USS Adelphi

NCC-26849

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Post 38 - Professor Alfr Ekström

Posted on Mon Apr 27th, 2020 @ 3:05am by Captain Björn Kodak & Captain Malcom Harrison & Captain Koloth

Mission: Prologue: Back In Action
Location: USS Adelphi, Main Shuttlebay
Timeline: Mission Day 2

[USS-Adelphi]
[Main Shuttlebay]
[Day 2 - 0630 hours]


Captain Harrison made his rounds through Adelphi. He'd only been onboard a day, but he felt more at home than he had in a long time, not counting his Explorer days. He went through nodding and saying "Hi" to whoever he could, and would talk with them about their progress in the launch preparations. He wanted to get to know these people, since they were going to be with him for the next several months with no backup and minimal Starfleet interaction. Harrison had just arrived at the main shuttlebay to find Commander Kodak there, overseeing the unloading of what looked like archaeological equipment.

"Are we planning on doing some literal digging, Commander?" Harrison asked, looking at the equipment.

"Define 'we,' sir," the Commander smirked back, looking over at his new Captain. "I'm no stranger to hard work but the digging, scanning, and cataloguing is definitely left to smarter people than I, sir," Kodak chuckled, eyes flicking then between the PADD in his left hand and the technicians unloading the shuttle. Raising his right hand, he input some notes into the display device and got one of the technician's attention. "What about this one?" he asked, gesturing to a line item manifest that was now projected in mid-air above the PADD. "Crate 94. Has it been unloaded?"

"That one's coming next! Well, it was supposed to be, anyway." A voice from inside the shuttlecraft grew louder as another technician popped his head out. "Having some trouble with the anti-grav sled, though. The repulsor's cut out and it won't float, sir. Gonna have to grab another one before we can offload 94." The young man looked frustrated over having to share this news. "Sorry, sir. With all the unloading we're doing right now, all of the other lifts are in use at the moment. It's going to be a bit of a wait."

"The shuttle is on a tight schedule. Why not just beam the crate onto this sled, Jexson?" The first technician -- the one Kodak had been talking to -- pointed to another nearby anti-grav cart, which though heavily laden already, still apparently had room for the crate in question.

"Good thinking, Bickers. Only one problem. Can you guess what it is?" Jexson replied from the top of the shuttle's boarding ramp, frowning.

Bickers more closely studied the readout projected from the PADD and visibly slumped. "Crate 94 is marked as 'No Transport,' sir. Can only be moved by hand. So we're back to waiting for another sled..."

"No problem," the first officer smiled. "Captain, if you'll excuse me just a minute? Gonna get my hands a little dirty," he rasped, pretending to pull up his sleeves as he strode up the ramp of the shuttlecraft, out of view.

A few moments later, Jexson's voice called out an audibly-surprised "Oh!" Which was quickly followed up by a rather hulking Gorn in a Starfleet uniform walking down the ramp, hoisting the bothersome crate at chest level. The verdantly-skinned reptoid handled the crate with a minimum of grunting, though it was clear that -- even to a Gorn -- the equipment inside was still quite heavy. But the emerald beast found his mark, setting the crate down on the only empty space left on the still-functional anti-grav sled. Exceedingly large eyes -- which should have been multi-faceted like those of a housefly but were, instead, canary yellow and cat-like -- blinked slowly down at the Captain and Bickers as his body and uniform quickly changed.

Shrinking down to his normal, mostly-Human appearance, Kodak was once again 'himself' -- at least, in terms of the normal appearance people were getting used to seeing. Dusting off his hands, the Commander nodded to the anti-grav sled. "Alright, let's get this stuff into storage, Bickers. And then get someone from engineering to take a look at the other sled. Jexson," he called up into the shuttle, "tell them they can keep their schedule, hmm?" Seeing the man pop his head out once more, nodding despite the still surprised look on his face, Kodak checked the crate off his list on the PADD and then turned to Harrison. "We're...mostly on schedule for the offload, sir. Have you met any of the archaeologists yet?" he asked.

"Not as of yet," Harrison stated, "Though I've heard the head researcher can be somewhat... eccentric."

"That's...one word for it, sir," Kodak chuckled in response.

As the Captain and Executive Officer chatted, Bickers called another technician over to ferry the fully laden sled to the temporary storage area set aside in Cargo Bay 4. Then he and Jexson hefted the non-functional anti-grav cart down from the shuttle and set it out of the way against the side wall. Engines powering, the shuttle then floated up from the deck and slipped through the forcefield, heading back for its point of origin.

"Where is it!" A heavily-accented Scandinavian voice declared from the parting shuttlebay doors, the newcomer's voice loud enough to drown out the trademark drone that accompanied the shifting of the heavy-duty industrial doors. "Where have you jävla dårar put it, huh?"

It was a man, white-haired and thick-set, garbed in faded civilian clothing that had an aged leather waistcoat wrapped around it. A bandolier of trinkets and tools gripped his bulk tightly, betraying the man's obvious interest in outdoors excursions. Thick, faded leather boots pummeled the deck as he closed the distance between himself and the two command officers quickly. He was very clearly of advanced years - nearing one hundred, quite likely - but he carried himself well and with purpose.

He did not look immediately at Kodak, instead directing his finger-pointing straight at Captain Harrison. Although his wrinkled face was weatherworn and his thinning white hair tufted backwards almost maniacally, there was a piercing intelligence to his eyes, which now bore brazenly into the Adelphi's commanding officer.

"Young man," the old man opened, standing altogether too close to Harrison, "there is some very specialist equipment I am having transferred to this old tug of yours - some of it is positively ancient, from before your own ancestors even dragged themselves out of their primordial swamp to scratch-"

He paused mid-insult, as if finally noticing the other man stood with Harrison. Immediately, he stepped back to regard the Chameloid commander, acting as though he had not begun having an outburst at the ship's CO. Eyeing him skeptically, casting his dark gaze up and down the barrel-chested shapeshifter, the old man then crossed his arms, a grim expression on his aged features.

"Mister Kodak," he grizzled, raising a disappointed, judgmental eyebrow. "Not commanding your own ship?"

"I wondered how long it would take you to notice me," Kodak smirked, crossing his arms over his chest. "And I was very close to starting a betting pool on how long it'd take you to start insulting the crew. We know each other," the Commander pretended to whisper to Harrison -- as if the Captain would have no way of surmising that already given the exchange. "Professor, that stern talking to aside, it's very good to see you," Kodak smiled wide. "And I haven't pulled the trigger on my own command just yet. Think I should?" he baited with good humor.

"I think a man of your obvious talents is wasted playing starship with these chocolate soldiers," the professor replied as he gestured haphazardly towards Harrison, but a small smile was breaking through his crotchety facade. "But, it is good to see you in good health. Valyn warned me that I would be seeing another of my erstwhile failed students when I passed through that ridiculous space city of his." He looked back over to Harrison, even though an apology was clearly not forthcoming. "Are you not going to introduce me to your captain, young Björn?"

"Captain Malcolm Harrison," Harrison said, "I presume that makes you Professor Alfr Ekström, contemporary of Galen and expert on all things Tholian. Welcome Aboard, Professor."

Ekström inclined his head ever-so-slightly, not quite the appreciative gesture it probably should have been. "You are more attentive than I was first willing to give you credit for. I should be thanking you, Captain, for agreeing to take me and my expedition to our destination, as I know it may be slightly out of your way. Had it not been for your generous agreement, I wonder if the pointy-eared commodore rubber-stamping these assignments might have rejected me." He tapped his nose and looked to Kodak knowingly. "Not that it would have made much difference, hmm?"

The professor looked back to the equipment that he been brought aboard and was now being sorted by attendants. Although Ekström looked ready to begin another vitriolic cascade of obscenities for their benefit, he held himself back and looked over to the two red-shouldered officers. "This is quite the voyage you are taking yourselves on. Groundbreaking, if not the other three-dozen starships doing the same."

"Oh, I don't know, Doc..." Kodak rasped warmly, "three dozen starships hardly seem enough to explore a whole other quadrant of the galaxy. Contact with other Federation ships may be very few and far between. I'd say that means we'll still be doing some pretty groundbreaking work out there." The Executive Officer lifted his PADD then, activating the projection mode so that his master list of equipment appeared floating between the three of them. "We've made very good progress in offloading your equipment so far. If you're looking for something specific, here's the manifest. I'll send it to you as well but take a look. What're you trying to find?"

Ekström took the PADD but did not look at it. Instead, he shook his head at Kodak and gave Harrison an incredulous look, waving the datapad aggressively towards the Chameloid. "I thought Starfleet officers were meant to have analytical minds," he complained. "Given the nature of my work and the sensitive nature of my equipment, I do not care to discuss it too openly. See if you cannot work out my motivation for coming to this godsforsaken quarter of the galaxy, Mister Kodak, and why I might not be so free with my words. You were such an insightful student. How the mighty do fall - or, in your case, change."

"Well, I'm sure you understand, professor, that we'll be the only Ambassador Class Starship out in the Delta quadrant, that must count for something," Harrison said, "And I'm more than happy to drop you off on our Merry way to our field of operations."

Though Kodak very much did not appreciate the tone the professor was taking with him, he did understand the need for some discretion and thus ignored the man's baiting. "Your work is delicate," he rasped lowly, "and if it relates to what -- or rather, who -- I think it does, I definitely understand wanting to watch your words. But you're dealing with professionals on this ship. We're following your care instructions to the latter. In fact," he stretched his arms out as if sore, "I just had to carry a rather large, rather heavy create for you because it couldn't be transported." Kodak's smirk thinned into a slight line, eyes flicking to the Captain before settling again on Ekström. "Trust us to do our jobs, Professor. I promise, we won't let you down. But," he held up a staying hand, "if you'd feel more comfortable discussing these matters in private, there's an empty conference room nearby."

At Kodak's stern words, Ekström stared back at his former student for a few longer seconds, before his face cracked a little, and his tone became softer. "You're right, young man. I am letting my age, secrecy and arrogance get the better of me." He actually managed a small smile, and even offered it briefly to Harrison. "I meant no offence to you or your stalwart crew," he added, clapping a hand on the captain's arm, and he looked back to Kodak. "Even as a young cadet, you were always enthusiastic and professional. Unfortunately, I can only claim one of those things for myself."

His eyes seemed to adopt a sadder shade, as he looked at Chameloid intently. He had the image of a man that wanted to speak more, but a resignation came over him. "When I return - when my work is complete - I will tell you all about it. I promise you. Whilst we are all trapped in this dark quadrant of space, I suppose we are the few that will even be able to still communicate with one another. I am sure we could all do with the occasional exchange with a friendly - or, in my case old - face."

Harrison's combadge then chirped. "Captain, we're experiencing some issues with the plasma flow regulators. Could you come down to engineering and take a look at it?" One of the engineers said.

"I'm on my way. Harrison, out." The stern Captain replied, "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen," Harrison said, as he turned around and started towards Engineering.

Ekström's eyes followed the other man as he left, a white eyebrow raised. "Is that a captain's problem?" He then shrugged. "I think something I said must have upset your gym teacher," he commented to Kodak, a bit of wry humour now coming into his voice.

Harrison left the room and turned to his left, feeling a bit guilty that he was glad he could use the excuse to get out of the awkward conversation that he was sure he'd left behind.

"Well, it depends. I was an Engineer myself for a time. And there were occasions where we needed to show the Captain exactly what was going on, so he didn't mistakenly give orders the ship couldn't meet. My guess," Kodak lightly shrugged, "is that our engineers are just being overly cautious given that the ship is experiencing some minor issues right after a refit. It's like ordering an amazing new piece of scanning equipment for your digs, Doc," he used an analogy he hoped would help better explain, "only to discover the equipment has a dent on arrival. Sure, it'll probably still scan just fine but...better to be aware of a problem than not. That," he winked, "or the Captain just doesn't like you. Though for the life of me, I can't understand why that might be..."

Kodak let that thought sink in for perhaps a second -- giving the archaeologist a very mischievous smile -- before beginning again. "I like you just fine, though, Professor. And agreed...I'm glad to know that at least some friendly faces will be only a comm call away. When you're ready," the Commander nodded, "I'd love to hear all about your work. Until then, we'll get you settled on the ship for the ride to your new research site. Want an escort to your quarters, Professor? I think we've got things handled down here for now," he nodded to the technicians still offloading some of the other shuttles and beamed-aboard cargo pods.

Ekström had returned the cheeky smile Kodak offered him, doubling down on it with a wry wink. He seemed to seriously consider Kodak's offer but did not immediately accept. He first looked back to his equipment before glancing back at his former student. There was a slight twinkle in his aged eye, which was quite typical for the mischievous elder gentleman, but there was also an unfamiliar reticence - a glimmer of concern that was less comforting. To some, it could have even given the impression of sadness.

"We have a little while yet before we reach my destination, young man," he said finally, tone soft but pleasant. He took Kodak by the shoulder and began angling him towards the door. "I would very much like to see what passes for a galley on this old tug..."

"Well then," Kodak smiled wide, "we'd better get a move on. The breakfast rush is about to hit and I know how much you love waiting in line..." The younger man allowed himself to be led to the door, then took charge and led the way himself into the nearest turbolift. He chatted amicably with the Professor despite Kodak's resentment over a very unfair failing grade once given to him. But that was a conversation for another time...

A mission post by

Captain Malcolm Harrison
Commanding Officer
USS Adelphi

and

Commander Björn Kodak
Executive Officer
USS Adelphi

and

Professor Alfr Ekström
Lead Archaeologist
Federation Archaeology Council

 

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