This is My Crew
When I was outlining the expansion of this story, I did a significant amount of world building for the Endeavour
. I never really did anything with it, though… at least until now. We're told that T'Pol goes off to do captain stuff while Drusilla is 'interrogating' - read: shagging - Seylar in 'Romnomnomulan'. This is where she went. Mostly this is me fleshing the world out and introducing people who might be relevant when I do the 2163 installment…
USS Endeavour (NCC-06)
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
"…I still wish I could figure out how all this stuff works."
"You don't need to know how it works, Thelor. You're not a Cetacean Navigation Officer. You're the Cetacean Interface Officer. We're the ones who point the ship in the right direction and make sure it doesn't hit anything; you're just here to be our go-between if the Universal Translator breaks down."
"Well true, Query, but I'm the one who has to face the captain if something goes wrong."
"Thelor, we work in a big tank. And live in another big tank. And there's a walkway that follows the tube that connects them. If Captain T'Pol wants to find one of us, who has a better chance of hiding from her?"
As she stood in the doorway to the Endeavour
's cetacean operations department, T'Pol conceded that both Crewmen Thelor Dra and Query had a valid points… although she hoped that should a situation arise where she was forced to interact directly with the department's personnel, neither the dolphins nor their Aenar assistant would attempt to evade her and any questions she might have. Stepping forward, she cleared her throat, drawing the attention of both crewmen. "Crewman Dra. Crewman Query. Since I have not had the chance to make your acquaintance before now, I would like to formally welcome you aboard the Endeavour
. Have the drydock's personnel finished their work in this section on schedule?"
T'Pol watched as Query used a powerful thrust of his tail to push himself up onto a narrow ledge that rimmed the tank that dominated the deck-spanning room, a long-running Terran experiment finally bearing fruit thanks to advancements in translator and sensor technology along with the free space created in the Columbia
-class's saucer sections by the removal of Engineering. Starfleet's hope was that the dolphins' ability to navigate the oceans of Earth with unfailing precision would translate into an ability to help a ship navigate the vastness of space, but only time would tell. Resting on the ledge, Query peered up at T'Pol and Dra as he began to vocalize, his clicks and chirps converted into a man's voice with an accent similar to Lieutenant Reed's by the Universal Translator. "Looks like it, Captain. We've run as many tests as we can think of and every result comes back matching the surveys the humans have done of the system. Which means that unless they've accidentally wired our tank into the ship's computer core instead of the sensors, we're doing something right."
"Lieutenant Haley has expressed similar thoughts regarding the calibration of the ventral sensor array." Moving closer to the railing, T'Pol peered past Query into the tank, taking in the mysterious array of electronics that dominated the port and starboard walls of the tank. Unlike Dra, she at least understood the theory behind how the system worked, even if she couldn't name all of the pieces of technology it utilized. Query tilted his head to the left for a moment before slipping back into the water, T'Pol's attention briefly returning to him before discovering what had drawn his notice: the portal on the bottom of the tank's aft end had swirled open to admit another member of the department. The new arrival met Query in the middle of the tank and the two circled each other a few times before returning to where T'Pol and Dra were waiting at the edge of the tank. The newcomer was slightly smaller and thinner, which made identification easy for T'Pol. "Crewman Echo. Crewman Query was just telling me that the systems in cetacean operations seem to be fully functional. Have your quarters likewise been prepared to your specifications?"
The Universal Translator turned Echo's opening series of chirps into light, bell-like laughter, followed by a voice that was reminiscent of the adolescent human females T'Pol had spoken with while delivering the commencement address at Mill Valley's newly-rechristened T'Pol High School in 2161. While honored by their actions, why the city had opted to rename Tamalpais High School after her was something she still didn't quite understand. "Hiya, Captain! Our quarters are great. Much nicer than the training area at the Cetacean Institute. Which is strange, if you think about it, considering this is a big tank on a ship and on Earth we have a penned in area of actual ocean…"
An interesting observation to be sure, and something that she should probably pass on to Admiral Archer, T'Pol thought. After all, if a 'big tank on a ship' truly was a superior living environment for her subordinates, then the resources that Starfleet was giving the Cetacean Institute for the care and well-being of future Starfleet personnel obviously weren't being put to their intended use. On the subject of intended use, though… "I assume the rules regarding the sea life you will be cohabiting with have been explained to you?"
Echo nodded rapidly. "Try not to eat too many of any one species because if we run out we're going to be stuck eating whatever you can find on the planets we visit, the salmon are off-limits, no eating the squid in that tank because they're harvested and split between snacks for up here and food for your crew…"
"Correct." T'Pol furrowed her brow, wondering if there was anything else she should impart to her subordinates. Then she remembered the supposed - or at least publicly acknowledged - reason for Drusilla's presence aboard the Endeavour
. "My yeoman is currently indisposed, but should be available starting tomorrow. Should you discover anything amiss with either your working space or your quarters, do not hesitate to contact her so she can inform me."
Slipping backwards into the tank again, Echo disappeared under the surface for a moment before poking her head back up out of the water. "Can do, Captain. I'll head back down and let the others know, too."
Objectives accomplished, T'Pol made a dismissive gesture and watched as Echo sank beneath the water once more, heading for the same hatch she'd arrived through. After giving a brief nod to Query and Dra, she turned on her heel and headed for the exit. As interesting as cetacean operations and its personnel were, an even more fascinating encounter was awaiting her down on E Deck…
Emerging from the Endeavour
's central turbolift, T'Pol nodded to a passing crewman as she turned to her right, following the winding corridor clockwise around the ship's saucer before arriving at another intersection and turning right again. Finding herself in front of a pair of frosted glass doors each emblazoned with the distinctive emblem that humanity used to denote a medical facility, T'Pol paused for a moment as she thought back to the many times she'd seen similar doors - both entering and leaving - before stepping forward and tapping the button on the control panel that opened them. Inside, rather than the busy workplace she'd been anticipating, she found a sole occupant sitting on the edge of the primary examination table, legs swinging idly as she tapped away at a PADD. Dressed similarly to many of the adolescent females T'Pol had seen on Earth - a tank top in the same shade of teal that Starfleet was using for the jackets of medical and science personnel under the new uniform code, along with a pair of black pants actually taken from the uniform and battered sneakers - she looked like a teenage girl who'd found her mother's lab coat and decided to see how it fit. T'Pol knew, though, that in this case looks were quite deceiving. "Doctor Pär, I presume?"
"Hmm?" Glancing up from what she was working on, Doctor Maliana Pär looked T'Pol up and down slowly before nodding. "That's me, yeah. Which would make you Captain T'Pol, unless you have a twin sister who's also a captain in Starfleet." One of T'Pol's eyebrows slowly rose at that and Pär let out a laugh. "Didn't think so. Although…" Trailing off, she tilted her head to one side and gave T'Pol another once over. "Huh. You're wearing regulation Starfleet uniform boots, so that's not it. But I could swear I remember you being shorter…"
T'Pol's eyebrows rose at the doctor's comment; at five feet and seven inches in height, she was considered short for a Vulcan and so she'd adopted the distinctly Terran fashion of high heels soon after arriving on Earth to disguise that fact. And while high-heeled boots were now an option under Starfleet's revised uniform code, she had opted to switch to the same flat-soled boots that the majority of other officers would wear, which had in fact reduced her apparent height by approximately two inches. An appropriate observation would have been to remember her being taller. Then it came to her: the former host of the Pär symbiont had been taller than even her heel-enhanced height, and its current host was attempting to make a joke based on the fact that she was now shorter than her captain. While humor wasn't exactly her forte, she was reasonably sure that she knew an appropriate retort. "I was expecting you to be taller as well, Doctor Pär. Older, as well, by at least three decades."
Greenish-grey eyes widened momentarily and then the girl - or perhaps a 'woman'; majority came at eighteen for Vulcans but T'Pol was far from an expert when it came to Trill culture, especially when it came to joined Trill - chuckled, sliding off the edge of the examination bed and tucking her PADD into an oversized pocket on the outside of the long white jacket she wore over her clothes. "No you weren't. I may not know much about Starfleet, but I do know a little something about my new captain. Such as the fact that you sat on a certain committee between the end of the war and now, making you the only captain in the entire fleet cleared to read my full dossier. Which is why I wasn't reassigned, I assume."
Ah yes, her months with Starfleet's Assimilation Committee had certainly been… eye-opening, T'Pol mused. Created to help streamline the process of fusing a wide variety of species and cultures into a unified fighting force, the committee had been forced to deal with issues such as the sexual nature of Deltans, the pheromones generated by Orion females - an issue important to T'Pol herself, given that she'd already decided to bring D'Nesh with her to her next command - and how to handle anti-fraternization policies in light of the family units found among Andorians and Denobulans. Then the Trill had come up - something T'Pol had found curious, given they were neither members nor a world currently applying for admission - and she'd found herself confronting an ugly truth: the majority of her people knew very little about one of their supposed allies.
Two sentient species in one humanoid form engaged in a mutualistic service-resource relationship. The very concept was fascinating, made even more so by the fact that the hosts - or rather both of the subspecies that made up the humanoid Trill 'species' - were similar enough to Centaurans and Terrans both internally and externally that the three species were capable of interbreeding. Granted they weren't completely identical; Trill tended to have peculiarly cold hands for a homeothermic species. They also possessed one of two external markers that gave away their non-human heritage, varying depending on what subspecies they were a part of. The majority of Trill looked like Kirista Gard, possessing two rows of brown spots that ran down their body from their temples to their toes, while the remainder of the species were even more identifiable thanks to the soft, almost Klingon-esque ridges on their foreheads. There were also several internal adaptations that allowed them to serve as hosts should they ever been given the honor, but the similarities by and far outnumbered the differences.
"Anyways, call me Maliana. I'll let the crew call me 'Doctor' but we both know I've never even set foot in a university classroom, much less earned the medical degree Starfleet stuck in my dossiers to cover for the symbiont." Reaching down, Maliana slowly rubbed one hand over her stomach before sighing. "As for Pär… Pär isn't who I am, it's an overgrown worm in my gut that I'm stuck with for the rest of my life."
The amount of bitterness in the girl's voice was startling, and T'Pol made a mental note to book her CMO a few sessions with Lieutenant Thayer once they got underway. Granted being forced to attend counseling under one's own subordinate could lead to resentment issues, it was the best solution that T'Pol could think of for the time being. For now, though, she decided to extend a courtesy she'd given few others. Establishing a positive rapport with Maliana could prove useful in the future, especially if the Trills' desire to keep symbionts a secret kept Maliana's sessions with Thayer from being productive and T'Pol had to turn the matter over to Drusilla. "Very well. Then, at least outside of situations where others are present and formalities must be observed, you may call me T'Pol."
"I'd ask if you knew the real Doctor Pär, but… well, we both already know the answer to that, don't we?" Slipping her hand into another pocket of her coat, Maliana rooted around for a few seconds making a noise of satisfaction and pulling out a lollypop. Unwrapping it, she slipped it into her mouth and gave T'Pol a crooked grin. "I'm glad you two hadn't had the chance to speak much before she died, actually. Sure, I may be exiled from Trill because of the rules about reassociation, but I'm not going to ignore them just because I can now. The Symbiosis Commission came up with them for a reason." Maliana tugged the lollypop out of her mouth and eyed it oddly before shaking her head. "You know, I used to hate these before being joined. Mom loved them, though. She was planning to bring a few crates of them back to Trill with us when we left next year. Although weird cravings are the least of the evils when it comes to unprepared joinings. Somehow I went from being right-handed to pretty much ambidextrous, and… well, do you have any idea how bizarre it is to experience giving birth to yourself? Or - even worse - experiencing your own conception?"
Despite her best efforts, T'Pol was reasonably sure that the mixture of surprise and disgust she was feeling was visible on her face. "No. No I do not."
"Oh. Well guess what? You get to hear all about it, because I've been wanting to rant about this for a while and nobody's cleared to hear about it…"