Log Entry 160425.177

So far, we've spent nearly three hours on the beach. Traeth was incredibly nervous at first, and if it hadn't been for the relationship we'd had as children, we wouldn't have got him anywhere near the shoreline. As it was, we began by encouraging him to take his shoes off and stand on the dry sand with us. It was a good seventy metres from the sea itself but still invoked fear in Traeth. However, we did get him to join us on the soft, warm sand with his eyes closed (to shut the sea out) and after a while, he did admit that it felt rather pleasant between his toes.
Nearly thirty minutes later, we sat down, still only a few feet from the trees, and Traeth began to explore the beach with his hands, sifting the sand through his fingers. He was ignoring the sea as best he could but wasn't brave enough to turn his back on it, but he was beginning to feel some of the pleasures of the shore on a warm summer's day.
Another half hour passed and we began to encourage him down to the damper sand. It took a while as after each step he took, he was compelled to sit and watch the waves gently rolling in to assure himself that it wasn't going to do anything dramatic—suddenly rear up and swallow us all whole, for instance.
Once there, we finally started building sandcastles, or rather, sandcastle—one very big castle indeed. We used the mugs from our backpacks as buckets and made a rather impressive building. Traeth made tall turrets, stacking mugs of sand one on top of the other, working out the optimum height possible before they collapsed.
Traeth always was a stickler for detail and he hadn't changed. Having discovered how well you could mould the wet sand, he sent Al to the water's edge to fill a mug with water, so that he could dampen it to its optimum consistency to make impressions in. Each stone was marked out on the building and windows engraved into the sides. On the top, castellated walls with detailed walkways completed the building. It was a very fine sandcastle indeed.
I'll be honest, it was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon, interrupted only by my chiming intercom. I answered it to find the captain at the other end.
"You don't appear to have got very far," T'Roc said. I couldn't disagree, but I wasn't going to hurry things.
"My apologies, Captain, but if this mission is to be successful, we must be patient."
I could feel her rolling her eyes at me from down here. I stepped away from my team so that I wouldn't be overheard and lowered my voice.
"Sir, may I speak freely?"
There was a slight pause before she responded.
"Knock yourself out, Terran."
"And in private?"
A silent tut echoed all the way from the bridge, through the atmosphere of Dirria and resonated across the beach. A few moments later, T'Roc responded.
"Just you and me now, Terran. What's the problem?"
She had obviously left the bridge and was now in her office.
"No problem, but you did assign this mission to me. I know it's not a big deal in the great scheme of things; in fact, it's a very minor mission but it is a mission nonetheless, and I'd like to do it properly."
Silence ensued.
"Sometimes, Terran," she sighed. "I swear you must have some Betazoid blood in you. It feels like you can see right through me. Yes, I am impatient to return to normal duties, but you're right. This is a mission, even if it is only a little one." She sighed again, this time more heavily. "Just make sure to bring me back a stick of rock."
The comms channel shut abruptly and I could envisage T'Roc leaning back in her chair, tenting her fingers and scolding herself. Maybe I was right, but no one loves a smartarse. I'd pay for it at some point, undoubtedly the next time I screwed up.

Log Entry 160417.176

As the smell of fresh sea air seeped through the forest, Traeth grew anxious. It wasn't like an ordinary fear of something, not like being scared of spiders or whatever. No, so tangible was it, I could almost taste it.
The trees began to thin and slats of blue sky brightened the way ahead. The scent of the salty sea grew stronger, and the verdant, green grass beneath our feet grew scant as the fertile, black earth gave way to soft, golden sand. Suddenly the trees broke and we found ourselves at the edge of the most beautiful, clean, white, sandy beach you had ever seen. I don't think even Risa could rival it.
The sands stretched out to either side of us, embracing the sea in a rich, deep hug, its surface rippled with perfect symmetry. The water sparkled like blue crystal and rolled lazily onto the sand with barely enough energy to retreat again. The sky above was deep azure blue. Whispery clouds swirled in currents somewhere far above, but here, on the ground, there was barely a breath of wind.
It was glorious.
Waiting for us was a neat little blue and white boat with an outboard engine on the back. Hmm, I wonder if Rutter can pilot that, I thought.
"Wow!" exclaimed Al. "Can't we just stay here and sunbathe?" she laughed.
Looking at Traeth's face, ashen with worry, I decided that it was probably a good idea to spend some time on the beach before graduating onto the sea. I unzipped my boots and peeled off my socks before stepping onto the soft, warm sand. As it squished up between my toes, it felt heavenly.
"Come on," I said brightly. "Let's build a sandcastle!"
"You're kidding, right?" said Rutter.
I shook my head.
"No. Traeth needs to gain some confidence and what better way than experiencing the joys of the beach first hand. Anyone got a bucket?"

Log Entry 160403.175

Preparations got underway very quickly. After all, there was no point in hanging about. T'Roc and I returned to the Earhart, and no sooner had our feet materialised on the transporter pad than she instructed me to select my team.
"My team? Aren't you coming with us," I asked.
She looked at me and laughed quite mockingly.
"No, this is your playtime. Pick your bestest of friends to amuse yourself with, get your kit together, have fun, stay safe and play nicely." She was being sarcastic.
It didn't take me long to assemble my team: Al, Luke and Rutter. That would make five of us with Traeth. Technically, Rutter is a little taller than I would have liked for the expedition, but his experience and training far outweighed any of those concerns. Anyway, Traeth wouldn't mind Rutter's height.
We arranged to meet Traeth in a little wooded area near the beach. That was as attempt to keep Traeth's panic to a minimum. From there we would stroll down to the beach and take a boat (replicated by the Earhart) over to the island. This was on Honker's insistence. I didn't approve, but apparently, he wanted Traeth to experience the whole seafaring thing in its entirety and then report back. I could see that this terrified the life out of Traeth, and I'm quite angry that the High Emperor would insist upon such a thing, bearing in mind this fear was so deeply inset into every Dirrian in existence. He didn't want to go, but he didn't care if he petrified another in his pleasure quest. However, I decided, for the sake of diplomacy, that we would give it a try. If there were any problems, though, I would abandon the boat idea and we would transport over to the island instead. There was no way I was going to torture my friend for some childish Emperor's pleasure.
We arrived in the little wooded area, which turned out to be not so little. Standing amongst the trees of giant tulips that stood thirty feet tall, I felt more like Alice in Wonderland than Jenny Terran, Starfleet Officer.
Traeth was waiting for us, looking somewhat pale as he squat by his little bundle of possessions. It wasn't a proper backpack, though, just a bindle. As we arrived, he stood up, picking up the stick and resting it on his shoulder. He reminded me of Dick Whittington.
Seeing the amount of kit we had, he apologised and looked quite shamefaced.
"No worries," I quipped. "Dirrians don't camp so we came prepared. We've even brought a backpack for you with some personal items in that you may not have thought of. There's room in it for your own stuff too. Come on," I smiled. "Let's get you sorted."
As we transferred Traeth's possessions into the backpack, I introduced the gang to him. He cheered up a little more with each hand he shook.
"I'd forgotten how friendly Humans are," he smiled weakly.
"I'm not Human, though," cut in Al in a friendly manner. "I'm—" and she stopped dead.
My, oh my! Was she starting to embrace her Klingon heritage after all?
"Klingon," I grinned, unable to resist the tease. "The word you're looking for is Klingon!"
Rutter and Luke smothered grins as Al glared at me.
"I know!" she barked.
Traeth nudged me. "It's just like old times!" he whispered loudly and looked truly happy.
With Traeth now more suitably equipped with a rucksack on his back and proper footwear (he'd come in sandals!), we set off. Traeth was now very chatty, expressing his surprise and pleasure at just how comfortable the pack was despite its weight, and the boots. How did I know his size for instance? I didn't let on that as I had stood next to him yesterday, I had compared his feet to mine. After all, does a magician reveal his secrets?