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Thread: Star Trek RPG: Apocrypha

  1. #1
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket

    Default Star Trek RPG: Apocrypha

    For those who wish to write further on the backgrounds of their characters in the ongoing Star Trek campaign.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  2. #2
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    In some respects, Graham thinks, the military and law enforcement haven’t changed over the hundreds of years since my ancestors came to what was then the United States and began a long tradition of service in one or the other.

    Bombastic, aggressive, sexualized—especially when you were talking about a gaggle of young officers or cadets on their off time.

    What had changed in Starfleet, of course, was that the culture was far more equal opportunity. Women as well as men, and aliens as well as humans, could take part in the same expression of…what? The phrase “lust for life” came to his mind. To some extent, despite all the technology and knowledge developed to date, every Security officer knew that part of their job meant they were a lot more likely to be injured or killed than other people. And the lust part…well, they were all 18 to 24 years of age, confined to barracks with little privacy when on duty…

    Everyone he was out with tonight—Coogan, Liza, T’kal, Rzzsah (however the hell you pronounced it), Weinstein, al-Arik—had some sense of propriety. Most true retrogrades were weeded out of Starfleet and Graham had no patience for those borderline cases who managed to stay in. But the level of propriety was surely less than that of the average civilian…particularly in the environs of Harvard Yard, where they’d caught a great live show, had a few drinks, and were looking to continue their pub crawl…

    So Coogan had the decency to wait until the tram car they were in had emptied before he expounded on the physical assets of the female undergraduate who’d just disembarked, in creative and graphic detail. Rachael Weinstein got onto some tear about painting herself green and “taking the young woman on a tour of the Orion sector”…which only prompted Billy Coogan to up the ante on braggadocio even further.

    Except that as they left the station, someone had slipped through the closing doors at the other end of the otherwise empty car. Graham noticed her out of the corner of his eye: well, that’s because I notice more than these jokers. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but I’m going to command Security on a Constitution-class ship, and they—well, they’re going to work for me, he thinks.

    About his height, angular, thin—refined features. Padd in hand. Probably a grad student, he thinks, I’d bet Boston Brahmin, her family’s probably been on Beacon Hill for 300 years. Beautiful. That word comes unbidden to his mind. Embarrassed. That does too—he can see her cheeks flush slightly, he notes her stiffened stance, eyes on the door, avoiding looking at him and his compatriots. Obviously she’d heard everything…

    “Shut up,” he says, quietly but firmly, to Coogan. His statement did not have the desired effect: Billy interpreted it as Graham feeling inadequate compared to his male virtues, prompting him to expound in some detail in his own…a soliloquy abruptly cut off when Graham’s outstretched arm caught his collar and his momentum carried him a step backwards. “I said, ‘shut up,' Billy,” he starts to say through gritted teeth…until the woman bolts through the tram doors as it opens at whatever stop they’ve just reached.

    Not her planned stop, Graham thinks as he launches himself through the closing doors hoping to catch up with her…

    [First Meeting Jane, part 1]
    Last edited by general_urko; 02 Jul 2014 at 04:57 PM.

  3. #3
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
    Sep 2009
    The North Coast


    "You are not going to Starfleet Academy," Amir Singh said with the tone of one accustomed to being obeyed.

    "Ah, but I am, Father," Sundri Parvinder Singh said. She was eighteen. Although no beauty, she was preternaturally calm and determined, with a fierce intelligence that sometimes almost scared her parents. She sat opposite them in the living room of their tastefully furnished ninetieth-floor apartment in the city of Taxila on New Punjab.

    "You are too young, little one," Kalpana Singh said, trying to be soothing. "You should not rush into these things. You still have so many other options here. Think of your friends who are staying; think of Arjan. He cares for you deeply."

    Sundri leaned back on the couch. "We've talked about this before, Mother. You said the same things when I first applied, when I was prescreened, and when I passed the entrance exam."

    "But--" her mother said.

    The young woman continued, "You said the same things when Capt. DiAngelo recommended me, and when Councillor Mittal nominated me."

    "What your mother means is--" her father tried to put in.

    She turned to him, eyes flashing. "And you said the same things when I was admitted, Father, and when I received my orders to report to San Francisco. When will you both understand that I'm going to do this?"

    Her parents looked at each other in near-defeat. Her father tried one more line of attack. "You have told us your ultimate goal, but be realistic - no woman has ever commanded a Starfleet vessel. We love you, and we only want what is best for you, my dear. How do you know you will be the first, that you will be the one to break down this barrier?"

    Sundri looked down for a long time before saying quietly, "I don't know that I will be... but I know that I have to try. Of all the things that you have taught me, Father, that is perhaps the most important of all."

    With that, he found that he had no more words. His wife burst into tears of both pride and grief at the parting that she now knew was inevitable.

    Their eldest daughter flew into their arms.

  4. #4
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    "More Than They Bargained For..." (Part 1)

    The nightgown-clad girl sits on the floor, dressing her doll while her parents similarly prepare for their party. Kylah knows the event has something to do with her cousin--as always.

    She scowls. It’s not fair. Every week some new fuss is made over Elaan, who hardly needs more reasons to act superior. At twelve, Elaan loves reminding Kylah that she's far too mature to play with someone barely out of the nursery.

    "Calm yourself, Ranni," Papa is saying. He brushes invisible lint off his blue suit with the gold braiding that Kylah loves. "We’ve likely years until the succession. Listen to your brother, he has told you of the talks with Troyius, and his own ideas for--"

    "The Council always talks, and Aldaan's ideas mean nothing. Without his own seat he is a glorified assistant. As far as their talks, if they do not hurry--" Mama glances into the mirror at the woman behind her, only now remembering that the family is not alone. Mama's hand sweeps upward in wordless dismissal of the maid who just finished braiding her elaborate hairstyle.

    Shaleen curtseys, also in silence, smiling sweetly at Kylah before exiting the room. Kylah does not return the smile; the maid's heart is full of hatred. Adults are so strange.

    When the door closes, Mama continues as she pushes golden bangles on her arms--which are still slender despite her swollen belly. "Those talks had best bear fruit soon. If she becomes Dohlman before a deal is brokered, she will take us to war rather than obey the Council. No different from her father, that one. Thinks she was born with a crown and throne."

    "But she does not want a crown." Kylah pretends the doll is Elaan and shakes its head back and forth in an exaggerated No! gesture.

    Mama continues primping, but Papa bends to Kylah. "What are you talking about, child?"

    "Elaan. She does not really want to wear a crown. Or to sit on a throne."

    Kylah says the words with her usual blunt certainty. She has never seen a reason not to speak the truth. Lying is something adults do, and even Elaan, for that matter. It seems silly to Kylah. Why bother when everyone already knows the truth?

    And yet Papa looks so odd, and is genuinely surprised by what she is saying about Elaan. Perhaps they just do not pay attention to young people. That seems the most likely.

    Well, at least Kylah has Papa's attention now.

    (To be continued...)
    Last edited by choie; 04 Jul 2014 at 07:40 PM.

  5. #5
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    “Miss, um, hey,” Graham says, regaining his footing as he lurches out of the car, in the direction of the back of the woman moving at a brisk walk away from him.

    His eyes narrow: definitely not her stop. She took one step left, then moved aggressively and quickly right…opposite the side I got out of the car. Smart, decisive, though, he thinks. As she accelerates her pace and he starts after her, he begins to worry he’s frightened her.

    That worry is assuaged when she spins around, eyes blazing, and advances toward him quickly enough to make him stop and take a step back. “And you’re following me why?” she snaps, placing her hands on her hips.

    Graham swallows. “We…ah, we thought the tram was empty. If we’d seen you get on, we would’ve not… We obviously made you uncomfortable enough to get off before your stop…”

    She does not seem mollified. “So it would be just fine talking about a young woman like she was a haunch of meat among yourselves, just not in public, that’s it?” she replies. Her eyes are blazing at him—whether she was embarrassed or worried before, she’s angry now, and he’s the object of her ire.
    But I’d never let a word like that be said about you, is what comes to his mind. I’d gag Billy Coogan with his own spleen first…

    “Or are you on quest for a story to bring back to your friends…let’s save us both some time, shall we?” She shakes her head and points toward the tram. “How about this, you raced after me and I couldn’t resist the pheromones exuded by your biceps. Why don’t you just go ahead and go back and tell them about ‘your incursion into my Neutral Zone’ and have your fun. Me, I actually have work to do, if you’ll excuse me…”

    She turns and Graham can’t help but reach toward her…but he draws back an inch from touching her shoulder. Instead he sprints ahead of her, and stands in front of her, raising both hands. “Look…I…I just wanted to apologize. No story, no…incursions…I’m sorry…embarrassed…I…you’re right.”

    She comes to a stop and stares at him. She tilts her head slightly. “How did you know this wasn’t my stop?”

    Words tumble out of his mouth. “I’m in Starfleet Security…I notice things like that, how people behave and what little clues they throw off…”

    The woman shakes her head. “You and your friends think you were doing a good job making people feel safe, do you?”

    Graham’s eyes widen. “Oh…oh, no, no--we were out of line. If you want to file a complaint, it’s Ensign Graham, Ensign Booker Graham.” He rattles off his serial number and commanding officer. He drops his eyes and mumbles almost to himself. “I was the most senior person there…I should have known better, led better…”

    The woman replies much more softly than her previous tone. “I don’t feel much like filing a complaint, Ensign Booker Graham. Let’s call it even--you and your friends made me angry and it looks like I’ve ruined your night, at least.”

    Graham smiles wanly. “Can I just…see you to your stop…please,” he says earnestly. “So you are…safe.”

    She raises an eyebrow. “From what, randy Starfleet Security officers?” she asks. He thinks she smiles a little, then shakes her head and gestures toward the tram stop. “I can’t stop you…if it makes you feel better, mine is three stops on. You should feel free too…” She sees to think for a moment. “Ride in the car at a reasonable distance. Understood, Ensign?”

    Graham nods. By god, she’s beautiful, he thinks, as he takes a couple steps back. “Of course, ma’am,” he answers, clasping his hands behind his back and not even dreaming of asking her name.

    [First Meeting Jane, part 2]

  6. #6
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    “De-cloaked my Warbird.”

    Graham’s been standing at parade rest, staring dutifully straight ahead at the tram’s door while the woman stood off a little ways to his left. I look like I’m on diplomatic security detail, he thinks. He keeps his face neutral, but he’s become glummer as he counts stops: one, two…next one is hers. Then she says something.

    “Sorry, what?” he says, turning his head toward her.

    She looks back at him and shrugs. “I was just trying to be helpful, thinking of some colorful phrases you could use to embellish your exploits with your friends.”

    Graham flushes slightly and looks down at his feet. “Your point is…well taken.” He sighs and shrugs in turn. The tram starts to slow. “I just…I just wish we might have met under better circumstances,” he says, glancing sideways toward her as the car comes to a stop.

    She moves toward the door—standing in front of him, she looks over her shoulder. “Well—maybe that’s worth a shot.” The door opens. “I have symphony tickets tomorrow. Meet me there at six, if you’re free then.”
    Graham is frozen in parade rest as she pauses in the open doorway and turns toward him. “And Ensign Booker Graham—the name is Jane, Jane Haighton. PhD if want to stand on ceremony. And…bringing flowers is hokey, and I don’t need them…but probably best to bring some nice ones anyway, mister.”

    And then turns and walks briskly away, and the tram starts to move.

    [End of First Meeting Jane]

  7. #7
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    "More Than They Bargained For..." (Part 2)

    Kylah's words seem to have sent some strange pulse of concern through her parents' bedroom. Instead of adjusting his scarf, its elegant white silk edged with the same glimmering gold braid as his formal suit, Papa stares down at the girl still playing with her doll on the floor.

    "Elaan doesn't want a crown," he repeats slowly. "Tell me, child. When did she--"

    "Oh, Sulaar! Do finish dressing!" Mama, still seated, touches a dainty, lilac-shaded scent crystal along her throat to impart its perfume. "It is late, we cannot waste time on a mere jest."

    "A jest? Has this girl ever joked in her life?" Papa absently ties the scarf, but his gaze remains on Kylah. "Did Cousin Elaan say she does not wish to rule?"

    "Not aloud." Kylah is proud to have engaged her father's interest on a night when all the family's thoughts are, as always, about Elaan. "All she does aloud is brag about it."

    "Then how can you be so sure she--"

    "Dearest!" Mama swivels in her chair. "Why indulge this fantasy? Kylah is not yet five, she knows nothing of the sort. She is making it up."

    "I am not!" Kylah insists, both insulted and confused. "How could I be? It is plain as anything. Elaan feels afraid. She hates that she must grow up to be Dohlman. Well," she amends, "she does like being in charge. She always loved being boss when we used to play. But rules, the things she will have to do because she has to... I know she would rather flee."

    "Clearly we have an incipient interpreter on our hands," Mama says, half-amused, half-annoyed. Kylah does not recognize the words, but it is clear they are not something her mother is happy about. "Now, be honest, Kylah. You really think can tell all that just from her tone?" When Kylah just looks puzzled, Mama adds patiently, "How her voice sounds?"

    "Not her regular voice. The one in her head--but not truly a voice, just..." Kylah senses Mama's doubt growing. Frustration makes her slap her doll on the floor. She can neither explain herself nor understand why she needs to. "Mama, you must know what I mean! Like--like when you talk to Auntie Aleena. You say 'how wonderful for Elaan' but inside you are mad. And Auntie pretends it is nothing but she is really glad you are upset."

    She turns to nod toward her father. "Or when Papa asks Uncle Aldaan to dine even though does not want to, but he does because it pleases you. And how Uncle Aldaan is friends with Papa though he knows Papa dislikes him. And he thinks you both made some kind of mistake and do not listen to him nearly enough because you do not know how powerful he will be..."

    Gradually her words slow to a halt when she hears the increasing clamor of her parents' emotions. It is almost deafening.

    Kylah winces and nervously reaches for the doll again, hugging it close. "Mama? Papa? What is wrong?" They only stare at her as if she is a stranger, and she swallows, forcing herself to demand: "Why are you so scared?"

    (To be continued...)
    Last edited by choie; 07 Jul 2014 at 01:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
    Sep 2009
    The North Coast


    Jim Delaney, age fifteen, wasn't supposed to have left his aunt and uncle's apartment on the Upper East Side that night, and he definitely wasn't supposed to be with his older friend D.L. Snow, whom his parents suspected (correctly) to be Not A Good Influence. But Lord Fastolfe was playing New Madison Square Garden - Lord Fastolfe! - in the flesh, with Hansel's Tonsils opening for him, and Jim wouldn't have missed it for the worlds.

    The concert was everything he'd hoped for - the lights, the holos, the effects, and especially the songs he knew by heart. Oh, the songs! The songs! D.L., who had a knack for such things and knew somebody in NMSG's back office, had found them pretty good seats on short notice, but they hardly sat down all night, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs through "Supernova," "Romulan Resurrection," "She Killed Me (So I Returned the Favor)," "Pillaging Between Friends," "Noticeably Gone," and so many others, and, of course, as the final encore of an incredibly high-energy show, the classic screamer "No Love of Mine."

    Even before the last note died, D.L. grabbed Jim's elbow, hissing, "Come on, let's go - follow me." They ran past the first few people in the crowd who, smiling but utterly drained, were just rising from their seats. D.L. led Jim down one of the exit corridors and thumbed the lock on an unlabeled door. "Through here," the older boy commanded and, mystified, Jim obeyed. The door clunked shut behind them and the hall lights blinked pallidly on. It looked like nobody had been in there since New Mad was built. D.L., practically trotting, went down the hall a few dozen meters, then took a left, then another left, and then a right. Jim did his best to keep up. An identical door loomed ahead, and D.L. again thumbed it open. The boys found themselves in an echoing, somewhat more brightly-lit and definitely wider hallway. No one else was around.

    "What the...." Jim started to say.

    "Just wait," D.L. said confidently.

    In moments Jim saw why. Approaching them, striding along, impossibly chiseled and garishly (un)dressed, was the Lord himself, with Angie and the rest of his band close behind. They were laughing and joking; Jim was glad to see that they had apparently had as much fun performing together as he had in watching and listening to them. A bevy of big, unsmiling people in dark clothes moved with and around them, but at a gesture from Fastolfe, they didn't trouble the two teenagers.

    "Hey, guys," the superstar said, not breaking stride as he went by, but giving them a lazy, friendly smile. "Hope you liked the show."

    "Ooo, you're cute," said Angie, just as magnificent as in the pics and vids Jim had seen a million times. The Angel, Fastolfe's sex goddess/backup singer/lover/coconspirator/muse, stopped just long enough to grab D.L.'s head in both hands and bestow a big, wet, sloppy kiss on his lips. In moments the entourage had passed, noisily exuberant on their way to their dressing rooms, and the two boys were alone in the hallway again.

    D.L., usually impossible to impress, worldly and jaded as only a 17-year-old can be, could only stammer, "That was... wow. It. It.... It was... uh... you know?"

    Jim realized his face was hurting because he'd been grinning so broadly. "Yeah. I know, buddy. I know exactly what you mean."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 08 Jul 2014 at 02:02 AM.

  9. #9
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
    Sep 2009
    The North Coast


    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 08 Jul 2014 at 01:53 AM.

  10. #10
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    "More Than They Bargained For..." (Part 3)

    This time the bedroom is silent for only an instant after Kylah speaks. Face ashen, Kylah's mother slides her cumbersome body out of her chair to her feet, one hand on her belly as if protecting it. "Sulaar, how can she know all this? How? What kind of witchery--"

    "I do not know." Papa shakes his head and threads his fingers through his thick dark hair. "We can never surprise her," he murmurs. "She always finds hidden gifts. Always guesses our feelings accurately. I... I do not think they were lucky guesses. Were they?" Papa kneels and clasps Kylah gently by the shoulders. "Were they, Kylah?"

    His touch only makes her shudder, because now his fear has traveled to her. It is clear what he wants her to say--what both her parents want her to say: that she was just lucky. But why do they not already know the answer? It makes no sense.

    This has always bothered Kylah. People's emotions are so obvious to the young girl, as easy to read as the expression on their faces...except that expressions can lie. Emotions just are. And yet the young girl rarely understands the reason behind them. Like a treasure chest that only opens a crack, she can peek inside but never quite grasp the mystery.

    "No, it was not luck," she says. Hearing her mother and father's breathing quicken, Kylah clutches the doll more tightly against the chill of their mutual terror. "Why?" Kylah asks. "Why are you asking me?"

    Mama is silent. Papa, after a frozen moment, suddenly turns his back to her and rummages among the things on Mama's dressing table. He is unusually clumsy as various jars of lotion and powders fall unheeded to the floor. Then he faces Kylah, both large hands closed into fists.

    "Kylah," he says, his voice calm despite the raging going on inside him. "Do you know what I am holding in each hand?"

    She stares at him. "No. Not just like that. You know it is not..." Her voice fades when their gazes meet and she can see how important this is, for some reason. She gnaws at a thumbnail. "Do not forget, you must think about it too," she reminds him in a small voice. He mumbles something under his breath she cannot understand.

    Kylah's eyes close. She pushes everything out of the room--a difficult task considering how the adults' increasing agitation is pressing on Kylah's brain. Frowning at her inability to focus, Kylah suddenly realizes what's missing, what usually does the trick, and reaches forward to rest her small fingers on her father's left wrist.

    He flinches in surprise. And so does she, at the almost electric dread he imparts to her. He does not want to hear her answer. Then why ask? Kylah shakes her head at her helpless confusion and wills herself to block even her own thoughts.

    Only then can she finally see a flash of an outline that, seconds later, coalesces into an image. Triumphant, she opens her eyes again and pats the hand beneath her. "The red flower pin! The broken one Mama never wears."

    Papa's jaw tightens. When he opens his fingers to reveal the sparkling ruby pin, Mama's breathing catches mid-inhale. Then she lets the air out in a rush of brittle words: "And in the other hand?"

    "Oh Mama, it is empty. He is pretending!" Kylah almost smiles at the silliness. But there is nothing silly about the contagion of fear that infects all of them once Papa's right hand opens and his arm drops heavily to his side.

    Kylah bites her lip, at a loss to comprehend her parents' behavior--until, in a sudden flash of understanding, the light dawns. "Mama," she begins with a rising, uncomfortable sense of being different. "Could you not tell what he was holding? Cannot everyone do that?"

    Mama responds only with a question of her own. "Why did you touch his arm before answering?"

    "So it was easier to feel what he was feeling, to see what he was thinking. It is always easier that way. Are you truly not the same? Why will you not--"

    "Sulaar," Mama blurts. "We must talk. In private."

    Papa seems to agree and he opens the door, ushering Kylah to the corridor by cupping her head with one hand. His fingers absently brush her wild curly hair for a second before he suddenly yanks his arm back as if his flesh was burned. With a reddened face, he mutters that Kylah must go to her room. Finally the door closes, shutting her out.

    Her parents do not attend the party that evening after all, begging off by claiming Mama is unwell due to the pregnancy. They remain sequestered behind their bedroom door, forsaking even their own dinner for hushed conversation.

    This is only the first of many such tests that Kylah will undergo in the ensuing years. And that all-too-brief caress before Papa pulled away is one of the last voluntary touches Kylah will ever receive from either parent.

    * * *

    Kylah looks at her father for a long time. Still hesitant even now, she reaches out tentatively and runs her fingers along his hand. Even when she touches the scar tissue he does not move away. Papa will never shrink from her again. And his mind, which since that day not so many years ago has been a torrent of doubt and worry, is what so few people's are to her: blank as a featureless wall. Mama's is the same.

    Conscious that her last gesture toward her parents is one that would have repulsed them, Kylah forces her hand away and takes an awkward step backwards.

    From the corner of her eye she sees Uncle Aldaan--now her Guardian--who is protectively hugging her little brother and sister close to him, give a silent nod to the Priest. At this silent order, the marble slabs move toward the ceremonial vaporization chamber and disappear beneath the curtain. One flash is visible beneath the heavy draped material.

    As the girl turns to leave, Aldaan reaches out to console her. But she ignores him and walks out of the temple. This time it is Kylah who will not be touched.

    Last edited by choie; 08 Jul 2014 at 02:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Sixteen weeks. More than a quarter of a year had passed, and they had not managed to see each other face-to-face. Jane had mostly been on Earth, and when she’d been offworld it seemed as if she was always on the opposite side of things from his assignments. The fact that he had made Lieutenant J.G. through grit and hustle and one-hundred-and-ten-percent dedication seemed to be small consolation to Jane for his failure to find any way to be together.
    Her message had reached him at a singular time.

    * * *

    What the hell is it with xenobiologists? Graham thought, as the science officer’s shout intruded on his determination to disintegrate the goddamned rampaging six-legged brute thing charging at the landing party.

    “Don’t kill it, it may be sentient, we just need time to find a way to communicate!”

    The heaviest stun settings on their phaser twos didn’t even distract the rhinoceros-like creatures. The largest of what seemed to be an otherwise passive a pack of six was bearing down hard on Ensign Weinstein.

    I’m senior Security officer: her safety is my responsibility, he remembered thinking. So Graham did the only thing he could think of: he ran alongside it and punched it in the face. Or more specifically, the eye, which seemed likely to be the only spot where a human fist could attract the thing’s attention.

    In that, at least, he was correct. The last he remembered it turned on a dime, faster than he imagined such a cumbersome beast could move, and impaled him on its tusk…

    * * *

    When he regained consciousness in the Starbase hospital, the pointy-headed son of a bitch had at least filed a complementary report. Apparently after the pack-alpha creature (the eggheads still weren’t sure which were male and which were female) had established dominance by impaling and stomping on Graham the creatures had become quite tractable, and depending on who you believed were somewhere on the intelligence scale between chimpanzees and homo sapiens. “Lt. Graham’s restraint in the use of force preserved a valuable scientific opportunity.”

    But it was the short transmission from Jane that cut through the haze of drugs and pain: “If this isn’t important to you, Boo, maybe we should just let it go.”

    * * *

    Even bedridden, transport was easy to arrange via subspace: a favor here, a promise there, a hey-remember-me and he had a series of hops that would get him back to Earth. Getting out of the hospital was another matter. He still had ten days of medically mandated convalescence when he engaged the Bolian M.D..

    The doctor had listened quietly to his shucking and jiving, trying to wheedle permission to get out of bed and take a walk until he held up a hand to stop Graham from speaking.

    “I’ve ‘been around the block’ as you humans say, Mr. Graham, and I’ve already figured out you have a mind to leave” he’d said. “And I doubt either our medical or security procedures are likely to stop you. But if you die I’ll be in a fair bit of trouble, so perhaps we can come to an agreement.” The bald alien stared him directly in the face from about six inches away: “Don’t die.”

    * * *

    Multiple fractures, punctured lung: the officially prescribed meds plus the “extras” the doc had allowed him to pocket on his way sneaking out of the loading dock at the Starbase hospital had mostly controlled his pain and symptoms. Mostly. As he stood in pouring rain outside of the lecture hall at Harvard where Jane was scheduled to teach he noticed he breathed with a noticeable wheeze. Also at the last minute he noticed that he must have torn something open slightly, so blood mixing with water was creating a light reddish pool around his feet…

    Jane’s colleagues backed off a respectful distance as he staggered up the stairs toward her—whether out of politeness or alarm, he didn’t know or care, and he wasn’t inclined toward small talk because he was concerned about passing out.

    He extended the bouquet—the same mix of flowers he’d presented on their first date—with a shaky arm. “Please ...tell me…tell me what I need to do, who I need to be,” he rasped, thinking he looked like death warmed over and sounded as bad. “To be your husband.”

    [Soundtrack: https://soundcloud.com/lylafoy/no-secrets ]
    Last edited by general_urko; 19 Jul 2014 at 11:20 PM.

  12. #12
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
    Sep 2009
    The North Coast


    Pablo Vargas knew as a very young man that he wanted just two things in life: to excel in Starfleet, and to marry his childhood sweetheart, Rosa Carillo.

    Growing up in rural Peru, the two were inseparable. Their parents were friends from the University of Lima, and the children, born just three weeks apart, knew each other and were playmates from their very earliest days. Pablo and Rosa went to school together, studied together, hated (or loved) the same teachers together, and explored the hills and forests near their homes together. Pablo was always the serious one, an introvert who did not make friends easily; he got good grades but had to work hard for them. Rosa laughed loud and often, had a hundred friends, and effortlessly got top marks. They shared every secret, and as the years went by they drew even closer together. They talked of their hopes and dreams - Starfleet for him, of course, and a civil-engineering career offworld for her.

    Pablo grew into manhood, tall and lean, neither handsome nor ugly, but with a solemn, ascetic air that some found off-putting. Rosa blossomed into a stunning, vivacious young woman that every man - and not a few women - noticed whenever she came into view. She suffered no lack of suitors, but had eyes only for Pablo, even though he long seemed unaware of it.

    "Opposites attract," some of the old folk of the village said knowingly.

    "I saw it coming years ago," others boasted.

    Rosa and Pablo had been friends and companions for so long they were both just a little surprised when they became lovers, the summer each turned 17. It happened one night when they were walking in the hills west of the village, on paths long familiar to them from their childhood rambles. The moon was high in the sky that July night, brightly serene. They stood in a hilltop meadow, holding hands, and drifted easily into each other's arms and then into a kiss which led to an intimacy neither expected, but which felt as natural, as inevitable, as erotically charged and blissfully fulfilling, as either could possibly have hoped for.

    "This changes everything," she whispered to him sometime later, nude, safe in his arms as a cloud passed across the moon. Their clothes were strewn about them, there under the trees.

    He kissed her tenderly. "It changes nothing. Well, almost nothing. I'm still Pablo, and you're still Rosa. We're still friends, just with... um, something else added."

    She giggled. "'Something else.' Listen to you. What a romantic you are! My Grandmother Natalia would twist your ear off if she heard you say that."

    Smiling in the darkness, his teeth gleaming, he said, "Well, then, you'll just have to make certain never to quote me to her."

    "I could probably agree to that, my love - on one condition."

    "What's that?"

    She kissed him longingly, and returned his smile. "I think it's better if I just show you."

    Words soon became unnecessary, and their second time was even better.

    Rosa's family was relatively traditional, and the two tried to keep their secret, but as is often the case in a village that small, few secrets are kept for long. Rosa's father, when he learned a few days later what had happened, raged at her while her mother simply wept.

    "You will never see him again," he shouted. "It is over. Do you hear me? Over!"

    "I love him, Papa, and he loves me. He's asked me to marry him," Rosa said through her own tears. "I want to marry him. We were meant to be together. Please, Papa, please!"

    "Never," said her father, and meant it. In the months to come, before she went to University herself, he yielded to her begging only once, allowing her to attend his swearing-in as a Starfleet Academy cadet. Rosa and her father went together to San Francisco and were lost among the thousands of onlookers in Admiral Greene Hall as Pablo and his fellow plebes stood, proud and nervous in their new uniforms, raised their right hands (or analogous extremities), and swore the time-honored oath:

    I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United Federation of Planets. I will obey the lawful orders of the President of the Federation and those appointed over me. I wholly renounce any previous allegiance to any world, state, organization or person other than the Federation. I take this oath freely and voluntarily, and swear that I will carry out my duties to the best of my ability, as long as I shall serve.

    As many but not all of his new classmates did, Pablo added, So help me God.

    At the raucous reception afterwards, he distractedly accepted the congratulations of his own family and friends, but looked in vain for Rosa.

    He got only one clandestine letter from her as the rigors of Plebe Year swallowed him up. The letter was sweet and heartfelt but far too short, and was then followed by... nothing. Not a word for a long time. As a first-year cadet he soon found he had little time to even think of her, let alone wonder why she did not keep in touch. When he could, though, he tried. Her comm account, at home and then at University, bounced back all of his messages. His actual letters to her, sent directly or via mutual friends who swore they would sneak them past her vigilant and still-disapproving father, were returned or went unanswered. When he finally returned to the village on leave that winter, the Carillo door was locked to him, and he found no answers among all those he asked. His parents, surprised and saddened by the rift with the Carillos, also found their efforts to help their son in vain.

    Just after the start of his second Academy year, when he had been approved for advanced training with the elite Starfleet Security Special Operations (S3O) unit, Pablo was surprised to receive a letter with familiar handwriting - her handwriting.

    He tore it open, but his soaring hopes came crashing down as soon as he read the brief lines. I am well, she wrote, and studying hard. I apologize for not writing sooner - there has been my father's command, of course, and my studies, and also I have met someone - someone who has become very special to me. I don't write this to hurt you, but because we've always - always - been honest with each other. Dearest Pablo, you and I are not the people we once were, the pair who had such plans back in the village. It's time we both moved on, isn't it? I want you to be happy, just as I have now found happiness with Eric. She wrote some other things that he barely took in, before closing, Please don't try to contact me again. That would be a mistake for us both. Forgive me, Pablo, and know that I will always treasure that first night by moonlight. I hope you will understand.

    He did not. He was crushed. Rosa, the woman he loved... the one women he had ever loved... the woman he'd hoped to marry... was now lost to him. Had actually turned him away.

    The days passed, and his classmates soon noticed a new intensity in Cadet Vargas, a burning core of determination and a driven spirit that swept aside all obstacles. He excelled at the Academy but did not make many friends. Those few who were drawn into his circle hardly ever heard him speak of his childhood, and of Rosa? Never.

    His career in Starfleet had begun, but he was without her. His broken heart he kept concealed from all. That summer night now almost seemed to be from some other plane of existence, a place and a time that it still pained him to recall. Rosa would not hurt him again; they would never again share their dreams with each other. Of each other.

    He armored his heart, let no one past his defenses, and did his best to forget her. In time, he could almost convince himself that it was for the best.

    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 21 Jul 2014 at 11:37 PM.

  13. #13
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
    Feb 2009
    at my computer

    Default Snippets from Jeremi Collins' life: #1

    Four year old Jeremi skips into the living room where her father is watching a vid of an old sporting event.
    "Hey, Jer-Bear. Join me." Her father calls to her and pats his lap. She climbs up and get comfortable. She points to the screen, and asks "Basket?"
    "Yes, sweetie." Her father touches the screen to enlarge the view of one particular player in a green tank with gold lettering. "That's my granddad, Mickey Collins. Watch him go."
    Jeremi watches the screen as the players run back and forth with the big dark orange ball. After several minutes, she declares "I do that!" and looks up at her father with a big smile.
    "Sure, baby. I'll teach you." and he gives his daughter a loving hug.

  14. #14
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
    Feb 2009
    at my computer

    Default Snippets from Jeremi Collins' life: #2

    Margaret Collins is looking through some pictures on the vid-screen when her 11 year old daughter Jeremi joins her.
    "That's Aunt Siobhan when she was my age, right?" Jeremi asks her mother. The girl in the photo is chubby and eating something fried on a stick.
    Margaret puts her arm around her daughter's waist and holds her close. "Yes," there is sadness in her voice "my sister has always been overweight, even when we were children. Now, she's paying the price."
    Jeremi thinks about how her aunt looked the day before when they visited her at the hospital. The middle-aged woman was bedridden at over 500 pounds, with tubes in her veins and down her throat, and electrodes attached all over to monitor her heart and other vital organs. "I never want that to happen to me" Jeremi tells her mother. "I will eat healthy and play lots of sports."
    "That's a good plan," Margaret replies, "Just don't over do it. Moderation in everything, sweetheart" She kisses her daughter's head, then continues swiping through the family photos.

  15. #15
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    The steady swish of the gentle surf lapping the shore makes it easy to fall in and out of sleep—despite the fact that the water is slightly pink and the sky is mostly green.

    Graham awakes in the hammock at one point to find Jane’s head on his chest, her finger tracing the line of a scar down his arm.

    “Are you comfortable laying like that?” he asks.

    She smiles and he can feel a small shrug. “I like to listen to your heart.”

    He doesn’t mention that it has stopped twice in the last twelve months prior to resuscitation by Starfleet medical personnel. But he’s now Lieutenant Booker Charles Graham and she’s an associate professor at Harvard University.

    “Do you…” he chokes up and can’t manage to get the next words out.

    “…think it’s time?” Jane says, continuing where he left off, tilting her head up to catch his eyes.

    Graham’s chest feels like it will explode and he works hard to hold back tears. “I hope we have a daughter like you,” he whispers, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

  16. #16
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
    Sep 2009
    The North Coast


    You could say that Edgardo Cheverez, age nine, didn't particularly enjoy his class on Earth History.

    "Just a few more questions, sweetie," his mother Sylvia said. "You have that quiz tomorrow, and I want you to do well."

    "I know, Mom," he said resignedly. They'd already been at it for almost an hour.

    "All right, so we've gotten through World War III. When was United Earth finally established for good?" she asked.


    "Who was the first World President?"

    "Ari Koponen, of Finland." Everyone knew that, he thought.

    She nodded. "And who is the current one?"

    They'd left Earth when Eddie was only three, so he hadn't heard the name much. "Uh... Marcus... Lamati?"

    "Correct. Where's he from?"

    The boy thought. "Benin?"

    "Close. It's Tanzania, in...?"

    "The United States of Africa."

    "Very good." She glanced at the chrono on the bulkhead. "All right, one more question. A toughie to go out on. What are the ten most populous regions of Earth?"

    He screwed up his face. "Aw, c'mon, Mom!"

    "C'mon yourself. You know this."

    He sighed. "Do I have to say them in order of population?"

    She checked the workpad for the teacher's note. "No."

    "Whew." He ticked off his fingers as he said, "OK...the Sino-Japanese Confederation, the European Alliance, the British Commonwealth, Pacifica, the Pan-Arab Republic, the United States of America, the United States of Africa." He closed his eyes and thought. "The... Bolivar League, Great Asia, and... Russia?"

    She applauded. "You got it! Good job, Eddie."

    "Thanks, Mom. Are we done now?"

    "With that, yes. Next comes Applied Engineering."

    He smiled. He liked AE much better. He reached for a work tablet, but his mother shook her head.

    "You won't need that. Tonight you get a field trip."

    "A field trip? Where?"

    She looked up at the chrono again, and at that moment, the door chimed. She smiled. "Why don't I just let Technician Morgan tell you?"

    "Susanna's here?" he said excitedly, jumping to his feet. He ran to the door and tabbed it open. His best friend on the whole crew stood there in stained coveralls and battered work boots. A patch with three interlinked yellow triangles and the words Settler Ship Hurley was on her right shoulder. "Hi, Sue!" he chirped.

    "Hey, Eddie," she said, returning his smile. "How are you?"

    "Great! Where are we going?"

    Morgan gave a wink to Mrs. Cheverez. "Well, your mom and I were thinking maybe you'd like to see the warp core today."

    His eyes grew round as saucers. "The warp core? Wow! Really? I thought the Captain said I couldn't?"

    She grinned. "I had a word with the Chief Engineer, who had a word with the XO, who had a word with the Captain, and six meetings and eleventy-three forms and waivers later - slight exaggeration - the Captain allowed as to how it just might be OK."

    The boy started jumping up and down. "Wow, that's great! Thank you thank you thank you! Did you hear that, Mom?"

    "I certainly did. You do just as Sue, says, though. Don't touch anything you're not supposed to."

    "I won't. Bye!" He was out the door and into the corridor in a flash.

    "I'll have him back in--" Morgan started to say to Mrs. Cheverez.

    He stuck his head back inside the compartment. "Hey, c'mon, Sue! Let's go!"

    She laughed, and so did his mother. "Sir, yes, sir!" The technician walked with him aft, listening as he chattered all the way.

    It was almost an hour later when they returned. Mrs. Cheverez hadn't been worried; she trusted Morgan implicitly and knew she would've had a call if there'd been any problems.

    Eddie's energy level did not seem diminished but was, if anything, boosted. Morgan, on the other hand, looked like she could use either a double espresso or a stiff drink - both of which Mrs. Cheverez offered, but Morgan declined.

    "Mom," said Eddie breathlessly, "it was amazing. I got to see everything! The warp core, the injector assembly, the antimatter/matter feed system and reaction assembly, the nacelle control leads, the gravimetric field displacement manifold... everything!"

    "Well, good. I hope you thanked your guide?"

    "Oh, definitely. Thanks again, Sue!"

    "You're welcome, Eddie. Now remember the deal: Work hard, keep your grades up and listen to your parents. You can't be a starship engineer if you don't do all that."

    "I know. I will, I promise. Cross my heart!"

    "It's late, Eddie," his mother said gently. "Go get ready for bed, please."

    "OK." He rushed into Sue's arms and gave her a big hug. "Thanks again, Sue!"

    "You are more than welcome, kiddo. Sleep tight."

    When he had gone into the other room and the door had whisked shut behind him, his mother said, "Carlos and I really appreciate this, Sue. You're so good to let him bother you so."

    The tech was weary but pleased. "Oh, it's no bother. I really do get a charge out of him. He's a lot of fun, and he already knows more than half the crew. Hell, in another few years, he could probably do my job."

    "That's nice of you to say, but--"

    "No joke. I'll tell you, Sylvia, if he sticks with it, your son is going to make a helluva engineer someday...."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 28 Nov 2018 at 12:31 PM. Reason: fixed spelling error

  17. #17
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Fiona flew through the door and slipped into her room without a glance or a word.

    "What's wrong with her?" Dad mumbled, briefly disturbed from watching vids and grumbling with far more intensity about how he "should have been" a captain, a sergeant, you name it, just like those "young punks, aliens and women" getting their choice of shifts and assignments on the force.

    Fiona would never answer, Graham knew, watching (yet again) the same scene. She was...quiet. Like Mom, after she stopped...being herself, being anyone, really...

    What's wrong, Graham thinks, she's cutting herself you son of a bitch, because...

    But he says nothing.

    Because her cutting herself would mean something wrong with her, not him.

    But more because the conclusion of the sentence is "because of what they are doing to her."

    And what would he say? "You're her brother, take care of it." That would be the end of it, especially because she was the last of a number of daughters his parents didn't particularly want. And he was the son who was supposed to grow up to be the man of the family, not be a frightened weakling.

    And in that moment, looking at the closed door of his sister's room, everything changed.

    There will be no help, no hope. This is all there is You're her brother, take care of it. Everything she suffers from this moment on is on you, your responsibility.
    Last edited by general_urko; 14 Aug 2014 at 10:48 PM.

  18. #18
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Graham thought it was odd that the room lights hadn’t come on automatically as he crossed the threshold, about a second before the sack was pulled over his head.

    He immediately propelled himself backward, hard, toward the now-closed door.

    He heard the whoof of air exhaled by the assailant at his back as they struck the wall: whatever was over his head had been pulled down over his upper arms, pinning them, but he was still free from the elbows down.

    He pulled forward, lashing out with his feet to tangle his assailant’s and take them to the ground. Every thrust was blocked and he found himself struggling to prevent the sack from being pulled down further and his own balance from being thrown off.

    His mind raced. Strong, well-trained…but definitely lighter than me, he thought. And I’ve memorized the layout of the room. He extends his arms downward and grabs fabric—presumably his assailant’s pants—and jerks forward. Two steps and then I swing right and whoever it is will smash their calves into the coffee table…

    In one step he stumbles over the coffee table and they both crash to floor.

    Dammit…whoever it is moved shit around, anticipating that I’d know the room layout. Super smart.

    But he was able to turn as they fell, and now they’re locked together, facing each other, his assailant’s hands holding the sack and tight against his upper arms, while he has a death grip on either the bottom of their shirt or the top of their pants.

    “Dammit Booker,” Rachael Weinstein says, “I was going to tie you up.”

    Underneath what smells like a pillowcase from the dorms he squints. “Uh…do I owe you money or something, Rache?”

    In the second he relaxed she swings him onto his back and her on top of him. “Ha. No, I’ve been thinking. Graduation is coming up, and the fact is that when you’re a superior officer boffing your brains out will be totally out of line. So I thought I’d seize the moment before the opportunity slipped away.”

    Graham wriggles but finds himself still pinned. “Ah—I thought you, uh, played for the other team?”

    His fellow cadet laughs. “I’m selective. I like girls—and, you know, girly-men like you.”

    “Oh very funny,” Graham replies, carefully sliding his legs slowly so he can pin one of her legs between his and torque her knee until the pain would force her to release him.

    “Hey,” she interjects. “I know what you’re doing down there, the Gastolfe Hammerlock. If you try it I’ll have to use a counter move that will…well, the whole purpose of my visit will be sidelined until the swelling subsides. In four to six weeks.”

    Graham stops moving. “Look you do know I have a roommate, right?”

    “Well given your reputation I figured we wouldn’t need more than a minute or two…” she replies.

    “Hardy freaking har har,” Graham says, carefully renewing his efforts to pull of the Gastolfe Hammerlock.

    She laughs. “Just kidding, super stud, I told that dweeb to go calibrate some phaser rifles and in return I’d cover a crap shift for him.” She whips the pillow case off his head and then her shirt over her own. “Now are you going to cowboy up or what?”
    Last edited by general_urko; 30 Aug 2014 at 09:59 PM.

  19. #19
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    The Last Collectible - Part 1 of 4

    The insufferable music from the dorm party infiltrates the room despite the sound-dampening field Kylah turned on a half-hour ago. With a growl, she bends lower in her chair, clamps her hands over her ears, and tries to refocus on the text on her datapad. The only light currently on in the room is above her desk, but through the window she can see the flashing of fireworks and other celebratory illuminations.

    Kylah can think of no more inane way to commemorate something as sober and supposedly noble as the founding of the United Federation of Planets—Federation Day, as it is called—than with exploding light shows, over-imbibing of alcohol, and dancing like electrocuted mannequins. But the holiday falls during the break just after midterm examinations, and apparently cadets at the Academy believe this joyful concatenation of events gives them an excuse to behave like animals.

    She has no such luxury of time, much less the desire to follow the lead of her classmates. Her third year at the Academy has not gone well so far, and she is now at risk of failing--failing!--Xenocultural Studies. All because she wrote a report describing Kahless the Unforgettable as the Klingons believe him to be--the brave warrior who united his people, formed an empire, and initiated their laws of tradition, nobility and honor.

    The report was read aloud by her instructor, Lt. Delian, who vilified it as almost seditious. "After all," he had exclaimed, "no less than the crew of the venerable Enterprise have only just seen what this so-called deity Kahless was 'really' like*--a venal, cowardly monster."

    Much to Delian's outrage, Kylah had refused to accept this rebuke. "But the fictional construct they supposedly met was not the real Kahless," she had insisted. "The mission report told us that what the Enterprise crew saw was a fantasy, a creature with traits that humans ascribe to Kahless and their enemies. It is a sham, something the Federation wishes to believe in order to maintain their hatred for Klingons."

    This had earned her multiple demerits, scorn from her classmates, and a required rewrite from scratch on a factual subject 'not so likely to inspire invention.'

    It also got her in trouble with her Guardian, once she admitted the incident to him. In the fiercest language available to him using their oblique code, Uncle Aldaan had chastised her for the stubborn pride that led her to risk revealing just how much first-hand knowledge she has of Klingon culture.

    And that is why now, instead of spending much-needed time in flight training or studying for the Emergency Medical Course--or just escaping the campus altogether to some distant desert where she could pretend herself back on Elas--Kylah is stuck here writing a banal, Federation-approved report, seemingly the only cadet not using the pretext of patriotism to get intoxicated in the rec lounge two floors downstairs, also known as 'party central.'

    She turns up the volume of her own music--the Klingon opera Beyond Gre'thor's Curse, the choice of which is a small but meaningless act of defiance considering no human would recognize it for what it is. Still, at least it nearly drowns out the idiotic strains of whatever foppish rock star the cadets are worshipping these days.

    But after some more minutes of suffering, Kylah decides 'nearly' drowning it out isn't enough. Kylah hates to risk her hearing, but she cannot bear the din any longer, and finally inserts the audioplayer's tiny earpieces so deep into her ears that she feels as if she is right on stage with the opera's main characters, a pair of lovers cruelly trapped by a jealous sorcerer in Gre'thor, the land of the dishonored dead. Right now, in the sixth act, the pair have nearly fought their way out past the guardian beast Fek'lhr to reach Sto'Vo'Kor at last.

    As a result, with the fireworks popping outside, the blaring music in her ears, and the force of concentration aimed at her datapad, Kylah completely misses the brief increase of noise as her door whooshes open, then closes again. Only the sudden jumbled, almost incoherent emotions that assault her mind alert her to anything unusual. She lifts her eyes from the text to the window in front of her desk, which allows her to see the reflections of two clearly intoxicated young men behind her.

    Startled, she swivels around.

    To be continued...

    * See ST:TOS - The Savage Curtain
    Last edited by choie; 06 Sep 2014 at 06:20 PM.

  20. #20
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    The Last Collectible - Part 2 of 4

    Kylah stares at the two fellow Academy students in varying levels of intoxication who have just entered her room. Cadet First Class Darren Zweller, the taller of the pair, is the only one with whom she is familiar: the accelerated program she is taking thanks to her uncle’s influence has placed her in some advanced level classes with Zweller and other seniors.

    But even this minor level of familiarity has bred contempt. As with most things, Kylah is largely alone in this sentiment: Zweller is both popular and near the top of this year's graduating class. A quick-witted young man with reddish hair and a swaggering walk he seems to have practiced in a mirror, he is famous for his brilliance as a pilot, good looks, magnetism, and poker-playing skills.

    Just as notorious is his competitive streak and acquisitiveness when it comes to romantic conquests. His well-publicized aim is to sleep his way throughout the Federation-aligned races, planning to bed every non-human female he meets who happens to possess compatible sexual organs. Thus far, according to rumors, he seems to have succeeded with everyone from Andorians to Vulcans.

    Despite their sharing some classes, Kylah’s main interaction with Zweller has been at poker games, before she was unofficially banned thanks to claims that her wins were due to cheating—admittedly, a just accusation, even though none of the others could determine just how she was so able to call their bluffs. But before she was disinvited, Kylah often found herself one of the only players left at the table seated across from Zweller. Her empathic abilities were almost useless with him: he was remarkably gifted at bluffing. He had an eerie ability to believe wholeheartedly that his measly pair of 2s was in fact the best hand any player could possibly possess.

    Sometimes he would suddenly lift his gaze up from his cards to meet hers, and before Kylah darted her eyes away, the smirk on his lips seemed far too knowing, too intimate. As if he could tell what she was up to—and more, as if he could see right through her clothes. To be honest, during her first two years at the Academy, Kylah had a mild crush on him. But now, if there is one consolation for having been banned from card games, it is that she no longer has to sit opposite Darren Zweller. They have had nothing to do with one another ever since.

    She is thus astonished to discover him in her room. Kylah immediately yanks her audioplayer earpieces free and slams them onto her desk. "Zweller," she snaps. "What are you doing here?"

    "A better question is, what are you doing here?" Zweller says, offering his charming sideways grin and leaning against the bunk bed nearest him. "You aren't at the party."

    "You will make a wonderful pilot, able as you are to spot the obvious right in front of you." Kylah pulls her robe more tightly around her and points to the door. "Now navigate your way out of here. And take your friend with you, whoever he is."

    "You haven’t met? That's something to rectify." Zweller slurs the 's' a bit, but seems less drunk than his shorter companion, a slim, pale youth who looks barely old enough to have finished his pre-Academy screening, much less to have legally consumed enough liquor to turn him as green as a Vulcan. "This is Paul Coleman. He's a freshie I'm mentoring. You know, fourth years have to take on a newcomer and show him the ropes. Initiate him. That's what I'm doing now." He smiles at some hidden joke, then turns to his young friend. "Coleman, this is Kylah. Just Kylah. She's such a tiny little thing, she only needs one name."

    Kylah greets the stranger with a curt nod. Meanwhile, Coleman blearily looks her up and down, and—especially at chest level—from side to side. "Doesn't look that tiny to me," he says in an attempt at an adult voice, although his snicker ruins the effect. "But she does look human. I thought you said she was something else."

    "Oh, she’s something else, all right." Zweller chuckles and shakes his head. "Trust me, she's only half human. The important half of her is Elasian."

    "Which is the important half? Top or bottom?"

    As Zweller snorts at the younger man's would-be smutty joke, Kylah flushes, stands up and again aims a finger at the door. "You are not welcome in here. I order you to leave!"

    "Order?" Zweller laughs. "You're not royalty here, cadet. We're all equal in the eyes of Starfleet."

    "I am not yet an official part of Starfleet. Neither of us will be until we graduate. And I will not graduate unless I redo this report, so I must ask you to—"

    "Oh right, I heard about your Klingon love poem. That was hilarious. Ol' Delian hates Klingons, he must've turned eighty shades of blue."

    "That was not my intention, I merely wrote the truth. Mr. Zweller, will you please leave?"

    "The princess uses the word please! Damn, I never thought I'd live to see the day. That's a new thing for you Elasian girls, isn't it? Manners?" Zweller grabs her pointing finger, gives it a light kiss, and lowers her arm. "Pointing's rude, though. Need to brush up on things."

    Kylah snatches her hand free and steps backward, only to bump up against her desk. She feels trapped and does not like what she is sensing from Zweller or his red-eyed friend. Zweller's playful demeanor masks an aggressive determination that she recognizes from those nights staring at him across the poker table. Automatically she mutters, "For the thousandth time, I am not a princess," but it is pointless. No matter how many times she says this, others will not seem to listen.

    Sure enough, Zweller pays no attention and continues in a murmur just loud enough to be heard above the fireworks and music outside the room. "I told Coleman here all about your hot cousin, the Dohlman. I guess she's Queen Elaan, now. I mean, he'd heard of her--what guy hasn't gotten off to those shots we saw of her on the news vids?--but he didn't realize we had a living, breathing example of Elasian royalty right here." Zweller smile turns sly. "Not just that, but the only Elasian in all of Starfleet."

    His words make Kylah's stomach shrivel into a hard, cold knot. The only Elasian.

    Of course. That makes her the ideal conquest for Zweller... To him, Kylah is a unique item, another prize to be sought.

    Perfect for his collection.

    To be continued...
    Last edited by choie; 08 Sep 2014 at 12:19 AM.

  21. #21
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    The Last Collectible - Part 3 of 4

    The party downstairs continues to thump music through two floors and multiple walls as it reaches Kylah’s room, but all Kylah can hear now is Cadet First Class Zweller's voice as he goes on blithely about what he knows—or thinks he knows—about Elasian women. "Your cousin was some piece of work, I hear. Practically uncivilized, didn't even know how to eat with utensils. Naturally Captain Kirk got her in line. And he got her everywhere else too, they say. His bed, her bed, the rec room floor—"

    "Pernicious lies!" Kylah's hands curl into fists. "She was on her way to be married. She was bound to another! She would not break an oath."

    "Nuh-uh. Not according to a couple of the Enterprise engineers my brother met on leave at Starbase 2." Zweller glances at his young protégé, the first-year cadet Paul Coleman. "One thing you'll learn is that there's no one more gossipy than engineering crewmen. I don't know why it is, but if you catch those guys on breaks you'll hear the juiciest stuff."

    Zweller's handsome face turns back to Kylah and he absently runs a finger along the filmy fabric of her sleeve. "I heard Elaan slept with no less than three guys on one trip. Her fiancé, once they landed, obviously. But you know that poor idiot who killed himself, a guard or something? Well, supposedly she'd slept with him so he'd agree to sabotage the ship, just to make sure she wouldn't have to follow through on the deal. Can you believe it? Imagine sacrificing yourself just after one good lay! She must've been incredible."

    "They say all Elasian girls are like that, they can drive guys wild," Coleman says with a speculative leer at Kylah, although he aims his words at Zweller—which he has done ever since arriving, as if Kylah is some zoo exhibit he cannot be bothered to address. "You think it's true?"

    "Here's hoping." Again the sly smile that makes Kylah's jaw clench. "Anyway, when that didn't work, she moved on straight to Kirk. She made him crazy for her, then screwed him blind so he'd do what she wanted. Of course, Kirk got control of the situation. He always does. Still, her plan nearly worked." Zweller glances over Kylah's shoulder to her datapad, then lifts his gaze slowly back up to her mouth. "Kinda surprised you didn't try that with Delian. Why rewrite a whole report over a break when you could've fixed things with one quickie? I mean, you'd have to attack him, I hear Andorian guys like it rough, but that's what you gals are into anyway, right?"

    "Terran pig!" Kylah lashes her hand out at his face, but Zweller is fast enough to block her slap.

    "Easy, there. Easy." Zweller holds her wrist still for a moment, then lets go with what he clearly thinks is a disarming smile. "No need to prove me right so quickly."

    He flicks a look at his friend, whose own eyes haven't left Kylah's form for a second. "In fairness, Coleman, I know our little princess here is such an anomaly she wouldn't have gone after Delian like that. We've all heard regular Elasian girls are insatiable. But Kylah's one-of-a-kind. Three years and I've never seen anyone get anywhere with her. I mean, that’s abnormal for human girls, much less Elasians. It's gotta be the half-breed thing. Just think of the waste. All this..." He makes a curving gesture to describe Kylah's figure. "...And she's not following her true nature to spread it around, just because of some weirdness in her gene pool. They oughtta use her as a warning example in Xenobiology. Mixing races is good for diversity and survival but it does dilute some mighty fine traits."

    Kylah stares warily at him, her hands now gripping the edge of the desk behind her. She has no idea how to get him to leave. A scream would be useless in this noise—besides, he has not done anything. Yet.

    "What do you want from me?" she says. "What do I have to do to get you out of here?"

    "C'mon, Kylah. You're on the Communications track, aren't you? Am I not communicating plainly enough?" He coils his finger through one of the curling strands of hair that's fallen loose from her barrette. "I could make it plainer but I don't think that'd be much fun."

    She lowers her burning face to stare at the floor, both furious and frightened. She knows very well that his definition of fun does not coincide with hers. Her voice is barely a whisper: "I do not want you here."

    "Yeah, well. We have an ancient folk saying on Earth. 'You can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.'" Zweller brushes her loose hair back, letting his fingertips linger along her shoulder. "And seriously, Kylah, what you need, more than any girl I ever met, is to get laid. You're wound so tight you’ve got the gravity of a white dwarf. Time to loosen up."

    He is too near, too strong, crowding her, and she knows she has no chance of getting free using her weapons. She vows in the future to learn how to defend herself in such close quarters. But that will not help her tonight. Zweller is not alone, and as small as Coleman is, he is still bigger than Kylah—and it is clear he will do whatever Zweller tells him. Even if she could reach her weapons, she cannot protect herself from two larger and stronger men. And suddenly she wonders: Why both? What was Zweller's purpose in bringing this other cadet?

    She licks her bone-dry lips and tilts her head toward Coleman. "Why—why is he here?"

    "I told you. I'm initiating him. Or rather, I want you to do it." Zweller leans forward and stage-whispers: "Coleman's like you, princess. Never been touched."

    "Aw, what the hell, don’t tell her—"

    "Shut it. You think she wouldn't be able to figure it out? She's inexperienced, not stupid." Zweller turns back to Kylah. "Look, I figure there's no better way for two virgins to get their start than together, on the same night. I initiate you, then you do the same to him."

    Kylah flinches. "That is revolting. I barely know you, and what I know I do not like. And you expect me to—do that? With you and him? Just because you say so?"

    "Not just because I say so. But tonight's a night for celebrating the Federation. The union of different people. All coming together." His grin widens as his fingers interlock. "Elas isn’t in the UFP yet, but obviously its little princess is ripe for early admission or you wouldn’t be at the Academy. And I only have a couple more months before I leave. The timing couldn't be better."

    For the first time, Zweller's voice develops an edge—the tone of a man certain he will one day command a ship. "As I said, you aren't stupid. Let's face the facts. The three of us are kinda in our own little world here. With the party and noise and everything, everyone else might as well be on Vulcan. It's just Coleman and me, facing little Princess Kylah. Someone no one likes, no one listens to, and who gets consistently crappy combat grades. Not that I want to put those skills to the test," he adds, back to his playful manner. "I want you to enjoy things too. Why not keep things friendly for all of us? Don’t make this difficult."

    "You filthy—you have no idea what difficult is! If you dare to harm me you will be in violation of innumerable rules and laws. You will be expelled and arrested!"

    "Maybe, if anyone believed a word you said. But as the whole Academy knows, you’re an infamous cheater—I still don’t know how you won all those games but there’s no way you did it fairly—and you love making humans look bad. You’ll even glorify Klingon scum to insult us. Not sure what the psychology there is… maybe some self-loathing, you must hate the part of you that isn’t 100% pure Elas blood." He is standing close enough for his breath to move her hair. Its moist heat burns her skin, and the alcohol scent repels her. Most of all, she feels dwarfed and insignificant. "But why does it have to be so ugly? Let’s make it nice. I promise, it will be real nice."

    She shakes her head over and over. "Please do not do this, Darren," she whispers. "Please. You will regret it."

    "No, see, that isn't how politeness works, princess. You can't say 'please' one second and threaten the next. You really do have a lot to learn. If you're good I'll teach you all you need to know. You'll thank me, I swear. All girls do." He looks down at her for a moment, as if waiting for her to agree that yes, of course, she is very grateful for his forced attention. When she says nothing, he goes on with a sickeningly casual air. "Like I said, I'll take my turn before Coleman. Your first time shouldn't suck, and I don't want seconds. I've got a rep to maintain, y'know."

    Kylah is still mute, breathing so shallowly she is getting dizzy. Zweller smiles and uses a finger to lift her chin slightly. "If you're still not sure, think about your own reputation. Once people know you're up for a good time, you'll be totally set for next year. You'll finally be seen as normal, not some ice statue with a stick up your ass, gorgeous or not. Play nice and I promise I'll take you around, talk you up, make you fit in. Don't you want to be liked, even if only in your last year here?"

    After trembling in aching silence for some time, after desperately weighing every strategy, Kylah finally lets her shoulders slump. There is really only one choice for her. She nods.

    To be continued...

  22. #22
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
    Sep 2009
    The North Coast


    On Mars, about a decade ago....

    Dr. Miriam Villa had been practicing medicine for six years. She knew without conceit that she was good at what she did, but could not escape the feeling that her career was somehow going down a blind alley. She liked helping people, she liked her colleagues at Weinbaum Memorial Hospital, she liked the Martian urban life, but... something was missing, somehow. So, recently, she had decided to take her life in a very different direction.

    But for today, she still had a full schedule. She took a deep breath, ran a hand through her spiky black hair and walked through the examination room's sliding door to see her next patient.

    Rosemary Donnelly was about a month pregnant, and quite clearly did not want to be. She had been trying for weeks to decide between giving up the baby for adoption or getting an abortion. Now Dr. Villa had another option to present to her. Deep down the young physician thought it might further reinforce her patient's indecision, but she was sure it was something Donnelly should at least know about.

    "Hello, Rosemary!" she said cheerily, smiling as she sat down opposite her patient in the spartan ob/gyn examination room. Donnelly was 37, prematurely aged, the weatherbeaten wife of a weatherbeaten Martian cave-root farmer; they already had six children and no wish to have another.

    Villa conducted a standard prenatal examination and scan; everything looked good. As her patient got dressed she said, "I know how hard you've been thinking since we last met. Any decision yet on what you'd like to do?"

    "No, Doctor," the woman said, in a voice raspy from long exposure to windblown sand. "I keep turning it over and over in my mind. Frank and I have talked about it a lot, too. I just wish I could figure out what to do."

    Villa nodded. "I understand. Well, today, at the risk of... complicating your decision, I wanted to tell you about a third option. As you may know, there've been several techniques developed over the years for human fetal or embryonic transfer. Most of them haven't worked nearly well enough for me to want you to consider it. But there was just a study in The Lancet, a major medical journal, about the Haifa Method, named for the city where it was developed. It's encouraging - very encouraging. It has about a 97% success rate."

    "Wow. That's good, right? How does it work?"

    "Well, you'd have to be of the same or compatible blood type as the surrogate - that is, the person to whom we'd transfer your embryo. Typically, she would also be in her second to third month of pregnancy but have undergone a miscarriage. Alternatively, the surrogate would have a monthlong regimen of accelerated hormones, a pregnancy transitional drug cocktail, and fluid extracted from your amniotic sac; that's the less preferred, and not as often successful, option. If everything looked good, we'd microsurgically remove the fetus and placenta from you and implant it in her. Under some circumstances, we'd also remove a few layers of your uterine wall, but that gets tricky. In any event, it would be very safe for you."

    Donnelly seemed intrigued. "How long until you'd know if it worked?"

    "We'd monitor her for at least 72 hours after transfer, by which point we'd know if we were successful. She'd then have a normal gestational period. In about a third of such cases, we'd have to perform a Caesarian for the birth, but that's no problem. Now, I've never done this kind of operation before, but there's a specialist in Ares City I'd refer you to. He already has a list of eligible and willing women."

    "What if it didn't, uh... take?"

    Dr. Villa pursed her lips. "At worst, for the surrogate, it would be like any other miscarriage. Not pleasant, but not dangerous to her."

    "Oh." Donnelly was solemn. "I'd hate to put a woman through that twice... or even once, for that matter."

    Villa nodded. "Of course. It's a big decision for you, and for the surrogate, if it comes to that." She put her hand over Donnelly's. "I encourage to speak to Frank and let him know what the options and risks are. I'll give you some information to take with you, and you're welcome to get a second opinion. The ultimate decision is yours, of course."

    Donnelly looked at her doctor with a mixture of hope, overwhelmedness and bewilderment. "Right. Okay. This is a lot to take in, you know? I'm having a little trouble wrapping my brain around it all, but I'll talk to Frank when I get back to the farm."

    "Good. Any other questions for now?"

    "No. No, I don't think so."

    "All right, and let's meet again in, say, another week. Or you can call me. If you decide to go this route, time may be of the essence."

    "I understand. Thank you, Doctor. It's so good to know you're looking out for me... for us."

    Villa smiled and showed her out. She was almost done making notes in Donnelly's file when the wall com buzzed. Harold, her admin assistant, said, "Dr. Villa, you asked me to let you know if a message came in for you from offworld."

    Her heart leaped into her throat. She'd always thought that phrase was not only overdramatic but, of course, medically impossible, but at this moment she had to admit it perfectly fit how she felt. "Put it through, please."

    She brought up her comm account. It was just what she had been expecting - and hoping for. She read with growing excitement:

    TO: Dr. Miriam Villa
    FR: Fleet Capt. Kabir Abdullah, MD, Dean, Starfleet Medical Academy
    RE: Admission to SMA

    Greetings. I am pleased to inform you that your application has been approved and you are admitted to SMA. I congratulate you; less than one in twenty applicants is admitted to this school. As you are already a licensed and practicing physician, you will find that your studies over the next few years will focus on the challenges and opportunities of space medicine, and Starfleet medical protocols, doctrine and equipment. You will report to SMA, Starbase 9, between 0900 and 1100 on....

    The rest of the words were a blur, but she knew already that her life would never be the same again.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 29 Jul 2015 at 02:03 PM.

  23. #23
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
    Feb 2009
    at my computer

    Default Snippets from Jeremi Collins' life: #3

    Having advanced through the first rounds of the District High School 5K meter event, 16 year old Jeremi takes her place at the starting line for the finals. She concentrates on her breathing and tries to ignore her opponents lined up around her. I can do this. I can get to the Nationals, she tells herself.

    BANG goes the gun, off go the runners.

    Focused only on her lane, Jeremi feels like she is flying around the track. Her hindbrain starts to remember the kiss, her first kiss with Michael. Augh! Not now!, and she adds a burst of speed, passing two runners. She has no idea what place she's in, nor does she care. The track seems to move with her, helping her along.

    Fourteen minutes later, she walks around on the grass with her water bottle, alternately sipping from it and squirting it on her head. The announcement comes over the loudspeaker.

    "In fifth place, Barbara Eisenstein, 14:00.53. In fourth place, Girra Hotkanin, 13:57.23. In third place, Simona Nilox, 13:56.12. Second place, Jeremi Collins, 13:54.68. First place, Agathia Barrowman, 13:54.66. Barrowman and Collins move to the Nationals. Congratulations all."

    Jeremi sees Agathia, who seems to be made all of leg, walk towards her with her hand extended. "Thank you," Agathia says, "good race. See you next month."

    Jeremi shakes her opponent's, now teammate's, hand and smiles. "Yes," is all she says.

    Jeremi looks around for Michael O'Brien. He cost her the race and she owes him something. There he is, standing with their group of mutual friends. She calls out to him, and he turns and walks towards her. When within reach, she grabs him by the shoulders, and plants a long kiss on his lips. "Now, go take your chemistry final." she says tauntingly as they hug.

    That evening, Jeremi and Michael walk along the park talking about nothing in particular, stopping periodically to kiss and embrace. I hope love is always like this. This is good. This I can handle, she thinks as they walk.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 11 Sep 2014 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Edited at anyrose's request.

  24. #24
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket

    Default Raptor

    The vista is glorious.

    Looking out from a precarious position, Velir perches halfway up a tree. Through the thick foliage, he can see the quiet forest stretching away down valleys in this untouched wilderness, the sun filling the valleys with golden light.

    Smiling to himself, even if he came away empty handed, this view alone would have been worth it, he considered. Looking back up the tree, Velir begins to climb again.

    "Don’t look down, a little to the left, that branch there, bit further up., carefully does it, quietly now."

    Velir’s slow words of decision slowly creep from his mouth as his careful ascent continues, the words matching the actions, each handhold, each footstep. It wasn’t just the fact it was a large tree some 30 or so metres tall, it was also slightly overhanging a sharp cliff at the top of the hill.

    "Easy now, which way? which way? aah, there it is"

    Looking carefully up through the foliage he could see his goal, a bird’s nest, parent’s absent and ripe for the picking. Only a few more meters upwards but a delicate eternity away should he make any mistake.

    After all, no-one knew precisely where he was give or take several square miles or so. He didn’t have a communicator, in fact nothing electronic at all. His hiking gear was at the base of the tree hidden under some brush. If anything went wrong, a slip or a fall, well that was probably it.The closest anyone knew was the drop off he had had two days ago, followed by the long hike to reach here. He’d already seen plenty in the wilderness, notebooks full of jottings and sketches, but the real reason for his visit was at the top of this tree. It had taken a few hours to find the right place, but it was going to be worth it.

    Moving slowly around the trunk, and reaching for some new branches, he takes care not to slip on the moss as he angles round for his ascent. Unable to use any grips or claws, which could show any marks, he is reliant on just the thin canvas of his shoes. Listening for any signs of the birds returning from their hunt across the valleys, he inches his way upwards.

    “Right leg, that branch, move left here, knot hole there, nearly there."

    Velir stops just below the nest, now only a few feet away and plots the path upwards, which branches will take his weight, where to avoid. As he does so, he absentmindedly pulls out a small spray and covers the gloves he is wearing. The mixture was designed to provide a little extra grip as well as mask any scent they might give off. Useful, if you knew where to get it.

    With one last appreciation of the climb, and still hearing songbirds around, Velir moves up to the nest and peers over the edge of it. As his eyes clear the side, the grin on his face widens.


    Three eggs all covered in down and nestled gently. Three Forgan’s Raptor eggs worth a lot of money if you knew the right collector to sell them to. You could make a lot of money doing this, you just had to know where to come.

    Moving slightly higher, Velir opens a small case at his side, the slight pop of a clasp instead of the usual sealants. Moving it to the nest, he carefully picks up the smallest of the eggs and places it within, before closing the lip and fastening the clasp. Pressing a small button on the end, the sound of a chemical reaction slowly taking place inside would keep the egg warm for five days. He would just need to remember to keep turning the box.

    Looking at the mechanical chronometer, he makes a note of the time and nods. Plenty of time and as he has his alibi, it is time for the real purpose of his journey.

    Climbing further up, the foliage begins to thin slightly, the nest left behind and the view expanded further. The sun was higher and the valleys illuminated fully. From his aerial perch on the hill, he could see for miles and he drank in the silence, the beauty and wish that it could always be like this.

    If only it could be so.

    Velir sighs and pulls out a notebook and a pair of binoculars and focuses carefully on a small point down the valley, carefully zooming in from his hidden point. With the sun behind him, he wouldn’t give away any trace of him to those down below.

    Several miles further on, he could see the illegal mine slowly churning away. The rumours that had filtered down to him were right. Orion Syndicate, new one at that, but enough time to fully set up everything. He could see the electronic and energy sensors pointing out and he grins, knowing his preparations had been worth it.

    "Nothing to see here", he whispers to them, though he knows they can’t hear it. The huts were camouflaged well, but the engines not quite so, as he looked around to try and estimate what was down there. Small operation, ten or twenty at the most, fairly self sufficient, that was all.

    Pulling out his notebook, Velir starts to add notations of new animals groups he has seen. If anyone was to read his scrawl, it would look like the average wilderness animal tracking log. To Velir, it's the details of the camp, the personnel and equipment.

    Finishing his notes, Velir puts the items away and pulls out an energy bar, something to keep him going on the hike back to his rendez-vous point and the new vehicle taking him home.

    His friends would be interested in mine, after all, its hard to be illegal when everyone know you are there and the place is swarming with the military. The Orions could leave his planet alone, it wasn't theirs. This was Coridan.

    The egg, well the egg would be going to the Cordas zoo’s breeding program. He knew they wouldn't ask where Velir got it from, but it would help the endangered species. Rangin hopes that the Raptor's have more success raising two instead of three.

    Sitting as a raptor in the tree, seeing his prey below one last time, Velir looks out, smiling at the glorious sight and then begins his slow descent. He and his friends would strike and when they did, everyone would know about it.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  25. #25
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    The Last Collectible - Part 4 of 4

    When Kylah nods her assent to the senior cadet’s repulsive proposition, Darren Zweller's eyes widen and his teeth gleam with his smile. "Atta girl, princess. That's more like it. Now. I'm guessing you don't know what to do, exactly, but you don't have to worry about a thing." He tilts his head toward the door to address the other young man in the room, although his eyes still capture Kylah's. "Okay, plebe. Wait outside until I get you--"

    "No." Kylah straightens her back. "I do not want him to leave. Make him stay here."

    "Oh shit," Paul Coleman says in an awed exhale. "She's... she's serious?"

    Zweller eyes her, doubt shading his expression. "You want another guy watching? I don't buy that."

    "I do not care what you 'buy.' I will not have anyone seeing him standing outside my door, as if he is--as if he is in a brothel waiting room." Kylah forces her voice through her tightened jaw. "Are you reluctant for your friend to see you?"

    "Hey I've done it with all kinds of people in the room. I just didn't think it was your style... but I can appreciate you wanting to preserve your all-important sense of decorum. Anyway, watching might be instructive for him." Zweller chuckles and draws her near the bed. "All right, princess, let's get to it. Is this bottom bunk yours?"

    Her eyes blink an acknowledgement but her body remains rigid. He just smiles, murmurs her name like a trainer soothing a fractious mare, and with practiced grace reaches up to unclasp her barrette so her long hair tumbles loosely over her shoulders.

    Kylah gasps and snatches back the silver clip--the only item of her late mother's jewelry she took to the Academy. "Do not touch that!" she cries, holding it close to her breast. "I will undress myself."

    Zweller sweeps his arms apart, graciously granting her permission. He is still only a foot away and she can feel both his body warmth and the heat of his mental excitement. Taking tiny breaths, Kylah reaches out to place the barrette on the night table, but her fumbling fingers miss the edge and the heirloom clatters to the floor.

    Too haunted to look away from Zweller, Kylah lets it lie there. After an uncertain pause, she jerks awkwardly at the ribbon that keeps her robe together. The filmy garment slips from her arms to puddle at her bare feet.

    Both young men stare at her, now clad only in a pale blue silk nightgown. It is not very revealing in itself--not by Elasian standards, despite its short length--but Kylah realizes with the desk lamp behind her shining through the material, there is probably not much hidden from them.

    "I don't believe this is really happening," Coleman says hoarsely. Zweller remains silent. But Kylah is nearly engulfed by the surging wave of his desire and--even stronger--his triumph.

    She lifts her chin and halts her actions. "I am not a slave girl performing for you. You must undress as well."

    Zweller doesn't seem to want to stop looking at her, but eventually he nods. "No need to ask twice," he jokes, and takes a step back to undress. Soon his casual clothes--no uniform during a break--are gone, and he is left in his underwear. His chest is well-muscled, as are his arms and legs. And no empathic powers are necessary to tell just how much he is anticipating this. "Your move," he whispers.

    The air drawn into her lungs almost chokes her; her throat is so tight, each exhale is practically a whimper. Still she complies with the steps of this mockery of a dance. Kylah lowers the straps of her gown, shrugs free of them so that her arms are now completely bare. But her left hand clasps her gown to her chest before it can fall to reveal her bare flesh. The silk shimmers with every ragged breath she takes. "Please," she says softly, and looks in embarrassment at Zweller's body. "I have never seen a man before. I am scared. Will you...?"

    "Nothing to be scared of. I'm not going to hurt you. And if I'm the first one you're seeing, it's good you're starting with the best." Zweller takes another step back from her so he can pull off his final item of clothing, after which he lifts it up with a flourish of his arm, presenting his nakedness like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat. "You can see I'm more than ready for you, princess, so no more stalling," he says as he starts to drop the underwear onto the pile of clothing. "Trust me, with my help you'll be just as ready--"

    Even as the words are leaving his mouth, Kylah's right hand lifts the hem of her nightgown, grabs at her thigh, clasps the trusted leather-covered hilt it finds there, and before her next heartbeat her arm has let loose a flash of silvery metal that flies true as an arrow before it lands with a twanging thud to embed itself in the wall.

    Both Zweller and Coleman shout simultaneously and spin around to stare. Ripped from his outstretched hand, Zweller's underwear now dangles limply on the other side of the room--the crotch impaled by Kylah's throwing knife.

    Zweller is the first to swivel back to Kylah, who has already replaced the straps of her nightgown. "What the holy hell do you think you're doing?"

    "I am showing you what a true Elasian woman can do, no matter how much human blood she has." Kylah's gaze is as cold and hard as the steel of her knife. "And if you dare attempt anything further, there will be much more human blood visible in this room."

    Zweller's face turns pale, then red. He starts toward her despite her threat. "You crazy, crazy bitch--"

    Kylah's hand whips out the second knife from her left hip as she spits out: "These weapons come in pairs."

    Now both men are virtual statues. Kylah continues in a firmer voice. "I warn you, Cadet Zweller. If you ever try something like this again, my blade will reach the same target--except next time I will not extend the courtesy of waiting until your clothes are off." She flicks a contemptuous glance at Coleman. "Must I demonstrate on you, or would you rather leave with everything intact?"

    Paul Coleman stumbles out of the room as quickly as he seems to have entered. Zweller remains in place, blue eyes burning with unspoken rage. Holding her knife steady, Kylah gestures with her chin toward his pile of clothing. "Get dressed and get out before I contact the Deputy Provost Marshal."

    "We both know they won't believe you," Zweller blurts viciously as he starts to reach for the underwear still pinned to the wall. "I almost wish--"

    "Stop right there!" Kylah lunges into a throwing position, the shining steel of her weapon gleaming in the moonlight. Zweller freezes. "That will stay. It is mine. A keepsake." She smiles without a drop of humor. "Unlike you, I do not hope to collect one to match every Federation race."

    "You really are fucking insane. You think people hate you now? Do you know what I can say about you? And not just at the Academy. Once I'm on a ship, and I'm gonna be on an important ship, if I find out where you're posted, I'll make sure everyone knows what a frigid psycho you are--"

    "I do not care. I have never cared." Kylah lies without a blink. "Further, you have no idea where my own influence extends, Zweller. You said it yourself: I am royalty." She whips the knife backward, staring down at him along her extended left arm aimed squarely at his chest. "And you are far, far too slow. I want you out!"

    With more muttered curses, Zweller crams himself back into his clothes, slips his shoes back on, and sends her a final furious glare before leaving.

    The door whooshes shut. Kylah darts forward and stabs her fingers onto the security keypad to make sure it's locked. Her roommates will just have to remember the password no matter how drunk they are. Next she leans over to yank the knife from the wall, nimbly using the blade to catch the underwear before it drops--she will not touch it--and walks to her window. It opens, her wrist flicks the knife outward, and the offending garment flies into the night. Despite her claim that she wanted it as a keepsake, she has no stomach for seeing it again.

    Window closed and her weapons safely back in their proper places, Kylah finally bends to reach for her robe where it lies on the floor. But all at once the tension of the last twenty minutes collapses in on her. Her whole body suddenly starts to shake. No matter how she tries, her unsteady hand cannot seem to grab onto the material. Instead she crumples to her hands and knees, hyperventilating.

    A long time passes with Kylah in that position, groaning for air and barely able to support herself through her jelly-like limbs, before she regains some control of her body and mind. At last she sinks to sit against her bed, bunches the night robe into her fists, and wraps it around her, drawing her knees up to her chest. The cacophony of fireworks, applause, music, and the distant crowd’s laughter swells around her. But Kylah just stares at the door. Silent, small, and still: a rock hewn of fear and loathing.

    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 14 Sep 2014 at 10:50 PM. Reason: Corrected reference to security on SFA campus.

  26. #26
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Graham dumps the engineer on his back, involuntarily wincing at the painful sound of the smaller man hitting the mat and getting his breath knocked out of him. Again.

    There are tears in Alonzo’s eyes, not for the first time. He shakes his head, remaining flat on his back. “Forget it, Book—I mean Lieutenant. I’ve wasted enough of your time. I’m too weak. I’m pathetic.”

    Graham frowns and gestures for him to get up. If his colleague were in a better frame of mind, he might concede that finding time for these private training sessions between their respective watches was a bit trying—and tiring—but given the circumstances he decides not to mention it.

    “Camille is marrying you because she thinks you’re a brilliant engineer and a decent man, Al. You don’t need to keep tearing yourself up over this, but as long as you are, I’m here to help you.”

    He extends a hand to pull the man up. Graham had meticulously documented all the reasons one particular bar should have been off-limits to Starfleet personnel on shore leave. He’d visited it as part of the advance team to the frontier world, in plainclothes, then filed a detailed report on the over-service, apparent distribution of illegal narcotics, violent incidents, and criminals or criminal suspects he could identify by cross-checking Federation records.

    His commander had ignored his recommendation. Convinced it was the wrong call, Graham had enlisted a half-dozen buddies in Security to sit around in his quarters fully geared-up for crowd control the first night the ship spent in orbit. When the shit hit the fan and the on-planet detail had called for urgent assistance, they’d shown up in the transporter room within a minute. His CO had stared daggers at him: but what was he going to do, turn down a fully-equipped tactical team during an emergency?

    As a result of fast, forceful intervention there were only minor injuries among the Starfleet personnel. Both Alonzo and his fiancée, a woman from geophysics, had suffered only a few cuts and bruises. But the psychological damage was deeper: as he took statements it became clear she had been…handled…very intrusively and a few minutes’ delay would have likely led to a brutal sexual assault. She was relieved it didn’t happen and her future husband had not been seriously hurt. But he was torn up by guilt that he was there and felt powerless to stop it.

    I’m not much of a counselor, Graham thought, but until he’s willing to let this go or talk to one I can try and help him out…. He’d been meeting with Alonzo, giving him one-on-one self-defense training, for a couple weeks since the incident.

    “People like you, you don’t understand what it’s like,” Alonzo said, refusing his hand. “To be afraid, to be helpless….”

    Graham swallows his response. It’s a long story, and probably not what Al needs to hear right now. Gritting his teeth he grunts “You’d be surprised, Al.” He stoops and grabs the engineer’s right hand. “Now I know you’d never back out or back down from an Engineering challenge, so if you’re serious about this get your ass back up and let’s try again….”
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 14 Sep 2014 at 10:53 PM. Reason: Formatting corrections at g-u's request.

  27. #27
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    “Raaaaarrrrgh! I’m a space monster!”

    A groggy Booker Graham had about 3 seconds’ warning after Elizabeth lost her patience for quietly stalking her prey and instead took two running steps, stepped on Jane’s side of the bed (empty—unlike her husband she was an early riser) and pounced.

    “Raaar!” she roared as he caught and held her above him by her shoulders, her bared fangs safely away from his vulnerable jugular. “Raaaar!”

    Fortunately he was more than capable of casually bench-pressing a typical 8-year old, monstrous or not.

    After some initial anxiety a few years ago when she became old enough to grasp that Graham’s job was dangerous, Lizzy had become fascinated with monsters real and imaginary. Graham wondered whether she was motivated by a desire to help him: she diligently read up on all sorts of creatures (including real ones he’d never otherwise heard of) and dutifully prepared careful reports for him on their behaviors, vulnerabilities, and habitats.

    Today he was confident there wasn’t a real monster—whether some human psychopath scumbag, Klingon raider, or Denebian Slime Devil—for light years around.

    (In fact the resort’s welcome packet explained that the only “dangerous” native fauna was a large butterfly that could release a puff of skunk-like scented gas if threatened.)

    Light was streaming in the window, dappling the lawn as it filtered through trees that looked a lot like those in a New England forest in autumn—granted, with some additional colors mixed in that most Terrans would find exotic.

    He could smell coffee. Turning his head, he smiled at her, down the hall in the more-or-less one-room cabin, her robes occasionally exposing her legs as she moved around the kitchen.

    She smiled back. There was some sort of kiddie camp activity for their little monster later in the day that would give them some time alone.

    “OK, ok,” Graham said to Lizzy. “Would the space monster like to snuggle now, instead of attack?”

    She nodded, her mussed hair just long enough to hit his nose and almost make him sneeze. Graham lowered her down and she nuzzled into his chest.

    Right now I’m sure I’m the luckiest man in the galaxy, he thinks.
    Last edited by general_urko; 14 Oct 2014 at 08:03 PM.

  28. #28
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket

    Default Rainfall

    Chief's orders came loud and clear over the comms links.

    “Block: quarter’s path is clear, lock it.”

    “Red: Perimeter left .”

    “Silve: Energy Pile at the back.”

    “Rapt: Area check.”

    From a vantage point, high on a hill, and stuck in a tree, Velir carefully watched the area around the Orion Mine. It was filthy weather, the rain was coming down in waves, the clouds overhead as black as ever and the light show in the distance showed the progress of the oncoming storm. Perfect for what they were about to do.

    Knowing his friends were occupied, Rangin once again checked the hills around, for any signs of movement. Slowly he tracked back and forth, the enhanced vision device cutting through the gloom and darkness. Nothing moved, even those creatures that would normally enjoy the wet had hidden. As for the miners, they had shut up shop an hour ago and there was no sign they were going to come out any sooner.

    “Area quiet, Chief. “ he responded, his communication followed quickly by another, closer peal of thunder. “Storm getting closer, ten minutes to overhead.”

    “Rapt: Head back, meet at rendez-vous. Chief out.”

    Velir heard the signal and started his descent. He had further to go to the pick up point and he was no longer required here, his job done.

    In twenty minutes, his friends would no longer be in the camp

    He scaled down the tree, passed the raptor’s nest from a few weeks previously, the creatures sheltering from the rain

    In forty minutes the Energy Pile would be emitting enough energy to light up the night sky before self-destructing.

    Velir reached the base of the tree dropping to the ground and slipping in the wet. He clung on to the wet grass not wanting to fall over the edge of the nearby cliff.

    In an hour, his friends would be celebrating quietly in a small hostelry some distance away.

    Slowly Velir pulls himself up and test his ankle, twisted slightly but still useable.

    By morning, the place would be swarming with all sorts wanting to know what has happened with several miners looking very guilty.

    Velir starts to slowly head down the hill, the path memorised and keeping weight off his injured ankle.

    By noon, everyone would know an illegal Orion mine had been uncovered.

    The flash of lightning behind him, and the peal of thunder that accompanied it, shook the valley as Velir hurries on his way hoping the others would be safe, hoping that Chief would keep them safe.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  29. #29
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
    Feb 2009
    at my computer

    Default Snippets from Jeremi Collins' life: #4

    The meeting had not taken as long as Collins would have liked.

    "I'm sorry, Ms. Collins," the Starfleet Academy admissions officer kindly tells 18-year-old Jeremi, "your scores were not high enough. There are prep courses, but the passage rate after taking them isn't all that great. I suggest taking a few college courses in your weakest areas, and then taking the entrance exam again next year."

    "I understand. Thank you for your time, Lieutenant," Jeremi says. She stands and offers her hand to the uniformed woman behind the desk, who also rises and accepts it with a smile.

    Outside, Jeremi looks around the Academy campus, glittering in the California sunshine, and watches the cadets bustle by, each of them looking as if the fate of the Federation rested on their youthful shoulders. She is wistful but determined. Her jaw sets. I'm going to be back here... someday. A year, or two at most.

    Back home in Old Mansfield, Massachusetts, she registers at the local community college for classes in history, cosmology, and advanced calculus. Once that's done, she changes into her sweats and goes outside for a long run.

    At mile five, her comlink rings. It's that idiot Michael O'Brien. Can't he take a hint? Still?!? Augh! She turns the 'link off and continues. At mile ten, just working up a sweat, she turns back. She wants to give herself plenty of time to get ready for her date that night with Pyotr Abramovich, a handsome Russian from her chemistry class this past semester.
    Last edited by anyrose; 30 Oct 2014 at 11:08 AM.

  30. #30
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket

    Default A Day on the Farm

    It was a beautiful Tuesday morning at the crack of dawn. A clear blue sky with the sun just rising cast shadows across the land, slowly clearing the last wisps of fog. A set of cadets stood in the middle of a field somewhere in Britain. None of them had been paying much attention since they had arrived the night before, but the class of biologists, veterinarians and xenobiologists waited to find out why they had been bought here.

    They shivered in the weak sun as they looked around a quiet hubbub of why they were wearing such odd garb. The thick boots were not standard, though they did an excellent job of keeping the mud away. The green robe they had all been clad in was odd. They had worn them before but mainly for dissections and the like, but not as outdoor wear on some rural backwater.

    As they looked round, they noticed that their professor was heading towards them in a little cart driven, but an old worn fellow dressed in country garb. As it pulled up they could see there were some tubs of steaming warm water and several bars of some strange white substance.

    "Good morning cadets. How do I find you all this fine and glorious morning?" said Professor Engate.

    "Morning Professor," came the not-quite awake reply from the group.

    "Wonderful." The Professor's enthusiasm only served to make the group worry about what he had in store. They had all been warned about his preference for hands on experience, and some of the group were beginning to wonder if that reputation had not actually be enhanced at all.

    The professor stood in front of them all and called them to order. "Now I expect you're wondering what you are all doing here and in a few minutes you will find out. This is the first lesson on my particular course. This course is not for the faint hearted, but when you do complete it, and you will complete it, you will have gained an appreciation for the finer points of your studies."

    A worried look passed between the nervous students as behind them, they could hear a few raised voices in the distance and the lowing of some creatures heading towards them.

    "If you would all care to turn round, you will see your examinations for the day. The Earth Species classified as Bos Taurus, or the Common Cow."

    Eight pairs of jaws simultaneously dropped at the sight of eight cows and a couple of farmhands gently bringing them across. One hand was slowly raised.

    "Yes Mr Bellix?" asked the professor.

    Gennir Bellix, a large, but affable, Bolian student more interested in fish studies was turning a funny shade of colour and not his usual blue. "Seriously sir, are you expecting us to do what I think you're expecting us to do?"

    "Absolutely, you are all about to gain a very fine, close up and personal appreciation of nature in at least one of its forms. If you are wearing any rings or jewellery I suggest removing them now."

    There was a hasty shuffling of hands as several things were divested into pockets.

    "Excellent, now who would like to go first? Don't be shy someone has to and the sooner you take your turn the sooner its over. No-one. Very well, Mr Rangin, as one of the more senior people here perhaps you would care to go first."

    Rangin sighed. This wasn't what he had expected when he had started his studies at Starfleet. He was expecting to learn to be an officer and allegedly a gentleman, though given the activities of some of his colleagues that seemed well beyond them. He had worked in a zoo back on Coridan and yes he had helped out with the animals, but never to, well, this degree. He also knew why he had been picked. He was going to have been one of the few in the group Professor Engate would have expected to read all the notes about this upcoming assignment. His diligence and marks showed that. So did the private talk with the professor about an hour ago while most of the rest were eating an early breakfast.

    Rangin rolled up both sleeves and walked to the bucket of water as the cows were bought up and turned round. He picked up the bar, recognising it as soap and slowly began to work up a lather down his right arm.

    As he finished and turned round, Cadet Kelly West, a Terran who thought a little too highly of herself and her beauty, put a hand to her mouth "Oh my, no, you, you can't..." she squeaked out.

    "Don't worry, I'm nominating you next," Rangin replied smiling wanly and waving the soap covered fingers at her. There was a quiet round of chuckles from the rest of the group.

    Professor Engate motioned him forwards towards one of the waiting bovines.

    "Ok, let's get this over and done with," Rangin stated as he stepped up behind the cow. Taking a deep breath, he raised the cow's tail carefully with the left hand and cringed as he slowly eased his right arm forwards to the elbow.

    There was a collective sound of horror from the rest of the cadets as they watched and Rangin could almost feel them recoiling in disgust as they suddenly realised they would be doing this shortly.

    "Well Done. Mr Rangin, how does it feel?" enquired Professor Engate genially.

    For once, Velir Rangin had no reply.

    with apologies to all Creatures Great and Small
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  31. #31
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket

    Default T'Var and Johnson - After the chess evening

    Dr. T'Var's and Mr. Johnson's chess evening was a success. With the assistance of Lt. Thalen, they arranged to use one of the ship's conference rooms, as it was quieter and permitted better concentration. It also meant several people attending, quietly of course, to provide support for those playing and to discuss quietly the moves that were being made from board to board. While Dr. T'Var has arranged both types of game, speed chess over 40 moves, the players and the schedule, Johnson has provided the food and drinks that all chess players seemed to need while in a really tricky spot.

    Of course, Cmdr. Vargas came first as the reigning chess champion of the Yorktown, who wouldn't pass up an opportunity to prove it once more. Tied second were T'Var and Spec. Onsott, who had duelled to an interesting and intricate draw. Johnson had come further down the list, but to his great delight had not been last. This feat he put down solely to the practice matches he had undertaken with T'Var.

    Now, as the last few people leave for the night, their brains sore from the exertion, Johnson looks round at the mess left behind. A few crumbs here and there, a few plates left around and only a few of the fine foods he had sneaked past Chef somehow left behind. As part of the deal, he had to tidy it all up, but after the event, it seemed well worth it.

    Seeing only Dr. T'Var left, he pulls out the last plate of Vulcan ere'll pastries, which she certainly seems to enjoy, and leans back against the table, popping one of the morsels into his mouth and savouring the flavour.

    "That was a good evening. I think everyone enjoyed it, ma'am." Johnson holds up the plate to T'Var from across the room. "Also, this is the last of the pastries; would you like one before I start to clean up?"

    T'Var sighs heavily, then walks over to Johnson and takes a pastry. She stares at it, frowning.

    "I am most irritated that Mr. Vargas has triumphed yet again," she says. "I was certain I would defeat him." She nibbles at her pastry. "Your Vulcan pastries are quite good, by the way." T'Var would never admit to anyone how important being the very best at something - anything - meant to her. It was not logical. It was not Vulcan. And yet, her second place tonight was not good enough. How could Vargas - of all people - have a better chess game than she?

    Johnson tries to hide his wry smile from the Vulcan, recognising how much the loss must have irritated her in a most un-Vulcan way. "Well, you had him on the run for awhile; I don't think he's had that stiff a challenge in a long time. I might even have seen him sweat a little. Anyway, that's one thing Cmdr. Vargas can't beat me at, ma'am: culinary expertise. Although, I've heard of his cooking skills. Passable at best, and I'd guess his medical expertise is nowhere near as good as yours. Does it really irritate you that much, ma'am? Besides, it's something to aim for next time." He holds up the plate between them, "Only two left, one each ma'am?"

    She gives Johnson a smile. "You are quite correct," she says. "And, yes, I must study Cmdr. Vargas's game in more detail if I want to defeat him in the future." The doctor reaches for another of the offered pastries. "When it comes to your baking, I cannot resist."

    "Thank you for the compliment, ma'am. I like being irresistible," Johnson says with a cheeky grin before realising who he is talking to and straightening up slightly. "Yes, indeed, ma'am. It means a lot coming from you," he continues as he picks up the remaining pastry, "I made this batch especially, as I thought you might like them." He considers for a moment, "Apart from the pastries, ma'am, are there any other recipes here in your home away from home I might be able to prepare for you? It'd be a fair trade for all lessons I am getting in chess."

    T'Var gives Johnson what can only be described as a sheepish grin. "I would never admit this to anyone else, but I find most Vulcan cuisine quite distasteful. Except for these wonderful pastries, of course. And I do enjoy a cup of Vulcan spice tea." She ponders Johnson's question a moment. "I am most intrigued by human food. Such variety. So many options... perhaps you could suggest a few new dishes I could sample?"

    Johnson watches as T'Var finishes off her pastry with obvious enjoyment, wondering how he managed to get that kind of reaction out of a Vulcan. He knows the batch is good, he had spent a lot of time and effort getting it right for her. "Well, ma'am, if you prefer slightly tastier food, I can think of a few different things you might like to try." He racks his brains for a moment, thinking what he can raid the galley stores for and what might be appropriate for Dr. T'Var. Something rich with flavor for which he could adapt a menu without being too obvious. "OK, ma'am, how about this. There's a kind of Spanish food called tapas, finger food. I could whip up several of them for you to try: spicy rice and potato salsa, spiced meats, slow-cooked lamb and pork, some herby salads and fresh-baked bread. The bowls may be small but there will be several of them. It's a meal to share with friends."

    A few slices here and there from the stores... finger food was a good idea. He could easily account for a few things that Chef would not be happy about, and T'Var would get a great sampling of different foods. Of course, Chef was insisting on running days in the Main Galley, giving Johnson a little freer hand at the time, not to mention being able to share some of his cooking with T'Var. He went on, "So, ma'am, the only question would be, when would you like to try them and where? I'm running the night watch in the Galley on Deck 20 solo for the next few days. It's normally empty around 3-4 in the morning. Or if you prefer, I can always deliver...."

    T'Var gives Johnson a conspiratorial smile. "Finger foods - especially fresh bread - sounds wonderful." Her smile widens. "Delivery to my quarters would be fine. And you can assist me in my study of Cmdr. Vargas and his chess game."

    Johnson stifles a small sense of thrill. It wasn't often he got invited into the quarters of someone that highly-ranked unless it was to be told off for once again making meals he shouldn't and yes, he had better leave that hot and spicy chili right there as evidence. He grins. "More lessons in chess, I can live with that, ma'am. So, delivery around 1900 tomorrow evening, should leave a few hours for games?"

    T'Var nods her agreement. "That would be fine. Lt. Bennett should be on duty. We can work on our chess game and enjoy some of your fine cooking, as well."

    He puts the plate to one side and picks up the cleaning materials. "Very good. Well, time to clean up in here."

    "Let me help," she says at once. The doctor joins Johnson in cleaning up. She is very much looking forward to tomorrow evening.
    Last edited by CatInASuit; 30 Nov 2014 at 03:19 PM. Reason: T'Var by WES, Johnson by CIAS.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  32. #32
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Graham doubles over and pukes.

    "Your performance was acceptable--for a human," the V'Shar officer says over his shoulder. "Of course, I think is unlikely you will be able to repeat it on your next run through."

    "Go fuck yourself," Graham rasps between retches.

    The tanned Vulcan raises an eyebrow. "I'm afraid my duties require that I remain on the obstacle course for some time today, but perhaps later, Mr. Graham," he replies evenly.

    Graham wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. That doesn't deter Salok from offering his own to help Graham regain his feet. Graham stares at it for a moment, then stands up on his own.

    "You know the heat biases this shit in favor of Vulcans," he says, stalling for time to regain his breath.

    The Vulcan--who ran the course alongside Graham--isn't breathing especially heavily. "Your point has some merit, insofar as different species are better or more poorly adapted to extremes of heat or cold. However, the ambient temperature is well within the functional range of homo sapiens, Mr. Graham."

    Graham considers taking a swing at him. When I get my ass handed to me, at least I can spend the rest of this goddamned assignment in the infirmary...

    He laughs out loud, reminding himself that this was actually a reward.

    His standout performance at the biennial games sponsored by Starfleet Security and several other public safety and paramilitary organizations associated with Federation member planets had earned the young lieutenant junior grade the privilege of experiencing two weeks of Vulcan commando training.

    Although it wasn't the quasi-military aspect of Security that attracted Graham to the job--he joined Starfleet Security because he liked talking to people and helping to solve problems--stamina and strength didn't hurt, and the mark of prestige on the service record was too good to pass up.

    But maybe I should have passed anyway, Graham thinks: maybe I should have asked for a few extra days of shore leave to spend with Jane and our little girl...

    The image of Jane holding Lizzy as he walks through the door to their home is one he wishes he could bottle and repeat a hundred million times...

    He's interrupted by Salok continuing in a thoughtful voice. "In fairness, Mr. Graham, tomorrow I will ask environmental control to lower the ambient temperature to significantly below freezing. Perhaps I will also ask them to add some liquid precipitation, which I assure you I will find most displeasing, and we will run the course together."

    Graham puts his hands on his hips. Both men are in sleeveless compression shirts, and at first glance Graham looks by far the more muscular of the two: but Vulcan physiology presents differently, and Graham was under no illusions that pound-for-pound the V'Shar's strength significantly exceeded his.

    "Do you Vulcan bastards really make all your decisions based on logic, or is that just a line to cover up the fact that you're just jerking us around and laughing your asses off when you're out of sight, knocking back some brewskies?" he asks.

    The Vulcan cocks his head to one side. "I am unfamiliar with these 'Brewskies,' but rest assured, if they are an enemy that needs to be beaten back, the V'Shar will do so."

    "You didn't answer my question," Graham says.

    "No, I didn't," Salok answers, breaking into a jog to start another run through of the course.

    Well, shit, Graham thinks. Another go-round. And to add insult to injury I actually like this sonofabitch.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 23 Dec 2014 at 11:22 PM. Reason: Vulcan's name changed at g_u's request.

  33. #33
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
    Feb 2009
    at my computer

    Default Snippets from Jeremi Collins' life: #5

    The familiar chirpy chime causes Assistant Dean Mariana Vanderoost to look up from her console. “Come,” she says, clearing her screen. The door opens to reveal Third Year Cadet Jeremi Collins. “Cadet Collins," Vanderoost says. "Thank you for being prompt. Please sit down." She indicates one of the chairs on the other side of her desk.

    "Thank you, ma'am." Jeremi sits across from Mariana, her hands in her lap, awaiting the inevitable discussion of her grades.

    Vanderoost picks up a datapad and tabs through it. “I’m happy to say,” she soon says with a smile, “your grades are up this semester, especially in Tactical Studies and in Federation History. Well done. But your Intermediate Engineering grades are not high enough to get you into that track for your senior year. I encourage you to take Science courses as electives and concentrate on the Security track for Y4. You should have no trouble getting a shore assignment, or perhaps a posting to a smaller ship, as a Security officer.”

    Jeremi’s heart drops a little. “I was hoping to pursue the Command track, ma'am. What if I concentrated on what I need for Security in my next year, and then stay a fifth year for Command track?”

    “That’s very ambitious,” the Assistant Dean says, choosing her words carefully, “but... if you'll excuse my saying so, perhaps not very realistic. Play to your strengths, Mr. Collins. Once you have your first assignment, you could take classes by subspace and take your time getting certified. You have your whole career ahead of you.”

    “Yes, I could do that," Collins says, clearly not pleased with the option. "Let me ask you this, ma'am. In what do I need to excel in order to be posted to a Constitution-class ship?”

    "Right after graduation?" Vanderoost sets the datapad down. She leans back in her chair and steeples her fingers. In the distance, on the Academy parade ground, a band strikes up a rousing march. After a long moment she says, "That's a different track, Cadet, and an even more ambitious one. I know how hard you're working already, but you'd have to bring up all of your grades and get stellar reviews from your instructors. You're already in Y3. You'd want to take, let's see, Criminology, Advanced Tactical Theory, Diplomacy and Advanced First Aid. Frankly, I'd be worried about burnout."

    "With all due respect, ma'am," Jeremi's voice has a tinge of defiance in it, "isn't that my problem?" Her voice softens, "In the last three years, I've accomplished things I never thought I'd ever be capable of. The Academy has given me confidence beyond what I thought I had. I want to keep on challenging myself. I'll sign up for the courses you've recommended. My eyes are on the prize."

    Vanderoost looks at her appraisingly, then picks up the datapad again. She makes a notation. "All right, I'll authorize it. But be careful you don't disregard social activities, especially those with non-Terrans. People skills are as important as academic ones."

    "Understood, ma'am. I won't let you down."

    "Good luck, then, Mr. Collins. Dismissed."

    Jeremi nodded and left, anxious of and excited for the work that lay before her, but determined to get it done; one day soon, she will find her place aboard one of Starfleet's finest ships.

  34. #34
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    “L-T, this is THE SHIT!” someone is yelling behind Graham. He turns—with surprisingly little difficulty, given the comprehensive coverage of his body armor—and sees it’s Ramirez. Not a surprise: the young Hispanic woman is diligent, but at times…a bit rambunctious, and he’s had to tell her to rein it in occasionally. He doesn’t bother, even though she’s using her gauntleted forearms to alternately bat either side of Rosenstein’s helmet as hard as she can like a cat playing with a mouse.

    Ensigns Panawat and Stonn are doing leaping chest-bumps with enough force to crack ribs, had they been unarmored—but because the suits have powered inertia dampers, they’re bouncing off each other in a curious sort of slow motion.

    “All right, ALL RIGHT, PEOPLE” LT. J.G. Graham says, raising his voice and tapping the butt of his phaser rifle against the ground—one hell of a big, heavy one at that, although the whole group’s have been fitted with the conspicuous orange-painted power packs used for training that are hard-wired to be incapable of doing real damage. “Just remember that the only real-life scenario in which you’re likely to be geared up in top of the line, maximum protection suits like this are when somebody will be shooting at you with guns as big—or bigger—than these.”

    He holds back a sigh. His squad is a good group, but young, still feeling invincible—like we all do, at first, he thinks. Until we lose our first squad mate, our first friend… That evokes a wince and painful memory. But it’s not like you wish for it to happen…it just will, sooner or later…

    “Hey Ramirez, how does it feel cramming that luscious booty into these hard-plated breeches?” ‘Cueball’ us yelling. Randiest Bolian I’ve ever met, Graham thinks. Or at least he puts on a good act. Although Ramirez’ booty is pretty luscious, he concedes.

    “Better than you’re going to feel when I ram this hard-plated boot up your soft, squishy---,” Ramirez starts to yell back, when Graham interrupts.

    “All right, save it—we actually have drills to do out here.” He shakes his head and looks down at his padd. The design of the suit is clever: there’s larger mitt connected to the hard exoskeleton that enhances strength for gripping, hitting, and crushing, then a smaller glove into which you can slide your hands made of tactical fabric for better motor control. “Tactical entry, possible hostage situation—now, look, you’ve got to tamp down the settings on these weapons. At high power, you’re likely to not only take out a hostage as collateral damage but the next block.” He pauses. “And we don’t want that, do we?”

    “Paper work would be a bitch!” somebody shouts back.

    “Uh, hey do we have the usual bet running with Blue Squad?” somebody else asks.

    That was the answer Graham was looking for. “Damn right, aggregate performance scores for the whole day’s exercise.” He puts on his best glower. It’s not hard, because it’s authentic. “If I have to clean Scarlet—ah, Lt. Finnegan’s cabin again, you clowns are going to wish you’d never been born. Now let’s get too it…”
    Last edited by general_urko; 16 Jan 2015 at 07:00 PM.

  35. #35
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket


    T'Var and Johnson: Tapas for Two (Part 1/4)

    Mr. Johnson woke for his usual watch around midafternoon, only today he had something much more important to do. After the evening of chess, he had stood his usual watch and planned a few things. A few recipes pulled from the Library Computer and then a careful note of the stock that he could use to make the dishes with which he was going to surprise Dr. T'Var. Chef wasn't going to be happy, but Chef was insistent on running the main galley.

    Johnson wasn't meant to be on duty that early, so while getting his own cooking done on the side, he carried out some of the ever present prep work, with a wink and a nod to Mr. Chen who was running Galley Two and who never had any problems with being helped out. As the time drew near he had several small dishes ready, with approving nods for the few tidbits left behind.

    Packed into an airtight container to keep the delicious aroma intact, Johnson headed for T'Var's quarters arriving on the stroke of 1900. Standing outside, he took a deep breath and pressed the door chime to let her know he had arrived.

    "Room Service," he said with a chuckle.

    T'Var frowned as she checked her reflection in Cecilia Bennett's full-length mirror. The doctor wore a simple tan robe -- casual attire for a casual evening. Bennett had suggested a bit of perfume and make-up, but T'Var did not consider either logical. This was not a date of any kind, she reminded herself. Just a nice evening of food and chess study with a fellow crewmember and friend.

    The door chime sounded with Johnson announcing his presence. T'Var cleared her throat and opened the door. "Good evening, Mr. Johnson," she said. "Something smells wonderful."

    Johnson can't help but smile, "Thank you, ma'am, and the food smells good as well." He'd normally seen T'Var in uniform as a doctor, but had to admit she cut a relaxed figure in the robe and was pleasing to the eye. Good food, good female company and some stimulating activity, should make for a good evening; take your chances while you can.

    As he is shown in, he can see where the food is to go and he carefully unpacks it. Lt. Bennett was going to be jealous when she came back from duty, he thinks. Carefully placing the open bowls on the table, he breathes the various aromas in deeply, and nods. It appears to have survived the trip from the galley and suddenly Johnson felt fairly hungry. Small platters of herby slow-cooked meats, some plain and some in gravy; spicy rice with another bowl of roasted potato chunks in salsa; a large fresh salad and two small French style loaves, one plain and one dripping in garlic butter. Finally, he pulls out a bottle of water and two small fine glasses along with some small plates, cutlery and napkins. He was hoping T'Var would either not recognise the ship's silver service or perhaps appreciate it.

    "Would you care for a little sample before we start playing?" Johnson asks T'Var.

    The Vulcan woman takes a deep breath of the aromatic foods Johnson has presented to her and smiles.
    "I believe a bit of refreshment is in order first," she says. "I wish to try everything. You have truly outdone yourself, Mr. Johnson. Such a wide variety of choices." She takes a napkin, then chooses a piece of garlic bread. She takes a bite and moans a little with satisfaction. She takes another bite. "This is most delightful," she says between bites. "I am sure everything else is just as wonderful."

    "You want to try everything, ma'am?" says Johnson with a grin, wondering what T'Var was thinking given her sounds of delight. He shook his head slightly in amusement; of course she only meant the food. He puts together a small plate of a bit of everything and passes it across to the hungry-looking T'Var. "Here you go, a little sampler to whet your appetite. Bon appetit."

    Johnson waits to see her start eating before turning to fill a small plate of his own.

    T'Var samples each dish slowly, taking a sip of water now and again. "I am very impressed," the doctor says with a smile. "I appreciate your efforts, Mr. Johnson. You are an excellent cook." T'Var frowns a moment. "Or should I call you 'chef'? I mean no offence by using the term 'cook', of course."

    "None taken, ma'am. Although I have trained as a chef, there is only one Chef - capital 'C' - on board, and he is quite clear about it. I only get to be 'chef' when and if I'm in charge of the galleys and not before. Glad to see you like the food though, ma'am. Makes cooking it worthwhile." Johnson finishes his food and puts the plates back down. He asks, "So, ready for that game then, ma'am? Unless there is anything else you would like to do first."

    "To be honest," T'Var says softly, "I am a bit curious." She smiles again. She just can't seem to maintain strict Vulcan control around this man. "I know so little about you, Mr. Johnson. And I would like to know more." The doctor takes another sip of water. "Your interests in chess and cooking, for instance. How did those arise?"

    "You only have to ask - I've no problems talking for hours. Let's see, cooking. Done it for ages. Always enjoyed it ever since I was a kid and it kept me out of trouble. Also helped pacify my older brothers, two of them, who were less interested in making my life miserable if they got good grub out of me. One's now in Starfleet Security, the other in the United Earth military; it agrees with their personalities. I was meant to follow them, but I signed up for Culinary instead of Cadet. Silly mistake to make, booths were right next to each other. No idea how that happened at all." Johnson grins as he remembers his family's outright astonishment when the papers came through, which quickly turned to annoyance, though there was nothing they could do about it.

    He thinks a moment. "Chess, that's another matter. My parents believed that it would be good for us to learn things that would help teach logic, strategy and tactics. Chess was just one of the games they tried. Didn't mind it too much and it's enough of a change from cooking I kept playing here and there. Never played it that much and you're the first person in a while who's played me several times in a row. And great fun it is too."

    Johnson looks at her with an impish grin. "So, ma'am, if you don't mind me asking, what made you think of being a doc?"

    T'Var ponders her answer a moment. How much about her past should she reveal? Just a little for now, she decides. "My path to the healing arts is a long and complicated one," she says. "I have always felt a strong sense of duty to my homeworld, of course. Joining the V'Shar seemed most logical at the time. I served in the Vulcan intelligence and security service for many years." She pauses briefly to gather her thoughts. "At some point I chose a different career path. I had a strong desire to help others in the most basic way -- to heal their bodies of affliction, if possible, and provide what comfort I could. However, I felt unfulfilled in this capacity." The doctor gives Johnson what is almost a sheepish grin. "I craved adventure, you see. Starfleet gave me the opportunity to serve honorably as a physician, while also enjoying a life of adventure and discovery."

    Johnson blinks at the comment that T'Var used to be in the V'Shar and slowly closes his mouth which had dropped open. His brothers had had plenty of stories about them and all of them about how dangerous and ruthless they were. How accurate they were, well... he had his doubts. Of course, it would probably explain why T'Var didn't seem like your average Vulcan especially when it came to food. At least four of the dishes he had bought would have been considered unappetizing by perhaps any Vulcan but her.

    "Nothing wrong with that, ma'am, and if you're looking for adventure, serving on the Yorktown is a good way to go about it," Johnson continues. "So, what would you like to discover next."

    "Do you mean personally or professionally -- or perhaps both?" T'Var asks. "Of course, I could ask you the same question, Mr. Johnson."

    "Me? The only thing I'm looking to discover this evening is if I can beat you at chess if I get to play like Vargas." Johnson replies with a big grin. "Of course, if I do win, I know you will probably be..." Johnson looks across, appraising the Vulcan and remembering the Chess Night, "...unsatisfied with the situation, which is where the tapas comes in. I can guarantee that, and the associated company, will be highly enjoyable."

    "In all honesty, Mr. Johnson, I will be quite gratified when you defeat me for the first time. You have great potential -- in chess -- and in many other areas," T'Var replies.

    T'Var by WES, Johnson by CIAS
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  36. #36
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Graham tugged at his collar, momentarily feeling as if it was choking off blood flow to his brain. This damn monkey suit is too tight... He shrugged, trying to loosen his tuxedo jacket up across his shoulders and chest.

    Jane took his arm and he tried to control his fidgeting and look reasonably calm and happy. Her dress seemed to float around her, she seemed born to the kind of fancy attire worn to formal events like this.

    And she loved them: she was smiling ear-to-ear when she turned toward him.

    “I’m glad you could be here for this, Boo” she said, bringing her other hand over to clasp his forearm. “I know you hate these things but it’s a big event for everyone affiliated with the university and the foundation.”

    “Well, ah, I hope your date’s not too much of a let-down.”

    Jane stopped them both in their tracks and swiftly moved in front of him. She placed one hand on each of his cheeks firmly and pivoted his head down to look straight into her eyes.

    “Booker Charles Graham, I love you, I always will.” she said, that look of intensity she got when she would accept no argument in her eyes. “You could never let me down."

    “NO—“ Graham threw off the sheets, lurching upright in his bed in a cold sweat. The booze wasn’t enough to stop dreams from the past. He was grateful he was in solo quarters. Did you think I let you down, when it happened, when the Orions came? He wonders, for the thousandth night. Did you not think of me at all? Or worst did you forgive me…

  37. #37
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    “Signal Omega, Signal Omega, need immediate assistance.”

    Ens. Karameikos’ continued repetition of the phrase blared through the open channel on the communicator Graham had propped open next to his firing position

    “Broken arrow,” Graham thinks. In the 20th Century it was a call sign that indicated a United States military unit was in danger of being overrun. In a 20th Century battle still studied at Starfleet Academy—the Ia Drang Valley—it had summoned every combat aircraft within two thousand kilometers to provide air support to a beleaguered ground unit.

    Not going to happen today, dammit, Graham thinks. Behind him, his team’s shuttle is a heap of slag. It’s not just that we didn’t know bad guys were here, he thinks: they also have heavy weapons. And subspace comms jammers.

    Ironically, he’s more worried about the Sylvania returning from its survey pattern through the rest of the system than not. She isn’t much of a ship. If these assholes have even a third-hand Warbird and could take her by surprise, they might take her out.

    Graham’s team had been mauled, but they’d been lucky. The Tau VI system was a routine survey mission, but there was obviously something about this particular rock that had gone undetected. Maybe a major waystation for slavers. Maybe smuggling some serious shit to Klingons or Romulans. In any event, two survey teams had been dropped and once Sylvania had pulled way, they’d been hammered. Team One—Graham’s—had made establishing a strongly defensible position its first order of business on landing. Nine times out of ten--as his team had complained—it would have been a complete waste of time on an ostensible milk run like this.

    But I don’t know any other way to do things and I don’t care if they think I’m an asshole, so that’s what we did, Graham thinks.

    Indirect fire had take out their shuttle, but after facing some serious resistance the bad guys had withdrawn. Which was smart, Graham thinks. They’d slagged our ride, and Team Two was out in the open. They can jam our comms, waste them, and come back for us at their leisure.

    So…we’ve got to move, he resolves. His team wasn’t in great shape: his medical officer Dr. Angelique Reyre was herself injured, a glistening paste of gel covering a disrupter burn that would otherwise still be boiling her skin while she put pressure on arterial wound his comms officer had suffered. His friend Yuri Kurosawa as medical officer on Team Two, and Graham assumed he had his hands full—if he was even still alive.

    That was bitterly ironic: Yuri had requested and received a transfer to a research assignment on Earth in order to be closer to his family. He was slated to be gone in a week. And, in fact, Graham was slated to be gone in a week, too—his discharge-for-cause hearing was coming up. True, the powers that be wanted the ugly details that caused him to be busted from Lieutenant Commander down to Ensign to be swept under the rug. But he’d created enough other problems in the last few months—drunkenness on the job being one—to create a more routine basis for quietly busting him out of Starfleet.

    He was already stripping off his shirt in order to use it to tie one of the two phaser rifles they had to his back when he gave the order. “All right people, we need to move. Team Two is dead if we don’t. Two kilometers away. Everyone uninjured strip down, travel light, nothing we don’t need for combat. Wounded remain here.”

    He counts five out of nine fit to undertake the mission. “Harvest power packs, weapons—we’re in all or nothing.”

    There are some mumbled acknowledgments, but most of his team are quietly getting ready. Graham frowns. “Mr. Patil, you’re hurt, you should stay here.”

    The slight Indian man—a minerals analysis guy, the one who should be the central figure in this mission if things had gone as planned—looked back at him as if Graham was crazy. “Hell no, sir!” he replied with the accent that to Anglos like Graham always sounded as if the speaker was happy.

    “You don’t need to call me sir,” Graham answered dryly. Out of pure seniority qua age he’d just so happened he’d been assigned to lead this team, despite his new, humble rank. “But OK, get ready.”

    They started out at a jog: no use everyone popping a calf or a hamstring out of the gate, Graham thought. Then the comms got frantic.

    “They’re all around us,” Karameikos sbouted. He was a solid comms officer: if he was off protocol, Graham thought, things were bad.

    “Step up the pace,” Graham said. “Anybody gets tired, sprains an ankle, nobody stops, keep going.”

    Moments later the signal from Team Two cut out. Dammit. “All right, this is going to be the longest, fastest spring you ever run,” Graham shouts.

    He pauses a moment. “Mr. Patil, you set the pace.”

    Patil, Graham would reflect in many times over the years, didn’t respond with words. He just started to run--and scream. Whether that was a function of adrenaline or pain, Graham didn’t know at the time, nor was he ever sure he wanted to know.

    But the funny thing was, as every one of the other five crewmembers stepped up their pace to fall in behind, they started to scream too. And after a moment, so did Graham.


    Capt. Carlson pushed the padd around on his desk and frowned.

    “You know Graham,” he said, looking up at the bandaged and dirty officer sitting on the opposite side of his desk. “I know I’m here because I couldn’t hack it on the big ships, in the front lines.”

    He shakes his head. “I can accept I’ll never be a big hero. It’s harder to accept I’ll never do anything except, hopefully, not fuck up on routine, second-tier missions. That I’ll retire, maybe teach regs at the Academy—I was always good at memorizing regs.”

    His last line is dripping with contempt rather than pride.

    His voice momentarily cracks. “But this one. You really pulled the shit out of the fire, Booker. And me, I was pissed I’d been saddled with you when you got sent to Sylvania.”

    The captain shook his head again. “I don’t know the details of why you’re a problem case—your records were sealed. But here’s the thing.” He steeples his fingers. “I found out that a lot of important people damned sure don’t want to see you get a commendation. “ His voice gains some strength. “Really got handed my ass on that recommendation, Ensign. But I’m not going to fade into ignominy without a fight. “

    Graham frowns. “I don’t…you don’t owe me anything, sir.”

    The captain laughs. “I made it clear that if your discharge hearing proceeded, I would publicly and vocally resign. “ He shrugs. “Word kind of got out…I was joined in this by Ens. Karameikos, Dr. Kurosawa, Mr. Patil—who will recover, by the way, although it will take awhile—and Mr. McDougal.”

    Graham was still trying to take this all in, but his forehead forrows. “McDougal? From Engineering? He wasn’t even on the planet….”

    For the first time, the Captain smiles. “He won’t shut up about you being some kind of 23rd Century incarnation of William Wallace,” he replies. “He’s got a giant Scottish flag hanging in the mess, and he’s been…singing… Maybe you could stop by. He’d appreciate it, I’m sure.”

    Graham’s mouth is dry. “I…well, thank you sir. We just—it wasn’t about me, the whole team gave 110% to save our crewmates, sir.”

    The Captain stares intently at Graham. “Look—you saved some people. Maybe the ship. If you keep it up, my preventing you from getting drummed out will probably be the best thing I ever do for Starfleet. So don’t fuck it up. And don’t get killed.”

    Graham nods.

    “Well, then, get to…everything, life…” Capt. Carlson says softly, looking down at a datapad.

  38. #38
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket


    T'Var and Johnson: Tapas for Two (Part 2/4)
    View Part 1

    With T'Var's comment on his potential, Johnson hides an amused grin as he walks across to where the chess board is already set up. "So, how about we get down to playing some chess. We can always chat over a few moves, keep finding out a little more about each other than just our playing styles."

    "Ok, I'll admit I have an unfair advantage, but you did want to practice against Vargas' style instead of mine," says Johnson looking back, "so I get to use the ships computer to mimic his style. Maybe we can use it for some analysis on the moves and see if we can't find a way to beat his defences."

    Johnson bends down and looks in closer detail at the board and nods appreciatively. "Nice set indeed. Where did you get it?"

    T'Var picks up a white pawn and stares at it a moment before answering.

    "This is a Staunton chess set," she replies. "Very traditional. Very old." T'Var places the piece back on the board. "It was a gift from my parents when I came of age."

    T'Var smiles at the memory. "My father taught me to play. He appreciates the simple beauty of the Staunton design."

    There is a low whistle from Johnson in response. "Why do I feel I should be wearing gloves just to look at it, let alone touch it. Yeah, definitely no eating while playing with this set, I would hate to get anything on it."

    "Ok, so let's start with the hardest task. I'll take White as Vargas, and see if you can fend off his strategy." Johnson sits down and looks across the table from the other side towards T'Var

    "Are you ready?" Johnson gets out a datapad and brings up Vargas' games from the ship's computer and gets ready to play.

    "This set may be very old, but it is still quite functional," T'Var says. "I enjoy using it to play a game of chess with special friends."

    T'Var takes a moment to prepare herself before Johnson makes his first move as Vargas would.

    "I am ready," she says, her tone determined. "Together, we shall find a way to defeat the commander."

    As his fingers hover over the King Pawn, Johnson looks up across the board at the concentrating Vulcan. "Special? I'm honoured," he replies with a smile that beams out. He had recognised the board had value, and a small glow of pride enveloped him as he realised what T'Var was saying.

    He moves the pawn forward and enters the detail into the datapad which shows Cmdr. Vargas' likely next moves and the estimated win/loss of the likely responses from T'Var. With any luck, Johnson could see where she was going wrong.

    T'Var studies the board a moment. She always moves Nf6 in reply to a first pawn move. Perhaps the most logical move would be to change this pattern.

    The doctor moves her own King pawn forward.

    Johnson looks down at the move, consults the datapad and moves a knight onwards. "Ok, ma'am. Let's see where we go with this."

    The next few moves take place fairly quickly as Johnson and T'Var swap moves, him from the datapad and her from concentrating hard over the board.

    "So far so good, ma'am. Datapad is telling me you are on par with Vargas if he was playing at the moment. Good opening, so far." He reaches across and tops up the small glass of water that T'Var is assiduously sipping from.

    "Thank you, Mr. Johnson. I will endeavor to keep up with Cmdr. Vargas as best I can. It is usually in the middle game where I begin to have difficulty. The commander does not play in a logical manner at this point. Therefore, I am at a disadvantage."

    The doctor takes another sip of water, then returns her attention to the chessboard. "I was wondering," she says softly, "if you might consider addressing me by my name when we are off duty. And perhaps I can use your first name as well?"

    "Of course, T'Var, call me Andy," he croaks out in the same soft voice as T'Var before he realises he is doing so. He coughs slightly to clear his throat. "Er, yeah. just Andy is fine", he finishes in a more normal tone of voice. "'Scuse me," he says as he takes a swig of water before coughing politely again.

    "Actually, if we are going to be on first name basis, I do have a question for you?" Johnson says as he moves a bishop on the chessboard. "What's your favourite dish? I don't think I know it yet?"

    T'Var looks over the board, then decides to move her King's Bishop toward the center. "To be honest, Andy, I do not have a favorite dish. I was hoping you could help me find one?"

    "Everyone has a favourite dish T'Var, they just need a good prodding to remember it." he replies as he moves a Knight to a slightly threatening position. "But if you are looking for a new one, well let's see. Are you looking for something plain and simple, perhaps something sweet and tasty, Perhaps something spicy, you know, leaves a little taste in the mouth, or maybe even something a little more exotic, something you wouldn't even think of trying unless it was offered to you. Who knows, what you might be looking for could be right under your nose."

    Johnson looks at the few moves that have been made in the interim and marks something in the datapad as they continue on. "Hmm, looks like Vargas is ahead at the moment."

    T'Var checks the board. Once again, she is unsure of the best move to make at this point. She hesitates before moving her Bishop into what she hopes is an advantageous position.

    "I have always preferred simple foods," she says. "Perhaps something more exotic would be in order."

    Johnson thinks while the next few moves are made and it is becoming obvious that T'var is in a losing position. He can see that the time between the moves is getting longer and the Vulcan's brow narrowing as more thought is applied to the game.

    While she is looking over the board, he is thinking of what delicacies should might be interested in, or what even might be termed exotic to a Vulcan. Given their usual fare, the tapas would probably count as that for starters, or possibly main course, he chuckles to himself.

    "T'Var, I think this one is heading for Vargas." Johnson says as he moves a rook piercing the defence.

    T'Var frowns as she studies the board. "You are correct, Andy," she replies. "I believe my resignation in this game would be the most logical move at this point."

    The doctor places her king on its side. "Even when I try to play differently, I still lose," she says. "I am at a loss as to why I cannot find a way to defeat Cmdr. Vargas."

    Johnson looks back across at the annoyed Vulcan and scratches behind one ear, not quite sure how to break the news to her. "Well, actually, your play wasn't that different. A few of the moves were new, but the style was the same as always. Solid, logical and functional." Johnson shifts his chair round to next to T'Var and holds up the datapad so they can both see it. "Look, these couple of moves here, when he started attacking King side, that's where it went wrong. There was nothing especially wrong with your responses, but long term, with your style of play, I'm betting he was counting on it. You can see the success percentage slowly ticking off as the game went on. He set you up and you fell for it."

    Putting the datapad to the table Johnson, rearranges the pieces back to the positions shown. "So, if I wasn't you, what would I move? Vargas moves that Bishop, and you responded likewise. Personally, I haven't a clue, but the datapad is suggesting shifting that Rook across instead." Johnson looks down at the move. "According to this, it gives a better chance of the draw in the long run. But its a lot more aggressive than I would expect you to play."

    "What do you think?" Johnson asks T'Var, "Did you consider it?"

    "It was not the most logical move," T'Var says, her tone clearly irritated. "Therefore, I did not consider it."

    The doctor picks up the datapad and looks over the moves made. "How do I become something I am not?" she asks. "How do I become more aggressive?"

    Johnson blinks and tries to prevent a gulp of uncertainly realising he is sat close to a Vulcan asking how to become more aggressive. "Aah, well, I don't think you really need to become more aggressive in general, just have a more forceful view when playing. I've noticed the games against me have been a little more attacking. Maybe you just need to imagine me across the chessboard instead of Vargas when you play him."

    "I dunno, how about this for an idea. Let's go do something aggressive, then come back and try again. Food will keep for a while and I'm curious to see what an aggressive Vulcan looks like. So, what do you reckon? Got any good ideas?"

    "You might be surprised, Andy. An aggressive Vulcan is quite different from what you might expect. I am well versed in the Vulcan Defensive Arts, of course. I am not sure you are ready for something like that. Perhaps you could suggest an activity better suited to our needs?"

    "T'var, T'var, this is why Vargas is beating you so often." Johnson shakes his head in amusement and turns round to the Vulcan alongside him. "Aggressive and forward, remember," as he lands a playful light punch on her arm, "no sitting back, seize the day and so on," before scooting his chair back out of the way. "Besides I have two older brothers who used to think nothing of jumping up and down on me at a moment's notice, so while you may be able to flatten me, you'll have a hell of a time catching me first."

    "So, as I was saying what activity would you like to try next?"

    "Is that a challenge, Andy?" T'Var asks as she pushes her own chair back, then stands. "Perhaps a foot race might be in order. I was track champion at the academy. You will not outrun me."

    Johnson realises just what he has just been challenged to, looks across at the meal, and then looks at the strident Vulcan standing in front of him. "Well, I guess it's one way to build up an appetite." He stands up facing her and looks down at the confident face, "Yeah, you'll probably catch me, but I ain't gonna make it easy. Gym five minutes, bring your running kit."

    T'Var by WES, Johnson by CIAS
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  39. #39
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket

    Default Rendez-Vous

    The rain was coming down hard as Rangin makes his way back to the rendez-vous point and he carefully moves from tree to tree down the forested hillside, all the while trying not to slip in the damp undergrowth. From the distance, he can hear the storm getting closer and closer, the perfect cover for moving around though each time there is a lightning flash, his view whites-out through his goggles before returning to the more usual green and black view of the surrounding area.

    Moving gingerly on his ankle, the land flattens out and becomes harder to move amid the undergrowth, but he smiles as the water drips from his face being only a few hundred metres away from the site. Looking across the area, the smiles vanishes slowly as he sees movement through the brush nearby and heading in this direction. The team's vehicle is well hidden from normal sight and besides no-one should be around here at this time of night unless they were here deliberately.

    Shivering behind a large tree, not just from the rain that had soaked him, but the icy grip of fear on his senses, Rangin gulps a couple of deep breaths before grimacing as he tests his ankle. If someone finds them here and reports it back in they were all dead and with the others still dealing with the mine that...that just left him. Rangin knows it could have come to this, but he never thought it would actually happen.

    Despite the cold, Rangin starts to sweat. He isn't trained in any way, just someone who believes in Coridan, not a fighter, just a small guy who liked the wilderness, but if he didn't act now, his friends out there will pay the price. Wondering what he could do to stop whoever it was, Rangin carefully slips his backpack down and pulled out a collapsible airgun, a canister and a small box. Bracing himself against the tree while sitting down, he carefully unfolds the airgun and screws in the air canister. Checking his chronometer, Rangin sees it is only a few minutes before the others return. Risking a peek around the base of the broad trunk he was sheltering behind, Rangin looks into the darkness to see what was there.

    Whatever had been moving was now much further away and Rangin breathes a sigh of relief until he realises that not every animal had decide to shelter from the rain. A large Kellarox, a vicious, intelligent predator is stalking around and Rangin blinks rapidly as he sees it heading in his direction. He breathes easier, a large predator he could deal with, just not if someone with a communicator was around. Reaching into the box, Rangin pulls out a tranquiliser dart, and carefully inserts it into the gun before locking it. If it becomes a problem, then he is happy to handle putting it too sleep.

    A crack on a twig sends a fright down Rangin's spine as he hears the sound of grumbling through the rain as a figure steps out of the shadow from the other side of tree heading towards where the vehicle is located. Rangin suddenly realises what the Kellarox is tracking through the rain, but worse is that this figure was looking for them. Trying to stay as small and quiet as possible, he sees the figure heading off and Rangin slowly turns to point the airgun at them from behind.

    Rangin pauses wondering what he should do, but realises he has no choice in the matter. Taking off the goggles and then blinking to force the rain from his eyes, he raises the gun in his sitting position, aims, takes a deep breath and fires. The dart fires out striking the person in the back of the leg through the material. Freezing in place from terror, Rangin sits quietly and waits, hoping he is doing the right thing or if he has condemned them all. Through the gloom, Rangin sees the person react badly, reach down to the dart and pull it out before staggering to their knees. Fumbling with a communicator, he can see the effect taking hold as they fall over before they can use it.

    Breathing a sigh of relief, Rangin then remembers he has just put a dart in them containing enough sedative to flatten the Kellarox and quite probably a fatal dose for a normal Coridanite. Sitting in the base of the tree, Rangin struggles to breathe easily and slow his heartrate while trying not to think too hard. He had acted for the good of them all, whether right or wrong, so why does he feel so cold inside. It was one thing to talk about it, act big and say it wouldn't be a problem, but right now, he just wanted the ground to swallow him whole.

    Then as he sits and shivers, a large shape ghosts past sniffing gently at the ground before bounding up to the body and pouncing on it. There is a large crunch as the Kellarox's jaw seizes around the chest of the figure and shakes it hard like a rag doll. There are several cracks above the sound of the tempest around as bones are broken and neck snapped. Rangin scrabbles for the box containing the darts, but as swiftly as it appears, the Kellarox picks up the now corpse in its mouth and heads off to enjoy its meal. Rangin sits stunned holding a second dart and feeling disgust at himself for the fact that he is glad the other person was there.

    All he wants to do now is hide in the shade of the tree wondering who the person was and if Rangin did kill them. Had he crossed that line or had he just hastened the inevitable? Either way, Rangin would never know, but he is responsible and he knows that if there is a next time, he will do the same over again.

    Dragging himself to his feet, he slowly limps over to the empty dart and picks it along with the fallen communicator. It wasn't activated so they were safe, for the moment at least. As the adrenaline wears off, he wills himself to keep walking the remaining steps to the vehicle where the others will join him. At least with them around, he can push the sight out of his mind, relax in safety where it won't seem so bad and maybe he can forget what he had just done.

    He hopes...
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  40. #40
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    The Message in Her Music

    Kylah is enveloped in silence except for the tapping of her fingers on the keypad. She is alone in her quarters, doing her duty by her House and particularly the Guardian to whom she owes her very life--and who holds that same life in his hands as if it is a fledgling bird dwarfed by his large fingers. It is entirely up to him whether he chooses to crush it or set it free.

    She begins her letter:

    Honored Guardian Aldaan,

    I extend my warm greeting to you. Should it please you to mention me to my brother His Serenity, I humbly ask that you tell the Dohlman that, as ever, my deepest obedience, highest esteem, and fondest wishes for his continued good health and prosperity are all his. I hope you and Her Grace Ditraa are both well. I long to hear news from my noble family and homeland.

    My time in Starfleet continues to be an extraordinary experience. I am proud to say since I last wrote, I was assigned to another mission. This is likely not news to you, as I am sure someone with your avid interest in current events has seen reports of what transpired on Omnicron Ceti III.

    But of course, they tell neither the full nor accurate version of events. I can say little other than what is publicly known. In short, our original task was to determine a luxury health resort's worthiness of maintaining its franchise on a planet with valuable resources. After less than a day, the mission developed into a murder investigation.

    The Yorktown mission crew successfully worked in tandem despite our differing backgrounds and views, as is the way of the Federation. I fear my own performance remains that of a neophyte; I do my best but without the lessons of experience, my best is not always enough. Nevertheless I hope it will please you to know that I played some part in uncovering the truth about both the killer and the unethical behavior of his accomplice. Overall there was much ugliness behind the beauty of the resort. I left there humbled and somewhat chastened. In all honesty, Uncle, there are some things of which I would rather have remained ignorant.
    Kylah stares for some time at the last sentence. What little she ate for dinner churns within her stomach. She swallows, and after a moment she erases the sentence entirely.

    I learned much more about some of my strengths and weaknesses. It is now my job to enhance the former and wage war against the latter, but it will not be easy; you know my faults better than anyone.

    Everyone has weaknesses--it is what we do about them that matters. For example, the news reports you have no doubt seen will have described highly placed Federation personnel performing egregious illegal acts. I am assured that both Starfleet and the Federation have everything well in hand, and I do not doubt that those who are guilty will be punished regardless of their status. They are as true to their code as we are to ours, as you will comprehend as long as you listen only to the most reliable testimony.
    Re-reading this section, Kylah purses her lips at her vastly exaggerated confidence in Starfleet's justice. Still, what is important is that Aldaan will understand the reference to her secret message.

    She takes a moment to attach the music file containing her report. As she waits, she wonders if she dares mention the less savory stories that might have reached Elas by now. Her upper teeth drag at her lip, gnawing while she considers.

    He will accuse her of keeping secrets from him if she does not speak of the rumors. And that will be far worse.

    The ship's second-in-command gave me some praise for my work, which makes me proud. However, I must be honest and admit that I made mistakes in comportment during the mission. Worse, they somehow became public and have been cruelly distorted by some malicious parties--as I must sadly assume you have heard by now. I beg you to forgive me if any shameful shadow cast upon me is long enough to reach my family.

    I regret that the confidential nature of the circumstances means I cannot publicly defend myself against these allegations. Never have I so keenly understood the words of the philosopher Tejiin: If the seeds of truth are tightly guarded and rarely scattered, falsehoods shall sprout and flourish, claiming all the sunlight and letting the truth wither unseen.

    I assure you, Uncle, these stories are indeed lies. I pray you believe me and will pardon my having inadvertently attracted such a harsh spotlight. That was the very opposite of my intent.

    This is very long and I must not waste your time. You wrote in your last message that I must keep up with my music, and I have tried my best to do so. As soon as I returned from the planet I thought of composing something that would help comfort me. At last inspiration came, and I hurried to set it down, as if it would escape my memory entirely.

    As a result it is not as melodious or polished as I would wish. I am disappointed that a great deal of discord exists within what was supposed to be a work of great harmony. But if I remember correctly, you often enjoy complex chords that clash with one another. If so, you may be pleased to listen to my small effort after all. I could think of no name on my own; perhaps, if you reply, you will think of one for me?
    The request is not fanciful. His name will also be in code, and will indicate whether she is to provide further information.

    At long last Kylah concludes the message with the usual final formalities honoring the Dohlman, asking her sister to write, and wishing the entire household good health.

    She re-reads her words and, when finished, looks down at her keypad. This act is treason to the Federation. It is also the highest obligation to her House. She knows what she must do.

    As she thinks about the attached song, Kylah is torn by shame and pride. The shame's genesis is obvious, while the pride stems from having composed a piece that successfully encodes the twists and turns of her latest mission.

    The crimes performed by powerful Starfleet leaders, the possibility of a cover-up, the hypocrisy of the idealistic Federation's willingness to restrict access to the potentially lifesaving spores to wealthy patrons of a single absurdly expensive resort, the Hwuens' curious link to Vice Admiral Hardin and, perhaps, willingness to be part of the Klingon Empire... All of it, within the space of a ten-minute song. A song that no one but Aldaan can decode, because he is the only one with the key. And still the song is listenable, if not exactly something that most would enjoy.

    Yes, she would crow of her success... if there were anyone within several lightyears who would not put her in prison upon hearing of it. But there is not. This secret, just as almost everything else that Kylah does, everything that Kylah is, must remain as deeply hidden and impossible to fathom as the message in her music.

    Leaning forward, Kylah sighs, then presses a single finger down on the keypad.



  41. #41
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    Welcome Aboard, Ensign Kylah (Part 1/4)

    The Yorktown is larger than Kylah expected. She has been aboard Federation starships before, but not of this class, and certainly not as crowded. The strangers' minds all confront her as she walks through the ship's corridors; they feel oppressive and hostile.

    I should not have spent so much time at home, she thinks, although she does not regret taking the four months after graduation to soak in the last rays of Elas's twin suns, to say goodbye to the few people she cares about. Months at home meant no humans, no unfamiliar minds or feelings. It meant hiding, whenever she felt too overwhelmed.

    Once she arrived at the Starbase where she would board the Yorktown, Kylah realized she must acclimate herself to strangers all over again. Home--even with all the pressure--had spoiled her.

    Not that she had much choice but to stay on Elas; Aldaan had demanded it. Fortunately he spent only one week trying to change her mind about the marriage issue, and then--seemingly at last accepting her decision as final--he took the rest of the time teaching her all he could about Elas's current political climate, about its new allies and foes. About his plans for the future--or her future, now that it truly must be in Starfleet. "If you refuse to make yourself useful to me one way, you will another," he vowed. Kylah could not disobey.

    And by the time he succeeded in getting her posted to a far better ship than a new Academy graduate had any right to expect, Aldaan had made it crystal clear just how he planned to make her useful.

    Now Kylah tries to filter out everything but the calm voice of the human woman walking slightly ahead of her. Lt. JG Cecilia Bennett, as she introduced herself, is the New Crew Liasion Officer, and Kylah has listened to her apparently genuine, friendly words of welcome for the ten minutes since Kylah transported aboard.

    After these initial greetings and explanations, and having given Kylah her tricorder, communicator and a datapad--which Bennett explained contains general information about the ship and a map to help her get around--Bennett gently steered Kylah from the transporter room through these winding corridors until here they are: meeting the First Officer himself.

    "Cmdr. Vargas," Bennett says with a confident smile that Kylah wishes she could emulate. "May I present Ensign Kylah? She has just come aboard and is to be an Assistant Communications Officer."

    Kylah's nerves are as brittle as one of the crystal orbs hanging outside her bedroom at home, but she does her best to look bravely at the imposing man--a Security officer, Bennett explained earlier. She has rehearsed all manner of greetings in response to whatever he plans to say. None of them prepare her for the immediate sense she gets of his... how to describe it? Not hostility, but it is far from pleasure, either.

    "Welcome aboard, Ensign," he says, a wary look in his dark eyes. "After reviewing your personnel file, you strike me as someone of great ability, but also as someone with the distinct potential to crash and burn. I'll be expecting you to be on your best behavior on my ship."

    Though taken aback, Kylah remains stiff and proud in her stance. Does he resent having me aboard? Is it because he knows Uncle Aldaan pulled strings to get me here? The reason for his insult does not matter. She is a daughter of Elas and will not be goaded or intimidated by some human.

    "I will not crash and burn," she says distinctly. "I did not do it in flight training at the Academy, and I will not do it here. Sir," she adds after a perfectly timed pause--short enough to seem natural, but long enough to secretly express her disdain.

    "Good, I expect that on my ship. Nothing less. Welcome aboard, then, and good luck. Dismissed." The curt answer is followed by him returning to his datapad and ignoring her. From the corner of her eye, Kylah can see Bennett nodding subtly towards the door with a sympathetic look.

    After they have left the room, Bennett turns and shakes her head sadly, "I do apologize," she says. "He isn't being very receptive today. You'll be meeting Capt. Singh and Lt. Thalen, the Communications Officer, later on, once you've settled in."

    Kylah does her best not to show her relief. She has been afraid that she would be brought next to the Captain, given Aldaan's influence, but fortunately, thus far she is being treated like a normal new crew member. Or perhaps a bit more rudely, she thinks, still bruised by Vargas's abrasive comment.

    Bennett starts to walk along and Kylah follows along, wondering where she is to be taken next, only to find herself at the turbolift. "Right," the older woman says, smiling brightly. "I just wanted to make sure that you have everything. If you wish, I can escort you down to your new room, or perhaps you'd rather make your own way there? Your belongings will be delivered shortly by the Quartermaster."

    Kylah bristles slightly, feeling like a young child being guided everywhere, but a slight push outwards at Lt. JG Bennett's emotions indicates that the NCLO is only trying to be helpful. One thing does annoy her, however. She acts as if I have never seen the inside of a ship before! Kylah barely avoids grinding her teeth in frustration. Does the entire Federation believe Elasians are so backward we are just learning how to use tools?

    "Thank you for your kind offer," she says, polite in return. "But I believe I can make my own way there. I have the details on my datapad. I do appreciate all your help thus far."

    Kylah is grateful for the doors opening in front of them. Bennett waves Kylah on, still displaying her friendly smile, and as Kylah turns she notices Bennett has remained on the deck. "You're most welcome, Ensign. Well, if you do need any assistance, please just contact me, I'm here to help. Good luck."

    Before Kylah can respond to the cheery officer, the turbolift doors close. She exhales, and after a quick consultation with her datapad to confirm the Quartermaster's instructions, Kylah holds onto the lift's handle and says "Deck 7" in a clear voice.

    The journey is brief, and soon Kylah is walking down yet another corridor, following both the room numbers and her map to the specific quarters where she will be staying during her time on the ship. With each step she feels more nervous. She has no idea who her new cabinmate will be, and knows how important it is to make a good impression.

    Please let it not be a human, she thinks, although she knows the chances are slim that her wish will be granted. She does not really despise humans, but her experiences with them have rarely been... positive.

    At last she arrives at the cabin number--7G12--that matches the one on her datapad. She looks at the door and bites her lip. Should I just enter? It is my cabin now too. No, that would be presumptuous and inconsiderate. Hesitantly she raises her palm and presses on the door chime.

    A muffled, somewhat hoarse-sounding voice, words indistinct, is all she hears. But the door apparently recognizes the command, and it whooshes open.

    With a swallow, Kylah steps tentatively inside her new home. At first glance there appears to be no one here, but she senses someone's presence--someone who is cheerful but tired, a little disoriented too. I have woken her up, Kylah suspects, which explains the woman's husky tone. Her heart sinks; this is not the best way to start off.

    Through the partially closed door to the bathroom, Kylah sees and hears someone moving around, and also catches the scent of shampoo in the air. And she has just taken a shower. I hope she will not resent my intrusion.... Still gnawing at her lower lip, Kylah lets her gaze sweep the room quickly and notices a collection of datapads and a manicure set neatly laid out on one of the tables.

    She clears her throat and moves another hesitant few feet further inside. "Hello?" she calls, hoping she does not sound anxious. "My--my name is Kylah. Ensign Kylah. I have just come aboard and have been assigned to these quarters."

    Assuming it might take some time for the other woman to get dressed, Kylah sits down primly on the edge of the bed she presumes will be hers, since it is the one that has clearly not been slept in. The bunk across from her has its covers flung off haphazardly, one wrinkled pillow bunched up against the night table, and some cotton bedclothes lying partially on the bed, the rest puddled on the floor.

    This stranger seems not to be a gentle sleeper--or a woman who prizes neatness. Perhaps she has simply been without a roommate for a while, Kylah hopes.

    She clears her throat and speaks again, awkward at the silence. "Please forgive me if I have interrupted you. I am sorry to have come at an inconvenient time. I hope you will not mind my being here."

    She is busy looking at the empty closet, wondering whether her belongings will fit, when she hears her new crewmate emerging from the bathroom. "Of course I don't mind," the voice says--far deeper than expected.

    Kylah swivels around, her jaw dropping when she discovers that the lean six-footer with a tattoo on one arm and whose waist is wrapped in a towel is not only human, but is also definitely male.

    As she stares, gape-mouthed, the young man's gaze takes her in, gleaming with surprise and then mild amusement. "No, I don't mind at all," he continues with a charming grin, moving closer with his left hand extended. "Been a while since I had a roomie. Good to meet you. Ship's Cook Johnson, but call me Andy. So, fancy a cuppa, Kylie?"

    To Be Continued...

    Kylah et al. by choie, Johnson by CIAS, editing of Vargas/Bennett by EH
    Last edited by choie; 15 Apr 2015 at 01:32 PM.

  42. #42
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Lt. Booker Graham shivers and sneezes. "I don't think the enviro controls are working right in here, Janey," he says. "Are you sure you can't get out of your thing--I'm sure I can get a spouse in to the base as a guest. We're doing phaser training drills today." He towels off vigorously, noting that he's covered with goosebumps.

    His wife smiles. "Much like any woman, I'm sure I'd love watching you smash and blow things up, Boo," she replies, running her hands over his shoulders and squeezing his biceps playfully. "But the fact that the university has a project here is the whole reason I was able to come and meet you. I can't rightly skip the seminar."

    Graham grunts and looks around for his uniform shirt. "Well it was worth a shot." Jane points at the floor on the side of the bed. Sure enough, there is it is, Graham thinks. "What would I do without you, dear?" he asks.

    "Probably get arrested for indecent exposure, for one" she replies, grabbing her datapad off a side table. She stop and turns toward Graham. "Honey, there are cocktails for all the visiting faculty tonight." She closes her eyes while she pauses briefly. "It will--it'll mean we have to change our dinner plans." Graham frowns--he'd had to do some serious wheeling and dealing to get the reservation at the colony's fanciest place. A place with foofie food I don't even like, that I chose for you, he thinks--but doesn't say.

    Before he can respond Jane grabs one of his hands. "I know if changes our plans, Boo--but I'd like you come meet everyone." She moves closer to him. "You do look handsome in your uniform..." She gets close enough to whisper. "Can you help me show off how lucky I am?"

    Graham clears his throat. "Ah..." He tenses slightly and he can tell that Jane notices. "Ah, it's all right, sure...but if we lose the reservation we're going back to that steak place." He smiles, and before she can react places both hands at her slim waist and lifts her off her feet in front of him. "Deal, professor?"

  43. #43
    Administrator choie's avatar
    Mar 2012
    New York, NY


    Welcome Aboard, Ensign Kylah (Part 2/4)
    View Part 1

    Kylah continues to sit on the bed, frozen in shock, while the dark-haired young man nods his head encouragingly in the direction of his extended hand. It takes far too long for Kylah to regain her speech and mobility.

    When she does, her first act is to nearly bounce off the bed and back away from the stranger. Thank goodness this man--Johnson, she thinks he said?--is keeping one hand firmly on his towel. But there is still far too much damp, lean but muscular flesh visible for Kylah's comfort. Her face seems to be on fire and she is careful to keep her gaze away from...everything she fortunately cannot see.

    "What are you doing here?" she demands, only realizing how rude she sounds after the words escape her lips. He clearly thinks it is his room. Or maybe it is. Of course it is, she thinks in sudden relief. She must have made a mistake. "No, I beg your pardon--that is--I am the one who should not be here. I apologize."

    She looks down at his hand. What is he asking her for? Oh. Humans shake hands, she knows that, why has she forgotten all of her cultural learning in five minutes?

    Awkward, she jerks her stiffened arm forward to clasp his, feeling his warm strength even in just this brief touch, and then yanks her hand away as quickly as she can. "It was good to meet you. But--but I fear I am lost. I am supposed to be in 7G12, I must have gone to the wrong deck..." Her words trail off. She remembers telling the turbolift for Deck Seven, and she knows she saw the number 12 on the door. Looking over the room, she blurts in helpless confusion: "You are supposed to be a female!"

    "No, you're in the right place. And..." As Kylah looks on, horrified, Johnson pulls the front of the towel out just slightly and looks down before holding it tight to his waist again "...I'm definitely not female. So, I'll guess you'll be moving your stuff in shortly? Brilliant. You're lucky it's not bunk beds, otherwise I'd be sleeping right on top of you." He grins and nods to the dresser. "So, you grab the tea, I'll chuck some clothes on, and then we can find out about each other in detail."

    'Sleeping right on top of her.' The insinuation is not lost on Kylah. If her face gets any hotter she might burst into flame, and then he can brew his cursed tea right over her head.

    "No, stop, please!" she yelps. "This cannot be right. I was never told anything about the possibility that--that I would be put in here with a male. Surely that is not how things are done here?"

    While she talks, she hugs herself and darts her gaze around, at the dresser, the bathroom, anywhere but at his bare flesh, and finally ends up staring at his bed. Which is not much better than looking at him.

    Now she becomes aware that he is not moving, just watching her, his startling blue eyes friendly but enjoying himself far too much for her liking.

    Why is he still standing there, with a few drops of water running down his face and then continuing rippling down his chest...?

    Then she realizes that he is obeying--mockingly--her earlier command. Flustered, she lifts a hand and points to his closet. "Mr. Johnson. When I told you to stop, you know very well I did not mean you should remain in that towel. Please get dressed. We must figure out what to do!"

    "Aw, c'mon, you make it sound like sharing with me would be a bad thing; I don't bite. Okay, okay, I'll get changed. We don't want to start off on the wrong foot, do we? I mean, we'll wind up seeing plenty of each other anyway, so let's be friendly about it."

    Johnson turns to pick up some clothes and Kylah's mouth opens slightly in shock. Is he...he expecting her to be in the same state of undress as he currently is? And just how friendly does he mean? Just what does he take her for? Is this what goes on in Starfleet vessels?

    She watches in growing disconcertion as he wanders into the bathroom and then calls through to her. "So, Kylie, where are you from?"

    Kylah tries hard to keep herself from screeching and replies through clenched teeth: "My name is Kylah. I am from Elas."

    "Elas, sorry never heard of it. Is that near Athens?" comes the muffled reply.

    "It happens to be a planet, one that is in the final stages of joining the Federation. A highly valued planet, I might add." Kylah's fingers tap her hips impatiently, and she does not bother hiding her indignation. "I suppose a cook need not keep abreast of your Federation's latest access to vital resources unless they are suitable for a dinner plate."

    She looks behind her at the neatly made bed on which she was previously sitting. The two bunks are not terribly close to each other, but a distance of two meters is hardly enough for Kylah's liking.

    "Highly valued planet, is it? Nope, still never heard of it." Johnson wanders back through, now almost fully dressed in a chef's outfit, buttoning up the top as he speaks. "I'm sure your national dish is as tasty as..." His eyes seem to wander up and down Kylah once again, and he smiles speculatively. "Well. You'll have to tell me about it."

    Kylah tries her best to find something noncommittal to discuss. "And--and where is your original home? You do not sound entirely unlike Lt. Bennett, so I presume you are from somewhere nearby?"

    "Me and Bennett? Yeah, we're from the same country on Earth. Only she's a lot more refined than I am. She has that glorious English rose RP thing going, and I've got backstreets of London. Nice enough lady though, always helpful."

    She has nothing to say about Bennett, helpful or otherwise. If she is responsible for housing me with this strutting rooster, I wonder whom she was helping? At least Kylah understands what he means regarding his and Bennett's accents. Her study of Terran languages at the Academy included regional variations, although there are so many that her professor could hardly teach all the nuances.

    Mutely she watches Johnson finish fastening his top button, after which he gestures down himself to Kylah. "There, that's better, isn't it? No more towels. You know, if you've been traveling for a bit and want to freshen up, shower's free. Don't worry, I've shifted my stuff around back there. Go right ahead."

    Johnson then wanders across to the table and starts neatly taking care of his hands as he blithely goes on. "Actually, if we are going to be roomies, there is something about you I would love to know. Well, several things actually, but anyway... what's your favourite dish?" He glances back at her with a grin. "And I'm talking about the food variety here. I bet there's more than one thing from Elas worth eating up."

    Kylah is barely able to speak--not that he gives her much time to get a word in edgewise, even if she could piece her thoughts together quickly enough. At last she takes a determined step forward. "Let us get this straight, Mr. Johnson: I am not your 'roomie.' I cannot be! It is not just that you are a male, it is that you are you. Your demeanor is too forward, and... and..."

    Her gaze darts helplessly around as if literally searching for a way to finish her sentence. At last she returns to him. "And inappropriate," she snaps. "Further, I am not some exotic new ingredient placed here merely for you to sample. And as for my favorite Elasian dish, it is a sweet cake called Bellaque--not that you or any human would be able to create it." She lifts her chin disdainfully. "Frankly, Mr. Johnson, I highly doubt you could offer me anything I would wish to put in my mouth, much less swallow."

    For some reason he makes a kind of choking noise before muttering under his breath, "Too easy." Thanks to the mirror's reflection, she can see his eyes roll up to the ceiling with ill-concealed amusement before he looks back toward her.

    "A sweet cake called Bellaque, you say. Well, now that you come to mention it, cakes are a speciality of mine, so I'd wager I've got something you would love to wrap your lips around. Did I mention my Cream Horn? Eight inches of pure temptation, and guaranteed to give you sticky lips by the time you've finished." He leans across in Kylah's direction, fixing her with a knowing grin. "Does that tickle your fancy?"

    Even in Kylah's confused state, Johnson's meaning cannot escape her. She gasps and, unable to think of an immediate response, looks around in vain for something to throw at him. Frustrated, at last she spits out: "You--you--odious human! Do you think I cannot understand your vulgar innuendo? Do not dare to speak to me like that!"

    He shrugs, still gently filing a nail. "Still not interested then? Shame."

    She stalks up to glare at him, craning her neck to do so considering the vast difference in their heights. "I have been on this ship for less than an hour and already I am certain you are the very last person in whom I would ever be 'interested.' You disgust me!"

    "Oh come on, Kylie, it's wasn't that bad, was it? Just some friendly bantering. You know, to get a feel for each...err... other and how we...umm...might...err...perhaps get on." He grins good-naturedly. "Okay, fair point, maybe that last one was a little over the top, but I do have a healthy respect for the fairer sex in all their forms."

    "Respect? I see no evidence of that. You cannot even get my name right. It is Kylah." She wishes she were taller, stronger, anything that will make him look at her with some measure of seriousness. "If you are not this revolting to every woman, then why am I so honored with your pig-like manners? Give me one reason I should not demand that you be placed on report for such filthy comments!"

    Johnson looks slightly take aback by Kylah's outburst, and for the first time seems vaguely concerned. "Hold on a mo, aren't you taking this a bit seriously? You can relax, you know. I, honestly, didn't mean anything by it." Then, as if to pacify her, he actually reaches out and places his hand on her shoulder. "C'mon, how about I get us something nice to drink? We can start over calm and quiet-like. Would that be all right?"

    "No, thank you, I do not wish you to get me drunk." Kylah's tone is as flat and cold as the steel nail file he has been using so assiduously. His fingers feel strong atop her uniform, with only his thumb touching her bare flesh. She continues in a deathly soft voice. "For someone who takes such fastidious care of his hands, you are remarkably careless regarding where you put them."

    In a movement so swift and smooth he cannot possibly react to it, Kylah whips one of her two throwing knives from its hiding place on her left thigh and rests it, blade flat against his offending wrist. She then tilts her head a millimeter toward her shoulder. "If you do not release me this instant, my knife will ensure that you no longer have a need to manicure your nails ever again."

    She pats the cool metal weapon on his skin for emphasis. "Would that be all right, Mr. Johnson?"

    To Be Continued...

    Kylah and Johnson by choie and CIAS
    Last edited by choie; 24 Apr 2015 at 03:09 PM.

  44. #44
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    "You look like you're going to kill someone."

    Graham grunts, his eyes shifting side to side rapidly. "Crowded...lots of people in close proximity."

    "They're called my co-workers, Boo, and it's called dancing," Jane says, pulling his right hand away from his side where it looks as if it's been twitching to draw a phaser. "I know these events aren't your favorite thing, but try to relax, dear."

    He puffs up his cheeks and exhales. He tugs at the collar of his dress uniform with his other hand.

    "OK, ok..." he replies, grimacing slightly. He shrugs. "I concede the dinner was pretty good."

    Jane rolls her eyes, but smiles as well. "That's just because they accidentally brought a steak meal to a vegetarian sitting at our table and you got to eat two." She clasps his hand in both of hers and raises an eyebrow. "Three dances, Boo, and then...well, Lizzy's with my parents, and it seems like it's been a looong time since you had shore leave..."

    Graham smiles gamely. "How about two dances?"

    Jane shakes her head and tugs him forward toward the floor. "Just for that it's four...but I'll show you my appreciation later if you're good..."
    Last edited by general_urko; 27 Apr 2015 at 09:46 PM.

  45. #45
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket


    Welcome Aboard, Ensign Kylah (Part 3/4)
    View Part 2

    Ship's Cook Andy Johnson slowly and carefully removes his hand from Ensign Kylah's shoulder without a word, but his grin has been replaced by a thin line, his face suddenly stern.

    "You know, you really shouldn't go waving those things around on a ship like this, it's not a good way to win friends and influence people," he comments once his hand is clear of Kylah's blade.

    He takes a deep breath and then looks back across at her. "Okay, let me explain a bit for you, 'cause I have a feeling you may have misunderstood a few things. Not all of them, I grant you. But, for starters, I wasn't even considering getting you drunk. When I said 'something pleasant to drink,' I did not mean anything alcoholic. A few things I said were out of line and yeah, I'm sorry for that, I shouldn't have said it and it didn't help you understand what I was saying.

    "Now, I promise to be good, so let's try this one again, without the innuendo and threats. Okay?"

    Eyes narrowed, Kylah lowers her knife--provisionally. "You said a great deal that was out of line," she insists. "And your behavior made me feel--you seemed to assume I was some sort of..."

    She looks back at the bathroom before returning to him and starting over. "Mr. Johnson, I am not from your planet or your culture. I may have lived with humans at the Academy, but I spent only three years there. The humans I met had little knowledge of Elasians, only rumors. When you spoke as you did to me, I thought you had heard those same rumors."

    But he claims he never heard of Elas. Remembering this, she frowns and looks intently into Johnson's jewel-like blue eyes, pushing outward with her senses to gauge the truth. "Have you really no knowledge of what is said about Elasian women? The tales of Captain James Kirk and my cousin Elaan, now Queen of Troyius?"

    Johnson scrumples his face up slightly. "Nah, still doesn't mean anything, though if Captain Kirk was involved, I'm betting your cousin's a stunner. If it doesn't have a decent culinary scene, I tend not to be interested, no. No offence, mind you, Elasian cuisine is just not common enough. The latest craze is Andorian and Tellarite fusion dishes, but I'm guessing that means nothing to you.

    "So, what are the rumours? I take it they are not of the sugar and spice variety. And if your cousin is a Queen, what does that make you? 'Cause I'll tell you now, the only thing that will matter on board are the stripes on your sleeve and how good you are. By the way, I assumed you were yet another graduate of the Academy?" Johnson pauses before grinning back at her. "What did you think I meant?"

    Given his tendency to ask multiple questions all in one breath without allowing her time to respond, Kylah wonders if Johnson is actually interested in the answers. But she remains dogged. "In order," she says frostily, "If you do not know the rumors about my people, I shall not repeat them--you appear well-equipped with a certain type of imagination and I am sure you can guess. If not, I am sure you will find a fellow reprobate to fill you in on the salacious talk you have missed being cooped up in your kitchen.

    "Second, my cousin being a queen makes me precisely what I am, a person standing in front of you in a Starfleet uniform--no more, no less.

    "Third, I am indeed a graduate; I simply completed my courses in less time than most." Kylah does not mention that this was due to her Guardian's political machinations and insistence that her courseload be increased to facilitate her rapid ascent into Starfleet. "And finally...."

    Her cheeks burn. "You know very well what I thought you meant. Inviting me to undress, implying I could be sleeping beneath you, the--the--" Her voice lowers to an embarrassed whisper. "The sticky lips comment. There may have been even more that I may have missed. Yes, I acknowledge that I may be naïve, Mr. Johnson. But I would still appreciate it if you do not treat me like a fool."

    Kylah drops her gaze from his. "Perhaps other women on the ship are not fazed by the prospect of rooming with men--in truth I know many Elasian women who would be delighted by it. Perhaps, too, your other female colleagues are not offended by comments such as yours. I acknowledge it might be a humor deficiency on my part. Still, I am offended, and I... I do not want to be."

    She looks up at him again, more openly. "I do not want to seem difficult or stiff or priggish or... all the things I know I do appear, to others. But this situation is disconcerting. I had no idea I would share quarters with a male, and I am not comfortable with it. Especially given how you... look at me." And feel about me, she thinks but of course does not add. His attraction to her, even if not serious, has been evident since they first met. And, unaccountably, despite what she is saying and the fact that he is finally allowing her to speak seriously, this emotion seems to be increasing, rather than decreasing. It makes no sense to her.

    Johnson seems to be listening intently to Kylah, but yet again as she finishes, he looks her up and down. Feeling self-conscious and angry as his eyes wander over her despite giving his word, Kylah grips hard on the knife.

    Johnson's quieter tone surprises her. "Look, there are a few ladies on board who wouldn't mind sharing, but the majority might. I don't think you're a fool, just a little--ahh--unworldly. Seeing as we are going to be sharing, you don't have a boyfriend do you? That would really complicate things. Truth is, the last few times I've shared quarters with a female, sex was usually the last thing on the list...but it was on the list."

    He breathes deeply, while shaking his head and holding up one hand. "Crap, I owe you for that one. I said I'd be good and yeah well, last thing you need on your first day on board is some idiot making you feel unwelcome."

    Kylah's throat is tight. For the thousandth time she wonders if she will ever understand humans, either men or women. He apologizes one instant and asks personal questions the next; she cannot decide what to think about this human. He seems sincere, but... she cannot get past the impression that his gaze on her is acquisitive. She might indeed be a recipe he wishes to sample.

    Kylah inhales. "My relationships are not your affair. I do not intend to be the subject of gossip. And I do not intend to share anything with you, either personal details or a room! I will contact the Quartermaster, I will contact the Elasian government if I must, but I--"

    The door chime startles her. She falls silent, and a quick glance at the knife in her hand makes her realize that however infuriating and vulgar Johnson may be, she is the one currently breaking Starfleet regulations. In an act nearly as natural as breathing for an Elasian woman, Kylah smoothly returns the weapon to its proper place, realizing too late--as she slips the knife into the hilt on her upper thigh--that Johnson is paying close attention. Flushing, Kylah drops her skirt and backs away again.

    "Oh, is that where it came from? I had been wondering," Johnson says softly, his eyes suddenly sparkling. "Do you wear those all the time? Never mind, tell me later. Let's see who that is. Come in!" Johnson calls out loudly.

    The door swishes open, revealing the figure of Lt. JG. Cecilia Bennett, who breezes elegantly into the room and stops in front of the pair.

    "Ah. Mr. Johnson. Ens. Kylah. So you've met! I'm terribly sorry, there appears to have been an administrative error concerning Ens. Kylah's new quarters." She turns and smiles at Kylah. "You'll probably be relieved to know that you'll not be sharing space with Mr. Johnson."

    Kylah exhales. The dread that seems to have settled on her shoulders lifts at last. "Thank you, Lieutenant," she says. "I thought it had to be a mistake." Her tone makes her feelings clear--no more needs to be added.

    "Yes," Bennett says, glancing down at her datapad. "A simple mixed letter. You're to be in 7C12, not 7G12. Once I realized the error I feared you must be thinking the worst of us. No offense, Mr. Johnson, but...." One of Bennett's perfectly arched eyebrows raises slightly. "I don't think you're quite the best match for Ens. Kylah."

    "Pity, really." Johnson grins good-naturedly with a sidelong look of regret. "I was looking forward to it, but I think Ensign Kylah would prefer someone a little less..." Kylah can almost see the wheels turning in Johnson's mind "...uncouth."

    Kylah keeps her face stonelike, and after a second of contemplation, Bennett appears to make a quick, accurate assessment of the mood between the two. As she fixes Johnson with a firm stare, the air seems to turn slightly chilly.

    "Indeed," the older woman says, still lifting her brow. "I am well aware of your... unconventional sense of humour, Mr. Johnson. I trust you've been appropriately welcoming to Ens. Kylah?"

    To Kylah's hidden pleasure, she notices Johnson's face redden somewhat, like a schoolboy caught misbehaving.

    To Be Continued...

    Kylah and Johnson by choie and CIAS, editing of Bennett by EH
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 02 May 2015 at 11:32 AM. Reason: Typo fixed.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  46. #46
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket


    Welcome Aboard, Ensign Kylah (Part 4/4)
    View Part 3

    Kylah enjoys watching Johnson's discomfort under Lt. JG Bennett's scrutiny. "Well, Mr. Johnson?" Bennett asks when Johnson only glances with a reddening face at Kylah before returning to look at the older woman. "Just what sort of welcome have you given our newest crew member, anyway?"

    "Ah, well, ma'am... perhaps I was a little too welcoming," Johnson replies, somewhat contritely. Bennett's expression remains immobile, and the silence seems to drag on before Johnson raises his hands in defeat. "All right, I've apologised already, ma'am, but yeah."

    He stands straight up, towering over both the ladies in front of him, and then makes a convincingly humble bow of his head in Kylah's direction. "Ens. Kylah, I'm sorry for anything I've said that might have been, well, out of bounds. I'll make sure the Galley’s more welcoming. Speaking of which..."

    Johnson faces Bennett with an enquiring smile. "Forgot to mention. We picked up a load of fresh fruit on that last stop. Could I interest you in a fresh punnet of strawberries? I know how you love them. And I'll make sure to drown them with some of my best, sweetest cream." He glances innocently at Kylah. "It's a tasty dessert, Ensign. Much like the one I offered you." The cook swiftly gives her a wink of his left eye, the side hidden from Bennett's view.

    Kylah's instinct is to blurt out a heated accusation, but something stops her. The wink was not salacious... in fact, it seemed almost friendly; inclusive. I cannot get all that from a mere wink, Kylah realizes. The lack of ill-will is radiating from Johnson himself; she senses that he is inviting her in on the joke, rather than trying to anger her with it.

    Bennett, meanwhile, looks from Johnson to Kylah and back again, as if her sharp gaze is trying to decide whether something is amiss. “Really,” she says thoughtfully, arms crossing her chest. “May I ask what precisely you offered her, Mr. Johnson?”

    “Just a pastry, Lieutenant. Nothing I haven’t served up to plenty of the crew. Didn’t seem to tempt her, though.”

    “Hmm.” Bennett eyes Kylah. “Is this true, Ensign?”

    Kylah hesitates. Let him stew for a moment, she thinks with a swell of vindictive pleasure, before finally responding. “Yes, Lieutenant,” she says at last, her voice as cool and calm as she can manage. “I am sure he is skilled at what he does, but the dessert did not seem likely to suit my taste. Kind though the offer was.”

    While Johnson gives Kylah an amused nod of acknowledgement, Bennett’s mood lightens considerably. “I see. Well, the strawberries and cream would be marvelous, Mr. Johnson. I haven't had such a treat in ages. Thank you."

    Johnson wears a self-satisfied and ever so slightly smug grin plastered across his mouth. "Glad to oblige, ma'am. Lower Galley, this evening. Always a pleasure to make you happy."

    His expression almost makes Kylah regret hiding his vulgar behavior, but she remains silent as Bennett turns with a graceful gesture toward the door. "Well, Ens. Kylah, shall we get you to your new quarters? Good day, Mr. Johnson." She walks briskly forward, and the door opens to let her out into the corridor. And Kylah--after a tight nod at the man who was nearly her roommate--follows her.

    "Oh, Ens. Kylah, just a mo'?" Johnson's voice halts her movements. "Hold up, you forgot your datapad." In two quick steps, Johnson reaches across to the other bed and picks it up where Kylah left it. He holds it out to her, rather than walking it over.

    Kylah begs Bennett's pardon and slowly, almost warily, returns to where Johnson is holding up the device and waving it toward her. She holds her hand out expectantly, still hesitant, but Johnson's expression as he passes her the datapad seems utterly sincere and without the mockery she has grown to expect in the short time since meeting him.

    However, instead of handing the device across, he leans forward and, in a low tone Bennett cannot possibly hear, says: "Look, I’m really am sorry about all that. I can tell you’re upset and I wouldn't be surprised if you're the grudge-holding type, especially with that knife. I really did go too far and maybe I earned that grudge. But I hope it doesn't last forever."

    "Very well," is all Kylah will allow, although something in her tugs against her mistrust; unaccountably, she realizes she wants to believe him. "May I have my datapad now?"

    "Sure." Johnson hands it straight across and continues in warm tones. "To apologise, if you ever want something special out of the galley, just let me know. I'd be happy to oblige." Johnson seems to recognize the suspicious glint in Kylah's eyes, because he adds: "No, seriously, I really do mean food, believe it or not. Just a meal, something like that. It's what I do best. I owe you one."

    He smiles and the blue of his eyes suddenly seems to radiate warmth--it certainly makes her cheeks flush. "Welcome aboard, ma'am," he says, raising his voice to a normal volume and imbuing it with a sort of cheerful respect. "Hope your stay is a happy one."

    Kylah pulls the datapad up to her chest, hugging it to her, and murmurs a soft "thank you" before swiftly leaving him to join Lt. Bennett.

    "I--I am sorry," she says when the door slides shut to hide Andy Johnson at last. "I did not mean to keep you waiting."

    "No, it's all right. I'm the one who's sorry," Bennett says as she leads Kylah down the corridor of identical-looking doors. "I hope the confusion doesn't give you a bad impression of how we run the ship."

    "Of course not, ma'am." The lie is easy to sell. "Administrative errors do happen."

    "Yes, I daresay, but this one... landing you in with Mr. Johnson, of all people..." Bennett pauses, eyeing Kylah from her superior height. "Ensign, I do hope he didn't make you uncomfortable. Johnson is an excellent cook and a good man, quite popular in fact. But he can come across rather strongly. His sense of humour is somewhat... salty. I wouldn't take it seriously, though. He means no harm."

    Kylah's gaze remains fixed ahead and shows nothing of her inner feelings. She has heard such excuses many times. "Yes, ma'am. I understand."

    Now that they have reached a cross-corridor, Bennett starts to turn to the left, but then hesitates and stops walking altogether. She faces Kylah and peers at her with what seems to be genuine concern.

    "No, just a moment. That came out wrong. Ensign, I suspect I'm coming across as if I'm asking you to ignore any discomfort you may have felt. I assure you that isn't my intention at all. Please don’t think I'm dismissing anything that might have genuinely offended or upset you."

    Bennett's gaze searches Kylah's before she continues. "You should tell me if something is troubling you, either now or during your early days aboard. It's my responsibility to make sure that new crew members are cared for and treated with all the respect they're due--and to handle it if they're not. Please, feel free to speak candidly, without fear of repercussion. Did Mr. Johnson upset you?"

    Of course he did, quite outrageously, but as Kylah thinks about those last moments in the cabin, her inclination to report him for harassment fades. "Not... really. Not very much, Lieutenant. Mostly he said things I did not quite understand. His slang and idioms were not entirely clear to me, even with the translator...."

    The instant she says this, she realizes this is not a very good obfuscation. Bennett has Kylah's record, she must know Kylah's area of expertise is language. Kylah hurries on. "Overall, he was simply a bit forward. But very... friendly."

    This puts a smile on Bennett's lips, and she again starts down the corridor. "Yes, Mr. Johnson is renowned for his friendliness. He can be quite incorrigible at times." A musical little laugh surprises Kylah, but Bennett says nothing further for a moment, and when she does speak again she changes the subject. "I'm pleased to say that you should have no problems with your actual roommate. Lt. JG Jeremi Collins is a fine young officer, and on the way to great things in the Fleet, I'd say."

    Kylah nearly trips in her surprise when she hears the name. "Lieutenant," she says anxiously, "I hate to be troublesome, but I do not feel comfortable with a male roommate. Even if this Jeremy Collins is better than Johnson, he is still--"

    "Oh, no!" Bennett chuckles again. "I understand the confusion, Jeremy is a common male name on Earth, but this is spelled a bit differently. Lt. Collins is female, I assure you."

    Again Kylah is able to sigh in relief, although... "So she... she is human, like you and Mr. Johnson?" And Cmdr. Vargas and Capt. Singh... Kylah is beginning to wonder if the Yorktown has only token members of non-Terran origin. Then again, why should this ship be different from most of Starfleet?

    "Yes, she is human," Bennett replies. "More important, Collins is quite talented, with a great deal of experience despite her young age; she is our Assistant Chief of Security." At last they stop in front of a door marked 7C12. Bennett again faces Kylah with a kind smile. "I imagine you'll get along splendidly. She's as straight-talking and forthright as one could wish. Certainly you'll have no issues of miscommunication with her."

    Kylah tries to return Bennett's smile--after years at the Academy, Kylah is aware that humans smile a great deal more than Elasians, and it is expected one will reciprocate. The truth is, she has little optimism right now that communicating with humans will ever be a skill she'll conquer, regardless of her own language expertise.

    Bennett presses the door chime. Kylah just stands beside her, heart racing. Perhaps she is right, perhaps we will get along, she hopes dimly. This time she girds herself, determined to pretend none of the mix-up and confrontation with Johnson ever happened. This will be a fresh start and Kylah will not let herself get flustered or insulted again.

    If nothing else, this human cannot be as bad as Mr. Johnson. Her color rises again, but she lifts her chin, as proud as a daughter of Elas ought to be.

    The door opens, and thus prepared, Kylah enters her cabin to meet her new roommate.


    Kylah and Johnson by choie and CIAS, editing of Bennett by EH
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  47. #47
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket


    T'Var and Johnson: Tapas for Two (Part 3/4)
    View Part 2

    Johnson was thinking hard. Having been challenged to a race he knows he isn't going to win, he starts to try and think of what he could do to get around the fact that T'Var could not only easily catch him over a few hundred metres, but happily out pace him over much longer distances.

    As he leaves the changing room and heads into the rec area, his brain has been ticking over with ideas, until he finally comes up with one which might prove a little more interesting than just a straight running race. Seeing T'Var out, ready and running through stretching exercises, he wanders across with an amused grin on his face and something clutched tightly in one fist.

    T'Var wonders if suggesting a foot race was such a good idea. It is only logical that she will win. However, Andy has proven himself to be quite capable against a superior opponent. Perhaps....

    "I mean no offense," T'Var begins, "but I am concerned that this race is not entirely fair to you. How can we make it a more even race while still remaining a competitive one?"

    "Funny you should say that, I didn't think I'd do too well in a straight race, so let's make it a little more interesting shall we." Johnson opens his hand and dangles a pennant from it. "All you have to do is get this blue and red pennant off me. All I have to do is one lap of the track and get the pennant over the line. Now, I can see that slightly concerned look in your eyes, surely it can't be that simple, Well it's not going to be that easy."

    Johnson smiles as he starts to describe the setup "It works like this. You start running around the track and I start straight after. However, you have to race once around the track to catch up with me, whereas I only have to do the one lap. This pennant is attached like so," shows Johnson as he attaches the pennant to the back of his running shirt, "and you have to snatch it off. No touching to take it mind you, has to be a clean swipe. So, what do you reckon. Up for it?"

    "Your idea is most logical, Andy," T'Var replies. "I still feel that you are at a disadvantage, however."

    "We'll see, T'Var," responds Johnson with a grin, "I reckon I can still do a lap faster than you can do two. Well, at least once, So, shall we?" Johnson gestures to the starting line and stands beside her. "When you're ready...go!"

    T'Var takes several deep breaths, then lets them out slowly. She stretches a few more times.

    "I am ready," she says. Seconds later, the doctor starts running -- very, very fast. No pacing. No giving Johnson any quarter. Just running.... Very, very fast....

    Johnson knew that Vulcans could run fast and was prepared for T'Var to take off like a rocket, and as soon as she has started, he starts himself. But as she streaks away from him, Johnson begins to wonder if she is going to be a little too fast for him.

    As he comes off the first bend, T'Var is already down towards the end of the far straight. This is going to be close, Johnson thinks as he tries to not worry about T'Var and start to increase his stride length, trying to cut down his thoughts and imagine the rat runs he used to do to get away from his brothers. The added thought of being chased only helps to increase his speed down the backstraight.

    He is much faster than I anticipated, T'Var thinks as she picks up her pace even more. Perhaps this will be a real race after all. T'Var focuses on pumping her arms and legs in a steady rhythm. No thinking! Just run.... Run to win!

    As Johnson starts to come down the final straight, her glances across to the other side of the track and sees T'Var like a tiny missile hurtling down the far side having already completed the one lap and round the bend for the first. Putting his head down, Johnson strains for the line, right there in front of him as he can feel his muscles beginning to burn with the strain.

    T'Var runs faster still. She's closing in on her opponent. She reaches out for the pennant attached to Johnson's shirt. She touches it with her fingertips, but can't grab it. Johnson stays just a few steps ahead of T'Var.

    Johnson dips for the line, further pulling the pennant away from T'Var's grasp as he breaches the line. He slows down to a canter and reaches back over his shoulder to find the pennant still attached. He turns round to T'Var grins and then bends over to drag fresh air into his lungs and trying to ease out the pain in his legs.

    Once Johnson has regained his breath he stands up and faces her. "Close, very close indeed. T'Var. That was nearer than I thought it was gong to be. So ready for another go?"

    T'Var, barely out of breath, extends her hand. "Well done, Andy. Perhaps a moment or two for rest -- and some proper hydration -- then we can try this again."

    "Yeah, that'd be good. "Johnson looks up slightly jealous. You're not even out of breath are you?" he comments as he goes off in search of some water. A few minutes later, he is feeling refreshed, although looking at T'var she doesn't even look like she has done a couple of laps. He shakes himself down and heads back to the line.

    "Ok, round two?"

    "Yes, indeed," T'Var says. "Good luck."

    The doctor starts running again. This time, she is determined to grab that pennant and win!

    The same pattern happens as before only this time while T'Var sets the same pace, Johnson is slightly slower. However, as T'Var runs round the final bend with Johnson only yards ahead of her and well within reach, he slows, turns round and starts jogging backwards towards the line, the pennant now hidden from T'Var's view.

    T'Var slows down as well. She keeps pace with Johnson.

    "I am curious as to why you are running in this manner, Andy," T'Var calls. "Most curious."

    Johnson grins back at her, "Oh...what...this manner...backwards...why is there something...wrong with me...doing this?" he puffs out between breaths as he continues down the track, trying all the while to maintain his concentration of running backwards and keeping T'Var off balance at the same time.

    "No...no reason really...I mean you have...caught up with...me by now...but with only...a few metres to go...you're not getting...the pennant...from my back."

    Johnson can see from the track that he is close to the line, only a few more seconds and he's over it with the pennant again. He keeps his eyes firmly fixed on T'Var to see if she will make any kind of move.

    T'Var stops running. She stands still with hands on hips. "This is not logical, Andy. Not logical at all." T'Var honestly doesn't know what to do at this point. She considers the possibilities....

    As T'Var stops running Johnson waves and crosses the line backwards retreating away from her figure. As he does he bends over and draws breath in again before grabbing a couple of bottles of water and heading back to T'Var.

    "It's all logical, just not what you were expecting. A little race tactic that took you by surprise." Johnson grins offering the bottle across to her.

    T'Var frowns. "I do not see how this is logical at all, Andy," the doctor replies. "Please enlighten me." She takes the offered water bottle, opens it and drinks.

    "For you, this is just a race around the track, both people running in the same way. Pretty simple really. That second one, if I had run the same I reckon you would have got the pennant. So I needed to change my tactics. Now all I said was that I had to do a lap of the track. I didn't say how I had to do a lap of the track. Switching to running backwards may not look logical, but it meant three things. One: the pennant is no longer easy to get hold of. Two: I can see what you were going to do, Three: the change of tactic surprised you giving me the opportunity. Not to mention the look on your face was priceless."

    Johnson takes a swig of the water before continuing, "Or in chess terms, Castling, attacking pieces forcing moves, and playing a strategy your opponent hasn't seen. First time you played Sicilian Defence against me, I hadn't a clue. And you wonder why I always lead d4." Stopping for a moment before breaking out into an even bigger grin. "I think my logic just beat your logic. Sweet!"

    "To be honest, I had thought of tackling you to the ground and ripping the pennant away. Not logical, but it would have worked."

    T'Var takes a few sips of water. "I should have been more aggressive -- in this race and in chess."

    Johnson shakes his head at T'Var's admission. "Not that I wouldn't mind being tackled by you but that's also why I said no touching," he points out to her. "Tackling and touching we can do another time, if you're still interested."

    He dangles the pennant in front of her, tantalisingly just out of reach. "So, one last try before heading back for that meal?" .

    "To be honest,"T'Var admits a bit sheepishly, "I am worn out from this activity. Perhaps an exotic beverage to cool us both down is in order."

    Johnson isn't sure whether T'Var is being entirely honest with him. She is supremely fit and still didn't seem that out of breath, although perhaps she was still trying to work out what trick he might pull next. Then again, maybe she had some new ideas and wanted to mull them over.

    "Sure, shall I meet you back in your quarters in, say, ten minutes? After all, there is still some food to go. I'll grab a couple of bottles of something interesting to wash it down. Sound good?"

    "Yes, your suggestion is an excellent one. I am quite hungry and thirsty after all this running around," T'Var says.

    T'Var by WES, Johnson by CIAS
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  48. #48
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
    Feb 2009
    Coulsdon Cat Basket


    T'Var and Johnson: Tapas for Two (Part 4/4)
    View Part 3

    Just over ten minutes later from having left the track, Johnson is freshly washed and outside T'Var's quarters again, only this time with a couple of bottles of something slightly more exotic than the water he had bought with the meal. Wondering how she is doing, he takes a deep breath and rings the chime for the door.

    T'Var hesitates before answering the door chime. She wears the simple tan robe she was wearing before the race. Why does she hesitate? What sort of relationship -- if any -- does she have or want with Andrew Johnson. He is a worthy chess opponent, of course. An excellent cook. Clever. Perhaps too clever. A comrade. A friend? Yes, definitely a friend. Something more?

    T'Var answers the door. "I see you have brought us some refreshment," she says with a smile.

    Johnson stops in the doorway, looks inside and out and turns back to the figure in the door. "You're smiling, Who are you and what did you do with Dr T'Var? Everyone knows Vulcan's don't smile." Johnson grins at the the Vulcan in front of him, "Wait, maybe its the drinks to be provided and the company to go with it." He holds up two bottles between them, each different to the other. "I have some Earth red wine and some Antarean Brandy." Johnson hovers on the threshold waiting for some sign from T'Var. "So, may I come in?"

    "Yes, you may," T'Var replies. "And yes, this Vulcan is quite fond of smiling."

    The doctor gets two glasses. "Do you consider these beverages 'exotic', Andy?"

    "The wine: not really, the brandy: kind of, but then for exotic I would be slamming a variety of strange and bizarre cocktails along with the tapas. That would be a recipe for drunkenness, tomfoolery and a major headache in the morning with the possibility of sinking regret depending on what exactly I did under the influence. I tend to leave that kind of behaviour to shore leave."

    Andy fixes T'Var with a wondering gaze, "unless that's what you had planned, in which case I should have bought a chocolate mudslide along for you."

    "What exactly is a chocolate mudslide and why would this cause a problem?" T'Var asks. "I am used to drinking Vulcan spice tea, of course. Beverages of the alcoholic kind are quite new to me. Therefore, I find them most exotic."

    "Oh you would love a chocolate mudslide then. It's not only alcoholic, which as I remember doesn't really affect Vulcans, but it does contain chocolate that does have some similar effects. The combination is supposedly a little different from person to person." Johnson looks askew at T'Var. "Vulcan's tend to use meditation to relax and unwind, I'm more a head out on the town kind of person. Are you sure you want to be that exotic?"

    Johnson mulls over what he knows of T'Var. She's definitely not your average Vulcan, but how would she handle the slight loss of control that it could induce, but then nothing ventured, nothing gained. "I'm game if you are, just promise me, no regrets, and let's enjoy the good food and the rest of the night. Well?"

    "I would very much like to try a mudslide. I've always enjoyed chocolate," T'Var says. "One should always explore new possibilities whenever they can -- within reason, of course."

    Johnson holds his breath for just a moment longer than usual before inclining his head. "Ok, T'Var, give me two minutes, I'll get the drinks and you get the food ready." He can't quite believe that T'Var has tasted all that much chocolate, but cannot wait to see what happens next. "Actually make that three minutes."

    T'Var looks about her cabin. Andy will return soon. What should she do in the meantime? T'Var is at a loss. She is quite social under normal circumstances, but this evening is different. Change into something more feminine than a simple Vulcan robe? Dab a little perfume behind her ears? T'Var has seen Cecilia Bennett do this. No. T'Var decides to just be herself. She does not wear feminine attire. She does not use perfume. The doctor sets the table in an orderly, neat fashion.

    True to his word, Johnson is back shortly with two large glasses full of dark chocolatey liquid topped with cream and sprinkles. Also clutched in one hand is a paper and foil wrapped bar."Ok, I had to fight off several people on the way here who wanted some of this. There may not be much alcohol in them, but the chocolate is all real. No replicated rubbish; just proper, original, full on chocolate. Are you ready?"

    T'Var can smell the chocolate and finds it pleasing to her senses."Yes, she says. "I am ready."

    "Excellent, let's eat.", says Johnson with a grin. Looking across he sees the table neatly laid and nods approvingly. "I see you've set up already," he comments putting the drinks on the table and then holding the chair for T'Var.to sit down.

    T'Var settles herself at the table. She looks over everything, then gives Johnson a smile. "I am quite impressed," she says. "Do we drink the mudslides as a beverage to compliment the meal or are they more of a cocktail before we eat?"

    Johnson sits back down and looks across the table, "Feel free to drink it alongside the meal. It should add a nice flavour to some of the dishes as well." He picks up his own glass and raises it, holding it across the small table. "Here's to you T'Var, thanks for letting me cook for you and I hope you enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying your company."

    T'Var raise her glass as well. "And thank you for creating such a wonderful meal for us to share," she replies, then takes a sip of her drink. "Delicious."

    "Glad you like it," Johnson replies as he takes a sip of his own before putting the glass down. "Tuck in, I hope you like it." He waits for T'Var to start adding things to her own plate form the selection before he also digs in.

    T'Var has another sip of her drink before placing a little bit of everything on her plate. "Have I taken too much?" she asks. "I do not wish to be a pig. I believe that is the term, is it not?"

    "Don't worry, it's all got to be eaten. Absolutely everything here is for you to try out and enjoy. I'm looking forward to see just what you like." Johnson fills up his own plate and with a nod to T'Var allowing her to start first, he begins to tuck into his own platter. Shortly the sound of food being savoured slowly fills the air as they enjoy the meal after the race from earlier on.

    T'Var eats much more than she normally would. She also drinks her share of mudslides. The doctor burps loudly after finishing yet another helping of delicious food. "Excuse me," she says a bit sheepishly. "Perhaps I am making a pig of myself after all."

    Johnson puts his glass down after eating a slightly smaller plate of food. He is watching T'Var tuck in to the food and savouring all the new tastes. There is a little tingle of pride as he watches the enjoyment each mouthful brings. "T'Var, the only wish any chef ever has, is that the meal is appreciated and I can see that is the case tonight."

    He looks across the table at her enjoying the view. "And there is no way I would ever describe you as a pig. Stunningly attractive, intelligent and good company are the words which should be used to describe you."

    T'Var smiles at the compliments. "Yes, I would agree with you as to my intelligence. And I do believe I am good at social interactions. Of course, I have never considered myself to be an attractive female. Then again, Vulcans do not usually focus on such things."

    "You don't focus on it? You don't need to." grins Johnson as he admires the Vulcan. With the meal more or less ended, he reaches across the table and stacks most of the finished plates to one side leaving only the drinks in front of them

    "So did you enjoy the meal and would you like some chocolate for afters, perhaps a coffee as well?"

    T'Var gives Johnson an appreciative nod. "Yes, indeed, Andy. I enjoyed it very much. You are a gifted chef, to be sure." The doctor wipes her mouth, then smiles. "I would also enjoy some chocolate. However, coffee does not sit well with my digestive process. Perhaps some tea, instead?"

    "I'd be happy to partake. If it's Vulcan Spice tea made by someone who can make it properly, I'd be delighted." Johnson doesn't hide the smile on his face as he looks forward to the drink. He pulls the chocolate out and starts to break it into small squares.

    T'Var takes a piece of chocolate and pops it in her mouth. She chews it slowly, savoring the rich flavor. "If we are trying new things this evening, perhaps we should enjoy a different kind of tea as well."

    The doctor points to the chocolate squares. "Perhaps a tea to compliment our delicious dessert?"

    "I'm open to any suggestions you have to make T'Var," Johnson replies with an open handed gesture,"I do have a few but I would love to find out a little but more about you instead? Actually, if you don't mind me saying so, I would love to get to know more about you. And not just about chess or what you like to eat."

    "What exactly would you like to know, Andy?" T'Var replies.

    "How about everything. Actually in the spirit of being more forward, and those chocolate mudslides, did you have anything planned for the rest of tonight, or can I be the rest of your tonight?"

    "I find spending time with you quite enjoyable," T'Var says, then takes another bite of chocolate. "Almost as relaxing as my daily meditations."

    T'Var smiles as she savors the chocolate. "I have no other plans for the evening. And could you be more specific as to what you would like to know about? 'Everything' seems a bit daunting."

    "Huh?" Johnson is taken slightly aback.He thinks he made it fairly clear what he was looking for the evening, but it seems to have gone straight over T'Var's head. He reflects that he had never been that good at chatting up Vulcan's before, even though that line had seen plenty of success before across a wide spectrum of bars across the sector. Well, in reality that line had worked a couple of times on some fairly drunk ladies. But it had worked.

    "Oh frig, how d'I stick this inna Vulcan?" Johnson mutters to himself, his accent back full force. Just be yourself was a comment from a friend and he had told many other people the same thing.

    "Ok, How about we start with, Would you be interested in finding out if we could make a compatible long-term couple? Or...err, will you go out with me?" Johnson pauses for a moment. "You do understand what I'm asking don't you?"

    T'Var frowns a moment, clearly confused as to what Johnson has just asked of her.

    "Are you proposing a romantic interaction, Andy? If the gossip aboard this ship is correct, you already have at least one romantic interaction currently. I would need clarification regarding this request before giving you an answer."

    "Actually, I have two. Of a very friendly and physical nature. Not to mention a few ex-s, one night stands, you get the idea. I'm being honest here, because it matters."

    Johnson sits up straight in the chair and looks across at the slightly puzzled Vulcan in front of him and takes a sip of the wine he had bought earlier. "Yes, in your words, I am proposing a romantic interaction of both an emotional and physical nature between the pair of us. If you're not interested, want to think about it, I'd understand. But if I don't ask, I'll never find out the answer."

    T'Var stares at Johnson for a moment with a clearly confused expression. "Your proposition is certainly an interesting one, Andy," T'Var says. "I am curious, though. Would our relationship be of a monogamous nature or would I share your attentions with other females aboard this ship."

    Johnson grins at her, the only thought running through his mind is that she didn't say no up front - she must be interested, or at least he is definitely piquing her interest.

    "Well, that entirely depends on your preferences. I can think of a few who would be only to happy to share, but if you would rather we are straight couple, I'm fine with that."

    T'Var pauses a moment. She is not quite sure how to react. "You have many attractive qualities, Andy. I truly enjoy your company and would also enjoy a deeper relationship. However, I am concerned about the other women who are also a part of your life. Their feelings must be considered as well."

    "Well, considering their responses were along the lines of, 'Really, go for it, just remember to be yourself' and 'I know, why haven't you asked her already?'. So that's why I'm here, asking." Johnson looks back to try and guess what T'Var is thinking. "We're all friends, which is why they know, and we want to see each other being happy as friends do. If you want to think about it some more, I'd understand." He reaches across for T'Var's hand and gently tries to wrap his fingers around hers.

    T'Var takes Johnson's hands in hers and gives them a gentle squeeze. "Are you certain you are ready for a relationship with a Vulcan female?" she asks. "It may be quite a challenge."

    Johnson gets up and moves round the table, still holding T'Var's hands, helping her to stand up. "I'm not bothered about other Vulcan females," he murmurs to her as he bends down and kisses T'Var deeply, "I'm just looking forward to a relationship with this Vulcan female."

    T'Var by WES, Johnson by CIAS
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  49. #49
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
    May 2013


    Rising and Shining

    Graham stretches and yawns. He's not much of a morning person, but having gone to bed early and slept well he awakes ahead of his alarm.

    Notification of the message from Nia is almost literally staring him in the face. He hesitates for a moment. I decided to leave it for this morning...what if something was wrong?

    Uncharacteristically--he realizes--he's not really worried something was wrong. Nia would have told me if something was wrong when I left her quarters. I know she would have.

    The message validates his confidence. He's not sure what hours she keeps, but he imagines her still asleep, in the bed....In the bed I might be sharing with her right now.

    Much like last night he's reflective rather than upset about it. But not....it's not a contest with a prize. It's...the right way or no way.

    Are you ready to wake up and look at someone's face silently like...

    He's not ready to finish the sentence. Like you looked at Jane's?

    Since he's up early, he has time before his watch. Weights. Lots of weights, he thinks, suiting up for a trip to the gym.

    As he passes the entrance to the pool, he hears the splashes of what sounds like a lone swimmer. Curiosity makes him stop for a quick glance. The chances are slim but apparently his heart doesn't care--it's sped up in anticipation. No, hope. This soon? Crazy.

    From this distant point he spots the pool's sole occupant, someone in a red bathing cap and what looks like a silver diving suit. Can't be her. Graham remembers that first night he saw Nia, and she had her hair pinned up but visible. And definitely bared a lot more skin.

    Though he's about to leave since he's feeling like a voyeur, Graham pauses. The swimmer's climbing out now, and it's most definitely a woman. That shining, almost iridescent bodysuit hugs every sleek, strong, curvy inch of her body.

    Damn. Last night is making me into as big a horndog as Mahmoud thinks I am. But he doesn't turn away.

    Then she grabs a towel from a nearby bench and pulls off her cap. A mass of tightly coiled reddish-brown curls pops free as she tosses the cap in her gym bag.

    Graham knows those curls; he ran his hand through them, kissed them, last night.

    She turns and now it's obviously Nia. Especially when she spots him and her lips part in a pleased smile, nodding to him. He lifts a hand in return.

    When she slips her feet into sandals and bends down, he can see the line of muscles in her thighs and calves causing shadows in the silver. He's transfixed when he realizes... That's not a bodysuit.

    It's her. Naked except for her scales, covering her from her throat to her feet.

    Nia now walks toward him, a mermaid with legs, pulling the towel around her torso in no apparent hurry. Before she covers up, he's favored with a glimpse... no, way more than a glimpse... of her silvery breasts, protected but not entirely hidden by her scales.

    Graham's throat tightens. So this is what he missed last night. And what he has to look forward to, if he doesn't...

    If I don't screw things up.

    "Well, well, good morning," Nia's voice says from somewhere outside the cloud of desire that seems to have fogged up Graham's brain. She's now tied the towel around her, and apparently notes the direction of his gaze. "I rarely swim nude unless I'm alone, if you're wondering. When I want to go as fast as possible for a workout... the scales are perfect for speed and covering up. Plus, perfectly sanitary."

    She waits for a response, but when none occurs to him, her smile curves to the left. "Nice to see you again so soon, Ensign." Pause. She laughs. "Okay, and now you say...?"

    Graham stands mutely, his synapses occupied with a tug of war between responding and looking Nia up and down again.

    He steps forward, leans in, and gives her a kiss...held just for a moment, and not wet and sloppy, but one that clearly means business. He breaks the kiss but remains only a few inches from her face. He remembers her question: "What makes you, you?"

    Apparently one thing that makes her her is scales that go... Focus, Booker...

    "Back at the Academy, they always said I had a bias for action--lieutenant," he offers quietly by way of explanation. "Besides anything about 'how far the scales go' would should like a lame pickup line you've probably heard a thousand times."

    He clear his throat and moves back to a more normal conversational distance. "I, ah--actually I didn't expect to see you here, but I was thinking about you." Hm, maybe I should think about Rangin tripping into the garbage incinerator and see if it happens... "And...last night, your note I..."

    He wrestles with his instinct to apologize. "I'm glad you--we--think we might have something that's more than 'physical therapy.'"

    I am. Glad. I think...we might. What does that mean? I have no idea...

    Nia has remained silent, her lips wearing a small smile. Now she brushes her mouth with her fingers and rests her other hand on her hips--and that's when he sees that most of her scales have... retracted, is that the word? Leaving only those at the edges of her face, limbs and body. He can't help thinking Damn that towel.

    "Wow," she murmurs at last, caressing the lips he wants to taste again. "I don't mind physical therapy if it starts like that." She glances down at her own figure and chuckles. "Well, that kiss got you past the first line of my defenses, at least. You'll have to work harder, go a little farther, for the rest."

    She steps closer and strokes his arm. "What say we pick a time to start the process? Unfortunately, we have some bad luck for the next couple of days. Our watches coincide today, but tonight I won't be able to..." Nia shakes her head infinitesimally and starts over. "I need to get some rest."

    For the first time Graham hears a hint of reluctance in her tone. Usually she's so forthright, a hesitation is all the more noticeable. Is she lying? Hiding something? Why?

    Graham doesn't have scales, but he does have...a track record of fucking up everything that matters. And now that comes to mind. He has to resist frowning: Did I say something, or not say something? Or is something wrong--he has a hard time believing she couldn't handle pretty much anything herself, or that she wouldn't tell him if there were. Of course who the hell knows, there's that Sidonian breeding thing for god's sake...

    But Nia's smile looks genuinely rueful as she continues. "...And tomorrow you're on day watch, I'm on at night. We might share a lunch--late for you, early for me, but better than nothing. And then maybe we can have our second real date the night after that? Earlyish?" she adds, again making Graham feel a flicker of concern.

    He blocks his doubts from his tone. "I'd like that, Nia." He almost leaves it at that, but his brow furrows involuntarily. "And--if there's anything I can do--I mean, as friend..." he adds quietly, almost hoping there's some sort of external threat that can be crushed or blasted--rather than a problem of his own creation.

    Apparently he said something right, because her expression turns even warmer--she looks softer, more gentle. It's an affectionate look that's almost more intimate than the kiss.

    "No, Book," she murmurs, squeezing his arm fondly. "There's nothing you can do as a friend or security officer or anything else. And it's nothing serious, either. Not really. Just something I have to deal with." Her kiss on his cheek is light and fleeting. "I'll explain, I promise. Don't worry."

    Graham starts to respond, then feels--twenty years younger. And then: like when I'd seen a lot fewer bad things, on and off the job. "OK," he almost whispers as she pulls away from her kiss.

    Nia's hand pats his shoulder and she starts toward the exit. "So, lunch tomorrow, and date #2 the next night," she says, and then glances back at him. "Looking forward to it. As I said on that message, after you left, even just fantasizing about you was quite... stimulating."

    After flashing him a smile that Delilah might have given Samson, she turns and walks away, more sinuous and smooth than any human he's seen.

    He's about to thank he for the nice note, but then her last words, and those from her message, finally properly register and connect in his brain. "I'm relaxed in bed after... anticipating the real thing... just fantasizing about you was quite stimulating..." Suddenly her implication is clear. And the image that results...

    Oh--oh my.

    Graham hastily looks about and decides: A swim before weights. That's it, a swim. Hopefully the water temperature's on the cold side today...

    Graham by general_urko, Onn by SidonianGal

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