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Morale And Welfare

Posted on Apr 30, 2021 @ 7:05am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane & Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Apr 30, 2021 @ 7:05am

Mission: Black Sun Rising

"MORALE AND WELFARE"

(Continued from "Just Breathe")

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Captain's log, supplemental - with the away team engaged on their contact mission on the surface of the Idium moon, I have been informed as to the medical emergency in sickbay...

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Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Idium I-A
Stardate: [2.21]0429.2305
Scene: The Vulgar Tribble - deck 10, saucer section


The Vulgar Tribble was still open, but the life had left it ever since Iphigenia Bonviva had disembarked on her sabbatical. Calvin and Hobbes were still there, of course, serving replicate food to those who wanted it, but to tell the truth, it just wasn't the same. With nobody behind the bar, the conversation nowadays seemed stilted and muted, with people murmuring to one another as they stood in line for the replicators, all the while hoping for a good seat near one of the giant transparisteel windows.

The view today was spectacular. Space, the final frontier, stretched out into eternity, a black canvas speckled with distant white stars. Nearby, the mustard-coloured gas giant Idium I tumbled over and over in its endless Newtonian spiral, great weather fronts scudding across its atmosphere, crackling and popping into lightning storms. Its smaller moon was closer again, an inert ball of dead rock, caught forever in its motherworld's gravity well.

When Byte, the android Chief Operations Officer, crossed paths with Malin-Argo, the irascible Chief Engineer, that day in the Vulgar Tribble, the conversations at nearby tables hushed, as people strained to hear what these two completely mismatched characters might say to one another.

Malin-Argo had secured a four-seater couch for himself by one of the windows, and was gazing out into space. Given his reputation, nobody sat near him. The Grazerite had slumped into the soft seat, and he would struggle to lift himself out of it again because of his heavy upper body weight, but in the meantime had set down his tall glass of koursh on the low table in front of the sofa, when the android approached him.

{{Greetings, Commander,}} said Byte.

For a moment, Malin-Argo thought about hauling himself out of the sofa, then decided against it. "Lieutenant Byte. How may I assist you?"

{{I do not require assistance, Commander.}} The android indicated the empty space on the couch. {{May I join you?}}

Malin-Argo frowned. "Why?"

{{In order to socialise. We have not socialised together in the three years, four months, twenty-nine days, seventeen hours, forty-nine minutes, and six seconds that you have been aboard the Phoenix. I wish to make your acquaintance.}}

The frown had not left Malin-Argo's face. It crinkled the velvety nap of amber down that covered his skin, pulling it down from the thick furrow of bone that dominated his forehead. "It is true that we have not socialised, but I do not require socialisation with you in order to make any future interactions between us run more smoothly."

Byte nonchalantly sat down on the cough right next to Malin-Argo. The android crossed its legs and leaned forward, putting one elbow on one knee, and rested its chin on the palm of one hand, oblivious to the smiles of onlookers. {{Why do you say that?}}

Malin-Argo shifted uncomfortably. "Because I outrank you. If we need to interact, I will issue you an order and you will obey it. We do not need to have socialised for this to be true."

{{Mmm,}} intoned the android, a sickly smile on its face. Byte looked like it had been practicing how to smile nonchalantly in a mirror, but had forgotten whatever it had learned. {{Uh-huh. Right.}}

Malin-Argo reached for his glass of koursh and held it with his two meaty hands, subconsciously holding it in front of him like it would protect him from the android in some way. "Lieutenant, are you functioning normally? Your behaviour is strange."

Byte cocked its head like a bird. Then, seeming to become aware of the pose it was sitting in, it sat up straight and puts its hands on its thighs. {{My apologies, Commander. I have written a new sub-routine designed to initiate social relations with other sentients in an efficient way. I did not realise it was so obvious.}}

Malin-Argo sipped his koursh. "It is. You have clearly erred in your software scripting. I suggest you take the sub-routine offline and run it by one of my engineers."

Byte nodded, a strangely Human characteristic it had picked up. It rose smoothly to its feet. {{I will contact Ensign Ryan immediately. Her ability with computers is -}}

"Not her."

{{Sir?}}

Malin-Argo looked out at the stars. "Ensign Ryan is not available for duty since her act of violence in this very room. I will see to it that she is drummed out of the service for what she did to me. Then, when we have concluded this mission and my duty here is done, I will leave this ship behind and continue on my way into the Admiralty. This assignment has been most trying."

{{I was under the impression that Ensign Ryan had apologised - }}

"Not yet she hasn't," said Malin-Argo. The Grazerite looked up at Byte, a steely look in his eyes. "But she will."

Byte did that thing where it seemed to be looking inside itself, processing the information it had received and deciding on what course of action to take next. Its brow was furrowed, but it spoke in calm, measured tones. {{Commander Malin-Argo, I believe it is you who are in error.}}

The Grazerite looked up. "What?"

{{It may be true that one day you will have the authority to determine the future career path of Ensign Ryan, but you do not have it today. Furthermore, I believe that Captain Kane gave her the opportunity to apologise to you not to take your side in this matter, but to protect Ensign Ryan from any further recrimination that might be done to her on your behalf. Once her commanding officer considers the matter closed, it would be most unprofessional for another superior officer to reopen it again at a later time. Lastly, Commander, you have very little authority over how any member of the crew spends their time when they are not on duty. I will approach Ensign Ryan and ask for her assistance with my sub-routine on a personal level, not a professional one.}} The android inclined its head. {{Good day, Commander.}}

As Byte walked away towards the door, Malin-Argo glowered at the nearby onlookers with impotent annoyance. Finally, after several minutes had passed, he drained his glass of koursh and went back to work.

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Scene: Primary sickbay - deck 12, saucer section


Michael Turlogh Kane entered sickbay gingerly, and immediately caught sight of Doctor Bartlett's bed. The lights had been dimmed in the corner of the room where he lay, a holographic readout unobtrusively hanging in mid-air above his chest. Kane was no doctor, but had taken enough first aid classes to recognise that the readout displayed Bartlett's vital signs - cardiac pulse rate, blood pressure, brainwaves.

There was an air of muted despair around the room. It was early in the ship's evening, and the Beta Shift crew were all at their stations, but several officers and crew from the previous shift were lingering. Kane caught sight of Dr. Glex in a quiet conversation with Dr. Samson, both of them casting worried glances at Bartlett's bed, to where Dr. Suvek was monitoring Bartlett's vitals. Several nurses were also on duty, poring over medical reports and filing away the incidents of the day.

Kane crossed the floor, nodding a muted greeting at Glex and Allison. Suvek saw him coming; the Vulcan straightened up and nodded politely. "Captain."

"Doctor." The middle-aged Vulcan's sharp features were undercut by the HCARS med-display, and Kane indicated the insensate patient beneath it. "How is he?"

"Comfortable." Suvek gestured to the readout. "His blood pressure and pulse have returned to normal, although the latter is still somewhat weak. We are keeping a ventilator to hand in the event that his heart weakens further, and loses its ability to pump the blood around his body at an effective rate."

"I see." Kane looked down at Bartlett. The older man just looked like he was sleeping - there was no pain etched on his face, no sign that he had had a major medical event today. "Level with me, Doctor - is his life in danger?"

Suvek raised an eyebrow and put his hands behind his back. He considered the question for a moment before answering. "I do not have an accurate answer for you, Captain. However, there is something else you should consider." The Vulcan hesitated.

"Go on," prompted Kane.

Suvek kept his voice measured. "Although Doctor Bartlett's cardiac event today was not fatal, we cannot tule out a second event in the near future. We will, of course, keep him under the strictest observation, but I recommend we consider how much longer Doctor Bartlett's general health will impact his ability to continue his duties as chief medical officer of this starship."

Kane didn't like where the conversation was going, but he wasn't blind to the needs of pragmatism. It was true that Sidney Bartlett was approaching mandatory retirement age - hell, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of Starfleet officers much younger than him who retired on a daily basis - but it was also true that he had been in Starfleet for just about forty years, and nobody was immortal. "I see." He paused. "Perhaps, in a few days, we might have a talk with Doctor Bartlett."

Suvek seemed satisfied. "It would be remiss of me not to raise this issue, Captain. It is professional, not personal."

Kane held up a hand. "I understand completely, Doctor. Keep me informed, please." He shot a glance at the sleeping form in the biobed. "Doctor Bartlett has many friends aboard the Phoenix who are concerned for his welfare."

On his way out of sickbay, he felt a sudden concern for the away team. Any more medical emergencies now would put an extra strain on sickbay that it didn't need.

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Scene: Vulgar Tribble, a short time after Malin-Argo leaves


"Oh… Oh no."

Lysander and Asta walked into the Vulgar Tribble for what they thought was to be a quiet lunch, but instead, they found themselves confronted with the somewhat horror-inducing sight of Kassanda in the kitchen area behind the bar. The wall that was usually there had been slid away to reveal the inner workings of the kitchen to the world. Kassandra was standing at the grill, utensils flying as she cooked food. From the looks of things, it wasn't going as smoothly as their aunt would have liked - she was still getting used to he new sensor net system, and apparently was having some trouble with depth perception and hand-eye coordination, as there were periodic clatters of things falling, and some errant pieces of food festooned the counters and corners of the grill. Kassandra yelled something to the two Bynars and slung the plate down to the end of the bar, where Calvin - or was it Hobbes? - whisked the dish off to one of the tables. As they passed, Asta grabbed their sleeve and tugged at it for attention. "Hey, you guys managing okay? No-one's gotten sick and the kitchen hasn’t caught fire?"

The Bynar made an ambiguous snort. "Not yet. Although we shudder to think of what the kitchen clean up will be like."

Asta started to ask him another question, but the Bynar bustled away as his partner materialized at their shoulder.

"Today, in addition to your usual replicated meals, Kassandra Thytos is offering non-replicated options, as part of the new "chef for a meal" morale program, started by the ship's morale and welfare committee, headed by civilian Jim Pimm,” the Bynar intoned, sounding rather put upon. "If people would like, they can sign up to use the kitchens to cook a meal themselves, that can be served to the crew. It does not have to be a live service, either. If you prepare it beforehand, we will ensure it is reheated satisfactorily. And it does not have to be extensive. For example, today the menu is -" The Bynar looked down at it’s arm, where Kassandra had scrawled something in marker over his clean white arm napkin. He extended it out so the twins could see.

Omelettes, with stuff in them.

Eggs as you like (though "as you like" had been crossed out, and "any way but poached" had replaced it and then been crossed out. In angry looking handwriting down the margin "fried, scrambled, or boiled ONLY" had been added)

Pancakes - just go to the replicator for toppings, people

French toast

Carbs and meat

Shit on a Shingle (again crossed out, and replaced with "Biscuits and chipped beef")

"No, we'd better order from the counter, and maybe distract her long enough to give you some breathing room," Lysander said with a sigh. "And don't worry, say what you will about Auntie Kass, she knows how to clean up after herself. Come on, Asta."

"Well, it could be worse," Asta offered to her twin as they strolled over to the counter gingerly.
"At least she made breakfast. It could have been worse, she could have made -"

"Strawberry pasta!" Lysander's face split into a grin, as they shared a moment of silent reminiscence of the time Kassandra had gotten it into her head to try a more esoteric menu than her usual roasts and ration bars when they were younger, and had made them the ill-fated dish. "I still don't know what possessed her to use strawberry jam instead of fresh strawberries."

"Well, to be fair, she does do a decent breakfast, especially when she keeps it simple. I could actually go for a triticale biscuit with jam and a big coffee for lunch, I think." Asta stepped up to the counter and perched herself fastidiously upon the bar chair.

"I do like her French toast if I can get her to do it with that cereal crust on it," Lysander agreed, "but I'm a little bit worried that she might be bored with her medical leave already, and you *know* what happens when she gets bored."

"Life gets vastly less boring for everyone else," Asta finished dryly. "Don't remind me. Maybe you can get her back into knitting, or maybe - ”

"Hi folks, I'm Kass Thytos, an' - " Kassandra had noticed them and come on over.

"... It's us, Aunt Kass," Lysander frowned at his aunt, who tipped her head from side to side as though trying to get a better look at him.

"So it is," she said, a tinge of embarrassment in her voice. "Still gettin' used to the new system, an' I ain't seen you since they got turned on. I'm havin' quite a time figgerin' out who people are. Makes me seem like a right idiot."

"Are the new nets that different from the old ones?" Asta asked, with an all too transparent interest in her voice, she was clearly on the edge of geek out mode.

"Different enough. Been thinkin' about it, and the best analogy I kin come up with is that the old one were like having someone describin' things to me, an I had to kinda make my own visualization based on that. This new set of nets is like I'm lookin' at paintings of somethin', so I get a little mental picture of everything instead of just a description, which is fantastic, only I'm findin' it hard to identify people cos I guess how I imagined them weren't really how they look. Case in point, when did Horatio Bellecotte get so damn old?"

"I'm telling him you said that," Lysander said with a faint smile.

"Tell him I also said he's uglier than I thought too," Kass shot back, leaning back and hooking her thumbs through her belt loop. "Listen, you guys want food? I'm just wrappin' up here."

"Yeah, about that. What's up with all this?" Lysander spread his arms out to encompass her and the food-spattered kitchen. "It's only been two days. Surely you aren't bored already."

"I am a bit, but I'm doin' this because I was people-watchin' earlier, and the Morale an' Welfare Club was comin' in botherin' people about this new idea they have. I guess they're feelin' that Iphie bein' gone has left a huge hole in the old social fabric of the ship, an' they wanted to get some life back inta the place. Well, I wasn't gonna, but then Byte and yer boss Argo were in here, and I was gettin' the feelin' there was some bad juju there, you know? Well, in as much as an android can have juju. Anyways, after that, I got to thinking that maybe they do have a point. With all the upcomin' transfers an' the whole Jake thing, mood on this ship has been tense, to be polite, an' so I figured I'd help them test it out. Though hopefully they won't scuttle it on account of this horrific mess. I'm still adjustin' to the new nets, an' my spatial awareness ain't what it used to be. I've walked into doorframes twice already to day, an' keep missin' plates and bowls by a few inches. Still, gotta keep usin' them to get used to them, I suppose. So why don't I get you some food, then you can give me the skinny on the goin's on. I hear we have a new XO, you guys met him yet?"

She turned away from them and began to put together lunch for them.

"Not yet," Lysander responded. "He's down on the moon right now anyway. Eve's down there too. I guess there are some shuttle crash survivors or something? I only know what Eve mentioned when she was transferring her counseling sessions over to me.” He took a bite of French toast coated in fruit flavored cereal with a generous dollop of whipped cream on the top. Asta gave him a look of disgust; her opinions about his terrible, often sugary eating habits a well worn conversation between them.

"Well that sounds borin', guess I'm not missin' much!” Kassandra said with a grin.

"Say, Aunt Kass," said Asta, "have you heard about Doctor Bartlett?"

Kass stopped what she was doing and turned around, her cragged face a mask of concern.

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NRPG: Shipboard life trundles on!


Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer
USS PHOENIX

and

Alix Fowler
as
Kassandra Thytos
Hard of Seeing Chef
USS PHOENIX

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