Science The Universal Language
Location: CSO's Office
Timeline: Day 5 1130 hrs
Having reported to the Captain and XO, and then dropped her belongings in the quarters to be shared with Eilaea, Vriha headed for the science department, curious to examine the labs and see how they compared to equipment and capabilities on her last ship. While she never it admit it openly, her impression was that Starfleet often invested more in shipboard facilities for scientific investigation and she was eager to utilize those resources to the fullest degree permitted.
...and of course correct protocol was to report to her immediate CO. Stopping in front of the Science Chief's door, she waited for the door to slide open and stepped through smartly. "Erein...,er, Ensign," she quickly corrected. "Vriha t'Ehhelih, science officer, reporting for duty, sir."
Daynah stood and smiled warmly as the Romulan entered. She especially enjoyed the meeting because for the first time since the joining it was Ral who was surprised. "Please in these labs there are no ranks merely minds of science, call me Daynah or Ral if you would prefer. We are all equals in these labs. Have a seat. Can I get you anything?" Daynah made no effort to touch the Romulan, she remembered that the disdain for personal contact was something that the Romulans had in common with the Vulcans. "May I ask what your specialties are? As for me it is temporal mechanics and xenobiology."
An eyebrow slanted upward, but Vriha managed to limit expression of her surprise to that reaction. The CSO's attitude was ...refreshing, but also so foreign to her expectation on a fleet vessel that she was at a momentary loss as to how to respond. "Then you may call me Vriha," she managed. "Or t'Ehhelih if you find that easily to pronounce. My primary field is physics and applied mathematics, so I am familiar with temporal mechanics, though certainly not an expert. however, I am fascinated by all of the natural sciences and have been cross-trained in most of them, as well as some of what you might call 'social sciences', like behavioral psychology and linguistics, though to a lesser degree."
Taking the offer of a seat to buy another moment to adjust and try to imagine herself with a colleague rather than a ranking officer, she settled into the chair opposite the desk. "I do not require anything, but if you find sharing beverages conducive to conversation, I am fond of spiced tea."
Daynah replicated herself a tall glass of cranberry juice. "Well Vriha it seems that you and I have a passion for the why. Why does the universe function. But social sciences the study of people now that is something I think I could learn from." Daynah sipped her juice and leaned forward on her desk. "Listen I am not sure exactly how much you are allowed to share, and I would never expect you to betray any secrets. Secrets are something I know a great deal about. However, are you permitted to share some of Romulan science. There are things that your people are doing that is amazing."
"Thank you for understanding," Vriha replied, inclining her head respectfully. "Nor will I seek to access any data from which I am restricted. However, while assigned to the embassy on earth I was collaborating with Federation scientists on our advances in astrophysics." She glanced down briefly. "As you can imagine, a better understanding of stellar anomalies has become a very active field in the Empire."
"I can imagine..." There was a beat of silence as Daynah's voice trailed off. Norah the diplomat spoke in this moment. "It is with a deep heart, and the strongest sympathies that I can imagine what that great tragedy has done to your people. But the Romulan Empire has had an understanding of stellar anomalies since they became warp capable. I mean powering a starship with a black hole takes an immense understanding of astrophysics and spacial anomalies."
"Clearly we did not study them enough." Vriha paused. The words had came out more tersely than she intended, especially given Daynah's gracious expression of sympathy. "That is, I fear the understanding employed in our stardrives made us ...overly secure in that understanding. Knowing how to harness the power of a singularity is not the same as understanding the complexities of a any star's internal ecosystem. That is an oversight we intend to correct."
Daynah smiled softly "It is one that I hope you and your people will allow me and mine to help with. Now I hope you have been cleared for bridge duty. You can't expect me to take all the fun of the bridge away and I can't let you whittle away your time in the labs without me doing some boring experiments."
Vrihe laughed, partly in response to the obvious joke regarding what was and wasn't desirable duty and partly in response to the absurdity of Starfleet even considering a Galae officer for bridge duty. However she took it as a use of humor to convey a wish to treat her as any other science officer despite any political divisions, and so she attempted to respond in a similar vein. "Sadly, I doubt Starfleet would permit a Romulan the fun of bridge duty," she replied, shaking her head with a mock mournful expression. "But I can at least take the 'fun' of paperwork and documenting the results of unclassified boring experiments."
Daynah stroked her chin as she thought for the moment, and affectation that came from Alaryc. "The question would be if the Captain would allow it, would you be willing. If so I will speak with him. The fact of the matter is we are short staffed and if he expects a science officer on the bridge at all times then he is going to have to bend a few rules." She smiled "I am going to hold you to that offer. I hate paperwork it bores me beyond belief."
Brows lifted in true surprise. On a warbird bridge duty was a coveted assignment; one conferred only on proven and trusted officers. Clearly, Starfleet was far more ...flexible... about such things than Vriha had previously imagined. Still, she was pleased, even thrilled, by the prospect. "If you are willing to request it, I would certainly be willing to fill the role," she replied. "In the meantime, however, I will handle the paperwork. It is not the ...most desirable... duty, but I am used to it. My last warbird posting was as Assistant Chief Scientist," her lips twitched in a wry grin, "a position that exists largely so that the Chief Scientist can off load paperwork."
"Very well Vriha then that is how it shall be." Daynah smiled broadly and then actually chuckled. "You know if Alaryc could only see us now..."
"Alaryc?" Vriha asked, puzzled by the casual reference to an unfamiliar name.
Daynah nodded and smirked. "Forgive me Vriha we Trill very often forget that those we meet did not know our prior hosts. Alaryc Ral was three hosts ago. He was the Captain of the USS Valor. The early part of his Captaincy was spent along the Romulan boarder and of course this was at the height of the tension between our two peoples. So that is what I meant if he could see us, you and I sitting here chatting, it would make his smug jaw drop."
"Ah, I should have realized you were a joined Trill," Vriha replied. "It must give you an interesting perspective on history. My race is long-lived by comparison to many, but I know of the tensions back during the development of cloaking technology only from my great-grandmother's stories."
"Alaryc would not have known of those tensions. His knowledge is more recent just before the Dominion war started. There was a cold war of sorts going on between Romulus and the Federation. That is when he got to know your people. As to your reference to history you are correct. When I was in the initiate program my roommate was joined with a rather old symbiote. After the bonding was complete she had memories of when there was no Romulus. With all due respect, I bring that story up merely as a reference to the many lives. This woman biologically was only 20 years old." Daynah replied and sipped her tea.
"Just before the Dominion War? Interesting..." Vriha's head tipped slightly to the side. "Apparently the Empire and the Federation perception of the height of tensions is quite different. I had assumed he must have been a contemporary of Captain Kirk, but I suppose there were some ...incidents... resulting in heightened tensions during my own lifetime."
She considered a moment. "But the story of your roommate is extraordinary. I am not offended - all Romulans are well aware of our historical origins - though I am amazed to know that symbiotes live that long. If I may ask, does the variation in memories among your own kind lead to significant variations the perception of history even among your own kind? It would make a fascinating study in ih'hathos vidhaes ...I believe the word in Standard is cliodynamics. It is my mother's primary area of research."
"It does indeed. My view of current events and history is quite different from an unjoined Trill. This is because I have the benefit of Ral. He was there for certain events in history and can give me first hand accounts, for other events they occurred in his lifetime. As for the current events I can use his experience to draw a conclusion. As a Trill it would be an honor to have a chat with your mother if she wanted. Norah, Ral's host just before me visited Romulus on a diplomatic mission on behalf of Trill." Daynah's pride swelled as she spoke of Ral. It was quite clear that this young lady knew that she was who she was because of him.
"Khlinæ arhem," Vriha replied, sure that if Ral had visited Romulus, Daynah would understand at least thank you in Rihannsu. "If we should travel near ch'Bardat, I am sure she would welcome the opportunity. Though you might have to set aside significant time for the interview. My mother can be ...very persistent... about fully examining new sources of data." Her lips turned in a slight smile. "I suppose I should warn you that take after her there. I shall endeavor not to be so rude as to actually study you like a subject, but I am fascinated by the idea of such direct transfer of so much diverse experience. Does the choice of career depend on who you were prior to joining, or does it arise from the amalgam of personalities?"
Daynah smiled and nodded in response to the thank you from her colleague. "No the joining has no effect on the career path. I am my own independent mind. Think of it as you being you with another separate sentient voice in your head, advising you. You can choose to take the advice or ignore it. However, the joining can and does have an effect on life choices. For example prior to my joining I had no real career path, in fact I did not know what I wanted out of life. So I decided to see the galaxy and find out what was out there. I ran a bar on a starship and then later on a station for a while, and I was filled with ennui. When I was joined to Ral and all of those memories came flooding into me. I realized that there was so much to give back to the galaxy. Alaryc's memories in particular showed me that I could see the galaxy and explore. So here I am as a Starfleet officer."
"Fascinating..." Vriha remarked. "It sounds almost like an esoteric religious concept from one of earth's religions: gilgal. If I understood the concept correctly, which I admit I may not have, it is similar to reincarnation except that it is not a simple rebirth but rather the concept that all Katra, souls I think you might call them, are amalgams of portions of many life essences and these may transmigrate into a being to join with those already present even well after birth. It is sometimes the result of that essence being drawn to the individual because of some accomplishment or change in their life, or sometimes it is believed to be the cause of such."
"Exactly..." Daynah said excitedly, it was rare that someone understood the nature of joined Trill. It is as if Ral is a librarian of sorts. He experiences life and history through the eyes and minds of his hosts. He takes those experiences and stores them in his own memory, then when he is joined to the next host he shares them with the new consciousness. The closest thing I can think of that is like it is when a Vulcan mind melds with another person. Both parties participating in the mind meld retain portions of the other's memory. Think about that taken to the next level. Ironically enough most people look at as a form of immortality, and for Ral it is. So long as there is another host when I die then Ral will live on, his species has not definitive lifespan. However, as for me we all know that I will die someday." Daynah had never met a Romulan who was this interested in the exchange of memories and lifetimes. It was quite refreshing to the young woman.
"Is it strange to share consciousness with a being so much older and with a lifespan so much longer? Or am I misunderstanding the degree to which you are merged?" Vriha asked eagerly, fascinated. Much like mind melds, the concept of sharing thoughts and memories so directly was both repellent and strangely alluring. And there was an aspect of 'forbidden fruit' in even being able to ask the questions. Expressing this much interest in another species could draw dangerous disapproval in the Empire ...although it occurred to her that it might still be edging into the territory of rudeness here. "Forgive me if the question is impertinent. As you probably know, I am quite young by the standards of my people, and my curiosity sometimes outpaces my manners. I will understand if you tell me that a question is too personal."
"The question is not personal, and in truth it would take a lot to get a Trill to blush. I think the answer to your question would depend upon the person. For a Trill it is not strange at all, however, for a human or a Romulan or some other species it might be. In a weird way it is like being a member of small Borg collective, but one you are willing to join." Daynah added the last part of her statement with a chuckle.
Vriha tipped her head to the side. "That is a very interesting way of viewing it. I assume you also maintain a higher degree of individuality, but is it a challenge to retain that sense of yourself as a unique individual?"
"I maintain all of my individuality, and Ral maintains his. However, we both agreed to enter the symbiosis. When that occurred we became a new unique individual. I guess you could say that the individuality that was Daynah, as well as that which was Ral is now Daynah Ral. However, as in sync as we have become I can, should I choose, act of my own free will. That is to say ignore his input and do what I want. However, I have found when I do that things do not go well. It may also interest you to know that Ral is a male among his species." Daynah replied as she began to wonder why the Romulan had taken such an interest in symbiosis. "Vriha I must confess, that as much as I enjoy speaking about Trill. I am curious why the interest? Surely the Romulan scientific database has just as much about the joining as anyone else. We have never been covert about it."
~I have been asking too many questions~ Vriha thought, ducking her head in embarrassment. "There is physiological and even a degree of psychological study data on Trill symbiosis, but that is vastly different from first hand personal impression. The ability to form a symbiotic union as you do is ...unique... and I have simply never had to opportunity to speak like this with a joined Trill before. Forgive me if I ask too much." Her mouth went a little sideways. "My mother says that
I never grew out of my childhood 'Why?' phase."
Daynah laughed "Like a true scientist always ask why or how. I will make a deal with you. You keep asking me why on all things, especially those that are mission related and in return I will tell you anything and everything you want to know. Hell, Ral seems to rather like the idea of a perspective paper written about him on Romulus." When Daynah spoke of Ral she patted her stomach. Vriha was right Trill were unique, although most of the time they did not look at themselves as such. It was quite refreshing to have the reminder. "So keep the questions coming. It is a good change of pace to have someone view us as unique."
Lieutenant Daynah Ral
Chief Science Officer, USS Orion
Sublieutenant Vriha t'Ehhelih
Science Officer, USS Orion