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DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

[IrnaShall ch'Xinya | Stellar Cartography | Deck 15]Attn: Thea

Grunting under the strain, Lt. ch'Xinya is elbow deep in an open panel trying to get an ODN cable attached to its port.  Lone antenna twitching in frustration, Shall gives it another tug hoping to dislodge it from whatever was binding the blasted thing, but it's no use.  Dropping the end with a sign, he steps back and wipes some sweat off of his brow.  "Great..." he mutters to himself.  "Probably caught on the junction behind that last panel..." He really regrets replacing that panel now.

Anyone outside of engineering or stellar cartography would probably be surprised at how much work it was to get a lab up and running.  Most people just see the operator zooming a camera around to show off different locations throughout known space.  Scientists who visited a lab would see more detailed data, graphs, false color images to show hidden structures, or whatever it was they needed for their research.  But for an astrophysicist like this chan, stellar cartography labs were life, and it was his job to know how everything worked.  That left him in the position where once the structural repairs had been done it was up to him to get the lab up and running again.

Sighing to himself, Shall retrieves the needed tool and pries off the panel sitting to the left of the one the cable currently dangles out of, and sure enough it had managed to slip underneath a junction block.  Biting back some curses he slides the cable to the desired position then plugs the end into its port.  As soon as the clamp locks the cable in it lights up, signifying a good data path.  Nodding in satisfaction Shall takes a moment to pop his back, stance wider than normal thanks to his damaged sense of balance.  Looking up at the ceiling, he tries not to shake his head at the sight of it.

Weeks ago the lab had been crippled during the Niga incident.  Somehow a hole had been blasted through the floor above and punched all the way through the ceiling of the lab itself, destroying the light rig.  Debris and bodies fell through and smashed the control console and a few sections of the platform railing.  Engineering had gotten the roof and railing patched up soon after, but the damage had disrupted the data feeds to the three-sectioned wrap-around screen that was the centerpiece of the room.  When Shall first went to work on repairing the lab checking those was his first priority.  Thankfully they didn't suffer much, just a few patch jobs here and there.  The data feeds though...even with the new console they replacement console there was some disconnect in the transmission.  That was why the Andorian had spent the past two days pulling and checking every single ODN cable in the room.

Deciding a break was in order, a quick glass of water is ordered from the replicator and Shall sips it after wiping off his hands with a rag and brushing some debris off of the engineering jumpsuit he was wearing in place of his usual uniform.  "Would there be enough time to add a holoprojector into the system..." he wonders aloud.  It was a question that Lt. Tovarek had brought up earlier in the week, and it had stayed in Shall's mind ever since.  Maybe it was time to bring in an expert.  Lt. Kae was unavailable, so why not talk with the ship's other holographic expert.  "Thea?" Shall called out, tapping the comm button on a nearby panel.  "Would you be available for a consult?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #1
There was barely a pause before Thea's voice was heard over the intercom.

[Yes, Ensign. I will be there momentarily.]

Then there was just a slight delay before a shimmer was heard, and Thea used her transportation system to make a site-to-site transport for her mobile emitter, along with her projected physical appearance. When she materialised in stellar cartography, she was wearing her teal chameleon body-suit, the colour re-sequenced to match the department she was assisting. She turned her head to smile to the Andorian that awaited her.

"Hello," she said, tilting her head as she walked up to the main console in the centre of the spherical lab, gratified to notice that more of her had come online in the area. "You have done a remarkable job here. It has been a long time since this part of me was responsive, and I had almost gotten used to the void in my systems."

She turned back to the Ensigns and folded her hands behind her back, squaring her shoulders with her usual at-the-ready stance. "How can I help you, ch'Xinya?" she asked kindly, her focus being the interaction with the crew member and letting all else remain in the runtime libraries of her software. Her brown eyes rested easily upon the injured scientist, and she hoped the organic was not over-tasking himself when still at a physical disadvantage. She knew what the loss of an antennae might mean for an Andorian, detailed medical files suggesting the loss of balance and perception, but she made no comment towards his unhealed state. Her memory banks held social convention that forbade her to suggest something that might be interpreted as 'pity' towards his physical state, and her sub-routines were thus 'instinctively' letting her know that it might upset the man.

Her digital mind was also preoccupied with less rewarding processes than the interaction with the scientist, many of them pertaining to what had happened at the Black Opal and what lay in store for her and the crew once she reached Starbase 84. The loss of her daughter, and the final confrontation with her, also lingered - the processing-time for such an event not having run its course just yet.

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #2
"Good afternoon Thea." Shall greeted the hologram in return, his head instinctively nodding.  Talking with the ship's holographic avatar was always interesting, something just felt different enough to make it memorable.  "Thank you." He responded after her compliment about his work.  "I've missed my lab as well.  Astrometrics is a little cramped for what I do."

Taking one last drink, the Andorian recycled his glass in the replicator and joined Thea at the control platform.  "When I talked with Lt. Tovarek about getting Stellar Cartography rebuilt he asked about installing a holo-emitter as an upgrade.  I've seen it done at the Academy, so I know such systems exist.  The problem is that I have no experience with holographic systems beyond using a holodeck."

Sitting down and pulling the control station along the track so that it was in front of him, Shall set the lab screens into a diagnostic mode, then brought up a diagram he'd drawn up when off duty, displaying it on the console's small screen.  "Since a holographic display would be more of an augment to the current system there would be no need for a full grid like the holodecks.  What would you say to adding some emitters into the light array?" A blue hand waved towards the ring of metal suspended from the ceiling with several light fixtures ensuring there was plenty of light for the large room.  "The other half of the equation is upgrading the lab's programming to include the emitters.  That should not be any trouble, it would just require someone with better programming skills than me."

Turning away from the console to look at Thea, Shall's antenna curled in curiosity.  It was an odd sensation, sitting next to the representation of an entire starship and conversing like it was a person.  He knew it was just the next step in computer-user interface, but she had certainly earned his respect as more than that.

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #3
Hearing that Lieutenant Tovarek, of all people, had recommended Ensign ch'Xinya to install holoemitters in the stellar cartography lab made new data flow through Thea, and that datastream came from her emotion chip. She stopped her eyes from widening too much and she kept her lips pressed into a thin line as to keep herself from chuckling self-consciously. Unbidden imagery was cued from her own experience with Tovarek as he had utilised that kind of technology on one of her holodecks... and the development was something altogether outside ordinary science practise.

"I see," she said, standing behind the Ensign as he spoke of what would be required in order to get the lab entirely 3-dimensional. It was a good adaptation, and not too burdensome on her systems. The design of her stellar cartography lab was somewhat antiquated in its setup even if it was very accurate and had a quick response-time, and the reason emitters had not been installed was that it simply wasn't a priority for the astrophysicists. They relied on the data and the quick delivery thereof, practised with the usage of the system to a fault, so they would not want any emitter projections obscuring the things they sought for. It seemed ch'Xinya was of another idea, however, and she replied to his open and non-specific question.

"I would say it is a good idea, and that I foresee no problems in terms of hardware compatibility or capacity to keep the system activated," she said, and even though the Andorian had made no specific question towards the need of a computer data base programmer, she answered the non-question nonetheless. "While I have some access, mostly in terms of my own holographic matrix, I cannot personally reconfigure the ship's systems. I can, however, compile a list of suitable crewmates that can do it. Then, when the holoemitters are configured to inter-phase with the lab, I could definitely make adjustments for you. As you know, some thing I am hardwired not to have access to, but when I do have access, I am qualified to calibrate the systems to reach peak preformance."

She paused there, before adding a question of her own. "Did... Lieutenant Tovarek say why he recommended holographic emitters here?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #4
Shall nodded in thanks to Thea's offer to suggest some possible help.  "That would be of tremendous help, thank you Thea."  His antenna drooped slightly with the next admission.  "I haven't been a social crewmember so unfortunately I don't know the rest very well."  Probably the most anyone had been able to get him out of his quarters or lab was back on Theta Eridani when he'd essentially been dragged to the hot springs for a night of "relaxation".  It was a small miracle he'd avoided a stay in the medical center afterwards, Andorian physiology made such an extended stay in that environment troublesome.  "And your assistance with the final calibrations would certainly be welcome.  I've had the idea of using hand gestures to control the holographic projections."

Shall switched his diagram to a different page, one showing the user standing on the platform with their hands in the air as if they were holding the holographic galaxy that was suspended above and in front of them.  "The main idea is to use a high-detail hologram to focus on a specific object, while the main displays show background items.  Not terribly dissimilar to a holodeck, but more limited in scope."  A smile started to grace his face, pride at the design starting to come to the fore.  "It will take plenty of adjusting to get right, but it could be worth it in the end."

Thea's question about Lt. Tovarek didn't stop Shall for a moment.  "We were talking about the new generation of stellar cartography labs that I saw in the Academy and he mentioned that time he used the holodeck to plot a course.  He mentioned it might be a useful upgrade here, that's all."

Glancing at the wall screens, the diagnostic was still in progress, but it looked promising.  The computer (Thea's background processes Shall figured since she was standing right next to him) hadn't found any faults as of yet, and soon the screens would light up with a series of test images.  If all goes well, Ensign ch'Xinya could get a little bit of astronomy work done before delving into the upgrade.

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #5
While the Ensign was speaking, Thea compiled the list of crewmates that could help Shall with the installation of holoemitters and linking them to her bio-neural network. She made the list and sent it to his computer console before he was finished talking, and in a second message, she had adjusted the list to remove those that weren't proficient at installing motion sensors in the lab as well, since the Andorian just mentioned the idea to make the controls motion-based, she had amended the list, all during the duration it took him to tell her what he had in mind for the new features.

She was somewhat relieved that Lieutenant Tovarek had not told his subordinate officer what had happened on the holodeck, and that the Russian human's recommendation to Shall had just been about the experience of navigating and plotting space, not any other 'experiences' of personal nature. Of course she should have known Tovarek to not tell everyone what had happened, given the personal nature of their activities, but at the same time, she couldn't be too sure either. It was not like the two of them had spoken in person about it again, and Thea had reasoned that the incident fell into what social conventions said 'a one-time thing'. Her emitter had just been installed with her new tactile sensor mapping, allowing her to feel the world around her projection as if she'd been an organic individual. It had been an odd development, new to the sensation of a mere hug of compassion, and before she realised what the situation might lead to, she had been kissing Simon Tovarek. In retrospect, perusing her memory bank with new data to process the experience, perhaps the human thought her shallow, as if she was no more sophisticated than a seedy holo-vid character. A non-sentient three-dimensional image without ability to evolve, not allowed to learn anything outside the pre-set course of the plot in the vid. She thought so because she knew that some of the crew had opted to re-make their intimate acquaintances on the holodecks in her image. Sometimes, she had been tempted to replace those images of her with herself, but she had not betrayed the trust of the crew in such a fashion, even if the notion that they perceived her like... that... was both flattering and a little bit unnerving.

"I see," she said in reply, and cut the feed of imagery of herself in sexual congress with some of her crew, feeling a bit affected by the idea of what some of those activities might feel like with her new sensory mapping. Lin Kae had made her projection react like a human woman might, the sensory imprint of Ensign Carver's body mapped to herself. She could produce the sensation and image of sweat, feel the breath of another against her projection, as well as any external stimuli. What she had found was that certain data, like the kind she had just pulled from her memory banks, could make her secrete like a human would. During sexual arousal, a data-feed reminiscent of 'blood' flowed to the vagina increased, causing a mimicked swelling known as vasocongestion to her digital vulva and clitoris. At this time, another kind of  sweating reaction occurred that lubricated her vaginal walls. The combination of vaginal mucus and lubrication made up organic women's sexual secretions, which could contain carbohydrates, amino acids, proteins, and other acids produced by the normal lactobacillus bacteria. For Thea, it was a mimicked result, but it felt as real as it had felt to Ensign Carver.

This was what happened to her at the memory of hers and Tovarek's coitus on the holodeck, and it made her fidget a bit where she stood, needing to pace a little bit and try to find new input of conversation. She had even begun to analyse Shall's physical body in an inappropriate way. "Have you thought about contacting your bondmates?" she asked, surprising herself with the change of topic, but compensating with a second question. "You know, before I reach Starbase 84?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #6
Shall smiled when Thea's list appeared on his console, a small chirp announcing its arrival.  One of the best parts of asking Thea for help was how fast she could compile information.  The lab ended up silent for a few moments, Shall looking over Thea's proffered list of helpers while the screens ran through their test images.  If anyone watched the show it would be described as psychedelic.  Shapes and swirls of every imaginable color flash and move along the giant wraparound three-piece screen before being replaced with an image of the galaxy.  A pre-determined path moved the camera through known space, allowing the diagnostics to compare the projected images with the database.  Shall would have to do his own check in the end as the final step to the process, but it didn't have to happen immediately.

Something happened though, and the first sign of it was Shall's antenna raising and turning a bit towards Thea.  His head didn't look up from the console, but his eyes did raise a bit as he tried to pinpoint what was causing the odd feeling.  It was hard to describe, especially to a non-Andorian.  It was sort of like a very faint static buzz in his head, barely perceptible but there it was.  He almost dismissed it as a power fluctuation (who knew what Engineering was up to), but Thea's question about his bondmates caught his attention.  Any mention of them would.

Looking up and turning towards the hologram Shall's antenna shot up in surprise.  ~A fidgeting hologram?~ he thought.  ~How does that happen?~  The thought was quickly forgotten though, memories, pictures, and emotions flooding the Andorian.  Antenna drooping, Shall's typical bluster disappeared as if it were beamed away.  "Every day...."  A small debated played out behind his eyes for a moment, and in less than a moment he interrupted the test program to pull up a picture from his database.

Smack in the middle of the middle screen directly in front of the platform, four Andorians sat on the veranda steps of a stone cabin.  Their blue skin of various shades contrasted with the obsidian stone, and stood out against the white snow.  All four were draped in furs, but the cold didn't appear to bother them.  "I'm sure you probably have full dossiers on them, but you haven't actually seen them I'm guessing?" Shall glanced at Thea out of the corner of his eye.  "This was the second morning of our first Shelthreth."  He smiled at the memory.  There was a very good reason why they were all draped in furs instead of their clothing for that picture.  A roll in the snow soaked them all, and the activity that certainly got the antenna twitching.

"Jay's our Zhavey." Shall pointed to the tallest Andorian in the group.  Dark skin covered with multiple tattoos, her hair shorn almost to a fuzz on the sides and only a few centimeters long on top.  "Not your typical Zhen.  Most think that Syora's a zhen at first glance, but only when we're together."  Syora was a stark contrast to Jay.  The shortest of the group, one could guess that Jay gave all of her hair to Syora.  Dressed up in dreadlocks and braids, dyed with multiple hues of blue, red, and green, then with ribbons and beads thrown in the mix, it was a common belief that it had never been cut in her life.  "Of course some wondered how Jay and Tavin ended up in a bondgroup together."  Tavin's greenish skin was odd when compared with the other three, but other than that he looked entirely traditional.  "Syora and I wonder the same thing.  Tavin is a priest, while Jay is anything but.  With some of her suggestions that first night I thought he was going to storm out."  Shall smiled though.  "He learned quite a bit that night..."

Shaking the memories loose, Shall turned to Thea with a wan grin.  "My apologies, I didn't mean to reminisce like that.  Yes I have thought about contacting them, but without a way of doing so without compromising our location I couldn't do it.  I would give anything to be with them again, but how safe would we all be if those things are allowed to run free like they have been?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #7
It certainly did not help Thea's current projection that the Ensign ended up referring to Andorian mating rituals, alluding to bold activities that might upset one of their priests. Speculation of what kind of activities that had been suggested came unbidden, potential scenarios played out at the processing speed of her positronic circuitry, and in a matter of seconds, she had ended up with hundreds of possibilities involving the four Andorians in the picture - one of them present. She had their dossiers, indeed, and it added more detail to the analysis. While not very experienced in the activities herself, only having explored her own sexuality with a low number of people, her memory banks had explicit examples of mating techniques that had been witnessed first-hand during both the Niga Incident and when the Ishtar Entity had visited them.

Deciding that she could not allow her emotion chip make her so restless, she backed up against the railing and held it with both her hands, leaning against it as she listed to Shall's regrets about a message. In that regard, she did have good news, and it allowed her to dedicate her digital mind to something less sexual in nature.

"No need to apologise," she said, hoping that she was not blushing too much, "and there might actually be a chance for you to do so. The Captain is planning on preparing a data package that is to be sent out along with the message from Starbase 84. Everyone will be able to send a message with that package, and in order to keep tactical information from falling into the wrong hands, I will scan them all in a temporary memory process, weed out and censor tactical data, and then the Captain will order the deletion of that temporary memory. This, so that whatever is said is for yours and the recipient's ears only."

She smiled to the Andorian as she relayed the good news to him, happy to be able to give him something positive in the midst of all the madness that her voyage had dealt upon the crew. "They will not likely be targeted by Starfleet Command because of the message you send to them. At least not more so than they have already been. The enemy will already have screened them, perhaps even interrogated them. The only change would be that the Federation News Network and the public might overcome the messages, but that might also be a benefit for the crew's next of kin. With the media there, watching them too, Starfleet won't do anything to them without them being noticed. Moreover, the message Captain Ives will send, it will - in his words - make the messages to the crew's relatives and friends petty candles next to a... he phrased it as 'a rampant wildfire'. Therefore, I hope you will consider sending them a message."

Thea nodded towards the picture. "I think they will be happy to hear from you, and learn your side of the story." Then, she smiled and raised a hand to waggle a finger at him in jest.  "Just don't tell them too much details, or I might end up censoring you. Oh, and the Captain will announce when it is time to record it."

Having relayed the good news, Thea's eyes returned to the picture of the Ensign's bondmates, and she sighed - almost wistfully - thinking about what it would be like to be with so many partners at once. She knew it was because she wanted to develop, and come to terms with her own sexuality. Before she realised it, she had resumed her event-scenario musings, and she swallowed at the sights seen behind her digital eyes, crossing her legs where she leaned against the railing.

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #8
A message home?  Officially arranged by the Captain?  Shall's antenna shot straight up, he was so excited.  He almost didn't hear Thea's theory on how the compromised Starfleet might be blocked from retaliating against the crew's family thanks to FNN and other news outlets, his mind was already racing with thoughts on what he would tell Jay, Syora, and Tavin.  It was her wagging finger that brought the chan out of his contemplations.  "You and the Captain have nothing to worry about from me.  It's not like I can tell them much about the first few months." His voice trailed off at the end, antenna drooping at the same time.  ~At least not when in person.~ Shall added in his mind,.

His memories from Niga may be gone, but he still remembered being tricked by that entity afterwards.  What he did was a mark of shame to the proud Andorian, and he would have to talk about it with his bondmates when this ordeal was over.  He could guess at their reactions: Syora would be understanding, Tavin will be furious, and Jay will press him for every sordid detail.

Coming back out of his mind again, Shall returned his attention to Thea, and almost panicked at how she was standing.  The railing was only waist high, and with her legs crossed she had no base: one good shove and she would go tumbling down to the deck below.  Reflex opened his mouth to state the warning, but he stopped, mouth closing in thought.  Thea was a hologram, and her beaming in meant that she was here with her emitter.  Would she be damaged by such a fall?  For a brief moment he thought about pushing her to see, but that would've been uncalled for.

That moment of thought finally brought Thea's expressions to the Andorian's consciousness.  He'd noticed her fidgeting earlier, but now she was showing classic human expressions of unease, and her pose was another common indication.  "Is everything alright Thea?" Shall asked, antenna focusing towards her in concern.  "If you were human I'd say you were blushing."

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #9
If Thea wasn't self-conscious already, hearing the Andorian call her out on how her treacherous emotion chip and her sensory mapping made her feel rendered her even more so.

In a way, she entered a state of emergency, as if she was tying to solve a crisis, and as rapid as her digital thought processes were, this was an unprecedented social scenario, and the results were compromised by the way she'd been made to feel in response to the imagery of the Ensign's bonding. Or more specifically, their shelthreth. It was out of her control, her emitter a slave to the master programming of her sensory mapping and her emotion chip; twain data-feeds far more in sync than she liked. The results were indisputable, if considering them as the sole factors to the situation, but she also had her ethical subroutines, which conflicted with the result entirely. In the end, for all her ditigal processing activity and devoted memory to the crisis, she was rendered hesitant.

"I... am I?" she asked pushing away from the railing and putting her hands on her cheeks. She felt how warm they were, even if they were digital and the feeling was a result of Ensign Carver's sense of touch - instilled into her programming by Lin Kae's expert attention to detail. At the moment, she was not entirely convinced that her sensory mapping was a good thing. It did cause her some predicaments, just like the one she was tending to at the moment. "Perhaps its the temperature in here. The environmental system might not fully calibrated after the damage to this area of me. With your permission, I will decrease the temperature to 19,5 degrees Celsius."

Having said this, she cleared her throat - for some reason she could not decipher - and folded her arms underneath her breasts, brown eyes coming to return to the Ensign's bondmates on display. She decided not to lean on the railing, taking a safe stance in the middle of the walkway to the main console. "Do you know what you will tell them already?" she asked, having detected the elation the Andorian had displayed when she'd told him about the opportunity to send a message to them when they preformed the simulcast. "It is very likely they are worried for you, just as much as you are worried for them. Based on what you have told me about them, I do not - however - find it likely that they have believed the accusations against you and the rest of my crew. Of course, since Andorian society is based on the Keth-system, they might have been pressured by the Keth they come from to form a new bond, but hearing you talk about your experiences and what I have stored in my memory banks about them... I would say the chances for that to happen is very remote."

She had a number, but she knew that telling it would reduce the subject of their bond to mathematical statistics. That, she had learned from T'Rena's vision, was a perilous path to take in all deduction. It was far better to add new factors that might affect the result the way you wanted it to be. In that regard, she smiled to Shall in an encouraging way. "Could you tell me more about them and your time together?" she asked... belatedly realising that it might not be the best of ideas. Still, she asked the question in spite of her personal discomfort, knowing that it was beneficial for the Ensign to share. "That is, unless you want me to leave you to your duties?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #10
Thea's reaction to being accused of blushing brought a smile to Shall's face, and he had to turn to keep it out of her view.  In fact, it was taking much of his willpower to not laugh.  Not only would it be rude, but Thea didn't deserve it.  It was a good thing that he was standing next to the control console still, it gave Shall a good cover.  When she asked about lowering the temperature he nodded in agreement.  Andoria was typically much colder than the norm on a starship, but he kept it close to the standard conditions to save on power and for others' comfort.

The sound of Thea clearing her throat turned Shall's head back to her.  He watched for a moment, antenna following her as she stepped away from the railing.  Her question was answered by silence at first.  What would he say?  What could he say?  For months he'd wondered that himself, but there was so much to tell.  "I guess I'll tell them about what happened to me." Shall finally answered, motioning to the stump on his head.  "As much as they would want to know everything, my injuries would be what they'd want to know most.  They know me, and Jay would fight any pressure she gets to enact the Whole Vessel Law.  They'd have to show me eating babies before she'd consider it."

There was something to Thea's smile that got Shall to reciprocate.  He dismissed her offer to leave with a shrug.  "Most of my work left here is diagnostics and some research."  Going back to the controls, the chan brought up some more pictures of him and the rest of the Shelthreth that've been taken over their few years together.  Most of them were from the cabin where they celebrated their first Shelthreth, but then there were others that his bondmates had sent along.  Of course, there were some that were for his eyes only, but it's not like they would show anyone that wasn't already in medical texts.

"As I mentioned, Jay's our Zhavey, the ruler of our little clan.  She'll make all the important decisions, but while she's got a rough exterior she'll never lash out or do us harm."  As he talked about her Shall pulled out a few photos of her at various construction sites around the Federation as well as ones of her either smiling to the camera or ribbing Tavin somehow.  "She's a construction expert, especially in tundra, arctic, and subarctic climbs.  She was working on a new facility on Enceladus the last time I was able to talk with her, we were actually going to be on the same transport when I was going on leave.  Of course, I ended up here instead."

Next came some pictures of Tavin.  Here he was in his priest's robes, only one showed him without, and that was when Jay had pranked him with a bucket of hot water perched above the bathroom door at the cabin.  Syora had snapped the photo while he was chasing the zhen around the room with what was left in said bucket.  "Tavin...he's always reading.  Jay is just about the only one who can get him out of the Codices, but that usually involves her playing a prank.  He's quite traditional too, always wanting to stay with the old ways, but thankfully he's not a secessionist.  Wonderful storyteller, every so often he'll do readings for groups, especially children.  They all love him for that."

The final member of the Shelthreth, Syora, always brought a smile to Shall's face.  She barely reached his shoulder, but her hair was the most impressive feature shared between any of the four.  Done up in a wild array of braids and dreadlocks, her white hair was streaked with various shades of blue, red, and green with an appreciable number of ribbons and beads mixed into the work as well.  "Little Syora, she can be even quieter than Tavin if you can believe it.  While he'll dive into the Codices, she'll work until someone forces her to rest.  She's a computer engineer, constantly coming up with refined algorithms and new programs.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of her work was here on the ship in all honesty.  Unfortunately she's quite the introvert, preferring to spend her time curled up with her PADD and computer.  It took Jay diving into the snow completely naked to put them away and fully join us."  And what an event that was....

Flipping through a few more pictures Shall ended up on one of his favorites: their arrival at the cabin in the Northern Wastes.  There they were, smiling together on the porch, their shapla hanging around each of their necks.  Uzaveth would be proud of them.  "Have you ever thought about family Thea?" he asked, completely out of nowhere.

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #11
With the visual processing speed that Thea had, the many images before her on the concave walls were all seen, none glossed over, and with the resolution in her optical sensors - her eyes - she saw them all in explicit detail.

She listened also to how Irnashall ch'Xinya spoke of his bondmates, depicting what wasn't seen in the images, and there was an unprecedented warm feeling establishing in Thea's mind when she learned more of what the Ensign had been forced to leave behind. At that thought, the warm feeling became bittersweet, knowing that what had been might never come again, should her crew fail in accomplishing the mission at Starbase 84. She rather would not consider that aspect of the conversation with the young Andorian officer, so in attempt to make the warm feelings that her emotion chip fed her the focal point of her digital thought process, she let her mind stray to what lay closest at hand, and that was the intimacy between the four Andorians.

Some of the images were more revealing in nature, depicting so much blue skin she felt her cheeks become warm again. The physique of all four bondmates were aesthetically pleasing, all in their own right, and while she technically did have access to the Ensign's holographic medical journal and imagery, it was not quite the same as seeing ch'Xinya in the way he was photographed in some of the images on display. Andorians certainly did have a relaxed attitude about the display of their own skin, which was evident from what she saw on the walls around her. She was so immersed in the study, unknowingly biting her lower lip ruefully in her enjoyment, that the question the Ensign posed didn't become the cold shower that it could be been.

"Have you ever thought about family, Thea?"

She'd had a daughter, but no more. The thought of Cala made Thea look to the deck plating on the walkway, arms still crossed beneath her chest. Yet somehow, the hurt had lessened than a couple of days earlier, and she thought the images around her had something to do with it. Indeed, Cala had been a descending line of A.I. research, based on Thea when she had been written. But the term 'mother' and 'daughter' were terms for organics, where birth was not the same, much less blood-relation. If anything, Cala had been an advanced clone construct of Thea, related only in original code and prototype positronic brain. The same could be said about the three starships currently undergoing assembly at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, and another three ships that were planned for production in the years to come. They were of the same starship-class as herself, but with different, unique A.I. With a stretch of the imagination, they could be her younger 'sisters'. It was all, however, just a fancy way of labelling A.I. in lack of better alternatives. After the death of Cala, and knowing that she had not able to reach through to her - made her see the error in her ways - it helped somewhat not seeing her as a daughter any more. After all, neither Cala nor her unborn sisters in the fleet yards had anything resembling the familiarity and kinship that Thea saw in the images on the walls.

"I might entertain the notion of such a holographic program, but only for recreational purposes and to study the social conventions stored in such fiction," she said with only a couple of seconds of delay, and looked to the Ensign again with a faint smile, She stepped forth to stand next to him where he sat by the main console. "The holodeck is not such an interesting place for me, however, since I know the outcomes of all program files ahead of time. I find that real life interaction far more rewarding, which - however - would never yield family or offspring for me. Still, forming personal relationships with my own crew has a lot of merits on its own, and I do consider myself fortunate with having you all aboard me, serving a purpose as noble and dire as our mission has come to be. It is not without its set-backs, grief and peril, but essentially... I am proud to carry both the truth and this crew all the way - wherever we might end up."

Looking at the images again, she gestured towards the images. "I have heard a lot about your bondmates, know them well in how they function and contribute to the bond... But as warmly as you speak of them... you have not told me anything about yourself," she said and put a hand on top of the repaired main console, looking to Shall where he sat. "If Kalijay zh'Varth is the wild construction worker that defies the norm of her gender, Matosyora sh'Kant is a bit of an introvert computer genius, and Uzatavin th'Cha is the traditional scholar and priest... then how do you think they perceive you? What are you to them, and what role do you think you fill in the bond's private dynamic?"

Leaning on the duty station, Thea listened raptly to the answer, before her next question slipped out without much forethought beyond her being curious - her digital imagination at the forefront of her analysis. "My files on Andorian mating are very clinical, without the warmth in which you describe your bond. If I may ask, were all four of you intimate during Shelthreth, without reservations between the genders?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #12
Shall didn't know why he asked such a question of Thea, it's not like the concept of family could apply to her, could it?  He listened intently to the hologram as she talked about the possibility of making one on the holodeck, and his antenna instinctively leaned towards her when she moved next to him.  He almost missed her mention of real familial interaction and how it would never result in offspring, but when it hit him he hoped his shock didn't show too much.  She was programmed with physical intimacy? the Andorian barely kept in his own head.  Was that before or after her upgrades? Shall decided it was a stupid question a moment later, Starfleet would never program a hologram with sex, it had to have been Lt. Kae.

Shall's shocked rumination about Thea's physical abilities kept him from hearing the last of her explanation about the crew, thankfully any mention of his bondmates would immediately grab his attention again.  "Me?"  Her question wasn't one he'd ever thought of before, and when his antenna started to wring (or at least attempt to, with only one antenna it looked a little odd.)  Exhaling carefully, Shall had to think about it for a moment.  As unexpected as it may be considering my career, but you might say I'm the anchor."  Turning from the random space he'd been staring at and returning his attention to Thea, a smile started to grace his lips.  "We've been betrothed to each other since we were children, typical for Andorians.  Of course we spent most of our lives with our own clans up until adulthood, though in the later years of adolescence we would gather together more and more.  Tavin and Jay have been bickering for years, and Syora's always stayed quiet.  It's always fallen to me to get everything organized, or at least bring some semblance of order to the chaos.  They all look up to me I think, which is odd since nominally the zhen is the leader of the clan.  Of course I'm the one with the military training, that may have something to do with it."

"I know I make it sound like it's a tumultuous Shelthreh we have, but it's only on the outside.  With Jay often offworld on various jobs and me here or at the Academy Syora and Tavin maintain our home in Lor'Vela, and Jay makes it back far more often than I do.  One day we'll start filling the house out with some children, Uzaveth willing, and I have a feeling you wouldn't recognize any of us after that."  The thought of children brings a little glimmer to Shall's eye.  He crosses his arms and leans back in the chair, almost as if he's mirroring Thea's own leaning stance.  He should've known where that last thought would take thing, everyone always wonders how four genders work.

His smile turns into a smirk, and the antenna turned inward.  "Of course we were.  Just like how bi- and tri-gendered species require input from each gender to procreate, so do we.  Of course you know that already thanks to your database."  Unfurling his hands he ticks off each of the points on his fingers.  "First the chan and the thaan fertilize the shen's egg, and when the egg develops into a fetus the shen deposits it into the zhen.  A process as simple as arithmetic."  He wags a finger at the hologram before she can say anything.  "That's not your question though, is it?"  Growing a little bit more serious, Shall thinks back to his first night with his bondmates.  "We don't have the same reservations that many other species tend to have when it comes to relations between genders.  Shens and zhens have the most differences between them, but most non-Andorians don't recognize them unless they happen to stumble into them naked.  Thaans and chans are nearly identical, our differences extend almost exclusively in physique.  Even with those minor differences however, Tavin is just as different from me as a human male is from a female, biologically speaking.  I'm just as attracted to him as a partner as binary-gendered males and females are, and I know the same exists for Syora and Jay."  Lowering his voice slightly, "In short, I don't have any reservation about phallic play during shelthreth, if that's what you are asking."

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #13
At the same time as Thea felt embarrassed about the things told to her, it was not entirely uncharted territory. Not just in the sense that she knew the reproduction phases of Andorian mating, but in how she wasn't entirely innocent when it came to intimacy with other humanoids. Since the Niga Incident, where Lin Kae set her free, she'd had the opportunity to experience it herself. Both by choice... and not, the latter being how she had been a puppet in the hands of the officers that controlled her via the Main Computer Core. When the Ishtar Entity had visited... her memory banks somehow retained organic memory engrams, digital images and sensation lods of something she'd come to experience as a human - organic life granted to her by the entity for a brief period of time. Still, with the experience she had gained over the course of the past months, she could not help the dataflows that the emotion chip fed to her.

"Admittedly," she said, realising that she was about to share the fact of her brief track record in intimacy and having to swallow - to steel herself against the way the topic of discussion made her feel, "I have no true experience with anything other than male companions. So while I understand your sentiment about all variations of the Andorian anatomy being diverse, I have not experienced sexual intimacy with a female of any species."

While her verbal delivery was even in tone, she was smiling, and she could not help how the emotion chip did things to her projected body. Her sensory mapping felt like it was being overloaded, her skin tingling and a kind of itch having developed betwixt her legs. She imagined that she looked like she was blushing, and yet she tried to keep herself still and not try to cross her legs where she stood, leaning against the central duty station next to ch'Xinya. Her chameleon bodysuit felt too small, too confined, yet she was not about to do something about her attire. She would not re-sequence it to something else because the talk about the Ensign's bondmates were making her aroused - something she had never thought genuinely possible until Lin Kae had granted her Ensign Carver's sensory mapping and connected the input felt to her pleasure readings.

Well, technically, it had been the Ishtar Entity that made her feel that way when she had been turned into an organic woman, but she did not have sufficient data to entirely trust the whole experience to be real. Still, the memories of being trapped on the holodeck was still vivid to her, and regardless how the entity had made her feel towards her company on the holodeck, the organic sensations had opened up a new world of possible tactile range. Never had she felt so numb as when she had been restored to her digital self again. Still, she could remember the scents she'd felt - the only type of sense she still truly lacked. There were all kinds of olfactory sensors to be added upon her subroutines, but it simply hadn't been a priority, and she feared that none of them would come close to the ways she'd scented Lieutenant Commander Renard when he...

No, she shouldn't devote processes to analyse the memory banks again. She truly shouldn't. The Ensign had just told her that he didn't have any reservations about phallic play, and she felt that she just couldn't switch the course of the conversation just yet. It would seem rude. Against social convention. She cleared her throat. "It was not exactly the inquiry, but your answer is quite satisfactory," she reassured him, then she prompted a query for the continuation of the topic as according to the same social conventions that prevented her to hastily switch the topic. There was barely any pause at all before she continued. "As I said, I am familiar with phallic play myself, even if it is a recent skill learned. Certainly, the various ways a phallus may figure during sexual intercourse between different species has been known to me, but it is clearly something quite different to know something in practice rather than theory. As a learning program, recent practice has been quite intriguing, and I believe myself to have become more than adequately familiar with some techniques, but the details of my own sexuality is largely an unknown factor at this point. I have yet to learn all my preferences, so perhaps I might enjoy the company of a female some day to find out."

With this admission, she smiled a little and turned more against Ensign ch'Xinya where she leaned on the duty station - some hair escaping from behind her ear. "My apologies if I am too open discussing this topic. I know that it is not always common convention to share about one's own sexuality."

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #14
Well this conversation had taken an interesting turn.  Not once since waking up did Shall think that he would be discussing sexuality with a hologram.  Still, he gave Thea his complete attention, something she was very deserving of as she'd proven time and time again.  Listening to her references to her own experiments was oddly fascinating, and his antenna started to betray the Andorian.  Writhing as if it was wanting to rub against its missing partner, the blue appendage displayed quite the dance.

Waving off her apology, Shall gave Thea a small smile.  "It's no issue, I'm no Vulcan, burying procreation behind ritual and repressed emotion.  In fact, talking about it is one of the best ways to learn, just like anything else."  Spreading his arms out, "I learned all of this in a classroom or other lab first, only actually using the things I was taught months later during the summer cruises.  But you are right, there is a clear difference between theory and reality."

Leaning forward in the seat, Shall studied Thea's reactions, marveling at how life-like they were.  Lt. Kae had done an excellent job with his upgrades, and her original programmers were quite talented on top of that.  The hair escaping from her styling was a nice touch, and it reminded him of something Jay had told him once during their stay at the cabin.  Apparently his own hair was becoming a little wild over time.  "After the Bonding Andorians are expected to remain faithful to the others, but only the most traditional will save themselves entirely for the Shelthreth.  I was no exception." he admitted.

"When I'd matured enough to realize the possibilities of relations between the genders I read quite a bit about various techniques before my first real encounter.  She was a zhen, a few cycles older than me, but we didn't care.  I was so excited that my antenna were nearly shaking me.  I went into her room thinking I was Uzaveth's gift to the entire species.  Boy did I learn a lot that night..."  Shall's smile didn't falter though, reinforced by a chuckle.  "Turned out that all of those books were useless.  One of the best examples of theory versus practice that I know."

Curiosity started to come to the Andorian scientist after a moment of silence, his keen eye watching the way Thea moved and shifted.  "So what brought on a desire to experiment Thea?" he finally asked.  "Sexuality is hardly something I can see Starfleet programming into their ship AIs."

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #15
It was quite comforting to hear of Ensign ch'Xinya's first attempts at sexual intimacy, recognising her own performance when she attempted to fellate Lin Kae for the first time, even more so when she had been trapped on the holodeck with Miles Renard - the latter being quite a defining moment for her own sexuality despite the awkward situation.

She noticed the way the Andorian's antennae moved, or rather what had become of the two, and knew it in theory to be signs of something, but her database lacked references to the motions when only one antennae was whole, so she could not with certainty determine how he felt about discussing the topic with her. For all she knew, she was making him feel uncomfortable, but since he kept asking questions, she would not change the subject of conversation yet. In fact, it was a little bit liberating to share her experiences in the crude vocal way organics did it. The slow pace auditory information exchange was soothing for her processor, giving it ample time to fetch data as required and sync it with her projection's actions. It was almost a trance-like experience for her, and granted so much time for analysis - now being devoted to her own intimate encounters.

It did, however, create a feedback loop for her emotion chip, where the data from the memory bank fed her digital state of arousal, causing her to load more data from her memory in lack of new stimuli, and further increased the feed from the chip. At the current rate, she didn't know what to do with her projected self to handle the situation. She shifted her stance a bit more, almost skuirming her thighs together, as she leaned on the duty desk next to ch'Xinya, and then he came to ask the question she certainly didn't need to alleviate her predicament.

"I... I was programmed with tactile touch to begin with, only a poor representation of what the genuine experience of touch was like. I am an adaptive program, and I have learned from observation, experience and my data banks in order to expand upon my programming. My projection was made in the image of a human female, and in order to adapt and function together with the crew, I devoted a lot of time for self-analysis based on known data. Sexuality was a subject covered in the analysis, but I was ill equipped to truly experience my own sexuality with the tactile sub-routines I had in my original setup. The Ishtar Entity, however, granted me insight as to what it meant to be an organic human woman, and especially so in terms of sexual intercourse."

The memory of Renard thrusting into her and shedding his seed inside her wet, organic passage made her almost shudder, eyes glazing over a little and making her swallow. She shifted her stance again, hoping that it wasn't so obvious what was happening to her. Her projected bodysuit shouldn't stain from what Lin Kae had made her secrete between her legs, but she wasn't sure what ch'Xinya's remaining antennae might pick up either. To cover her slight pause, she rushed on with the short story.

"After that, returning to my digital self, I was left wanting - wishing to expand upon my sensors so that I did not feel as numb as I felt. My Holographic Specialist accommodated my wishes, and upgraded me to that effect. The only sense I am lacking now is a sense of smell, which I hope to be fitted with when time allows it."

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #16

Mentioning the creature that turned the crew into its playthings killed the small smile Shall had, and his antenna stopped cold.  Sitting up straight, he looks Thea in the eye.  "You let that witch get to you?  You of all people?"  The Andorian's voice is as frigid as ice, and his mind started to process his observations.  The way Thea was twitching, especially her legs, how she held her arms close, even the way she looked in her eyes.  It reminded him of a time when Jay insisted on watching the other three, but Tavin mandated that she could do nothing but watch in that case.  He was such a fool, letting it get this far.

He understood the frustrations, but for the hologram to admit that her inspiration for her experiments and upgrades was Ishtar...  Shall stood and walked partway down the walkway, stopping to lean against the railing, hands going pale from the pressure he was exerting on the metal as he gripped it.  Back to Thea, he looked out at the far side of the screen, a few of his family's pictures floating in his view.  Staying silent for a minute, his antenna was barely visible through his hair, only the tip sticking out as it pressed back against his skull.

Finally, he sighed, the tension bleeding out of his antenna as it raised to more of a relaxed, upright position.  "My apologies.  My encounter with her was far from pleasant, and clearly this discussion is affecting you.  Do you need any help with a diagnostic?"

Re: DAY 04: Free Images [1630 hrs.]

Reply #17
Hearing that the Ensign had been ill affected by the Ishtar Incident, Thea understood why the Andorian had reacted the way he did, getting up and grabbing the railing the way he did. She had no idea what was going through his mind, but in the end, it was obvious he wanted to change the topic of discussion, upset as soon as the omnipotent being had been mentioned. The offer to run a diagnostic was a polite way of saying that he wanted to be alone again, and Thea needed not be an organic to get the hint.

"No, thank you," she said, wishing that she had not upset him, but knowing that anything she might say at that point wouldn't bridge what Ishtar might have done to him. In a way, it was a relief to her as well, since the dataflow from her emotion chip was making her... not 'uncomfortable', but affected in a way that she could not functioning properly in the social exchange. "I should be on my way, and thank you for the conversation. It was very enlightening, and I do hope you get to meet with your bondmates soon."

The more accurate choice-of-words would have been 'sexually frustrating', but she knew enough not to impose her discomfort upon the Andorian. Instead, she gave him a smile and inclined her head. Then she walked past him where he stood by the railing and left Stellar Cartography.

When the sliding doors closed behind her, she accessed her transporter program and issued a site-to-site transport for her mobile emitter, and re-materialised in her own quarters. There, she allowed the pretense of not being unaffected by the conversation to end, and she took a deep shuddering breath. She let her chameleon bodysuit vanish, re-sequencing her projection to only show her bare human body with its upgraded sensory mapping. She put one hand against the wall, not trusting her balance any longer when she let the dataflow dictate her bodily reactions - letting herself loose in the maelstrom. Panting, she couldn't help but run her other hand down her abdomen... all the way down to the apex of her legs. She found herself soaking wet, and she groaned lightly as she began to rub her digital sex - all the while letting the images she'd seen be at the forefront of her memory banks.


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