Haumea Colony

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Scientific Inquiry

Posted on Sat Nov 6th, 2021 @ 3:06pm by Ieliene t'Leiya & Lieutenant Jai & Lieutenant Gunnar Arnason

Mission: Frizzle
Location: Haumea, Rescue Command Post, Medical Tent
2840 words - 5.7 OF Standard Post Measure

When the last of the colony's 'lost sheep' had returned under escort from the Marines, anyone watching closely was treated to as close to a demonstration of private family matters in a public space as one might ever get with Romulans; with Ieliene and Devora rushing together towards Caithlin and Tal, and vice versa; each party drawing close to the other and grasping each other reciprocally on both upper arms; almost like the bear hug that Charlene's parents would no doubt exchange with her, only not quite.

Practical as befit a former security officer, however, it had not been long before, after an exchange of exceedingly quiet whispers in their native tongue, Tal had directed Ieliene towards the medical tent, noting the deep gashes in her shoulder and back from the creature's claws, not to mention the bits of dirt and rock ground into them or the shirt now stuck to her skin with mostly-dried green blood. Since he needed to remain at the main area himself as the school principal, he'd meant to ask his sister-in-law, but Caithlin had proven rather reluctant to leave, perhaps now truly meaning to engage in information gathering for the Bray Foundation as she had used as cover earlier; given the strange creature that had been hauled out along with the rescue. And it wasn't as if she was a small child incapable of following orders or defending herself in a pinch. They hadn't argued the point very long; and in the end, Ieliene had made her way over on her own, with an eye roll at adults for a variety of reasons. Upon entering the tent, she wasn't surprised at all to see Gunnar. What made one slender eyebrow climb to nearly epic heights, though, was the sight of the uniformed....child? as well. Some species were small, she knew, but he looked to her for all standards nearly as if he were a young human, possibly around Devora's age.

It seemed that Jai's orientation to the colony was going to be something of a working tour. The trip to the medical tent had been an exercise in geography. At least, he thought he had somewhat of a basic orientation as to where the expeditionary triage camp was in relation to the colony proper. Which was only half as confusing as trying to piece together the situation that he had walked in on, which presently occupied the bulk of his attention.

Gunnar had retreated to the medical tent at the very instant search and rescue had been turned over to the marines. In other circumstances he might have forced himself to stay to meet any casualties, but the plan had been to transport the missing party out, not haul them out through a hole in the rock, so there was no reason to subject himself to the stress of feeling rock walls close in around him any longer than absolutely necessary. Now, having had a chance to mentally regroup, he had waited, halting the impulse to run to examine the girls the moment they emerged - so as long as those recovered were well enough to be walking on their own power families were first in line for relieved reunions.

However, as he spotted Ieliene heading into the medical tent he almost regretted that assessment. "Liene," he exclaimed rushing over, stopping himself of embracing her both out of awareness of Romulan custom and the awareness that she was injured. He'd known her far too long to not spot when she was walking just a little too carefully to avoid showing pain or injury. Placing a hand gently on either shoulder he looked her over carefully then swallowed an unhappy sound. "What happened to your shoulder?" he asked, lifting her onto a bed for treatment, heedless of making a move that might result in a violent response if it were anyone else doing it. "Surely someone in your group had a medkit..."

"A medkit doesn't do much good if there's no safe space or time to use it in." Ieliene started a human style shrug with her shoulders, winced part of the way into it, and completed the other half of it with a Romulan style shrug of her eyebrows; a truly bizarre look in combination with one another but one thoroughly in keeping with her mixed upbringing. "Some weirdo rock monsters with huge teeth and big claws attacked us. Devora and I tried to strike them to buy some time because everyone just froze, like they were cool with getting eaten, and no one even ran till I told them to." Here there was a distinct exasperation in her voice, as only a teenager could produce. "Their skin was super hard so we didn't really make much of a dent in things, and one of 'em swiped me on the way back out of their way." She fidgeted slightly on the bed, fingering the knife she was still wearing openly at her hip for now.

There was almost certainly a 'rest of the story' to that, but Gunnar resolved to ask the Chaplain about it later, possibly over stiff drinks. For now, he ran a scanner over her wounds and gave her hypo of antibiotic to prevent infection. Those would need to be cleaned before they could closed. Taking a sterile cloth and instruments to remove smaller bits of gravel wedged in the gashes, he began to clean them and aware that (a) it wouldn't be painless, but (b) Ieliene would resent being given any pain-killer as that was 'for babies', he opted for distraction. "Ieliene, have you met our new CMO, Dr. Jai?" he asked with a nod in the Miran's direction.

At the sound of his name, Jai perked up. The man who had called attention to him was one of the attending residents at the hospital.

Jai was certain that he'd been told the man's name. And just as certain that he did not recall it. That's how the introduction to the colony had been. Something of a shotgun wedding, it seemed.

"He's a d--" She stopped halfway through, clenched her teeth for a moment with slight hiss of air through her teeth, no nearly as accomplished as her father at hiding such things, and turned her head towards Jai slightly. "You're a doctor? But aren't you..." Another tiny hiss of air at some particularly painful motion, and curiosity won out over propriety with her next words. "...But aren't you a human? You look like a human. How did you get to be a doctor at your age?"

"Turning four hundred prompted me to seek a career change," the boy answered in a matter-of-fact tone. Not a lie. He glanced at the scanner that Gunnar had discarded, but the man seemed to have the patient well in hand. Turning his attention back to the girl, the youth answered honestly, "I'm still not sure how I got to be a doctor at my age. After all, I was older than the faculty. Even the Vulcans."

The girl -- Romulan? -- seemed like she was in for a bit of wound cleaning. If Gunnar was aiming to distract her, then Jai was happy to be able to help be a distraction. At least for the moment, but so far nothing seemed to demand immediate trauma services. "What about yourself? What is it that you want to be?"

"Some kind of scientist, probably. Got a lot of neat readings in the caves I bet, once I get a chance to look them over later. And four hundred?" One small eyebrow climbed precipitously. "That's older than someone's grandpa!" That grandparents were meant to be 250, not 80, in Ieliene's frame of reference made it a slightly closer stretch, but really, all it did in the grander scheme of things was make Jai's age equivalent to a lifetime-and-a-half versus three of them. "Why do you look human, then? Are you a shapeshifter? I thought we made them all go back to the Gamma Quadrant."

Gunnar compressed his lips against amused smile - he felt badly for any discomfort the line of questioning might cause Jai, though he imagined that the doctor had heard nearly all of it before, but couldn't help the impulse to smile, the reaction was amplified by relief at both having her back (mostly) safe and so clearly herself. There was also a small smug element to the smile as he decided that if she was sufficiently engaged to not notice the pain as much, she would also not notice it lessening. He added a mild numbing agent to the sterilizing fluid he was dipping instruments in after extracting each bit of gravel and debris.

"From my perspective, it's the other way around," Jai offered lightly. "Humans look like my species...except none of us remember what our species was called. So I guess they win by default," the Only supplied cryptically.

"That's not a denial of being shapeshifters, you know." A teasing grin flashed on Ieliene's face for a moment, then abruptly her head tilted slightly in puzzlement, braided ponytail swishing a bit but thankfully staying away from where Gunnar was working. "You don't know what your own species is called? How's that, like, a thing? Someone would know or would have recorded what you'd decided to call yourselves, even if it was something you all kept secret from most of you." Exactly why one would closely hold the name for their species was beyond her though, that would just be bizarre. Not that a 400 year old in a Starfleet uniform and a kids body wasn't already bizarre. "...Unless...Are you one of those species that just calls yourselves, like, 'the people' or something?"

"You're the scientist," the boy remarked, tongue firmly in cheek. "Do you want me to tell you? Or do you want to develop your own hypothesis?"

Please, whatever gods may be out there, don't let the hypothesis be worse the shapeshifter... Gunnar thought. But since he was at best, as Rev. Nikedoros put it, a Universalist Agnostic, he decided to try to nudge the response a little. "In my experience it's difficult to formulate a good hypothesis without gathering sufficient data," he remarked, keeping his tone casually neutral, though he'd been Ieliene's babysitter through enough of her earlier childhood that she probably knew when he was trying to guide her in a direction without being direct about it.

Liene’s eyes executed a textbook-perfect teenage eye roll in response to Gunnar’s statement—or possibly in recognition of the maneuver he was attempting—that would have done any human of her age proud; proving that while you might take the girl from the Boston, you would never take the Boston from the girl; pointed ears or no pointed ears. “Yeah. He’s right.” She looked intently, curiously at Jai. “Tell me.”

Clasping his hands in front of him, the boy politely inclined his head in acknowledgment. "Sometime between four and five hundred years ago, the adults of my species began experimenting with genetic engineering," the boy supplied in a matter-of-fact tone. "A crude but novel approach. Using viruses as a delivery vehicle for targeted changes to the RNA."

He paused there in case she asked a question, but then continued on. "The goal of the research was immortality," he stated, before adding, wryly, "Certainly, there is no more human endeavor than that." With that, the boy concluded, "In those of us who were children, it worked rather well."

Another pause. "For the adults, not so much. No." That was the understatement of the century. Moving on, Jai offered simply, "As a result, those few of us who survived before the Federation found our planet came to know ourselves as the Onlies -- as in, we were the only ones left."

Ieliene was silent for a good long moment, processing all this (and probably, weighing the pros and cons of asking further about certain bits). “That’s awful.” That he hadn’t said what happened to the adults wasn’t much of an impediment to someone whose family had given them plenty of opportunities to learn to read between the lines…that is, when teenage eagerness and energy didn’t get in the way of such. She started to shake her head, then thought better of it given Gunnar was working on skin closer to her neck. “So you’re basically stuck being a kid forever?” This did not, in point of fact, sound like anything that worked ‘rather well’ to her; for seven years of her life she had been desperate to turn 7; now that she was a fair bit older still, her focus had instead turned like a laser sight to 18; when she would have gained adult status as a citizen of Earth (she hadn’t quite entirely figured out how it would work on Haumea; if it worked like some colonies it would still use Earth rules in determining that sort of thing, which she hoped was the case). Being stuck being underage for eternity sounded like a nightmare, not a bonus.

It wasn't surprising that Ieliene had understood what was left unsaid - even Romulans born and raised on Earth felt the impact of the massive loss from Hobus, and she had an aunt who felt it all quite keenly no matter how carefully she tried to mask that before others. There may have been a half-beat's surprised pause at the follow on question, but Gunnar quickly realized that (a) it was far better than any number of other things she might have asked, and (b) it was actually a very sympathetic response - he recalled all too well how proud she had been of her status as a quasi-adult after the Romulan version of kahs-wan (particularly while her younger siblings were still 'children'). "Physical maturity isn't the only measure of adult status. Dr. Jai is a Starfleet officer, and several hundred years older than most of us. That puts him in a category other than 'kid'."

This seemed to quiet the aspiring scientist for a few moments more as she struggled with the concept; though perhaps she struggled less with it than those whose species took a one-and-done approach to the concept of adulthood (like many humans). “So you’re almost like me then? Like…sort of an adult, but also not one?” A corner of Liene’s mouth turned up slightly at Jai. “Do you still like candy and stuff; or do you like weird ‘health food’ like my dad eats sometimes?” And just like that, any insight beyond her years came crashing back down to a very teenage take on things.

"I don't think enjoying candy is something kids can claim exclusivity over," Jai offered with a lop-sided grin. "But you're right. My people aren't exactly kids or adults. We're just...Onlies."

Inclining his head, the boy did add, "We try to at least act mature around the adults, though," the boy admitted. That, at least, was something he was well-practiced in.

"You do a better job of being mature than many adults," Gunnar remarked with a wry smile. The remnants of a bruise on his jaw that been left only partially treated due to the appearance of the first group of missing students provided all the evidence needed for that statement. "And you know perfectly well adults like candy," he told Liene, almost teasing. "It's not my fault you haven't developed the good taste to appreciate chocolate coated black licorice."

"I still say you and your grandma eat that stuff mostly just to prove you can." It was an older point of teasing and argument between the two; and one that wasn't entirely one sided, either; when it came down to it that was mostly the reason Ieliene herself ever drank Romulan ale; left to her own devices her preference was for a cosmo or a mojito.

"No. Chocolate covered black licorice is good," Gunnar laughed. "What we eat to prove we can is hákarl."

"I don't know that chocolate and licorice are two things I would combine," Jai noted candidly. Gunnar seemed as though he were finishing up with cleaning the wound, and he hardly needed Jai to help. "But, I should check on our other patients," the boy noted warmly.

Bowing slightly toward Gunnar, the boy then did the same toward the girl. "It was nice meeting you. Or, as we say in my culture, tashi delek."

Ieliene gave Jai a gracious little bow of her own head for a moment to him. "Jolan tru." Anyone who also hated licorice probably had promise.

"My people typically say 'bless bless'," Gunnar said, inclining his head to the doctor. "We can talk later, but it's good to finally have a real CMO here."


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