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No force in the 'verse [PLOT]

Posted on Mon May 7th, 2018 @ 10:11am by Lieutenant M'ndi M'rron & Lieutenant Laree Desai
Edited on on Mon May 7th, 2018 @ 10:40am

Mission: Mission 3: The Galilei Conundrum
Location: Science Lab 1
Timeline: 25 June 2394, 2330 Hours

[ON]

Desai looked around Science Lab One as the door slid closed behind her. On her walk from the meeting in Sickbay she had made notes on her PADD about the equipment they should bring with them to the Galilei. But while her analytical mind was thinking about how best to identify an unknown pathogen, the more creative side of her brain was mulling over M'ndi's behavior in the meeting. It reminded her of the M'ndi M'rron Desai had met when she first boarded the Firebird four months ago.

Since then, the two women had worked closely together, and slowly slowly M'ndi seemed to be gathering a measure of self-confidence. Desai had tried hard to nurture that--M'ndi was smart and kind and deserved to have her work recognized. Desai supposed the Catain's behavior at the meeting might just be nerves related to a high-stakes, potentially dangerous mission. But something niggled at her, making her think there might be more going on with her assistant chief than she was letting on.

M'ndi was preparing her kit for the mission--apparently very thoroughly. She kept rearranging the items on the lab bench, pacing across the room and back, and arranging them a different way. She looked up, startled, when the door to the science lab opened. "L-Lieutenant," she managed to squeak out.

M'ndi looked like hell. Her fur was dull and lifted from her skin in an instinctive attempt to make her look larger. There was an flatness to her eyes that Desai did not like at all. Desai glanced over the gear M'ndi had arranged on the table--it was a hodgepodge of random items that might or might not be useful where they were going. She looked up, nailing the Caitian with her gaze, and said, "Sit down, M'ndi." She gestured to the lab stools standing next to the lab bench.

M'ndi's fur stood up even more and her ears twitched. "O-Okay."

Desai sat with her legs spread apart and her elbows on her thighs, leaning in toward M'rron. She looked the Caitian in the eye, and in a voice that would brook no bullshit, she said, "M'ndi. What's going on?"

"I... I don't..." M'ndi weakly tried to string together an excuse, but she knew it was in vain. Desai was too sharp. She sighed and looked down. "Nothing gets past you, does it?"

Desai chuckled ruefully. "Lots of stuff gets past me, unfortunately. But not stuff that's work related. Or stuff going on with people I care about." This last was delivered softly, in an attempt to create a space where M'ndi felt comfortable confiding.

Head still down, M'ndi replied, "I'm terrified of going onto that cruise ship." Pause. "Afraid of what I'll find." Understandable, Desai thought, but waited for the Catain to continue. M'ndi looked up, and she was crying. "My... M-My p..." Deep breath. "My parents are aboard that ship."

Desai sat still for just a moment, absorbing, then took the Catain's hand in hers. "Oh, M'ndi. I'm so sorry." She reached behind her for a lens-cleaning cloth and handed it to M'ndi for her tears. "No wonder you're a wreck," she said. "But it's going to be okay. Starfleet's put the best ship in the fleet on this one." She smiled. "With the best science team in the known universe. We're going to figure it out, and help those people. All of them, including your parents."

M'ndi broke down at that, burying her face in Desai's shoulder and heaving with sobs. Hardly professional. Desai put her arms around M'ndi and made comforting noises. Desai normally kept a bright shiny line in her head between the personal and professional, but she also knew that real people were not so conveniently divided. The back of Desai's brain was thinking hard about what this meant for the mission, but that could wait until the personal crisis was under control. M'ndi snuffled into her shoulder, "Wh-What if... What if they're already..."

Desai sighed, stroking the woman's fur. She said gently, "At this point, we don't really know what's going on on that ship. As a scientist, you know not to jump to conclusions. Let's wait until all the facts are in." That probably wasn't very comforting, but she didn't know what else to say. "Let's be hopeful," she suggested. "How about we work on the assumption that they are alive, and we can help them?"

M'ndi wiped her eye and sniffled. "I'm... I'm s-sorry..." She looked up at Desai, pleading with her eyes. "Do you... Do you want me off the mission?"

That was the question, Desai thought. But she wasn't ready to answer it yet. "M'ndi, you don't have to apologize for being worried about your parents. You'd have to apologize to me if you weren't worried, and in that case I'd throw you off my team for being a sociopath." Desai smiled, trying to lighten the burden a little. But then she turned serious again, and her face became thoughtful. Desai's instincts screamed at her: take her off the mission. She knew from personal experience that strong emotions made for bad science. But. Science wasn't the only thing that mattered here.

Desai looked at her assistant. "What do you think, M'ndi? Do you want to go, or do you want to stay behind and help us out from the Firebird?"

M'ndi breathed deeply, trying to calm herself down and think rationally. "I think... I think I need to go. If I'm on the Firebird... I would feel helpless. I don't think I would be much help from here, worrying about... about the mission, without being there." She looked back at her boss and mentor. Truth be told, she was glad to get this out, for someone else to know and understand how she was feeling. "I think... as long as you're there with me, I'll do good. As long as I'm not alone. Is that... okay?"

Desai nodded, thoughtful. "If it were me, M'ndi, there's no force in the 'verse that would keep me off that ship. Not even the captain. So I understand where you're coming from. You do understand the difficulties, though, right?" M'ndi looked to the side. Desai was silent for a long while, thinking.

The Firebird’s Chief of Science had spent the last four months working to build her assistant’s self-esteem. If Desai told M’ndi to stay behind, it would be a huge vote of no-confidence. All that work would be undone, and the Catain might never become the scientist Desai knew she could be. But the stakes on the Galilei were high--the lives of up to four hundred people were in their hands. Plus the crew of the Firebird, if that contagion got loose. She thought the chances of that were small, but not zero. It was not unreasonable to think that M’ndi’s presence, distracted and upset as she was, would increase the chances of something going wrong.

Desai said, "M'ndi, I need an honest answer. Do you think you can do your job if you go? If the answer is no, that's okay, but I need to know now so I can plan accordingly." Desai didn't know if she would get an honest answer, not because M'ndi might lie to her, but because she might lie to herself. So Desai watcher her closely as she answered.

M'ndi hesitated, opening her mouth to speak then closing it. She shut her eyes and thought hard. Do my job. Do my job. "Y... Yes. Yes, I can do my job." She opened her eyes again and looked intently at Desai. "Please. Please don't tell the captain. He wouldn't understand. I'm n-not asking you to lie to him," she quickly clarified, "just don't mention it until this is all over." This was a risky thing to ask and she knew it. She held her breath while Desai thought.

Desai remembered the words of the captain—what he said to M’ndi at the triage meeting. M'ndi, as long as I've known you, I've never seen you do anything that put the Firebird or her crew in danger… You're on my ship because I know you are capable of great things. Now we are facing a situation that is well suited to your skills and specialty. The only way you could jeopardize this mission would be for you to let self-doubt overcome your expertise.

Still, Desai was pretty certain that if the captain knew about M'ndi's parents he'd pull her from the mission. That was his job--complete the mission, protect the crew. But that didn’t make what he said any less true. A risk analysis suggested it would be better if M'ndi stayed behind, but basic humanity insisted that M'ndi's place was on the Galilei with her parents. Desai's responsibilities were different than the captain’s, as was her perspective. She imagined the causal network, and how the results of her decision might propagate through the interactions of all of the people involved, now and in the future. A butterfly flaps its wings, and eleven thousand people die at Wolf 359.

Whenever she arrived at this place in her thinking, Desai knew she had pushed too hard. She, of all people, understood the limits of reason. That sometimes the irrational thing was the morally right thing to do. And a light mist of certainty settled on Desai. Right now, the morally right thing to do was trust her assistant. M’ndi said that she could do her job. If Desai didn’t take her word for it now, what were all those four months of work for? Did Desai think that M’ndi was capable, or not?

Trust. If M’ndi broke her trust, Desai would live with the consequences. It wouldn’t be the first time.

"Okay M'ndi," Desai said finally. "You can come with us. You and I will stick together." She was going to catch hell from the captain about this when he found out--she would tell him after the mission was over, and take her lumps. But that was on her, not M'ndi. "Don't worry about the captain. I'll handle that."

M'ndi breathed in relief. "Thank you. Thank you. I'll do whatever it t-takes to get the mission done." She glanced over at the assortment of tools she had been working on, which she could see now, somewhat more stable, was quite inadequate. "Speaking of... Gotta finish packing."

Desai was not nearly as relieved as M'ndi. Part of her wished that she hadn't asked what was going on--this entire situation put her in a very difficult position. But she felt she had made the right decision for the right reasons. It was a risk, but working outside her comfort zone was something Desai had practice with. The show must go on.

Desai smiled again, wiping a stray tear out of M'ndi's fur. Then she donned her game face and handed her PADD to M'rron. "I've made a list of equipment I think we'll need. Let's get packing."

It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. If M'ndi repeated this to herself enough times, maybe she would believe it. The truth was, she was no less anxious about the mission than she was before. But Desai never would have let her come along if she had shown it, and the last thing her parents needed was a weeping wreck coming to help them. Yes, I'll do my job. I'll protect my parents. Everything else is secondary.

[OFF]

Lieutenant M'ndi M'rron
Assistant Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Laree Desai
Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

 

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Comments (5)

By Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic on Thu May 10th, 2018 @ 6:51am

I love that they're wrestling with a moral dilemma and they ultimately decide to keep it from the captain. It's going to make for some juicy drama later!

So happy that there is this side story going about M'ndi's parents. It's creating a real gravity to the situation, even if most of the characters don't even know about it yet and I can't wait to see how it unfolds. -Liam

By Captain Malcom Llwyedd on Thu May 10th, 2018 @ 10:50am

Love to see the conversation and the stakes. Not so thrilled about leaving the guy in charge in the dark on this one... :P

By Jillian Mox on Thu May 24th, 2018 @ 6:04pm

I loved these interactions. It helped the depth of character for both players and I feel like I got to be in on a private moment that you don't get to peek on too often.

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Max Tragar on Thu May 31st, 2018 @ 9:22am

...Don't tell the captain... oh dear, that never works out well. Great drama here though and a nice development for the relationship between these two characters. I feel so bad for M'ndi! I hope it works out for her and her parents.

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Thu Aug 23rd, 2018 @ 2:12am

My favorite passage was: " She imagined the causal network, and how the results of her decision might propagate through the interactions of all of the people involved, now and in the future. A butterfly flaps its wings, and eleven thousand people die at Wolf 359. Whenever she arrived at this place in her thinking, Desai knew she had pushed too hard. She, of all people, understood the limits of reason. That sometimes the irrational thing was the morally right thing to do."

First, the mention of Wolf 359 is a wonderful punch in the gut to any reader who is already a Star Trek fan (which by default is everybody in the sim), moreso to the more-than-a-couple-of-us whose characters were involved in one way or another during that event. Ouch! :-)

Second, the part about the irrational thing being the morally right thing to do is a theme brought up throughout Star Trek! (When push comes to shove, do we side with the greater good or with the individual? Do we side with the needs of the many or the needs of the few? Do we listen to the talking-head-admiral-of-the-week or do we blow him off and rescue another strategically unimportant backwater colony? Do we save our species from assimilation or save one person who we admire? Do we obey the Prime Directive or do we help the helpless?)

Desai and M'rron's dilemma is not an enviable position to be in, yet it's a timeless and worthy dilemma. I don't think any of our characters would gleefully raise their hands when asked by a tribunal, "Who here would like to spend the rest of their careers in the brig?" Well, maybe Mirror Arlan might...")