POST SPOTLIGHT – USS ATHENA

This post is a great example of how to have two characters meeting for the first time in a fun and unusual way. Not only does it draw from popular culture very well, but it also makes use of the holodeck in a suitably fun and effective way without taking over (or breaking – we’re looking at you, TNG!). Finally, I think it’s so well positioned as a piece to explore shared and divergent character backgrounds – especially how a character in the future may well view the way things are done today.

Posted on Wed Jan 15th, 2020 @ 11:14am by Lieutenant Commander Taeler Santu M.D. & Lieutenant Mortigar
Location: Holodeck 3, Deck 7, USS Athena

It had been quite an exciting first couple of hours aboard the Athena, Santu had hoped for something a bit more slow-paced, but it seemed that this wasn’t meant to be for her first job as an XO. She was glad they made it through unscathed, though. Now that everyone was settling back in a bit she felt it would be a good idea to just relax for a moment, retreat into a holodeck simple holodeck simulation. No more acquisition requests or duty roster changes. Just a moment to clear her mind. As she approached she saw someone already at the doors of holodeck three, the holodeck she though she’d reserved.

“Hmmmmm.” Mortigar muttered uncertainly to himself. He gently poked at the controls which made the list on the computer display scroll down. The Evoran was undecided on which holoprogram to run later on once the holodeck became available. There were so many stories to choose from: ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘The Martian’ just to name a few. Morty had already played through many of those. He certainly had no interest in doing ‘Jurassic Park’ again. Being eaten by a large beast while he hid in an outhouse was not a pleasant way to pass on to the next life. And so, he just kept scrolling, hoping that one of the entries would finally catch his attention.

“How is the selection here?” Santu asked as a way to get the attention of the man standing in front of the holodeck controls. When she read up on the department heads she had seen mention of an Evoran. She leaned in a bit, looking over his shoulder to see what he was browsing through, “Ooh, that’s supposed to be a good one” She pointed at one of the superhero holo novels available.

Surprised at the sudden arrival, Mortigar nearly fell forward into the wall, but he just managed to catch himself. He regained his balance and then looked to where the woman was pointing to; some holoprogram named Doctor Strange. “The title is somewhat vague. I wonder what it could be about,” Morty wondered aloud.

“Doctors are always interesting. It also has a sequel, if we like this one.” Santu stepped back, allowing him some room to step away from the panel and her, she put out her hand, “Taeler Santu, XO. You must be Lieutenant Mortigar.”

“I am,” he responded as he took the Bajoran’s hand and shook it. “What did you mean by ‘we’?” Morty asked her. “My allotted holodeck time isn’t for another hour and a half.”

Santu shrugged, “I have an hour and a half now, you have probably booked the same amount of time right after me. We could make it a doubleheader,” She motioned for the doors, inviting him to step inside, “things worth enjoying are worth enjoying with company.”

Who was he to refuse such an offer? Mortigar cleared his throat and spoke aloud. “Computer, initiate the ‘Doctor Strange’ holoprogram.”

The ship’s computer made a few audible acknowledgements before monotonously saying, “Program online. Enter when ready.”

Beyond the holodeck doors was what appeared to be a busy twenty-first century hospital from Earth. Mortigar stepped in alongside Santu and they found themselves in a type of reception area. Patients were sat along one side of the wall, waiting to be summoned for whichever appointment they’d booked for.

“The current medical facilities on Earth are a vast improvement over this,” the Evoran observed as he scanned the area with his eyes. It was a wonder that there weren’t any dead people littering the corridors.

Santu didn’t want to remark on the state of medical facilities on Bajor not 100 years ago, the resistance ones that was, “I’m always the Doctor, so I’ll let you take the lead.” She gave a smile and motioned for him to step into the office marked to be of the main character.

Mortigar did so, noticing along the way the placard on the door which read ‘Dr. Stephen Strange’. He had no idea what he was supposed to do as this Doctor. Just what kind of a doctor was he? The Evoran rounded the character’s desk and took a seat in his chair in the hope of learning more about the role he was supposed to play. “Do you enjoy being a physician then?” the shorter man wondered as he flipped through a folder containing patient records.

“I did enjoy it, yes.” Santu smiled a bit, it was a good job, helping people. Making them better. Now she’d have to do the same thing on a managerial level. Make sure everyone was happy and healthy so that the departments could work at optimal efficiency, “I’m sure I’ll also enjoy the job of XO.”

“You were a Chief Medical Officer?” Morty asked. “I thought you meant that you often played the ‘doctor’ role here on the holodeck.” He hoped that the Bajoran woman would be able to clarify things for him.

“Yeah,” most of her medical history wasn’t in a Starfleet facility, of course, “on the Nova class Piet Heijn. Made the switch to command in ’94. Just finished the course at the Academy.”

“What made you decide to change careers?” He wondered.

Santu frowned a bit at that, she had always seen it as a logical next step. Her CO had told her that she was a natural leader, “It seemed like the natural next step in my career. I was never going to be a medical prodigy.”

Mortigar nodded in understanding. As he didn’t know the Commander before now, he had no way of knowing whether what Santu said was true or if she was simply being too hard on herself. Regardless, it was time to get on with the program as the Humans of old used to say. “Speaking of the next step,” Morty began. “It would appear as if the character I am playing is a neurosurgeon. I hope that I do not have to perform any surgeries today. I’m an astronomer, not a doctor!” he exclaimed with a nervous laugh.

“Hey Stephen.” A voice came from the opening door behind them, “I need your help with a patient” Christine Palmer stepped forward and handed Mortigar a device displaying an X-ray of a gunshot wound to the head, “Gunshot wound.”

“A gunshot wound?” The Evoran repeated. He took the proffered image and looked at it closely. “This looks serious. I doubt that anyone could survive such an injury.” He then handed the X-ray to Santu so that she could have a look. She was the more qualified of the two after all.

Santu let out a breath through her teeth, “I don’t know, we usually weren’t on the receiving end of ballistic weapons.” They had made use of them, of course, they were effective and cheap to produce. Plus, if you were in the middle of a Cardassian building, you didn’t really care about collateral damage. “Wait a minute though.” She handed the xray back to the woman that had entered, “aren’t these things supposed to explode on impact?”

Some time later…

The build up of the story had been quite a rollercoaster. To go through the trauma surgery and then finding a way to Kamar-Taj for some less than traditional medicine had been quite an eye opener for Santu. Early 21st century medicine was messy. Now they stood across each other in the cold mountain air.

Santu panted, trying to catch her breath. In one hand she held a golden disc of energy that she had conjured up, in the other a similarly coloured whip, “Come on man, is that all you’ve got?” She goaded the astronomer with a crooked smile.

The Evoran groaned in discomfort. Every muscle in his body ached. It didn’t help that his hands were rendered completely useless because of his character’s carelessness while driving. That whole experience was extremely traumatising and Morty couldn’t imagine ever driving a land vehicle ever again. Now he was being forced to spar so that he could make use of his hands again. “How does the Human saying go? I’m a lover, not a fighter. Yes, that’s it. I’m not certain that I can conjure up a conventional weapon, unless you count my mind as one.” Mortigar couldn’t really see how a big brain would help him in this situation.

“Maybe that’s the problem. Too much time spent in your head.” A chime sounded in the holodeck, disrupting their immersion. Santu dismissed the weapons in her hands, “Well. I guess that’s our cue.” She looked over at the Ancient One and smiled. The mystic woman gave a knowing nod. “Computer, end programme.”

The temple they were in vanished without a trace, replaced by the common yellow grid lines that made up the holodeck’s walled surfaces. “That was much more intense than I imagined it would be,” Mortigar said, looking ot the Athena‘s first officer. Doctor Strange indeed, he thought to himself.

“Lucky we left the safeties on” Santu winked at the scientist before stepping towards the door, “I feel like we’re getting somewhere with the training though. Same time next week?”

Mortigar followed her out but he stopped upon receiving the unexpected invitation. “Oh,” he said firstly. Was there really any harm in his accepting the XO’s request? Morty had to admit that holoprograms were always more enjoyable when a handful of people were involved. Plus, it would allow him to get to know the Commander. “All right!” He finally agreed enthusiastically. “Perhaps I should wear some padding…” the Evoran mused.

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