The Beast at Tanagra
Mission: Hidden Dangers
Boarding the ship was simple enough. A nod of her head and she was there. The transporter chief on board gave her a curt "Welcome aboard" and went back to working on the panel. She nodded, but he didn't see it. People generally didn't see her, or want to see her. She was an outcast everywhere she went. Kadir beneath Mo Moteh.
She went to her quarters and prepared for her first day on duty. She had heard of the extraordinary circumstances of a Lieutenant becoming a Captain, but she wasn't sure she believed it. Gossip was still hard to understand. Was it real or a prank to play on the alien listening? Zima and Bakor!
She took a deep breath and sighed. It had to be different this time. She needed to fit in and be accepted. If she just stayed calm, she could remember to speak in common language and be understood. There could never be a repeat of what happened at SFM Revenant! It haunted her still. Kiazi's children, their faces wet. One more look over her uniform, and she went out the door to the beginning of her next chapter.
[Starbase 72 Main Transporter Room]
Julius had been working in his office these past two days dealing with intelligence and operations reports for the fleet. It had been so tedius that he was driving himself crazy, and he needed to get out for a bit. He knew that the Kitsune was still docked and under going a crew rotation; he figured that this would be a great time for a surprise informal inspection. Besides he had always wanted to see the inside of a Saber class starship. As he approached the transporter padd his adjutant stood off in the distance near the transporter chief.
"I assure you Lieutenant Bailey it will be okay, you do not need to accompany everywhere," Julius said in he deep booming voice. "Take the entire day off," he said as he stepped onto the transporter padd and straightened his uniform.
"Energize chief!" replied the Admiral, and as the operations tech moved his fingers on the console in front of him. A blue light enveloped the admiral and slowly started to break down his molecules bit by bit until the light vanished along with him.
[Transporter Room USS Kitsune.]
A few moments later the all to familiar hum of the transporter sounded in Kitsune's primary transporter room. Within a matter of seconds the Admiral appeared on the transporter with a young looking ensign behind the console; who snapped to attention. "Welcome aboard Admiral!" he said as Julius waved his hand to cause the young man to stand at ease.
"Thank you ensign, this is an informal visit; I did not want the fanfare that comes along with a formal visit," he said as he stepped off the transporter padd and walked over to the young man; and slowly patted him on the shoulder. "Keep up the good work, " he said as he walked out of the transporter room with his hands folded behind his back.
Kaylia just happened to be walking by the transporter room and nearly walked right into Jiri, or was that the other way around? Either way, "Oh, sorry about that Petty Officer."
She kept reminding herself to stay calm and speak common. Just as she rounded the bend, it all went out the window. The near miss with the XO ruined any chance of a good first impression. "Zinda, his eyes red!" she exclaimed. She took a couple of steps backwards. "I mean, I'm sorry, or I apologize, or it is all my fault, Sir," she stammered. "Oh, bother. Shaka, when the walls fell," she said, defeated.
There was a curious look a moment, but she got it and shook her head. "No, Cekana, her heart still." [No anger, she's calm] Giving a smile and giving Jiri's arm a light pat, "Its fine. You'd be..Jiri right." Kaylia had read all of the crew files.
Julius was walking down the hallway when he spotted two officers having what appeared a friendly chat. Well one looked to be in distress, and from the looks of it was really surprised to see a Tamarian serving in Starfleet. To his knowledge he wasn't aware of any others serving; however he quietly stood in the distance observing the interaction between the Tamarian and what appeared to be a Caitian.
Her tail started to twitch a little, but not aggitated, seeing the Admiral down just a little behind Jiri. Though Kaylia didn't say anything yet.
"Yes, sir," Jiri responded. She was both surprised and heartened to hear someone speak like a Child of Tama. She had never encountered anyone who understood the language in her many years since she left Sigma Tama IV. "Jiri is my given name. You are Lieutenant Commander Strenvale, if I am not mistaken. Purrrr, rrrr, purrr, rr," [It is a pleasure to meet you.] Jiri responded.
"Yes, I am. You've done some reading also." Kaylia smiled lightly. "Purrrr, rrrr, purrr, rr," nodding her head.
"I was on my way to meet the Officers I will be working with. I must admit I'm a bit lost though. First day and all that goes with it." Jiri felt completely relaxed. It was a wonderful feeling. "Oh, you mean the language. I am an encryption specialist, sir. I speak many languages, though not all as well as I would like. Would you like a list of my languages, sir? Or my qualifications? As my Executive Officer, I will tell you anything you would like to know." Jiri smiled broadly.
"They are already in your sleeve, which I've read. Though the Admiral behind you might be interested in conversation," She gave a point over Jiri's shoulder.
Jiri turned around so fast, she almost toppled over. The exasperation returned and she began to panic. She had never been this close to an Admiral before. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Her eyes widened. Surely she was going to be put off the ship in an instant. "Shaka," she whispered.
Kaylia's hands caught her shoulders and leaned her head in to whisper, "Or just, Cekana, her heart still."
Julius saw when both of the officers saw him and the shear panic on Tamarian's face said that he better get in a calm the situation down.He slowly slowly put up his hands in a non-threating jesture while approach the two. "At ease Petty Officer," he said with his deep thunderous voice. "I did not mean to startle you at all; I was observing your interaction between two different species of people, and I will say that I was quite pleased at your interactions." Julius walked closer to the two officers and gave them a brief smile.
"My name is Rear Admiral Julius Woodward the Task Force Executive Officer, and you two are?"
"Hello, Admiral Woodward." Offering her hand, Kaylia smiled. She was just as calm as could be. "Lieutenant Commander Kaylia Strenvale, Executive Officer."
"A pleasure Commander Sternvale, I am happy to see that Captain Waters found an XO for the Kitsune, and no doubt you are getting the run around the ship yourself as well. Your name Petty Officer?"
"Jiri, sir," she said timidly. "You are perhaps related to Commodore Woodward? Or might not be. Apologize if linking humans is wrong." She remained off-kilter, despite all assurances. She felt like slinking away from the two high ranking Officers and staring at data encryption. That was her safe space.
"That would be correct," replied Julius as he placed his hands behind his back. "How do you know of my father?" he inquired as his voice lowered to a deep octave?
Fearing she had just made a grave mistake, Jiri squeaked out, "He was at Starbase 115 when I was at Starbase 103, sir. But perhaps not related as he was too young to be your father." She looked to Lt. Commander Sternvale for help. "The beast at Tanagra," she whispered to the XO.
Kaylia tilted her head a little bit. That was an amusing turn of events. Looking between the two. Resting her hand on Jiri's forearm. Whispering back, "Remember, Cekana, her heart still. Its okay, sugar."
"I'm teasing with you Petty Officer Jiri," he said with a deep laugh. "Commodore Woodard at 115 is my brother Paul, and yes he is much younger than me; I make it a point to point it out at our weekly conversations," he said with a deep chuckle.
"Don't be so nervous Jiri," he said calling her by her first name to ease her nervousness. "Most Admirals may come off as intimidating but I assure you that I am not one of them. So tell me about the intelligence field, I know that dealing with Starfleet Intelligence isn't always the most ideal of situations."
"Intimidating eh?" Kaylia smirked and leaned back against the bulkhead. "We'll see," said with a grin.
Human humor. As much time as she had spent among them, she still did not get it. They were mean, but it was a joke. They hurt themselves or others, but it was a joke. It was too much for a first day. "Good joke, sir," she said smiling, but she still did not get it. She would do anything just to be dismissed and be allowed to go on her way, but it did not look like that was a possibility at this time. "I am an encryption specialist, sir," she replied. "I translate data and language. It is a great comfort to me." Turning to her XO, "I am Jiri, not Sugar, sir."
Julius cleared his throat a bit hoping the XO would take his hint and address that at a later time. "You know Jiri, I honestly believe that the cryptography field in the Intelligence community is one if not the most important field. I know a lot of people look at the Intelligence department like one of the old Earth agencies. The CIA, SVR, BND, and how they go on glorious missions to protect King and Country: but what you do Jiri is more important than any of them," he said as he took a pause for a moment.
"Now do you happen to use Tamarian language as the encryption algorithm for ciphertext when sending out coded messages; or do you use a series of verbal and numeral languages for that?"
Jiri nodded like she knew what he was talking about. Her knowledge of Earth history was ...lacking. "Mathematics, sir," she responded seriously, "is how I decode languages. Most humanoid languages use similar syntax and word order. For re-encryption, we use several languages including binary, Navajo from Earth, Haradan, Morse code and, of course, Tamarian. As the first Child of Tama in Starfleet, I have proven my language might be the easiest to speak but the hardest to decipher. Similar to my language is the Navajo Nation of Earth in the 20th century. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the only language that could not be deciphered by the enemy soldiers during a big war. I find that excellent!" she beamed.
"I say Sugar sometimes because its how I was raised, it just comes out. Its a term of endearment. I know what your name is. As for the other, that's during World War II. They were called Windtalkers. And that is correct, Jiri, the Nazi's and their allies could not figure it out." Kaylia wasn't correcting, she was simply, explaining the details.
"I wish we could have used you during the Dominion War Petty Officer, it would have saved a lot of people from dying," he said with a hint of regreat in his voice. "So Commander Strenvale, how about you show me around the Kitsune; and Petty Officer Jiri I would like for you to come along as well," he said as he
clasped his hands together.
"It would be a pleasure, Admiral," Kaylia smiled lightly. Motioning a bit for the two of them to follow her.
"So since this is a rare opportunity that most do not get, you can ask me anything; and I will give you the best answer possible," he said as he folded his hands behind his back. He wasn't one of those flag officers that kept everyone at distance from him; they know his rank and sometimes separation created false impressions.
Talking about her work, and having someone actually listen, was refreshing. Jiri lost her nervousness and began talking like she was back home. "I was a fledgling then, sir," she began. "Second year of school only. Uzani, his pants wet." She giggled at the memory. "I did not understand much of what happened, and still do not. War is not a Tamarian trait. We battle with monsters, but not each other. It is a bonding experience. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel. Are you jealous of your father and mother for their accomplishments? Do you often intermingle with enlisted personnel? Do your fellow Admirals make fun of you? Do you have children? Do you want children? Have you ever killed anyone?" She continued to flood with questions as they walked.
Kaylia didn't figure she had to explain the pants wet thing. That was kind of a given. Not to necessarily interrupt, but, "Where...I guess we can do Engineering first." Turning to head for a turbolift.
"To answer your questions Petty Officer," he said as he walked down the hallway. "Admirals do not lower themselves by making fun of one another, we may joke around; but we do not demean each other. To do so would lower the status of Starfleet Brass to the lowest of the low," he replied as he followed in behind the first officer.
"I do have children, and they are working on producing me grandchildren," he said with a smile as he stuck out his chest in a proud like manner. "To answer your final question, let's just say that I have served in both the Klingon/Federation War and the Dominion War," he said as he kept his eyes forward as the neared the turbolift.
"Tell me Commander, how does it feel to serve as an Executive Officer?" he said.
Jiri was enjoying the tour. It was better to learn from someone who knew their way around than to get lost and be frustrated trying to find places on your own. She liked both the XO and the Admiral. Neither one seemed bothered by her language or her ways. It was refreshing!
"Its really not to different than what I did before to be honest. The pace is the same. The only difference is the responsibility." Kaylia said.
"Also a lot more paperwork," replied Julius as the turbolift started moving down to main engineering. "I served as XO on the Victory I remember the endless nights with the ship's second officer Lt. Commander Vickers and the crew evaluation reports, and department reports it...sometimes made me loath that position. You will enjoy it," replied Julius with a smile.
Officer speak. Jiri wondered if she was in the way. Should she duck into stellar cartography's lab? Or should she stay and enjoy the tour? It was hard to know. Officers never really paid her any attention before.
Like that was going to happen and Jiri was getting attention, Kaylia just happened to have been answering the Admirals question. She already had thought about turning it on Jiri to get her out of her shell. It didn't take a telepath to tell she was nervous.
"Admiral, have you worked with telepaths? Commander, have you worked with telepaths? Do telepaths cancel each other out? I've often wondered if telepaths read people without permission, like their commanding officers." Jiri decided it was best to keep talking as long as the two Officers allowed it.
"I am a telepath actually. I usually never use it without permission," Kaylia nodded, "As for cancelling each other out, it just depends on a few factors. The race, how adept the person is at it."
"Oh," Jiri responded. "I didn't know it worked differently with different species. What do humans say? Slap me on the knee and call me Buttercup? Or maybe not," she said smiling.
Kaylia tilted her head, "I would not know, but I think not. I do know of the phrase, 'Well color me blue and slap me silly.'"
"Sokath, his eyes uncovered. Shaka!" Jiri said excitedly. "I have a meeting I forgot about. I must go. It has been wonderful speaking with both of you. I hope to do it again soon." She bowed and made her exit down the corridor. "Jalad and Zinda in the kitchen," she called out over her shoulder.
There was a smile and Kaylia nodded, "2100 hours then." Watching Jiri go and turned back to the Admiral. "Well then, sir. It is just us."