The hardest part of departing on the Bath was leaving Panoptes.
Only days later, when there were moments to reflect was she realized she might not see the Biome ever again. She had been busy adding pepper to her blue leaf salad when the realization ambushed her and she pushed the plate back, no longer hungry.
As she had watched the botanists load the shuttle with the floater with its carefully configured containment field, she had promised herself and the Biome that she would return, file grievances fit for a thousand Ferengi, face down all opposition with Tellarite determination and be reunited with the sentient ecosystem she had spent the last few months raising.
There hadn’t even been enough to send a single message of protest as she ship prepared for departure. On Tyee, there had been three science teams under her command. Now there were three Sris, each with their own teams – mixtures of ambition and competency. Hard working and eager, they tried so hard to hide from her that they hated each other. This worried her. They were courteous and professional to be sure, but staff meetings were like watching Spinejellies – who were susceptible to the toxins in their four centimeter long spines that adorned their bodies – mate.
And then there was Ensign Celebron – she mused on the strange project the Captain had given her with the Trill. He was fresh from the Academy, eager and friendly – perhaps a little *too* friendly, but nothing that the traditional ‘I know what you’re thinking’ Betazoid stare and a few reminders to address her as rank wouldn’t cure. Still, his Astrophysics seemed quite impressive and she’d had to consult a couple of other manuals to keep up – it was clearly his passion. One she intended to indulge, if only to keep him away from the chasm of deep melancholy he seemed to loiter around regarding his failure to become joined. She couldn’t understand the need Trill had for such things, but it was a deep biological drive, similar to the Terran need to reproduce – maybe stronger. She considered having him speak to Captain Lahn – who also had been refused as a host – but the Captain always caused the hairs on the back of her neck to stand out. So…maybe later.
And if preparations hadn’t been enough, at the last moment one of Honar’s staff had taken a shuttle to Andoria unexpectedly. She’d taken the ensign along partially to see what he could do, but also to focus his mind on other things, and he’d performed well enough in convincing the Boatswain Mate to give up exactly what *had* happened to the shuttle, that was recorded for entirely different duty than Andoria. On Andoria, the ship had been all but abandoned in haste, and was being ransacked by a pair of enterprising thieves who saw an opportunity, and instead got themselves arrested by the Andorian Guard. The errant staffer had been found, the frantic birth mother of an anxious foursome who had been trying for months to have a child. She *still* didn’t know what to do about that one – other than dismiss her with orders to return five days later – if only to buy time to formulate her judgment. Lt. Honar was horrified, and recommended the stiffest punishment. Sri was left undecided, and if the birth mother actually conceived – any punishment would be moot, and they still lost a capable ensign. She resigned Lt. Honar to reworking the duty schedules, and mulled the ensign’s punishment herself.
Sri smiled to herself as she slid her plate back, and picked at the pale blue leaves, missing Panoptes, but comforted in that this is what she wanted, to be heading out there. No longer base bound, making new discoveries. Panoptes could wait—the Betazed science ministry would take their cues from the Risan Institute of Botany – while the hands were not hers, they were good enough.