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Installing Friends

Posted on Mon Jul 8th, 2019 @ 3:06am by Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder

Mission: Light is Dark
Location: Deck 2: Evaad Hessen’s Quarters
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 0000

ON

It was rare that Evaad needed alarms to wake himself up. Usually the waking thoughts of his neighbours were enough to draw him out of sleep.

He’d made arrangements for the Chief Engineer to meet him in his quarters before the start of alpha shift. It didn’t take long to fully groom, dress, and eat before Evaad sensed the engineer’s approach.

ISO chips, PADD, emitters, good to go. Hopefully this won't be another case of Captain Morian and his holographic Llama. Or Ensign K'Tan and her holographic boyfriend. Oh Gods, hopefully this isn't one of those! Guess I can't fault an empath for wanting to have people around that have the capacity to shut the hell up, but...eeeeugh.

Jon approached the door to the Ops officer's quarters, and pressed the entrance chime.

“Come in,” said Evaad. The door opened, revealing the engineer. “Ah, Commander. Thank you for coming. Please come in.” He stepped away from the door.

Jon stepped into the man's quarters, and said, "My pleasure, despite the early hour."

“You know why you’re here?” asked Evaad.

"Well, I was given a brief," Jon replied. "I'm installing holoemitters into your quarters, ostensibly because you can't hear their thoughts. I'll start by saying it'll be a pretty easy install, and shouldn't take up too much of your time, and continue with this sentiment: I imagine being a Betazoid on a ship full of loud people must be a challenge. I'll do everything in my power to help install any equipment in your private space that will help."

"I appreciate your help and your sentiment, Commander," Evaad replied. "I'll be able to maintain the emitters myself, but the Captain insisted that I not do the installation myself. I'll get out of your way now, but please tell me if you need anything." He moved to another part of his quarters and began unpacking more of his personal effects, including his hand tools and a small case of isolinear chips labeled "IMPORTANT".

Jon pulled his pack from over his shoulder, and set to work on a corner of the man's quarters. "I've served with a handful of Betazoids. Every one of them seems to have had a different level of ability. If you don't mind my asking, Lieutenant, where do you fall on the scale?"

Evaad smiled at the question. It was a good one, well informed, and speaking to a combination of wanting to get to know him better and wanting to be well informed about his new team. Evaad took it as a compliment.

"It's a very good question, and thank you for asking. My abilities are about average. But the problem is I can't turn it off. It's like hearing. With good discipline you can decide not to listen or pay attention, but you can't decide not to hear when people are talking in the same room as you, right? So I hear the thoughts of most people around me to some level or another. More if I know for a fact that they're there, like being in the same room or visible on a screen. It becomes less focussed if I can't actualize them." He showed Jon the case of chips. "The holograms are people I actualize but can't hear. If I focus on them, and I have to because they're quite outgoing and engaging people, it tends to drown out the rest."

Jon looked over at the chips for a moment, and replied, "Huh. I have to say, Lieutenant, that's a pretty damned creative way of quieting the din, as it were. Do you know if that's a pretty common practice among your species? I know quiet meditation helps a great many species, I hadn't even thought about how much more difficult that would be for empathic species."

"Most Betazoids have control over their senses," he answered. "So an ability to distract is useful in some stressful settings, but for the day to day is unnecessary. They can block out the world and go to sleep or engage in social activities. This is useful for me because the distracting mitigates my lack of control." He thought for a second. "I've not actually heard if other telepathic species ever use holograms. I've spent my entire adult life programming them for Starfleet and my own therapeutic needs, but never thought to suggest them for broader use by other telepathic races."

As Jon set to work with the install, he replied through a grunt, "You never know. You might be on to something. A whole new field of empathic mental health medicine, as it were. Pardon the awkward question, but...well you'd sense it anyway...I've known some people who were ah, let's say a little attached to the holo-characters they created. You're not using these as your primary social interaction to avoid downtime with the rest of the crew right? I only ask because while I'm no counselor, any one of them could tell you that's probably bad."

Evaad chuckled. Not at the absurdity of the idea but at its accuracy. "It is entirely correct to say that I'm too attached to my holograms, Commander," he said. "They got me through some hard and lonely times. But I take your point, and it's a point my attending psychiatrist has repeatedly made, too. I make an effort to socialize though. I'm better at it than I was. Out of curiosity, do the senior staff ever do anything fun? I can't play poker with you for obvious reasons, but is there anything else fun that you all do together?"

Jon chuckled, and replied, "To be honest, Lieutenant, I don't spend a lot of my off time with the Senior Staff, and if they do spend off time together, I've never been invited. I'm a relatively new addition to the ship though. In my off time, I like to watch symphonies and read about new tech that's being developed by the SCE. Other than that, pretty much what you see is what you get."

"Fair enough, Commander," Evaad said with a smile. "Some of my work was published in those SCE journals. I developed a system for the Marines that enables holographic soldiers to fight on a battlefield. It was shelved before we could field-test it, but it earned a short article." Evaad flinched. "Are we almost finished, sir? Sorry to rush but the two Crewmen sharing the quarters one deck below just started arguing and it's incredibly distracting. The sooner I can get these online, the better."

Jon punched a command into his PADD, and a holoprogram sprung to life. A small rabbit sat in the middle of the quarters, quietly twitching its nose.

"Just a test program. Feel free to delete it when you've uploaded yours. You're all set, Lieutenant. Did you need help with anything else?"

Evaad quickly opened his case, took out one of the chips, and moved to his computer terminal. He entered it into the appropriate slot, waited for the chime, and said "Computer, activate program Larose."

In an instant, a beautiful young woman appeared. Slightly shorter than Evaad, she had pale skin, black hair, and bright blue eyes. She wore a Starfleet uniform that matched those of the engineer and the ops officer in the room, with rank pips putting her at Commander. Hers, however, hugged her figure more tightly than normal and was partially unzipped to reveal the top of her chest. The heel on her boots was also slightly larger than standard.

"Evaad," she said softly, with a francophone accent. "It's been too long! Almost a week since you activated any of us!"

Evaad blushed a moment when he realized how this might look. "Commander Batchelder, this is Instructor Emmanuelle Larose. She has uploaded to her holomatrix the combined experiences of several dozen technical instructors at the Academy. Her appearance isn't based on anyone specific though. That's to, ah, personal taste I guess." He smiled a bit sheepishly.

"I'll take it from here, Commander!" said the holographic woman, trying to shoo Batchelder out.

"I don't think I need anything else, Commander Batchelder," Evaad said. "I appreciate your help this morning."

 

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