Subject: FRONTIER: Houston gets emotional
Joanna Houston's quarters
It was suddenly difficult to concentrate. She found herself replaying the
encounter with Keanu in the turbolift again and again, trying to look for
some indication that he really did care for her. It was a question her
system had never considered, one which yielded a painful answer. Joanna
did not understand why damage receptors were firing off at random, when
there was no such damage; she did not know why pressure sensors were
activated around her head when nothing was there; and she did not see any
reason why the ducts which lubricated her eyes were producing excess fluid
which trickled down her cheeks. All of this was beyond her control; she
wiped her cheeks with the arm of her uniform, and still the problem
persisted. Its cause was evidently an evolved sub-program which had
analysed Keanu's words and produced this sudden and unexpected disruption
to her normal working.
All of a sudden she felt a ferocious sensation pass through her body, she
picked up a sculpture from atop the console and hurled it against the wall,
at the same time her positronic synapses fired in an energetic sequence.
She recalled how long it had taken to craft that individual statuette, and
the figures seemed to produce a knock-on effect, different but in a similar
Joanna sat down, puzzled by her own behaviour. She analysed it carefully,
and found that as she did so, it cleared and her processing power was no
longer monopolised by that one process. The ducts resumed normal function.
She got up, walked over to the shattered clay remains, and cleaned up. For
some reason, Joanna decided to create a replacement statue. After a brief
few minutes, she was busily working her medium, shaping it into a form
dictated by a pre-set notion she seemed unable to analyse. In just a short
while of careful, fine work, she set down her shaping tools and placed it
in what passed for a kiln. While the clay set, she sat down at her console
and checked on various of the procedures the engineering team were going to
have to go through to get a new warp core up and running. Without her
realising, the strange senstation returned, immediate analysis showed that
when she had thought about engineering, a memory recollection of Keanu had
surfaced. Further diagnostics did not explain why this phenomenon had
occurred, or why it was associated with Keanu.
The kiln bleeped for attention, Joanna walked over and retrieved the
statuette. Looking over it, she realised it was a very good resemblance to
Keanu. Why had she chosen this particular depiction? Why, even, had she
left the 'lift to visit her quarters? Surely she came here to find
That did not seem to be the right conclusion, as she tucked the statuette
into the crook of her arm and left her quarters. After walking a small
distance down the corridor, she turned to face a door.
And walked into Keanu's quarters.
Looking around, she found a suitable aesthetic position and placed her work
with precision to catch the lighting of the room. Looking at the statue
brought on sensations similar to those she had experienced earlier, the
association being clear. But now some of the sensors she normally
associated with sexual activity triggered, very faintly. She was not sure
if she wanted this to continue, but lingered a little before leaving his
quarters and heading to Engineering.
Ruth sighed and tried to decide what was wrong; her or the rest of the
ship. Today, the general hubbub of the crew's thought and emotion just
didn't seem to be *right*. There was a presence of sorts. She put down
her tricorder and scar remover, and sat down, trying to pin down what she
"What's up?" asked Sykes.
"Shh," she whispered. And then she was concentrating, searching the ship
for the oddity. It resolved itself into not one, but two separate
entities, whom she didn't initially recognise. After brushing gently
against them to find what they were feeling and any stray thoughts, she
stiffened and sat bolt upright. She breathed deeply and regularly a few
times to calm down, then mulled over what she had picked up.
But she had enough tangible notions to realise that the two entities were
two crew members she knew fairly well.
Neil Sykes and Will Ramsay.
It was an uphill struggle to determine what exactly had happened to their
psyches to look so prominent to her telepathic sense. But she was willing
to bet that somehow, both men had just been squarely marked on the psionic
map with not-bad-sized Xs. It was as though they had suddenly received
this infusion of energy and were suddenly more distinct... she quit with
all the comparisons and said to Neil, "Do you feel any different?"
"Yeah. I feel sore."
"No, I mean, have you had any strange perceptions?"
He thought about it a moment. "Well, now that you mention it, I do feel a
bit hungry - I haven't had anything to eat in a while." He looked at her
serious expression and added, "Okay, okay. Maybe this is nothing, but I
swear... there it is again. I don't know what it is. Something... large,
huge. You remember that Kzinti carrier we trashed?"
"That was monstrous." Ruth remembered the huge hulking ship which seemed
to have a horizon when you were flying along close to its surface avoiding
turret fire. "Go on."
"Well, it doesn't feel as big as that. No way. But still damn big.
That's it. What the hell is this anyway?"
"I sensed something wrong with the overall 'sound' of the combined crew's
noisy thoughts and emotions. That's how it came across, a discordant note,
a bad harmony. It's because I haven't centred in a day or so. But there
shouldn't be too much difference anyway, even with the extra few people we
"And?" he asked, not totally sure what she was getting at but curious
"You and the captain have undergone some sort of mental change. To my
telepathic sense, you both 'look' different. I can't exactly explain it,
but somewhere along the line you both picked up an awful lot of psychic
energy. Which explains the discordance. So, first opportunity, I'll get
you both to undergo a psi-test to confirm my suspicions."
"A psi-test? Oh yeah, that thing back at the Academy with the funny cards
and stuff. I don't think I did too hot on that."
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's a big difference," she smiled.
Activating her wrist-com, she called to the captain, "Sir, could you come
down to Sickbay when you have a few hours to spare?"
This takes place sometime between Ramsay's second and third ready-room
scenes in the last post.
[I'm a bit busy right now, and I need some rest when I get round to taking
it, is it urgent?] He sounded tired.
"Not to the ship, no. But don't put it off too late, please."
[Is there something wrong with me?] asked Ramsay concernedly.
"Apart from lack of sleep, for which I prescribe plenty of bedrest, you're
[I'll be down as soon as I can. Ramsay out.]
"I thought he said he was going to get some rest after Gamma shift?" asked
"He did." Then her brow furrowed, "How did you know he said that?"
"I... uh, hmm." He looked stumped for words. "I guess I just... knew."
Joanna Houston walked in to see the beginnings of the big project, the
faulty warp core stripped down and being dismantled. Then she saw Keanu,
and the involuntary behaviour resurfaced. Trying to maintain her composure
was difficult enough, but once she was absorbed by her work at a console
the symptoms faded once more. Joanna continued to investigate this while
she worked on the problem in hand.
She worked smoothly and efficiently, referring to the guide they had been
given. Some of the components were in place now, and she started to check
their assembly. Her concentration dipped again as Keanu walked up next to
her and asked, "Hey, where did you go?"
It grasped her attention so entirely that abruptly she realised she was
staring at him, and she had missed an entire page of the diagnostic report.
Turning back to the console, she flicked a button to scroll back the text.
The computer beeped angrily at her, and with some unpreparedness she
realised she had pushed the wrong button. No harm done, but...
Keanu was looking on in fascination. In the space of a few seconds he had
watched Houston behaving in the most uncharacteristically absent-minded
fashion. This, added to what he had already seen earlier, alerted him
immediately to the fact that all was not well.
Houston stepped back from the console, hands dropping to her sides. Then
she looked at Keanu. "I do not know what is wrong with me," she stated
"Joanna, I think we need to talk," Keanu said, gesturing at the chief
engineers office. Then he noticed who was in the chief engineer's office.
Neil Festore and Leana DeLias. That... didn't seem like a good
combination. In fact it was very bad. Neil looked up as Leana was talking
to him, his face suddenly contorted with anger.
Neil blazed a trail to barely six inches in front of Keanu Maren, his
expression one of malice. He looked Keanu squarely in the eyes, looked
beyond him at Joanna, then back at Keanu. Finally, in that quiet tone of
voice which conveys more belligerence than any amount of shouting, he said,
"Have her." And stomped off toward the warp core.
Leana left the office, wearing an expression of apology, and headed for the
Keanu and Joanna entered the office, he sat down in the far chair. She
stood in front of the desk.
"Look, Joanna, I really appreciate all this attention but as you probably
know I don't commit myself to any woman." He glanced over to the door to
make sure it was shut. "You mind telling me why you're suddenly attracted
She didn't respond for a while. A large fraction of her processing power
was somehow diverted to analysing the incoming image of Keanu. "I already
discussed the essential principle with you. In the turbolift. I have
experienced in the past half hour various strange sensations, associated in
some way to you. I believe these sensations correspond to... emotions."
Keanu could hardly contain his curiosity. "What kind of emotions?"
"It is difficult to say without an appropriate referent, however... when I
left you, I experienced the equivalent of pain throughout my being, and I
could not think about much except what you said. For the first time in my
existence, the ducts which supply fluid to lubricate my eyes
"That sounds like... sadness," Keanu commented, uncomfortable at being in
the position of psychoanalyst to an android. "What else?"
Houston continued, "After this had persisted for a time, I experienced a
volatile, powerful sensation which was followed by a violent action - I
picked up a sculpture and threw it against the wall."
"Well, that would be anger. All the classic symptoms," replied Keanu,
pleased he was helping, nervous of the fact that Houston could experience
"Next, I recalled how long it took to make that sculpture. I had no idea
why the figure was connected to the next sensation, which was similar to
the first but not identical."
Keanu was thinking, "You were feeling guilty because you'd undone so many
hours of work."
"Eleven minutes, to be precise. But the amount of labour I instilled in it
was beyond comparison. Finally, I felt generalised and faint activity in
what pass for pleasure receptors in my body, without a direct stimulus
being present. It is the same sensation that I feel now, when I look at
Keanu thought for a bit, "If I'm not mistaken, the nearest thing would be
love." He sighed and pulled a face.
"Yes, you're in love with me," he sighed. "And when I told you I wasn't
interested, you experienced rejection."
Joanna was trying to come to terms with all she had just learned, coming to
a realisation she longingly said, "I... love you."
Then her wristcom bleeped. [Houston, report to me Ready Room immediately.]
She looked at Keanu's troubled expression, "On my way, sir." And left
after she could tear her lovesick gaze from Keanu.
FRONTIER Ready Room
Houston walked in, "You wanted to see me sir?"
Ramsay was tired, that much was certain. "Joanna, I cannot condemn
fraternisation, it is not my place. But I'm told that by the end of the
day the news will be all over the ship. I don't know what that'll do to
your reputation. Now, StarFleet records show that most of the time, the
crew will perform below spec when receiving orders from someone whose name
is mud. We can't afford that out here in the middle of Kzinti space, so
I'm going to have to ask you to avoid any further incident."
"Captain... I have a problem."
"Oh?" He didn't notice at first.
She leaned closer, and he saw to his surprise that she was crying.
"I am developing... emotions. Sir." She sat down, drying her eyes.
"Ummm-hmmmm," mused the captain, quite astounded by the happening. "Have
you any idea what caused it?"
"I believe breaking from programming initiated a growth in self-evolving
patterns of association. Shortly after, Keanu became a focus for their
development. In a sense, I learned what it is to feel."
"I love him, sir. I do not know... what to do." Houston wrung her hands
in what looked to be the epitomy of despair.
"You can't keep it up if he doesn't return the affection," said Ramsay.
"You'll find someone else."
She paused for a moment, unsure of what to say. "Sir, have you... ever
been in my situation?"
He frowned, thinking back. "Well, yeah."
"What was it like to be rejected?"
"Oh, well... it was bad. Like I couldn't breathe, and... I felt I couldn't
go on. But I did."
She nodded in appreciation. "How long did it seem to last?"
"Well, it seemed to last forever, every time. But I think it was worse,
the more I felt for them. You'll get through this. Everyone around you
has." He paused in contemplation, rubbing the ache away from his temples.
"This changes things. I'll send a general communique to the crew to inform
them to expect... changes. Dismissed, Commander."
She composed herself and walked out. Ramsay waited a short time, glancing
at the chronometer. Then he left his ready room and asked, "Any change in
the status of the anomaly?"
"No sir," replied Joanne from Ops.
A puzzled Simony asked, "Captain, how did you know about that? I'd
neglected to mention it, you seemed pretty busy."
Ramsay frowned. "You're right, you know, but I'm sure you had. Well, not
that it matters." He wondered why Ruth wanted him to visit Sickbay for a
brief moment, then continued on up to the turbolift, intending to catch a
good day's sleep.
Houston returned to see Keanu still in the office. She walked round and in
the door, taking a seat opposite him. She folded her arms on the desk and
gazed at him, the familiar feelings sweeping through her. Only now she
wasn't afraid so much of what it could do to her.
S [Captain] William Ramsay, CO FRONTIER S
D A [Cmdr] Caroline Ramsay, rodXO FRONTIER A D
R M [Lt.Cmdr] Joanna Houston, aXO FRONTIER M R
A M M A
W E "He said, `You're too late. We're everywhere'." E W
D Odo, Star Trek: DS9 D