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“The Peculiar Antics of Professor Trumbull”

Starfleet Academy Lounge

by Cadet Katelyn McCaffrey & Professor Arliss Trumbull Ph.D.
[Stardate ]


“The Peculiar Antics of Professor Trumbull”
J/L w/ Professor Trumbull and Cadet McCaffrey

“True..but what if I were an...unfriendly person.... And did this!” Professor Trumbull exclaimed as he picked up a phaser and started vaporizing the survival gear in the room.

Kate stared at the professor in disbelief. Some students in the front of the class had to duck or shield themselves from flying debris as things got hit with the professor’s phaser. Katelyn was further back in the class and wasn’t in any danger of getting hit. As a security major, her mind instantly went racing as it analyzed the situation and came up with ways for her to stop the assailant. Her first thought was to throw her duct tape at the professor's arm in such a way that it would make him lose his grip on the phaser. Though of course, it would have to be done at the right speed and angle, not to mention the precise timing, that would keep the professor from seeing the object flying toward him until it was too late to react.    

It was possible, but difficult. Her position didn’t really yield the best angle, also she wouldn’t want to end up causing the professor to accidentally shoot a student (because surely as the PROFESSOR he would not really want to harm the students, and they weren't really in any danger....right?). Her next thought was changing shape into something small, sneak up behind him, then apprehend him and take the phaser from him.

“Think about it!” The professor stated after he shut off the phaser. “You WILL be tested next week! You are dismissed.”

Kate blinked. Tested?? Tested on what? How to deal with a crazy professor that’s a bit trigger happy? She was so confused….she had thought she understood the lesson. Each cadet was supposed to only pick one thing to use in a survival situation. And then the professor seemed to disapprove of the cadet’s that picked non modern objects. Kate believed non modern objects--such as duct tape, or a pocket knife, or flint and steel--were more versatile than taking a fancy phaser. Ideally, Kate would want a mixture of non modern and modern objects to help her survive. But the rules of the exercise made it clear that they could only have one object each. That is why she assumed that the point of the class exercise was to learn that each person had a different idea on what was important for survival and if everyone worked together with each of their different items, then survival could be achieved for the class as a whole. But then…..the professor just went and shot everything. What was that about??

She watched the other cadets leave, each with a shocked and confused look on their face. Well mostly--a couple had more of an interested look, one guy had a smirk on his face as he left. At any rate, Kate knew she wasn’t the only one that was entirely flabbergasted by the abrupt turn of events. Once all the cadets had left, and the professor was gathering his things...she slowly stood from her seat and approached him. “Umm...Professor Trumbull? Do you have a second?”

Trumbull used two fingers to push his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose. "But of course Cadet...hmmmm"    He appeared to be trying to recall who she was. Suddenly he snapped his fingers. "McCaffrey right?" He said jubilantly when he succeeded in remembering her name. "Would you like to speak to me here or in another locale?"

“Here’s fine, I just…..I’m a little confused by today’s class. I mean I thought I knew what the point of the lesson was--we each had to pick only one object. Obviously in a real survival situation, it’s ideal to have more than one object...perhaps a combination of modern and non modern technologies to maximize one’s readiness for any situation, but that wasn’t possible per the rules of the game. I figured the idea was to understand that each of us have a different idea of what is most important, but if we work together we can combine our efforts and survive as a team. But….then you shot everything, and I’m not sure what to take from that.” Kate furrowed her eyebrows; her lavender eyes reflected her flustered confusion.

"Brava!" He clapped his hands. "Brava indeed! Those are some very astute observations you've made young lady. Are you quite sure that our exercise or any part of it had a purpose? Or if it did, that purpose may have had nothing whatsoever to do with your observations? But perhaps." He whipped out a phaser and twisted sideways aiming the beam under one of the seats. There was a sudden red glow as the accelerated particles connected with the object hidden there and the item and the glow faded as fast as they had appeared. "I seem to have missed one." He said as he concealed the phaser. "It's quite unlike me to miss, Now, where were we?"

Kate observed the professor as he, in mid sentence, turned and shot another object in the room. The man was certainly eccentric and entirely different than any of the other professors at the academy. “Uhh….what do you mean ‘am I sure the exercise even had a purpose’. Isn’t there always a purpose to the classes we have to take? Aren’t we always supposed to be learning something at school? There has to be a point to it. You said there will be a test. How can we be tested if there was no lesson to learn or purpose to the exercise?”    

"Of course there is a purpose. Just a minute ago, when I brought up that preposterous notion that there wasn't. What happened? What did you do?"

Katelyn paused as she thought about how to answer. She didn’t think her initial reaction of ‘I questioned your sanity’ was an appropriate response. “Uhh….I didn’t accept the answer and asked again?”

He chuckled. "Yes, yes you did. And during our exercise,you had to quickly decide the best survival item to grab,then you needed to reevaluate that choice over and over as new options were flying around the classroom. And if dealing with that wasn't stressful enough, several students were involved in a confrontation over the rules and your crazy instructor started shooting a phaser all willy-nilly. He waved his hands around in a whirlpool motion, "He barely missed a few of his students by carelessly vaporizing the discarded items perilously close to their feet! ! And to further add to the confusion and stress, you were told that you were going to be tested on the events that occurred." He paused    

"If I just give you all the answers today, then when we reconvene next week you would have an advantage over the others. But since you did have the moxie to march up to me and speak your mind, If you'll bear with me for being repetitive, I'll offer you this as food for thought. As hailstorm of objects were flying about, you were actively deciding which one to snag, seconds later you had to choose whether to toss one item back for another, your attention was diverted by a verbal altercation, you had to choose again -- watch and listen or see if a better item might be coming your way and then, to add to the fracas phasers blasts began zinging around--do you duck, run for cover or tackle that madman! All the while something wonderful and amazing was happening in that agile young brain of yours. Ping, ping PING! Synapses inside your brain sat up and took notice! Your nimble neurons quivered with excitement, information shot back and forth then lo and behold...!" Trumbull smiled, "And all of those snap decisions and questions and thoughts gave birth to brand-new synaptic pathways in your brain!    Even now, those new pathways are growing, sending out fresh tendrils and THAT my dear is called learning."

Kate concentrated hard on what the professor was saying to try and make sense of it. “Soooo….” She started, as her mind squeezed together its interpretation. “You’re saying the purpose of the class was for us to learn….and think…..amid chaos? That perhaps there was no right or wrong answer to what we chose...but just going through the process of choosing and reacting in an unexpected situation was what was expected.” A light bulb seemed to go off in Kate’s mind. “We were able react or not react to each element of the situation while everything happened at once. We got practice thinking quickly and making decisions about our safety and the safety of others while experiencing an unpredictable environment. When we experience a survival situation for real, we will have to make quick decisions and be able to react logically and rationally even in the face of chaos and we will have to be ready to deal with the unexpected.” She looked to the professor with a grin; satisfied and a bit surprised at her own conclusion. “That...actually makes sense!”

"Of course it does." Trumbull said with a sly smile. "It would have been so disappointing if you hadn't understood. For most of the cadets, the survival skills which they will learn may never be put to the test. But for a security cadet, the ability to react and act rationally as quickly as possible and to reassess a situation every bit as fast means that every mission that you undertake can turn into a survival situation for yourself and your shipmates in a flash." He collected a few PADDs from the podium. "Is there anything else I can do for you today?" He asked.

She observed the professor as he so nonchalantly went back to gathering his things. He could be so animated one moment, and then calm and collected the next. Kate smiled to herself; she was starting to like his quirkiness...and now that she understood the purpose of the class, she thought he was actually quite brilliant--there was definately method to his madness. “No, that was it, thank you, Professor Trumbull. I look forward to your next class!” And seeing what else you throw...or shoot at us. She thought, with a twinkle in her eye. “I’ll come ready to learn.”    

"That my dear, is all I can ask."    He stood and walked with her to the exit. The door slid open and he looked out. "Bright and beautiful." He said gazing up at the sky. "Have a wonderful day."

Before she could say goodbye, he slipped back inside and the door closed behind him.

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