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Finding the Weird

Posted on 23 Dec 2022 @ 8:19pm by Crewman Apprentice Unknown 'Weirdo' & Captain Easton Lawe

2,024 words; about a 10 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: USS Odin, Gymnasium One (eventually)

It was a little while after the staff briefing before Easton had a chance to go on the hunt, so to speak.

"Computer, can you tell me the location of..." He hesitated, remembering that the man didn't have a name. "...of our newest guest?"

"Zenia Pariborn is in the lounge."

Easton frowned. He had no idea who that was, but it was beside the point right now. "Uh, the location of our newest unidentified guest?"

"Unidentified Guest is sickbay."

The frown remained, since he thought the man had been discharged. But oh well, maybe he was having a follow-up. Easton headed down that way, figuring her could also check in on Amelia and make sure she was going to get some rest. Of course, when he got to sickbay, there was a suspicious lack of a musketeer...

"Computer, tell me the new location of..."

" the arboretum."

Of course, when he got to the arboretum...

"Computer, tell me..."

"...recreation room."


It was probably about twenty minutes before a very aggravated ship's captain ended up outside gynasium one and finally spotted the man he was after.

The man, still dressed in the musketeer outfit, had found balls of various weights and sizes – a basketball, a tennis ball, a football and a few others – and was trying to juggle them. At this moment he managed to juggle three, but when he tried to add a fourth one to the collection he lost the rhythm and they fell, bouncing all over the place. He stared at the balls with a pensive look.

"Oh, hang on!" the man breathed. "Now this might work!" He quickly gathered the balls, started to bounce the largest one of the four, then began to juggle with the other three again. On the next pass, he picked up the still bouncing ball and added it to the pattern. It worked, but barely. With a look of fierce concentration on his face, he kept it going for a few more passes before the inevitable mid-air collision and once again balls bounced through the room.

To be perfectly honest, Easton considered turning right around and heading back to sickbay to see if he was suffering from a fever or hallucinations. The Dumas fan with the bouncing balls was just a little too much for the captain to take, but he was pretty sure--from all he'd read--that this man was just this weird.

"Hello..." Lawe began carefully.

The man whirled around, cloak once again flowing behind him, and caught two balls on the rebound. "Hi!" he said cheerfully and placed the balls on the ground before strolling over. A quick glance at Easton's collar, then at his face. "You must be the captain, yes? It's lovely to meet you! Properly, that is. Last time we saw each other you were a bit busy."

Easton laughed a little and nodded. "Yes, I am, and was," he said. "I...hadn't been prepared to meet you, and it was quite a surprise. What were you doing in the observation lounge...up there?"

Ah, questions! He liked answering questions almost as much as asking them. "I was staring out at the stars. Got a bit lost in thought, I'm afraid." The man smiled. "I let my mind wander and there's lots of space for it to wander in. As for the 'up there', I met Ensign Kat Walker, fighter pilot and AI, there and I found I enjoy the view from there. And what brings you here? Are you also learning how to juggle?"

Only my marbles, Easton thought wryly, then hoped this guy couldn't read thoughts. Aloud, he continued, "Actually, I came to find you and introduce myself. You've made for a stir of curiosity aboard the ship. A bit of a mystery." Since the steel squids hadn't offered enough of that on their own, apparently.

The man's brief grin could have been an answer to the captain's thought, or remark, or both. "I am sorry that I come with only questions and no answers. Though I do believe that's why your people first ventured out into space, isn't it? To explore the unknown. Though, in this case, the unknown more or less bumped into you."

"In more ways than one," the captain had to agree. "You seem to be settling okay on board? And, I'm guessing--" He gestured at the outfit. "--got access to books and movies?"

"Oh yes! I don't sleep as much as your average crewmember," the man said with a nod. "And though this ship is a large one, there is a limit to the things I can explore." He had been working his way through the ship, methodically, though his version of 'methodical' differed from most. And of course, the more interesting parts of this ship were off-limits to him, and he didn't want to push the limits of their hospitality.

"We must maintain security, of course," Easton said with a small smile. "I'm guessing that nothing has come back to you since you've woken up from the escape pod?" He knew it hadn't been long, but sometimes, just a few hours or a night's sleep was enough time for memories to start returning.

"Oh, I understand. After all, for all you know I'm lying, and it indeed my dastardly plan to take over your ship and crew singlehandedly! Well, two-handedly, of course, which I suppose is even better." He glanced at his hands and smiled, though this time, the smile faded rather quickly. "But no. Nothing has come back. Sometimes it feels as if there's… something, just a glimpse, but before I can grab hold of it it's gone…" He made a throwing-away gesture and shrugged.

The captain observed the stranger curiously for several moments. "I must say that you seem far less...concerned by being on this ship and not having any memories than I'd think most people would be."

The man spread his hands. "Ah! But consider the alternative, Captain. I could still be floating out there. If you had passed through that section of space five minutes earlier or later, you would never have found me. For all I know, I might've been out there for five months or five years or five centuries. As far as my memory is concerned…" the man shrugged. "Can you be truly sad that you've lost something when you don't know what you've lost? Maybe I was a nice person. Maybe I was a horrible person. Maybe I have terrible memories locked inside my head." Again the smile disappeared, like a cloud passing in front of the sun, and for one moment he seemed sad and far older than his looks suggested. Then he waved his hand again and the sun reappeared. "Probably a mixture of everything. Either way, those moments are lost, and either they'll come back or they won't. I cannot let that determine what my life will be like going forward. There is so much more to see, to discover, so many more memories to make…"

It was a good attitude for the situation, it could not be denied, but Easton wasn't quite sure he could be so easygoing about it. Knowing there was something he'd once known but could not access now. Then again, he'd gotten pretty used to be in control on the command track and all. "Have you decided on a name you'd like to be called?" he asked instead of carrying on that particular thread.

"I don't really have a preference." Once again the man easily switched mental tracks. "Oh, I understand the practical use of names. After all, calling 'hey you!' just means that everyone looks or nobody does, which is rather impractical when you need one specific person." He smiled. "Thus far, I am Tychon to nurse Veyo and Ref to Ensign Kat Walker. Though technically the last one isn't a name, it's just short for person_ref_odin_859, which is the entry I'm stored in in her database. Which, you must admit, is a rather inconveniently long name. Hence 'Ref'."

"It sounds like having a different name with every member of a crew of over seven hundred could get confusing after a while," Easton offered. "You may want to consider picking on to go by."

"I wouldn't have much of a problem with it," the man replied, "But I agree, it would be confusing – mainly for everyone else. 'Hey, have you seen Tychon?' 'Tychon? Oh, you mean Ref?'" The man laughed. "Anyway. Do you have any suggestions?"

At this, a slightly less-confused expression took over the captain's face as he chuckled with his low voice and shook his head. "I'm afraid I wasn't the best of help when naming my own children," he said, thinking of his beautiful growing-up-too-fast twin daughters. "I don't think I'll be much help on this. You have two to choose from, so maybe just flip a coin?" He paused, brows knitting. "I don't know if you know that expression yet?"

"I didn't, but the meaning is clear. Well, since one is a name and the other is a designation, I'll stick with Tychon for now. I might have to try out a few more to see which fits." He flashed his grin again.

"You'll have to let us know if you decide to change it, but for now, we can log with the computer that you're Tychon, which will probably be easier for anyone looking for you to say," Easton said with a smile. He paused for a moment, unsure of what else to cover. "Is there anything else that you need to make your stay with us more comfortable while you, hopefully, recover some of your memories?"

"Give me something to do," the man replied promptly. "I've been exploring the ship and talking to people, but that's not the same as doing something. And judging by all the holes in ship and people, maybe you could use an extra hand."

His request surprised Easton at first, but it made complete sense a moment later. The captain was sure that he'd feel the same way if he'd been in a similar position. There was a problem, though... "Many hands make light work, as the saying goes, but what...can you do?"

"I have no idea," the man said solemnly. But then his eyes got that twinkle again and there was that grin of his, that grin which indicated that to him everything was new and exciting and an adventure. "But won't it be fun to find out?"

'Fun' wasn't exactly the word that Easton had in mind, but he could understand the desire to be productive and active. Without knowing this man's capabilities, however, where he could he put him that wouldn't run the risk of some sort of trouble or danger? "What do you think about, perhaps, working as an orderly in sickbay for a time? They have been terribly worn down after the battle, and being an orderly wouldn't require specific medical knowledge."

"I know," the man said and brushed an errant curl of hair from his forehead. "That's why I was there earlier, I wanted to see how Amelia is doing. She could use a few days off or light duty to catch up on sleep…" The curl slowly slid back to where it had been. "So yes, why not? And I might learn a thing or two about various races here."

Easton nodded. "Then we're agreed," he said. Sickbay seemed safe enough. Orderlies wouldn't have the clearance to check any in-depth personal information, and he'd already obviously established a relationship with the ship's CMO, so that was a good place to start. "I'll let Doctor Warner know and you can start tomorrow. Does that work for you?"

"Most definitely. Thank you very much." The man strolled over to the rack in the corner and placed the various balls he'd been using back where they belonged. "Then if you'll excuse me, I've got some reading to catch up with." And with that he bounced through the doors as if he was a ball himself and left.


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