Part of USS Century: 1. Videre Invisibilium

Finding Solace in Good Company

USS Century
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“…It’s just frustrating…” Commander Peters remarked for the nth time in her conversation with the Century’s Medical officer. She was sitting in a small corner booth of the ship’s lounge, a cup of coffee in her hands and an empty plate in front of her. Dr. Odaim still had a small bit of salad left on her own plate and the glass on her side of the table had been emptied some time ago as she sat passively, listening to her friend unload in what seemed like a never ending loop.

“Couldn’t it just be that you’re trying to attribute some sort of malice where none exists?” Reli offered with a shrug. As a general rule, the doctor did everything she could to avoid reading her crew mates minds, which meant that a great deal of the time she was only offering advice out of hand rather than after digging around in the depths of someone else’s thoughts. Given her lack of focus in the realm of psychiatry, Reli felt her stance wasn’t a bad one.

“How can it not be malice? Or at least willful avoidance if not malice?” Abigail let out a long sigh, “Maybe it’s because I can’t wrap my head around how he came to that conclusion.”

The doctor let out a small sigh of her own, “Abby, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that trying to think like someone else is an exercise in futility…”

Peters frowned at the comment, “Easy for you to say… you can literally read minds.”

“Can and do are two very different things…”

“Yes… yes… I know…” the Commander remarked glibly as she put her coffee back onto the table, “But I am curious to know what kind of things you’re able to see in his mind.”

“Except I really can’t,” the doctor retorted, “not to any great degree. Surface emotions, sure… but the minds of non-sapient beings aren’t easy to read. And with how closed off the Captain keeps his thoughts and emotions, it’s easier to just take what he says at face value and move on.”

“Do you know why he does that?” Abby asked, leaning forward slightly.

Odaim shook her head, “No, I’ve never had a reason to ask. I’d assume it has something to do with his upbringing on Cestus III, but it could very well just be his unique personal choice and not some function of trauma. And anyway, that’s not really my wheelhouse as it is.”

“Where did you pick up that phrase?” Peters snorted in laughter.

“One of the doctors back at Starfleet Medical used to say it. Guess I just picked it up along the way,” Reli replied with a casual shrug.

“Do you think deep down, the Captain doesn’t actually care about any of us… I mean personally. Professionally I know he has to at least a little, but deep down…” Abby started to ask before trailing off.

“You’re asking if he sees us as food, aren’t you?” the Betazoid asked with a frown.

“Yeah,” Peters replied sheepishly, “Kind of…”

“He does not,” Reli remarked firmly.

“But how do you know?”

“Starfleet never would have allowed him to get as far as he is if he truly believed his peers were just meals on two legs. There are several species out there that have carnivorous proclivities… and I do mean eating sapient life. Those species are still allowed to serve as long as they pass a comprehensive evaluation, which includes a psych eval. If he truly thought everyone here was food, he wouldn’t be in command. He wouldn’t have even made it through the Academy,” Reli explained, exasperation laced throughout her words.

“Ugh…” Peters said, slumping into the booth a bit, “I know it’s a stupid concern… but sometimes I can’t help but wonder, you know? It’s not like there’s a manual for how to deal with your Gorn Captain out there…”

“The same thing could be said for there not being a manual for him covering how to deal with a ship full of emotional mammals,” the Betazoid smirked.

“Is there not?”

Reli dropped her head into her hands for a moment before looking at the XO, “Any manual about dealing with crews is going to be written from a perspective he doesn’t share. It’s easy for you and I to understand something written by people similar to us… we have plenty of the same frames of reference. We experience the world around us in much the same way, our emotional reactions to things are similar, so we don’t have to go into a great deal of detail because we’re all pretty much working with the same foundation. Now hand that book to someone who has none of those similarities. You might as well be handing them a book written in Iconian for all the good it does.”

Abby recoiled a bit at the thought, “Yeah… I didn’t think of that…”

“Right… so here we have a Captain who doesn’t share our frames of reference for a great many things having to tackle problems that he might very well never have encountered previously. I know he was a security officer throughout most of his career, but that really doesn’t tell you much about what kinds of departments he rose through the ranks in, or how much they did or didn’t teach him about how us mammals think. They could just as easily kept him at arms length and only dealt with him professionally and never showed him the dark side of the emotional spectrum. For all I know, you throwing your little tantrum is the first time he’s ever dealt with this and he’s even more lost than you are as to what he can do to fix it. And you’re sitting there idly wondering if he thinks you’re just a light meal…” the doctor said, eying her friend a bit coldly.

Peters raised her hands in mock surrender, “Alright… enough… I get it… sheesh…”

A sudden thunderous bout of laughter tore the two’s attention away from their conversation, pulling it toward the bar on the other side of the room. Abby leaned over to see beyond Reli, while the doctor had to turn fully around to take notice of the source of the sudden noise. Sitting side by side where the Century’s Captain and Security officer, and judging by the jocularity emanating from the latter, they were enjoying themselves. The doctor turned back to her table mate with a smug look on her face.

“What’s that look for?” Abby grumbled.

“Oh… I think you know…” came the catty reply.

An eye roll was her only response, so roll her eyes she did. Deep down, Peters knew she was only grasping at straws with her rationale for why their dalliance into Romulan space had ended so abruptly and without thought to rushing in and doing a much more thorough investigation. And for all she really knew, it might very well have been the right choice from the get go given the shaky foundation her argument had been built on in the first place. Her former commanders had been a lot less deliberate in their actions, one of them qualifying as the definition of hotblooded. Those experiences might very well have tainted her perception of how a Captain should behave, and she was merely silently rebelling against something that was unfamiliar to her just for rebellion’s sake.

“Are you going to go talk to him? Work this stuff out?” Reli asked, a playful smirk still dancing on her lips.

Abby let out a petulant sigh, but started to move toward the edge of the booth nevertheless until she noticed that the Captain had already disappeared. “Guess not…”

The Betazoid turned to see the Gorn absent and shrugged as she turned back around, “Lost opportunity I suppose.”

“There’s always tomorrow…”

“Try not to let too many tomorrows pass by before you… you know… actually do it,” the doctor remarked.

“What are you, my mother?” Abby countered with a grumpy frown.

“Impossible,” Reli laughed, “You’re older than me.”