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

  1. #101
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    The door chime opens Kylah's eyes, which is the first time she realizes they were closed. In fact, she must have dozed off--lifting her hand to her hair, she can feel that it is still damp, but not nearly as much as she remembers.

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

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

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

  2. #102
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    Wandering the corridor and whistling a jaunty tune, Johnson sees an elder stocky gentleman outside Ens. Kylah's quarters ring the chime and as he arrives the door is opened.

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

    * * *

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

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

  3. #103
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    Graham looks from Kylah to some scrawny goober he doesn't recognize and then back to Kylah.

    Towel?

    Last time?


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

  4. #104
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    Seeing Graham seconds ago froze Kylah and turned her pale. Johnson's sudden appearance now--and his quip reminding her of the circumstances of their last meeting--sends all the blood rushing back to her face. She lifts her hand to her cheek to cool her skin and shakes her head. "Mr. Johnson, I did not think you would just come here without..."

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

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

  5. #105
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    Rangin leaves Sickbay and in no time at all - but a twinkling of an eye! - finds himself at the door to Kylah's quarters.

  6. #106
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Well you're batting a thousand, Booker...

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

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

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

    At least, if there's anything weird going on, if Rangin's involved it's surely harmless, he reassures himself.
    Last edited by general_urko; 19 Apr 2015 at 04:39 PM. Reason: added last line

  7. #107
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    I'll just leave you and Johnson and Rangin to... uh... carry on...

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

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

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

    She orders the door to close behind both men, leaving the security officer inside. At last Kylah's gaze aims itself like one of her knives at Graham. "Very well. We are alone, but the others are just outside and know you are in here. What do you really want? Do you expect me to believe you came all the way here because you thought I was upset at something you said?" The realization that Velir must have heard Graham's insinuation about him, her, and Johnson causes Kylah's eyes to fill with tears. "If you are so sensitive to my feelings, why would you choose to insult and shame me further?"
    Last edited by choie; 19 Apr 2015 at 05:37 PM.

  8. #108
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    Fuck.

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

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

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

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

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

  9. #109
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    The low hum of the ship, usually easy to ignore, fills the empty space after Graham speaks. Kylah blinks and takes deep breaths to regain control--control and perspective.

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

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

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

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

  10. #110
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    Rangin is more than surprised to see such a gathering of people outside Kylah's room, not to mention the fact that all she appears to be wearing is short robe. When she asks him to wait outside, he is hurt by the dismissal and resolves that she had better have some very good answers when it came round to his turn. His turn, what is this? Elasian Roulette?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  11. #111
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham swallows hard. He can feel the blood draining from his face and a growing sense of dread as Kylah talks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As if my daughter could ever forgive me.


    His voice fails before he can say that.

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

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

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

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

    Alone.

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

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

    He's been staring at her face, trying to detect the truth. He realizes he's overstepped his bounds...again. He pulls his arms away and takes a half step back. "Down on OC3, I..." he looks down and takes a deep breath. "I've made a royal goddamned mess of it, but I just want to know if you're going to be safe."
    Last edited by general_urko; 19 Apr 2015 at 08:58 PM. Reason: "OK" at end changed to "safe"

  12. #112
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    If Kylah had no empathic powers, Graham's discomfort and guilt would be evident enough--from his stiff, awkward stance; his low and halting speech; his frequent inability to meet her gaze. And his explanation. He makes only the briefest mention of his wife, and even that is oblique, but the meaning is clear. Kylah already knew he is a father. Until now, she did not know he is a widower.

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

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

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

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

    At last she tries to speak. "I did not know," she whispers, doing everything she can to remain still and pretend his touch is not alarming her. "About your wife. I had no idea that was what you were thinking. I... I am so sorry." Biting her lip, Kylah girds herself and reaches up to touch his wrist with her cold, shaking fingers. "You called me Lizzy. Is that your daughter?"
    Last edited by choie; 19 Apr 2015 at 11:42 PM.

  13. #113
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    Graham nods, mutely, looking down at her fingers touching his wrist as if he'd never seen fingers before.

  14. #114
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    Kylah did not need him to confirm his daughter's name verbally: the sudden electrical charge that seems to burn her fingertips from beneath his skin is proof enough. "I cannot speak for her, as I do not know her or exactly what happened. But I will say this. I lost my parents when I was nearly twelve. It was an accident, a shuttle accident in enemy territory, and they were..." Kylah purses her lips. "The details do not matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    She swallows and adds in a tiny voice: "Will you... will you understand me, too? I want to forget all this. To forget everything. Please." She extends her arm and holds out her hand, the human way, and stares up beseechingly.
    Last edited by choie; 20 Apr 2015 at 12:47 PM.

  15. #115
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham can feel the blood pounding in his ears, but Kylah's...what? Mature exposition helps bring him back to the present moment.

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

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

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

    Graham extends his hand and takes hers, firmly but gently. "I'm Booker Graham, Security. I'm an idiot," he adds--but he's smiling slightly as he said it. "I mean, I'm clumsy about a lot of things, but my friends can always count on me if they need help." He concludes with his tone intending to convey an offer of friendship. "And you are?"
    Last edited by general_urko; 20 Apr 2015 at 01:00 PM. Reason: posted before it was done!

  16. #116
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    Kylah almost smiles. Collins had the same idea, re-introducing herself. Perhaps it is common tactic with security officers. Graham's hand feels large and strong around hers, which is still cold, but she shakes it and does not draw away. "Kylah," she says. "I am in Communications. But I do not communicate as well as I wish, and am often foolish myself. If you want such a friend, I will be one."

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

  17. #117
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "About everything," he says quietly but firmly and re-assuringly. He steps to the door. "Good night, Mr. Kylah," he adds with a nod, turning to exit. When the door opens, he pauses and deliberately stands squarely centered in the doorway for a moment, both to avoid walking in to either Johnson or Rangin if they were standing nearby, and to give Kylah a breather before anyone enters.

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

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

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

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

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

  19. #119
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    Graham's not sure why Kylah is asking a comedian to cook something for Rangin--maybe this Johnson dude is in that Gourmet Club?

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

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

  20. #120
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    A group of two men and a woman all in Command yellow enter the Arboretum, talking and laughing quietly.

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

    It is now 1842 hours.

  21. #121
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    Collins sees the others who have just entered. She leans in towards Cooper. "Let's find a secluded spot and ..." She winks at Ben.

  22. #122
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    Graham's somewhat at a loss for what to do next: unlike earlier, he feels relatively relaxed, and not at all compelled to work off steam. On the other hand, he has no appetite for a raucous round of drinks with a big crowd.

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

    He heads to change into swim trunks and then to the pool.
    Last edited by general_urko; 21 Apr 2015 at 12:32 PM. Reason: typo

  23. #123
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    Cooper smiles, nods and takes Collins's hand. They leave the Arboretum.

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

  24. #124
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    Graham's not usually self-conscious about the network of scars criss-crossing his body--they are what they are (although he's been assured they would raise his chances of getting a date with a female Klingon, should that come up), but the pleasant expression on the face of the Sidonian swimmer makes him feel a bit as if he's intruding....a discordant note in tranquil place, he thinks.

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

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

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

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

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

    T'Var sits in her favorite chair. She closes her eyes. Breathes deeply. Clears her mind of all thoughts.
    Last edited by WES; 21 Apr 2015 at 10:02 PM.

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

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

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

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

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

    Her smile remains fully in place as she enjoys the view. Truth is, she loves watching people swim almost as much as she loves swimming herself. When he's close enough, she calls out to him. "Ensign Graham, isn't it? Want to race, or want to talk? I mean, I can do both, but if it's a problem for you..." One eyebrow rises in friendly challenge.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Apr 2015 at 02:34 AM.

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

    * * *

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

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

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

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

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

    Kylah hesitates. She does not know why she is admitting this, to Johnson of all people given their rocky start, but for some reason she rushes forward with the truth. "I care for him," she murmurs with a shy look down at her bare feet before emphasizing, "I care for Velir Rangin very much. And I would like to offer him something special, something he does not expect, but I... I do not know what. You have served with him longer, you know his tastes--I remember you asked me about mine when we first met. Perhaps you can think of something? What can I offer that would tempt him?"
    Last edited by choie; 22 Apr 2015 at 08:05 AM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Unable to continue, she just shakes her head, listening to her own words echo in her mind. "And now I sound as if I am bribing you," she says miserably. "I cannot help but make things worse." Kylah wipes her eyes and looks back at the closed door. Velir is waiting and this evening was supposed to be about him. "Forget I said anything about Ferguson. As far as the dishes... Velir will know I spoke to you, he is too smart to be fooled into thinking it a coincidence. Whatever you think is best. Thank you, I do appreciate whatever you can do." She turns, now thoroughly embarrassed, to re-enter her room.
    Last edited by choie; 22 Apr 2015 at 09:27 AM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Yorktown continues its steady progress towards Anubis.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 22 Apr 2015 at 06:33 PM. Reason: fixed error

  34. #134
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    Kylah stops in place before the door can sense her. But she does not look at Johnson again. She can tell he does not believe her about Ferguson, and now he also thinks she was insulting him as well.

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

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

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

  35. #135
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    Holy crap, Booker, what have you gotten yourself into, he wonders, as the svelte, speedy woman's pace and form makes him look like some sort of aquatic industrial robot by comparison.

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

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

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

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    Cooper responds in kind. Things get interesting very quickly.

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

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

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

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

    Letting go of the ledge, she dives under the water, executes a circular arc, and then emerges to start a lap in a much more relaxing breast stroke. "But first things first," she calls back to him. "I've got ten more laps to do. If we're going to be 'Graham' and 'Onn,' I'll order you to get cracking and join me so you're in better shape in case the ship ever needs you for some kind of aquatic mission." Tossing her head, she flashes a friendly backwards glance at the human. "On the other hand, if you prefer 'Booker' and 'Nia,' I'll just ask you to swim along and hope you'll keep me company. So, what'll it be?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Apr 2015 at 08:15 PM.

  39. #139
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    Graham wipes his face where Onn splashed him - superfluously of course, since is already all wet. But the fresh splash reminds him to (mostly) focus his attention on her face and not her legs as they float up out of the water.

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

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

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

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

    Although a little tussling around wouldn't be the worst thing in the world...
    Last edited by general_urko; 22 Apr 2015 at 09:38 PM. Reason: fixed italics

  40. #140
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    Nia laughs at Graham's demeanor, and then nods with pleasure at hearing his name choice. "Swimming's usually done alone, but too much solitude is overrated. It's nice to have a partner who can match you stroke for stroke. So do as many as you want, Booker. I'll try to keep up."

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

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

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

    He smiles. "When I was teaching at the Academy, I'd get a lot of cadets, mostly men, but some women too, who'd internalized a bunch of macho warrior bullshit, that they had to be better than--fill in the blank: the opposite sex, aliens, the old guy leading the class...that kind of attitude gets you or somebody around you killed." He shakes his head. "I don't have anything to prove...speaking of which, if we did happen to be satisfied with our respective lap counts, what do you say I buy you a drink?" He shrugs. "I promise I'll be careful not to get you drunk--your people come from a desert, mine turn nearly constant rainfall into whisky."
    Last edited by general_urko; 22 Apr 2015 at 11:43 PM. Reason: exhales, not inhales...

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

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

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

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

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

    She grabs a fresh towel and leans over, dangling it in front of him as a wry smile spreads across her lips. "And, Booker? Let me worry about how drunk I get."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 23 Apr 2015 at 01:10 AM.

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

    * * *

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

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

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

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

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

  44. #144
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    By now, Jeremi and Ben have moved to one of the padded benches by the viewport. Things are getting very interesting. Collins puts her hands on Cooper's chest and gently pushes him a little bit away. "I haven't gotten my contraceptive shot yet, and I'm still not completely healed." As Cooper sits more upright, Collins says, "so let me take care of you tonight, and we'll save the rest for another time." She leans in, undoes his fly, and takes care of her boyfriend.

  45. #145
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    Secret missions, Graham thinks. That's how I wound up at the Academy...


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

  46. #146
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    Nia laughs. "I'll explain once we're in front of a pair of whatever drinks you plan on plying me with. Deck 20 crew lounge is probably the best, if one has to choose between spaces that look completely identical. It's marginally less crowded than the ones nearer our quarters. See you there."

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

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

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

  47. #147
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    Once Graham meets Onn in the lounge he recalls her comment about her drink preferences. He orders an Oban single malt, neat. "Not sure if this will be as smooth as you like, but it's one of the more rounded single-malts..." He tilts the glass, showing her the color against the room's lights. "Have you been to Earth? The part of Scotland this is from--there's almost a constant mist, not exactly rain, but almost omnipresent." He glances at her. "I'm not sure if someone from a desert world would find that cool or annoying after a while."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Nia lifts the empty glass as if offering it to him. "Can I count on you as a friendly tour guide?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 23 Apr 2015 at 09:33 PM.

  49. #149
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Cooper is very appreciative of Collins's attentions, and shows it.

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

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

  50. #150
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "Well," Graham replies, adopting a serious mien, "now that I've, ah, discovered and disarmed your fiendish plot..." He taps one finger against his temple. "How do you think I got to the bottom of things on OCIII?" He shrugs slightly. "Well, aside from raw physical power, of course" he adds, punching a a fist against his chest twice.

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

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