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[2008: SEP-OCT] Stimulus and Response


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Thread started for Iolo Madoc Llewelyn to post his entry :)

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Diolch yn fawr am amser, my Cymbrogi.

This is my first foray into the Writer's Challenges, but I hope that you find it entertaining, brief though it may be.

Stimulus and Response

by Iolo Madoc Llewelyn

© 2008, all rights reserved

_________________________________________________________

On a cool and misty September morning, Saturday to be specific, a lone figure made her way with a graceful and loping stride around the Starfleet Athletic field’s regulation sized track. Clad in Academy issue kit, with a matching headband to protect her fae like ears from the weather, the lone runner warded off the damp and cold by mentally projecting herself to a far off world, more akin to the arid and sunbaked deserts of the ancient Mojave prior to its transformation into a lush and fertile agricultural wonder. T’Lar’s lithe and athletic body, looking more like that of a budding eighteen year old despite her chronological age of thirty years, found the fickle and often precipitous climate of the San Francisco based Academy, located on the site of the ancient US Army Presidio, an uncomfortable environment.

While longing is not a word normally associated with Vulcans, she found that she missed the heat and drier habitat of her homeworld, especially on cold and windy days. Alone in her thoughts she was startled by a voice, suddenly beside her.

“Mind if I run with you?”, the voice asked. Involuntarily, her head snapped around to its owner, a tall, athletically built upperclassman with wavy brown hair and piercing green eyes. Were she human, she may have thought him attractive. As a Vulcan, the closest she could assess to that was that he seemed to be of good genetic stock.

“I prefer to run alone.”, she stated in a tone carefully modulated to not offend, but make her wishes clear.

“Excellent.”, the man who appeared to be in his early twenties returned, seemingly oblivious to her comment.

“So do I, but I’m training for a marathon, and you are setting a challenging pace.”

T’Lar furrowed her brow, puzzled at the brash disregard of her stated objection. Resignedly, she conceded.

“Very well. If you feel that you can keep up.”

“Is that a challenge?”, the man asked with an inflection that was not immediately recognizable.

“No. I am a Vulcan, we do not issue challenges.”, she replied.

“Vulcan?”, the man mused. “I’m Cadet Second Grade Brian Kernan.”

“T’Lar.”, was her only response. If a Vulcan could be annoyed, she was fast becoming so.

“Well, Cadet T’Lar, which track are you studying?”

The human propensity for garrulous behavior was sometimes baffling for her. Realizing that she would not be able to resume her previous mental wanderings until it was sated, she reluctantly decided to accommodate the upperclassman.

“I am studying to be a counselor.”, she pronounced at last.

“Excellent! So am I. How are you liking it so far?”

“I find many aspects of comparative psychology difficult to grasp, especially human behavior.”, she confessed, picking up her pace. The man reflexively matched pace, smiling.

“I can help with that. When it comes to humans, everything is about sex and greed.”

“I find that hard to accept.”, T’Lar countered.

“Its true.”, he continued, “Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs states that the most primal drive of mankind is summed up in breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion. The second hierarchy is all about security, in body, employment, resources, morality, health and family. All other concerns are sublimated in importance to the first two levels. And since reproduction is an evolutionary imperative it affects virtually every other aspect. Of course security implies safeguarding, which in turn leads to territoriality, which of course needs a means to safeguard those things, which requires people, which leads back to the need to not only procreate, but also insure that one’s reproductive resources are exclusive to the individual in question. In order to accomplish that, one must breathe, have adequate food and water, get enough rest, and achieve security enough to take care of the more personal needs. Sex and greed.”

“I find that to be overly simplistic.”, T’Lar rejoined.

“Occam’s Razor…”, Kernan replied, “The simplest answer is often the correct one. Well, my friend I have to be going now. Thanks for letting me tag along.”

T’Lar turned, politely meaning to give an appropriate response but when she made eye contact, Kernan smiled and winked at her, then without another word jogged off towards the main campus without so much as a second glance. Clearly there was some subtext, some implied meaning to the gesture but it eluded her. She slowed her pace and then stopped, turning to look in Kernan’s direction but he was gone.

For hours she puzzled over the significance of his smile and wink. Deciding to take a more direct measure, she approached him in the mess hall some hours later.

“Cadet T’Lar,”, Kernan beamed, clearly pleased with himself for some reason. “What a pleasant surprise…”

Standing impassively, T’Lar came to the point.

“What does this,”, she winked and smiled at him, “Signify?”

“I could tell you,” he answered, smiling more broadly, “But where would be the fun in that? Chock it up to ‘Stimulus and Response’.”

“Explain,”, T’Lar requested almost emphatically, then softened her tone, “Please.”

“Its simple really. I wanted to see you again. And here you are.” He smiled and winked again.

“But…”

“Try this,” Kernan offered. “When you leave, wink and smile at the first male cadet you see.”

“And that will explain it, how?”, she asked doubtfully.

“Just try it. You’ll see.”

“Very well.”, T’Lar responded, then turned and left without saying another word. As she exited the mess hall, she spied a well proportioned but less genetically endowed human male headed towards the entrance. She made eye contact with him, smiled and winked, following him with her eyes. As she did so, the man blushed, smiled, held eye contact, forgot to watch where he was going and walked straight into the doorjamb. Startled by this, she hurried away. Some hours later she caught up to Kernan in the library.

“Clearly there is much I can learn from you regarding human behavior. Will you teach me?”, she asked.

“Certainly.”, he answered, then gave her a wink and a smile.

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