A Call from Nanna
Location: Main Sickbay
Sitting on a biobed in the main sickbay, there was nothing particularly wrong with lieutenant Mnhei'sahe Dox at the moment. However, as she had recently learned from a conversation with the Goddess Hera her mind had been artificially forced open and left defenseless from any potential psychic invasions or attacks.
As there was no conclusive way to test for that, Doctor Asa Dael had asked the red-headed Romulan woman to come in for a series of baseline scans as Dox was planning to begin a rigorous mental training under the aegis of the Vulcan Lieutenant Sonak to, with any luck, unlock the mental abilities Romulan's had abandoned thousands of years ago when they separated from Vulcan in the great exodus.
So Dox sat patiently but anxiously on the biobed as Doctor Dael was in the other room looking over the initial brain scans, kicking her short legs as they dangled over side. In order to cut the largely unnecessary tension, she forced a slight joke to Asa in the next room. "I still have a brain up here, right Doctor?"
“Oh, is that where it was supposed to be? Shoot, I guess I scanned your ankles for no reason,” Asa quipped back.
Looking nervous to interrupt the two senior officers, Ensign Carrott poked his head into Asa’s office, “There is a very determined woman asking for you on Subspace, Doctor. She…well, she’s not going to leave a message.”
“How does everyone keep getting my location?” Asa muttered under their breath before replying, “Thank you, Ensign, please go ahead and put her through. Um, don’t suppose she said her name?”
“I..uh, well, I forgot to ask, sir,” Carrott replied, twisting pulling at an earlobe nervously.
Smiling indulgently, Asa knew the young Ensign had a lot on his plate. His wife was, as expected, pregnant, and the Ensign had just found out two days prior. He had been a bit out of it since then, and had taken to saying “Pregnant?” to the room at large at random intervals when he didn’t think anyone could overhear.
“Let’s try to remember to ask in the future, ok? And Ensign? I know you have a lot on your mind, and I’m here to support you, so let’s figure out a way to help you get through the next seven months with your mind intact. Quick meeting at 1500? You aren’t in trouble, just seems like I can serve you better than I am is all,” Asa said in a placating tone. They knew the Ensign would need to get it together before the ship headed off on its next mission, but a day or two allowance could be made for life-changing news.
Tugging furiously at his earlobe, Carrott responded with “Aye, Doctor. And, um, sorry about that.”
Once the ensign had resumed his duties, Asa answered the call. An aged face greeted them, wizened beyond what a human face could possibly achieve, with shocking white hair and a permanent smile showing off a mostly-full set of teeth. Recognizing the woman as their Nanna Yi’hawn, adopted grandmother, Asa squeeled with delight.
“Nanna! Mnhei’sahe! Come here, it’s Nanna!”
From the other room, Dox initially flinched with concern at Asa's squeal as the young Romulan was notoriously protective of the even younger Doctor. But her own face lit up at the news as she was legitimately enamored with Asa's Nanna.
Schooching down from the biobed, Dox trotted into Asa's office with a smile but her customary anxiety giving her a little concern. "Hello, Ma'am. Is everything okay?"
“Fine, lass, just fine,” the ancient woman replied. “Actually glad I caught the two of you together. I was calling little Asa here to give them a heads up about you. Did you know your brain is wide open to the whole multiverse, young lady?”
Nanna’s tone was playfully chiding, it was clear she was making light of the situation, but also felt strongly enough about it to have sought out how to reach Doctor Dael. The background behind Nanna was a meeting facility somewhere on Bajor as the colony she lived in did not possess such technology, and Yi’hawn was wearing her best traveling coat as she called it, further evidence she had journeyed quite far from home by her current standards to make this call.
“Wait, Nanna, what?” Asa said, confused at the pronouncement.
“Her brain, child. Mind, soul, psyche, whatever you want to call it. Most people have some level of psychic defense by nature. Granted, for non-psionic races like humans the defenses are slight- just enough to keep out the celestial wind as it were. For Vulcans, Betazoid, and incredibly talented El-Aurians such as myself- those defenses are quite strong. For you, lass,” Nanna said directly to Mnhei’sahe, ”You have a seven-mile high sign blinking ‘Welcome Welcome, Come on In.' I meant to tell you when you were here, but I lost track of things, I’m sorry child.”
Slightly embarrassed, Dox's eyebrows knitted as she fidgeted in place slightly. "Well, I kind of JUST found out a little about it, Ma'am. We've, Asa and I, we've just started to look into the medical side of it. And I've talked with Sonak... he's a Vulcan and a Kolinahr master... and he's agreed to try and help me train to... I don't know... defend myself. And Mona and I have..."
Beginning the ramble, Dox stopped herself from going into the somewhat intimate details of her meditations with her newfound mate, Mona Gonadie. Quickly, she shifted the subject hoping Nanna Yi'hawn wouldn't jump on the mention of Mona. "Uh... what do you mean, 'the whole multiverse'?"
With a laugh, Nanna said gently, “You didn’t think there was just the one universe, did you? There are as many other universes as there are stars in the sky. More, actually. Now, don’t sound too scared, it seems like you have things well in hand. Those Kolinahr masters have things well in hand, and with your heritage, a Vulcan is an excellent choice. Who is this Mona person? Another Vulcan? Or someone from Starfleet Psionic Defense? Don’t tell me they don’t have one….everyone knows there is some kind of something going on to train all the psionic users.”
The young Romulan blushed slightly as, of course, Nanna didn't let the mention of Mona slip. "Uh..." She chuckled nervously. "Mona's kind of... we're... um... a couple... I guess. She's Miradonian and they can... um..."
Embarrassed, she hung her head slightly as she spoke. "Apparently they can... bond psychically when they... um... oh my goodness, this is ridiculous." Pushing out an awkward smile, Dox couldn't understand why she was so nervous talking about this with a woman she had only met once, except that in this case, Nanna Yi'hawn practically exuded that special kind of parental vibe that made people feel a little bit more like children seeking approval. "She's my partner, and she's been helping me with meditation for... bonding. It's been... helpful so far."
Chuckling softly at Mnhei’sahe’s discomfort, Nanna replied, “Lass, no need to be embarrassed. I’ve had more children than some people have sex, so I doubt you can say anything I haven’t done, said, felt, thought about, forgotten about, and done a second time. Little Asa, on the other hand, may die of embarrassment, but they will quickly resurrect, I have no doubt.”
“Nanna!” Asa groaned, turning red to compliment Mnhe’sahe's green. “I’ve been practicing talking to people about….that. I’m not a complete moron, you know.”
“And yet you still don’t want to say the word, Asa. Sex. Sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex,” Nanna responded in a sing-song voice. It was obvious she took great pleasure in chiding Asa, the way only family can.
A slight smile spread on Dox's face as the embarrassment was being properly spread. She knew how uncomfortable Asa was around the subject, thought, and generally did try her best to avoid it more often than not.
“Now for you, Mnhei’sahe,” Yi’hawn continued, “Can’t say I’ve met a Miradonian before. Back a few years ago, I think about 100? 200? Not sure, but a few years back word of their ill-treatment made the rounds. Some of us meant to travel to their planet and see what we could do, but then the dang Nexus ate us and everything went weird. Honestly, my memory is a bit fuzzy on those days. Touch telepath, I’m guessing? Or only in certain circumstances? You tried sending each other the mental moon eyes without touching, lass?”
"Uh, yeah. It seems to work best when we're touching, skin to skin." Dox replied. "It's more of a... I could feel her energy and see it in my mind like this blue light around my own, which was kinda red. And when we concentrated, the lights would kind of... swirl around each other.... if that makes any sense. It's weird to try and describe." She chuckled nervously. "But I know she's been reaching out to me for a while. The other night was the first time I tried reaching back, and there was definitely something that happened."
Nanna waggled her eyebrows at Mnehi’sahe suggestively, “I’ll bet it did, lass. I’ll bet it did. Well, it sounds like this old fool was late to dinner as usual, and you young’un have everything well in hand. If I may suggest though…be careful who you reach out to. Not saying anything against your mate, mind. Just…well, I’ve been burned myself doing that in the past, and it’s not a pleasant experience, nor one soon forgotten. Just the same way you wouldn’t go around kissing everyone you meet, be careful with your mind too.”
Respectfully, Dox nodded. "I will, thank you."
Turning to Asa, Nanna continued, “That big book Cara gave you? See if you can find the section on blocking probes from alternate universes. I would teach you myself, and I can only assume it’s in the book, but it’s a good starter exercise and it will help your friend, too. And if you can’t find it, tell the Reaper to at least open the book to the right page for you. She can’t do much more than that, but I bet she will if you ask nicely.”
Nodding an agreement, Asa said, “Yes ma’am, I’ll ask her.”
With a slightly quizzical look on her face, Dox turned back to ask another question. "Pardon me, Ma'am. About these... other universes. We know a little about the idea, I mean, Commander Paris herself comes from a different universe herself, but are you saying my mind is so open that it can be calling to... things... outside our own universe? How dangerous could this be?"
Tapping her nose in a gesture that others would occasionally see Dael use also, Nanna replied thoughtfully, “Well, it’s pretty darn hard to cross the universal divide. The Q can, of course, it’s part of some of their foolishness. Or at least they used to be able to. I haven’t seen one in person in over a millennia, so who knows anymore. Some of the deity class beings, like the prophets, can. You don’t have the raw juice to cross that divide yourself, no offense intended, but if for whatever reason one of those beings from another universe was peeking in on this one, they would be able to see that Welcome sign, plain as any deity class here. It won’t call to them until they are looking in this direction, but at that point, it’s a blinking hello.”
With a quirky half smile on their face, Dox replied. "I... I don't want that juice. I have too much as it is. But thank you... that's all the more reason for me to work on this training with Sonak." Then her quirky smile broadened into a wider one. "Seriously, though. Thank you. It's... it's good to know I have even more help with this. I really appreciate it."
“Pah, what’s the point of being everyone’s grandmother if you can’t boss around the kids a bit, eh? Love you both kiddies, now go see something new and unique and write me and tell me all about it. You are hereby responsible for the life I live vicariously through you both, so make it a good one.”
Rolling their eyes theatrically, Asa replied, “Of course, Nanna. I’ll go be promiscuous and start a few riots and tell you about them.”
“Only if they are good riots!” Nanna fired back.
"Only the best riots, we promise. And we'll take pictures for sure." Dox replied with a smile. She had never let herself appreciate her own human grandparents when the were alive and was feeling considerably more emotional in the moment than she would have thought.
“Cheers for now then, my darlings! Toodles!” then with a waive of her fingers, Nanna Yi’hawn signed off.
Looking over to Mnhei’sahe, Asa said levelly, “The first riot is on you.”
With a chuckle, Dox replied. "On this ship, we probably shouldn't joke too much about that. Still, it was really good to hear from her. You have so much of her in you, I hope you know."
Looking quizzically at Mnhei’sahe, Asa arched an eyebrow and said, “Well, must be some of those long passed down genes from her however-many-of-them children she is claiming. You know that number changes as often as some people change their shoes, right? I’m not sure she even remembers anymore which she gave birth to, which she adopted, and which she just claims. I guess it doesn’t really matter though, does it? If there were to be an ancestral figure for my people, we could do far worse. Even if she is pleasantly crazy.”
With a broad smile, Dox shook her head. "I'm not talking about heredity, Asa. I'm talking about your heart, and your sense of humor and your sense of hope. And yes, your pleasant craziness. Besides, you know my feelings on family... I choose mine."
"But...." Dox said changing the subject, "was there anything out of the ordinary in those scans you took? Especially since I kind of ruined them being a 'baseline' by connecting with Mona?"
Cocking their head to the side considering, Asa took a breath.
“Everything about this is out of the ordinary, but that’s part and parcel of life here, I think. You synaptic responses are more consistent with a Vulcan’s, but there are traces of something else. From what we know of the Debrune, it would seem that your mental signature is leaning in that direction. What that means for the future, I’m not entirely sure.”
Confused, Dox knitted her eyebrows. "Okay... I have to admit... Honestly, I don't know much of anything about the Debrune. What does that mean?"
“Well, they were the offshoots of the ancient Romulans. From what we know, they had similar psionic abilities to Vulcans, but lived an emotionally rich life. They were prone to ability spikes tied to their emotions, which while that can create powerful defense mechanisms, it can also leave a person crippled at the worst time. They were touch telepathic, which also matches what you seem to be experiencing. I would just caution at going too far, too fast, you know? Neural synaptic cascade syndrome is a possibility for those with newly enhanced mental capacities. I want you and Mona to be happy, and that seems safe enough- but just remember to walk before you run, ok?”
"Neural synaptic..." Dox quickly looked far more concerned than a moment ago. "Oh, this just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? I wish Hera could have just closed that mental door instead of me now needing to open the rest. I was fine just... being what I was, ya'know?"
Sensing their friend’s distress, Asa came across the table in their office and sat on the chair next to Mnhei’sahe. Clasping her hand gently, Asa said, “But think about what you would have missed, too. Mnhei’sahe of six months ago couldn’t bond with Mona, right? But now you can? I get it, I really, really do. When I got the kiss of psionic whamminess from Hera it was terrifying. I still don’t understand 1/10th of what I can do, but I know that it is probably important to learn. Just like you are still exploring what kind new strengths this can give you, and you don’t fully comprehend what’s going on. Growth is often like that. When we are kids, we don’t know our bodies are growing, not really. We just sense they are changing, and we don’t know what they are changing to. We fall down a lot because where the ceiling was a week ago suddenly isn’t true anymore, and all our limbs are in new and different relations to one another. We cry because our bones hurt from growing and it feels like a personal attack. Our emotions and mind changes how it processes things and it feels like the weight of those changes will bury us. But at the end of it all, that’s how we become adults. It’s not always pretty or fun, in fact most of puberty is the opposite of that, but it’s always worth the effort, right? I guess what I’m saying is that you are in psionic puberty, so don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t give up. We’ll get you through this, I promise.”
"I know you will, Asa... I do." Then Dox chuckled slightly as she thought about it, repeating the Doctor's words. "Psionic puberty. Heh. That makes this my third puberty now between my first one, fixing my DNA giving me fresh hormones, and now this. Hopefully, third time's the charm."
“Fingers crossed, right? And worst case scenario, I’m sure Hera would still help you if you decide that is what is best. In the meantime, we keep on as best we can. We mere mortals have discerned our way through the universe for millennia, I’m sure we can handle it once again, eh? And bonus- this puberty doesn’t include pimples or mood swings in so far as I can tell.”
"My luck, I'll start having other people's mood swings." Dox chuckled, only half-joking. "So, weekly scans, then? At least for the beginning?"
“For now, yes. Before we move to bi-weekly scans I’d like to see some stability in your neural signature and check with Lieutenant Sonak to get his feedback on your defenses. How are your anxiety levels holding up? Do you want a short term pharmaceutical option to help maintain your mental health while you go through the training?” Asa replied.
"My anxiety? It's through the roof. But... We might want to hold off on anything like that. At least until I know what I'm going to have to do with Sonak's training. I can manage it. I've got plenty of help." Dox replied with a slight sigh.
Patting her hand gently, Asa said gently, “If you aren’t sleeping, it’s going to be very difficult to do the mental work needed to heal. There is no fault in needing some pharmaceutical help. I’m…I’m on a light sedative at nights still, myself. It’s the only way I get to sleep since Mars. You sure you ok on that front? And not just making life more difficult for yourself out of some misplaced sense of propriety?”
Squinting with a bit of an exaggerated expression, Dox replied. "I think my counselor has been blabbing."
It was a joke at the expense of the face that Doctor Dael had been rather successfully subbing as the ships counselor as well for a number of months now. "But... yeah. Help sleeping I won't say no to."
With a wink, Asa went to grab a container of small pills.
“Yeah, I hear that Doctor Dael is a grade A blabbermouth. I’ll be sure and tousle their hair when next I see them.”
Then, stopping theatrically in front of a reflective surface, Asa made a face of mock consternation and thoroughly tousled their own hair.
Bringing the meds over to Mnhei’sahe without stopping to right what was left of their part, Asa said, “They are gummies, so no need to take with water. Just keep by your bed and chew one when you are ready to go to sleep. They act pretty quickly, but if you get called to duty, I will program the sedative negator formula into your replicator. Questions?”
"No. It seems pretty self-explanatory, Doctor. And I'll be sure to check back in after my first session with Sonak for comparative scans. Thanks." Dox replied, looking at the small container of sedatives.
“Please do. And Mnhei’sahe? Seriously, get some good sleep. The galaxy shines a little brighter when you do.”
Smiling back, Dox nodded. "Good advice. You be sure to take it too, right? And the door is always open if you can't."