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LtCmd. Traenor, "Barque"


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((Personal Quarters, Deck 6 - USS Darwin-A))

::After a long day in the office dealing with personnel files and liaising with departmental heads, Maxwell Traenor was beat. He was used to office work, a career of lab work had prepared him for that, but the bureaucratic finagling was still foreign to him and taxed his acuity. All he wanted to do now was sit at the piano for half an hour to limber his fingers and arms, then flop on the couch with a snifter of brandy and read the latest FNS feeds. A bit of smooth jazz wafting through his quarters would be a nice relaxing addition as well. Then, after a light meal, he'd hit the bunk early.::

::When he opened the door to his quarters, Maxwell paused for a moment. Though he liked his room fairly dark, at half illumination, it was darker still than that. Puzzled, he walked in and threw the ever-present PADDs in his hand onto the closed piano lid.::

Traenor: Computer, raise lights to half illumination.

Eden Taylor: Surprise!!

::A shape sprung out of the darkness, and Maxwell nearly fell flat on his rear, saved ignominiously by clutching at the edge of the piano. He might or might not have screeched in shock, but either way his response to the visitor in his room was not graceful or dignified.::

Traenor: Eden! Darn it, you scared me! What are you doing here?!

::The teenager had fallen on the couch herself, holding her sides and laughing at the reaction she had managed to elicit. Maxwell had half a mind to chuck a PADD at her, but in all honestly he was overjoyed to see her. It had been over a year since he had last been to Earth and seen her in the flesh, and she had grown into a proper woman. At 17, she was pretty much all grown. It was a poignant reminder of the rapid passage of time, as he could remember holding her swaddled form in his arms on the day she was born as if it was just yesterday.::

Taylor: I came here to see you, Mr Starfleet-I'm-Too-Busy-To-Come-And-Visit-My-Niece-Anymore!

Traenor: ::drolly:: Somehow I don't see that moniker fitting on my office door plaque.

Taylor: Seriously, though, Uncle Gordie. It's been like forever! I was tired of seeing you only via vidchat once every couple months. I had a mid-term break, and I decided to come out here to see you!

::Maxwell marveled; she must have caught some fast transports in order to get out to the Zeta Gelis region and still plan to get back to Earth in time for the spring term. Not that he minded, in fact he was overjoyed, but he wondered how she had managed to convince her mother to let her travel alone to the far reaches of Federation presence. His sister Kirsten was overbearing when it came to family, and it must have taken a LOT of negotiations between the two to allow this trip to happen.::

Traenor: You should have told me! I could have prepared for your arrival, made plans...

Taylor: What, and miss that look on your face when I jumped out at you? Nuh-uh. ::wicked grin:: Wouldn't have missed that for the world.

::He tried to shoot his niece a dour frown, but the muscles in his face refused to comply. He was simply too happy to have her here to even pretend to be anything but overjoyed. She jumped up off the couch, and he swept her up in a crushing bear hug.::

Traenor: It's great to see you, kiddo. Whatever the circumstances, I'm glad to have you here.

::Maxwell let her go, and was going to go get them some refreshments from the replicator when he heard a strange muffled sound. He paused for a moment, head tilted, trying to suss out the location and cause of the sound. Eden, seeing him stopped, moved forward with a bit of a blush on her cheeks. She stepped between him and the door to the washroom.::

Traenor: Did you hear something?

Taylor: Yes, umm... well, your birthday is coming up within the next several weeks, and I didn't think I'd get the chance to see you before then again, so I kinda got you a gift...

::Maxwell was able to eke out a slight frown this time. Eden was acting strangely, almost as if with a guilty conscience, and her cheeks were continuing to redden. He heard the odd sound yet again, and between his niece's actions and triangulation, he was able to determine that it was coming from the washroom. Confused and consternated, he affixed Eden with an accusatory glare.::

Traenor: What do you mean, a gift?

::The teenager turned and went towards the washroom door. As it swooshed open upon her approach, a small four-legged apparition with floppy ears and a long snout, big dark eyes, and a lolling tongue hanging comically from its mouth. It stopped and gave a squeaking yap.::

Traenor: That - is that - is it what I think it is?

Taylor: Uncle Gordie, meet Barque. Barque, meet Uncle Gordie. He's a beagle puppy!

::The furry creature bounded up to Maxwell and jumped up against his leg. It looked up at him with a lopsided grin, and yapped again.::

Traenor: "Bark"? Awfully onomatopoeic for a name.

Taylor: Not "bark", as in "woof, woof", silly. "Barque", as in the boat! Huh? Huh? Get it?

::Maxwell groaned in mock distaste at the terrible pun, but in actuality he thought it was quite hilarious and clever. The wide grin of humorous anticipation on Eden's face betrayed that she thought it was a pun so terrible as to be hilarious, as well. The two of them shared the same twisted sense of humor, after all. Charles Darwin, the namesake of the vessel Maxwell called home, made a journey of evolutionary discovery on a sailing barque named "HMS Beagle". A barque named "Beagle", a beagle named "Barque"... Yup. That was definitely shared humor.::

Traenor: Whatever gave you the idea to choose that name, I wonder?

Taylor: Easy. I suggested it to Mom, and she thought it was stupid. ::evil grin:: That's when I knew it was perfect!

::Maxwell knew he shouldn't laugh at such a disparaging comment about his sister, but it was so true that he couldn't help himself. The laugh was short-lived, though. There was the elephant in the room to deal with, or more accurately, the Canis familiaris in the room. Maxwell was diametrically opposed to the idea of "pet ownership", considering it barbaric to wield dominance and control over another creature. Yet, here stood Eden, telling him that she had just gave him a dog. He was not pleased.::

Traenor: Eden, you know how I feel about pets. Whatever possessed you to think I would accept a dog?

::She affixed him with a scolding, imperious stare, hands on her hips. Eden might have gotten her humor from her Uncle Gordie, but this gesture was all Kirsten. In fact, in this pose Maxwell could see the striking resemblance between his sister Kirsten and Eden. The more Eden grew, the more she adopted her mother's natural beauty and easy grace. As long as the younger Taylor woman kept her easygoing smile and didn't allow it to morph into the dour frown that seemed to dominate Kirsten's face constantly, then the similarity was not a bad thing.::

Taylor: You only hold that stance because you've never taken more than an analytical thought process to the issue. Use your withered, cold heart to look at that little bundle of joy and tell me that you couldn't love him!

Traenor: It has nothing to do with love. It has everything to do with denying a lesser creature its natural instincts, caging and restraining it, forcing subservience onto a living, breathing animal.

Taylor: Yes, but Terran dogs are naturally inclined to a subservient relationship with people. Their evolutionary traits have formed synonymous with those of humans. They have an inherent need for companionship and a pack hierarchy, where they look to a dominant figure for guidance, subsistence, and affection. Being a dog owner doesn't pervert their needs, it enhances and fulfills them. It's genetics and evolution, Uncle Gordie, plain and simple.

::Darn, but if she didn't come prepared. She was using science against a scientist, his greatest weakness! Maxwell needed to change tack to try and get himself out of this predicament.::

Traenor: A starship is no place for a pet. It's improper to have a dog in such a confined space.

Taylor: On the contrary, Uncle Gordie. Starfleet regulations have no qualms with officers having small pets in their possession while on active duty. As a senior officer, you actually have the luxury of large quarters that make space even less of an issue. The Darwin has a large arboretum for natural space, and the holodecks can create more space to devise any number of engaging environments for training and exercising a dog. Oh! By the way, congratulations on making First Officer! The Security officer that escorted me to your quarters and let me in told me all about it! Never thought you'd be anything but an egghead scientist, if I'm being honest.

::Maxwell sighed, realizing that he had neglected to contact his family yet and tell them the good news. Their return from the Delta Quadrant had heralded a heavy workload, and his own personal commiserations had distracted him from thinking of making the social call.::

Traenor: Thank you, but quit trying to change the subject. What about his health? There's not exactly a veterinary doctor aboard.

Taylor: ::looking askance at him:: You trying to tell me that a science ship with a full contingent of xenobiologists and a medical staff trained to deal with hundreds of alien physiologies can't give a little puppy a regular checkup? Besides, ::slyly producing an isolinear chip:: many ships without the Darwin's prolific benefits make do with caring for crewmember's pets. Here is a veterinary subroutine for the holodeck, a program which fully simulates an animal hospital replete with trained and friendly doctors and nurses. Barque will not want for the best care possible. Plus, I've already programmed in the recipes for a dozen nutritional supplements for Barque into your replicator, varying based on the nutritional demands as he grows, several healthy treats for training and spoiling him, and the replimat catalogue has plenty of chew toys.

Traenor: ::at a loss:: This all may be true, but having a pet still requires permission from a commanding officer. There's no guarantee that my captain will allow me to keep a pet!

Taylor: ::broad grin:: I've already sent a message to Captain Renos on your behalf. Ne has the request. I was very sweet and convincing in it. I expounded on the benefits to your morale and health due to the regular exercise you'll get from walking him. By the way, you have a J'naii captain? That's so cool! I didn't know there were many J'naii in Starfleet!

Traenor: ::distracted, exasperated:: There isn't. It's complicated. Never mind that! The most important thing is, you never considered whether I actually want to keep, care for, and train a dog. What if I say no? Are you prepared to take the dog back and keep him yourself?

Taylor: You wouldn't. You couldn't. How can you say no to such a cute little face?

::Maxwell looked down at the puppy at his feet, and when the beagle caught him staring at it, it started wiggling it's tail enthusiastically. It let out another little yap.::

Taylor: C'monnnn, Uncle Gordie! You know you wannnt to keep him! You know you wannnt to love him! You're so lonely out here at the fringes of the Federation, and Barque will be the perfect companion. Please?

::Eden clasped her hands in a prayer fashion and skewered Maxwell with puppy dog eyes, affecting a begging whimpering to try and convince him. Barque, skewering him with real puppy dog eyes, affected a sympathetic whimpering in response. Though he tried to look annoyed, Maxwell actually found the both of them to be endearing.::

Traenor: Tsk tsk, Eden. You're not eight anymore. That won't work on me. oO Except that it kinda is... Oo

::Eden tittered in response, and called Barque over to the couch. The puppy, ungainly on his oversized paws, scampered over and jumped up. She proceeded to scratch him behind the ears, which caused the poor thing's eyes to roll back into his head with ecstatic pleasure.::

Traenor: Y'know, with the level of intellect and dedication you've applied to this debate, have you ever considered becoming a scientist? Or a diplomat?

Taylor: No way! I'm going to be a pilot. You know that. I've already started flying lessons, in preparation of acing the Starfleet entrance exams next summer.

::Thinking of Eden entering Starfleet was bittersweet for several reasons. First, the fact that she was but a half year away from being eligible to enroll was mind-boggling. Second, a career in Starfleet wasn't without risk, and could be an isolating choice of callings, which was not a palatable thought to an overprotective uncle. However, with both himself and Eden's father being Starfleet officers, it was in no way surprising that Eden would be drawn to the service. Why as a pilot he had no idea, but it was something she had obsessed about for most of her life. Traenor knew she could be most anything, an engineer like her father or a scientist like himself, or even a negotiator, he thought ironically. But, if she wanted to join Starfleet and aspire to be a helmsman, then Maxwell would be honored to sponsor her wish. He moved over to the couch and sat down on the opposite side of the puppy from Eden, and started stroking his back.::

Traenor: Oh, his fur is so soft!

Taylor: ::with a knowing smile:: I knew you'd fall in love with him!

::He mock scowled at her, before looking down at the puppy. He was kind of cute. His fur was very soft, softer than he expected. He was so warm, and looked cuddly. His eyes were closed now, possibly napping, as they both continued to pet him. Though it was for all the wrong reasons, Maxwell could appreciate the sentiment behind getting him a puppy. It went against all he had believed in, that owning pets was wrong and borderline evil, but if she was right and it was a mutually beneficial relationship? Would it really be so bad to own a beagle named Barque? He snorted in laughter.::

Traenor: A beagle named Barque. You really are a dork.

Taylor: ::quick retort:: Takes one to know one.

::The two laughed, a deep belly laugh that resonated throughout the quarters and roused the puppy from his slumber just long enough to give them a baleful look before slumping back to sleep. This made them laugh anew, and the two settled into a comfortable and animated recollection of their lives during the months they had been absent from each other. All desires for quiet relaxation dissipated as Maxwell cherished the chance to catch up with his beloved niece.::


LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor - First Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

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