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Chance Meeting

Posted on 10 Dec 2022 @ 6:37pm by Lieutenant Commander Harva Taliborn & Crewman Apprentice Unknown 'Weirdo'

2,630 words; about a 13 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: Corridor 36, Deck 8, near turbolift shaft 4

Lumbering footsteps carried the ship's largest officer towards his destination. One more item on his list, damage to the ship. Though to be fair it was aesthetic damage, not structural or functional damage. The ship turbolift in question functioned just fine, though the carriage had sustained some damage in its roof and one of its walls when one of the creatures had tore through it.

The turbolift doors stood open and a man was sitting right in front of it. No, kneeling, looking at the lift itself and peering up at the gap in the roof. "Those things did quite a number on you, didn't they?" the man said amiably, patting the non-damaged turbolift wall. "But don't worry. I'm sure they'll get around to fixing you anyt- Ah!" He jumped up in one fluid motion and turned around to face the new arrival. Upon seeing Harva, the man's face lit up. "Oh wow," he said with a delighted smile. "I *love* your hat!"

"Yeah?" Harva blinked at the man. That outfit - and that reaction, it amused him. And so, with a chuckle, the massive sirran reached up, took off his top hat and set it down on the man's head - though being sized for a Sirran (and with cut-outs for Harva's ears) it sank a bit deeper over the man's brow than appropriate. "There. It's yours," the engineer rumbled, his voice a deep resonating oktavist bass. "Name's Harva, I'm an engineer. Here to get this carriage fixed up.

"Thank you so much!" The man's voice sounded a bit muffled now. "It's a pleasure to meet you." He pushed the hat a bit higher, then turned back to the turbolift, raising one finger in a 'wait a moment' gesture to Harva. "See, I told you someone would come to repair you soon enough! You'll be alright in a bit."

Then he turned back again. "Sorry about that. It looked so sad, being damaged and all. I just wanted to keep it company for awhile. I have no idea what exactly happened to you all, but it must have been quite something, judging by this all." And judging by how the people looked he'd seen in the observation lounge earlier, some still wounded, all of them exhausted. This was a good ship, a strong ship, but she was hurt all the same.

"Ship got boarded by some kind of weird alien tentacle things. They messed up the place, killed some crew, though we ended up fighting them off," Harva mused, stepping inside the carriage and examining the damage. A few panels needed replacing, but that wasn't such a big deal, really. He could use the transporter and material replicator to get rid of the old ones and get them replaced. As such he started unscrewing the damaged wall panel. "Yeah, it was quite something. But we've got a good crew here and managed to pull through."

The man nodded, which caused the hat to slide back over his eyes. He absentmindedly pushed it up again and brushed a few errant curls away from his forehead at the same time. "Glad to hear it. Yes, for all the emptiness of space there are a lot of interesting things out there – not all of them equally pleasant." The sea-coloured eyes darkened briefly, then lit up again. "I'm not really sure I've read about your species though."

"I'm a Sirran," Harva rumbled, concentrating on his work. "About average size for my people. Not many of us in Starfleet to be honest. Seems we're not a people that goes out to see the stars much," he mused, the panel now coming free from its mountings. "Computer, recycle this panel and give me a new one, please," with that the damaged panel disappeared in a blue shimmer, to be replaced by a whole one a moment later.

"Sirran," his temporary companion mused and pulled a PADD from one of the pockets hidden in his robes. (Last night he had watched all Lord of the Rings movies and the other productions from that franchise and he was now wearing wizard robes. The long staff was casually leaning against the wall on the opposide side of the turbo lift doors.) He scrolled rapidly through the PADD until he came across the entry for 'Sirran' and read it through quickly.

"Not much information about them, too," he commented when he looked up again. "Guess it works both ways."

"Well, I'm here now," Harva's timbre resonated. "Feel free to ask any question you have. Who knows, I might even answer," he chuckled, as he moved to place the new panel in place, holding it up as he fumbled for his screwdriver and screws for a moment.

"Here, let me give you a hand." The PADD disappeared into the robes again, a movement so quickly that it was almost like magic – he had also been practicing some prestidigitation while watching the movies. He placed his slender hands under Harva's large one so that he could hold the panel up while Harva screwed it in place. Meanwhile he continued. "That would be lovely! Thank you again. So, what makes you different from most of your people that makes you do wish to see the stars?"

Thankful for the panel being held in place so he could properly start putting the screws back in using both hands. "I guess it's more a story of what happened that made home less of a safe, comfortable place than the unknown of the stars, I suppose. But that's not a story I'm too keen on repeating," he offered. "So I set out to see the stars. I found the Federation's ideals and manifest to align with my own moral compass, so here I am. And you?"

The man in the wizard robes shrugged. "Oh, there was no conscious choice behind my arrival here, just a string of coincidences, I guess. You people found something drifting out there-" he nodded his head towards the back of the ship, "and were kind enough to take it on board. When they opened it, I came out. So, here I am." If his hands had been free, he would've undoubtedly made a 'tadaa!' gesture.

He looked up at Harva from under the rim of the hat. "I won't pry," he added with a smile which was, suddenly, surprisingly gentle. "So I won't ask you any further questions until I understand which areas you wish to talk about and which ones you'd rather avoid."

Harva laughed, a hearty, warm laugh. "Nah that's fine. I'm fine. Ask whatever you want. Or not, no skin off my back," he added with a chuckle. "yep, I've got it, thanks," as he fixed the panel in place and set about screwing in the other corners.

The man gave him a nod. "Your skin looks just fine where it is." He smiled again and straightened. "Alright then. What's your favourite place on your planet and why?"

Harva chuckled, his laugh having a slight dark edge to it, at the skin comment. "Myrkviðr plains and forests. Big forested nature reserve. Literally means 'dark woods'. Thick woods, rolling green hills and valleys, silvery shimmering lakes, large herds of grazing animals similar to cattle. Rustic old villages from centuries ago, from before they invented electrickery even," he explained, fixing the panel in place and reaching uuup to get the damaged ceiling panel. He didn't even have to stand on his toes to reach it. "There are many similar enough nature reserves on Sirrah, but that's the one I grew up near, so that's the one most dear to me."

"It sounds lovely," the man said. The only woods, hills and lakes he'd seen thus far had been images on a PADD or on a screen, but maybe he would get a chance to walk on some world today and see those sights himself. He felt no hurry, though. Space was big and empty, yes, yet filled with amazing sights and wonders, new discoveries and adventures awaited at every corner. Some would be great, some – as the state of this ship and the people on it attested – would be grim. But he looked forward to all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly.

But he hadn't failed to notice the edge of the Sirran's laugh. The man was like a lake himself, silvery and shimmering, and with darker layers underneath. But wasn't that true of himself as well? There were times when he could feel them, under his own mercurial moods, some glimpses, like shadows in the dark. Elusive, all but invisible and impossible to grasp.

Best not to worry about that. The past was in the past, and if at some point he would remember what secrets it held he would deal with it then. Until then, this was the present: this ship, the marvellous people on it, space stretching out around him like an immense expanse full of unknowns.

"It is. I've got a reasonable facsimile of it on the holodeck, if you're ever wanting to check it out," The Sirran explained. "It's nothing like the real thing of course, but it's close enough for government work at least," he added, working on unfastening the damaged ceiling panel.

"That'd be a holosuite in my case, holodecks are only for officers or groups." He had read the 'rules and regulations' along with everything else during that first night on board. "Not that I've had the chance to look at either or figure out the difference between them other than size." The man grinned. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Size. Power allocation. Priority. Program access. Those are the main differences," Harva rumbled, detaching the damaged plate. "Computer, recycle and a new one, please," causing the damaged panel to once again disappear in a blue shimmer, to be replaced in his hands with a new, undamaged one. The color was slightly off, as age and weathering had slowly discolored the existing panels in the carriage. "Hand me my screwdriver and screws when I'm holding this up in place, that should do me," he answered the man's question. "When I'm done here I'll get you some time in a proper holodeck if you want. I mean, who's gonna tell me I can't."

The man reached down to grab the requested items and handed them to Harva. "Well, I could tell you if you really want me to. But that would hardly be relevant. And hmm…" he looked at the Sirran's immense bulk. "I think you are entitled to a break after this."

"I'm almost done for the day, this is one of the last tickets on the docket," the deep resonating bass spoke, screwing in the next corner of the panel. Almost done. "So you don't remember anything from before waking up in that pod?"

"Nothing at all," the man answered with a casual shrug. "Though judging by the state of my clothes, it must've been a hell of a bang. Then again, I have no idea how long I was in there. Could be anything between, oh, dunno, couple of months and couple of centuries…"

"Huh. That would just eat up at me," Harva mused, finishing screwing down the panel and stepping back to examine his work, make sure everything was aligned. "I'm not sure I could stand not knowing my own story. My experiences, for good or bad, made me the man I am today, on my way to Silvertail."

"You don't know if you would or wouldn't be able to stand it." The man's smile had faded. "Me, I have no reference, no context, nothing whatsoever. The doctor's database doesn't know what I am. So I can either waste my energy being very frustrated about it, or…" he shrugged again, "consider this a chance, an oppurtunity. A new life." The sunny smile returned. "And who knows," he added. "Maybe one day I will find out more… But I won't waste my time just hunting for answers when there is so much more to be found."

"You know? That's a fair and good point. Hadn't looked at it that way," Harva smiled. "Thing is though, for my people stories are very important. Age and experience is revered. Old Sirran are affectionately called Silvertail, or Storyteller, if they are particularly good at passing on the wisdom of experience. But I suppose that is a knowledge I am burdened with specifically because I remember being taught it from my youth. Who knows how I'd feel now knowing any of that," Anod as he looked at his handiwork and judged it done. "Come, I'll open up that holodeck for you. Anyone gives you any guff, just send 'em my way."

The big engineer paused a second. "I find that I get a lot done if I just ask politely. And smile." And with that he gave a massive, broad smile, revealing very impressive dentals, razorlike fangs and canines like daggers.

"You have a great smile!" the man said delightedly. "And though your tail isn't silver yet, I can imagine you have a great many stories to tell, based on all your travels." He fell into step with Harva, his tall legs keeping up with the Engineer without an effort. "Anything in this holodeck which you recommend?"

"Well, I'm not old yet. I'm almost 70 in federation years, which for my people is basically my prime. We get to like 170 or 180 or so. Our fur doesn't start turning silver until we're well past 100, pushing 130," the ship's tallest officer explained. He was walking at a leisurely pace, one he'd adopted that allowed people of a more Federation ISO standard size to keep up with him comfortably. "As for the holodeck, I was thinking Myrkviðr, unless you'd prefer less nature and more cultural?"

The man spread his hands. "I'm a blank page, so right now I have no preference whatsoever. The only nature or culture I have experienced thus far have come through what I've watched and read and observed since I got here. But since it is your favourite place on your homeworld, I'm delighted and honoured you wish to share it with me." He swung the tall staff which he had snatched just before they left up so that it rested on his shoulder. "Obviously, I have no idea how old I am, or what my natural lifespan would be. I don't feel old…" he said with a grin.

"Well, the old saying is you are as old as you feel, so I guess I'm 30 going on 160, depending on the time of day," Harva chuckled. "And the presence of drink, of course. Come, almost there," They approached a large double door, with a console on one side. Harva entered some commands on the console, after which the door opened showing verdant green unearthly hills and forests, with valleys and shimmering lakes, with rustic villages in the distance, with paths and clearings through the woods.

"Here you go. I have to go to my next ticket, but stay and explore as much as you like. When you're done, just go 'computer, exit' and an exit will appear near you." the big engineer explained. "I've set the program to peaceful; you won't be attacked by creatures. Have fun."

"Much obliged. I'd hate getting torn apart during my first visit in a holodeck." The man looked at his wizard robes. "It'd be a hassle to get the stains out…" He bowed, taking off Harva's top hat with one hand and making a sweeping gesture with the staff in his other hand. "Thank you again and good luck with your ticket." The man gave a cheerful wave, plopped the hat on his head again and vanished through the doors.


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