Episode 1.1: Sidetracked - Call from Kalan
Episode 1.1: Sidetracked
Location: Captains Ready Room
Timeline: Before Simulated Combat
Estrad sat back down at the desk in his ready room having had a catchup with his first officer. Picking up a PADD, he began to work through various possible tactics for the battle ahead.
He jumped a little as his commbadge beeped. "Sir, you have an incoming communique," someone told him.
"Patch it through," he said, not thinking much of it as he activated his view screen. The Starfleet logo was quickly replaced with with a young lieutenant in a gold shouldered Starfleet uniform.
"I think it's connected," The lieutenant said over his shoulder.
"What do mean you think it's connected?" came a voice from off screen. "It either is or it isn't, boy!"
"Captain," the lieutenent nodded at the screen before turning around again, "it's all set up for you now, Miss Kanso."
"That's MRS Kanso, lieutenant," the elderly Kalan fumed, her greying fur bristling. "My wife may be dead, but she's not fictional!"
"Sorry about this sir" the lieutenant looked apologetically at the Captain.
"Outta the way flat-face" the Kalan ordered, rudely pushing the officer to the side and plonking her self down in a chair infront of the screen. Cassie Kanso sat; back straight, eyes steady. "Are you the Captain?"
"Last time I looked, I was," Estrad replied, a little bemused.
"Are you sure son? You look a little short to be a captain…"
Estrad couldn't help but smother a laugh. "I can assure you, Mrs Kanso, I am the Captain of the USS Aeon. And you must be Ensign Marla Kanso's grandmother?" he asked, hoping his memory was accurate from the quick bio he'd read up on his Chief Helm Officer when he'd first heard she was joining the ship.
"Of course I am!" She exclaimed, "What other tired, old farmer is going to ring you for a chat, hmm? Now, your Starfleet types sent this human half-wit to install a subspace… whatever in to my house so I can call you. Something I thought I was damn well going to do now, seeing how I've missed my morning bone-tea because I was out retrieving this so-called lieutenant from the mess into which he beamed himself." She stopped for breath and shot a glare at the flustered officer, "A man who not only arrived late but materialised, like an idiot, in the middle of my Makkim herd!"
"Sir, if I could interrupt." The Lieutenant didn't want to appear unprofessional in front of a superior officer; he was on the look out for a promotion after all, "We've had a bit of trouble with site to site transports on Kalan due to the additional electromagnetic activity in the atmosphere and..."
"I've never seen the birds so spooked!" Cassie cut him off, throwing her hands up in the air "Poor things were minding there own business when some furless, tailless loony pops right out of nowhere and starts pestering them."
"They pecked me!" The lieutenant protested, professionalism momentarily forgotten.
"You interrupted their feeding hour, I'd peck you for that!" She turned her attention back to the Captain.
"All this fuss over a subspace transmitter. Pah! Whats wrong with radio I don't know." She relaxed back in her chair a little. "So, hows my Marla doing?"
Estrad grinned at the exchange happening on the screen in front of him, genuinely amused. It certainly wasn't often you got random phone calls from the family members of your crew. In fact, he couldn't remember the last time he had, if it had happened at all. But his superiors had made it painfully clear just how important it was that the Federation made a good first impression to the newly joined Kalan species, and he intended to do just that.
"I can assure you, Mrs Kanso, your granddaughter is settling onto the Aeon just fine," he replied quickly, "and it's an honour to have her on my ship."
"Is it now?" Cassie narrowed her eyes, "You know what I think? I think its a political scheme!" She leaned forward, chin resting on her arched fingers "Marla told me that after graduating from the academy she'd be posted somewhere dull; fetching coffee for officers or running big-wigs to and fro in a shuttle. But here were are, she's only just graduated and she's head of department? I smell a rat. The only reason she's on your ship is to make a good opening line for someones speech - the first Kalan to go through the academy, straight away, the head of a department on a starship!"
Estrad leaned forward a little, an unconscious effort to make an impression on the old Kalan in front of him. "While it is true that Starfleet wants to ensure good relations between the Federation and the Kalan people, especially with the first Kalan in Starfleet, that is not the reason that Marla is on my ship, nor is it the reason she is head of department."
Cassie twirled her coarse cheek fur around a finger thoughtfully, "Kalans have a phrase, son, that goes 'you don't eat what you didn't catch'. Our folk like challenges; finding something to struggle with and to learn from and there's nothing to be learned from getting something you didn't work for. Marla'll be feeling like she's gotten something for nothing. Sitting on that bridge while her classmates are cataloguing cargo in the hold and whether she realises it or not it'll be eating away at her; because she's Kalan" the old Kalans expression became sterner "and because she's a Kanso. My dear Belle, rest her soul, and I raised that girl after her bookworm-father got himself blown up for his work. I told that boy of mine to be a farmer, but no, he had to be a scientist." She shook her head, "I'm getting off track. The point is my wife and I brought her up right, and Marla won't stick around long if she thinks she hasn't earned her place there. So why is she aboard your ship? Im listening,"
Estrad smiled gently. "Because I asked for her to be," he said simply.
"Well," she said drawing out the word as she leaned back in her chair "that is something. Now, I was looking forward to her maybe applying for a post closer to home, maybe something to do with establishing Kalan export flight routes, something like that. From what Marla told me your 'Aeon' is an advanced science vessel. Sounds dangerous. Surely there are more experienced officers to choose from to pilot your flying health-hazard of a ship?"
Estrad nodded, a serious expression on his face for the first time in the conversation. "Space is dangerous, Mrs Kanso. That's the nature of it. But Starfleet has been operating for many, many years, and we know how to handle ourselves. And as Captain of this vessel, it's my job to ensure the safety of everyone on board, including your granddaughter. I intend to do just that."
Estrad sighed. "As for the reason I picked her, that was because she is one of the best pilots Starfleet has seen out of the academy in recent years, not to mention the fact that she has a lot of spirit. She deserves this posting, and I think she has you to thank for that."
Although she refused to show it, Cassie was pleased. She stopped fiddling with her fur and sat up in her chair, tugging straight her battered overall, "Don't thank me just yet son, there's still the small matter of your bill."
"Bill?" Estrad replied, now even more confused than he had been earlier.
"Since your lieutenant here materialised in the middle of my field and scared the living daylights out of my herd theres no way they're gonna be laying this evening." She squinted at the farmhouse ceiling in mock concentration, counting numbers off on her hands "Now then, forty seven birds, one egg each, 10 Fudeigh an egg: thats about 470 Fudeigh. About 235 of your credits I think? I was just going to send a bill to Starfleet headquarters, but since we're acquainted now I'll just go right ahead and put your name to it. Excellent talking with you Captain, I'm sure we'll speak again soon." She beamed at the screen exposing some powerful looking canine teeth and promptly ripped the power link out the side of the portable subspace relay. The screen went blank.
Estrad blinked, sighed, leaned back, sighed, and finally laughed. If he ever did receive the 'bill' he'd just pass it back up to the relevant office at the Starfleet Diplomatic Centre and leave it at that. Shaking his head, he picked up the PADD and tried to bring his attention back to battle tactics.
* * * * *
"You know you can disconnect the call using the computer interface, Mrs Kanso?" said the Lieutenant, trying not to laugh.
"Don't question your elders, it's rude!" she barked, tossing the power link cable on the floor and heading back outside. "Now are you going to help me calm that herd down or not?" Cassie didn't wait for a reply as she strode out of the farmhouse.
The Lieutenant opened his mouth, closed it again and followed the old Kalan out of the door.
Captain Estrad Dagan
Mrs Cassie Kanso (NPC)
Ensign Marla Kanso's Grandmother