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A Novel Discussion

Posted on Thu Aug 9th, 2018 @ 12:26pm by Commander Martin Sorenson

Mission: A Misguiding Hand
Location: USS Vesta, Mess Hall

Martin collected his usual breakfast tray from the replicator - oatmeal, fruit, and a Large coffee - and as usual headed over toward his yeoman to go over the day's schedule and any paperwork he needed to prioritize. Also as usual he smiled good morning as he passed a table of nurses, who smiled in return

...and then burst into a chorus of muffled giggles and hastily looked away.

That was decidedly unusual. He glanced down briefly wondering if his fly was open or something, but didn't see any apparent reason for a sudden fit of giggling. Or at least no reason apparent to him. Based on the look on his yeoman's face, he might be the only person not in on the joke.

"All right, Marix," he said, sliding into a seat beside her. "What's going on?"

The yeoman compressed her lips against an amused smile and tapped open her PaDD. "You have five appointments for exam, a set of public broadcast data on the physiology of the planet's inhabitants to review, the Symbiote Institute is requesting another update and..."

"That's not what I meant," the doctor interrupted, and inclined his head fractional toward the nurses. "In my experience, nurses giggling at the sight of you is rarely a good sign."

"Oh, that." She flipped a hand dismissively. "It's not you, Doctor. There's a popular book making the rounds. I think it's what you humans call a 'soap opera', and one of the characters is a Starfleet CMO..." the Bolian pursed her lips, looking at him sidelong, "...human, tall, sandy blonde hair, blue eyes..."

"Great..." Martin muttered ruefully, and took a consoling sip of coffee. "Just tell me they didn't name him Sorenson."

"No." She rolled her eyes a little. "No publisher would be that stupid. They're treading on the thin edge of liability as it is."

"Liability? This character might look roughly similar, but it's not like he's actually supposed to be a fictionalized version of me," he paused, getting a sinking feeling, "...right?"

"I wish I could say otherwise, Doctor, but the story is called The Errant Ship and it follows the crew of a starship with an experimental engine that malfunctions and sends them across space-time, so..."

"It is meant to be us," he concluded with a resigned sigh. "How bad is it?"

"No one's going to call it great literature, but it seems to be selling." She shrugged. "Personally, I suspect it was sitting in some publishing house's pile of lost ship stories leftover from when those were popular after Voyager. When we suddenly popped back from being MIA and all the publicity created a market, this was probably the one easiest to adapt to sell the connection."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "You've read it then?"

"I stay on top of the little social things that might affect staff morale so you don't have to," she replied primly.

"For which I am grateful." He vaguely recalled a couple truly awful 'young adult' holonovels inspired by Voyager. He took a steadying dose of caffeine before inquiring further. "Since we're still missing a Counselor, I guess I should have you fill me in. As I understand it, soap operas involve a lot of melodrama."

"And a lot of hooking up," Marix added, and then suppressed a chuckle at his expression. "This one's a ...trashy soap opera."

Martin felt his eyebrows rise. "They turned Vesta into some sort of Love Boat?"

"Sort of...?" She wobbled a hand slightly side to side. "Like I said, they changed names and have a little disclaimer about it being a work of fiction, 'inspired by but not depicting any real persons or events'. So it's not Vesta specifically; the ship is the story is named Venus."

"Of course it is..." He looked upward, as if for strength. "What else would you name a warp-capable bordello. Dare I ask what they named the CMO character?"

The yeoman paused, fighting a snicker. "Max Hardin."

Martin groaned - there was a porn if he'd ever heard one. "I guess that explains the giggling."

"Well, that and some..." she took a quick sip to tea to cover her own giggle, "...creative speculation about what the doctor might have learned from a bunch of grateful Orions patients eager to repay him for his services."

Gah! "The only thing I ever learned from Orion patients was how to politely decline that sort of thing," he stated flatly.

"I know, Doctor," the yeoman responded. "And I'm sure anyone who actually knows you does too. Honestly, the whole thing is funny in part because the only thing you and Max really have in common is that you both have a do-gooder streak that took you around the galaxy before entering Starfleet. He just came out of it with ...more experience." She curled her lips in, containing another giggle. "Of course, if any of the new personnel try to flirt with you, you might want to be a little cautious."

"Oh jeez..." Martin dropped his face into a palm. It was either that or beat his head on the table, and that would have involved a face full of oatmeal.

"I"m just kidding," she chuckled. "The doctor isn't even the stand out character in terms of that sort of thing. Their version of Ensign Marocain is, well, a real hound in more ways than one. And the Captain seems to be trying to top Kirk's reputation."

The doctor lifted his head, eyebrows rising. "I don't think his wife is going to like that..."

"He's not cheating," she explained quickly. "The wife dies tragically in the opening disaster sequence. After all, you can't have a dashing Captain who's unavailable. Besides, it sets up a classic 'Romeo hiding a broken heart' trope - the guy who goes from woman to woman because he can't get over the loss of his one true love."

He hadn't exactly lost a 'one true love', but Martin seriously doubted Liz would have taken it as evidence of a broken heart if he'd started bedding every woman in sight after they'd broken off their engagement. "Somehow I still think she'll be less than thrilled with that concept," he remarked skeptically.

"It's probably better than what they did with the XO," she replied. "He has his wife, but they..." her eyebrows waggled, "...swing."

Martin slapped a hand over his mouth, trying to stifle a sudden laugh. "That's..." he shook his head, and puffed a breath that still came out half laugh. "I can't imagine..."

"And probably wouldn't want to," Marix chuckled. She gave him a sly grin. "But at least now you understand why people can't help giggling."


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