and respectful reply was noted, and Franklin turned the page from that awkward situation. He nodded, leading a hand toward the door to the foyer.
"Follow me, I think I know what we can see next. Do you like observation rooms?"
"Sometimes I go to meditate, other times I like to watch the stars. It sometimes engenders sparks of insight and imagination that would otherwise not be available." T'Pri replied.
T'Pri Followed her Captain feeling very comfortable in his presence.
"Is this the main observation deck? What I really like is to find private spots on ships that inspire people. Sometimes the inspiration resonates. I have no wish to intrude but sometimes simply being in a place can inspire me to see in different ways. It is not logical but it is true." T'Pri said.
In their short lapse, they had traveled to the turbolift and down a few decks to Deck 6. There, a short walk and they entered a slightly larger entrance into the ships Arboretum, which was being presently tended by the civilian staff of gardeners and groundskeepers. The environment was supplemented by holographic technology; the trees and soil and water were real, but the atmosphere and surrounding areas were all holographic in detail. It was the one major exception to the last refit - add newer technology on top of an old fashioned garden room to boost crew morale.
Franklin stepped in first, moving to side to allow his Vulcan counterpart to follow. The air was warm, a gentle 21 degrees celsius, and there felt like a warm spring breeze that visibly swayed the trees planted here. The trees themselves fit snugly inside the one deck room, though the deck itself seemed to rise up far larger than two decks - an illusion provided by the holographic matrix. There was a visible walk-way built down on the compacted soil, trailing through the various trees where park benches could be seen on the side. At the other end of the Arboretum, the visible glint of water in the pond, two wooden bridges moving over the streams connecting the three ponds.
The Commander was quite proud of this area. The civilian crew, and some active starfleet, took time out of their day to come here and preen the trees of their excess growth. If left unchecked, half of the species here would undoubtedly grow up and through the ship. The roots were taken care of thanks to the good amount of soil space for them, and the hard protected flooring underneath that prevented root intrusions. Watching a pair of Cadets pass, he turned to T'Pri after she spoke.
"Close, this is the ships original Arboretum. Before holodecks, ships of this class had meditation areas with actual foliage and - in some cases - wildlife." Franklin motioned around at the plants, trees, what looked like birds, and finally the pond. "I believe we have two or three species of birds here, pets of the staff that live in the trees, and the pond has actual fish which I admit I'm unfamiliar with - some alien species and I think a catfish or two. This area was originally a singular space, defined and with borders, but after the recent refit they added holographic technology so the program can introduce further wildlife and what appears to be skies and expanded terrain and horizon. The sky also matches the time of ships day, matter of fact. Night time has stars, visible stars that match the sensors outside the ship, and daytime has an artificial sun. Interesting, huh?"
"Quite interesting Captain. It is comfortable in here." T'Pri suggested.
T'Pri marveled at the many species of flora and fauna available here. She wandered around stopping at a particularly lovely variety of orchid. It was a pink cattleya variety. It was a terrestrial orchid of the planet Earth orchids with cylindrical rhizome from which the fleshy noodle-like roots grew. The pseudobulbs in this case were conical; with upright growth; one or two leaves growing from the top of them. The leaves were elliptical, somewhat fleshy, with smooth margin. The flowers had sepals and petals free from each other; the lip or labellum (lowermost petal), had a different coloration and shape from the rest of the flower and covered in part of the flower column forming a tube. There were also four polliniums (bag-like organs that contained pollen).
T'Pri lightly touched the flower,fascinated but its delicacy and beauty.
"I have never been to Earth, tell me, how do you get them pollinated? Are there bees in here as well?" She asked.
It was brief, but Franklin almost swore he saw a sense of wonder on T'Pri's expression as she meandered toward the flowers. He watched her carefully, almost seeing - but not believing - that her stoic demeanour changed. It was fascinating to watch her observe and look around, seeing the appreciation even after the brief lapse of whatever transpired. He smiled to her from her question.
"I'm not particularly sure, the gardeners would know. I think we do have some bees, or perhaps artificial pollination. Being in such a confined area I'd even venture they are biologically engineered specimens for space." he said.
"That is both practical and logical. Thank you Captain. I am enjoying myself. This is a remarkable ship." T'Pri added.
"It is isn't it!" exclaimed Franklin in a polite tone. "When I first got on board, I never realized that ships of old actually carried real dirt for real plants. I was surprised they hadn't taken out the Arboretum and replaced it with a fully fledged dual holosuit, but I now see the reasoning. You see over there?"
He pointed, just at the edge of the wall, a few crew and civilians - undoubtedly gardeners - were using standard farming tools like hoes and rakes to tend to the soil. In those patches were tomatoes, corn, and other earthly grown vegetables - including what looked like a berry stalk or strawberry, maybe even melons. Beside the patch of gardening was a few trees, clearly bearing fruit, including those of apples, peaches, pears, plumbs, and perhaps even an orange tree. They were all engineered in size, clearly smaller than their earthen cousins, but they bore fruit that seemed extremely similar. In their vicinity worked the gardeners and crewmen, of which the crewmen were perhaps off duty as they worked diligently to either tend their own personal plots or shared plots. People were smiling, laughing, talking; the entirety oblivious to the presence of the Commander and the CIO.
"That right there is unique," said Franklin after a time of taking in the scene. "We have an honest-to-heavens Officer's Galley on deck 2, didn't you know? This is where the majority of our food comes from. Real, honest to heavens food. Beanstalks, corn, beans, all that comes from here. The crew get to share in their efforts too, from what I know; a shared plot effort, I think. This right here makes the Poseidon so unique in my opinion. I've never seen it at all in my life, even on civilian freighters like the one I served on."
"Perhaps I will try to grow Plomeek, N'gaan and Ges'par. It might be nice to prepare some authentic Vulcan dishes, instead of the replicated fare on most star ships. Might as well throw in my lot with them. Vulcan's as you may have heard are predominately vegetarians. Its more of a cultural value than not being able to eat meat. We can eat meat but most choose not too and consider it a distasteful practice." T'Pri said.
Franklin blinked, taken aback briefly. "Really? I never knew that. I mean, I heard in the cultural classes at the Academy that most Vulcans preferred a healthy diet of vegetables, but I wasn't aware that vegetarianism was a dominant practice. How did that come about?"
"I believe it to be part of casting out our animal passions on the desert 5000 years ago during the time of Surak. Most find it illogical to eat the flesh of animals when there are other things to eat that are actually better for you. Most (Vulcan's) consider it a backward savage practice." T'Pri said.
Franklin nodded, about to speak when his communicator chirped. He tapped it.
"This is the Captain."
= /\ = Commander, you have a call from Starfleet Command. = /\ =
"Very good, patch it to my ready room," he said, tapping his badge again. Smiling, he looked to his Chief Intelligence Officer. "Duty calls, unfortunately. Perhaps we pick this up later?"
"Yes Sir! I am at your convenience. Thank you." T'Pri replied.
Commander Franklin Johnson
Chief Intelligence Officer