Remember You Would Move Mountains
Location: Pandora's Box
Timeline: Prior to "Looking After Family"
Aenardha had not yet finished her in-processing rounds but did manage to get the vast majority of it out of the way. She still needed to get her quarters set up. At the moment, it was still bare and her bed was being occupied by two barely unpacked duffels. It would take a second set of eyes for her to get her quarters how she wanted. Without telepathic vision, she would decorate the place by feel alone. Not that she had much decor to begin with.
With but a few stops remaining to complete her in-processing, something she had heard several times already to remain incomplete even by personnel who have been aboard the Pandora months, years even, she decided a break was in order and made her way to the mess. Her PADD informed her of two locations aboard the Pandora. She would have to sample them both to acquire a better idea of which she would prefer, so she immediately decided upon “Pandora’s Box. Show me the way,” and her PADD produced the braille dots constantly updating her on her location and which direction to go. All the while, she used public vision of the personnel about the corridors to better navigate her way. Public vision was abound once she stepped inside the Pandora’s Box. She also heard it, many times, referred to simply as ‘The Box.’ Mental tags were also abound, so she avoided those visions, of course. Setting her PADD down on a table, Aenardha stepped over to the replicator to place her order.
She, of course, did not look back, but through the eyes of others, maintained eyesight on her PADD as others took glances then carried on with their respective activities and conversations.
“Computer” Bleep bleep. “One plate of sushi, Andorian variant, made with Andorian Antarctic sting eel.”
To her surprise, the replicator started into its magic. Aenardha was fully expecting what she had encountered many times at the Academy and during her travels; programming updates required for specific culinary dishes.
“And one glass of nitrogen infused water,” she said once her plate was in hand.
Bleep bleep. And the replicator started again.
With her food and beverage, Aenardha turned and made her way to her table. She stopped once to make way for a higher ranking officer to pass, stepped around someone pushing their chair back as they stood and thanked someone for standing aside allowing her to pass.
Seated at her table, she picked up a roll of sushi with chopsticks and mouthed it. Holding it a moment, she started to chew. Tapping her PADD, it lit up. Of course she did not see that, but could feel the braille dots form on the screen. She started rubbing her fingers across the screen. Three fingers, reading three rows at a time.
Across the room, Mindo was in the process of being seated when he noticed the new Ensign at the Box's rarely-accessed replicator. As she took her seat, Mindo gestured to her and said to the maitre d, "I think I'll sit with her." The maitre d nodded and went back to his business.
Aenardha actually heard that short conversation. Though her ears worked perfectly, her telepathy allowed for hearing what others heard as well as what they saw, given a public mental tag or a complete lack of a mental tag of course. Public hearing was something she did not usually tap into. She only attended to the words once she realized the same set of eyes were on her longer than anyone else in the restaurant. Being an intelligence officer, she naturally eavesdropped.
The man did not stand up from his table but started forward motion regardless. With such a lowered level of eyesight, he must have been a child, perhaps a teenager. Aenardha suddenly recalled the chief engineer who appeared thus. Her antenna straightened as she foraged her short term memory for his name, his race. ‘LT Mindy,’ she thought. ‘Mundo perhaps.’ She quickly abandoned her quest.
Mindo approached the table and hovered a few inches up to eye level. "Not many people use the replicator. Chef Huyo can prepare just about anything, and her programmed recipes are only available in her kitchen. Mind if I sit here?" he asked with a friendly smile.
Aenardha turned to him and made eye contact. “Be my guest, sir. Please join me.” As her guest hovered into a chair, “And, I did not wish to be a bother, sir.”
Mindo shrugged as he sat down. "No bother at all."
She double tapped her PADD and it went to standby. The little braille dots subsided and vanished. She set it to the side. “Forgive me, sir, but I have forgotten your name.”
Mindo smiled. "I'm afraid I've forgotten yours as well. So much was on my mind when we briefly met on Paradise, I'm not even sure I heard it! So let's have a regular, formal introduction. I'm Lieutenant Mindo, Chief Engineer. And you?"
Aenardha felt something and she could only describe it as a communal feeling or desire. Not that everyone was feeling the same thing, but, at least several or a few in the restaurant. Utilizing public telepathic vision, as per usual, Aenardha realized many eyes were looking in Mindo’s direction longer than the average person would look. That, and this communal feeling had something of a sensuous touch to it. Not many, but at least a few people, had these thoughts and Mindo was the central figure. Since they were focused on Mindo and Aenardha was focused on Mindo, it all came to her quite naturally.
In her focus, Aenardha picked up something else about Mindo. Though it was perhaps subconscious, it was a powerful emotion; hard to tune out or ignore. Not an emotion of anything in particular, but of nothing, nothing at all. It was like there was a big emotional chasm within him.
“Ensign…um...Aenardha Sh’vastarth,” she said. “Intelligence officer. USS Pandora.” The last part was obvious, but she had gotten so used to vocalizing the ship name that it became a hard habit to kick. “Were you able to get what you needed from Mr. Qaraq’s ship, sir?” she asked as she took another roll of sushi.
Mindo nodded. "I was able to download the Pakled's information into the Pandora's records. Tracking his warp signature shouldn't be difficult."
Aenardha finished chewing. “He should not be a match at all for the Pandora. I plan on looking into and finding out if there are any other reports of the Pakled or any other race that are cannibalizing ships to make new ones. The vessel appeared well put together, so someone has made a business doing this kind of work. This could prove to be a threat throughout this sector.”
"It certainly happens often in the Alpha Quadrant," Mindo said. The waiter came over just then and Mindo ordered, "I'll have a Risan club sandwich with Terran corn fritters on the side, and a White Bajoran to drink." He looked back at Aenardha. "Do you want anything? Huyo's a culinary genius."
“No, thank you, sir,” she responded. Aenardha was also picking up a little bit more regarding that emotion chasm when he mentioned the name ‘Huyo.’ It became clearer and was not so much as an emotional chasm but an abyss of despair and emptiness whose bottom suddenly went deeper, the sides wider and the top higher. A carnal sensation fell into that abyss upon mentioning that name. That, and Aenardha picked up a level of immediate attraction from him. This was nothing new to her as she had to deal with this a lot whilst at the Academy from among the men and sometimes the women. Seasoned officers would have better disciplines about themselves but attractions came natural.
Using the instruction she had learned when studying Counseling at the Academy, Aenardha deduced that the lieutenant attempted to fill this abyssal emptiness with physical interactions. Seeing the public vision that kept taking glances at him, looking him up and down, his attempts must have been numerous. And an abyss of this magnitude must have come about through loss. A loss of what though? Family? Friend? A loved one?
Aenardha snapped herself back from diving back into her counseling teaching. She was Intelligence. The last time she attempted to counsel someone…
“I will certainly put Huyo’s,” there came that feeling from him again, “genius to the test later.” She started picking up another roll of sushi with her chopsticks. “Did Crewman Zo, inform you that I dropped by Engineering earlier?”
"Oh, yes, I had forgotten," Mindo said. "Crewman Zo was already off duty when I checked on the core about an hour ago. He did leave a note in his report and Lieutenant Samson relayed the message. All it said was you stopped by. It didn't give any further details."
Aenardha thought, a short second, about the size of her request and the amount of work that would go into it. She also recalled the lieutenant’s declaration to move mountains. “It is a fairly large request now that I think about it. I would not want to be a bother, especially on my first day.”
"Well, tell me what it is and I'll see what I can do," Mindo said, now curious as to the request.
Thinking a quick moment, she decided it would be best to go ahead and show him. Tapping her PADD, it came back to life. She did not even feel for the braille as she used Mindo’s vision to see what she was doing. Upside down, based on his perspective, but nothing she was not used to. Aenardha navigated to the engineering request she had already prepared. She had just not sent it yet.
Spinning the PADD on the table, she slid it closer to Mindo for him to peruse. “This is so I can make it colder in my quarters than the computer will allow by default. SF Regulations have been amended to allow this on a case by case basis.
Mindo eyed the alterations that were needed; a special air handler attached to the ventilation of the quarters specified to allow for additional cooling of incoming air, another for the warming of outgoing air to keep static discharges among other damage from forming in the ventilation ducts, special plating to encompass the quarters inside the walls, the floor, and the ceiling to contain climactic patterns inside the quarters and to keep outside climate control from seeping in, replicator patterns for the replication of all the needed materials, and a special subroutine to be installed in the ship’s computer to allow for a specified user to request the setting of no lower than -18 Centigrade as well as command overrides and authorizations as needed.
“SF Regulations,” Aenardha continued, “allow for these modifications for Aenar residing aboard a vessel for more than 28 Earth days.” And since this was her permanently assigned vessel… “I do hope this is not asking too much.”
"It's certainly asking a lot," Mindo said, trying to work in his head the amount of manpower needed to make these adjustments happen...
“Starfleet did not put into the regulations a timeframe for this request to be completed. I am sure they know every class of ship is different and that manpower comes in many sizes, depending on the ship.” Aenardha could not help but to feel an intense thought pattern of him working things out, scheduling the work and the steps to take for maximum efficiency.
That abyss of despair Mindo possessed was still there but veiled and hiding for the moment. She felt a sense of happiness on top of this large task of hers as though the lieutenant saw this as a challenge to be met and to be conquered. But how?
“This is certainly not something I want today or tomorrow,” she continued, sensing his mental machinations working away. “I do hope that, if you were to request updated TMs for the Luna Class, there may be a bulleted list of what specifially needs to be done. I know we are in a critical situation and I am not asking for any special favors at the expense of our mission.” Mindo was a higher ranking officer than she by two grades but was certainly not in a position to approve or deny this request. There was still the chain of command. “I only ask that, once I send this request, you forward it to Commander Nash,” who was checking her out pretty intensely when they initially met, “for his command decision. We can move from there.”
Mindo nodded as he finished reading the PADD. He handed it back to Ensign Sh'vastarth, and noticed his food had arrived. "These alterations will take days to apply and plenty of manpower, neither of which we have at the moment." He sighed."It's an intriguing challenge, though. One I'm definitely interested in taking on. And if it will help your comfort that's all the better." A small smile formed on his face. "Shoot, I'll do it just for the fun! I'll send the request to Nash and the Captain once we're back in Federation space, which should be just a matter of days. I'll make it sound like a routine task. After that, I'll oversee the process myself. Sound good?"
“That does sound good, sir,” she said through a small smile. Aenardha had another reason to jump into her work hard and heavy and it was no longer just to see that the Pandora got back to Federation space safely, but that she could sooner experience the antarctic climate of Andor once again, just in her quarters. At least, close to antarctic climate. It was as close as SF Regulations would allow, but it was certainly enough. “I remembered what you said about moving mountains, sir. I just didn’t want to ask after that so soon.”
Mindo grinned. "Holding me to a favor, Ensign?" he said coyly. "You almost sound like that Broot Qaraq!"
For a very brief second, Aenardha actually became terrified. Not yet a day on board and she was already pulling strings. Mindo’s tone, though, defused her terror and she actually gave a genuine smile. First in a long time. “Mr. Qaraq and I spoke at length during our trek from Carnwennan. He…” she thought about the physical mark he left on her, “he has a way of rubbing off on you. Violent and a bit unorthodox, but Starfleet could benefit from alliances such as with him.” She took another roll of sushi.
"I have to agree," Mindo replied, taking a bite of his sandwich. "He's not one to meet in a dark alley. At the same time, he's probably the jolliest person I've ever met!"
“Agreed,” said Aenardha. “When I first met him, I thought he was what nightmares were made of. After I got to know him a bit, well he is what nightmares are made of but only if you are on his bad side. Otherwise, he is a kind spirit. I sensed that about him almost immediately.” She picked up another sushi roll.
All the while, she could only ponder something she had pondered already. Mr. Qaraq’s devilish exterior and kind interior was in stark contrast to Aenardha herself, what many had said is a kind and pleasant exterior. Only very few knew of what went on interiorly.
"Sensed that?" Mindo said, cocking his head. "You mean you're an empath?"
“In a way, yes,” she said. “If there is a strong feeling or emotion about someone or a common feeling, emotion or thought shared by several people in close proximity,” she thought about the sensuous feelings others in the restaurant were feeling only a few minutes ago as Mindo approached her table, “I can pick that up if I am unprepared.” She, of course, understood that did not explain how she sensed something about Qaraq.
She grew a little nervous, fearing the consequences as what she was about to say could be perceived as her giving an officer, two grades higher than her in rank, an order. “Do not let him know this, but Mr. Qaraq has something of a simple mind. Not that he is simple-minded. It is just incredibly easy for me to get in there and fiddle about should I choose. Of course I am forbidden from doing that. But, those whose natures are more violent tend to be more easily read. Sometimes manipulated.”
Mindo's eyebrows went up. "Manipulated?" he asked, wondering to himself if she had somehow manipulated Qaraq. It made a little sense if she had. She had been calling his mind "violent." Mindo had not entirely gathered that opinion. True, the Broot was quick to enter a fight, but he was also very against killing. Mindo saw this as more aggressive than violent. Was this really Qaraq's nature? Or had Aenardha manipulated Qaraq's mind so he seemed more jovial than violent? Either way, it was cause for concern.
Aenardha nodded. “It is possible. Not something I would freely and willingly do, but it is something perpetrators like to hurl at us telepaths. ‘I’m not guilty, the telepath made me do it’” she acted out that brief scene. “Telepaths do sometimes get bad reputations and are frequently faced with animosity. With three of us, now, on board the Pandora, I am surprised the crew is not unsettled. This speaks volumes for your captain and shows that the Pandora has a coherent crew. I am glad to finally be a part of it,” she smiled shortly. Aenardha then went after her last sushi roll.
"Fesarians have mild empathic abilities, but only in a particular situation, and mostly only with each other," Mindo said. "We call it 'feeling.' There are a few other races we can 'feel.' None as intensely as our own, and only at a certain time."
Aenardha was getting the idea of what ‘certain time’ meant and what ‘particular situation’ he needed to be in for this empathic ability to manifest. From the sensuous communal feeling she sensed earlier from among others in the restaurant that idea she was getting became clearer. She recalled the immediate attraction she picked up from him but decided that was more out of habit as she did not see any obvious outward signs of him attempting to court. They were colleagues, working together on the same ship. This was a meet and greet. Nothing more.
Aenardha willed herself to not think if he was attempting to court her; someone two ranks higher and chief of his department already going after a newly arrived ensign. She already experienced a longer than normal look from the XO. Perhaps getting settled into her position would provide quiet to her concerns.
“And the Aenar function much in the same way. We share heavy telepathic links with each other when in close proximity. In a blink of an eye, we can know how each other’s days went, what we ate, what we did. Whole arguments can be had inside a second without the first word ever being spoken. We do not even need to be in the same room as we can project ourselves before the eyes of someone else.” She set her chopsticks down and pushed her plate away slightly indicating she was done. “It really devalues face-to-face verbal communication if you ask me. At the Academy, I found I rather enjoyed that.”
Mindo nodded. "There's definitely a certain element of flavor missing in telepathy. At least, that's what I would assume."
“And you would assume correctly,” she added. “There are, however, elements of flavor,’ she borrowed his verbosity, “in telepathy; connections that many would find extraordinary. That, and telepaths of differing races communicate differently. Just as you may have a different sense of taste and of smell apart from humans, my telepathy works different apart from Betazoids among others.”
"I see," Mindo replied, finishing the last of his corn fritters. "Well Ensign, it was good to meet you, but I have a warp core to return to. I'm sure you have other duties as well. I'll contact you once I have word on the adjustments to your quarters. In the mean time, if they can help you in any way, my crew is at your disposal." He smiled, though he didn't know if she would see it. "Welcome to the Pandora!"
“It has been a pleasure meeting you, sir. I do have duties to finish as well.” Her in-processing. “I look forward to working with you all. And, thank you, sir.”