T’Vath stepped out of the reception area of the docking port into the general chaos of the Promenade at Starbase 118. Her acute hearing picked up numerous voices, different languages and tonalities, all rising and falling and blending into . She wished only for a quieter spot to gather her thoughts and decide on her next course of action.
The other cadets passed by her without a word as she stood studying the starbase schematic on her PADD. She did not expect greetings or conversation. As a Vulcan who completed her pre-medical studies at the Vulcan Science Academy, T’Vath had always found it difficult to form social bonds with the other students at Starfleet Medical Academy.
She looked up at the familiar voice calling her name, and lifted a hand in welcome at the medical cadet approaching her. Ayla Morton, small in stature but powerful in personality. Her friend.
“You waited for me!” she exclaimed, bouncing on her feet in front of T’Vath with a look of delight on her face. T’Vath decided this was an occasion for, not a lie exactly, but allowing Ayla to believe this would do no harm.
“How was your transport over?”
“Crowded,” Ayla said, shifting her bag to the opposite shoulder. “Noisy. And god, it was cold.”
T’vath nodded. “An excellent summation of my experience as well.” A transport full of new medical cadets, all nervous energy and mindless chatter had quickly overwhelmed her during the trip and even retreating into her thoughts did little to help.
“We have a few hours," Ayla said. "And I need to stretch my legs. “Walk with me?”
T’vath pressed a hand to her stomach. She didn’t know if the churning in her belly and increased heart rate was from her own poorly-controlled emotions or from her experience on the transport shuttle but either way, a walk might ease some of her discomfort. She fell into step beside her friend.
The Promenade seethed with activity, cadets in high spirits milling around, shouting to each other across the space, all the restaurants packed, some with a line out the door. Ayla took the lead, T’Vath following without question as they edged their way through the crowds in silence. As the noise level receded and the throngs of people dwindled to just a few, they moved to a walking trail that curved along a burbling stream, heavy foliage surrounding them.
After walking for five minutes, T’Vath finally spoke as she moved an overhanging branch out of their path. “I am curious as to our destination, Ayla.”
“It’s not much farther,” Ayla said, indicating a steeper trail winding up a small rise. “Just at the top of that hill.”
A spreading greenhouse came into view.
“There it is,” Ayla said. “The Oasis.”
And it appeared to be an oasis, lush greenery of all types nearly obscuring the entrance, towering trees with their canopies intertwined brushed the top of the building, expansive water gardens with enormous water-lilies and lotus flanking the stone path to the building.
They entered through a double-glass door, sweeping trailing vines out of their way. The interior was warm and bright and T’Vath took a deep breath, the aromas of the many flowering plants pleasant and subtle. She could admit to a sense of relief of being out of the clamor and noise of the main promenade.
Ayla smiled at her and continued leading her through the room. The tables were small with seating for only two or three, each table separated by a wall of greenery. Ayla ducked through a smaller doorway and dropped her bag near a low table, sinking to a seat on the floor. T’Vath followed, more slowly, trying to take in all that surrounded her; an induku tree in the center of the space, karanji and kal’ta along the perimeter.
“What do you think?” her friend asked as T’Vath took the seat on the opposite side.
“It is most pleasing.”
Ayla reached across the table to give her arm an excited squeeze, then realizing her mistake, lifted her hand quickly.
“Sorry about that,” she said. “But I knew you’d love it.”
An attendant approached their table and Ayla spoke a few words in Kressari that T’Vath did not recognize. The tabletop surface shimmered and then displayed a menu with limited fare but a large selection of drinks.
“How did you know about this establishment?” T’Vath asked, after their attendant left with their order.
Ayla twined a tendril of vine around her finger and the plant purred in response.
“You remember our Obstetrics clinical last year? I assisted in a complicated delivery of twins to a Kressarian female and I got to know her pretty well during her recovery. The Oasis is her brother’s place.”
T’Vath nodded. Although it was illogical, she could admit to herself a feeling of envy when she considered her friend’s easy way with people. She’d nearly given up on the Medical Academy early in her studies when she failed the Bedside Manner course during her first attempt.
“So,” Ayla said, changing the subject. “Have you heard from Savahk?”
“No. Not since our graduation. But I should send a message to him, he…”
“..worries about you.”
T’Vath shrugged. Odd to say about her eldest brother, a full-blooded Vulcan like herself, but her friend knew her well and spoke the truth. He worried. Too much.
“And you worry about him,” Ayla added.
“I think of him often,” she said. “But he is well cared for by our parents. To worry would be illogical.”
Ayla set her cup on the table, crossing her arms in front of her. “I’m going to miss you and your Vulcan sensibilities, T’Vath.”
T’Vath feigned an interest in the Karanji cactus, if only to quell an emotional reaction bubbling to the surface she wasn’t sure she could control. She was overtired, overstimulated from the trip and the sooner she could meditate to settle her mind the better.
“I will also miss you.”