Episode 5 – Side Projects

Rao woke to soft vibrations pulsating from a thin band on her wrist to her core. Walking through her morning routine in a haze it took twenty minutes before she emerged from her dorm in full uniform, snacking on a meal from the night before. As she walked she toed with the idea of it possibly still being last night given how long it was before the sun would rise.

Just the thought of the lack of sun was enough to make her yawn.

While starting this early was definitely rough for the first hour or so; it was always well worth it in the end. The Academy was always peaceful at this time with run ins mainly involving students on the nocturnal track who were winding down for the day. Whenever she spotted a familiar face she would offer a smile and wave, but rarely strayed from her path.

Upon entering the engineering department she spotted a familiar colleague inspecting her work on the proto warp core and suddenly she was wide awake.

“Good morning.” Tarique greeted her first.

“Morning.” Slipping out of her jacket, Rao tossed it on a nearby table. “Let’s get this party started.”

Tarique looked at her inquisitively; a statement crossing his thoughts which he opted not to share. By now he was familarized enough with the nuances of her vernacular to understand Rao was not being literal. He was also aware she would merely stick to her narrative even if he were to note that there was no party.

The following two hours were spent locked in a discussion focusing on propusion systems and her goal of developing a way to battle containment complications in the warp core. Without fail Tarique questioned the range of complications she was accounting for; to which Rao smiled and placed a pad in front of him. She explained her thought process as attemping to balance the delicate choas that was a warp core with the unknown variables lingering in the universe. Cleary she understood there was no way to fully maximize preparadness, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t still strive for something. Tarique added things he felt she had missed while correcting conclusions she had come to via misinformation. Some of his input was received in kind, but other times it was met with a long explanation with Rao writing on the board and pulling up diagrams for emphasis. Both reactions Tarique found acceptable; albeit quiet ardent, considering the of their conversations and there were even times when he utilized the board for identical purposes.

With the first rays of light breaking the horizon, Rao stepped outside expecting Tarique to go on his way, but instead found him continuing their conversation.

“-you are proposing implementing a device as part of the intermix chamber in order to achieve containment.” Tarique summarized his colleague’s intial point.

“Yes.” Rao nodded, noticing the the growing number of students.

“You still have not stated how you intend to procure a working prototype.” Tarique reminded her. Due in part to his recent close proximity he had becomes keenly aware of the evasive tactics she employed.

A devious smile graced Rao’s features. “I have a few possible theories I’ve been tinkering with, but I think I’ve finally narrowed it down to one.” Peeking up at him she was amused to see he was clearly waiting for her continue. “…and we can discuss it another day because it’s breakfast time and I’m about to gnaw my arm off.” When Tarique’s brow quirked as if he were about to say something she quickly raised her hand for him to stop. “I will see you next week when I’ve worked it out more.” She smiled.

“Agreed.”

As Tarique walked away she noticed Garnett strolling up to take his place with an unreasonably peculiar expression.

“What was that about?” Garnett began to pester. “First you guys start sparring and now you’re walking together?”

Rao raised her brows. “We’re not in space yet, you know.” She laughed. “No need to get paranoid. I can assure you there ate no plots you need to worry your tactical mind about.” Leading him over to the food she opted for a nova bagel. “Besides, aren’y ou the one who said I needed to put more time on sparring?”

Garnett chuckled. “Alright. Alright.” He selected a hearty meal for himself. “Yeah. I did. BUT, I didn’t think you’d go to Torique or even get him to agree for that matter.” He admitted.

“It’s a learning experience. Much like when Zletka explains her courses to you.” Rao teased just as they joined the waiting Betazoid. “Morning! Were you able to find the suit okay?”

Zletka nodded. “Yes. I plan to upload the data this morning after breakfast. I should have it returned before lunch.”

“Perfect.” Rao smiled. From the corner of her eye she could see Garnett’s questioning look. “So since I won’t be on the set up committee this time around…I’ve got to know- what do you have planned for Friday?”

Garnett slapped his hands together, a grin forming. “Alright….” It turned out the party was going to be held at a club in downtown San Francisco where he’d made friends with the managers. It seemed lieke it was going to be normal night out; at least until he mentioned a surprise.

“What’s the surprise?” Rao asked between sips of her smoothie.

“What kind of host would I be if I ruined the surprise?” Garnette rebuffed.

Rao exchanged a look with Zletka who smiled softly.

“By his expression I would say it should be…memorable.” Zletka deduced.

“Yeah. I like the sound of that…memorable.” Garnette nodded to himself.

“Good grief.” Rao laughed, shaking her head. “It better be good then.”

For rest of the day she helped spread the word of Garnett’s soiree. Considering how long it’d been since his last bash almost everyone she came across was on board.

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Vulcans – Star Trek

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