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Posted on Thu Aug 5th, 2021 @ 6:46am by Captain Dirk Taggart & Lieutenant Commander Deannen Roinu & Lieutenant Commander Arianna Sky Kamar & Major Naomi Sylan Griffiths & Lieutenant Shri'Rao Sh'veqan & Lieutenant Commander James Trallos MD & Lieutenant Adora (Addie) Hart & Lieutenant JG Simon Hunter & Lieutenant JG Vespa Kale

Mission: Anniversary
Location: Arboretum

Captain Taggart stood on a small raised platform in the central square of the arboretum. The previous Captain held his meetings in the observation lounge. Taggart felt a change of venue and the ability to assemble more off duty crew would be better for the ship's morale, especially after the Nebula incident.

He cleared his throat softly before delivering his speech in his concise, baritone voice. "Crew of the USS Pennsylvania, I want to congratulate you on completing your first year of the mission in the Delta Quadrant. I was not here at the beginning like Major Griffiths or Lieutenant Commander Sky, and I have not experienced all of the joys, tragedies and triumphs that you have been through in the last year. Our ship may be damaged and battered but our spirit and our resolve, have not, and will not waver. As an old movie once said, 'We will not go quietly into the night.' We will remain ever strong and vigilant in the course that is laid before us."

"In celebration of this milestone, the ship will begin a reduced manning watch rotation for the next 24 hours. There have been some new Holos added and new classic movies added to the database. Our Culinary Specialists have also cooked up some snacks and desserts to enjoy. Congratulations crew on another year in the Delta, I wish you all Fair Winds and Following Seas."

Taggart stepped down from the dais and began to mingle with the crew. He volunteered for a bridge watch to allow more crew to enjoy the festivities.

Shri'Rao made her way to the Arboretum, she had been in Pennsylvania for quite some time now and Chief security officer for over a year. She may not have been a plank member of the crew but she came aboard shortly after that. Still, it was an honour to be on this ship.

- Refreshment Table -

The doctor had already inched his way over to the refreshments as soon as he saw them. He worked his way close greeting patients since most of the staff had seen him for one thing or another since the nebula. Mostly teeth going back, repairing broken bones and healing sprained joints, but it helped him get closer casually. oO Captain really did up the game. This is fresh, not replicated. Oo He thought as he grabbed a plate and began sampling. oO What is this? Oo he asked himself, noting a pie. It was a lovely looking, homemade pecan pie. Someone was giving him a taste of home. Normally, he took a light sample of things, however, he gave himself a generous serving. It had been too long since he had a homemade Pecan pie. The day was looking up!

As she had entered before the Captain speaking and thought he was wise not to mention the trouble with the Nebula and the loosening of inhibitions and increasing of anger from all the crew. She looked around and saw the Doctor, smiling to herself she walked up to the table, got a plate and began to choose what to pick, she had come to the pies and where the CMO was standing.

"Hi Jim, how are things in sickbay after our little nebula incident?" She asked, "I have something of an idea on that, I was wondering if I could run it by you?" Griffiths asked.

"Of course Major, anytime." He said, then used his fork and pointed at the pecan pie. "You need to try that. Was a staple of mine growing up. Terrible for you, but that's why it tastes so go." He shook his head. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"

Looks at the Pecan Pie and decided against it "not my type of food, too much sugar" she said and went for a healthier option before she continued "now I know I am no doctor, so the technical aspects are beyond me, but as regards to the nebula and the mental effects it had on us, I was less affected than the rest as I am a marine and have been trained to control such emotions, but I would have lost all self-control if we had remained in there any longer. So you must have the wavelength readings from the nebula, more specifically the wavelength that affected the crew" she paused "what if you got together with science and engineering to come up with an earpiece that will nullify the effects of such events in future, you could maybe even make the adaptive to all forms of psychic attack like what we experienced in the nebula" Griffiths said.

Shri'Rao made her way to the refreshment table. Mostly human delicacies however someone put out some tuber roots for her so she took a few spoonfuls of that and some shrimp. She had grown fond of human seafood, the sauces left something to be desired, at least to her pallette.

The doctor stood deep in thought, chewing away on a piece of the pie. He was working over the idea enough he almost missed the buttery goodness of the pie. "Well," he said the swallowed. "That is a possibility." He paused. "It did seem to affect the Theta brainwave and cause a waking dreamlike state." He paused and brought his focus back and looked at the Major. "It would be possible, the problem is figuring out the method of delivery and exactly where the signal is coming from. "I only have one brainwave sample to go from and that would be a lot of guesswork. To have a good chance for success, I'd need at least another sample from another race plus that other information."

He paused and looked over at the mingling crowd and back at the Major. "Right now, the data is too thin. The sample from Lieutenant Hart could be universal or specific to her. It affected her much more than others. Did it single her put extra? Did the sedative and stimulant increase the activity by itself or did it lower the activity and the Nebula attempt to compensate? There could even have been a feedback loop and when you drugged the Lieutenant, maybe it drugged the Nebula as well and it pushed back?" He said and speared a strawberry. "Your theory is very plausible, but we would need more research, and my sickbay has had enough fights." He said and then looked over at the Majors neck. "You look good. I was afraid I bruised your neck waking you. Little extra anger and was worried a pushed the hypo to your neck too hard."

She smiled "I will leave the technicals aspects up to you Jim," she said then rubbed her neck in the spot where the hypo went, "we marines are a hardy bunch, I was out cold when you did it, but at least I now know why a spot on my neck is sore," she said with a smile.

"Well, we are in the DQ and I have not asked Lieutenant Kale if her people have run into a vampire species yet, so there is always that possibility, but figured I could ease your mind. You know, just in case." He said with a cheeky grin. "And since I'm being honest, I also sat in your command chair while you were out."

Looking at him mock seriously "really! You did huh?" she paused with a mischievous grin "how did you find it then Jim?" Griffiths asked the Doctor.

"You know, it was kind of nice." He said and turned the grin. "If you see me on the bridge with a measuring tape like I am seeing if it will fit in my office in sickbay, just disregard that." He said with a dismissive gesture. "It's just a hallucination, Probably a side-effect of the nebula."

She gives him a look "I would think the Captain's chair would be more your style Jim" she said munching on something which was nice but she could not identify, still it was tasty as for those seeing things, I am not that weak Jim, by the Prophets I controlled my anger better than anyone else on this damn crew, I wanted to lash out and be angry, but it is an emotion I was familiar with" Naomi said.

The doctor nodded. "I did OK only because I had enough going on to keep a hard focus. Although I did deck crewman Anderson and took security up to the bridge and help stun anything that moved." He paused a moment in thought. "To be fair, I probably would have clocked Anderson anyway for fighting in my medbay anger cloud or not. I'm saying it was the cloud though for my practice sake." He said and munched on a slice of meat. "Is it bad though that I kinda enjoyed it a little? Not just because it was him and he is a pain in my side, but just flat out aggression release?"

"That depends on your point of view Jim, you can put it down to the nebula we were in or you can put it down to wanting to bash someone, go with the one that helps you sleep at night," Griffiths said as she munched on a small chunk of meat. "But in the end which way you choose to accept your actions is entirely up to you" Naomi added.

The doctor nodded. "I'll go with he had it coming regardless of the nebula. I can sleep with that. It's a medical ward, not a bar." He said taking a bite of pie. "Speaking of the bar, do you want to grab a drink later?"

Smiling "sure, after what we have just been through I could do with a strong drink, the real stuff and not synthahol," Griffiths said with a smile

The doctor gave her a sly grin. "Would I ever offer to take you for a drink and it is anything but the real thing? I'm pretty sure that was in my medical oath. Do no harm and only offer the real stuff."

Smiling openly "whenever you want that real drink, Jim, just give me a call and I will be there and if that is now, then show me the drink!" Griffiths said finishing off the food on her plate.

While Addie was in the arboretum, she had helped herself to a plate before the Captain started speaking, moving away from the rest of the crew and finding a quiet place to sit. In truth, she still felt uncomfortable around the crew in general, even more so given she could still sense their discomfort at being around her. Even those who hadn't been on the bridge knew what happened. Resting the plate on her lap, she picked idly at her food while listening to the Captain's address and the laughter from the crew. It was nice to see everyone happier again.

After finishing up with the Doctor Naomi looked over and saw the Counsellor sitting alone, she excused herself and went over to the Counsellor "May I join you, Addie?" Griffiths asked plate and drink in hand.

Addie looked up, surprised at being addressed, least of all by the Marine Executive Officer. "If you wish," she replied quietly. "It's nice here, whoever designed the arboretum did a good job."

With the ceremony complete, now it was time for Vespa's favourite part of any social gathering. Namely, the social part. She went over and secured herself a pair of plates, and sampled the fare offered. Meat, meat, a different kind of meat, another meat, and a single leafy green to keep medical off her tails. Seriously, every time. The twins made their way around, hesitant around some, flat out avoiding others for the time until she spied a familiar face. More importantly, a face she didn't associate with an unfriendly memory, and thus she made her way over to the Doctor. "We meet again, doctor." she started, while her silent twin took the moment to nibble on something called ham. Oooo, the ham was good. She liked ham.

The doctor smiled. "Lieutenant Kale, always a pleasure. I see you found some of the good stuff." He said and saw the leaf. "You know you could use that green leaf for a bed to put something on. Makes it aesthetic. Have you tried the pecan pie?" He asked.

Vespa gave a grin, and just this once, she let her teeth shine out for a moment. Pointed, sharp, predatory. Turns out someone never left their roots behind. "Not a big fan of greens, but they're vital. Or so I keep hearing." and a pause, "Ooo, a bed you say?" and her twin playfully put a piece of ham on the leaf, folding it over a bit. "There you go little fella," she said softly, then giggled.

"A Pecan Pie? Doc, I've never even heard of a pecan before. Sounds delicious. I love avian." now she was excited, that long fluff of a tail in a slow swish. "Oh, also before we get into the meats, I want to..."

"... forward you a copy of my findings of the nebular event. Not now, I mean. Later, after food. Oddest findings I ever found, but also kinda half of what I ..."

"... expected. But we can hash that out later."

The doctor nodded. "Excellent later is good so we have time to get into the meat of the findings." He answered. Soon as it left his mouth he realized he is getting too old to be funny. He still chuckled though. "Horrible puns aside, yes, let's see what we can figure out, but later." He pointed to the table with his fork, "they didn't have any out, but I will need to have you try one of my favourite meats from back home. Chicken fried steak. It's an old favourite of my family in the hills. The thicker the gravy the better as well."

"You're quickly becoming my favourite single instance here, Doc," Vespa said with a pair of smirks. "All this food talk is making me hungry. So, you mentioned..."

"... pie. Never had a pecan before, but they sound fantastic." she paused and composed herself. "And as for everything else you mentioned, colour me very interested."

"Call it a cultural exchange. A culinary cultural exchange."

"Pecan Pie is very very sweet," Shri'Rao added helpfully.

The doctor smiled at the joiner. "Must be why I like it. Very, very sweet, just like me." He smirked. "Lieutenant Sh'veqan, happy anniversary. I'm sorry I haven't been able to say hello much since Tabula Risa."

"That's alright Doctor we have been very busy, plus that nebula gave everyone anger issues, I still don't know what it was.." Shri'Rao stated.

Vespa gave a snicker, "So, what's a pecan?"

The doctor picked one off his pie. "It's an earth tree nut. Normally, just eating one of these is a dry and simple flavour. For a quality pie, however, they are coated in sugar and then heated on a skillet until the sugar caramelized over the pecans giving them an extra sweet flavour along with their crunch." He answered probably a little too happily. "Was one of my mama's special treats. She'd place it on down by the winder to cool..." he trailed off and shook his head, his old accent peaking through at the thought of home. "Sorry. Just reminiscing."

"A nut?" she sounded mildly dissatisfied. From all the buildup, she was expecting maybe a bird or at least a small rodent. She took a look at it, so simple, so pure, but it sure did LOOK appetizing.

"I think I'll try some. Worst case, you can finish it if I don't like it. Never had a pecan before. Honestly, I thought it was a kind of bird."

"It seems anticlimactic but this pie is a culinary delight," Shri'Rao said.

The doctor nodded. "Fair. If you want birds, when we sample delicacies I'll bring some birds. The one I'm thinking of is small but flavorful. It's called a quail. Just a ground bird but very tasty." He nodded at Sh'veqan "Maybe you would like to join us Lieutenant and bring some of your homeworld delicacies. We were thinking of doing some Culinary diplomacy."

Vespa excused herself to make her way over and pick up two pieces of pecan pie. A little on the small side, just in case. Oh, and more ham. And some more cheese. Pepperoni too. Oh, and whatever that was! It was delicious. Can't forget that. Ooo, some room on the plate still for this. And then...

Vespa returned with a full plate in each form's possession, a sea of meats and cheeses with a slice of pecan pie in the middle as though it were a ship adrift at sea. "What, I like food," she explained, before taking a cursory bite of the pie. Oddly enough, even though it was her first time, and this could be a disaster, both forms took a bite.

"Ooooo... Mmmmm diff if good.." one spoke, one just nodded.

"It's not like you need to go on a diet," Shri'Rao said.

A few more chews, just for good measure, and a synchronized swallow before the pair were ready to actually speak again, "Aww, that's very sweet of you. Thank you. But no, I have to be careful not to get too diverse. Hence, if I'm going to load my plate, I have to load BOTH the plates." she giggled before her twin picked up the conversation. "Tomorrow, it's me hitting the gym to make sure I still fit in the uniform, but today, heck today is a cheat day. Do you all have cheat days? Oh, they're amazing."

"And Quail, is it? Oh, it even sounds delicious." a pause, "Sorry, see, my people evolved from swarm predators, so 'can I eat it' was a big driving force. Some of us..."

"... never really outgrew that motivator. They just have a love of food. Nothing wrong with a healthy appreciation for cuisine," she said with a smile. "And no. It's poor manners to eat..."

"... your friends." she giggled. "So yeah, definitely going to have to cook for you guys."

The doctor chuckled. "Well. I wouldn't blame you too much if you did." He said and gestured to his stomach and waist. "I've got quite the marbling going on right now so I'm sure I would cook up well. Probably taste like beer and butter though." He said and looked at Sh'veqan, "I'm pretty sure I'm the one here that needs to work on a diet. Not getting in the Gym as I should either."

"We could be gym buddies, then," Vespa suggested. "Look, I know from your perspective I wouldn't need a spotter or anything, but I'd feel a lot better if there was..."

"... someone else there while I was operating the machinery," she admitted.

"You can call on me when you need something". Shir'Rao said.

The doctor nodded. "That would be great. I could probably use the help and unless Lieutenant Vale plans to alternate lifting between herself, I would need another spotter to help lift."

"I can certainly help you with that, Andorian's are very strong," Shri'Raio said.

Rouni went to the buffet and fill up a plate. She got a complete array of foods to try. Some she recognized and some she did not. She did not want to offend anyone by not at least trying some of the foods from other homeworlds. Once she got that she got a nice Betezad Ale she had found and really liked. And went to a char to sit down to relax some.

Having made sure that the event was set up correctly after liaison with the ship head chef, Simon was pleased to see that it was going well and everyone was enjoying themselves after what they had gone through, as he started to make his way around the tables to get his own food and hoped to mingle with some of the crew as he came across Lieutenant Kale, he said: "Hey Lieutenant, How are you doing?"

She offered Simon a pair of smiles, "Oh, hello! Oh it's been slow going, getting back up and on my feet. I have good friends to help me, though." one of her forms turned to smile at the doctor. "How have you been?"

"I'm fine thank you Lieutenant, " replied Simon as he looked at the twin forms in front of him, continued " I just wanted to apologize to you for barging into you as I did," as he knew that asking her forgiveness showed that he was willing to be humble; he finished," I do hope that we can put this behind us and that we can be friends,"

"Oh, don't you worry about it any further. Forgiven, and friends," she responded, with no hesitation. Truth be told, she was more than willing to put hiccups behind her to proceed as friends. Well, except when that 'hiccup' is 'getting shot'. That... would take some time.

"Thank you, Vespa, that means a lot to me" responded Simon looking back at the twin forms of the science officer as he now started to relax somewhat and start to enjoy himself, he also wanted to apologize to the captain for his actions as he scanned the room looking for Taggert.

Even though it was a party going on Rouni had been looking at some charts and other information. She had an idea where we may be able to get some parts to repair the Penn but it could be dangerous and she wanted to plan all the details down to the smallest point before she told anyone about it as she tried the coconut cream pie.

Arianna waddled up to the refreshment table and found a drink of some green liquid and sipped it. Walking over to the banquet tables, she filled her plate with some of the foods especially Pecan pie. "I love Pecan pie. It is really good," she said eating some of the goodies on her plate. Arianna walked around a bit before she sat and finished eating. It was cool that the captain did this for the crew. This would go a long way to shore up relations between Arianna and the captain or at least she hoped it would.

After patching things up with Simon, on her way to get another something to drink, Vespa noticed the charts that Rouni brought. "Doing a little overtime? What are you looking for?" she looked a little closer at the planets on the charts, "And whatever it is, don't look for it there." she motioned to one of the planets on Rouni's charts.

"That planet's got fera."

Intrigued by the sight of one of his officers bring old fashioned charts to a celebration, Captain Taggart stepped up just in time to hear Kale's comment. "Lieutenant Kale, have you studied much cartography of this area? I would imagine an inquisitive people like yours would have a much better insight into these regions than we do."

Vespa perked up as the Captain approached, "Oh, nothing really focused. Just helps to know where all the problem spots are. Like, this one." she tapped one of the particular systems on the chart. "That one's a problem."

Her twin picked up, "Your charts call it Meelos, our charts call it Kelor. Either way, Kelor Four has a Class Seven case of Fera." a pause, then she recalled. "Right, the only exploratory vessel you..."

"... had out this way didn't come this far out. Okay so, how to describe fera. It's, it's a plant, and a fungus, and... well, it's weird." she paused to collect her thoughts.

"It's a terraforming agent that evolved to ignore its genetic kill switch. It's equal parts plant and fungus, grows like a weed, pollen, spores, it's a nightmare..."

"... once it gets its mycelium in," she explained. "We isolate infestations with force fields, while the Ts'usugi carpet bombs it from orbit. It's a class F disaster, Captain."

"We classify it as a planet killer, eventually. It just spreads, and spreads, and spreads. Consumes plant life to make more of itself, kills off animal life to..."

"... produce more of itself. Once it reaches a critical point, it produces seed pods and launches them into space through hyper oxygen combustion." she continued. "So if ..."

"... Kelor Four has it, it's a safe bet that the neighbouring planets might already be at risk. It's the slowest nightmare you ever saw, Captain. I'd avoid that..."

"... planet, and the planets near it, if you have any capacity to." a pause, "And if you're interested, I can draft up a full report on Fera, and the cult that kinda sorta..."

"... worships it. Or willingly allows themselves to be infected by its spores and then gets onto commercial craft or heads to populated centres."

"I hope we are not going there it sounds like the Seeds of Doom," Shri'Rao said.

"Well, the plan is to avoid it. I mean, that'd be my plan." Vespa assured Shri'Rao.

"We aren't going to head there, I'm not going looking for trouble," Taggart replied.

'Well, I am not looking at these planets at all. There are 2 planets here. one has been blockading the other for a long time. Ensign Harry Kim from Voyager was the first to make contact with the planet inhabitants being blockaded. They have been scrounging from wrecked ships near them to gain a way to break the blockade and be able to get regular supplies of food and medicine. Replied Rouni.

I have an idea of how to infiltrate the blockaded planet and bring some much-needed food and medical supplies to them to. Then trade the supplies for items we need to fix Pennsylvania. The planet names are Kraylor and Annari. The Annari have been blockading Kraylor for a long time. If we can get to Kraylor undetected it would allow us to negotiate a trade for food and medical supplies in exchange for what we need to fix Pennsylvania."

The charts on the computer do not mention either of the planets so I resorted to the old-style charts. I think if we rigged a shuttle to reflect the sensors and then went in we can get what we need with a minor distraction by Pennsylvania. To draw the Arnnani's attention."

"That's assuming there's still a blockade or a conflict. It's been a while since that little troublemaker of yours came through these parts." Vespa said with a smirk. "I've never even..."

"... heard of those two worlds or those people, so I can't imagine how far away they are from Dalacari space. Still though, good to know you weren't planning..."

"... a field trip to Kelor." she examined the chart again, looking at the planet, "Hmm, yeah, looked a little like it. Though, I trust your charts more than my eyes."

Then she paused, "And wait, why are we invading a blockaded planet again? Now I'm fully confused."

The blockaded planet has a community of scroungers and we may be able to trade soon food and medical supplies to them in exchange for the much-needed items we need to fix Pennsylvania. And perhaps get us back to a more normal capability if we need it. The last thing we need right now is to get into another running fight with all our limited capabilities.

Rouni replied, "The only problem is we are not close enough to these planets to go to them right now. But there are rumours of areas near where we are where a lot of ships are located that were damaged and abandoned. But the computer charts do not show where they are located at.

I got the old charts out in hopes we could locate some of those that are near enough for us to go to Scrounge for the parts from there. So far no luck. Any suggestions from anyone?"

"Yeah but to get to that blockade you would have to travel through Hirogen space, it is my understanding that Pennsylvania has a history with them already. I was going to wait and have a proper meeting but since you all are gung ho about this, we received and decrypted a message indicating a planetary bazaar, that is in a safe location but will require several days travel. Apparently, it is a meetup for traders and merchants. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I order you to put the charts away, do not ruin a good party with work, we will meet tomorrow, " Captain Taggart said before turning to leave for the bridge.

"We are no match for the Hirogen, in our current state. Is there any way we can outflank the blockade?" Shri'Rao asked.

Captain Taggart stopped as he heard the engineer speak, "Lieutenant Commander we are not running a damn blockade or going near Hirogen space. We will have a meeting with department head's tomorrow to discuss this. Tonight was supposed to be a morale event for the crew; this was not to worry them about blockades and Hirogen air space." Dirk was dissatisfied with several of his officers, the evening was supposed to be fun and light-hearted instead it was ending in disappointment. "Enjoy the evening, I'll be on the bridge and will meet with you all tomorrow," he said as he stalked out of the room.

Shri'Rao breathed a sigh of relief. This Captain was prudent. The Andorian wondered why he stalked of in such a huff. She wondered if all social gatherings were just warfare disguised. Clearly some of her shipmates had concerns as she herself did. Perhaps the Pecans didn't agree with him.

Finishing his various chats the doctor finished some of his veggies and was about to go for another round when he saw Arianna. He made his way over to her. "Arianna, my dear how are you doing?" He asked with a broad smile. "I didn't see you in sickbay getting teeth repaired so I assume you have a full set?"

"Actually, I still do have them, albeit true that I need to have them checked," Arianna chuckled, finishing her Pecan pie. "This is a wonderful gathering and......what do they call this green stuff I am drinking? It has a weird taste.......I think someone said it was kanar....kunar.....or something to that effect. Gives me a smooth buzz, but not wasted in the sense of being drunk", she added laughing.

He chuckled. "I need to get a couple of drinks of that. You should have tried some of the cheap earth stuff from the area I was from. There was alcohol, some kind of liquid and most of the flavouring came from the container." He laughed and shook his head. "Of course that was not meant for a smooth buzz either. Or a smooth wakeup the next morning either." He looked around the arboretum. "I'm glad to see there are not too many hard feelings between the crew."

With everyone engaging actively and chatting, Addie took the moment to quietly escape the bustle of the arboretum, making her way into the corridor and heading back toward her office.

"Well as long as we finally understand each other, I guess it's ok," Arianna said smiling as she was in fact beginning to feel the effects of her weird drink.

-A post by the ship's crew-


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