Season 2: Mission 2: Just Breath
Location: swimming pool
Estelle walked into the gym, a place she frequented occasionally, but walked by all the silly contraptions people exercised on and straight towards the pool. She shed her bathrobe by the side of the pool and placed it on a hook on the wall, and dove straight into the deep end.
Gallia walked into the gym quietly, after a long day in engineering she’d needed to relax in one of her favorite ways, a nice, quiet swim. She hoped there weren’t too many people at the pool, so she was thrilled when she saw that not only was there only one person in the pool but that it was the pretty blonde who treated her hand wound, “Well, ain’t this a pretty sight.” She laughed, “Good afternoon, Doctor.”
“Hey!” Estelle waved. She turned around and swam back towards the edge of the pool. “You’ve finally pieced things together enough to take a break? Do come in, while the water is warm.” In fact, it wasn’t particularly warm by most swimmers’ standards, but Estelle figured that Gallia would have similar temperature preferences, being from Scotland and all that.
“Dinnae have ta tell me twice.” Gallia replied, sliding into the pool beside the doctor, “Oh, now, that’s nice.” It was colder than most people would like, but she’d taken her sister’s dare to swim twenty yards in Ness, so this cold was nothing. And no worries about a monster, either, she thought.
“How’s your hand holding up?” Estelle asked. They hadn’t had time for a follow-up, and Estelle never forgot about these things, not even in the water. She took Gallia’s hand and felt the skin, squeezing a little.
“Doin’ great!” Gallia grinned, “I was back at it again in a few hours. Maybe not as long as you’d want me ta wait, but there was business needed doin’ after all.”
“No, it’s okay”, Estelle responded. “If you hurt yourself again, I’ll just cut deeper next time.” She smirked. “And if nothing else helps, we’ll grow you a new hand.”
“Well, I’ll try ta keep from burnin’ maself again then.” Gallia laughed, she’d adjusted to the water now and it was really pleasant, “I love a good swim, ya know? One a’ ma favorite things in ma life. Learnt when I was like two, ma brother taught me. That was how our family was, the older ones looked out for the young ones, Mum and Dad looked out for us all, Uncle Bossk looked out for Mum and Dad.”
Estelle nodded. That was the kind of family life she had grown up with, and she figured it was the most natural thing in the world. “I do miss that life sometimes”, she admitted. “I was an unruly child, though. I’m lucky I eventually learnt to be occasionally responsible.”
“Dunno about that, but I know ma hand works again.” Gallia shrugged, “So I cannae complain about ya in any way.”
“Good”, Estelle said. “I’ve had enough of those. The nerve of some people. Just because the medication I gave them turned their skin blue for a week… it made the bloody itch go away and they’re still not happy.”
“Blue, ya say?” Gallia raised an eyebrow, “So next time I itch I’ll jus’ take an oatmeal bath. Not sure how ma daughter would react ta me turnin’ blue.”
“I’d like to see that”, Estelle chuckled. “I doubt it’d work, though. Sometimes, people need the stronger stuff. And there’s nothing wrong with being blue for a week. I liked it, and it gave me an idea. If you put a particular dye inside the shower head, you can turn someone’s skin a different colour without any other side-effects. Imagine a purple Orion.”
“I dinnae think I’d be tryin’ it maself.” Gallia shook her head, the doctor might be nuts, pretty though.
“No, I think for you, it should either be green or bright red”, Estelle mused. “But I haven’t done any of that since the Academy, so don’t worry.”
“That’s good.” Gallia nodded, “Because ya never know when ya mess with an engineer that ya might not wake up with a waste hose in your bunk.”
Estelle laughed, then asked, “You can do that? I mean, I need someone to help me with a little re-engineering. I need a small probe, no bigger than your hand, that can navigate the ship’s sewage system.”
“Darlin’, one, I’m an engineer, two, I’m a Scot. I can do any bloody thing.” Gallia bragged, “And what wouldya be needin’ such a thing for? I need the purpose so I can set parameters for the device, ya understand?”
“The purpose? Simple… crawl up someone’s toilet, wait until they lift the lid, then emerge, wave a Federation flag and play the Federation anthem”, Estelle explained. “Really loud, too.”
“Oooookay…” Gallia paused, dumbfounded, “That’s an…. interestin’ goal. Could be funny, or could cause ya ta get court martialed, an’ mebbe me with ya. Can I ask who the victim is?”
“I haven’t decided yet, but I was hoping to be able to use it more than once”, Estelle said. “You must think I’m nuts. The truth is, I totally am. That’s the fun of it. If you don’t go nuts every now and then, you might lose your mind.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Gallia sighed, “And I’m not judgin’ ya.”
“Good. I haven’t entered a competition in decades”, Estelle grinned. “I tended to lose most of them, against Andorian children in their native environment. Wasn’t any fun, so I gave up on them.” Estelle moved away from the edge of the pool and started doing underwater gymnastics, she didn’t want to start suffering the typical pains brought on by too much lab work again.
“Grew up on Andoria, did ya?” Gallia stopped on a dime, that was useful information, “Ya know, my baby’s Andorian. Ya know Andorian physiology well?”
“I do, my second speciality, after surgery”, Estelle said. “Though, often combined. You know how Andorians are, always getting into things a bit deeper than is good for them.”
“Well, hopefully we got time before Tayalas starts gettin’ inta that kinda trouble.” Gallia half said, half prayed, “Eight months old, not exactly gonna be runnin’ inta a fight I’d hope.”
Estelle smiled. “Not for another few years, no. How’d you come by an Andorian child, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“My niece.” Gallia explained, “She was delivered by c section after ma sister died…”
“I’m sorry”, Estelle said. “If you need any help, not just medical, come calling. Language practice, cultural studies, I still remember a few things from my own childhood.”
“I’ll probably hafta take ya up on that.” Gallia conceded, “Though I dinnae think that my sister was even all that well versed in Andorian cultural things. I mean, Mum and Dad tried, but they had her since she was six weeks old, she was raised as a Scot for all practical purpose.”
“There are a good number of similarities”, Estelle chuckled. “But the more cultural influences a child is exposed to growing up, the more rounded an adult they’ll eventually become. At least, that is what I’m convinced of. Look at me, I’m certainly round in several ways.”
Gallia laughed hard, she’d needed that after such a long day, “Well, nothin’ wrong ta the naked eye anyway.”
“What most people aren’t sure about is whether I qualify as an adult”, Estelle winked. She turned on her back and started swimming again, she needed the exercise. “At eight months old, I’d suggest music. Andorians generally respond favourably to Mozart. I play the works of Methyl ni-Trate on the piano, if you want to come in and listen.”
“That sounds lovely.” Gallia smiled, she had no idea who Methyl ni-Trate was, but it would be nice to get out and see some people, plus the baby did enjoy music, “Ship’s computers have the whole of Mozart, right?”
“It does, yes”, Estelle agreed. “But I like to play it myself. It is great practice for the fingers, relaxes the brain and stimulates creativity. It’s quite different from just listening to it.”
“I can figure it would be.” Gallia nodded, “Wish I could, but there’s no music in these fingers.”
“Maybe it’s on your lips, then”, Estelle suggested.
“Oh?” Gallia raised an eyebrow, “Whatever can ya mean by that?”
“Nobody is a-musical”, Estelle said. “At least, I haven’t met anyone who is. If you haven’t got it in your fingers, you might have it in your lips. Play the flute, for example.”
“Never tried.” Gallia shrugged, “Flute, nor clarinet, nor saxophone…”
“I might be able to teach you a few things”, Estelle offered. “In exchange for helping me with my bot idea.”
“Well, there’s an exchange I think we can agree on.” Gallia replied, she was always willing to expand her horizons.
“Excellent”, Estelle said, reaching the end of the pool and turning around, pushing herself off in the opposite direction. “Just, no flavoured lipstick. Tastes weird on my flute.”
“Gotcha.” Gallia giggled, then paused for a second, not really sure when the last time she wore lipstick, or really any makeup, was.
Estelle dove, making a splash with her feet. She reached the edge of the pool, then pulled herself out of the water, sitting down with her feet dangling inside. “I’ll learn to play Flower of Scotland”, she offered.
“That’s very sweet.” Gallia smiled softly, “Can I do anythin’ for you? I mean, you’re gonna do something so big for me, I should repay somehow.”
“I’m sure I’ll think of something eventually”, Estelle said. “Other than the bot, which I definitely want. That was no joke, even though it is a joke, if you know what I mean.” She wanted to make that perfectly clear, even if it was clear as mud, it should at least cover the ground.
“You’ll get your bot.” Gallia promised, though she was more than a little curious about what else Estelle had in mind, it left her mind in a state somewhere between panic and intrigue.