Previous Next


Posted on Thu Feb 27th, 2014 @ 11:41pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele & Lieutenant JG Joshua Hoss

Mission: Photons Everywhere Part 2
Location: Holodeck 3


It had been a challenge to come up with a holoprogram that wasn't going to scare Lieutenant Hoss away immediately, given how intense most of her favorites were. But she thought she had come up with a pretty good compromise. Something with enough potential for the adrenaline rush that she was craving, but that wouldn't be overwhelming for Joshua. She strapped on some of her gear as she waited for the Chief Science Officer to show up.

Josh wasn't sure what to expect as he entered the holodeck. Vanora had told him she was into some pretty extreme physical activities, and Josh had gotten the feeling that she was a bit of an adrenalin junkie. When she had asked him to join her on the holodeck he had agreed before even thinking, and now he wondered if he was going to regret it. "Hello Vanora" Josh said as he entered.

"Josh," she grinned. "You look a little bit nervous. Still up for a bit of an adventure?"

Josh smiled back, weakly. "That depends on what the adventure is!" He noted the gear Vanora was putting on. "So what do you have planned?"

"Rafting. Computer," she commanded, "replicate whitewater rafting gear for Lieutenant Hoss, program Samsoe Stele Gamma Four. Might as well start program, as well." With that, the two chiefs were standing on the bank of a large, rushing river, carved through two vertical cliff sides. The scenery was lush, with large evergreens and tall grasses and reeds at ground level. Before them was a two-man river kayak. The gear for Josh had materialized at his feet. "Ever ridden rapids before?" she asked.

"Actually I have, but nothing more than a class 3" Josh said with a smile. He had been worried Vanora was going to make him climb a mountain without safety gear or pilot a shuttle blind through an asteroid belt. Rafting he could handle. Josh began to put on his gear, but was distracted by a plant growing nearby. "I've never rafted off of Earth either. Where are we?"

"The Jalara Jungles in Betazed. This is one of the tributaries that will eventually become the Janaran Falls. I believe that by Earth standards, we would call most of the rapids we'll be riding today class 4, though we'll hit a class 5 near the end. And that little fellow," she said, approaching the distracting plant to get a closer look, "I believe is the zintaba plant. Harmless, except its roots, which are poisonous. The bigger concern is some of the wild animals in the jungle, so... better not take too long getting on your gear, lest our rafting program turns into a personal combat one."

Josh laughed and made a mental note to look up the flora and fauna of Betazed when he returned to duty. He finished putting on his gear, double checking everything to make sure it was right, and then approached the raft. "Not to sound inappropriate, but do you want front or back?"

"I think the disclaimer may have been more inappropriate than the statement," the Elasian woman laughed. "Since you've only run up to a class 3 before, I'll take the front. We should talk some strategy before we dive in, no pun intended. We're going to see some rocks, dips, and bigger waves than you've likely seen before. Don't worry though, the boat is basically unsinkable, and I'll show you some tricks before we get into the proper rapids for dealing with the rocks and any flips. Just follow my lead, and we'll be fine. You ready?"

Josh took a big gulp. Maybe he was in over his head. "I guess so. Good thing I know how to swim." Josh had always found humor to be his relief during stressful times. He was trying to enjoy the experience, but he couldn't stop thinking about the raft's sinking record being put to the test.

Vanora read his body language, not that it was that difficult. His nervousness was palpable. "You know, you don't have anything to prove with me. If this is not your cup of tea, no worries. I realize that not everyone enjoys these types of holoprograms."

Josh steadied himself. He wasn't one to back down from a challenge so easily. "No, I'm game for this." Josh climbed into the raft and waved to Vanora. "Ready when you are. Besides, I can't have you telling the rest of the ship I'm afraid of a little water. I would never hear the end of it" Josh joked.

"Probably not," she agreed. "I suppose the risk of a dislocated shoulder is a small price to pay for immunity to humiliation. Off we are then!" Vanora
dragged the boat easily off the shore, and then hopped into the front seat. "We have a bit of time before we hit the first set of rapids, so I'll just show you a few advances tricks and maneuvers that you might not have learned before. And if you have, it's good to practice anyway. You've ridden class 3 rapids before, so I assume you're comfortable with making your way back into the boat if you get thrown, but we can run through that drill if you want."

Josh nodded, even though he was sitting behind Vanora. "I tried my best to not get out of the raft while we were in the rapids. But yea, I think I can manage to get back on if I get knocked off."

"Alright, on to the advanced skills. Let's start with how to deal with rocks." She paddled steadily until they were comfortably into the flow of the river, with space on either side. "The hull of the kayak is reinforced, so we could take a rock head-on and not worry about damage to the craft. But that would still be a bad idea, since the impact would still hurt like hell, and we could flip, lose control, or get thrown. It's just generally a bad idea all around. The best best is to take control of the situation. First we try to avoid, but if we know we can't, we take the rock with our boat perpendicular to the flow and the bottom of the hull taking the impact. Follow my lead, and we'll try it out."

Josh began to paddle, helping the raft move swiftly through the water. Although he was listed as a science officer he was built more like a security chief. Physical activity had always come to him naturally and he enjoyed it, as long as it wasn't accompanied by a high chance of death. Josh and Vanora moved the raft with ease, giving Josh some time to enjoy the canyon walls and sound of rushing water. Whatever came next couldn't possibly wreck his mood - it was great to be outdoors again, even if it was on a holodeck. "Lead away Captain my Captain" Josh joked.

Vanora laughed. "Alright, here we go. Let's take on the rock up there," she paused her paddling to point out an upcoming boulder to their right. "Start turning so we'll come up on it from our right side, then lean away with me so we can slide right off of it."

Josh gazed at the rock and began paddling in motion with Vanora. They reached the rock quickly, striking it with some force but nothing to severe. Both of them leaned away to the left and the raft slid off of the rock effortlessly. Josh smiled. "So do I pass the test?"

She gave him the thumbs up. "With flying colors. Let's get one more trick in before we hit the whitewater. I want to make sure you're comfortable rolling the boat if we flip. If we're in the middle of some bad rapids and flip, the last thing we want to do is get out of the boat to try to re-right it, if it can be avoided. We'll simulate a flip to start us off. If we start to flip, the most important thing is to get your face into the deck as soon as you flip, so that it's protected from rocks and what not. We get our paddles out of the way and to the outside, like so," she demonstrated, "and then we throw our body weight in the same direction the boat flips, so that the momentum carries the boat all the way through the roll and back upright."

"So basically we roll 360 degrees, all the way around. Correct?" Josh wasn't looking forward to this part. He had done this when he had gone rafting on Earth, but that was some time ago. He remember getting water up his nose and not enjoying it.

"That's the idea. Have you done this before? Here's a small patch of hydraulics coming up, ready to try it out?"

"I'm game. Let's do this!"

"I'll start us off, and follow on my mark." Vanora dug her paddle in hard so that the boat caught on the rapid and began tilting violently upstream. "Roll!" she called out, tucking her paddle against the side of the boat as she leaned forward and hugged it, and threw her body weight into the flip.

Josh followed Vanora's example, just slightly slower. He had pushed his paddle as hard as he could before hearing her yell. Josh tucked in to the raft, hugging it as best as he could while throwing his weight. The raft flipped, and for a second both he and Vanora were under water. Josh could hear the rapids while upside down, and it strangely brought peace to his mind. A moment later they were upright, wet but no worse for the wear. "Well that was fun!"

"Damn straight it was!" she shouted back gleefully. The celebration was cut short right after they swung the boat back to face downstream and the a wall of whitewater appeared before them. "Alright, ready or not, here come's the real deal!" Vanora paddled hard and with confidence, aided by the effort she could tell Josh was putting into their navigation through the rapids. The boat was spun around in a pirouette and Vanora laughed and yelled into the spray.

Josh had barely recovered from the flip when they had hit the next set of rapids. He could hear Vanora laughing in front of him. For a second he had the thought that she must be crazy before realizing he was enjoying himself too. A little danger brought the excitement to another level.
Yee haw" Josh yelled, getting water in his face almost as soon as he was done saying it.

As soon as they cleared the first set of rapids, another set hit them again. This time they nearly flipped, and as practiced the pair rolled the boat, getting freshly-soaked in the process. Eventually they had cleared the first few sets of rapids, still in one piece. Vanora rested her paddle on the deck for a moment as she caught her breath. "How was that for you?" she grinned over her shoulder.

Josh laughed, wiping the water from his face. "Fun!" Josh took the calm time to rest, pulling his paddle in and take a few deep breaths. "So this is what you do on your off time? I might have to steal the idea from you."

"Well, I did tone it down just a tad today, but, yeah, this is the general idea. Feel free to use it anytime you like, though you'll probably want to wait until we finish the run before you make that decision. We still have the class 5 before we finish," Vanora smiled. "You're a quick learner, Josh. I think that's going to come in handy on this assignment, what with the unpredictable holographic crew and the unknown mission."

"Thanks, although I'd trust these rapids more than those holograms." Josh hadn't really though about what had said before saying it, realizing too late that he had forgotten about the class 5 ahead. "Well, most of them anyway."

They still had some calm river ahead of them before the final rapids, so Vanora continued with the conversation. "What is it about the holograms you don't trust?" She raised an eyebrow at the irony of the statement, though she did understand the underlying point that Josh was making.

"Actually I don't know if it is any one thing. I just keep thinking in the back of my head to what my grandpa told me one. He said if you let someone do your work for you, you haven't actually done your work. He believed that hard work brought out a better person." Josh had put his paddle back into the water, straitening the raft out. He could hear the water begin to move faster, but couldn't see any rapids yet. " I guess a small part of me thinks holograms might replace us all someday, which would take the fun out of exploration. We are supposed to see new things, not them. I also worry that they won't be able to make the right decisions. Mortality and error play a huge part of who we are, what we strive to become. They don't have the same drive, the same passion we do."

"Reasonable concerns," Vanora nodded. "I do think there's a reason why none of your department are holograms, and the reason follows your own line of thinking. There are certain elements of what Starfleet does, the exploration element especially, that can never be replaced by holograms, unless we concede that those holograms are sentient and full citizens of the Federation. But, even then, there's a difference between accepting them as part of Starfleet and using them to replace all of us. The latter seems contrary to the idea that the holograms are fully sentient beings, since why would we be more comfortable risking their lives if they're people just like us?"

"Yea, but life seems to find a way. The more holograms you create, the greater the chance of some sort of error occurring. It isn't that I don't think they have a place in Starfleet, I just think they should be limited in what they are allowed to do and in the number that area allowed to do it. I don't want us to become dependent on them and to then have something happen with them that puts us in danger."

"I am totally behind you on that one. I have to say that emergency command hologram worries me the most. It might be programmed with all the by-the-book decision making routines, but, you know, Lieutenant Jarland was by the book, too. And look where that got us!"

Josh nodded. "I understand that. Even dealing with sciences we know that there is a human element to things. I think that in life or death decisions it plays a huge part of doing the right thing, not just the most logical thing."

"Speaking of life or death," she said as she picked her paddle back up, "here comes the class 5. We'll certainly get up against some rocks and get flipped, so let's get our game faces on."

Josh clamped his teeth together and began to paddle in smooth but strong motions. Soon the raft had entered the rapids. Josh couldn't see far ahead as the raft was dipping and diving and water was spraying all over. He could hear the roar and knew they were close to the worst part.

Vanora did her best to steer them around the big obstacles, but the kayak was spun around several times. On one such pirouette, they came forward again straight into the path of a very large boulder, without anytime to avoid it. "Rock!" she shouted back to Josh, paddling hard to turn the bow at an angle so that they could skid off the stone.

Josh heard Vanora shout, but it was too late. He attempted to turn the raft with her, but they struck the large boulder at barely an angle. The collision flung Josh forward out of his seat and into the water. Josh came up and tried to catch his breath. Luckily he had managed to hang onto the raft, which was now moving around the boulder. Josh worked on getting large breaths of air when his head was clear enough of the water and on keeping the raft between him and any other rocks. Getting back into the raft was going to have to wait for a bit.

"Josh!" Vanora couldn't do much to help him for the moment as it took everything she had to keep the boat from crashing into another large rock. She dug her paddle in hard so that the boat flipped around and Josh was upriver. The last thing she wanted was for him to get run over by the kayak. She leaned the deck toward him and the bottom of the boat downstream, having the benefit of both slowing the boat slightly and making it easier for Josh to get back in. She could only hold it for a moment, however, and hoped that was long enough for him to make his move.

Josh took the moment for all it was worth and hauled his body into the raft. He knew he should get up and help out with the raft, but he couldn't stop laughing. He had been feeling like an expert after the initial flip, but the rapids had shown him that he had a lot to learn. He slowly crawled up to his seat, wiping water from his face. "Thanks" he said to Vanora, hoping she wasn't mad at him for falling out.

"I'd expect you to do the same for me. Don't worry," she reassured him, "falling into a class 5 is like a right of passage, if you survive it. Just make sure your strapped in tight now, we've got some more to go." As if on cue, they were caught in some hydraulics and spun around again, although with both of them back in the boat, they were able to right themselves quickly.

Josh renewed his paddling with extra strength. He wasn't going to fall in again. He and Vanora worked together to navigate the rapids and avoid the major rocks. Josh focused himself during the time and tried not to screw up. After a few more flips and boulder bumps the raft came to a calmer part of the river. Josh continued to paddle, but at a slower pace. "Well, I didn't fall in again" he joked.

"Nope, you did well. Fell off the horse and jumped right back on again, as my mother would say. Strong work, Josh. With persistence like that, you'll have no trouble with your own department."

Josh smiled and took the compliment. They had safely navigated the rapids thus far without major injury and Vanora had proven to be a good person to spend time with. Josh had to admit, he was actually having fun. "Thanks for inviting me Vanora. This was fun."

"I had fun as well. See, my programs aren't all that scary, are they?" she laughed.

Josh and Vanora paddled towards the shore, beaching in a calm water area. Josh got out of the raft and held it steady for Vanora. When she got out Josh held up his hand for a high five. "Good job. I'm game for whatever you have in store for next time!"

She slapped his hand in congratulations. A funny Earth custom, but a satisfying one. "I'm taking that 'whatever' seriously. No getting out of it now!" she laughed as they made their way back to the arch.


Previous Next