Left Behind: The Irresistible Object and the Unstoppable Force
Location: Runabout Selune
Timeline: 2396 - Meanwhile... on the Hera.
As the Runabout Selune zipped through the particulate tail of a remarkably slow-moving, large comet. The Selune had been dispatched to get samples of the passing comet, simply designated Comet X/2367 D4, that long-range sensors indicated had some sort of biological matter on it. This piqued the interest of the Hera’s resident Biologist, Ahreva Malana.
The Ashravena science officer was something of an observer of life, and as the Hera was simply parked near the edge of the Romulan Neutral zone waiting, and the Comet was well away from the ship on the Federation’s side of the zone, a brief sojourn was approved and a pilot was assigned to take the stony science officer out to get samples.
Said pilot was the three-armed and three-legged Edosian, Ensign Weiaex. From the helm, she had one hand on the helm, one was brushing her mid-length, cream-colored hair that grew from beneath the segments in her exoskeletal skin from her face, while the third was wildly waving in the air as she spoke.
The orange-skinned pilot was quite notorious in the Hera’s Flight Control Department for her talking. She talked fast, she talked loud, she talked a LOT, and she talked with her hands. “I got a cousin that’s a biologist, actually. Always used to get into messes as a kid. Running through the woods or going off-world and always coming back a hot-mess. Covered in some kind of gunk or moss or something. He called it ‘collecting samples’, I just think he liked getting into weird places and didn’t care for the mess. Found something weird stuck to his butt one day and started investigating the weird stuff he found and just kinda fell into the field, ya’ know? What about you? How’d you get into science?”
"My people are born into observing biologicals. I chose the path of the heretic and interact with biologicals during that observation to... Soothe an itch in my soul." The small gaps in her new friend's speech patterns were small so she took the opportunity to speak when it was afforded. Meanwhile, she was monitoring the sensors, allowing the feed to fill her other senses in a zen-like manner.
"So, wait? You talkin' to people makes you a heretic? Heh, that just makes you interesting at my family reunions. Seriously." The fast-talking pilot felt like Malana's speech patterns were almost ridiculously slow for her normal speed, but she talked faster than she thought anyway and found the quiet biologist fascinating in a weird way. "So, an itch in your soul, huh? I know a little about that. As for me, I just like talking to people. Finding out what's going on in their heads. What makes 'em tick, ya' know?"
As she talked, oblivious to the irony of her last statement, Weiaex just kept going talking with two of her three hands now. "Is that the deal? You watch and listen and pay attention to what the rest of us are up to and learn from it?"
"Basically, yes. All my experiences and memories are forever in my mind and as long as I am able to return to my people someday, I can add my knowledge to theirs. My people often go about the universe and secretly position themselves as statues or landmarks for hundreds or thousands of years among what we would consider primitive biologicals before returning home." Malana may speak slowly, but she measured her words carefully. "Though I am banished for my acts of heresy, I still hope to do the same, or at least give my memories to one of my kin as I pass."
"Banished? For getting into conversations?" the orange-skinned pilot turned with a surprised expression. "Are you serious? That's some seriously messed up stuff there, Doc. Still, I guess that's about right for this ship...well, back on the Hera. I mean, I don't know if you noticed but a lot of folks on the ship have seriously messed up families. But I dunno. How much can you learn about ANYone if you never talk to them? Never find out how they respond to stuff, never find out what they think about you. It's all... abstract data otherwise. Which, I guess is more scientific, but way more boring, ya'know. At least that's what I think, but I'm not a scientist, I'm just a pilot."
"The oldest of my people are millions of seasons old. When you sit and watch a warp-capable society grow up around you... die without ever knowing your race existed... and watch the planet slowly heal over thousands of seasons... You have a different perspective." The stone woman looked up out the window of the runabout to take in the stars. "And though I am a mere nine thousand seasons old, I still carry within me the racial memories of those days. In a way... I think... My interactions with everyone among the stars... May bring me closer to understanding those that once inhabited my world."
"Like you said, perspective is everything. It's why most species don't get their heads out of their rears until they get off their own planet and meet other races, I think. Perspective. And you've got nine thousand seasons of perspective on sitting, so hey. Not sitting and interacting seems like a good idea to me." Weiaex said, all three hands off of the helm as the ship was on autopilot and she was waving them through the air wildly as she spoke, "Change that perspective so you can compare the two. Wow, nine thousand. Wait? Seasons? Now, I grew up on a planet with six seasons in a year that's about a hundred and ten more days than the Terran calendar. Took me a week to figure out how old I am according to that calendar. And either way, I'm not that old. But anyway... Sooooo how does that work out? Is it four seasons to an average year, and your.... math, math, math. two thousand, two hundred and fifty earth years old, or is it 'seasons' to mean a full rotation of seasons? Same year length or how does that work?"
Malana couldn't help but smile as she'd had to do the math as well when she was accepted into the Federation as an envoy of her people. "Four seasons are slightly longer than one of your Federation years. With time measured in such long periods, it's hard to measure how long it's actually been, but I believe I am around twenty three hundred Federation years old. To us, counting seasons is like counting days to you. As you would count the rise and fall of a sun, we count the change in the color of the leaves... The grass... The snow..."
"Wow. That's a long time. The oldest person I knew before you was my Vulcan history teacher at the academy and he was, like, a hundred and fifty. And he never shut up about it, and I know a thing or two about not shutting up, of course." Weiaex pointed all three thumbs at herself with a grin. "Of course, he had a lot more to talk about that I generally do, but of course, there's that perspective thing. He was a history teacher and he knew the facts and the dates, but no perspective of the why things happened because he couldn't process the emotions... the motives that defined history on all the different planets he studied. But then, he could view those events dispassionately, so it was a totally different perspective from that point of view. I guess it takes all kinds to make up the universe, ya' know?"
"I do know. I am grateful for the knowledge and wisdom I have gained interacting with biologicals. I know it has shortened my lifespan with so much movement... But I consider it more than worth it." Malana grew silent once more as she redirected her attention once more to the sensor feed.
The talkative Edosian opened her mouth to reply and noticed the biologist's attention drawn on the screen and pursed her lips and made a hissing noise as she took a breath. "So, I guess I'm going on. Everyone tells me I go on and, like I said, I know I talk a lot and I'm not trying to mess with your work, so I can zip it with the best of them if I have to. That said, do you need me to get closer to the rock? I can probably bring her another... twenty meters if you need me to. This bird is seriously well-tuned. All our runabouts are tighter than anything I ever trained on. Props to the chief, I guess. Or, I guess, to what's her name that does the maintenance for the department. What's her name, the Tellarite from engineering. Of course the flight controls are all custom and that's on Ensign Gonadie, so..." And, again, the pilot caught herself and stopped. "Sorry. Still talking. Yeah, this is me stopping. Let me know what you need be to do with the bird, Doc."
The stone woman smiled softly as she activated the transporter, filling a small sample container in the back. "No, sorry, I was just enjoying just sitting here and watching. Thank you, my friend. I have the sample and all the data and we may leave whenever you'd like."
Immediately, the Edosian pilots three hands prepared to take the helm controls again as she smiled and nodded. "oh, okay, Doc. I can bring her..." But then, she paused again.
Looking over at the gentle smile of the quiet woman, possibly tens of thousands of years old, Weiaex stopped to think about what Malana was saying. Not just the words, but the meaning. Something about her stillness made the hyperactive orange woman consider her own speed with which she did everything. And instead, she pulled her hands back and waited.
"The ship ain't going anywhere, and I guess it's a hell of a view, riding in the tail of a comet, right. We... we can just sit and watch for a while longer "
And for just a moment, there was a silence in the Runabout. "Am... Am I doing this right?"
"Shhh..." When Malana spoke, it was in a soft, slow voice. Her words almost took on a trance-like quality. "Just let everything settle around you. The runabout. Me. You. The comet. The stars. We are all part of the whole. One and the same. Take them in and let them become a part of your whole experience. See the comet in yourself and see yourself in the comet. One is all and all is within you." This was the first time she had tried to explain how her people truly viewed the world around them to another and she wasn't sure if it would process well with words, but she felt a need to try, nonetheless.
"Okay, so it's like meditaaa..." Weiaex started to talk as a knee-jerk reaction before stopping herself and whispering. "Right. Shushing. Being one."
And with maximum effort, the chatty Edosian who didn't know how to process silence, found herself trying to do that and so much more. Recalling Malana's words, she tried to think about the ideas expressed. She tried to see those connections between all things. And as she did, she found her mind wandering off in what felt like ten different directions.
Okay... she thought. Everything's made of the same stuff. Everything's connected. The comet is me and I'm the comet. And we're all the same and it's all there. And .. and if I can see those connections than... Then I'm not doing this right. But I guess I can keep trying and maybe it will come to me. Or I'll fall asleep and forget why I was doing this. But she's super calm, and it's really hard to not say or do anything ever though..."
More time passes as the Ensign tried to calm her mind as seconds turned into minutes and into hours. Or, according to the clock in the display above her, one minute and thirty-five seconds.
Letting her jaw drop slowly, Weiaex pursed her lips, and tried again. After all, it was all about perspective. And she was raised to be vocal all the time, which made NOT talking uniquely difficult. But she was committed to try, sitting next to her new friend in silence.
"The breath of life is in all things," Malana added finally, her voice almost a whisper. "It took us millions of seasons to learn how to see it and millions of seasons more to learn that it doesn't take that long to see it. Feel that breath within you and how it extends through you to everything around you. Even open space is full of the promise of life. Breathing. Waiting. Watching. Just as you watch."
Listening, Ensign Weiaex looked out the window of the Selune. Against the darkness of, she watched the glowing blue gasses of the comet's trail swirl around them. Beyond that, the starts sitting the perpetual night of space. She heard her own breathing and the light clicks that came from the harder segments of her own carapace as she moved. She felt the hum the Runabouts engine and something that wasn't quite breathing even from the otherwise silent Malana.
The tried focusing on all of that to find that connection her hew friend had spoken of. Then those thoughts went back to everything the still Ashravena woman had said the last few minutes that she herself had stopped talking. And as she thought, one of those thoughts started to roll around in her brain.
And after a minute, that thought birthed a warm, friendly smile that bubbled out into a chuckle then a full laugh. Letting it out, Weiaex turned to the thoughtful, millennia-old woman sitting next to her with a smirk and a raised brow. "Heh... Who woulda imagined. I've been sitting here listening for the last few minutes... And you've been doing all the talking. How's that for a perspective shift?"
"I think it's a very good start," Malana replied with a soft smile. "Especially for one that lives so fast. It is an accomplishment to be proud of."