The "Bear" Necessities
Posted on Wed Jul 3rd, 2019 @ 12:53pm by Lieutenant Junior Grade Cady van der Kellen MD,
Things That May Never Be
Location: Somewhere in the "Forgotten Frontier" Aboard the USS Don Quixote
OOC: apologies for putting these bits in the wrong place. I will correct that beginning with this post.
Part of Lt. JG Cady vander Kellen duties as Ship's Counselor was to keep tabs on the "more alien" members of his crew. To accomplish this he had regularly-scheduled meeting with the two crewmen that fit that category: this meant beings whose races had only recently joined the Federation--in this case, the Tigery and the Bre'ennm. He was expected to observe and report on their adjustment and continued mental fitness of these beings: n.ow it was time for his regularly-scheduled conference with fellow Lieutenant Junior Grade K'Raigh son of Mh'Argkh of the Bre'ennm. They were an ursinoid race relatively-new to the Federation (thanks to a group of rogue Klingons who had discovered the bears' home world and decided to use the Bre'ennm to hone their hunting skills. Sadly, for the Klingons at least, the Bre'ennm proved to be apex predators not only in their own ecosystem but remarkably quick learners as well. It didn't take the native population long to overpower several Klingon hunting parties and learn from their technology. The Bre'ennm (not to be confused with the Breen) quickly mastered phasers and matter/antimatter technology and were soon venturing away from their home world of ForestGreen where they encountered the Federation where they now held probationary-member status. K'Raigh was the first of his kind to graduate from Star Fleet Academy so Cady was required to do regular interviews to see how he was fitting in: Cady found these interviews equal parts fascinating (for the glimpse into an alien mind) and frustrating (for the same reason).
Precisely at the appointed hour Cady's door chimed letting him know his visitor had arrived: this Bre'ennm, at least, was nothing if not punctual. "Come in!" he called and the door slid open. K'Raigh son of Mh'Argkh of the Darkhunter Clan (and please remember to get that right when addressing him!) sauntered in on all fours. At first glanced he appeared to be quite like an Terran Kodiak Bear--Six foot Six inches of golden fur-covered muscle. His soft brown eyes weren't much for distance viewing but he had excellent vision close-up. The black-button of a nose whiffled as the bear entered the room and Cady knew his visitor was carefully-cataloging ever scent he was picking up (and that included that slightest frisson of fear he always felt when confronting this being. Only the paws were different from those of a bear: the fingers were short and stubby but still quite deft.
"You know I'm not going to eat you, Counselor-Cady!" the bear rumbled. "It wouldn't be at all proper--since we're ship-mates!"
"I know," the Counselor told him. "But the human hind-brain is a strange thing. You are far stronger than I am: should trouble erupt--not that I expect it ever would--I'd have no chance against you! My animal instincts are telling me to flee! I know your people still hunt and kill for food and defense. That's enough to make me cautious..."
"You are wise Counselor-Cady," K'Raigh told him. "I have never tasted the flesh of a sentient but the prospect doesn't upset me."
Another reason to be cautious around the Bre'ennm. "Does that disturb you?" Cady asked.
"Counselor-Cady, despite what you humani think we Bre'ennm are civilized beings! In our own way at least... Hunting my fellow crewmen would be impractical--not to mention rude!" K'Raigh was quite sensitive about maintaining what he considered to be his "proper" manners. Whether this was common throughout his entire race was something the Counselor didn't yet know. "Why hunt when your 'magic boxes' provide all the food one could ever require?"
"'Magic boxes'?" Cady asked. Then: "oh--you mean the Replicators! Yes, that's true--but some people find that Replicated food tastes differently than meals made by hand."
"That is entirely subjective," the bear assured him. "There is no smell, taste or nutritional difference! You can trust me on this!"
"Your senses of taste and smell are legendary," Cady agreed. "I'll take your word for it: very likely it is a psychological predilection in any case. But if you'll excuse me--I'd like to circle back to something you said earlier. You used the word 'humani': where did you learn that?"
"That is a word from Symbospeech," the bear told him. "Before we met the Federation we encountered representatives of the Humanx Commonwealth. They helped us expand and refine our space-faring technology."
"Wow!" Cady hadn't expected to be floored by this conversation but this revelation had knocked the Counselor for a loop. "And you never thought to mention you'd encountered another group before us?"
"Nobody asked." The answer was direct and blunt. "The Federation, rather like your friends the Klingons, found a neat little box to put the Bre'ennm into and never bothered to look further! I was sent to see if any of you were capable of seeing past the obvious."
So the bears were observing the humans even as the human returned the favor. "And what have you determined K'Raigh son of Mh'Argkh? Do we pass your test?"
"You do, Counselor-Cady!" the bear stated directly. "Science Officer Matt-hew does--the weekday stranger does. One or two others do--but the rest? Sadly no. They are no more than drones!"
Again the Ship's Counselor found himself utterly gobsmacked. The "Donkey" was one of the many support craft where Star Fleet sent their less-than-leading lights to serve out their terms do needed, if dull, work. People assigned to such ships were generally good little worker bees content to do routine work without much excitement--leaving the daring-do to those more suited to the task. The fact the alien had picked up on this was quite the revelation: so was his opinion about how the Federation had treated his people. "They are here to fill a needed role..." Cady finally manged: he really felt he needed to say SOMETHING to defend his shipmates.
"And they do it adequately," the bear told him. "But they have no curiosity, no desire to be greater than they are! They travel through this strange and wonderful universe and they have no interest! They keep their heads down like herdbeasts plowing a field with no interest other than finishing the job at hand! I find that--disheartening..."
"You're not the only one..." Cady had to admit. "Hopefully you will find things more to your liking aboard the Sovereign."
"I never said I disliked my role here, Counselor-Cady." The bear's rebuke was gentle but there giving the man to realize that K'Raigh son of Mh'Argkh was truly more aware than he'd given the alien credit for. "Even herdbeasts have their thread in the Tapestry of Life and we would be less were that thread pulled... My sadness comes for those gifted with sentience who have no desire to be greater than they are. The Great Weaver placed us in her Tapestry to make a grander, more beautiful design: those who refuse to do so dishonor her and the Great Work!"
Cady realized he'd stepped into new territory: he'd studied a little on Bre'ennm culture and society never learned anything about their religious beliefs. He'd never seen anything written about Bre'ennm theology but it had become clear they had a highly-developed spiritual belief system. This was clearly a topic that needed a lot more study--at a later date. "I want to know more about this," the Counselor said, "but later. Now--before we get too far off track--who is the 'weekday stranger'? I think I know but I'd like to be certain we're on the same page here...."
"The human we rescued," the bear said. Again his answer was flat and direct.
"Ensign Steve Friday," Cady said. "Didn't you know his name?"
"I did," K'Raigh replied, "but he is not of our crew--so not of my Clan. Further--we have barely been introduced and I cannot call him friends. Since we have no common thread in this tapestry I cannot name him."
More Bre'ennm social strangeness. "Mr. Friday will be joining us in the Sovereign crew," Cady told the bear. "Would you like me to introduce you? Maybe you two could become friends..." The Counselor could hardly wait to see what the bear made of the "Weekday Stranger".
"I would--appreciate that..." the bear replied. "I have smelled the 'other' on him since the moment he boarded this ship. I wish to know more!"
Which brought up the obvious question--why didn't you just introduce yourself? But Cady had learned that wasn't the Bre'ennm way--at least not THIS Bre'ennm in any case. Instead he asked the next-most obvious question: "what do you mean by the 'other'?"
"The 'other'..." K'Raigh made a gesture the Counselor had come to recognize as "I am confused" or "I don't have the words". "He SEEMS human but he is NOT human! He is not Betazed or Deltan or Vlucan... He is not of the AAnn or the Thranx! There is SOME human scent about him but I can smell the 'other' on him: that's all I know how to tell you, Counselor-Cady! My sincerest apologies."
"Don't worry K'Raigh," Cady reassured the bear. "I did Mr. Friday's medical examination when we rescued him and he had a lot of work done by people he calls the 'Oblivians'. He claims not to know what they did to him or why they did it and, so far at least, I have found nothing to put the lie to his statement. Hopefully we'll find some answers aboard the Sovereign."
"Oblivians?" the bear said. "We call them the Hrr'Akgh'Aag' which means 'they walk outside' in our language..."
To Cady it sounded like a cat trying to throw up a hairball: there were undertones and overtones in the Bre'enn language that humans couldn't hope to make and the multiple glottal stops always threw him for a loop. "I think I'll just keep calling them 'the Oblivians' if you don't mind," he finally said. "So--your people have had contact with them as well?" Another tidbit the Federation had missed.
"Contact?" the bear repeated. "I wouldn't call it 'contact' exactly... We 'rell' their presence--the same way we 'rell' the Vatch--but they have made no effort to communicate with us. When they visited they simply observed us--they didn't try to speak with us and they offered no help against the Klingon hunters!"
"Ah..." Cady knew very well of the bear's distrust and distaste for the Klingon race. Not that he'd ever seen K'Raigh take harsh action against any Klingon (or anyone else) for that matter. "Rell" and "Vatch" were words Matt had used but Cady didn't know what those were: he made a mental note to ask the Science Officer for an explanation. There was obviously quite a lot the Federation didn't know but those were questions for a later time. "Have you been having any problems aboard this ship that I can assist you with?" he finally asked. This, after all, was one of the purposes of this meeting.
"My needs are being met--so far..." the bear told him. "I find myself growing bored though: Chief Engineer Lyons keeps things running at acceptable levels but I have mastered all the engineering problems this ship has to offer..."
"I'll set you up with some Holodeck tutorials," Cady promised. "Star Fleet uses the same designs on all our ships of the line but you'll want to familiarize yourself with the Sovereign-class ship systems. They say their Chief Engineer Lt. Rogers is a real whip-cracker: if you know what you're doing when you get over there you'll be one step ahead!"
"My thanks Counselor-Cady," the bear rumbled.
"If there is nothing else we can end this session," Cady told him. "I'll arrange the Tutorials and let you know when you can have computer and holodeck time to do the work."