Chapter 22 - More Science Cats (USS Tanjura)

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Njessa reviewed the new science transfer, her record seemed strong, but another Caitian?  It seems that someone in personnel had a sense of humor.  “Pandora, thoughts?”

The QAI resolved her holographic form.  “More Caitians?  That should be interesting.  All from very distinct backgrounds.  They should bump along well, they are all Starfleet and Federation citizens.  While I know Andorians pride themselves on their shared, I do not know how it is with the Caitians.”

“Nor I, it is something to look into,” said Njessa.  “But for now, time to meet our new officer.”

“I will send the comm through and vanish then,” said Pandora, doing just that.


USS Tanjura, Particle Acceleration Lab 3

Nailah admired the massive astrophysics suite in the Science Department; everything looked state of the art. She had never served on a vessel this new; Nailah suspected that Starfleet assigned new graduates to the oldest and most disagreeable tubs in the fleet to teach them how to improvise and adapt to difficult circumstances. The Aoteaora had an old-world charm and a heart of steel, but the Science department spent about as much time working with Engineering to jury-rig equipment as they did running experiments.

“Ma maa,” a voice called out, “what is this thing?”

Nailah turned to see her son N’Gere stretching to look at a control panel for one of the accelerators.

“Oi!” Naila snapped as only a mother could. “Over here, now.

N’Gere scampered over to her, and she crouched down to his level. “I’ll show you in the holodeck later.”


“Lieutenant Naliah, please report to the Captain’s Ready Room directly,” said the comm in a friendly female voice, not the computer’s usual one, but not unpleasant.

“On my way,” Naila replied.She turned to one of the security officers near the door to the lab. “Petty Officer…?”


“Petty Officer Whitrock, could you have someone take my kids to my quarters? I’ve been summoned.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“And don’t give them coffee or silverleaf tea no matter what they say.”


Naila sounded the chime for the Ready Room.

“Enter,” said Njessa.  She was standing behind her desk, uniform precise.  “Welcome aboard the Tanjura, Lieutenant Naliah.  May I get you something to drink?”

Naila entered and stood at attention. “Some Darjeeling tea, if it’s not any trouble”

Njessa replicated cup of Darjeeling for the scientist and a mug of Andorian The for herself.  She set the cup down within easy reach of the Caitian.  “We are glad to have you with us, there should be a variety of tasks for science in the Lohalian sector,” said Njessa.  “We are still filling out the science team but do you have any questions so far?”

“The usual expectations and messaging I’m to pass down,” Nailah said with a wave of her hand. “But I am curious…” she started, her hand settling on her chin, “What do you feel the ship’s mission is? I’ve read the mission brief, of course, but what are your goals for the expedition?”

“I am particularly concerned about seeing that Noraxian weaponry and military technology is contained,” said Njessa.  “But that is tied up in improving our understanding of the sector as a whole.  So, I see a considerable amount of general survey work, understanding the local powers, and possibly some first-contact situations.  It is rather a wide open and little-understood section of space for the Federation, we aim to make it less so.”

Nailah considered that a moment.  “Hmm…no small task, for sure. Whoever design these weapons never gave thought to what would happen after their use.” She ran a hand through her braids. “But, from what I’ve seen of the equipment on board, if any ship is equipped to deal with this, it is certainly this one.” She sipped her tea. “May I ask why you chose me out of all of the other candidates? Surely there was an hotshot astrophysicist who is better equipped to lead this effort?”

Njessa smiled.  “I was lucky to get you.  I get the impression that someone in personnel does not appreciate my ideas for expanding the recruiting pool for Starfleet.  Getting approval for anyone to transfer or join the Tanjura has been a bit of a nightmare.  So when someone competent becomes available, I reach out.  And, for whatever reason, they let you come aboard.”  Her antennae quirked in amusement as she took a sip of The.

Nailah’s cheeks blushed at the compliment. “That’s a shame, the recruiting issues. Any idea as to why?. I like to think that diversity is our strength, not something to be fought.”

She took another drink. “I seem to be interrogating you. Do you have questions for me?”

“It is easy to become set in a particular mindset,” said Njessa sitting on the edge of the desk.  “Starfleet prides itself as being the best of the best.  Which is true but it can also lead to a dismissive attitude towards those that have not been trained in Starfleet.  I think as you do, diversity is strength, flexibility and new perspectives give us new ways to learn and be better.”

Njessa glanced to her datapad.  “I see you have brought you family.  How will they be with the holographic crew do you think?  We unlikely to hit full staffing for some time and will be relying on the holograms for many basic tasks.”

“It will be a new experience for them,” Nailah considered. “But they have a lot of friends on the internet that they connect with regularly. It won’t be quite the same, but I think it is best they come with me. My parents are not in a position to look after them.” And, when it comes to their paternal grandparents, Nailah thought to herself, the less said the better. “And I don’t think their other grandparents would be ideal.” The tip of her tail, which had been relatively still up to this point, twitched for a few seconds. “Besides, I’m interested to see how a holographic crew functions in general. I’ve seen emergency medical programs perform basic procedures, but have yet to see holographic automation to this extent.”

“It is both impressive and unsettling how extensive holographic technology has come,” said Njessa   “The crew holograms are limited to their tasks, we should make sure that childcare and education modules are available.  The current crew hologram also lack personality modules but a colleague of mine in Operations has developed a way to add such to them if you wish to have one of the holograms customized as a carer.”

Nailah sipped her tea again, and felt a small sense of relief. “That would be a huge help. Though I’m more worried about the ship’s safety if they are not supervised.”

Njessa laughed at that.  “We will do all we can to keep both them and the ship safe.”