The Vulcan paced measuredly across her resort hotel room. Saying that she was upset would be an overstatement, but something was not sitting right with her. Pausing by the large window she clasped hands behind her back and looked outside for a few moments before reaching for her combadge in deliberate motions.
“Lieutenant Rodak, -Jeni, I wanted to check on your whereabouts. Are you well?” If there were any underlying emotions in her query, her voice didn’t gave it away.
The channel opened with rampant audible background voices of laughter and excitement. “-okay, okay!” Jeni’s voice addressed the commotion. “Secure your five-point restraints!” Jeni giggled returning her attention to the hail. “Risa Transportation. What can we do to make your stay more perfect?” She recited on script.
Neris quirked an eyebrow. It was to be expected the reply would be something like this. Talking calmly, she answered. “I’m not in the need of transportation, Jeni, thank you. Are you all right?”
“-the sooner you guys take your seats, the sooner we can launch!” Jeni cheerfully instructed the background voices. “Hey! How’d you know my name was Jeni? Who is this?”
Neris sighed lightly to herself. “It’s Neris. And I know your name because we met, remember?”
“Oh! Nay-re” Jeni began. Her typical chipper tone quickly diminished. “-Oh.” She repeated meekly. “I mean, yes lieutenant?” She uttered.
In the background the sound of small-craft engines engaged. The Risian shuttle-bus began liftoff slowly and uneventfully from the beachside transit pad. “Awwww!” The chorus of background voices groaned in a series of varied disappointments.
“Captain Jeni!” A young child’s voice called from the craft’s cabin, “why are you going so slow this time?”
The raven-haired Vulcan’s deduction painted an unsurprisingly clear picture of the on goings. “Neris is acceptable. You don’t have to address me by rank while off-duty. Maybe go faster for the child and contact me when your flight is complete.”
Logically, telling the Trill to fly faster was like pouring oil onto the fire, and though her record indicated she can handle it, Neris wasn’t particularly happy voicing this line of reasoning.
After a long silent pause on the channel, Jeni’s voice returned. “Ummm….I kinda already requested a double shift….which doesn’t end for……well I’m not sure.”
Another background voice called from a passenger “Hey what’s going on up there? We were assured the thrill of a lifetime!”
”I can talk now. What can I do for you, lieutenant?”
Neris looked back through her room’s large window impassively. “Asking for a double shift might have not been the wisest course of action. Per chance, would you have time to meet after you double shift is over? And you can call me Neris.”
Jeni’s mouth grew into a wide smile. “We’ll of course I can, Nay-reese! Silly-pants!”
The sounds of the engines revved as the craft nosed up, jetting straight vertically into the cloudless skies. The sounds of cheers and hoots filled the cabin.
“I’m so glad! I thought you were mad at me.”
The shuttle barrel rolled as it climbed into the planet’s stratosphere. Some of the passengers’ yipping began to wane from the disorienting spinning.
Neris pursed her lips. The anger wasn’t exactly the issue. That was an emotion and thus controllable. A sense of impropriety would have been a more accurate description. Explaining such a nuance, Neris was certain, would be lost on the red-headed Trill.
“Anger is illogical, Jeni. I’m not mad at you but we need to talk about what is allowed in public. Also, how many people did you ‘tickle’ like that while at the academy and the shipyards?” Her last query was admittedly an illogical curiosity as the Vulcan suspected she knew the answer already.
As the atmosphere thinned in the extreme altitudes, the shuttle’s engines sputtered and then cut-off. A ‘stall’ alarm sounded in the cockpit which Jeni quickly muted. The cabin began murmuring voices of concern as the craft’s ascent began to slow against the planet’s gravitational pull.
“Well……” Jeni began in a sympathetic tone, “truthfully the people at the academy and Utopia are little more professional than you, Nay-reese.”
The shuttle slowed reaching the apex of its climb, hung in mid-air for a moment, then began slowly falling back down into the atmosphere.
“By the prophets!” A panicked voice yelled from the cabin. “Our engines have failed!”
The shuttle’s fall increased exponentially as the dead craft began precariously spinning and turning out of control.
“I’ve never been tickled by anyone in Starfleet before.”
The concerned chattering in the cabin transitioned into cries and screams.
“Ohhhhh! Is that what’s upsetting you? Oh, Nay-reese! Bless your heart. I don’t mind. I thought it was fun!”
Glancing at the combadge the Vulcan answered, the cacophony in the background making it self-explanatory.
“I’ll be certain to work on my professionalism then. I probably shouldn’t inquire further. Per chance, shouldn’t you check the thrusters just about now? And I’ll refrain from tickling you in the future.”
Though explaining the previous occurrence should have been simpler than the nerve pinch she had earlier administered to the Trill, Neris’ logic ultimately determined that it would no longer be the most effective course of action and would probably only add additional confusion.
As the shuttle continued plummeting in free fall the cacophony in the background transitioned into open weeping and despair. “We’re all going to die!” A lulling hush befell the occupants, all except for a single child’s voice laughing and clapping excitedly.
“So……does this mean your still my bestgood friend?”
Knowing she’d likely regret this, the Vulcan answered. “You’ve only known me for two weeks, Jeni.” Neris sighed. “But if that is all that suffices to be your ‘bestgood friend’, then yes. Now about the thrusters?”
The Trill smiled ecstatically. “Everyone hold on!”
Jeni manually primed the engines three times and steadied the craft nosing it down to the rapidly approaching ocean below them. She popped the clutch jolting the engines awake and fired the thrusters. The shuttle swung laterally, speeding along a few meters over the ocean’s surface. The child’s voice howled gleefully as the cabin occupants breathed a sigh of relief.
“…Hey everyone! Looks like we have a friend following us!”
Jeni rolled the craft upside-down allowing the passengers to look up at the ocean through the clear moon-roof of the cabin. A gargantuan, dark shadow approached the ocean’s surface revealing a tiger-striped, 100 meter long, manta ray-looking sea-beast chasing the shuttle from below.
The creature crested its head above the water’s surface spraying a geyser from its blowhole dousing the shuttle craft. A few recovered passengers managed some ‘ooh’s and aaah’s’.
Jeni and the child shared a giddy laugh as she rolled the craft to a normal position and banked in the direction of the beachside resort.
“Hey Nay-reese, you still there?”
The Vulcan observed the beach through her room’s window. The concentration of people milling around was slightly too high for her tastes.
"I am enjoying the audio and knowing better than to ask what’s going on. I take it you’re giving the passengers a run for their money?”
Jeni nodded pleasingly, failing the realization that Neris would have no way of knowing.
“The Risa lady says their transport services have never been so popular! Hey Nay-reese, I’ll be landing back at the resort in a few minutes. Wanna meet up and go exploring or something?”
The Vulcan glanced at her open closet.
“I can’t say I’m surprised. And certainly. I’ll wait for you at the landing pad.”
Pausing for a moment she added. “And no tickling this time.”
“Ooookaaaaaayyyy….” Jeni droned disappointingly. “I’ll see you in a few.”
Vulcan suppressed a sigh. “Fine. Tickling is an option. -If you behave.”
The shuttle arrived and landed on the beachside pad next to the resort. A queue of passengers were already waiting and began murmuring among themselves excitedly. As the cabin door hissed and opened Jeni stepped out wearing a skimpy green bathing suit. She turned around to assist the passengers disembarking, many of whom staggering gingerly on wobbly knees.
“Thanks for flying Risa Transport! Do come again! -Thanks for flying Risa Transport! Do come again!” Jeni continued to recite the obligatory farewell as the queasy passengers were collected and supported by the pad’s ground staff.
While assisting the passengers, Jeni spotted Neris and waved girlishly. “Hey Nay-reese! Be right with you!”
A small boy stepped out of the cabin door. “Captain Jeni! That. Was. Awesome!” he exclaimed dramatically bouncing up and down. Jeni knelt beside him.
“Well, I’m glad you liked it! If you keep coming along with me as much as you have been, you’ll be flying this thing in no time!”
“Really?!” The child’s eyes widened.
Jeni snickered and unpinned her Risa Transit Authority wings from her swimsuit and pinned them on the boy’s tunic. “Here you go! Now run along. I’ll see you next time.” She smiled standing as the boy pranced down the gangway proudly showing the badge to his awaiting parents.
Jeni hopped down with a wide smile and skipped over to Neris. “Hey Nay-reese!”
The Vulcan eyed the shuttle landing impassively. She was dressed more conservatively than the last time, in a top and a short skirt in dark red and white combination.
While observing the scene she had to admit to herself how fascinating it was that Jeni could repeat ‘Thanks for flying Risa Transport! Do come again!’ with unwaveringly genuine enthusiasm. And that she would naturally have a rapport with children, something that was not customary for Vulcans despite Neris’ generally softer presentation than what was typical of the species.