Duck Duck Go
Season 2: Mission 2: Just Breath
Location: Estelle's quarters
Inside her cabin, Estelle was painting her black piano, adding floral patterns with golden and silver accents to it, turning the instrument into a beautiful display piece. The individual images painted on the instrument were simple, didn’t take much skill, but the overall pattern made it look beautiful regardless.
“Ya wanted ta see me, Estelle?” Gallia asked as she walked in, she figured she knew what it was about, but she wanted to ask anyway. She noticed the Doctor was decorating her piano, and doing a great job of it, “That’s quite pretty…”
“Thank you”, Estelle smiled but put down the brush. “I like to live luxuriously.” It was a fault, she knew that, but she wasn’t hurting anyone with her habit and didn’t think it was too bad. She got off her knees and walked over to the table, which was still standard issue, and which had the little drone sitting there. “I was hoping you knew a neat little trick to make this thing navigate the waste disposal system, even against the current and up the slippery parts, but self-clean before it emerges?”
“Self cleanin’ will be the biggest problem, but the rest of it is a good remote control job.” Gallia answered, “It’ll be easy enough to pull off that part.”
“Easy for you, maybe”, Estelle said. “I know that engineering and surgery have a lot in common but my knowledge of electronics anatomy isn’t particularly impressive.”
“Well, if it makes ya feel better my knowledge of human anatomy is basic at best.” Gallia laughed it off, “So it’ll be fine.”
“I don’t mind asking for help”, Estelle said. “But I can only pay you in tea or coffee. Which I’m prepared to make, if you’d like some?”
“Sounds fine.” Gallia replied, already giving the tiny drone the once over, “I’ll have a tea and get this thing ready for ya. I’ll need your padd to sync the two.”
Estelle replicated a PADD and some hot water in a pot with a built-in filter, along with two glasses. She put both on the table, then disappeared in her bedroom to retrieve a box of tea, small samples of her selection. Most of her stockpile was still waiting on Deep Space Nine.
Gallia had already begun to tinker with the propulsion and guidance systems on the little drone, this was all relatively simple, she’d done this operation on much larger systems, including a torpedo in the academy; Chief O’Brien had ripped her a new one for that, though privately he loved it. She turned towards the sounds of Estelle and said, “Ya, the self cleanin’ part is gonna be toughest, but you’ll be able to control the drone from this PADD, send it wherever you want.”
“It’ll need to come up through someone’s toilet, and I don’t want it to be smelly. It’s supposed to be a funny experience, not just someone getting grossed out. And when the flag comes out, it must not spray droplets about the room.” She returned with the tea and placed it on the table for Gallia to take her pick. “Which one would you like?”
“Oh, so many choices…” Gallia sighed, if she stopped to check on all of them she’d never get this thing done, “Tell ya what? I trust you, surprise me.”
“I don’t know what you like”, Estelle said. “But I suppose we can never go wrong with a malty Assam blend.” Which she then selected and threw into the hot water. “Do you think I’m nuts yet?”
“Of course.” Gallia replied, not looking back at her, “But the pretty ones always are in my experience.”
“Well, thank you”, Estelle grinned. “I always thought it was just a requirement of getting into the medical field.”
“I ‘spose it didnae hurt ya there, either.” Gallia laughed, rolling her neck to avoid cramping, that was when her eyes fell on the painting for the first time, “Well, how ‘bout that?”
“The painting? That’s a scene from Greek mythology. It’s called ‘Diana Bathing with her Nymphs with Actaeon and Callisto’. Actaeon is a hunter who spies on these women skinny-dipping and gets turned into a stag as punishment, and there’s Callisto in the back who gets found out having been impregnated by Zeus, and who then also gets punished”, Estelle explained.
“Aye, I’ve heard the story.” Gallia nodded, “My brother loves mythology, used ta read the old ones to me when I was a wee sprog.”
“This one’s been painted by the Dutch master, Rembrandt”, Estelle said. “But it’s only a replica. The original is on display on Earth. But I like it a lot so I had the replicator reproduce it exactly.”
“It’s a beauty.” Gallia complimented, “Might need ta get myself a replicated paintin’ for the quarters.”
“I’m not nearly done decorating this place”, Estelle said. “I want to put in some bookshelves, and lots of plants, and different furniture, too. Make this place more comfortable, less sterile. And since there’s holoemitters in here, I can even have a fireplace.”
“That sounds nice.” Gallia smiled, she loved the memories of sitting around the fire with her family as a young girl, she wanted so badly to go back...
“Great for romantic evenings, too”, Estelle smiled. “Or, lacking that, for getting down and dirty with a good book.”
“Last five books I read were all children’s books.” Gallia laughed, “I miss readin’ grown up literature.”
“You’re freshening up on the kinds of stories you can tell your little one, when she gets a bit older?” Estelle asked.
“How do ya mean?” Gallia asked; there were several ways she could’ve taken that and she wasn’t sure which one to go with.
“I can’t say why, but you feel to me like you’re the kind of person who’s got the patience to actually sit down and read or tell stories to your child, rather than just send them off to the holodeck”, Estelle said.
“I read to her every night.” Gallia responded with a smile, “I wanna make sure her brain develops proper.”
Estelle smiled. “Very nice. So, there’s three kinds of parents. If their child eats some dirt, the first kind runs to the doctor, the second kind washes their mouth out, and the third kind wonders whether they’ll still have to replicate dinner. Which one are you?”
“I was the first kind, but I’ve transitioned to the second.” Gallia answered honestly, “The first few months with her were touch and go, I was totally lost, panickin’ about the whole thing.”
She put a hand on Gallia’s shoulder and said, “Good. Normal responses. Just know you needn’t worry about asking for help, even if you think it’s not strictly necessary.”
“That helps a lot.” Gallia nodded, “I still feel lost with the whole thing sometimes, ya know? I never expected anythin’ like this ta happen.”
“You’re not alone. One of the perks of being in Starfleet, one big, happy family”, Estelle said. “You can come over and listen to me play Mozart, if you like.”
“Really now?” Gallia raised an eyebrow, having decided to shine Estelle on for a second, “Who has homefield?”
“What’s a homefield?” Estelle asked. “I play the piano, well enough not to make your ears bleed at least.”
“I knew whatcha meant.” Gallia laughed, “Just havin’ some fun is all.”
Estelle gave her a puzzled look. “You’ll have to explain that one. You’ve lost me completely.”
“It was a joke, Estelle.” Gallia sighed, that had blown up on her badly, “Nothin’ ta see here.”
“It just went over my head, that’s all”, Estelle said. “I like jokes, in case you couldn’t tell.” No new information there, Estelle knew. She poured the tea, now that it was ready. She carefully handed Gallia a cup of the hot, dark brown liquid.
“Smells good.” Gallia said approvingly, the senses of taste and smell were inexorably linked, “And I might have a solution for your cleanin’ issue.”
“Please, do share”, Estelle was curious. “But remember, I’m not all that tech-savvy.” She took in the steam rising from her cup of tea and took a slurping sip.
“A plastic cover, very thin, only a couple millimeters at most.” Gallia began, “When it comes out of the loo the drone will emit heat enough to burn it, and anything germy and smelly on it, away.”
“Neat, but what about the fumes?” Estelle wondered. “Though, I suppose we could create a coating that breaks down into inoffensive molecules when heated, just carbon dioxide and water.” She smiled. “The drone was intended for single use anyway, as once configured and stored as a pattern, I could always replicate more.”
“Then if that’s your plan, why not just have the drone disintegrate after use?” Gallia suggested, with a replicated device it would be easy enough, “I thought you wanted to keep this one was why I suggested the plasti-coat.”
“No, I just want to make sure the person subjected to my little joke won’t be sprayed with sewage, or have to touch sewage. Clean fun, you know?” Estelle explained.
“All right.” Gallia replied, “Then we can do the plastic coat with hemp plastic, won’t have the offensive smell, and then the drone can fly itself back here. Or we can add feet to it and it can walk itself back. Your call.”
Estelle grinned. “Make its shell in the shape of a duck, it can waddle out of the ready room and right across the bridge into the lift.”
“Okay, but if I turn it into a duck, it’s a permanent thing.” Gallia laughed, though she wasn’t about to destroy a duck, real or not, they were here favorite animals.
“Works for me”, Estelle agreed. “I can’t wait to see the Captain’s face.”
“Me, either.” Gallia laughed, taking a sip of the sizzling tea, “Oh, that’s good…”
“I get that a lot”, Estelle replied dead-pan.
“I’m sure.” Gallia snickered, winking, “And sometimes about the tea.”
Estelle nodded, Gallia had caught on quickly. “You’re invited to join me for the implementation, of course. If you’re not worried about whether the skipper has a sense of humour, that is. This is my way of finding out.”
“In for a penny,” Gallia shrugged, “in for a pound.”
Estelle took another sip of her tea, intoning, “Excellent.”