Planning out Daycare One
Heart and Soul
Location: R&D Department
With the tiny Minotaur, Minerva, on her hip, Ensign Briaar Gavarus trudged through the wide double doors of the flight deck where the Hera’s R&D department was located. At her side, was the significantly more energetic Fiona O’Dell.
Yawning, the blue-clad Tellarite smacked her lips, looking forward to another cup of coffee as the unlikely couple’s fuzzy babe rested her head on her porcine mother's ample chest. But that yawn was cut slightly short at the sight of something unexpected on the expansive deck in front of them: The mid-sized, J-Type freighter called the Khallianen, parked with a series of grav lifts and crates scattered about.
“Uh… what the hell is the L-C’s ship doing here?” Gavarus said, tilting her head and looking down to her picayune partner.
"Huh... usually she keeps it in the capn's secret pirate smugglin hangar, doesn't she?" O'Dell mused aloud as she replicated a cup of coffee for Briaar, in a brushed stainless steel USS Hera travel mug. Starting the process for a chocolate milk for Minnie, she scratched her head as she considered. "So why would she be bringin it oot here ta park and take oop our flight deck... ach, looka that, she moved the Thunder Chicken. I wonder if she's g'win ta say innything about the kill stamps I been putting on the hull..."
"What's she gonna bitch about? That's awesome, and isn't it, like, an ancient piloty tradition or something" Gavarus replied, inquisitively.
"Ehhhh, not super-duper Starfleet-y kinda thing to do, so she might object. I dunno, guess we'll find out, aye? Aye?" O'Dell asked as she brought the milk in to the sleepy Minotaur, who was less interested in food than sleep at this hour.
After a moment, the Hera’s resident Romulan former intel asset and the current guardian of the ship’s most extraordinary children, came through the thick, plastic tarp that separated the main deck from the currently under construction locker rooms. She had two cups of steaming coffee in her hands as the similarly uniformed civilian asset stepped towards the two unconventional officers she was quite fond of.
“Good morning, Miss O'Dell. Miss Gavarus. If you are curious, and you appear to be, my dau... the Lieutenant Commander... had a discussion with Chief Gonadie and the two decided that, considering that she has been divorcing herself from her split duties between Starfleet and the Artan empire, that the vessel would be of better use in OUR endeavors to convert the extra space of the break room, lockers and reclamation facilities into our proposed detachable evac vessel that Commander Paris affectionately dubbed, ‘Daycare 1’.” Jaeih said as she stopped in front of the pair and held the two mugs towards the pair.
“Your preferred blends. Shall I trade you for little Miss Minerva, or shall we stand here awkwardly indefinitely.” Jaeih said, with just enough sarcasm to be in-character, even though all involved knew how she felt about the pair.
"Black as the devil and sweet as a stolen kiss fuir me, 'more a dessert than a beverage' fuir me gal. Ach, ye spoil us, Mrs. Dox," Fiona grinned, setting Briaar's second cup on the table next to her before taking an appreciative sip of her own cup. Then, emerald eyes refocusing, O'Dell chucked her chin toward the meticulous matron. "Can we nae get ye a... what do Romulans drink fuir breakfast, mum? Briaar let me try the Tellarite breakfast drink once, and I think I'd get the diabetes before I's thirty if I drank that corn syrup stoof every mornin."
"As I understand it, her biology is uniquely structured to handle such excesses," Jaeih said, taking Minnie off of Briaar's hip with a smile.
"Two stomachs and a pancreas of DURANIUM, thank you very much." Gavarus bragged as she patted her prodigious paunch.
"Aye, and I'd have a stroke and die, so me point's still good, even if Herself here could chug two and still have room for a dinosaur omelet..." O'Dell muttered.
"And to answer your earlier question, the replicator has my preferred blend of brhon caelis coffee. The Lieutenant Commander programmed it in. It is a... Particularly strong Romulan blend." Jaeih added, lightly stroking the still drowsy Minerva. "It is... not for the timid."
"I'll take yuir word for it and nae try to end up in Sickbay wi'a heart condition," O'Dell grinned. "Alreet, so where's the Chief and the LC? She wouldnae ha' sent her ship wi'oot a sendoff speech or somethin. Although... given that's a freighter, she's got the engines to do haulin and pullin at impulse. I'll bet they could do wonders if we mount 'em at the back of the wee saucer we been talkin aboot, aye? She's be righteously quick, nay?"
"Totally." Gavarus agreed, taking a sip of her sugary morning concoction. "And me an' the Chief just finished changing up the interiors. Added these sweet, retractable little pods for their kidlets that would be perfect for emergencies."
As the two were pondering their initial thoughts, the double doors to the bay wooshed open again and in walked the family in question. At the head was the Miradonian chief of R&D, Lieutenant Mona Gonadie. Decked out in the same, matching deep blue uniform tunic as the rest of the women on the deck, she was fussing with the custom made diaper bag that Gavarus and O'Dell had gifted them for their recently born triplets.
Immediately behind Mona was the hover pram that Gavarus had designed with three sleeping chicks nuzzled close together, being pushed by their other mother, Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox. The two were clearly in mid-conversation as they stepped in, as Dox had a light smile on her face as she finished her thought. "...and I'll take first shift tonight if you need to."
"Ahh. it appears your team is assembled and... clearly waiting for us." Dox said as she noticed the three women and a drowsy, fuzzy brown baby standing in front of the freighter on the deck. "Good morning, Mother. Miss O'Dell. Miss Gavarus. Minnie."
Cuddled in Jaeih's arms, the miniature Minotaur stirred slightly, looked over with half-lidded eyes as she half-heartedly sucked on her sippy cup, and let out a tiny moo. "I believe that was a 'good morning', Lieutenant Commander." Jaeih said with a half-smirk as she patted Minnie's back.
"Clearly." Dox said as she smiled lightly. "Anyway... before I take my leave, I thought I would explain a bit, as needed. As Lieutenant Gonadie could use the resources and structural materials, we're donating my old personal ship here for you all to do with as you need. As for the Thunderchicken, it's simply down on the main deck for right now, so fear not. All is well."
"In fact, some of the other pilots are rather envious admiring the... ah... personalizations. You're becoming quite the celebrity among the flight crew, Ensign O'Dell." Dox added with a legitimate smile, extremely proud of the young officer who was quite the flying ace.
"I'm not overly fond of them myself, but they're a tradition and you've earned them. You've definitely performed some amazing feats that even I would be hard-pressed to... Ahem..." Mona glanced off towards the construction area that had been set up as she pulled out a PaDD. No true Miradonian would admit that someone was a better flyer than they were and Mona wasn't about to do that, but she had to admit that the picayune pilot was impressive. "You've impressed me with your flight skills," Mona added, her feathers on her head ruffling slightly as a bit of extra color tinged her cheeks.
Glancing at her bond-mate with a bit of a knowing smile, Dox knew very well that Mona was more than a little defensive of her flying skills and those feathers ruffled more than once at Dox's own combat maneuvers at the helm of the Hera.
"Well, tis high praise indeed comin' from ye, mum," O'Dell offered a bit bashful at the unexpected praise. "I'll strive to keep it oop, and make ye proud, aye?
The brightly plumed Miradonian then motioned towards the J-type ship sitting on the deck. "As for the ongoing construction, as we've been relegated to the bottom of the industrial replication queues and we're not authorized to modify the saucer's superstructure or outer hull in any way, we figured that reconfiguring an entire section of the R&D lab to break away and be able to fly out of the hanger using the majority of the Khallianen would satisfy those requirements. So far, my modified plans have been approved and we can continue."
"Excellent." Dox said as she leaned down to kiss each of their three children on the heads, who were just now beginning to stir in their stroller and groggily wake up. "Then I'll leave you to it. I need to get down to my own office and attend to my duties. I'll see you and the girls for lunch."
"I will await you with every fiber of my being," Mona replied with a grin as she leaned in for her own kiss.
With a surprisingly nimble hop and a bit of cooperation from Gavarus, O'Dell leapt into Gavarus' arms. Caressing the porcine woman's cheek, the midget Mariposan fluttered her lashes at the tall Tellarite. "Will ye wait an eternity fuir me, m'love?"
Looking back at O'Dell, Gavarus then looked away, holding her head to her forehead dramatically. "Only until lunch, for then I shall hunger, and I can wait for you no more."
"Alas... our love is not eternal..." O'Dell swooned as well, and both froze in place to eye their superiors with mischief.
Raising an eyebrow, Dox was doing her level best to contain the clear and obvious smile that was trying to force its way across her face, but failing miserably. With a light chuckle and a shake of her head, she returned Mona's kiss and replied to the comical display, "Heh. I think I liked it better when you were both afraid of me."
Nodding to the team, the Romulan flight chief noticed that her stern and authoritarian mother was flush green in the cheeks and her eyebrows were knitted as it appeared she was holding little Minnie up to block anyone from seeing that she, too, was doing her best to not laugh. "Ladies."
And with that, Dox stepped back out, leaving the team to their own devices.
Mona was still doing her best to get her feathers to lay still as she tried not to chuckle and pretended to remain focused on the PaDD in her hand. "Well, we have a lot of work to do today. There's designing and testing of the new EVA cold-weather modifications, a final performance review of the remote pilot interface in actual combat, and preplanning for the deconstruction of the Khallianen and modification of the R&D main offices into the Daycare One vessel using the already approved construction routes. I've drawn up the initial modified plans, but there's still a lot missing."
Just then there was the sound of fluttering wings and a red and black streak went past her head right towards Jaeih, followed by a blue-green, then a golden ball of feathers. "But first it seems my chicks want to stretch their wings..."
Their 'flight' was somewhat short-lived and haphazard due to their ever-increasing weight, but they never-the-less caught just enough air to make it to their grandmother. With a slightly surprised expression, Jaeih did her level best to catch all three of them who clearly wanted hugs, or to play with the miniature minotaur in her arms.
"I swear, you three seem bound and determined to challenge me at every turn. "Jaeih said as she stumbled back slightly, now struggling with four children all grappling to her in different states of stability. "Miss... Gavarus. If you would please assist me with Minerva for a moment, I shall get these children... corralled. Perhaps with the rec area under construction, the common area of the Khallianen itself will serve."
As Briaar leaned in and deftly plucked the grinning and happy Minnie off of Jaeih's side, it freed the elder Romulan to begin collecting her three grandchildren a bit. Tucking the most rambunctious of the flyers, the black and red plumed Hlai'vana, under one arm, she deftly hoisted up the golden feathered Amihan with her other arm while the curious, teal feathered Tala was literally climbing down Jaeih's leg like an explorer on a mission.
"Dang, it's still hard to believe they can ACTUALLY... kinda... fly, chief." Briaar said, putting Minnie on the deck so she could stand on her own for a moment and hopefully engage with the chicks a bit as a distraction. "I kinda thought you were just, ya' know, exaggerating or something. How much longer do you think they'll be able to pull that off before they get too heavy?"
"Indeed." Jaeih said as she began replacing the girls in their pram and buckling them in for safety, despite their pouting protests. "They seem bound and determined to successfully deny their denser, Romulan bone structure down to the last, in spite of how quickly they seem to be growing."
"I was able to fly until I was almost three so I suspect they'll keep trying until at least then, though actually getting airborne?" Mona couldn't help but chuckle as she plucked Tala off and ruffled her feathers a bit. "Estimates say three to six months old. And they'll remember most of this as well, though I suspect not the words. Most of what I remember is flying with my family, catching and eating bugs. That sort of thing."
Sensing the greatest struggle was with the black and red plumed Hlai'vana, the diminutive O'Dell attempted to pry her loose from Jeih, only to be met by a shriek that sounded remarkably like a hawk, and some clawing from hands which fortunately lacked talons, at least so far. "Whoh noow, eeeeasy does it... I was joost tryin' ta help, nobody g'win ta hurt your Gran, aye? Shhhhh, shooosh, s'alreet..."
Being taken slightly aback by the display, as Jaeih got Tala in the stroller and with Ami behaving well enough, she turned her attention to what had just occurred. "Hlai'vana! KLA khia!"
Not quite shouting, the stern-faced grandmother narrowed her eyes and raised and eyebrow at her misbehaving granddaughter, who immediately reacted as her copper-colored eyes went wide and she settled down quickly.
Turning to O'Dell for a moment, Jaeih nodded. "My apologies, Miss O'Dell. She is quite... rambunctious... but has not done anything quite like this before, and they reply to either Romulan or Miradonian a bit more than Federation Common at this point."
"But..." Jaeih's attention was now fixed back on little Vana, "She must learn to behave. Especially with your aunt Fiona and aunt Briaar. Now, you apologize to aunt FIona this instant, little one."
For a moment, the tiny little warbird pouted in her grandmother's arm petulantly before looking over to Fiona as her eyes got large again and what looked like guilt set in ever so slightly, if only because she had been reprimanded. "So'wy."
This time it was Fiona's turn for her eyes to go wide as saucers. "They kin fly and they kin TALK?!?"
"Of course, Ensign," Mona replied, her grin widening with pride. "Miradonians are blessed by two moon goddesses and evolved from the greatest of all birds of paradise ever to grace this galaxy. We can fly for our first few years, we're born with knowledge of language, we have rudimentary touch telepathy which is stronger with family, we mate for life, and unlike most races who can only see three to five segments of the color spectrum, we're able to see twenty three. Because of that our doctors and engineers need very little in the way of scanning technology and our ships have only rudimentary sensors since we can just... you know... look out a window."
"Our mating and healthcare practices as well as flight, security, and food preparation are also highly advanced, however..." here is where Mona lost a bit of the wind under her wings. "In many other regards Miradonian culture is far behind the Federation standards. Even with our healthcare, our life expectancy rarely exceeds seventy rotations. Those that leave Miradon often lose the luster of their plumage within a few years or go crazy from the visions of space radiation. Plus there's the threat of hunters."
"I am still aghast at that concept." Jaeih said, pitting Ami in the stroller next to Tala while holding Vana for a moment more. "A sentient people hunted as food. I almost couldn't believe it when were there. I was prepared to have to break several interstellar laws had anyone even considered that in our presence. That said, let me take the children and get them settled so you all can work."
Jaeih strapped Vana next to her sisters before turning to little Minne. "Minerva, my dear. Would you like to help me push their stroller?"
"Yay!!!" The miniature Minotaur said excitedly as she waddled over to the handle which was just low enough for her to reach.
"Lieutenant Gonadie, I have provided several engineering notes on my suggestions for the project on your PaDD and will be able to confer once the children are a bit more calm." Jaieh concluded as they began to head off to the smaller ship on the deck that was equipped with a small play area and cribs for the children to sleep.
Watching the scene, the little leprechaun's eyebrows knitted together. "Soo... we all came to work... brought our kids with us... then they were all hustled off by their governess so's they could be tended to as we get to work, while they're nearby. Huh... I must admit, I dinna expect this kinda experience raisin children on a Starfleet vessel. S'nice, ennit? I could get used to this..."
"It is," Mona replied softly, gazing off in the direction they had gone for a moment with a soft smile on her face before recomposing herself. "Ah, but there's work to be doing. We've already disassembled enough bulkheads to build Daycare One, but there's going to be a lot of tight squeezes. That means pre-assembling a lot of sections and having our smallest team member do the final assembly."
With that, Mona headed to the nearest stack of PaDDs and copied the new plans over, handing them to Fiona and Briaar. "The main offices aren't large but with this and some easy conversion of the Khallianen's parts, we should be able to just disassemble her and reassemble her with the parts we already have into almost the ship we already designed minus the manipulator arms, giving us a ship just larger than an Arrow class runabout with twice the internal space and still usable offices."
"Can we no store the arms here and here... ah, no, ye've allotted those fuir essential equipment storage, and yuir right, yuir right..." O'Dell was peering over the plans, making connections and drawing conclusion Mona had already arrived at, thus her statement. "Maybe... nae, nae... damn the luck mum, yuir right. We joost dinna hae the space fuir the arms... less we build 'em inside Daycare 1 to be retracted back in?"
"Yeah." Running a finger over her chin as she looked at the plans, Gavarus leaned over O'Dell and pondered the issue. "What about the undercarriage area? I mean... could we place the mechanics for the arms where the landing struts are now and retract the mechanics in THERE? I mean... they could fold back up and serve the exact same purpose when not in use?"
"Landing gear as waldoes, that's brilliant, Gavarus!" O'Dell gently elbowed the tall Tellarite in the tummy. "Aye, then they were necessary innyways, we're joost makin' 'em multifunctional."
"An excellent idea. It would give a reason to add rear arms to the craft to stiffen the support struts as well." Mona started tinkering with the idea on her PaDD immediately, reconfiguring the plans as best she could on the tiny screen. "Yeah, if we used the reinforced joints from the War Chicken, it should work out."
"Yeah. We would totally use those. And we don't even need to worry about getting parts if we refab the backups we were working on for the Chicken." Gavarus said, circling around to look over Mona's shoulder now as she looked at her own PaDD to check the files, including the notes from Jaeih.
"Aye, they dinna need much in the way of joint mobitity at the base so long as they themselves are flexible enow to be proper waldoes. So what're we thinkin for the design? Cabbled tentacles or a series of swiveling joints like a serpent?" Leave it to the practical pilot to ask some of the basic questions of the design, at the stage where so much of it was still theoretical. "The landin' strut doubles as the manipulator, so we've got to keep an eye to both in the design, aye?"
"My thought's would be something that would be analogous with a standard, YOUmanoid range of movement. So, maybe humanoid arms with unlockable joints for emergency maneuvers and swiveling the arms around all 360 an' shit." Gavarus added, looking over at Fiona who had completely mastered using similar mechanical limbs in perfect concert with her own range of motion in the various mech's Mona and the team had designed. "Since I figure we're going to either be using a similar control setup to the banshee for if you're flying her or for preprogrammed actions."
"Hey, check this out, guys. J's put down some notes for a secondary, internal power supply for life support and internal inertial dampeners. Wonder why she wants so much juice for the dampeners?" The portly porcine pondered, running a finger over her rough, stubble chin.
But before anyone could answer, her commbadge chirped and the stern guardian of the Hera's children and former Romulan cloaking engineer's voice came through the comm. "While I can hear you all quite well, I did not wish to yell, as the children are settling nicely. But to answer your question, the dampener enhancements are something I worked out on the cargo hold on my former smuggling ship. The dampeners can be activated in an emergency to essentially keep the children essentially motionless in the cabin no matter how turbulent the motion of the ship in an emergency escape."
"However, that system, even on a starship, is a strong power drain." Jaeih added, "Hence the internal batteries. I recommend placement in section 3, aft port quadrant C on the floor plans. If you have any further questions, I... shall be listening." Then, with a chirp, the comm signal closed as Gavarus looked down on her chest.
"Well... that's both cool and kinda creepy that she's listening. Good idea, though. What'cha think, chief?" Gavarus said with knitted eyebrows and a weird smile.
"I think her ears must be some of the best in the galaxy..." Mona muttered before thinking over the designs. "Yeah, I think we can make them work, but it'll take some doing."
"Well... we have the plans and now we have the materials we've been needing. Let's get this going." Gavarus said, a bit of excitement at getting her hands dirty evident in her voice.
"Aye! What's the request list for the EVA modifications? Me an' Briaar should be able to knock oot those tests while ye do some design wizardy, aye?" O'Dell chimed in.
"Aye," Mona replied, switching gears with a nod, a grin, and a slight chirrup. "As you know, the modern EVA and MACO suit is able to withstand temperatures down to negative 200 kelvin in a vacuum and one hundred forty kelvin in most atmospheres. We've been tasked to create a system where some fool... I mean... a Starfleet officer... is able to open their helmet for an extended period of time and either carry on a conversation or eat a self-heating ration pack without turning to ice while in a hostile environment such as the polar caps of Andoria or open space."
"I have a few ideas so... Guess who gets to test each one?" Her grin broadening, Mona looked between the two Ensigns expectantly.