Mallora Vossti/Small Gifts
((Corridor outside sickbay, Deck 7, USS Gorkon))
Ensign Mallora Vossti knew that what she was doing was probably against some rule or other, but she felt it was necessary. Loitering in the corridor outside of sickbay like some stalker felt terribly wrong to her, especially as she watched first a few, and then dozens of crewmen and occasional junior officers walk past her with barely a nod to acknowledge her existence.
Vossti: oO Will one of them report me? If they do, how much trouble will I actually get in for just standing here, leaning against the wall? Oo
She pulled out her personal PADD and opened the still incomplete rough draft of her essay about the Psychic Parasite. She scrolled up and down the document, not to really read it, but just to look busy in case someone was suspicious of her standing there without a good reason.
Vossti: oO Hurry up, please! If I have to wait here much longer, I'm going to wind up with a formal reprimand from the Admiral herself before I've even had a chance to meet her. Oo
She began to perspire and shift her weight from one foot to the other. This caused even more of the passing crewmen to notice her, though none of them said anything more than a subdued “sir” before hurrying past.
When the doors to the sickbay slid open, the sound startled the young doctor so much that she nearly dropped her PADD. She looked over to see who was emerging from the doors, but was disappointed to see that it was a Vulcan male – a petty officer – who strode out from the sickbay, glanced at her, raised an eyebrow, and then continued on down the corridor without a word.
Mallora was less surprised the second time the doors slid open, and her anticipation increased when she saw a female human emerge. But the energy drained out of her and her shoulders slumped when she saw the woman had only the single rank pip of an ensign.
Franklin: Good morning, Doctor.
The woman's tone and manner seemed neutral, but Mallora's own heightened emotions were interfering with her ability to read the emotional states of others. She put on a friendly smile.
Vossti: Good morning, Ensign. Anything interesting happen on your shift?
Franklin: ::Shrugging:: A sprained ankle here, a pulled muscle there. Nothing major. It was a quiet shift.
Vossti: That's good to hear. You should get some rest.
Franklin: Thank you. I hope your day is just as uneventful.
The woman waved casually, then turned and walked away down the hallway. Mallora looked accusingly back at the doors she had emerged from. They remained stubbornly shut.
One minute of waiting turned into two and then three. Mallora occasionally glanced at the PADD she held a little too tightly in her hands, but she was too distracted to read anything. She couldn't stop herself from staring more and more intently at the sickbay doors, willing them to open again.
It was nearly five full minutes after she had faux casually waved farewell to Ensign Franklin before the doors opened again. The woman who stepped out into the corridor wore her long, brown hair in a tight bun, allowing Mallora to easily see the pips on her shoulder marking her as a Lieutenant Junior Grade. Her quarry was finally here.
Vossti: Oh, hello! ::She feigned surprise:: I had hoped that I would run into you sooner or later, but I didn't know it would be now.
Tali paused for a second and slipped her hands into the blue lab coat. One eyebrow curved upwards as she regarded the dark-haired shorter Doctor.
Namura: You could come into Sickbay, you know. You work there, Doctor.
Vossti: I'm Mallora Vossti, the new doctor assigned to the Gorkon. You probably knew that already. ::The nervous smile was broad and natural:: I hope you've had a chance to spend a little time down on Deluvia IV; it's no Risa, but it is still quite beautiful.
Namura: Yes, the wild differences between the designed tourist trap of Risa and the natural paradise of Deluvia IV have not escaped me, Ensign. ::She watched her for a second before continuing.:: Was there something I could do for you?
Vossti: Oh, speaking of Deluvia, while I was down there, I got to do a little shopping, and I found this little trinket that I hoped you might like.
Mallora pulled the little knife from her pocket. The blade was only four centimeters long, more suitable for whittling than for combat, but the handle was a beautiful, lacquered wood, a mix of several different types blended together. A quote was etched into one side of the handle reading “Swimming is just flying in water”.
Mallora sensed the other doctor tense up for a split second with apprehension, then she relaxed as the knife was handed to her. She seemed nonplussed by the gift.
Vossti: ::Handing the knife over to the other doctor:: Think of it as a sort of “welcome aboard” gift. I hope you'll like it.
Namura: I, hmm… ::She considered her words and raised an eyebrow.:: It is beautiful, but why would you think of me when buying this? Has word of my extensive knife collection reached the general populace of the ship already?
Vossti: ::Trying to gauge how serious Tali was being:: Well, I mentioned to Lieutenant Fortune that I didn't know what sort of gift you might like, and she suggested, quote “something sharp”. I just thought the handle was beautiful and I hoped you might think so too, sir.
Namura: It’s not what I would’ve picked myself, and it’s hardly something I would expect the Selkie to make; well, thank you all the same.
Vossti: I don't imagine it was made by Selkies. I think the shop I bought it in was run by Klingons actually. And you're very welcome, sir. I really like giving people gifts, even if I'm not always very good at picking them.
She hoped that just because Tali wouldn't have chosen it, didn't mean that she disdained it.
Namura: I was on my way to get lunch in the mess hall. You are welcome to join me if you like. ::An amused smile pursed her lips.:: I’ll try to refrain from whittling in the meantime. How are you enjoying the ship? I saw you made an impression in Sickbay already.
Vossti: I'd love to join you. ::Her smile brightened:: I've been on the Gorkon for most of a week and I'm still finding my way around. I haven't even made it down to the secondary sickbay yet.
At Mallora's gestural prompting, the two women began walking down the corridor toward the turbo lift. Mallora knew the mess hall wasn't on deck seven, but she wasn't entirely sure which deck it was on, so she relied on her companion to lead them.
Namura: That’s where we send the Doctors who failed. ::The bemused expression turned slightly playful.:: The question is failed at what.
Vossti: I hope my presence has been more beneficial than disruptive in sickbay. Ensign Rakujia was especially helpful to me when I was first settling in. ::She smiled at the memory::
Namura: Hiro is incredibly tolerant of everyone and everything. The universe, being the hilarious manicurist it is, put him with us.
They arrived at the turbo lift, and Mallora pressed the call button.
Vossti: Since you're senior in the department just after Loxley, I hope you'll feel free to let me know if there's anything I can do to help out that I'm not already doing.
The doors to the turbo lift slid open with a swish. Mallora smiled and gestured for Tali to enter first. She touched the display to instruct the lift to take them to deck ten.
((Turbo Lift, USS Gorkon))
Namura: ::She straightened her back, making herself seem even taller:: Admiral Reynolds has asked me to take on the duties of the Acting Chief Medical Officer while we find a suitable replacement for Doctor Adea, so I am the senior in the department, at the moment.
Mallora thought she felt a hint of indignation wafting out of the senior doctor. She tried to take a deferential step backward, but bumped into the wall of the turbo lift.
Vossti: Oh, I'm sorry sir. The briefing materials that I got before I arrived on the Gorkon mentioned the CMO was Doctor Loxley. I meant no offense, sir.
Namura: We run several routine programs on board, such as routine physical examinations for the crew, or updated medical reviews post-injury or malady. ::She inhaled and exhaled a long breath, the sign of a weary and tired doctor ready for a long sleep in a sun lounger, and waved her hand dismissively.:: But you know all that already. Do you have a specialisation?
Vossti: My focus in my last year at Med School was Gastroenterology, but it turns out that I accidentally became something of an expert on a certain Psychic Parasite.
Namura: Now you’ve graduated, out of the grey and into the black, you’ll find yourself assigned to various tasks and projects utilising your skills to do in your duty hours. I can find something you might be interested in if you don’t already have any continued medical research from the academy?
Vossti: Not from the Academy, sir, but I have already started trying to write up an article about the Psychic Parasite that may be suitable for publication. It's going kind of slowly so far partly because I've never written an academic article like this before.
Mallora sensed a subtle disapproval from her companion. She felt the beginnings of what might be contempt brewing in the senior doctor, but Mallora couldn't figure out why.
The turbo lift doors swished open revealing another starship corridor which looked completely generic to Ensign Vossti.
((Corridor, Deck 10, USS Gorkon))
Tali exuded a sense of recognition, though Mallora couldn't tell what might be different about this hallway.
Vossti: I … I'm pretty sure I don't know my way from here, sir ::She followed Tali out of the lift and into the hall:: I remember at the Academy, there would sometimes be a volunteer who showed up to cook some food representative of their culture, and I always looked forward to those occasions. I feel like I have too much replicator food sometimes.
Namura: You get used to it. Replicated food is better than no food. If you want something home cooked, go to Sto’Vo’Kor and see Mek. He’ll cook you Klingon traditional dishes, and maybe some Bajoran if you ask him nicely.
Vossti: I found the variety of cuisines available down on Deluvia IV to be quite broad. What types of food do you go for when you have the choice, sir?
Namura: I’m partial to Vulcan food. I don’t believe that eating animals of any kind is what an enlightened society should do. “I like the way it tastes” is not a viable excuse. Sentient beings of a learned culture should know better than to eat another sentient being, wouldn’t you agree?
Vossti: I like some Vulcan food, but there is one particular Vulcan spice – called Tosha'en – that I don't care for. ::Her mouth unconsciously puckered at the still potent memory:: I certainly agree that killing animals for food is unethical, though I don't object to a bit of replicated meat on occasion. There are differences in texture between varieties of meat-substitutes which are sometimes significant.
Namura: Things would be entirely different if we were not top of the food chain. Maybe we’re not, we just haven’t found the right species yet.
Vossti: oO Would it be ethical to eat other animals if Betazoids had predators? The maxim I learned in school was “treat other how you wish everyone to be treated.” Just because we are wronged does not give us the right to wrong others. So no, I do not agree that the ethics would change if we were prey animals. Oo
Mallora didn't give voice to her disagreement, though. She did not wish to risk starting an argument, however philosophical, with her superior officer.
The Mess Hall door turned out to be just opposite the glass door to the Arboretum. Several officers emerged from the hall and walked in the other direction, enjoying the rest of their meal from tiny cups and spoons.
((Mess Hall, Deck 10, USS Gorkon))
Tali led Mallora into the mess via the open doors; there were many tables strewn around, some occupied, and a line of replicators on the far end. Several displays adorned the top walls, cycling among ship announcements and Federation News Service broadcasts. One screen showed a new Klingon operatic performance, much to the delight of a couple of crew members who were singing along loudly and pounding their mugs on the table surface as the loud drumming began.
Namura: ::Gesturing toward the replicators:: Did you want something to eat?
Vossti: I'll just have a Fadi Salad for now. The replicators do a pretty decent job with most salads, and the Fadi has a good measure of sweetness along with a nice bite of bitter. What are you having?
Namura: ::nodding appreciatively:: You know, I think I’ll have that too.
Mallora nodded, then followed Namura to the row of replicators and they both placed their respective orders. Once their food and drinks had been replicated, they took their meals and sat at one of the vacant tables.
Vossti: ::In between bites:: You mentioned non-replicated food cooked by a Klingon? How often do you eat there?
Namura: Mek, he runs the Sto’Vo’Kor crew lounge. ::She speared a leaf with her fork.:: Everyone hears Klingon and thinks it must be gagh and bloodwine, but he’s a wonderful cook for multicultural dishes if you ask him nicely.
Vossti: Is the Sto'Vo'Kor popular among the crew or officers? Do people go there for the food, or is there more to it than that?
Namura: ::taking a drink:: It’s the main crew lounge, so if you’re looking for somewhere to get a drink after a shift, or just to socialise with someone else, the lounge is where to go. Food, drink, sometimes sports if there’s a particularly interesting event taking place somewhere in the galaxy, sometimes themed evenings.
Vossti: That … actually sounds really nice.
Mallora took another bite of her salad while silently hoping that the lounge was as comfortable as Tali described it.
Vossti: I guess I need to take the time to visit there soon.
Namura: There’s also the Songbird opposite if you like your evenings a bit more on the heavy music and darker atmosphere style. It’s opposite Sto’Vo’Kor. It used to be run by a pirate.
Vossti: That sounds, um, interesting, but maybe not quite my style.
The Lieutenant took another forkful of salad and glanced up at the monitors showing the FNS headlines, but then quickly looked back to Mallora.
Namura: How are you settling in? Are you sharing quarters?
Vossti: Moving into a new space is pretty awkward. I'm sure it will get easier as I get to know more of my fellow Gorkon crewmates, though.
Namura: It usually does. People move around, make friends. I’m sure you’ll have no issues with it.
Vossti: I got assigned solo quarters on deck eight. I have no idea how that was decided; presumably someone in Ops is responsible, but there is probably no way to figure out who.
Mallora took another contemplative bite of her salad. She had happened to meet the Andorian Chief of Operations two days previously in sickbay, but the topic of quarters hadn't come up at that time.
Tali's green eyes narrowed slightly as she looked at Mallora over her salad, a mix of confusion and disappointment wafted from her. The Doctor speared another forkful of salad and crunched through it.
Mallora paused for a moment, seeing that they were both close to finishing their salads with a bit of disappointment. She smiled up at Lieutenant Namura as she finished her meal.
Vossti: The next time we do this, I'll try to pick a more convenient time for you, sir. And if you're willing, maybe we can go share a meal at the Sto'Vo'Kor.
Namura: I don’t find myself with a lot of time for eating these days, however, if you rope in Counsellor Fortune, we can call it a work function.
Vossti: ::smiling brightly at the familiar name:: Lieutenant Fortune and I have already spent some time together down on the planet. I think she would love to join us. oO At least, I hope she'd love to join us. Oo
Doctor Namura finished the last few bites and swirled the mouthful of green juice around in one. Then she rose from her chair and lifted her tray with it.
Namura: You’ll fit in fine on the Gorkon if you follow their golden rule to have a little fun on shore leave. All work and no play make a Starfleet crew nine percent more likely to turn to cannibalism in the event we end up adrift in space with no means of effective communication.
Mallora was caught momentarily off guard by the strange twist in conversation, but she recovered quickly.
Vossti: Ah, but eating sentient beings would be unethical without their consent. I don't think it's likely that many of the crew would give their consent to be eaten. Well, at least none that I've met so far. ::she grinned back at the Lieutenant::
Namura: The wonderful world of space statistics. You’ll draw your own conclusions in due course.
Tali returned the tray to the replicator, and watching it melt before her eyes, then slipped her hands into the pockets of her lab coat and exhaled as she nodded to Mallora.
Namura: Thank you for the company during lunch. I hope thoughts of space cannibalism haven’t put you off having a dessert. ::A perfect eyebrow angled with the slight uptick at the edge of her lips.:: I’ll see you tomorrow morning for the eight-hour alpha shift, Doctor.
Vossti: Thoughts of space cannibalism just make me want to have an iced chocolate laasi for dessert: perhaps the furthest thing from the taste of Betazoid flesh in the galaxy. ::she smiled again as the Lieutenant retreated:: I'll see you tomorrow morning, sir.
Mallora watched the other doctor leave the mess hall, then she stood up to return her own dishes to the replicator before ordering the dessert she had mentioned. She was pleased to note that it was replicated with a straw included so she wouldn't have to replicate that separately.
As she took her first sips of the thick, sweet drink, she thought about Doctor Namura's humor at the end of their conversation. It seemed very Vulcan-like, especially for a Human. She thought idly about putting Lieutenant Alieth in the same room with Lieutenant Namura and seeing how they would interact. oO I'd bet they'd get along really well. Oo
She glanced around the mess hall again, but didn't recognize any of the other people about. oO Ah well. Oo She turned and walked out of the mess hall, carrying her unfinished laasi with her, and just beginning to imagine what she would actually do if the Gorkon lost all power and communications. It would be an interesting thought experiment, at least.