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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #4: "Codex Aelyrr"

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    Default Star Trek RPG - Mission #4: "Codex Aelyrr"

    Star Trek: The Yorktown Chronicles

    Setup thread: http://www.mellophant.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10960

    Mission #1: "On the Brink": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...the-Brink-quot
    Mission #2: "Primum Nil Nocere": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...il-Nocere-quot
    Mission #3: "Some Other Side of Paradise": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...-Paradise-quot

    It is January 23, 2270.

    Capt. James T. Kirk and the starship Enterprise completed their historic, and soon to be legendary, five-year mission not long ago.

    The United Federation of Planets is strong, expanding, and prosperous. Some fifty worlds are now represented in the Federation Council, united in their commitment to peace, democracy, the rule of law, free trade and mutual protection. The Federation's longtime rivals, the Klingons and Romulans, are now loosely allied, but to date have not mounted a major, concerted challenge to Federation interests in the quadrant.

    Starfleet, the Federation's exploratory, scientific and military arm, has grown in the past few years. Twenty Constitution-class heavy cruisers remain its backbone, but a host of other vessels - light cruisers, destroyers, scouts, couriers, tugs, research and other specialized craft - have more than tripled the size of the Fleet. Starfleet is committed to extending its reach to every corner of the Galaxy granted to the Federation by treaty or unclaimed by others.

    It's a good time to be a Starfleet officer, and those aboard the USS Yorktown often find themselves on the front lines of the challenges now facing the Federation.

    So prepare yourself for adventure where no one has gone before....
       

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    Captain's Log, Stardate 6012.3. We are on course for Anubis at a steady Warp 6, and should arrive at 0917 hours tomorrow. Dr. Brold has confirmed that he, his assistants and his gadget will all be ready.

    It is 1600 hours. Kylah goes off-duty after an uneventful watch in the Communications Center; likewise Graham from a Security inventory and Collins from a stint on the Bridge. Rangin finishes his watch in the Xenobiology Lab and has 15 minutes before he's expected in Sickbay for psi testing. Dr. T'Var, having already received a request from Dr. Villa to also be in attendance, is en route.
       

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    On her way to the gym, Collins messages Cooper "Mess Hall 3 at 18:00?". At the gym, she runs a dozen laps around the track, paces through some martial arts moves for 20 minutes, then swims several laps, before heading back to her cabin to shower and change into a clean uniform and head off to dinner.
    Last edited by anyrose; 05 Apr 2015 at 11:34 PM.
       

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    Cooper replies, Can't then, sorry. 1900 OK instead?
       

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    Collins replies "19:00 then." She briefly wonders what Ben needed the extra hour for, but doesn't dwell on it.
    Last edited by anyrose; 06 Apr 2015 at 10:16 AM.
       

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    Rangin files his notes for the day leaving several bookmarks for items to follow up on. With only a fifteen minute break, he starts noting down a few things he would like to find out about Ens. Kylah.

    After a short while, he finishes up and heads for Sick Bay with a certain amount of trepidation, wanting to see what is in store for him but uncertain what Dr. Villa will find, if anything.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

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    Cooper responds, Great, thanks. See you then.

    Rangin arrives in Sickbay and Dr. Villa greets him. "I've asked Dr. T'Var to assist me with the tests," she says. "She should be here shortly. For the moment, have a seat, please."
       

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    After her watch ends, Kylah has the instinct to see if Velir is available to join her for dinner, but remembers he has the examination scheduled. Her worries about what might be going on with him start to consume her, battling for supremacy against her not-yet-completed message to her Guardian.

    She heads to the mess hall and orders a hamburger and fries, unconsciously recreating the meal she and Velir had on that lovely evening back on Starbase 27. Finding a small table where she sets down her tray before taking a seat, Kylah is too distracted by her thoughts to feel self-conscious about eating alone, or notice if anyone is paying attention to her.
       

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    Rangin nods to Dr. Villa and silently sits down on the offered seat wondering what part Dr T'Var will play. As a Vulcan, she would have a much deeper insight into any ability. Then again, Rangin had no idea what kind of tests Dr Villa was going to put him though.

    Rangin leaned back in the chair and shook his head at the thoughts running through them. Whatever had happened with Palver was a fluke, nothing more and just good luck on his part caused by Kylah's brave action. Far be it that anything was different, in half an hour he would be walking out of the room, the same as before, with the same recognised psychic ability as a plate of mashed potato.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

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    Kylah has only taken a few bites when she hears a rumbled "May I join you?" and looks up to see a smiling Ens. Terrance Thayer "Two Tons" Rawlings, a tray heaped with food in one very large hand, standing there.

    Dr. Villa tells Rangin, "I expect the testing will take an hour or so. None of it is invasive."
       

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    Collins gets to the mess hall in plenty of time. She spots Kylah across the room being approached by Ensign Rawlings. My good deed of the day. thinks Collins as she heads to that table. "There you are, roomie. I hope you haven't been waiting too long for me." She sits down facing Kylah, away from Rawlings, and winks and smiles at her. "We can continue that discussion from the other night now." She turns to look at Rawlings "Will you please excuse us, Ensign? It's kind of private."
       

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    Kylah is startled first by Rawlings' request, and then Collins's sudden appearance and odd behavior. We had no plans to meet. Have I forgotten something? She glances from Collins to Rawlings and back again. The other woman's wink makes her feel as if she is complicit in something, but Kylah cannot fathom what that would be. And yet she cannot accuse Collins of lying, that would be embarrassing to both parties.

    The strangeness of having been approached in such a friendly manner by two separate Security officers, of all people, is not lost on her. Perhaps there are rumors that I was responsible for Kjaerstad's demotion, and they are trying to gain my favor? This prospect amuses her but seems unlikely.

    "I... I am sorry, Mr. Rawlings," Kylah says, genuinely regretful because she would have liked to speak to him. "Once Lt. Collins and I are finished, maybe I can join you for..." She looks at his overflowing tray, then returns her focus to him with a tiny, tentative smile. "...For dessert?"
       

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    Collins is a little nonplussed, but waits for Rawlings to leave before saying anything.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 07 Apr 2015 at 02:49 PM. Reason: removed green text, as anyrose anticipated.
       

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    Rawlings doesn't seem put out. "Yes, I'd like that," he says to Kylah. He nods to Collins and moves off to another table, sitting down with several other Security officers.
       

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    Once Rawlings sits at the other table, Collins apologizes to Kylah. "My bad." she says quietly "I only 'rescued' you because I thought you might have preferred to be alone, and being the genuinely nice person you are, and I mean that sincerely and in no way ironically, you wouldn't have turned him away. I had fully intended to leave after a few moments and let you be. I'm meeting Ben, uh, Ensign Cooper, anyway." Jeremi gets up. "I guess I should apologize to Rawlings, too." She looks around the room to see where he'd settled. Let's see what else I can mess up today. she thinks.
       

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    Kylah is yet again taken aback by Collins's behavior--she has rarely spoken at such length to Kylah except during times of high emotion. And the compliments are utterly unexpected.

    "No, Lieutenant, you do not have to leave, unless you need to. I did not mind Mr. Rawlings's request--aside from one very bad error on his part, during the mission, we got along fairly well. He reminds me of--of a soldier I once knew back on Elas." She shrugs. "Still, considering the way the mission ended, I would not have thought he or any of your colleagues would wish to speak to me. So it was just unusual."

    Kylah hesitates, and then adds bluntly: "...As are your actions. I am grateful, it was very kind of you to attempt to 'rescue' me, regardless of whether I needed it. The fact that you were thinking of how I might feel... I would not expect such..." She does not finish with the word compassion, because that would be far more rude than Collins was to Rawlings.

    Instead she looks down at her tray for a moment. "No one has called me 'nice' before. I hope--I hope you do not feel obligated to say such things because of the bracelet. I owed you. You helped me when we were shopping, and I wanted you to have some pleasure and reward from the experience as well." She turns her face up to Collins. "We never have had a true conversation. I would like to, sometime. If you are meeting Ensign Cooper and will be spending the night with him--" Kylah flushes. "I am sorry, I do not mean to be prurient. I just meant if you will not be back in our quarters again tonight, perhaps we could talk some other time?"
       

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    Collins turns back to Kylah and manages a smile. "Cooper won't be here until 19:00. I have a little time until he shows." She sits down again. Rawlings can wait. I can rub him the wrong way any old time.
    "and I am not acting this way because of the jewelry, which was beyond generous in any case. But we really got off on the wrong foot your first day on the ship. And the way the last two missions went, well, that certainly didn't help much."
    Collins offers her right hand. "Hi. I'm Jeremi Collins, from Earth. I graduated the Academy in '66. This is my third posting since graduation. And you are?" Collins smiles the broadest, most sincere smile she can manage despite the nagging sadness that still tags at her.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 07 Apr 2015 at 09:52 PM. Reason: typo fix at anyrose's request
       

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    Even after having had some time to rest, reflect, and put the mission behind him--perhaps because I'm less tired now, Graham thinks--he has a burning desire to beat the hell out of something.

    I'm sure Rangin would be surprised that I'm not thinking of a handcuffed suspect. He chuckles. Or him.

    He changes into workout gear, tapes up, and returns to the gym for the appointment with the heavy bag that he had intended for the morning.
    Last edited by general_urko; 07 Apr 2015 at 06:27 PM. Reason: typo
       

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    The heavy bag awaits, and Graham very satisfyingly pummels it.

    Dr. Villa glances at a bulkhead chrono. "Not sure what's keeping Dr. T'Var. Give me a moment, please, Ensign." She steps out of the room.
       

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    Hesitating because she cannot help but do so, Kylah performs a swift reading of Collins's emotions. She seems to be trying, and she also seems... unhappy for some reason.

    Of course she is, Kylah thinks in sudden self-rebuke, remembering her mother. Not to mention her own grief after her parents died. A loss is not something one forgets in three days.

    She lifts a hand and performs the human greeting of a handshake. "I am Kylah, from Elas," she says softly, maintaining the pretense that Collins began. "I graduated six months ago and this is my first posting. It is--good to meet you, Lieutenant."

    Kylah moistens her lips and, after a pause in which she tries to think of a new way to interact with this woman, offers a shy compliment of her own. "I admire you for having advanced to your rank at so young an age. May I ask what your other postings have been? And what led you to join Starfleet?"
       

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    Graham's gratified to work up a good sweat. Perverse as he acknolwdges it may be, he's also gratified to have slightly sore and bloody knuckles.

    Reminds you you're alive, I guess, he thinks.

    Afterward, breathing heavily, he wonders what to do: talking with Lt. Bennett would be nice, he thinks. He frowns, chastening himself: yeah, creepy old stalker guy, that's what every young, accomplished office needs.

    It would be...nice isn't the right word, but good...good to talk to Lizzy, too, he thinks. He doesn't bother to shower, just towels off, grabs a padd, and heads foe the mess, intending to replicate some food he can chow down on while writing a letter to his daughter.
    Last edited by general_urko; 08 Apr 2015 at 12:27 AM. Reason: added to 1st 2 lines
       

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    Rangin sighs and leans back in the chair, letting his mind wander as his eyes glaze over the far wall. He tries to remember back to the last set of tests he did, mainly guessing at cards, but also some gentle psychic probing from a fairly kindly Vulcan. He wondered what would be different this time around.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

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    Collins relaxes a bit. "Let's see, why did I sign up?" She seems to be asking herself as she repeats Kylah's question. "I've always been active. I wanted a career that would keep me fit, but pro-sports wasn't for me. Plus, the interstellar travel was appealing. Actually, I started late, after high school, because my academic scores weren't high enough. I had to take some college courses to get my scores up. My first posting was as Deputy Provost Marshal on Starbase 11 for three years, then I served a year on the Enterprise. Now I'm here. How about you?"
    Last edited by anyrose; 08 Apr 2015 at 08:26 AM.
       

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    Kylah listens attentively, although as Collins winds up, she starts to feel anxiety thrum through her when she realizes that she has invited similar questions about herself. Usually this would not be a problem with her roommate, who has rarely exhibited an interest in Kylah's life. But this Jeremi Collins is obviously making an admirable effort to change.

    The irony is that right now, Kylah wishes the old, self-absorbed Collins were sitting in front of her--although of course, the old Collins would never be sitting in front of her.

    When her question is turned back on her, Kylah makes sure that Collins remains the subject of the conversation. "It is impressive that you had such ambition and discipline--working hard to improve so you could reach your goal," she says. "Many others would have given up and chosen a less demanding field. But this seems to have been the right direction for your skills and interest in fitness. I remember... back during our previous mission... how well you fought those slime devils, even without a phaser. I wish I had such strength, but without a weapon I am useless."
    He chuckles in surprise when the leather strap on her otherwise naked thigh is revealed. "I'd heard Elasian women were deadly, but I never realized... Do you mind?" Easily he slips Kylah's knife from its leather sheath, then drops it on the floor beside the bed. She looks on, dizzy and paralyzed. It might as well be miles away...
    Kylah shudders and closes her eyes before her mind returns to the present. Then, embarrassed both by the unbidden memory and her clearly visible reaction, she stammers out an excuse. "Forgive me, all that violence on the station... it was overwhelming for me, I was not prepared for it. I still do not know what to expect on this ship, what sorts of missions to expect. But you handled yourself ably in battle. Have you had many such encounters? I know you have not been on the Yorktown very long, but you had been on at least one previous mission here, is that not so? May I ask what it was like?"
    Last edited by choie; 08 Apr 2015 at 03:53 PM.
       

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    Graham enters the mess hall and sees several people he knows. Kylah and Collins are talking intently and don't seem to have noticed him yet. Rawlings and several other Security men are at a table not far away. Another dozen or so crewmembers are also having early dinners.

    Dr. Villa doesn't immediately return; Rangin waits.
       

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    On seeing several of his close colleagues to whom he feels he ought to stop by and say hello, Graham feels a bit self-conscious about his chafed and raw knuckles and wonders if he should have cleaned himself up a bit more.

    Well, futzing with them and perhaps getting blood on your clothes isn't going to make you look any better,
    he thinks.

    He sighs and tries to look friendly. He approaches the table at which Collins and Kylah are sitting and clears his throat to try to get their attention before getting close enough to hear the details of what they are discussing. "L-T, Ens. Kylah, don't let me interrupt, just saying 'hello,' hope you're...ah, enjoying the down time."
       

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    Collins looks up at Graham, smiles, looks to Kylah, and then back to Graham. "Join us, please. We were just talking about what drew us to Starfleet. How about you, Booker?"
    Last edited by anyrose; 08 Apr 2015 at 04:42 PM.
       

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    Graham's arrival puts Kylah more on alert. First Rawlings, then Collins, now Graham... Is the entire Security crew going to descend upon her? She has barely processed his presence before Collins invites him to join them. Apparently she has put herself in charge of all my meal companions today, she thinks with a flash of agitation.

    Still, when Kylah glances over to the table where Rawlings and the others are, the thought occurs to her that it might actually be beneficial to be seen with these two. After all, Graham and Collins seem to be respected and liked within their department, from Vargas on down. Their attitude toward her could be influential on their compatriots--and hopefully this will mean that the Security staff's disrespectful and outright life-threatening reactions to Kylah's orders on OCIII will not be repeated.

    Her gaze flickers back to Graham, knowing the awkwardness between them will not be easy to repair. She remains frightened of him. But she has dealt with many frightening people, and surely here on the ship she is safer. "Yes, Mr. Graham," she murmurs. "Please sit. You are not interrupting. I was just asking Lt. Collins about her previous missions on the Yorktown."
    Last edited by choie; 08 Apr 2015 at 05:20 PM.
       

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    "Well I--" he's starting to reply by saying he doesn't want to interrupt them even before processing what Collins has said. Then Kylah adds what sounds like a sincere invitation, and Collins' words sink in.

    "I joined Starfleet to help people." He winces slightly, remembering the very specific incident that drew him specifically to Security. He clears his throat as he sits and places the padd on the table, adding a bit more quietly, "people who might not have anyone else there to help them."
       

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    Kylah looks at her plate. Her fingers reach for one of the now-chilled slabs of fried potato and absently tear it in half. "And have you?" she asks, at first aiming the words at her meal before lifting her gaze back to Graham. "Would you say you have helped those who are vulnerable?"
       

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    Graham blinks once, taken aback by the question, and Kylah's gaze. But he doesn't need to think at all about the answer: he does not move, or even breathe, other than to say "Sometimes." Because it was true.

    And after a very brief pause, more softly, "Not enough." Because that's true, too.

    There's no sign of accusation that he can see in her voice, her demeanor, or her eyes, but Graham feels as if it the question and the answer would have felt far less damming if there had been.
       

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    Kylah watches him. "That is an honest answer. Helping some is more than many do, in my experience. Only paragons or mythical figures can be said to have helped enough. I daresay none of us is a paragon." Her observant eyes take Graham in, and she nods slightly toward his hands. "And mythical figures do not bleed. I would not like to have been on the receiving end of those bruised knuckles. Has there been some altercation on board?"
    Last edited by choie; 08 Apr 2015 at 07:17 PM.
       

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    Collins also notices Graham's knuckles, but the first thought that occurs to her is the old punchline you should have seen the other guy.
       

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    "Oh, ah," Graham says, glancing at Kylah, then Collins, and then down at his hands. He rubs the knuckles of his right hand with his left, keenly conscious now of the pre-existing scars as well as the new inflammation. He looks back up smiles sheepishly, then puffs out his chest in exaggerated fashion. "Well, it was seriously one-sided, believe-you-me..."

    He makes his hands into loose fists and puts his arms in a boxing pose, throwing a few very slight punches in the air--making sure that they are not directly toward either Kylah or Collins. "I spent a little time with the heavy bag just now...it's good exercise, and, ah, therapeutic, I guess, for some of us."

    He shrugs. "I'd be happy to show either of you the ropes, if you want--although actually, L-T, I think we had a date--uh, I mean, an appointment--to spar, but we played basketball instead, a game which you handily won, as I recall."

    He addresses that last comment to Collins, but seeing Kylah out of the corner of his eye makes him think of Lizzy: What would I think about showing her how to work over the heavy bag? Why shouldn't I think it would be fine?
       

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    "I think the odds would be slightly in your favor," Collins tells Graham, "in the ring. But I can certainly make you work for it." She looks at Kylah who seems to be increasingly uncomfortable. "Maybe just some martial arts for you, roomie?"
       

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    The thought of being tutored alone in a physical sport with Graham sends an alarmed flush to Kylah's face, and she tries to hide it by taking a sip of water. "Thank you, but it would do no good. I fear I did not do well in hand-to-hand combat training at the Academy," she says. "Our instructor said he doubted someone as weak as I would ever be capable of--of fending off an attacker on my own." And he was right. He was right. It was not even an attack but I could do nothing...

    Trembling, Kylah sets the cup down on her tray, some of the water splashing onto her hand. She wishes she were anywhere but at this table. "Excuse me, I--I just remembered a task I must complete for Lt. Thalen," she improvises. "I am glad we spoke, it was kind of you both to sit with me. Good evening." Without much grace she gets to her feet, collects her tray and leaves Collins and Graham behind.

    Once she has gotten rid of her things but before exiting the mess hall, she remembers her promise to Rawlings. She stares with some dread at the table of Security officers but forces herself toward them, her damp hands clasped.

    "I beg your pardon," she says, the words barely audible as she directs them to the general group at large. Then she gladly focuses on the largest man in the room. "Mr. Rawlings, I am very sorry, I forgot I have some work to finish and will not be able to join you for dessert. I hope you understand. Perhaps some other time?"
    Last edited by choie; 09 Apr 2015 at 12:14 AM.
       

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    Rawlings smiles easily. "That would be fine. 'Til next time, then." The other redshirts at the table don't seem to take any particular notice of her.

    Capt. Singh and Chief Engineer Cheverez enter the mess hall and go to the replicator slots together, talking intently all the while.

    In Sickbay, Dr. Villa returns to Rangin. She says, "Sorry to keep you waiting; Dr. T'Var has been unavoidably delayed. We'll begin without her, if that would suit you...?" She gestures towards a Sickbay bed.
       

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    Roused from his daydream, Rangin's eyes move across to look at Dr Villa wondering where Dr T'Var was, not that it really mattered. He stands up and nods affably at Dr Villa, "That would be fine, though I still doubt you are going to find anything Doctor."

    As he heads towards the sickbay bed, he shivers slightly wondering what tests they are going to perform this time around. The last three missions he has been on he wound up with him in Sickbay, and he hopes that this time around it's a lot less painful than before.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

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    Graham frowns and looks at the rapidly retreating Kylah, and then back to Collins.

    She took off so quickly he couldn't think of anything to say, and now he has the sense that if he were to try to catch up with her she'd probably break into a run to escape.

    "I'm sorry if I said something wrong, or messed up your dinner, LT..." After a brief pause he adds "Well, how are you doing, anyway?"
       

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    "No, you didn't ruin anything, I was just talking with Kylah until Ben showed up." Collins is now suddenly tired and cranky. "I guess I'm doing okay. I'm still achy in the abdomen, and sad more than I'd like." She looks at Graham almost pleadingly "I'd like nothing better than to take a hit and retreat for a few hours." she admits. "I think the pull is stronger than it used to be because I know I can't ever have any ever again. Or at least not until I retire from Starfleet." She manages a smile.
       

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    Graham nods, and tries to look supportive, but at the same time probably also comes across as just a bit stern.

    Well that's kind of how a 'big brother' should be, I suppose, he thinks.

    "I'm sure you've got a good long career ahead of you in Starfleet, L-T." After a brief pause, he adds. "And at least your head is in the right place--you know that this career isn't compatible with the...stuff."

    He returns a small smile and gives her two subtle thumbs up with his hands on the table. "Right?"
    Last edited by general_urko; 09 Apr 2015 at 01:36 PM. Reason: typo & added brother bit
       

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    T'Var arrives in Sickbay. "I apologize for my tardiness," the doctor says. "My mental preparation took longer than expected."
       

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    Collins clasps her hand over one of Graham's and says "Right. Bring on the DTs. I can get through it." she jokes. "Thank you." She glances around the mess hall. "You know," she says, "if I am stood up, we could settle that fight thing tonight."
       

  44. #44

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    Dr. Villa beams at Dr. T'Var. "Quite all right - glad you're here. We were just getting started."

    She hands a datapad to the Vulcan healer, and says to Rangin, "We already have your psi baseline numbers from your Starfleet entrance tests. Today I'd like to readminister the standard tests for aperception and Duke-Heidelburg quotients, which you've been through before, and then the Nairobi eight-part exam for extrasensory perception. I want to dig a little deeper to develop a TL adjusted psionic profile, cross-correlating with the Rhaandarite and Coridanite psionic-potential databases. If my theory holds, we should... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Depending on what we find, Dr. T'Var has said she's willing to perform a mind meld, if it might be useful. Does that sound all right to you, Ensign?"

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Aperception_quotient
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Duke...lburg_quotient
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Extrasensory_perception
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Vulcan_mind_meld
       

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    Graham shakes his head, although he's still smiling. "It would be serious tactical mistake on my part to accept that challenge when you were highly motivated to take out your frustration on an available male target," he replies to Collins.

    He pauses briefly. "Well speaking of... that Ben guy seemed solid. He treats you right?" He raises a hand to rub his forehead. "Uh, OK, sorry, that sounded like a question from a grandfather, not a big brother. But, ah, things are OK?"
    Last edited by general_urko; 09 Apr 2015 at 04:22 PM. Reason: made it clear he was speaking with Collins
       

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    As Kylah leaves the mess hall, she notices Singh and Cheverez. It is a surprise to see the captain--Kylah realizes that as far as she knows, Singh never attended any of the meetings relating to the investigation once Kylah and the others returned from OCIII.

    She led our debriefing with Vargas after the Sakathian mission. Why was this different?

    Of course, Kylah knows there are several answers to that question.

    She dismisses the thoughts and slips from the mess hall, hurrying back to her quarters and very glad she will be alone. It is a relief to return to the familiarity of her zither, which she retrieves before sitting on the edge of her bed. A bowl of water is by her side, ready for her fingers so that they may produce the notes. Fortunately, thanks to the quiet watch this afternoon, she had plenty of time to mentally compose the tune that will convey her music-based report.

    At last Kylah plays, refines, then plays the song again, this time recording it. The chords and melody are somewhat jarring due to the complexity of the encoded message, which must cram in the details of corruption, abuse of power, greed, and especially the unallied Hwuen race who might be swayed over to the Empire now that Hardin--their apparent contact and cohort within the Federation--is likely to be imprisoned.

    Despite the unusual range of the code's melodic transcription, the ancient zither's crystal strings vibrate so sweetly that the music is still relatively pleasing to hear. Not that it matters; the song will only ever be played once, for an audience of one.

    Now there is nothing left but to write to that intended listener. Kylah rises slowly, holding her tricorder as warily as if it is an unpredictable weapon. And so it is. Certainly the encoded message now inside it can be used by dangerous people in ways she might revile. Never before has she felt as torn as she does now, pondering the gravity of what she is doing. She imagines the captain whose face she saw just a little while ago. And Velir. What would he think of her, if he knew? She closes her eyes against the thought.

    But soon her eyes are wide open again, determined. There is no point in such wavering. This is her first duty. She may have sworn an oath to the Federation, but there is a higher fealty she owes her planet, her family, and especially the man who practically raised her. And of course, it is not just her honor at stake.

    Sitting at her computer, Kylah takes a deep breath and begins, as always: Honored Guardian Aldaan...
    Last edited by choie; 09 Apr 2015 at 05:29 PM.
       

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    "Oh, yes," Jeremi replies, "Ben's been great. He was very understanding and supportive. I half expected him to dump me after the," she pauses. She needs to say it out loud, to really accept it, but part of her wants to pretend it never happened, "miscarriage. But he's stood by me. I don't know where things will go from here, but he makes me happy." As she says the last bit, it occurs to her that she doesn't retain that happiness when she's not with him. Gotta be the hormones settling, or the withdrawal. He does make me happy. she tries to convince herself.

    "What about, you? Any romances on the horizon?" She smiles at Graham the way an annoying kid sister would.
    Last edited by anyrose; 09 Apr 2015 at 11:07 PM.
       

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    "Well Doctor, I'm exceedingly interested to see if we can find something out, I'm more used to dealing with test subjects than being one. However, given my previous ability scores, and the general psychic potential of both Rhaandarite and Coridinate being near-zero certainties, I'm not expecting anything to be different. Then again, we won't know unless we look."

    Rangin nods at Dr T'Var feeling slightly relieved. The couple of times they worked together had been quite pleasant and they seemed to have a fair amount in common, so to have her around for this left him feeling more at ease at until he remembers why they are there.

    "I do have one point of concern about this though," he comments as he sits on the sickbay bed. "I hate to point this out, but if Fellim Palver was able to control our minds and perceptions..." Rangin chews on his lip as he thinks over the politest way to put a delicate matter, "I'm sorry Dr T'Var, but have you tried a mind meld since then and could there be any further effects we don't know about? "

    Rangin looks back and forth from one Dr to the other, trying to gauge their thoughts, but if they were like any other physician they would be proffering an air of confidence no matter what they surmised.

    Rangin shrugs knowing it doesn't matter and that the tests will go ahead. He lies down on the bed staring at the lights overhead, which now fill his vision, and getting ready to clear his thoughts.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  49. #49
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    Graham scoffs , replying before he thinks to make an excuse for needing to be somewhere else.

    "Not bloody likely, I'm sure," he says. He blushes slightly. "You know, it's funny. Stupid really. Down on OC3 I got Lt. Bennett some perfume--kind of a gift to celebrate her promotion." He shakes his head. "I'm sure she'll wear it well on a date with some handsome, young future admiral." He shrugs. "As well she should."

    He clears his throat. "Anyway, she seemed to appreciate it, and it seemed like a good idea down on the planet."

    Down on the planet. Something nagging at the back of his mind comes into focus - what Kylah had said before she...fled...just now: 'I would ever be capable of--of fending off an attacker on my own.' And she was talking about...who?
       

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    "Don't sell yourself short, Booker" Collins tries to be reassuring "I say go for it. Nothing ventured, you know." She is talking to Graham but looking around for Ben. Okay, this is not me. Me doesn't wait for a guy. "Y'know what? I'm hungry. I'm gonna get some grub. Will you stick around?"
       

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    Graham clears his throat again. "Uh..." Graham weighs the fact that bailing out on Collins if indeed she's stood up is probably not the best way to help her overcome her addiction. "Uh, yeah, sure, I need to eat too." He stands and cocks his head toward the replicator. "Say, speaking of OC3...when you and Ens. Kylah were talking...she didn't mention anything, ah...anything that might have upset her...that she may not have put in her AMR, did she?"
       

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    Dr. Villa says, with a glance at her colleague, "Dr. T'Var has had a full battery of psi tests since returning from OC3, but not a mind meld. We found nothing out of the ordinary... no sign of any residual effects from Mr. Palver's, uh, intrusion on her mind. As I said, Ensign, a mind meld with you might not be necessary. But if it is, and you'd rather not have Dr. T'Var be the one to conduct it, I'm sure we could find a trustworthy Vulcan on Anubis to do so. Anyway, why don't we just cross that bridge when we come to it?"

    Graham notices Singh and Cheverez get drinks and food, and sit at a table for two. They greet several crewmembers in passing.
       

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    Collins stands and heads, with Graham, towards the replicator. While they walk, she says "No, I mean I could see she was agitated about something, but no, she didn't say anything specific. And after that first evening, well, we had a bit of a heated disagreement in the shops, she and I barely spoke."
    From the replicator, Collins chooses a Cobb Salad with warm bacon dressing, some fruit salad, and a coffee. Tray in hand, she faces Graham, "Why? Did something happen to her?"
    Last edited by anyrose; 10 Apr 2015 at 02:23 PM.
       

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    Why yes, Graham thinks, For one, I assualted her, and I suspect something happened at that hotel, which is why I should have disobeyed your damned orders...

    Graham immediately rules out replying with what first pops into his head, and has to think--perhaps a bit too long--about what to say.

    "Uhhhh....um, no, I, ah, well I just haven't been great at communicating with her either, is all." He shrugs and turns intently toward the replicator. "I'm sure it's nothing," he says toward the machine.

    Graham orders steak and potatoes.
       

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    "I understand your concern, Mr. Rangin," T'Var says. "However, I am an expert in the melding of minds. Of course, a mind meld may not be necessary -- or even possible."

    T'Var checks the datapad. "And, if at any time during these tests, you feel uncomfortable in any way, we do not have to continue." The doctor gives Rangin a reassuring smile.
       

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    Rangin cranes his necks upwards to look at the two doctors from the bed, mentally tut-tutting at Dr. Villa's poor choice of words. "Dr Villa, Dr T'Var has more than earned my trust and if there was to be a mind-meld, I would prefer her above all others whether we find it necessary now or not. But it is good to hear that nothing untoward has been found."

    Rangin leans back again facing the ceiling. "Dr. T'Var, I'm sure I will be comfortable in your more than capable hands, shall we begin?"

    As he is fairly certain the two Doctor's have done to him in the name of patient stress, so Rangin has done onto them. He thinks across to a bed not far from here, with Lt Fujishiro lying in it and Dr T'Var refusing to act until she could get to a Sick Bay. Capable hands, just so long as it wasn't anything unusual, perhaps like a psychic Rhaandarite. Despite the outward serene smile on Rangin's face, inside Rangin a little voice of nervousness begins to wonder what will happen next and what they will find. Dr Villa, seemed to think she is going to find something and that possibility worries Rangin all the more.
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    As Collins and Graham walk back to the table, she says "Well, something is bothering her. She seems very closed off, and reluctant to share what it is. I hope she relaxes soon and realizes she has friends, well, supportive people here." Collins knows she and Kylah are not friends, not yet anyway, and wonders if that will ever change.
       

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    Dr. Villa administers the standard tests for aperception and Duke-Heidelburg quotients. While running a continuous brain scan, she shows him dozens of images - a mountain, a Carcillor lion, a storm-tossed ocean, a flower, among many others - on a display screen and asks for his reaction to them. She holds up a hundred small blue cards, one after another, and asks him to say what symbols are shown on the backs of them. She reads to herself silently from a data pad and asks him, every ten seconds, to say what she is thinking. Dr. T'Var takes notes as the tests proceed.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 11 Apr 2015 at 11:03 AM.
       

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    Graham gives Rawlings a wave and a nod as he and Collins walk back to the table. He more-or-less grunts as Collins finishes speaking, still distracted.

    Then he re-focuses. "Say, speaking of 'supportive people,' do you know where Rangin's been hiding? I've hardly seen him."

    Except at Kyah's...maybe he knows the real story. I'm sure he'd welcome answering questions from me as much as I look forward to asking him.
       

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    Rangin patiently works through the tests keeping as calm and as clear headed as possible.
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    "No," replies Collins, "I haven't seen Rangin all day."
       

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    "You are doing well, Mr. Rangin," T'Var says as she continues to monitor and record everything. "Learning more about your abilities should decrease any concerns or worries you may have."

    The doctor places her hand on Rangin's shoulder. "Knowledge is always better than ignorance."
       

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    Graham exhales a deep breath. "Well, I hope the little guy's OK. He and Kylah seemed pretty worked up about some after-effect of that Sakathian mission--" he pauses and looks at Collins apologetically. "Uh, I guess there was some bad shit on that mission...sorry I brought it up, L-T."

    He pokes at his food. "Speaking of a rough time--seen Delaney, either? I had the impression Vargas was a hard ass, but after the demotions, well...case closed." He shrugs. "We live to fight another day, I guess."

    It strikes him that after the last mission, whether they would be fighting each other or some other adversary remains an open question...
       

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    Collins recalls the chaos of the Sakathian mission, and her own ineptitude therein, and stiffens noticeably. "Yeah, really messed up. And Fujishiro is paying the price." She pushes her salad around with her fork distractedly. "I saw Delaney last night, he seemed preoccupied with I don't know what. I guess he's been spending the day dealing with whatever it was." She finally moves a forkful of food to her mouth and chews, staring past Graham, focusing on nothing in particular.
       

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    "You don't know?" Graham asks, regretting bringing up the Sakathian mission. Not the way to keep Collins in a good headspace.

    "Delaney blurted out incriminating information about Hardin over the comm while Kylah and I were still with him. Got us stunned but good." He frowns. "Old bastard totally had the drop on us as a result." He sighs. "I shouldn't have answered the hail till we were clear--we had a lot of non-Security people down there who may not have had a lot of tactical training."

    He says a small prayer to any and all divine beings worshipped anywhere and everywhere in the galaxy that Ben arrives soon. "Look, don't beat yourself up. If Vargas thought you ought to be an ensign, or for that matter, third mate on a garbage scow on the far rim, I have no doubt he would have made it so already."

    He points at her dish. "And hey, with all you've been through, make sure you get enough protein. You could throw a couple eggs on there, 'sis,'" he says, forcing a smile. "It'd definitely help you out if we ever spar."
       

  66. #66

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    Finally the tests are done, and Dr. Villa says, "Thank you, Ensign. That should do for now. Dr. Villa and I will look over the results for a few minutes and then come back. Just relax here. Help yourself to something from the replicator, or use the computer if you like." They go into an adjoining office. The CMO says to T'Var, "I'm going to work up a TL adjusted psionic profile. I'd like you to cross-correlate the readings so far with the Rhaandarite and Coridanite psionic-potential databases. See if you can find any points of commonality."

    Ben Cooper enters the mess hall, sees Collins and Graham, and comes over. "Hi. Sorry I'm late."
       

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    Rangin nods at the two Doctors and hops down from the bed stretching a few muscles from being still for so long. His brain, however, feels like ti ran a marathon even though, they aren't going to find anything. Then again, it was a slightly more interesting way to spend some time, even though the outcome was going to be futile. The only psychic correlation between the two species was that it just didn't occur. Fellim Palver, himself, was probably closer to a freak of nature than anything and was more likely to have Vulcan or Romulan genetic history, those were the odds indeed.

    While watching the two Doctors head into the office, Rangin walks to the replicator and gets a large coffee. Sitting at the desk with the computer, he breathes in the heady aroma before logging in and continuing to read some of his correspondence. Relaxing and slowly clearing his thoughts of the tests just done, he decides after a few sips to also get a plate of cake, to accompany the hot, soothing drink. Rangin carefully places it down and takes a forkful, well aware that Dr. Villa would not approve of getting sticky fingers and crumbs across the desktop.
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  68. #68

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    In the quiet of her quarters, Kylah looks over the finished message on her terminal, now in her SENT ITEMS folder. It is gone, off to its destination back on Elas. She can imagine so very clearly the look on Aldaan's face when he listens and decodes the song.

    He will be in his study, in her late father's old ebony chair, and his head will nod, leaning slightly to the left. He will run one finger across his lips in that contemplative, habitual way he has. Slowly, slowly, he will begin to smile.

    Kylah knows that smile well... so tiny, so satisfied. It wrinkles only slightly his otherwise unlined cheeks. And his wide, magnetic gray eyes: they will gleam like burnished silver.

    It is an expression that has the curious and somewhat sickening power to fill her with relief and pleasure. Even now, even as an adult ostensibly far from his reach, Kylah is compelled to seek approval from this man whom she loves and loathes, admires and fears.

    With a ragged sigh, exhausted now that she has at last sent this composition off, Kylah leans back in her chair and runs a hand across her tired eyes. Suddenly her thoughts switch from the man who rules her life to the one who is beginning to reign over her heart.

    How long will Velir's tests take? How will he react? She cannot help remembering the dozens of invasive mental and physical tests she endured as a child, but surely the Starfleet crew will not be as ill-equipped to handle measuring psi powers as her family's private doctor.

    And just as surely--even if whatever happened to Velir is deemed harmful--Velir will not be forced to undergo the almost medieval methods to eliminate whatever powers they find. At least, Kylah prays this is true. Starfleet medicine must be, must be far more advanced and sensitive. Velir will likely be in little pain.

    Even the thought of Velir enduring a little pain is too much for Kylah to stomach. She winces and pulls out her communicator. She has already written much today, but one more message is mandatory:
    VELIR - I am thinking of you. By the time you read this, the tests will probably be through, or perhaps you will have a break. Will you let me know how you are doing, as soon as you feel well enough? Perhaps we may see each other if you are up to it. I know the tests may be tiring, so please rest first. I can wait... although I do not wish to. -- KYLAH
    Once she sends the message, she goes back to her bed, lies down, and, with closed eyes, absently brushes her fingertips across the zither's strings.
    Last edited by choie; 13 Apr 2015 at 04:27 AM.
       

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    Collins smiles, digs out a piece of hard boiled egg and a bit of bacon, and waves it at Graham. "It's in here, already, you dope. That's why I got a Cobb Salad." She eats what's on her fork, then adds, "I did read the report, and I'm glad you and Kylah were not seriously injured by that, or by Palver. I doubt my being there would have made much difference, though. I'm pretty sure I won't be demoted, but I am just as sure I will be stuck at JG for a long time." That's when Cooper arrives. She looks up, smiles warmly, and extends her hand to him. "Hi. You're not late. Graham and I were just talking shop, and we got hungry. Go grab some grub and come back."
    Last edited by anyrose; 13 Apr 2015 at 06:14 AM.
       

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    *ping*

    Rangin hears the soft tone while writing yet another missive to his sister finding out how she is doing. Instead of using his communicator he calls up the message on the computer wondering who it might be. As he recognises the sender's name, a warm flush slowly creeps over him as he puts aside one message for this latest one. In some ways he is glad she had not contacted him earlier, before the tests. Otherwise he could have spent the entire time trying to answer questions while thinking of her. Who knows what those results would have shown.

    As he reads the message, he smiles at the thought of her, but wonders what kind of tests she thinks he is undergoing. Tedious, rather than tiring would be more apt description. Looking at the office door, the two Doctors are still well-ensconced within their domain and are showing no signs of returning any time soon. Now Rangin could wait until they return, get the results, have a rest and then contact Kylah, but if she can't wait, why should he. Leaving the current message aside, he sends her a brief note in response.
    KYLAH - First set of tests over, just waiting for results to see if anything further is required. Everything is fine here, not expecting anything of note to be found. Will let you know the outcome, when I do. Currently fortified on coffee and cake to keep me going, through would prefer sharing them with good company. Happy to meet up afterwards and promise not to answer everything with Square, Circle, Wavy Lines, Star... - VELIR
    Rangin sends the message on its way and sits back in the chair, thinking happy thoughts while taking another sup of the coffee. He suddenly blushes at how deeply he is thinking of her, when it occurs to him, that T'Var might want to do a mind-meld depending on the results. Rangin squirms uncomfortably in his chair wondering if she could sense such things. Turning back quickly to his correspondence, Rangin hopes to find something dull and boring to at least allay the effect Kylah was having on him.

    Because Kylah is anything but.
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    Graham makes a big deal of squinting at the pieces of egg. "More egg."

    He nods to Ben when he arrives, then when he leaves to get food he leans in a little toward Collins and lowers his voice. "Did you know Kjaerstad? Between you and me, I found his attitude too...casual...about the fuck ups we had on the surface." He frowns slightly. "For what it's worth, I don't know if you've worked with him, but he earned his way onto my list of folks to keep an eye on."
       

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    Collins shakes her head 'no' because she is chewing. When she finishes, says "No, I don't think so. I probably have met him, but it takes me a while to match names to faces, unless I work directly with the person, Ensign... what was it? Graham Cracker?" She laughs.
       

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    Cooper says, "OK, will do." He goes to the replicator and shortly returns with a grilled-cheese sandwich, potato chips and a pickle. A small bowl of fruit cocktail and a tall glass of ice water round out his meal. "So... did you both have a good day?"
       

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    "I gotta say," Collins answers "After the last two missions, I'm glad to have a routine-nothing-much-happens day." She smiles and finishes off her salad, and starts on her fruit.
       

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    Graham smiles slightly, rolling his eyes at Collins' (lame) joke - which he accepts with equanimity since he's not good at telling jokes either.

    "Same here," Graham says about his day. "No drama, no hassles..." He pauses and gestures toward Cooper's plate. "But jeez, doesn't anybody eat meat on this ship? I mean, I think the replicated stuff somehow isn't the same as something right off the bone, but still," he ays shaking his head. "Anyway, I should go so you two can make goo-goo eyes and nauseatingly cute small talk." He taps the datapad. "I was intending to write a letter to my daughter this evening."
       

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    "Have a good one," Collins says to Graham as he leaves, then turns to Ben, tilts her head a bit smiles and bats her eyelashes at him. "Cute cute cutecutecute cutie cute" she says in a sugary voice. Then allows her face to return to normal, still smiling.
       

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    Kylah, now sitting upright on her bed, exhales in relief as she reads Velir's message. It is like him to make light of the tests, and hopefully he is being truthful that they were not invasive. She even recognizes the reference to shapes at the end of the note--although of course, her own mental tests used different patterns.

    Her fingers quickly tap out a response offering to eat a proper meal with him once he is through. Then Kylah holds a hand over her growling stomach. It occurs to her that she has eaten very little over the last few days, usually by choice. This is not like her.

    And yet it feels oddly challenging, in a good way. Being able to withstand the hunger feels like a strength. Unlike her mind that is so often under the barrage of others' emotions, unlike the multiple recent incidents where her body was stunned, grabbed, invaded, or utterly paralyzed by someone else... at least this is under her control.

    Her thoughts return to Velir, concern for the results tickling her brain. What if he does have mental powers after all? Will he recognize her own? The possibility is alarming, but she calms her anxiety by reminding herself that since the Palver incident, Velir has not shown any inkling that he possesses new information about her--not her thoughts, feelings or empathic abilities.

    Well... he has displayed insights and sensitivity toward her feelings, but no more than usual. Although these are qualities that appear to be sadly rare in Kylah's experience, fortunately some people do possess enough compassion to care about others' feelings. The memory of having woken up covered in a blanket placed around her by Velir, makes her eyes almost dreamy with affection.

    I wish I could surprise him, she thinks, swinging her legs over the edge of the bed and letting them dangle. Like a picnic, choosing the foods for him just as he did on the planet. Should I get something from the replicator? It is so impersonal...

    Kylah's eyes suddenly open wider. She knows someone who might be able to help her. They have not spoken since the first day she boarded the ship--and, in truth, the encounter was not particularly pleasant. But she has changed since that day, not even a full month ago. In retrospect she was terribly... well... uptight. Priggish, even. Kylah knows she is hardly carefree now, but she is not sure she would react to a similar situation in the same way. At least, she hopes not.

    Given the time, he might be too busy to reach by a hail. She decides to write a note instead, so that he can respond at his leisure.
    JOHNSON, ANDERW:

    This is Ensign Kylah, whom you may remember from our brief meeting a few weeks ago. I suppose my contacting you must seem unusual, considering the circumstances, but at the time you did suggest you might be willing to assist me, should I need it. If the offer was sincere, I wonder if you might help me this evening? I would like to surprise a friend currently in Sickbay with a special meal. I hope it is not improper to ask. I can explain further if you have any time available--of course I know the dinner hours are likely busy for you.
    Kylah hesitates, then with a tiny smile, adds:
    If it is convenient for you, I can meet you at your quarters. I remember where they are.

    With gratitude and, I hope, an offer of rapprochement: -- KYLAH (ENS.)
    Last edited by choie; 13 Apr 2015 at 05:41 PM.
       

  78. #78
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    Graham finds an empty table - in a corner if he can - and starts writing.

    Dear Lizzy,

    We just completed a mission. I burned down a historic building, got stunned, and was in command of the whole team, including a young woman who reminds me of you sometimes--especially when she is really mad at me, as she was after I forcibly picked her up and pushed her against a wall.


    He sighs and erases what he'd written.

    What adds insult to injury is that I write like a ten-year old.

    Graham desperately wants a drink, but notes that slamming down whiskey in view of Collins given her...situation...would probably not be living up to his pseudo-brother status.

    Dear Lizzy,

    You may have read about my last mission in the news--search for "Omicron Ceti III arrests," that was us. I'm back on the ship and


    He pauses.

    I wanted to let you know that I am all right. And that I miss you.

    And your mother, he thinks but does not write.

    I hope your studies are going well.

    I love you, Daddy, he thinks, but does not write.

    What the hell is wrong with you, Booker? he thinks. Answer: the last time you felt like you deserved to be her father she was still young enough to call you "daddy."

    He runs a hand through his hair and sends his message with no conclusion.
       

  79. #79

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    Cooper grins, leans in, widens his eyes and rubs noses with Collins. He says, "Cutesy wootsie ootsie tootsie you!" Then he pinches her cheek, not hard, laughs and digs into his dinner. "There, that should scare him away for at least a week."
       

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    T'Var follows Dr. Villa's instructions. She carefully looks over the databases for anything of note.
       

  81. #81
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    Collins is glad for Cooper's company, as they finish dinner, but finds herself feeling a little nervous. Based on Cooper's admittedly very normal behavior when they woke up that morning, Collins knows the subject of intimacy will come up at some point this evening, and she feels oddly uncomfortable about it. She hopes she doesn't convey her inner turmoil to her companion as they talk about their day and plan activities for their next day off together.
    Last edited by anyrose; 14 Apr 2015 at 11:07 PM.
       

  82. #82
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    The trouble with waking up for night shifts is always the number of messages you got in a day. Ships Cook Johnson scans down the list, ignoring most of them, but surprised by one only recently sent.

    Ensign Kylah. It rang a bell from somewhere but he was still half asleep. He'd probably remember after a shower...shower oh yeah. Her. Johnson grinned at the thought hoping she was a little less uptight this time around.

    He shrugs, he has time this morning, err, afternoon, oh whatever. Wondering if T'Var is around following the stopover at OCIII, he drops her a note to see if she would fancy a game of chess later on. Vulcan Pastries on him. He hopes she doesn't take that the wrong way, but with T'Var, you never knew.

    One brief shower later and having changed into a set of whites, he decides to locate where that Elasian Ensign is and wanders across to see what she wants.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  83. #83

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    Kylah steps out of the bathroom. This last-minute decision to hop into the shower was made earlier when she found herself nodding off to sleep right after sending her various messages. That wouldn't do; she did not want to nap and miss a hail from Velir or, better yet--if he is feeling up to it after the examinations--a visit.

    So now her hair is spiraling down her back in wet tendrils, and she has wrapped her body in a lavender satin bathrobe. Pulling a fresh towel from the shelf, she takes it along with her to the bed. Kylah takes a few moments to towel-dry her hair, then opens her night table drawer to fetch the vial of creamy-smooth body lotion (a gift from her old nanny and a private family recipe that Reena had promised would 'keep that precious skin of yours as soft as an Aleria flower petal--but only if you use it every night, my girl!').

    Kylah smiles at the fond memory of her family's old friend and servant. She has not seen Reena for ages, nor heard from her. And that is why she has not used the skin lotion as often as Reena would have liked. It is one of a kind: Kylah may never have an opportunity to replace it, if the worst happens and she never sees Reena again. So she has been as sparing as possible with the beloved, handmade concoction.

    It is only the prospect of seeing Velir tonight, and perhaps helping to comfort him if for some reason the examination results prove disturbing, that makes Kylah take extra care to smooth a couple of dollops of the light, fresh-scented lotion across her legs, along her arms, up toward her face, and finally rubbing the remnants into her fingers. It is sensual but soothing, familiar. Reena would do this for her each night when she was a little girl. Her parents rarely touched her once they learned her powers were stronger upon physical contact. Her nanny's hands, though work-hardened, were a blessed luxury Kylah always cherished.

    Finished, Kylah glances at her communicator. No message from Velir yet. Or from Johnson, either, but Kylah is not concerned about him. With a sigh, she rummages through her drawer again and begins the somewhat arduous process of combing out the tangles from her long, still-damp hair. And tries to imagine what Velir might be experiencing right now.
       

  84. #84

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    In Sickbay, Dr. Villa is still working on a TL adjusted psionic profile for Rangin. Dr. T'Var does not see any direct links or points of commonality with the Rhaandarite psionic-potential database, but sees at once that Rangin's psi rating has jumped several points from when he joined Starfleet just a few years ago. He has gone from the lower 20% of Coridanites for psi potential to the upper 5%, a remarkable - perhaps unprecedented - change which she can't explain.

    Cooper is talking about Anubis, which he's visited once before. "I hope we'll have some shore leave together, if you're up to it. It's quite a place, and there are a million things to do."

    Much as she enjoys his company, Collins of course remembers Dr. Villa's orders as to sexual intimacy just now.
       

  85. #85
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    Graham sighs. At least, having sent the letter, he feels a sort of relief--what's done is done.

    He's somewhat at a loss as to what to do: it occurs to him he'd like to relax and hear some music, but that he'd never yet checked out the ship's activities calendar. He decides to go do that. As he stands he notices the Captain and Lt. Cmdr. Edgardo Cheverez. Although he does not want to intrude, he remembers career advice from many, many years ago: you won't get anywhere in Starfleet being invisible.

    Not that it's really relevant any more, he thinks. But it's still good practice to stay top of mind.

    On his way out he passes by their table - just close enough to be to offer a cordial greeting without intruding, and still moving to enable the senior officers to acknowledge with a nod and carry on their business.

    "Captain, Commander," Graham says with a polite, very slight smile and a nod. "Good evening."
    Last edited by general_urko; 15 Apr 2015 at 03:22 PM. Reason: clarified he's going to go check the calendar
       

  86. #86
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    "That sounds great, Ben" Jeremi says. "I'd love to go hiking, or climbing, or both." While they talk, Collins realizes it's probably in both their best interests to each sleep in their own beds tonight, but she's not sure how to bring it up.
    Last edited by anyrose; 15 Apr 2015 at 04:51 PM.
       

  87. #87

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    "Good evening, Mr. Graham," the Captain says. "Getting settled back into shipboard life after your adventures on OC3?" The Chief Engineer nods at Graham but says nothing.
       

  88. #88
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    Graham stops and stands up straighter. "Yes ma'am," he says, briefly returning the Chief Engineer's nod before turning back to the Captain. "Less shooting, less mind control--at least, I think there's less mind control. If I might ask, Captain," he adds after a very brief pause, "are there any clubs or activities that you would personally recommend that a newcomer to Yorktown's crew should explore?
       

  89. #89
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    T'Var shares her findings with Dr. Villa. "Mr. Rangin's abilities have grown stronger for no apparent reason. This is quite interesting."

    She checks the datapad once more. "How high can his psi rating go? And how quickly?"
       

  90. #90

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    The Captain smiles. "The Lyceum has a number of books clubs, arts and social groups; you may wish to have a word with Lt. Thalen or Lt. Bennett about that. There are also several sports teams organized through the gym. I play in the soccer league - we use the Shuttlebay - and am in the Gardening Society. I have a plot in the Arboretum to grow things."

    Cheverez asks, "Do you have any particular interests outside of work, Ensign?"

    Dr. Villa looks over the findings. She says to T'Var, "Interesting, hell, it's extraordinary. His adjusted psi rating has gone from 2 to 8. I've never seen anything like it. What's going on inside his head, and why now? There must be a link to what happened to him on the Sakathian research station, and now his contact with Palver." She thinks for a moment. "I want to run this data by Starfleet Medical. Why don't we let him go for tonight, but I want you to consider what approach you'd like to take if we proceed with a mind meld. All right?"
       

  91. #91
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    "How about we go for a walk in the Arboretum?" Jeremi smiles at Ben and make out a little while we're there. "Or we could see what movie is playing in the theater."
       

  92. #92
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    "I'm afraid I don't have much of a green thumb myself," Graham replies, "but I'm always game to try a new sport...being in Starfleet can certainly expose you to some interesting ones that are played on different worlds." He adds in reply to Cheverez "I'm partial to history, a bit, sir." He pauses briefly. "And, ah, it's hard to keep up with collecting while on deep space assignment, but I do have a few vintage whiskies from Earth...if either if you were ever of a mind to learn more about my ancestors' greatest contribution to humanity." He smiles slightly. "Well, I didn't mean to interrupt--I'm sure you have important matters to discuss."

    He takes a half-step back, prepared to be dismissed.
       

  93. #93
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    "Of course, Doctor," T'Var replies. "I will give this a great deal of thought and meditation."
       

  94. #94

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    Ben returns Collins's smile. "Sounds good. Let's go."

    Cheverez says, "There are a couple of book clubs aboard; the nonfiction one often reads history, I think." He grins. "I haven't heard of a whiskey club, but there's a Gourmet Club that dabbles in food and spirits. I've been to a meeting or three myself."

    Dr. Villa nods. She goes back to Rangin and says, "Thank you for your time, Ensign. We're done with our testing for now. I'm going to share our results with some associates at Starfleet Medical and we'll see if further testing, or a mind meld, is necessary. Any questions? If not, you're free to go."
       

  95. #95
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    Graham returns Cheverez' grin. "ThatGourmet Club sounds like it's worth investigating. Ah, if I might ask, is there anything--other than indulging in some fine food--we ought to be doing to prepare for the ship's next mission?" he adds, addressing both the engineer and the Captain.
       

  96. #96
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    As Collins and Cooper walk by Graham, Singh, and Cheverez, she acknowledges her superiors with a "Good evening, Ma'am, good evening, Sir", and whispers "Later, Poogy-woo" for Graham's benefit as she passes. She laughs a bit as she and Ben exit the Mess.
    Last edited by anyrose; 18 Apr 2015 at 01:00 PM.
       

  97. #97

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    Cheverez glances at Singh, who says, "Nothing at the moment, Ensign, but you'll certainly find out when the time is right."

    They respond in kind to Collins and Cooper as the pair goes by. (They miss her whisper to Graham, of course). The Arboretum is empty but for an older man in civilian clothes working on a flower bed; neither of you recognize him.
       

  98. #98
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    Collins holds Cooper's hand as they walk. "It's nice to have all this Nature on a star ship, isn't it?" She asks, not really expecting an answer. Jeremi just cherishes this calm time before the next mission, and spending time with Ben.
       

  99. #99

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    "Definitely," he says, pulling her closer. "I like having a little bit of home right here with us, no matter where we go."
       

  100. #100
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    Graham gives Collins a roll of the eyes in response. He nods to the Captain and Chief Engineer. "Thank you ma'am, sir, enjoy your evening."

    He sighs as he leaves the mess. I could go find Lt. Bennett and tell her the Captain suggested I ask her about social activities...that's lame even for you, Booker.

    He feels pretty sure Ben's clean...so I don't need to worry about Collins while they're off making goo-goo eyes at each other, he thinks, chuckling slightly.

    Then he frowns. Which means her roommate Kylah will be on her own unless she has other plans--which might be fine, or which might be bad, given the way she left earlier.


    Graham has a brief internal debate: it seems like something I did earlier upset her. But will trying to find out what make things better, or worse?

    He shakes his head slightly as he changes course to swing by Kylah and Collins' quarters. Probably worse, but since when has that ever stopped you from trying? Well, if she's out, then that's that, if not...once more into the breach....

    If he arrives without incident he takes a deep breath and rings the chime.
    Last edited by general_urko; 18 Apr 2015 at 09:34 PM. Reason: edited last lines
       

  101. #101

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    The door chime opens Kylah's eyes, which is the first time she realizes they were closed. In fact, she must have dozed off--lifting her hand to her hair, she can feel that it is still damp, but not nearly as much as she remembers.

    She gets to her feet and, a little disoriented from her brief nap, tries to remember if Velir said he would come by after his appointment. Perhaps he hailed me and I did not hear, she thinks with a glance at the communicator over on her desk.

    Well, it does not matter now, he seems to be here. The tests might have gone better than expected. Or worse, if he needs to see me... Anxious, Kylah pads halfway to the door in her bare feet, then glances down when the cool air against her skin reminds her that she is wearing only a thin satin bathrobe, and it is not even completely closed. Embarrassed, she hastens to tie the belt to her short robe. "Come," she calls, finishing the messy knot while the door whooshes open and she apologizes: "I am sorry, I cannot recall if you were to come here or--"

    Her words choke to a halt when she finally looks up at the person in her doorway. It is not Velir. Kylah unconsciously backs up a step in shock. "Mr. Graham? What are you doing here?"
       

  102. #102
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    Wandering the corridor and whistling a jaunty tune, Johnson sees an elder stocky gentleman outside Ens. Kylah's quarters ring the chime and as he arrives the door is opened.

    "Evening Sir," he nods to the gentleman, as he draws up alongside and hears the shocked words from inside. Looking round and seeing Ensign Kylah in the bathrobe, Johnson grins "Ma'am," he greets her, "Well, at least that hides more than the towel did last time."

    * * *

    Rangin patiently accepts the Doctor's findings. "Thank you Dr Villa, I'll await any further findings. Dr. T'Var, if it is necessary, I'm sure a mind-meld will be fine."

    Leaving the Sick Bay - Rangin decides to drop in on Kylah and share the news.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  103. #103
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    Graham looks from Kylah to some scrawny goober he doesn't recognize and then back to Kylah.

    Towel?

    Last time?


    Focusing is attention on her face--slightly to the right of the top of her head, really--he clears his throat. "Uh, sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you if you had, ah...plans."
       

  104. #104

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    Seeing Graham seconds ago froze Kylah and turned her pale. Johnson's sudden appearance now--and his quip reminding her of the circumstances of their last meeting--sends all the blood rushing back to her face. She lifts her hand to her cheek to cool her skin and shakes her head. "Mr. Johnson, I did not think you would just come here without..."

    Graham's words catch up to her and she turns back to him. "Plans? What do you mean? Do you think I--oh. Oh yes. Yes, of course you would expect that of me." Her temper flaring, Kylah uses one arm to gesture to Johnson while her other hand clasps her robe tighter. "Let me introduce you. Mr. Johnson, this is Ensign Booker Graham. He is a security officer. He also believes the worst of me in any situation, including this one. Mr. Graham, this is the Ship's Cook, Andy Johnson. He believes himself a comedian."

    She is all too aware of her nakedness beneath the robe, and she quickly draws her arm back in to cover her chest. "I know what Mr. Johnson is doing here--and if he will restrain his wit for two seconds together, he will tell you, too. But what do you want, Mr. Graham?"
       

  105. #105

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    Rangin leaves Sickbay and in no time at all - but a twinkling of an eye! - finds himself at the door to Kylah's quarters.
       

  106. #106
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    Well you're batting a thousand, Booker...

    His jaw tightens slightly. He's not sure whether it's because he's kicking himself, because he's stupid to worry and that Kylah's an adult who can handle herself without any help from him, or the reverse, that all the puzzle pieces are pointing to something being wrong--which he's been no help figuring out or solving, of course.

    Graham nods slightly to Johnson. "I didn't know we had entertainers assigned to the crew," he says absently. He keeps his voice even responding to Kylah. "I thought something I said in the mess earlier must have upset you, somehow. But if you're all right, I'll just leave you and Johnson..." Out of the corner of his eye he notices a new arrival. "And, uh, Rangin, to, ah...carry on." He takes a step back.

    Red alert klaxon would be good right about now, he thinks.

    At least, if there's anything weird going on, if Rangin's involved it's surely harmless, he reassures himself.
    Last edited by general_urko; 19 Apr 2015 at 03:39 PM. Reason: added last line
       

  107. #107

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    I'll just leave you and Johnson and Rangin to... uh... carry on...

    Kylah, her entire skin flaming, marches forward to Graham, her hand automatically lifting to slap his face. She stops herself barely in time, and only because the reason why Graham said the name "Rangin" sinks in. Is he here? She swivels immediately to stare out at the corridor and, sure enough: Velir is only a yard away.

    She is torn by relief and mortification as her arm falls limply down to her side. "Velir, I--I am so glad to see you." Somehow she turns to the other two men. Johnson looks amused, which appears to be his default expression. Graham seems disturbed, unnerved, vaguely angry, and... Kylah cannot identify everything. His emotions create a static-like noise in her mind.

    Taking a deep breath, she again faces the man she cares about most. "Velir, will you--will you please wait outside for a moment? I am sorry, I must speak with Graham." Then, to Johnson: "Mr. Johnson. I need a favor from you and I do not intend to insult you again. I am sorry for that. But would you please give us a minute?"

    She orders the door to close behind both men, leaving the security officer inside. At last Kylah's gaze aims itself like one of her knives at Graham. "Very well. We are alone, but the others are just outside and know you are in here. What do you really want? Do you expect me to believe you came all the way here because you thought I was upset at something you said?" The realization that Velir must have heard Graham's insinuation about him, her, and Johnson causes Kylah's eyes to fill with tears. "If you are so sensitive to my feelings, why would you choose to insult and shame me further?"
    Last edited by choie; 19 Apr 2015 at 04:37 PM.
       

  108. #108
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    Fuck.

    Graham's consternation and annoyance and pushed to the background by obvious signs that Kylah is really goddamned upset.

    Grahams eyes drop from Kylah to the floor and he takes a deep breath. "I did come here because I thought I did something wrong earlier that upset you."

    He shrugs and raises his head. "And I was worried about you. But whatever I try to do about it just seems to make things worse, so..."

    He clasps his hands behind his back. "You can go ahead and hit me, if that makes you feel better. Standing still and taking a beating should be something I can't screw up."

    Dear Lizzy, one of the crew reminds me of you, especially when she's really, really angry at me...
       

  109. #109

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    The low hum of the ship, usually easy to ignore, fills the empty space after Graham speaks. Kylah blinks and takes deep breaths to regain control--control and perspective.

    "No. I will not hit you." She is trembling; she fights to steady herself. "I am not a violent person. I wish I were. Elasian women are warriors, we are supposed to know how to react in the face of attacks. For some reason I do not. Maybe it is my half-human side..."

    Kylah shakes her head and refocuses her thoughts. "Mr. Graham. You did not do anything wrong in the mess hall, other than suggest teaching me martial arts. I do not feel--comfortable--alone with you. As I said before, it is only because Velir and Mr. Johnson are outside that I am able to speak to you like this."

    "You frighten me, Mr. Graham," she murmurs. She looks at him as steadily as possible, though her voice is still shaky. "I do not know if you mean to. I cannot tell. Back on the planet, I was... my person was attacked one way or another. Stunned, grabbed, manipulated... I was a puppet others felt they could use how they pleased, hurt however they wished. Each time, I could do nothing. I was either physically or mentally incapable of stopping it, of even preventing it. It was bad enough when it was someone whom I already knew to be venal, like Palver, Hardin or even Mrs. Hsu. But it was worse when it was my fault. I put myself in situations... like in Fastolfe's house, or that conference room with you, or in--"

    Kylah hugs herself, afraid to say much more. She swallows and challenges him. "Why did you grab at me, Mr. Graham? Why are you always so... so intense around me? If I could only understand what I did, what made you react like that... Why do I elicit such a response with you? Do you hate Elasians? Do you hate me? What am I doing to make so many people despise me?"
       

  110. #110
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    Rangin is more than surprised to see such a gathering of people outside Kylah's room, not to mention the fact that all she appears to be wearing is short robe. When she asks him to wait outside, he is hurt by the dismissal and resolves that she had better have some very good answers when it came round to his turn. His turn, what is this? Elasian Roulette?

    Johnson looks at Ens. Graham when he utters the words entertainers. He's a fully qualified chef, not some poxy singer or even some half-baked redshirt. He decides to have a word with a few of his friends and ensure that Ens. Graham's meals got the Chef's special for the next few weeks, replicator or served. He nods to Kylah when she suggests waiting outside, all the while wondering if he can make Ens. Graham's next steak taste like rubber. Enter-fucking-tainers indeed.

    "Did I miss something, some invitation, some special event?" Rangin asks the tall man leaning outside.

    "No idea, Sir," Johnson relies amiably, "I'm just here to pay a favour back to Ens. Kylie that I owe her. No idea what the other bloke, Ens. Graham, wants, he said something about upsetting her earlier."

    Rangin nods "That would be typical of him," he says with a scowl before looking up surprised. "Ens. Kylie?"

    "Ah, yeah, we didn't get off to a great start when we first encountered each other." Johnson looks slightly abashed at the thought and then shrugs it off. "How long have you known her for?"

    "A few weeks - we get on fairly well. I was just going to drop in and give her some news. I hadn't realised she was that popular." replies Rangin wondering just how long Kylah is going to be.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  111. #111
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    Graham swallows hard. He can feel the blood draining from his face and a growing sense of dread as Kylah talks.

    What am I doing...what have you done, Booker?

    He's sensible enough to know that his instinct to reach out to clasp her hands and sit her down would be utter madness, and keeps his hands clasped behind his back, even though he tenses.

    "No, I don't hate you," he says slowly, his mouth dry. The fact that it is necessary to say such a thing makes each syllable feel like a thrust of one of her Elasian knives into his chest. He tries to shift his stance, and winds up staggering--he takes a step to the side so he can brace himself against a wall.

    He clears his throat and rubs his chin--then, self-consciously lowers his hand. Scarred hand, bloody knuckles--here you are looking like some kind of aging mob enforcer...get a grip...

    He looks down and toward the wall as he answers Kylah. "Down on OC3...when you found me, I'd just, ah...I'd just made the call to tell Wilson's wife he'd been killed. I, uh...."

    He closes his eyes and remembers, struggling to keep his voice even. "I've gotten that call, my wife...I let the memory get the better of me, when you walked in I was...lost...and..."

    He pauses, squeezes his eyes shut, and pushed the memories away. He turns back toward Kylah, feeling hollow. "It was my fault, you see...I wasn't there. My fault she's dead, my fault my daughter doesn't have her mother. When you said..."

    He's looking at her, but for a moment his gaze is far away. "For a moment it was like you were reading my mind, or as my daugh..."

    As if my daughter could ever forgive me.


    His voice fails before he can say that.

    Graham staggers upright, forcing his leaden limbs to move. He pulls down his shirt, as if he's straightening a dress uniform, and stands at attention. His voice strengthens, although it is stiff and robotic.

    At least there's something I can do right.
    He's relieved there is moral clarity on what to do.

    "If my being on this ship is an impediment to your success, I will request a transfer immediately." He remembers her reaction to their similar conversation on OC3: "I will be blamed" she'd said. "Personal reasons," he adds quickly. "No need for your name to even come up."

    He nods woodenly and starts to turn. "I'll leave you..."

    Alone.

    He makes it a half step but then turns back, realizing that if she's already convinced he's a violent lunatic this is the height of madness, but desperate to know. This time he can't help but put his hands on her shoulders, as gently as he can.

    "But...Lizzy, sometimes men ...they look for women who are young, new to a place, different... A certain type of man..." Some heat leaks into his voice. "Seeks out those who might be vulnerable, or alone..."

    He's been staring at her face, trying to detect the truth. He realizes he's overstepped his bounds...again. He pulls his arms away and takes a half step back. "Down on OC3, I..." he looks down and takes a deep breath. "I've made a royal goddamned mess of it, but I just want to know if you're going to be safe."
    Last edited by general_urko; 19 Apr 2015 at 07:58 PM. Reason: "OK" at end changed to "safe"
       

  112. #112

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    If Kylah had no empathic powers, Graham's discomfort and guilt would be evident enough--from his stiff, awkward stance; his low and halting speech; his frequent inability to meet her gaze. And his explanation. He makes only the briefest mention of his wife, and even that is oblique, but the meaning is clear. Kylah already knew he is a father. Until now, she did not know he is a widower.

    But of course, she is an empath. Everything he says, she feels from him, radiating toward her and weighing her down with the burden that rests on his shoulders. Kylah remembers that day in the conference room. At the time she sensed his remorse, his helplessness and shame, for not having prevented a tragedy.

    Somehow she knew it involved a mother. She thought he meant Collins's miscarriage, and could not understand why he took so much blame for her loss. How wrong she had been! How horribly wrong. Now the truth is clear--not the entire truth, she does not know what happened, what makes him think he is responsible for whatever happened to his wife--but now she comprehends, she senses, the magnitude of what he is carrying inside him. She almost staggers along with him.

    'It was like you were reading my mind.' Kylah's heart quickens at this. As it does when he suddenly offers to transfer, and especially when he lays his hands on her. Only her sympathy toward him keeps her from shuddering free.

    And finally he talks about men, and vulnerability, and the planet, and Kylah wants to shrink in terror. He knows. Or he thinks he knows.

    At last she tries to speak. "I did not know," she whispers, doing everything she can to remain still and pretend his touch is not alarming her. "About your wife. I had no idea that was what you were thinking. I... I am so sorry." Biting her lip, Kylah girds herself and reaches up to touch his wrist with her cold, shaking fingers. "You called me Lizzy. Is that your daughter?"
    Last edited by choie; 19 Apr 2015 at 10:42 PM.
       

  113. #113
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    Graham nods, mutely, looking down at her fingers touching his wrist as if he'd never seen fingers before.
       

  114. #114

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    Kylah did not need him to confirm his daughter's name verbally: the sudden electrical charge that seems to burn her fingertips from beneath his skin is proof enough. "I cannot speak for her, as I do not know her or exactly what happened. But I will say this. I lost my parents when I was nearly twelve. It was an accident, a shuttle accident in enemy territory, and they were..." Kylah purses her lips. "The details do not matter.

    "The point is that I was angry, irrational. I sought answers and tried to blame everyone, anyone, even--even a close relative who was not there, who could not have been responsible. But at least it was an explanation. That was all I wanted, whether it was true or not."

    After a hesitation, she continues. "Mr. Graham, I have seen how you are with people whom you are charged to protect. With the officers under your command. It is unfathomable to me that someone as brave and overprotective as you--" Her voice cuts off with another shock of emotional discovery, gleaned from a wave of troubled self-recrimination flowing from him to her. Of course he is overprotective, she realizes as she stares at his eyes in growing sympathy. He believes he as much as killed his wife.

    "You are wrong to blame yourself, I am sure that if you could have done something, you would have. I know that much about you, sir." The address is a mistake but it feels natural, it is how she spoke to him all through the mission and it is still how she thinks of him. "You mention down on the planet, you made a mess, but I believe you did your best to keep everyone safe. Even with me, you tried. It was not your fault."

    Kylah lowers her hand, clasping it with the other for warmth. She is suddenly shivering. She turns first to the left, then the right, but is held in place by his hands. "That is... I mean, everything with Palver and Hardin. Even the security officers. You told them to follow orders. It is not your fault they did not obey. You warned me about Fastolfe but I did not listen and so the rumors were my fault. You constantly did what you could. Even in the hotel, that first night, you went looking for me..."

    Faltering and now claustrophobic, she ducks out of his reach and walks to the other side of the room, pacing. "Anyway, I... I have kept the others waiting so long, I am being rude. But I am worried that you think I am vulnerable. I am not. Mr. Johnson is--is just someone I was going to ask for a special meal to help Velir...Mr. Rangin.

    "And you may not like him, but you cannot think he means me any harm. He has just returned from Sickbay, they were testing him about those strange psi powers he displayed with Palver. He came by to tell me how things went, that is all. Of course I am safe, I will be safe. We are nowhere near the planet anymore, that is all gone, I will never see--never see any of them again."

    Kylah spins around, desperate to change the subject, and moves back to him. "I am grateful and humbled that you told me about all this. I am, truly. I am not your daughter but if you need to hear things from such a perspective, I will be glad to help. Because I understand, at least a little, now."

    She swallows and adds in a tiny voice: "Will you... will you understand me, too? I want to forget all this. To forget everything. Please." She extends her arm and holds out her hand, the human way, and stares up beseechingly.
    Last edited by choie; 20 Apr 2015 at 11:47 AM.
       

  115. #115
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    Graham can feel the blood pounding in his ears, but Kylah's...what? Mature exposition helps bring him back to the present moment.

    He listens silently: something did go south at that hotel, but we're not on OC3 anymore.

    She is young--but she's not a child.

    And in fact, a handshake--starting over--is exactly the right thing to do at this moment.

    Graham extends his hand and takes hers, firmly but gently. "I'm Booker Graham, Security. I'm an idiot," he adds--but he's smiling slightly as he said it. "I mean, I'm clumsy about a lot of things, but my friends can always count on me if they need help." He concludes with his tone intending to convey an offer of friendship. "And you are?"
    Last edited by general_urko; 20 Apr 2015 at 12:00 PM. Reason: posted before it was done!
       

  116. #116

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    Kylah almost smiles. Collins had the same idea, re-introducing herself. Perhaps it is common tactic with security officers. Graham's hand feels large and strong around hers, which is still cold, but she shakes it and does not draw away. "Kylah," she says. "I am in Communications. But I do not communicate as well as I wish, and am often foolish myself. If you want such a friend, I will be one."

    After a hesitation she glances at the door. "I must see the others. Thank you again, Mr. Graham. I will not tell anyone what you said. And I hope you will--" She stops before she can request the same discretion of him. After all, she has not said anything that he must keep secret; she only suspects he knows about Jan. But perhaps she is wrong about that. So she just shakes her head and changes the direction of her thoughts. "I hope you will think about what I said, about... your family."
       

  117. #117
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    "About everything," he says quietly but firmly and re-assuringly. He steps to the door. "Good night, Mr. Kylah," he adds with a nod, turning to exit. When the door opens, he pauses and deliberately stands squarely centered in the doorway for a moment, both to avoid walking in to either Johnson or Rangin if they were standing nearby, and to give Kylah a breather before anyone enters.
       

  118. #118

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    Kylah waits until the door slides shut behind Mr. Graham before she takes a deep, steadying breath. She will have to wait to consider what Graham has revealed to her, and the... the understanding between them. This is one of the few conversations with him that did not end acrimoniously. First Collins, then Graham. If I can now tolerate Johnson, there will be three fewer people who dislike me on board.

    She takes a quick look in the mirror, embarrassed about the robe and how she must have appeared to--well, to all the men who seemed to swarm to her quarters simultaneously. Straightening it and pulling it so that it reaches as low down her thighs as possible, she hurries to the door again.

    When it whooshes open she turns first to Velir, relieved that he did not leave. "I am terribly sorry," she says, searching his eyes to see if he is upset. "I had to speak to him first, he--it was important to get it out of the way. Please come in?"

    Assuming he enters, Kylah turns next to Johnson. The memory of his only words to her today, not to mention everything that happened between them when they met, keep her expression much more guarded than it was with Velir.

    "And I am sorry to keep you waiting as well, Mr. Johnson. It was... thoughtful of you to come, but I hope you realize I did not intend to invite you to my quarters."
       

  119. #119
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    Graham's not sure why Kylah is asking a comedian to cook something for Rangin--maybe this Johnson dude is in that Gourmet Club?

    And he's bothered that he apparently comes across as not liking Rangin--he may be kind of a a pain in my ass, but he's not a bad guy.

    But he's certain quitting while he's ahead and getting the hell out of Dodge, so to speak, is probably the best course of action.
       

  120. #120

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    A group of two men and a woman all in Command yellow enter the Arboretum, talking and laughing quietly.

    Graham is passed in the corridor by an Engineering tech carrying a long, narrow device or component he doesn't recognize, and a young man and woman in swimwear with towels over their arms.

    It is now 1842 hours.
       

  121. #121
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    Collins sees the others who have just entered. She leans in towards Cooper. "Let's find a secluded spot and ..." She winks at Ben.
       

  122. #122
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    Graham's somewhat at a loss for what to do next: unlike earlier, he feels relatively relaxed, and not at all compelled to work off steam. On the other hand, he has no appetite for a raucous round of drinks with a big crowd.

    A couple passing him in swimwear catches his eye: good way to chill out while catching up on exercise I fell behind on during the mission, he thinks. And hell, I might as well take advantage of the fact I'm assigned to a ship with a pool.

    He heads to change into swim trunks and then to the pool.
    Last edited by general_urko; 21 Apr 2015 at 11:32 AM. Reason: typo
       

  123. #123

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    Cooper smiles, nods and takes Collins's hand. They leave the Arboretum.

    The Yorktown's large swimming pool is not especially crowded at this hour. Graham notices the same Sidonian female he'd seen in the corridor yesterday. She is smiling as she swims.
       

  124. #124
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    Graham's not usually self-conscious about the network of scars criss-crossing his body--they are what they are (although he's been assured they would raise his chances of getting a date with a female Klingon, should that come up), but the pleasant expression on the face of the Sidonian swimmer makes him feel a bit as if he's intruding....a discordant note in tranquil place, he thinks.

    Nonetheless, he also thinks: if I could communicate well with Kylah tonight, I could probably establish permanent peace with the Romulans if you gathered the ambassadors together.

    He tests the water and takes a lane next to the woman, waiting for her to pass. "I take it you enjoy swimming," he says, keeping up as best he can (being a solid and work-manlike but slow swimmer).
       

  125. #125
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    "How about the Observation Lounge?" Collins suggests as she and Cooper walk along, "Maybe that will be empty." she speculates.
       

  126. #126
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    T'Var leaves Sickbay and heads back to her quarters. She plans to spend some quiet time in meditation.

    Mind melds are strange things, the doctor thinks to herself. They can be dangerous -- for both participants. Melds create such a personal connection. Would a meld truly be useful? Were the potential risks worth the potential rewards?

    T'Var sits in her favorite chair. She closes her eyes. Breathes deeply. Clears her mind of all thoughts.
    Last edited by WES; 21 Apr 2015 at 09:02 PM.
       

  127. #127

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    Since she's in her blissed-out zone, as Lt. Ve'ne'ko'nia'onn likes to call her time in the swimming pool--or any body of water, really--the Sidonian woman doesn't notice the person beside her until they're almost side by side. Even then she doesn't stop slicing her arms through the water, reveling in the cold liquid sliding first along her skin, then the slickness of the scales up and down the sides of her body. Fourteen years away from home and it's still a luxurious thrill she can't get used to.

    But then a voice catches her attention. Despite the splashing her keen ears appreciate its nuances: low. Masculine. Slightly hoarse, almost what she calls silvery. Above all, friendly. Clearly interested in chatting, since his comment that she likes swimming is obviously an opening conversation gambit.

    "How can you tell?" she asks, smiling with both her wide lips and flashing eyes. With a single wriggle of her hips she switches from the crawl to the side stroke, her long, powerful legs changing their motion from kicking to scissoring. Now she sees the newcomer and recognizes him instantly as the man who led the recent mission, even though they haven't met and despite the fact that he's wet and out of uniform.

    After a few seconds she wriggles again to do a backstroke, and then all the way around so she's done a complete 360 since he spoke, crawling the rest of the way to the other side. Instead of flipping around underwater to start her 50th lap, she stops and hooks her elbows onto the small ledge, breathing deeply but evenly. Her hair is tightly knotted behind her, but she runs her hand across her face anyway to get rid of the chlorinated water.

    Now she can get a good look at the older man as he catches up easily. Well, not that easily. He's not a natural swimmer, that's obvious enough. But he's strong. Muscular arms and legs, maybe a couple of inches taller than she is, though it's hard to tell. And a back like a fortress wall. One that's stopped plenty of intruders, from the look of those scars.

    Her smile remains fully in place as she enjoys the view. Truth is, she loves watching people swim almost as much as she loves swimming herself. When he's close enough, she calls out to him. "Ensign Graham, isn't it? Want to race, or want to talk? I mean, I can do both, but if it's a problem for you..." One eyebrow rises in friendly challenge.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Apr 2015 at 01:34 AM.
       

  128. #128
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    Rangin looks across at Kylah and then back. "See you around Mr Johnson, I'm looking forward to another chess evening.", before heading into the room, curious to see how she is going to explain.

    * * *

    Johnson nods and then looks across at Kylah with the same amused grin he always wears. "Sorry ma'am, I was on my way past anyways and I thought it would be easier."

    He stands loosely at attention in front of the smaller figure, "So, a special meal for a special someone eh. Well, you've come to the right person, side dishes I'm not supposed to make are my specialty. So, who's the lucky person confined to Sickbay who needs a little something extra snuck into them. Yes, I did say I would help and yeah, I do owe you one for our first little meet 'n' greet. Name it and, within reason and what I can slip past Chef, you're on."

    Johnson waits to see what Kylah has in mind.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  129. #129

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    With a somewhat worried glance after Velir walks past her without a word, Kylah bites her lip in consternation. She cannot gauge Velir's state of mind while her own emotions are so raw, especially after the discussion with Graham--not to mention the surprise of seeing all three men descend upon her while she is barely dressed.

    She swallows and steps out, anxiously placing a hand on Johnson's chest to push him further back from the door so it can glide shut behind them. "Thank you, I appreciate that, Mr. Johnson. But he is not confined to Sickbay," she says softly, at last looking up at the tall young man. "It is Mr. Rangin. He had some... difficult times during our last mission, and needed a follow-up with the doctors. I am not certain how he is feeling after all that, I do not know if he is hungry or not. He has done so much for me in the past, and I..."

    Kylah hesitates. She does not know why she is admitting this, to Johnson of all people given their rocky start, but for some reason she rushes forward with the truth. "I care for him," she murmurs with a shy look down at her bare feet before emphasizing, "I care for Velir Rangin very much. And I would like to offer him something special, something he does not expect, but I... I do not know what. You have served with him longer, you know his tastes--I remember you asked me about mine when we first met. Perhaps you can think of something? What can I offer that would tempt him?"
    Last edited by choie; 22 Apr 2015 at 07:05 AM.
       

  130. #130
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    Johnson's grin gets wider as he looks Kylah up and down, the short robe pulled down tight but still exposing plenty of leg. "Careful ma'am or I'm going to start saying things I shouldn't again. Ens. Rangin it is then. You kept that one quiet, there's a few waiting for you to tumble with Lt. Ferguson, guess they're going to be disappointed then."

    Johnson muses back over conversations he had had with Ens. Rangin, few though they had been and nods. He had a good idea or two of what to serve the little guy. "Give me an hour or so, should have something by then. Got a couple of orders for this evening anyway. One last thing, do you want him to know its from you, or shall I let you know when its done and let you hand it across?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  131. #131

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    Kylah is busy cursing her imbecilic tendency to hand this man every opportunity to make some randy comment when--

    "Ferguson?" she blurts, so horrified she cannot keep silent. "To tumble--do you mean--be with?" It takes her a few seconds before she remembers how such a revolting notion would have come into people's minds. The dreadful scene in the rec room, Ferguson's wild accusations, it all seems like a year ago instead of merely a week. But of course, there were others there. Why would they not gossip? Hoping such a fracas would be forgotten was beyond naive.

    Kylah's hand reaches forward again, but now she does not dare make contact with him. Instead she just grasps at the air, fingers clenching and unclenching. "Please. Please do not believe what they say. They are lies, he made it all up. I have no--I have never had any thoughts about Lt. Ferguson, not like that. I do not know him, I do not understand him. He seemed to resent me the moment he laid eyes on me."

    She inhales raggedly and pulls her sleeves over her hands now, once again cold. "I admit that you and I... we got off on the wrong foot. You might think it easy for someone to dislike me so quickly, and you are right. But I promise this time I gave him no reason. Mr. Johnson... Andrew... I beg you, if there is a favor you choose to grant me, let it be that you do not repeat those rumors. I will pay you for the dinner, that will be separate, I have plenty of credits. Perhaps I should not have asked for anything extra in the first place, if it might get you in trouble..."

    Unable to continue, she just shakes her head, listening to her own words echo in her mind. "And now I sound as if I am bribing you," she says miserably. "I cannot help but make things worse." Kylah wipes her eyes and looks back at the closed door. Velir is waiting and this evening was supposed to be about him. "Forget I said anything about Ferguson. As far as the dishes... Velir will know I spoke to you, he is too smart to be fooled into thinking it a coincidence. Whatever you think is best. Thank you, I do appreciate whatever you can do." She turns, now thoroughly embarrassed, to re-enter her room.
    Last edited by choie; 22 Apr 2015 at 08:27 AM.
       

  132. #132
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    Johnson frowns as Kylah turns slowly towards the door looking so abashed and ashamed. Obviously, what happened between Ens. Kylah and Lt. Ferguson was exactly what it appeared to be, and not some subtle flirting or distraction. But as she starts going on, he beings to wonder what kind of person she was, obviously someone used to throwing credits at problems hoping they would go away. Well, he doesn't work like that, this was for kicks and favours.

    "Oy. Ma'am. Not so fast." Briefly checking no-one else is around, Johnson reaches a hand out and taps her forcefully on the shoulder before withdrawing it quickly remembering the last time he did that. "Let's get a few things straight. I'm doing this because I owe you, and because I like doing it. Don't try throwing credits at me again, it's not appreciated. You'll get your special dinner and in return there's a little something you can do for me."

    Knowing what she thinks of him and how she thinks his mind works, Johnson just knows she is going to take ti the wrong way. "Relax. It's not like that," he growls," you'll actually enjoy this favour...I hope, certainly if my cooking is up to scratch."

    Johnson stands back "Oh, and as for Ferguson, I'll let word around, that you are in no way interested in him and never was. He was just freaked out by the good looking lady in front of him. Guy obviously needs an eye test. So, like I said, an hour or so."

    And Rangin's picked up one hell of a prize, Johnson thinks, half the men here would have jumped at the chance, himself included. "So, anything else?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  133. #133

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    Collins and Cooper find an empty observation lounge on Deck 12, in the dorsal interconnect between the primary and secondary hulls. There is a soft couch, a low table, and four chairs. The view out among the stars is breathtaking. Cooper locks the door and takes her into his arms.

    After a few minutes, Dr. T'Var is able to achieve a satisfactory level of calm and contemplation. Set aside, for the moment, is any thought of what Palver might have done to her mind, or what Rangin has become... or is becoming.

    The Yorktown continues its steady progress towards Anubis.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 22 Apr 2015 at 05:33 PM. Reason: fixed error
       

  134. #134

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    Kylah stops in place before the door can sense her. But she does not look at Johnson again. She can tell he does not believe her about Ferguson, and now he also thinks she was insulting him as well.

    "I only wanted to pay for what I use of the ship's stores, above and beyond my share," she says quietly. "I meant no disrespect. Perhaps we are doomed to offend each other inadvertently. I will do whatever you ask, in reason, in return for helping Velir enjoy his evening. And I am sorry, Mr. Johnson... sorry and grateful, both for whatever you provide and for--for whatever you said to defend me. Even if you believe it was a lie."

    She moves forward at last, letting the doors close behind her. Once inside, she just looks at the Coridanite now alone in the cabin, letting his quiet demeanor wash over her. Then she walks quickly up to him and slides her arms through his in an embrace so tight she can feel his heartbeat through her robe.

    "Velir, I am sorry to make you wait," she says, shutting her eyes. "I will not do it again." After her whispered words she kisses his throat, his chin, and finally his mouth. When their lips part Kylah lets herself look at him again. "Tell me what happened," she breathes, kissing him a last time before letting her cheek rest against his. "Are you all right? Please tell me."
       

  135. #135
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    Holy crap, Booker, what have you gotten yourself into, he wonders, as the svelte, speedy woman's pace and form makes him look like some sort of aquatic industrial robot by comparison.

    Not that he minds the show, although wracking his brain he's not entirely certain he can recall much about her species. Hm, I hope she actually is a she, he muses.

    Graham catches up and takes a spot alongside on the pool's wall. "You have me at a disadvantage," he says, shaking his head--but smiling. "In more ways than one." He extends a hand. "How about catching me up on your name, first? Uh...and maybe the secret to how you can swim at something like warp 6."
       

  136. #136
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    Collins puts her hands on either side of Cooper's face and kisses him, passionately. As they kiss, she moves her arms so one hand is on Ben's upper back at the base of his neck, and the other is in his hair.
       

  137. #137

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    Cooper responds in kind. Things get interesting very quickly.
       

  138. #138

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    Still smiling, the Sidonian lifts her arm and clasps Graham's hand. "Lt. Ve'ne'ko'nia'onn, formally. Lt. Onn, for Starfleet. And Nia, for friends." She ends the warm shake with a light squeeze. "Use whichever one feels best to you. As long as I can respond in kind." Hooking her elbow up on the ledge again, Nia lets her legs float upwards and, briefly contemplative, watches the water sliding off her skin when her thighs, knees and finally her feet bob free.

    "The swimming... well, there's a trick to that. Grow up never seeing a body of water larger than two meters all your life, and even those that are smaller, you're not allowed to touch with your hands because they're too rare. Then, once you hit twenty, hop off to an entirely different civilization where water isn't doled out with an eyedropper. Where you can actually immerse yourself in it."

    She tilts her head and gives Graham a crooked grin before continuing, her voice much lighter. "What can I say? As with many things, if you're denied something and then get complete access to it, you can go a little wild, even addicted. Guess that's where I am. I started late in life but I'm trying to make up for lost time. As if that's possible," she adds, again thoughtful.

    Then she shakes off her mood, using a playful foot to splash him. "I can see you've earned yourself the right to be a mediocre swimmer, considering all the time you've given to Starfleet. Time and blood." Nia nods at the scars, her eyes shining with respect. "Those aren't tribal tattoos. You're a soldier. And a damn good one, from what I've heard of your work down on OCIII... and elsewhere. I'd be honored to hear about it first hand, sometime."

    Letting go of the ledge, she dives under the water, executes a circular arc, and then emerges to start a lap in a much more relaxing breast stroke. "But first things first," she calls back to him. "I've got ten more laps to do. If we're going to be 'Graham' and 'Onn,' I'll order you to get cracking and join me so you're in better shape in case the ship ever needs you for some kind of aquatic mission." Tossing her head, she flashes a friendly backwards glance at the human. "On the other hand, if you prefer 'Booker' and 'Nia,' I'll just ask you to swim along and hope you'll keep me company. So, what'll it be?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Apr 2015 at 07:15 PM.
       

  139. #139
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham wipes his face where Onn splashed him - superfluously of course, since is already all wet. But the fresh splash reminds him to (mostly) focus his attention on her face and not her legs as they float up out of the water.

    He realizes he'll have to work pretty hard to keep pace with what to her seems to be a very leisurely stroke.

    "With all due respect, ma'am," he replies, "even an aquatic mission needs a rear guard--a task for which I submit I have proven my qualifications." He shrugs and then smiles. "Swim slow and draw fire."

    He pushes off the wall toward her. "But that's all academic, anyway" he says, then takes several strong overhead strokes to pull closer. He treads water and gestures up and down the pool. "I was going to do another, oh, 15 or so, myself," he says with obvious exaggerated seriousness and machismo, "but if you get tired out before then, I won't think any less of you--Nia." His tone returns to normal as he says her name.

    Then he starts to swim, hoping she doesn't slice through the water like a shark to drive his head under from behind.

    Although a little tussling around wouldn't be the worst thing in the world...
    Last edited by general_urko; 22 Apr 2015 at 08:38 PM. Reason: fixed italics
       

  140. #140

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    Nia laughs at Graham's demeanor, and then nods with pleasure at hearing his name choice. "Swimming's usually done alone, but too much solitude is overrated. It's nice to have a partner who can match you stroke for stroke. So do as many as you want, Booker. I'll try to keep up."

    She doesn't mention the number of laps she's already done--he may be charmingly self-deprecating but there's no need to test how much bruising a man's ego will take--and adjusts her pace to his. After a few laps she lifts her head again. "Your style's pretty good after all," she says, watching his powerful arms attack the water as if it's just insulted his mother. "If we had a bet on, I'd suspect you of being a hustler."
       

  141. #141
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham pulls up and doesn't try to hide the fact that he's winded. He's always found swimming naturally more difficult than running or other terrestrial activities, and it was really the discipline built mastering those that enabled him to bring a certain implacable stubbornness to plugging along in the water.

    He puffs up his cheeks and exhales, trying to catch his breath. "And I suspect you'd be kicking my ass six ways from Sunday...Nia." The combination of exertion and Onn's casual demeanor has Graham feeling more relaxed than he has since he came on the ship. It feels natural to call her by her first name. Something I can't even manage with Bennett, yet, he thinks. What would Bennett think of this? he wonders, and then immediately: probably that it's cool this Sidonian is being nice to this old guy.

    He smiles. "When I was teaching at the Academy, I'd get a lot of cadets, mostly men, but some women too, who'd internalized a bunch of macho warrior bullshit, that they had to be better than--fill in the blank: the opposite sex, aliens, the old guy leading the class...that kind of attitude gets you or somebody around you killed." He shakes his head. "I don't have anything to prove...speaking of which, if we did happen to be satisfied with our respective lap counts, what do you say I buy you a drink?" He shrugs. "I promise I'll be careful not to get you drunk--your people come from a desert, mine turn nearly constant rainfall into whisky."
    Last edited by general_urko; 22 Apr 2015 at 10:43 PM. Reason: exhales, not inhales...
       

  142. #142

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    Listening to Graham talk is relaxing for Nia, but she can tell he's ready to end this particular exercise session. When they complete the next lap, Nia--who would normally exit the pool by vaulting out using her lean but strong arms--dives underwater, curving in an arc beneath Graham, only emerging a few moments later near the ladder. She waves to Graham and silently lifts her chin upwards, inviting him to follow her.

    She climbs up and stands where she can watch her new companion. Scars or not, he looks healthy and well-suited for the job he has. Instinctively Nia imagines what a child with him would look like: caramel skin, powerful body, tall for a woman, short for a guy, and most important: highly likely to survive hard times.

    Almost as quickly as the image enters her mind, she cuts it off and hides her anger by ducking down to reach for a towel. Unbelievable. All these years and she's still thinking like a damned planetbound breeder. Nia yanks the band from her hair and shakes her tightly-curled hair free while toweling herself off roughly as a punishment.

    "So, this 'old man' those cadets were competing against," she begins lightly. "Must'be been some substitute while you were on some secret mission, I take it? Anyway, I doubt either of us has to prove anything, to ourselves or anyone, by now."

    Which isn't true, but he doesn't need to know that. In any event, from what little she's heard of his record, he's not telling the full truth either. Her eyes are twinkling again by the time she's nearly dry, and she flings the towel over her shoulder. "Anyway, sure, I'm up for a drink, thank you. The smoother the better."

    She grabs a fresh towel and leans over, dangling it in front of him as a wry smile spreads across her lips. "And, Booker? Let me worry about how drunk I get."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 23 Apr 2015 at 12:10 AM.
       

  143. #143
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    Johnson shakes his head as Kylah heads into the cabin, and speeds off to the galley to see what he can put together, his thoughts full of recipes and a certain Vulcan.

    * * *

    Inside when Rangin waits patiently as he always does, wondering what Kylah is going to say or do. Time seems to drag slowly even though he knows it is hardly passing until the door re-opens and Kylah walks in looking chastened. As she walks up to him and embraces, Rangin slips his arms around Kylah holding her close. He resists the urge to slip them under the short robe, wanting to feel the touch of her skin, but as she holds him tight, he can feel her outline through the thin robe, her chest pressing close to his in more detail than he is expecting. Rangin cannot help but respond to her kisses with a flush of warmth and keeps holding her while she asks about him.

    "I'm fine, nothing is wrong," he tells her quietly. "Perhaps I should go to Sick Bay more often if you're going to be this affectionate." Rangin kisses Kylah again enjoying the closeness and taste and there was something else. He kisses at her neck and inhales some new delicious scent from her. "Interesting, what fragrance is that, it's...it's quite intoxicating, certainly coming from you."

    Rangin sighs feeling the tiredness of the day settle in, a full shift followed by all those tests and he still wasn't sure where he stood with Kylah. Well, apart from right there holding her tight. "May I suggest before this continues that I let you know what happened with all those tests, dull and boring though they were. Besides, I would be really interested to find out what you were doing with Mr Graham and Mr Johnson in your bath robe..."

    Rangin looks down their fronts where they are close together "...and besides, the tie has come loose. You may wish to adjust your robe," he points out before closing his eyes, allowing Kylah the opportunity to deal with it.

    A gentleman never peeks, no matter how much he would want to.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  144. #144
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    By now, Jeremi and Ben have moved to one of the padded benches by the viewport. Things are getting very interesting. Collins puts her hands on Cooper's chest and gently pushes him a little bit away. "I haven't gotten my contraceptive shot yet, and I'm still not completely healed." As Cooper sits more upright, Collins says, "so let me take care of you tonight, and we'll save the rest for another time." She leans in, undoes his fly, and takes care of her boyfriend.
       

  145. #145
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Secret missions, Graham thinks. That's how I wound up at the Academy...


    The desk jockey even looked like a desk jockey: big round eyeglasses, pinched face and pursed lips as he tapped his datapad. "Mr. Graham, my data here indicates that the sort of missions for which you have been volunteering indicate a nearly 100% chance of KIA within the next 12 months."

    Graham stares back, doesn't even bother to add a "sir." "So?" When he's not drunk enough to stagger through his memories or juiced with enough adrenalin to keep him in the present, he feels dead, empty.

    Desk Jockey didn't bat an eye. "I don't know what your personal issues are, Mr. Graham, and I don't actually care. Your mental or spiritual well-being is not my department. But I run a supply chain. Some people in Starfleet run a supply chain for dilithium crystals. I run a supply chain for people. And I don't like it when anyone depletes my stock. You will receive your next assignment shortly--it will not be optional. Dismissed."


    Graham frowns slightly and pauses, momentarily lost in thought--and noticing that after the swim pulling himself up the ladder feels like bench-pressing a shuttlecraft.

    He shakes his head clear and takes the offered towel. "Thanks," says, nodding and adopting a more pleasant expression.

    He chuckles at her comment about drinking. Maybe Sidonians don't get hangovers, he wonders. "You must have been on Yorktown longer than me--you have a favorite watering hole? We could meet there in 5." he asks offhandedly as he towels off.

    "And..." he adds after a pause, "You, know, Nia, you didn't say what you did on the ship..." He pauses and smiles. "Starfleet Intelligence, perhaps? You seem to know a lot about me."
       

  146. #146

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    Nia laughs. "I'll explain once we're in front of a pair of whatever drinks you plan on plying me with. Deck 20 crew lounge is probably the best, if one has to choose between spaces that look completely identical. It's marginally less crowded than the ones nearer our quarters. See you there."

    After towel-drying her hair and using moisturizer on her face and arms, Nia gets dressed, humming pleasantly. Once up in the lounge and sitting beside Graham--who looks very good in red, it brightens his complexion considerably--she continues to drum her fingers to the tune only her mind can hear. She waits for him to order, interested in his choice. Whatever he picks she'll drink.

    At last she's ready to answer his questions. "To put your mind at rest," she begins, leaning one arm on the table, "I don't really know that much about you. What I do know is due to a combination of Bridge chatter, senior officer gossip... and the fact that on the last mission, once Lt. Collins had to be removed from duty, you were suddenly deposited in the metaphorical big chair. A lot of folks were, um, surprised that an Ensign would be bumped up to such a position, when there's a whole ship full of allegedly more experienced senior officers just drooling for such an opportunity. That's when I glanced at your record--and Vargas's reasoning became clear."

    "As for what I do: helm officer. And sometimes shuttle pilot, depending on need. Unfortunately the need doesn't arise as often as I'd like." Nia's voice is wistful but she diverts her temporary yearning into a more playful mood. "So. Booker. That's an unusual name. And I say that coming from a culture where our names send humans screaming into the night. Where does 'Booker' come from? Honoring some ancestor or family friend?"
       

  147. #147
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Once Graham meets Onn in the lounge he recalls her comment about her drink preferences. He orders an Oban single malt, neat. "Not sure if this will be as smooth as you like, but it's one of the more rounded single-malts..." He tilts the glass, showing her the color against the room's lights. "Have you been to Earth? The part of Scotland this is from--there's almost a constant mist, not exactly rain, but almost omnipresent." He glances at her. "I'm not sure if someone from a desert world would find that cool or annoying after a while."

    "Honor's, ah, kind of a funny word to use about my name. There were Bookers floating around since the 1800's--a big mercantile company was formed then, 'Booker Brothers.' Only thing is all the money came from screwing over helpless colonies. Fortunately my ancestors wound up getting drummed out of the business and becoming penniless emigrees during the latter part of that century, so our hands are clean, I suppose..."

    He offers to clink glasses. "I guess I hadn't thought about the mission that way...Makes sense though." He smiles slightly. " Guess maybe I should watch my back, huh?" he says, taking a sip.

    "Do you like it?" he asks. "If you don't you can order us some kind of Sidonian drink. Unless...unless some ranker with his nose out of joint about the mission put you up to poisoning me." He nods sagely, raises an eyebrow, and wags a finger. "That would explain a lot..."
    Last edited by general_urko; 23 Apr 2015 at 07:08 PM.
       

  148. #148

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    Nia nods soberly, her eyes pinning Graham's while she looks at him over the rim of her glass. "You've figured it out," she says, deadpan. "I lured you to the pool, somehow drew you to the lane next to mine, silently got you to speak to me, and manipulated the conversation to the point where you asked to buy me a drink of your choosing, which I could then refuse in favor of a poisoned alternative. To think, the plan was working perfectly until just now, curse you!"

    With a wicked grin, Nia lifts her drink and lets the whisky roll over her tongue, savoring the taste before swallowing. "Mmm. It is good. Yeah, the poisoning thing will have to wait at least until there's none of this stuff left. Another nefarious scheme foiled." After a second sip, she smiles. this time more warmly. "Yes, I like this very much. And what you describe of Scotland... To be surrounded by a mist like that? All the time?" A little shiver of pleasure ripples through her, as if merely imagining it has made the mist tangible. "Sidonians don't have a concept of Heaven, but if we did, I suspect it would be something like that. I wish I'd traveled there during my Academy days, when I was on Earth."

    She looks down at the glass, swirling the liquid around contemplatively. "The closest I got to such a thing was on a trip to Oregon with a few other cadets. It rained every day of our vacation. The others were miserable. I went out by myself and just walked, barefoot on the grass, whenever I could. The rain soaked me, but I couldn't get enough of it. The way some humans go sunbathing? That's how I was.

    "Even just the grass under my feet was magical. Soft and cool and pliant. And such a vivid green. I never even knew such colors existed until I landed on Earth. So many different shades, all with new names to learn."

    The words trail off and Nia returns her focus to Booker. After another smile, this one a bit bashful, she shakes her head. "Sorry. I hadn't thought about that in a while." She lifts the glass a third time and drains it, catching the last drop that splashed on her lower lip with her tongue. "Definitely smooth. Until I can actually go to your Scotland, I suppose this'll tide me over--this and anything else that'll transport me there, even temporarily."

    Nia lifts the empty glass as if offering it to him. "Can I count on you as a friendly tour guide?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 23 Apr 2015 at 08:33 PM.
       

  149. #149

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    Cooper is very appreciative of Collins's attentions, and shows it.

    Lt. Bennett returns to her cabin and sees what T'Var is doing. She begins preparing quietly for bed so as not to disturb her cabinmate.

    Nia notices, out of the corner of one eye, Lt. Thalen enter the lounge and get a small glass of some clear liquid. He goes to a table near a viewport and sits down.
       

  150. #150
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "Well," Graham replies, adopting a serious mien, "now that I've, ah, discovered and disarmed your fiendish plot..." He taps one finger against his temple. "How do you think I got to the bottom of things on OCIII?" He shrugs slightly. "Well, aside from raw physical power, of course" he adds, punching a a fist against his chest twice.

    He can't keep a straight face. "Yeah, yes - friendly for sure, a guide for what it's worth. I do have a personal stash of some rare stuff at that." He reaches to take the glass and rack it alongside his on the bar--in the process his fingers partially overlap hers. "Is this a sign you want one more, Nia?" He pauses and harumphs. "Or are you late for a date with some fast-swimming, smooth talking, hotshot shuttle pilot flyboy... Hell, probably lieutenant commander, at least. And tall, too. Probably a great dancer." He shakes his head and glowers. "Bastard."
       

  151. #151

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    Nia nods at Thalen when he enters, not certain if he's seen her, but is quick to return her attention to Graham. "A personal stash," she says speculatively, her voice lilting in light surprise when she feels his fingers brush hers--which reflexively reach up just a little to prolong the connection. Warm. "I'd be honored to partake in that sometime. And until then, I'll take that last drink now. I've got an early watch coming up."

    While Graham orders, Nia's gaze shifts to Thalen. "As for dancing, if you want lessons, Thalen over there organizes most of the cultural stuff on board the ship. I'm a novice myself, and maybe it's time I learned too. So if you need a partner..." She lets the thought hang in the air before continuing. "...Otherwise there's not much opportunity for dancing. Not the kind you do in public, anyway."

    She leans her elbow on the table, chin in hand, and lets her eyes meet Graham's. "That hypothetical fast-swimming, smooth-talking, high-ranking flyboy you mentioned? Sure, I've been with him, and plenty like him.

    "The thing is, most aren't all that thrilled by a woman who can out-fly them. They like the shy, retiring, admiring types. And that ain't me."

    When the drinks arrive, Nia lifts her glass, takes a sip and enjoys the taste even more. Then she lets the glass rest on the table, her finger absently circling with the rim.

    "Besides, those flyboys are all about competition and speed--you know, who can get there first, to hell with paying attention to the finer details of the journey. I've reached the point in my life where I'm starting to appreciate those finer details." Her voice softens as she contemplates Graham; her eyelids are lowered but she sees him very, very clearly. "Quick jaunts are exciting, don't get me wrong, and I'm happy to take them. But I've found that a slower, more deliberate pace is much more intensely satisfying. It's worth taking the time to get things right."

    She finishes the drink and rises. Before she leaves, she bends down, letting her hair fall against his cheek as she murmurs: "Which is the only reason I'm not asking for a tour of that private stash now. In case you were wondering." Straightening, Nia smiles and pats his shoulder. "Good to meet you, Booker Graham, and thanks for the drinks. Hope we'll be in touch soon?"

    Her arm lingers along Graham's when she passes him by. With a low, pleasant greeting to Thalen, Nia leaves the lounge. She feels as if she's been immersed in that Scottish mist Graham spoke about, or walking in the dewy spring grass back in Oregon. Refreshed. Pliant. And looking forward to the future.
       

  152. #152
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham lives up (up?) to Onn's preference for men who aren't fast movers and smooth talkers by grunting "uh" and mumbling "sure" at her parting words.

    He watches her leave the lounge.

    Well son of a bitch, he thinks, finishing what's left in his glass. That was unexpected.

    He stands, straightens his shirt, and nonetheless frowns slightly as he makes for his quarters. Dammit, I don't actually want to learn to dance, though...
       

  153. #153

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    Thalen smiles and nods at Nia as she passes. He seems preoccupied.

    Graham makes his way back to his quarters and finds Mahmoud, his roomie, with his boots off, sprawled against a pillow. He is reading in bed - The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. "Hey, Booker. What's going on?"

    It is now 1927 hours.
       

  154. #154
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    Uh...not really sure," Graham says, scratching his head, but smiling slightly. "You know a lieutenant named Onn, Faisal?"
       

  155. #155
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    Kylah backs up slightly and, flushing with her murmured 'thank you,' re-ties her bathrobe. She would get dressed entirely but something electric in the air makes her sense urgency, impatience--she cannot even tell if it is coming from her or him. Either way, she must not waste his time. Besides, she does not want him to think she is less comfortable in such an outfit in front of him, as opposed to Graham and Johnson.

    When finished, she draws him over to the bed and sits down. "Now please," she says searchingly, caressing his hand. "Tell me how the tests went. You say they were boring? Then they were not painful at all? Invasive?" The memories of her own experience haunt her and she fears Velir might be shielding her from the worst. "No scans or sonic probes?"

    * * *

    Rangin is beginning to wonder why Kylah seems to not want to let go of him. Sweet though it is, he thought she was a little more sure of herself than as she is acting now. But he puts the worries aside for the moment and beings to relate what happened in Sick Bay.

    "It was nothing quite so sinister in being tested. There was the trying to guess the cards test, the guess what I am reading test. They also had a brain scan running while I was shown some pictures. I have no idea how the test went, Dr Villa and Dr T'Var went to study the results behind closed doors, so I honestly don't know what happened. Well, that's not quite true."

    Rangin thinks back to the Dr Villa's comments and doubt begins to creep in. "Villa did also say she wanted to run the test results past some colleagues, but I'm sure if there was anything serious I would have been told by now. Then again, she was interested in getting T'Var to try a mind meld with me to see if she could find anything of note."

    Rangin looks back across and realises that Kylah has been constantly stroking his hand for the last few minutes. "Kylah, you can stop stroking the back of my hand or you are going to wear it out."

    * * *

    At once Kylah lets go, a little hurt by his small joke. She is still trying to understand what he is going through. And now...

    "A mind meld," she whispers, eyes wide at the thought. Even the medical procedures she underwent had not been as terrifying a prospect. "Is it even safe? With T'Var having been controlled by Mr. Palver..."

    Kylah stands up, walking away from Velir before turning back. "What if it is a plot? Perhaps Palver found some way of--of transmitting a message or scheme from one person to another through their minds, like a virus?" She sinks back on the bed. "They cannot even tell you how or why you escaped Palver's control, and now they want to let T'Var's consciousness invade yours... No, Velir, I do not think you should allow this!"

    * * *

    Rangin is caught slightly off balance by Kylah's protestations and takes a moment to gather himself. "I raised the same points with Dr Villa. T'Var has been through her own battery of tests and has come out clean, no ill effects, no lasting damage as far as they can tell. No, she hasn't tried a mind-meld yet and I was given the option of waiting until Anubis and having a Vulcan from there carry out one instead. If, and I do mean if, it is necessary. Dr. Villa wasn't even sure it would be."

    He looks across at her, something catching at his thoughts. "Kylah, you sound like there is more to it than just a mind-meld. It won't be an invasion, more a sharing. And besides I do trust T'Var to to be respectful of my thoughts at the same time." Rangin shakes his head and rises quickly, the bed reminding him of days past, of things he had done, and he slowly walks across the room and back. "And besides, I'm not going to run away from it, just because it might, possibly, maybe, perhaps be an issue."

    Rangin slumps back down on to the bed, "Please enough of the psi testing. It was very, very tedious and nothing really happened," he says wearily, hoping to change the subject. "How was your day, hopefully more exciting than mine was?"

    * * *

    Watching him practically collapse on the bed is a relief, at least for a moment. This way Kylah can avoid his eyes, which gives her time to rein in her galloping thoughts. The prospect of a mind-meld clearly does not cause the same visceral response in Velir that it does to her. But then, his thoughts and feelings have always been his own. Kylah does not have that luxury. Especially not after she lost herself so completely on OCIII.

    Now, judging his mood, Kylah knows she must not voice any more concerns. This need to censor herself even more than usual worries her. Something has changed, some turning point has been reached in their relationship. Until recently, every moment with Velir made her feel as if their connection was growing stronger. Lately everything she says and does seems to create a wall between them, brick by brick.

    "My watch was uneventful," she begins hesitantly. "I... I had a good talk with Lt. Collins in the mess hall. We have reached a new level of understanding. Then Graham arrived and things were... awkward. I left without eating and decided to take a shower, and suddenly he was at the door, wishing to apologize. That is why I look like this..." Kylah fingers the edge of her robe. "I did not expect him. Then Johnson arrived, and then you. It was almost amusing." She says the last part more in hope than sincerity.

    * * *

    Rangin relaxes slightly as Kylah starts to talk about what happened, glad the focus is no longer on him and those tests. He has no idea about them, but Kylah seems more worried than he does.

    "Well, it certainly sounds more interesting than trying to guess the pattern on a card. I'll be honest, I was very surprised to see you in this robe chatting away to Mr Graham and Mr Johnson like that, especially out in the corridor."

    He keeps his voice even, wondering if ease in wearing practically nothing was an Elasian thing, although it seems like he was going to be the last person to see anything further. "I did speak with Mr Johnson briefly, though he didn't say what he was here for, just that it was some kind of favour. I will admit," Rangin's head drops slightly to one side as he looks at Kylah, "that it did look slightly farcical. Perhaps I should expect someone hidden in the wardrobe or under the bed."

    Rangin smiles, hoping Kylah will also relax as well, though she still seems tense and nervous. "You also mentioned you haven't eaten, well, neither have I. Do you have any plans for later?"

    * * *

    Johnson. What did he say to Velir? He must not have mentioned the Ferguson rumor, or Velir would have repeated it--she assumes--but then again, who knows what Johnson and his infernal insinuating jokes might have placed in Velir's mind? Kylah's anxiety rises and she edges nearer to the man on her bed. "You were my plan for later," she says unthinkingly. "I mean... dining with you."

    She reaches out to lightly touch his knee, hoping to get him to look at her. "That was why Johnson was here. I wanted to please you after the tests, to surprise you with something special. He promised he would return in an hour with whatever he comes up with. You see, he owes me, after a misunderstanding a while back, so I thought he could cook something you like as a favor. Although somehow I seem to have ended up owing him..."

    She frowns. How did things get turned around in that conversation so that a debt that Johnson promised her turned into something that Kylah must repay herself?

    With a shake of her head she dismisses Johnson from her mind. Velir is right here, next to her, but he seems terribly far away. It is taking every ounce of will not to use her empathic abilities to gauge his emotions. "Does that make you happy?" she asks, searching his eyes for something, anything. "To know I was thinking of you?"
    Last edited by CatInASuit; 24 Apr 2015 at 04:33 PM. Reason: Kylah by choie, Rangin by CatInASuit
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  156. #156

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    Rangin's mouth gapes open slightly. His earlier conversation with Johnson suddenly makes a little more sense. He places his hand over hers on his knee. "Yes, it does make me happy, but you honestly didn't need to call in a favour, especially if you now owe him a favour..." Rangin pauses as what Kylah said slowly registers. "...Just what kind of favour did you give up for this meal?"

    He slowly releases Kylah's hand and places it back in his own lap. "Kylah, I'm flattered that you would want to do something like that for me, truly I am, but I thought you said you wanted to keep this private for the moment?"

    * * *

    "I do not know what kind of favor, he only said I would enjoy it. It should not worry you." Kylah's stomach seems to be sinking to her knees. Nothing she does seems to be right. Another layer of bricks has heightened the wall between them. "And yes, I did want this to be private, but I thought... I thought a gesture like this would be worth sharing just a little of the truth with Mr. Johnson. All he knows is that I care about you."

    Then the thought occurs to her. "Do you want to keep this a secret?" She swallows back a rising sense of panic. "Do you--do you fear that people will think less of you for being with me? Because they think you are merely one of many?" Her voice drops to a whisper. "Because you think you are merely one of many?"

    * * *

    Rangin looks on, baffled as to where Kylah is taking this, and recoils slightly. "I...I have no problems with us being together, where did you get the idea otherwise? I want to be with you, to learn more about you, to be happy together, to have no secrets between us." The words turn to ashes in his mouth as he says them. Perhaps...perhaps in the fullness of time it could occur, if Kylah is truly someone he can trust implicity with everything.

    But then he remembers OCIII and Jan and her reluctance to tell him about it. She had been with that stranger, that much was almost a given. The horrible thought slowly rises and makes him feel sick: am I just one of many? He takes a deep breath and looks into her eyes, trying to work out what she is thinking. "I thought you wanted us to be together as a couple, I didn't think I was one of many and I can't understand why you would say that. Am I?"

    * * *

    His backing away only makes Kylah more desperate to be closer. And then he asks the question, the question she knows he has been thinking. "I said that because I saw how you looked at me, because I heard what you implied about Graham and Johnson being in my room, and because--because of how you have acted ever since that last night on the planet."

    Leaning forward, Kylah reaches to cradle his face in her hands. "Velir. You are not one of many. You are alone. And if--when--something happens, you will be the first one whom I have ever--" She chokes and her eyelids flutter down, hiding him from her. "I mean... I wish you could have been the first."

    She opens her eyes again, terror of losing him and determination mingling to drive her beyond reason. "I will show you," she whispers, and moves over him to press herself against him, kissing him with trembling lips, whispering his name in a plea. When he does not react, she feels like sobbing. I have lost him, I have lost the one person in my life who has ever cared for me...

    Wordlessly she pulls back, just inches away. She is not ready for this, but neither is she ready to lose him. Her hands lower to her belt, somehow clumsily pulling it loose and, as she gulps for air and strength, lets the satin material fall from her shoulders. Kylah keeps her eyes open for now, because if she closes them she knows she will be back in that hotel suite, and it will be Jan's hands untying her halter top, Jan's eyes drinking in her bare flesh.

    "Velir, please..." Her robe exposing half of her to him, Kylah takes hold of his hands and lifts them, urging them toward her body. "Please let me show you what you mean to me." She embraces him, kissing him in a fog of longing and dread. Part of her has no idea how she will react if he still does not touch her.

    And part of her, the part that remains trapped in that hotel room, has no idea how she will react if he does.

    * * *

    As Rangin watches her open her robe again and feels her hands pull his across to her chest, he inhales sharply. He can't help but accede to her request. He gently caresses one incredibly soft breast, feeling her react before slipping his hands behind her back and kissing her deeply while he holds her close. His throat has gone dry. He has wanted to be next to her for so long... Astonishingly, it seems she has obviously decided now is a good time.

    He slowly starts to kiss down the side of her neck, enjoying the taste of her smooth skin and breathing in the new, intoxicating scent she's wearing. The kisses became more urgent and harder as he leans her backwards and starts working his way down her chest, his gaze drinking in what there had only been glimpses of before.

    After a few moments and now breathing deeply, he relaxes and looks back up at her, one hand now idly curling itself through her hair and the other stroking down one arm. "Are you sure?"

    * * *

    Kylah is gently pulled down to her bed, and she has never been so elated yet so miserable in her life. She keeps reminding herself: His hands are not Jan's, his kisses are not Jan's. The tongue tasting her skin and teasing her, making her breathing even more shallow, is not Jan's. Nor is his question:

    Are you sure?

    She cannot say no. Not because spores are forcing her to; not even because Velir's own desire is influencing her, although she can sense it, and physically feels it as well. But because she has to prove that what happened with Jan was not important, not nearly as important as what she and Velir have. Act. Act. Play the role. You have played roles all your life, why is this different?

    Kylah shuts her eyes at last and increases her ardor, clutching Velir's soft hair, pulling his face upwards towards her mouth. "Yes," she shudders, but pretends it is yearning for him. "Velir, please. I want you." She says this while her lips are trailing down his temple, and repeats it--"I want you"--when she feels his hand moving from her breast down to caress her soft waist, then her hip, before slowly, inevitably, moving between her legs.

    Her eyes squeeze tighter and, into his ear, she whispers in a near sob: "I... I love you."

    * * *

    Rangin blinks as his mind is torn away by Kylah's words. It feels as if someone has dumped a bucket of cold water all over him. He can only think of one other person who's said that in this position, and he has to check himself to make he hasn't gone back several years, that it is Kylah lying right by him.

    His roaming hand stops and returns to her hip as he looks up and down her body now fully disrobed on the bed. She is beautiful indeed, her curves and smoothness of her skin, lying there with a slight sheen of sweat glistening in the light. But the more he struggles with his thoughts, the more the sense stays with him that something just feels wrong.

    Is this what she really wants? Or is he just being played once again for the fool in following his desires? He promised himself he would never do it again, but here he is, in the same situation. Memories of joy, desire, anguish and pain cross his mind, and Rangin shudders.

    He still doesn't know her, she isn't telling him anything, is she lying again? It is obvious she's slept with Jan, and so quickly after they met... Is Rangin so similar, will he end up in the same situation? No, he's been there before a long time ago and he doesn't want a part of it. Not...not until he knows her better. Knows who this Ensign Kylah is.

    It is what he said only a few days ago, and what has changed since then? Nothing. She hasn't explained, hasn't revealed anything, and now she is trying to trap him. Just like he had been before.

    Rangin pulls back and sits up, removing his hands from Kylah, "I'm sorry, I can't, not now. I...I should go, this is wrong." Before she can react, he moves from her side off the bed and crouches on the floor before picking himself up. "You love me. I so want to believe that, but...do you? So soon? I know you care, but love is more than that. It's also about trust. But you don't trust me, you keep asking me to wait before you'll open up to me about whatever went on. Why, if you truly love me?

    "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let it get this far. And you were right after all, I should have waited. Waited to know more about you, waited for you to tell me what happened, waited and not rushed in like an idiot thinking of only one thing."

    Shaking his head in self-recrimination, he murmurs "I had better go" as he rises to leave for the door.

    * * *

    Kylah's entire body turns cold, awash with mortification. She pulls the discarded robe haphazardly around her, so stunned and wounded she can only croak Velir's name, first once, then twice, each time more hoarsely. But he is out the door and gone.

    She sits up with difficulty and just stares at the floor. Everything she did, everything she said: wrong. He says she does not trust him. But look what she just did for him, how raw and vulnerable she made herself. She has never before exposed so much of her body to any man--not of her own free will. I have bared myself to him and he thinks it is nothing. A mere game. No, it is Velir Rangin who cannot trust her.

    Maybe he is right to mistrust her in the big picture. But not now. Not about this. She did not lie.

    Strangely, she remains dry-eyed. She just sits, she does not know how long. Finally an incongruous thought occurs to her, and she slowly reaches for her communicator.

    Her fingers type out the message she does not dare attempt to speak aloud: JOHNSON, ANDREW: Please do not bring the food to my quarters. It is for Mr. Rangin. Deliver it to him. Thank you very much. KYLAH

    Then, tossing the communicator back on the dresser, she drags the bedcovers over her and curls into a tight ball of self-loathing. At last she begins to weep silently, and when there are no more tears left, she falls asleep.
    Last edited by choie; 24 Apr 2015 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Credits as you'd imagine. Kylah=me, Velir=CIAS.
       

  157. #157
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    The chime at the door is not something that Rangin is expecting, least of all the call of "Dinner's up" said in a jaunty accent.

    Rangin cringes inwardly, it would be Johnson with the meal, that meal, that he and Kylah were meant to share earlier that evening, that Kylah had asked for especially for him. With a heavy heart, he calls out "Open" and watches as the door slides quietly open and the tall figure in whites wanders in with a covered object.

    "Evening Sir, I believe this is for you, courtesy of Ens. Kylah." Johnson says, before pulling the cover off with a flourish obviously learned from many hours practice and placing it in front of him. Rangin can't help but start salivating at the aroma drifting off the plate as memories of home flood back from just seeing the dish in front of him.

    "That must be one hell of a favour Kylah owes you to make this," he can't help but ask while his stomach turns cartwheels in anticipation of the meal in front of him. "I can't accept it though, it just wouldn't be right."

    "Too late," comes the cheery reply from Johnson, "she owes me and in fact I'm on my way over there now to collect."

    "What exactly did she offer in return?" Rangin voice fills with concern about what Kylah may have done.

    "She doesn't know and didn't ask, she just wanted to get you that meal. Damn, she must like you something chronic." Johnson shrugs. "But that's between me and her."

    Rangin looks at the meal torn between his guilt over how he treated Kylah this evening and the heavenly smell that permeated the air.

    "Go on tuck in", Johnson tempts him, "she's going to want to know if you like it or not. Actually, I want to know if you like it or not."

    Rangin picks up the fork and takes a taste. "Oh grief, it's as good as I remember. Rathan Sweet Fritters. I remember you asking about my favourite dish, I didn't realise you could make it." He takes another mouthful savouring it slowly as if trying to make it last forever.

    Rangin puts the fork down and looks back up at Johnson. "Seriously, just what did it cost her? What are you going to ask of her? I don't think she is going to be that receptive tonight."

    Johnson raises an eyebrow. "So that's why I'm delivering here is it?" before sucking his breath through his teeth, "Don't want to know what happened between you, none of my business."

    "Could you, could you put it off a day, wait until morning at least?" Rangin asks more in hope than anticipation.

    "Excuse me, oh alright, alright, it can wait. She probably wouldn't be in the mood for what I want her for then," Johnson says in resignation as he sees the look on Rangin's face. "Enjoy it, anyway." he gestures at the meal before heading out the door.

    Rangin's face darkens as he wonders what exactly Johnson had in mind, was he another one, or was Rangin just clutching at straws?

    He picks up the fork, but it drops from his fingers onto the plate as he thinks about Kylah. She cared, she so desperately cared, and maybe she thought it was love. Rangin could see that, but could she ever love him as he wants to love her.

    He picks up his communicator and taps out a message trying to get his feelings out.

    Kylah, forgive me. You are not the only one who has answers to give and I hope that perhaps some day I may be able to tell you what you need to know. Velir


    He looked at it, he hadn't done anything wrong though, had he? What was he apologising for. He erased it and started again.

    Kylah, I hope you're all right, I didn't want to upset you. I wish things had gone differently but I don't think either of us is ready until we know each other much better. Velir.

    It wasn't much better, but he sends the message off. Wondering when she will receive it, Rangin picks up the fork and slowly begins to eat again. The taste of sorrow in this mouth slowly replaced by a warmer, homely feeling, but the worry still foremost in his mind.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  158. #158

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    Mahmoud says, "The helmswoman? Sidonian? Great lady. I like her. Did you just meet her? She can come on a little strong sometimes. Very direct."
       

  159. #159
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "Uh, yeah, I like her too, she has nice..." Graham pauses and rubs his jaw. "Scales."

    He clears his throat. "Direct, I, ah, can see how she might get that rep."

    He strips his shirt off and rummages around the cabin for his kit to get ready for bed. "It almost feels like its a shame to turn in--it seems like it's been my lucky night." He pauses and gestures toward Mahmoud. "No need to get up--not so lucky I need to ask you to sack out in the Arboretum."

    He shrugs, sighs, and moves toward the bathroom. "Sure felt a hell of a lot closer to crossing that bridge than I expected anytime soon, though."
       

  160. #160

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    Mahmoud, who has not moved a centimeter, grunts. "Here's hoping. You'd be a lot more tolerable as a roommate if you got laid once in awhile."
       

  161. #161
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    After about an hour of post-appreciation cuddling, Collins stands up, pulls herself together, and leans over to kiss Cooper goodnight. "The mission starts in the morning, I'm going to get some sleep. Walk me home?" she asks him sweetly.
       

  162. #162
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham, sonic toothbrush already in his mouth, turns and grunts back something like "hardee har har" to his roommate.

    A few moments later, while Mahmoud is still reading, Graham slips into his own bunk. "Guess I'd better get my beauty sleep, then, to help the odds. If the bedbugs bite, I recommend light stun on wide dispersion. Nightie night, Faisal."

    Graham has dreams about staggering through hot, swirling desert sandstorms to finally find a peaceful, cool, oasis where he dives into the water...only once he is in the middle of the deep, dark pool, shadowy, half-visible creatures are slicing through the water around him. He can't tell whether they are friend or foe...
    Last edited by general_urko; 25 Apr 2015 at 10:14 PM.
       

  163. #163

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    Cooper kisses Collins, puts his uniform in order and offers her his arm, then escorts her back to her quarters. Kylah is already asleep. In time, Rangin goes to bed, as do T'Var and many others, and the night passes without incident.

    The next day, after breakfast and your respective morning routines, each of you are on the Bridge when the Yorktown arrives in the Anubis system, right on schedule. Kylah is at the Communications station, Collins at Security, Graham at Security II, Rangin at Science - with Science Officer Roble looking over his shoulder occasionally - and Dr. T'Var at Life Sciences. The Captain is in the big chair, Lt. Onn is at the Helm, and Lt. Bennett at Navigation (she gave Graham a warm smile when he came on the Bridge).

    Anubis is a lush, beautiful Class-M world. An older Earth colony, now a full Federation member world with a current population of over twelve million, it is a manufacturing, communications, commerce and banking center for the sector, as well as a major shipping hub. Although technically "Anubis II," the second world out from the star Anubis, it is commonly - if somewhat confusingly - referred to as Anubis itself, as none of the other ten planets in the system are either habitable or even notable.

    Kylah receives a hail as the heavy cruiser drops out of warp: "Starport Control to Yorktown. Welcome to Anubis. Please take orbital station 433A."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 26 Apr 2015 at 07:37 PM.
       

  164. #164

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    Kylah is tired but does her best to hide it, just as she wishes she could hide from Velir.

    "Thank you, message received, Starport Control," she says, her voice hoarse, and relays the orbital information to the Captain as necessary.
       

  165. #165

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    Nia is busy at the helm when Graham arrives; in fact, since her attention is, by necessity, often focused on her colleague at Navigation--both Helm and Navigation officers must work together to pilot the ship--Nia notices the brightness of Bennett's smile before she identifies who the other woman is targeting. When it turns out to be Graham, Nia can't help an inward chuckle. So, is this just a friend thing, or is Bennett already sniffing around another newcomer? Young Pourtash, Nia's fellow helm officer, was similarly the object of Bennett's flirtatious attention about five minutes after he stepped on board the shuttle that would take him to the Yorktown.

    Nia's not really judging her, and she can't argue with her taste. But she does consider it bad form considering Bennett is supposedly involved with someone else. Nia may play the field but she doesn't try to tag out two men at once.

    She herself gives Graham a sidelong glance and a teasing smile of recognition before returning to her work.

    Now, when she hears Kylah's report, she shifts her hands to hover above the necessary areas on the helm panel in front of her. She's waiting for the Captain's order for Bennett to set the course and for Nia to take the ship in.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 26 Apr 2015 at 08:40 PM.
       

  166. #166
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham welcomes assignment to the bridge: although the fact is that either the need to provide local security--like repelling boarders--or engage in ship-to-ship combat are both extremely rare, every time he prepares as if it were a near certainty.

    If he has a chance on the lift in, he gives Collins a tap on the shoulder and a thumbs-up.

    Once on the bridge, he immediately keys in on people, stations, and distances: who's where, entrances, exits, cover, how many steps to get from here to there.

    Then Bennett gives him a big smile, which he starts to return with a slight smile and nod, when he realizes Onn is sitting right next to her. He manages to pull off the slight smile and nod to each in turn, but he can feel blood rushing from his face and a sense of alarm--stark terror, actually.

    The only two women on the ship I've some much as come within an iota of flirting with and they work right next to each other...

    He realizes his reaction isn't completely rational: it's not like these are mistresses from different ports who just showed up on my doorstep at the same time. Nonetheless he starts to blush and quickly occupies himself by running through different damage control scenarios in his head.
       

  167. #167
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    As Graham taps her shoulder, Collins playfully moves her elbow back towards his gut. She notices Booker is looking towards the helm and navigation stations. She muses to herself that Graham is going to have has handful if he tries to pursue both women at once.
    Last edited by anyrose; 26 Apr 2015 at 09:08 PM.
       

  168. #168

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    "Acknowledged, Starport Control," Capt. Singh says. "Stand by. Mr. Onn, if you please...?"

    "Aye, Captain." She glances at the coordinates, shared with Bennett, and snaps the switches on her board. The Yorktown shifts just perceptibly under your feet. After a few seconds she says, "Moving into position now, and... done. Orbit established, ma'am. Orbital station 433A."

    Singh nods. "Thrusters at station-keeping."

    "Thrusters at station-keeping, aye."

    "Very well. Thank you, Mr. Onn."

    Standard orbital space above Anubis is crowded; Rangin's proximity sensors show almost a hundred ships of all classes and sizes. You can easily see two dozen on the Bridge's main viewscreen, and know there are many more beyond your field of vision, lost to the eye among the backdrop of stars. Workbees, couriers, lighters, orbital barges and Starport Control skiffs weave past and among the larger ships. An Altairian liner is just leaving, even as a huge Dytallix ore carrier eases into an orbital slot not far away from the Yorktown.
       

  169. #169
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    Collins scans and makes record of the ships nearest to the Yorktown, just in case security becomes an issue while they are docked.
    Last edited by anyrose; 26 Apr 2015 at 10:46 PM.
       

  170. #170

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    Kylah stares at the crowded viewscreen. All those unknown people on all those unknown vessels. No one on this ship knows who they are or where they are going. I wish I were one of them. The thought makes her sigh. What if she could be one of them? What if she created some new name, some false background, and started a new life?

    I could do it. A spark of yearning reaches through the cold numbness that has shrouded her senses since last night. I could go and no one here would miss me.

    She does not look at Velir but remembers discovering his message this morning. Kind, gentlemanly, but as cold as a stranger. Her actions have repulsed him, the very opposite of her intent. She risked everything and ruined everything. Would he miss all the pain and distress she seems to have caused him?

    Kylah cannot fathom how she dared to imagine herself capable of making him happy. Someone good, honest, stable, dependable, open--that is the sort of woman Velir Rangin wants and deserves. Not someone as damaged and unworldly and toxically flawed as she. No, he would forget her and find someone far better for him. And he would be more likely to do so if she were not on board the Yorktown. She would be making things easier for him; he would not be bound by some gentlemanly sense of honor to linger on and attempt to forge a relationship with such poor material.

    Now her gaze examines each of the dozens of ships so intensely that she can almost pick up emotions from them, like a hint of a signal among the chaos of static. If the crew is given shore leave, Kylah could beam down to this planet, find someone greedy enough to exchange her credits for untraceable gold-pressed latinum--at some exorbitant rate, of course--and then she could pay off some anonymous captain of an obscure little cruiser, a yacht, a shipping barge, even a garbage scow. And thus she would escape.

    It would mean abandoning her commission from Starfleet, but what does that matter? They are not at war, they would hardly put a price on her head for desertion. She would probably be dismissed as a dilettante, a flighty royal who never really made a suitable officer anyway.

    Velir would be concerned, because he is gallant and might feel responsible--but that would not last forever. Eventually he would probably decide she was just a coward, and give her up as a bad experience he was fortunate enough to have escaped. Graham would probably think she was abducted by some evildoers and want to give chase. Yet such hysteria would not be enough to convince the Yorktown to abandon their mission. T'Var would find her behavior illogical and would likely argue against following her. Collins? She could argue either way. Probably her roommate would find herself agreeing with those who found her a dilettante.

    No, Starfleet would not waste the time or effort to hunt Kylah down.

    But Aldaan would.

    Her thoughts darken and she swivels away slightly, looking at the Communications panel without seeing it. He controls my finances, he would know I paid someone. But... even so. If I were careful enough how would he find me? Even he would give up, eventually. What would it be like to be anonymous? No one knowing her name, her family, her freakish power? Such an uncertain future is frightening to contemplate--frightening but also intoxicating.

    Slowly Kylah returns her hungry gaze to the viewscreen. The fantasy is becoming so powerful that she can almost taste it. Why can I not just... disappear?
    Last edited by choie; 27 Apr 2015 at 12:23 AM.
       

  171. #171
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    Just round from the communication station, Rangin is relieved that Lt. Cmdr. Roble is grilling him on the finer points of the Bridge station, as it means he doesn't have to look at Kylah. The consistent questioning keeping him occupied as his fingers move from panel to panel and providing the answers that the senior officer is looking for.

    When Kylah speaks, if only briefly, Rangin suppresses a shudder, as his guilt and feelings refuse to fade away. He doesn't know if she has received his message or not, but she hasn't made any contact. He can still picture her from last night and questions himself as to why he didn't continue, but all the unanswered problems, rise in the back of his head. Rangin hopes that Lt. Cmdr Roble doesn't notice the slight slip, but given Roble's perceptiveness, he might as well be wishing on star.

    Of course, Rangin feels just as culpable given that there are plenty of events in his past, few of them known to only a select group. Could he ever feel that he could trust someone else with them? Someone who hadn't been there. Trust her, he isn't even sure he can trust himself.

    As they achieve stationary orbit, Lt Cmd. Roble gives a few more orders and Rangin goes back to analysing all the ships, their types and paths through the coldness of space. At this moment, Rangin wishes he could join them.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  172. #172

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    Collins completes a tactical scan. She sees no indication of any threat to the Yorktown.

    Rangin's analysis will take longer, but he is growing more confident in his use of the ship's sensors and Roble is there to help, if necessary.

    Kylah's Communications board lights up with greetings and welcomes from many of the other ships. She recognizes a few ship's masters by name from her previous review of signals traffic in the sector: Capt. Helena Morgan of the Farseeker, a doughty old scoutship from Drello III, discoverer of a hundred new worlds; Capt. Perry Garnett of the Pioneer, a well-known science vessel out of Ardule; and Capt. Essil Grotel'ig of the Bizer's Champion, a famous racing yacht from New Kingston, her sleek, silvery-blue hull agleam in the light of Anubis. She does not know any of the others.

    Cmdr. Vargas enters the Bridge, goes down the low stairs and stands next to the Captain, who smiles at him.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 27 Apr 2015 at 02:25 PM.
       

  173. #173
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham notices approvingly that Collins has proactively run tactical scans.

    Then finds himself distracted by the play of Bennett's and Onn's fingers over their shared console.

    With any good Helm and Nav team there are patterns where certain actions by one trigger related actions by the other. Graham doesn't know either function well enough to predict them, but he can certainly detect some logic to one moving, then the other...elegant, almost mesmerizing...

    Jesus christ Booker, get a grip.

    He pulls his gaze back to focus for a moment on the back of Vargas' head.

    That'll pull me back to reality...
       

  174. #174

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    The back of Vargas's head is much less interesting, but does at least serve the desired purpose of taking Graham's attention away - if only briefly - from Onn and Bennett.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 27 Apr 2015 at 01:57 PM.
       

  175. #175

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    Kylah relays the hails of the various ships to the Captain, identifying them in a soft, contemplative voice. At least I know which ships to avoid if I were to... hypothetically... escape, she thinks. Given the contact they are seeking with the Yorktown, it is unlikely they would willingly hide her presence from a ship they clearly admire.

    "They are attempting to communicate their respect and friendly intentions with us," Kylah adds, still talking quietly but with added meaning for the man seated at Science. "Would you like to react in kind, Captain? It seems rude to ignore such overtures."
    Last edited by choie; 27 Apr 2015 at 05:06 PM.
       

  176. #176
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    Hearing Kylah's voice and the subtle insinuation behind them leaves Rangin wondering how he is going to apologise, let alone when
    Rangin makes a few last sweeps across the panel leaving the sensors to continue their calculations and turns in his chair to look at the viewscreen and then slightly further on so he can see Kylah at the communications area.

    If the bridge wasn't so full of people, Rangin would quite happily go up right now, but that is just not possible. If Kylah does look across to him, Rangin will nod briefly in her direction.
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  177. #177
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    T'Var checks her readouts at Life Sciences. It will be good for the crew to begin a new mission. It will be good for her as well.
       

  178. #178

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    Singh grins as she learns who is hailing the Yorktown. She hits the comm switch on her chair arm. "Morgan, you old pirate! How are you? And did you know Garnett is here, too? Wait a second, and let's tie him in." Kylah does so. The three are obviously old friends and talk briefly before Singh ends the transmission, still smiling. She says, "Please pass along my compliments to the other ships, Mr. Kylah. Standard greetings."

    All is well on the Life Sciences instruments, T'Var sees.

    Kylah sees another message come in for the Captain and Chief Engineer, from a Dr. Brold in the city of Thoth, on the surface: Unfortunate delays here. Package will be ready in five hours. Apologies and regrets. BROLD.
       

  179. #179

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    After fulfilling Singh's orders about the standard greetings, Kylah notes the new transmission and frowns, mildly curious, before relaying Brold's message aloud.

    Only then do her tired but wistful eyes shift from the large viewscreen to see Velir. Does he know what this package might be? With the engineer having been addressed in the message, Kylah assumes it is some technology or mechanical object.

    Just looking at him is embarrassing and her gaze can barely brush his face him before hurriedly returning to the ships outside in the expanse of space near Anubis.
       

  180. #180

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    "Send an acknowledgement to Dr. Brold, please, Ensign," the Captain says. "Then get me Captains Morgan and Garnett again, and invite them over for a visit in, say, half an hour. I'll meet them in Transporter Room 1." She turns to Vargas. "Looks like we have time for a brief shore leave on Anubis after all, Mr. Vargas. Four hours for all off-duty personnel, effective immediately." She looks over at Graham and adds, "And Mr. Graham's landing party from OC3. I'd say they've earned it."

    Vargas doesn't look thrilled but says, "Yes, Captain." He nods to Collins and Graham to go; Rangin, Kylah and Dr. T'Var know they are included too, of course.
       

  181. #181

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    Kylah turns around and obeys Singh's orders. She does not rush through the tasks, wondering if she delays long enough she will either get the courage to see Velir--or he will have left and the courage will not be needed.

    Shore leave after all, she thinks in between relaying the messages. Her heart pounds hard upon recognizing that her earlier escape fantasies have become possible after all. No, it is madness, I cannot really contemplate this...

    But contemplating this is what she is doing, madness or not. Guilt and confusion flooding through her, Kylah completes her various communications, gets up from her chair, and faces Singh. "Thank you, Captain," she murmurs hesitantly. "For allowing us the shore leave."
    Last edited by choie; 28 Apr 2015 at 10:16 PM.
       

  182. #182
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    Graham returns Vargas' nod. He follows on Kylah's thanks to the captain.

    "Ye, thank you, Captain. Ah...for the record--with all due respect--as I see for it, it was as much Lt. Collins' and the whole team's landing party as mine, ma'am."

    He ends with a respectful nod and a step backwards toward the turbolift.

    In fact he's not sure he really wants shore leave: maybe I can buy something for Nia, he thinks--self-deprecatingly, remembering his angst over the perfume for Bennett.. Although she did seem to like it. What would someone from a desert planet like? Does a shop on Anubis stock snowglobes?
       

  183. #183

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    Nia smiles wryly to herself at the news that, since she's on duty, she won't be among the group enjoying shore leave. When the captain emphasizes Graham's team--and oh, how Nia can't help enjoying Vargas's displeasure about that!--the smile turns to one of approval.

    Good. Even if they were on a resort, they had some bad times down there. She remembers hearing that Graham and that young Elasian girl were stunned to oblivion and back. And the cute, quiet one, Rangin? He was with the same pair when that psycho psi-user paralyzed them. Nia nods to herself. Yeah, they all deserve at least a few hours of R&R, with the emphasis on the latter.

    Her gaze dances over to Graham briefly to send him a look tacitly telling him to have a blast down there. Then she leans slightly nearer to the woman at her side. "Well, Bennett," she murmurs with mock disappointment. "Guess we stay behind like--what's that fairy tale story from Earth? Cinderella?--while the others go to the ball. Wouldn't mind joining them, but they've earned it."

    Then she overhears Graham's words to Singh and her lips tilt into another smile. A solid leader and gives credit to others. Nice. Not your typical Security lifer. She watches him leave through the turbolift--not a bad view either--and looks back down at her panel, making sure the orbit's stable, not that she has any doubt.

    "That Booker Graham seems gracious," she adds noncommittally under her breath. "Off to a good start, don't you think?" She's more curious about Bennett's reaction than anything.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 29 Apr 2015 at 12:02 AM.
       

  184. #184
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    In the Turbolift, Collins turns to Graham, smiles broadly and holds her hand up for a high five (or whatever the 23rd Century equivalent is).

    She tells the Turbolift her deck number. When she gets to her quarters, she messages Cooper to find out when he gets off duty.
    Last edited by anyrose; 29 Apr 2015 at 01:58 AM.
       

  185. #185
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    Before heading to the surface for shore leave, Dr. T'Var will check the computer files for information as to what a Vulcan might enjoy while visiting Anubis.
       

  186. #186

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    Other officers soon arrive to take your Bridge posts, and you leave via the turbolift.

    The Captain smiles at Kylah and Graham. "Certainly. Have a good time."

    Lt. Bennett leans over a little towards Onn and says, too quietly for Singh to hear, "Yes, I like Booker. He does seem to be doing well in Security, although I understand the OC3 mission was rather rocky. Just between you and me, he came on a bit too strong when we first met, but nothing I couldn't handle."

    Collins gets an immediate response: I'm off-duty now; only doing some odds and ends in my quarters. Just got the word about shore leave. Are you headed dirtside? COOPER.

    Anubis is a large, populous, thriving world, and offers something for probably every taste. What does T'Var have in mind?

    The corridors become a little more congested as your crewmates begin making their way to the transporter rooms to beam down.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 29 Apr 2015 at 09:57 AM.
       

  187. #187
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    It seems that perhaps Rangin was mistaken, as no sooner did Kylah look at him, she then looked away, a slight red flush on her cheeks. Maybe she wasn't interested in making contact after all. Nevertheless, it was up to him to at least try.

    "Thank you, Captain." he says after shore leave is mentioned before turning back to the panel and checking the last of the calculations are completed. He stands up and thanks Lt. Cmdr Roble for the opportunity at the science position. He then waits for Kylah to finish and joins her in the turbolift, "Would you be interested in taking a look around Anubis?" he asks politely
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  188. #188
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    Graham returns Collins' gesture, forcing a smile--it occurs to him being out in the wild might tempt Collins to fall off the wagon, but he's encouraged she seems to be in good spirits.

    Despite Nia's look of what he takes as encouragement to enjoy shore leave, he'd almost rather prefer a work-a-day watch. But turning down the Captain's offer would be stupid, he thinks. Nia'd probably be interesting on shore leave, he muses. A lot more likely to somehow be at the epicenter of rumble with Klingons in a dive bar than Bennett.


    He thinks about trying to say something nice to Rangin--remembering Kylah's comment from the previous night--but I don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to see he wants to talk to her. It'll wait...

    He heads to the transporter room.*

    *Stopping by his quarters to change if that's appropriate-he'll wear whatever's common pratice.
       

  189. #189
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    Collins replies immediately to Cooper "Hell, yeah! Transporter Room 3 in 5 minutes? She hurriedly changes into comfortable civvies and a pair of boots good for hiking and climbing, then runs to meet Cooper.
       

  190. #190

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    Graham is fine as he is, but it's his decision. Starfleet personnel customarily remain in uniform while on shore leave. See ST:TOS "Shore Leave," "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "Wolf in the Fold," for instance.

    Cooper meets up with Collins and sees she's changed. He says, "So... feeling outdoorsy, are we?" He excuses himself, returns to his quarters to change as well, and then returns to Transporter Room 3. The transporter chief asks where, in particular, they'd like to go. There are several nature preserves, and also still huge areas of wilderness well beyond the settled areas.
       

  191. #191
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    "Let's start with one of the nature preserves and take it from there," Collins looks at Cooper, "Okay?"
       

  192. #192

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    Kylah is incredibly awkward in the turbolift alone with Velir. She cannot flee her mortification over what a spectacle she made of herself last night; this man saw her naked, and rejected her, rightly so. He obviously wants to go back to being friends, comrades, as they were on Starbase 27. Kylah is unconvinced that she can go back--not after so pathetically exposing both her flesh and her desperation.

    Since she is unwilling to meet his gaze, she just looks at the door in front of them. "I... I suppose so," she murmurs after his invitation. "If you really... if you would like." She takes a deep breath. "I need to go to my quarters for a moment first. There are some things I would like to bring along. For errands." she adds even more quietly.
       

  193. #193

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    At Bennett's remark--"too strong, but nothing I can't handle"--Nia lifts an eyebrow. The Graham she met didn't seem particularly pushy. Self-confident, perhaps, but that was a pure mocking pose.

    Maybe he just behaved differently with Nia due to lack of interest. Scales aren't everyone's cup of tea, and besides, as a human he's probably more attracted to fellow humans--although Nia's never lacked for Terran partners.

    Well, likely he was bowled over by Bennett's physical charms and couldn't help flinging himself to lie prostrate at her feet. Or that's what Bennett wants her to think. Amused by both prospects, Nia just smiles and comments solely on the reference to OC3. "Yes, I heard things were difficult down there. That's what impresses me. It's easy to do a good job when everything goes smoothly--it's how you operate under fire that's the true test of a man. Or woman."

    Nia continues to monitor the ship's course, but since it takes very little of her brain, she's able to ponder what her friends who are lucky enough to be off-duty might get up to on Anubis.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 29 Apr 2015 at 02:47 PM.
       

  194. #194

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    Crewman Felice Dobson enters the Bridge and sits at the Security station.
       

  195. #195
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    Graham's not feeling especially social or enthusiastic about shore leave, but has adopted finding a snow globe as his mission.

    He's comforted by his uniform: maybe there will be a lost kid in a shopping center I can help to keep me occupied... He shakes his head slightly. Probably the lamest response to shore leave ever. Given Nia's apparently positive opinion of how I led the away mission, if I do find such a thing, that'll make a great story: What did you do planetside? I, uh, hunted down a silly toy.

    Well at least I'm spared the embarrassment of the highly unlikely event that both Bennett and Nia would be off duty and want to waste their shore leave with me...


    Somewhat lost in his thoughts, he attempts not to bump into anyone while heading to a transporter room, where he'll wait his turn to beam down.
       

  196. #196

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    After consulting an Anubis tourism guide on the Library Computer, Collins and Cooper are beamed down to the Horus Nature Preserve. It is heavily forested, and a deep, cold river runs lazily through it. There are extensive hiking trails, and hills and low mountains to climb. It is early afternoon, local time. The sun is shining brightly and they are soon working up a sweat.

    Lt. Onn has an uneventful watch on the Bridge, as does Dobson. The Yorktown remains in orbit; nearby ships and small craft come and go. The Captain and First Officer head belowdecks a few minutes after Graham and the others depart. "You have the conn, Mr. Bennett," the Captain says as she leaves. The navigator acknowledges the order and settles into the big chair with pleasure. Ens. Horst Leventhal takes over at Navigation; the young German gives Onn a friendly nod as he sits down.

    Graham also checks the tourism guide. He does not have a long wait before beaming down, and decides to go to a well-reviewed shopping and dining area in the city of Thoth. There are many different stores and restaurants, and the streets are crowded with people. The city compares favorably with any he's seen on Earth or the other Federation coreworlds. He spots Engineering Ensigns Emebet Woizera and Meredith Davis sitting in a corner cafe; they wave.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 29 Apr 2015 at 11:39 PM.
       

  197. #197
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    At the summit of the mountain they have been hiking, Collins finds a clearing and sits down facing the expansive vista below. She leans back on her elbows and stretches out her legs, then nods to Cooper to join her.
       

  198. #198
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    Rangin tries hard to swallow but his mouth has gone dry. "Yes, I really would like that very much indeed, if, that is you would not mind as well." he croaks out, somehow feeling like he is 12 years old again asking out one of the local girls.

    "Can I wait for you in Transporter Room 2?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.
       

  199. #199
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    Graham returns the wave and walks over to Woizera and Davis. He nods. "Afternoon--don't let me intrude, just stopping by to say hi. How are things in Engineering?"
       

  200. #200

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    Kylah nods. "Yes, I will meet you there," she says quietly. When the turbolift reaches Deck 7, she gives Velir one quick look that barely reaches his chest and chin before hastening down the corridor to her cabin.

    Her throat is tight with the urge to cry but she does not give in to it, not even when she enters the room and finds herself alone and there would be no one to witness a breakdown. All her emotions seem to be caged in a glass jar. She knows they are there--sorrow, shame, anger, fear--but she will not let them out.

    It does not take her long to decide what to take. Two of her plainest civilian dresses, both of which are short and made of thin enough material that even after she rolls them up and stuffs them into a canvas overnight bag, there is plenty of room. One pair of plain black sandals. The small red jewelry box given to her by her mother. And finally the zither, wrapped in its usual velvet cover. She packs it most carefully of all.

    When she is done, the bag is still very easy to carry over her shoulder. The zither is the only thing of any substantial size, after all. Kylah looks at her closet again, contemplating whether to change out of her uniform, but then decides against it. Too suspicious to change for no reason. If she really ends up brave enough to go through with this, she can get rid of it later.

    She glances around the room one last time, wondering if it will be the last time, and finally hurries out.

    Kylah reaches the transporter room, conscious of her bag but having already decided how to explain its presence. Fortunately, the one prospect she forgot to think about--whether Lt. Ferguson will be here--is not an issue. The only person who matters is Velir, waiting for her. She cannot help the flush when she sees him.

    "I am ready," she says somewhat unnecessarily. "I do not care where we go, but I do wish to find a place that might be able to repair my zither, if there is one." She automatically adjusts her bag's strap more securely over her shoulder. "I broke it and should have fixed this a long time ago," she adds, almost choking on the words. A wave of sadness overtakes her and in order to keep her expression from Velir, she busies herself by patting the bag as if to ensure that the instrument is safe.
       

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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #4: "Codex Aelyrr"

  1. #201

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    Cooper sits down, bumps Collins with his hip in a friendly way, stretches and pulls out a canteen. He offers a drink to her.

    Kylah finds a listing for a musical-instrument repair shop, also in Thoth. She and Rangin beam down and find themselves alone on a quiet street. The shop is just a few steps away.

    Woizera, an Ethiopian woman and environmental systems expert, and Davis, a communications specialist from Australia, are sipping coffee and enjoying the sun. "Don't be silly; it's no intrusion," Woizera says to Graham. She gestures to an empty chair as a waiter walks up. "Join us?"
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 30 Apr 2015 at 03:03 PM.
       

  2. #202