Authors: Kahnr Dai and Ronald Roberts
Kahnr looked over the stack of equipment sitting in a pile on top of the rocks, making sure that everything was ready to go. He took his time about it though, enjoying the setting. The bright, hot sun of Betazed shone down on him, warming his skin while the light breeze coming in from the south brought with it the floral and spicy scents of the jungle. The humidity was high, just the way he liked it, making him feel cozy from the inside out. An abundance of wildlife made its presence known by the songs and calls that echoed across the clearing, competing with the rushing sounds of the Janaran River; the river was flat and wide here, but moved fast despite it's deceptive peacefulness, picking up speed as it headed towards the famous falls kilometers ahead. When he'd been younger, living on the homeworld, this had been one of his favourite spots on the entire planet and it felt good to be back, even if it was only a holodeck simulation.
The heavily muscled young man was already wearing some of his gear for this expedition: a skin tight wet suit that left his calves and arms bare, a harness that held a number of tools and straps for securing himself to the raft that was waiting to be inflated, and a pair of high-grip shoes to give him purchase on the hot, damp rocks. The life jacket he'd put on last, not that it was exactly needed; with the holodeck safety protocols it's not like he would risk drowning, but he wanted things to be as close to what he remembered from his childhood. The only thing he was missing was his mother's uttaberry parfaits and fresh kaseton bread she'd pack for him, his sister, and his friends whenever they went for an adventure out in the jungle. Kahnr closed his eyes, inhaled slowly, and smiled, imagining he could almost smell the food too.
“Is this what you call team building,” a voice called out from afar, interrupting the peaceful train of thought the Betazoid was no doubt relishing. The voice didn't sound annoyed, but it sounded sceptical.
Two figures approached Kahnr as he stood by the river and as they came closer all doubt was removed as to who they were. It was the inseparable duo. The new team. Jessica and Ronald. The former looked eager while the latter looked sceptical, but the question had come from Jessica.
“You know, when you mentioned exercises I thought you were referring to flight. I had no idea we'd be piloting a much less predictable method of transportation!”
Kahnr turned to greet the pair, one arm lifted so he could scratch at the back of his head, "Well, I guess I thought doing something a little different would be good. We spend so much time training to fly that maybe we forget that there's other things we're supposed to be good at too, as Starfleet officers. Not that it's likely we'd actually need to be guiding a boat down a river. But uh, you know, we should be able to work together well in any kind of situation." It had sounded better to him in his head, but Kahnr was going to stick with it. He was a Senior Officer, and that meant that he needed to be sure of himself, he reasoned. Then his face split with a big grin, "At least, it should be fun! Have either of you done something like this before?"
“Once, but that was a long time ago,” Ron answered first. “And I don't know if I would have called it whitewater rafting. The only thing white was my face as we went down that river.” He glared at Jess. It was obvious he was still uncertain as to if he should have been tagging along.
Jess shook her head in reply. “Never. I guess this will be the first time I'll be learning to pilot a vessel of the sea.” She then looked over to her companion with a bit of a disappointed look in her eyes. “And it'll do you some good to get back on the waves. It's quite relaxing and mind cleansing all at once! Well, so I've been told.”
“Right, Jess. Whatever you say.”
“You're damn right, 'whatever I say,'” she started as she turned her head towards Kahnr. “Sir, can I request that we get this show on the road. I personally can't wait to hit the waves!”
Kahnr had been watching with a big grin on his face the way the pair interacted with each other. It was rather amusing to him, but his mirth faded a little bit when his assistant spoke to him, "Aw, please don't start calling me 'sir'. How about Kahnr? And I'll call you Jessica and him Ronald?" He rummaged through the stack of gear and passed them both a wetsuit similar to his own, as well as life jackets. "Lets get you two changed and ready to go though! We only have the holodeck for two hours, and it's going to take us most of that to reach the falls. I'll start getting the raft ready."
The raft was quick and easy to unfold, and Kahnr spread it out on the rocks near the surface of the river. A small mechanical pump on the side began to inflate it with air with the press of a button, and the bright yellow fabric began to fill.
Jessica let out a bit of a chuckle at the request for informality. It almost didn't even occur to her to call him Kahnr. 'Sir' was just one syllable less, though she probably could have called him 'Kahn.' Nah, Kahnr would do alright. “Be back in a jiff,” she exclaimed as she ran over to the closest area of trees to get herself changed. “And no peeking, Ron,” she shouted back from the cover she found.
Ron just shook his head. “Women.” She didn't have to yell at him every time she got undressed. Besides, he had to take care of himself, too. And in typical engineer fashion he found the quickest way possible in donning his outfit. “Computer, wetsuit please.” A couple seconds later and there it was on him.
“Hey! Where's your sense of adventure,” Jess shouted to her friend as she squirmed her way into her own wet suit. “Afraid someone might get a peek?”
The Betazoid laughed at the banter and Ron's rather straightforward approach to getting changed. That the pilot hadn't thought of that at all himself and he was actually wearing a replicated wetsuit, made things more funny to him. A few more moments and their little boat was ready to go, and he made sure the line tied to a nearby Oowhl tree was secure before loading in some of the supplies. More things that they could call for if they were needed, and none of it of any practical use since this was just a simulation, but Kahnr wouldn't feel right without a patch kit for the boat, some food and water before setting out into the jungle, flares, portable beacon, handaxe, camping gear, and all the rest he'd brought along. Feeling a little foolish about it, he turned and waited for the others to join him.
No sooner did Kahnr turn to see them coming than Jessica came running up to rejoin her two adventurous partners. “Just like donning a flight suit,” she exclaimed cheerily. “Ready to roll down the river?”
"Let's do it!" Kahnr said, and together they began to get their raft into the water.
A spray of water burst over the front end of the raft, sparkling in the simulated bright sunlight and showering the trio. It was hard to get any wetter than they already were however. Though the first part of their trip down the Janaran River had been smooth and uneventful, a few minutes ago they'd entered into a a rough patch of rapids, rapids that looked like they got stronger further on. The boat swelled on the currents, lifting them up and slapping them back down onto the surface hard.
Kahnr was loving it, and laughed loudly as they came down with a particularly jarring slap, but he wasn't having so much fun that he wasn't aware of the need to pilot this vessel. "Rocks off the port side in twenty meters!" he called out from his place at the rear of the raft, behind Jessica and Ron where he could work the rudder while they handled the oars. "Ron, get ready to push us off but be careful, the rapids on starboard afterwards look fierce!"
Doing his best to show off his faux sense of confidence Ron looked back at the 'captain' and gave him a nod. In truth, he actually was somewhat confident, if only for the fact that he knew that with the safeties engaged he would at least not die from any terrible navigation blunders he could commit. “Over the sea, let's go men! We're shoving right off, we're shoving right off <i>again</i>,” he sang, stressing the last word as he pushed the raft away from the rocks with force.
The raft pushed away from the rocks just as planned. “See? I told you I got this!”
"Great job!" Kahnr called out enthusiastically, his voice loud to be heard over the slowly-increasing volume of the river. This was likely the most animated either of them had ever seen the big helmsman, who often looked to be asleep at his station. He pulled the rudder to steer them close to the rapids but kept them from going all the way in and on a slightly calmer part of the water, at least for the time being. Calmer meaning they only rose up two meters at most before slamming back down, and even that wasn't going to last much longer; the Janaran River grew very exciting before it reached the famous falls. "What do you guys say, you up for some chops?"
“Oh, there's a choice,” Jessica's tag-along questioned with a humorous bite knowing full well that even with oar in hand he had no say in where the two pilots would lead their watercraft.
Jessica however was more than eager for some extra action. “Let's get wet and wild!”
"Alright, let's do this!" Kahnr responded with his own eagerness. "Remember to keep talking, let everyone know if you see a danger or need some help," he reminded them. That was the point of this exercise after all, to build some teamwork while having a good time. Danger of course was relative. The holodeck wouldn't let any of them get hurt, but it might be a bit uncomfortable if they wound up going overboard into the raging rapids for a few moments until they ended the program. By calling out some brief orders, and pulling the rudder free so he could take up a paddle himself, they got themselves into the rapids. The little raft began to buck and slap a lot stronger now, forcing Kahnr to wrap his legs around the support of a seat to stay in place, while large sprays of cold water rushed over them. "Woo hoo!"
It was an experience that was proving to excite the senses of the two friends that had been through quite a lot of recent turbulence and choppy waters, though in entirely different ways obviously. Jessica was loving it working almost perfectly in sync with her pilot and her co-pilot, though one was more figurative than literal.
The 'co-pilot' was not in the same mindset. He was an engineer, not some agile sea creature, and when the waters turned tumultuous so did he. He almost couldn't concentrate as left seemed to become right and up seemed to become down. “This is getting intense,” he shouted out, the tone of concern evident in his voice.