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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #5: "Of Captains and Capos"

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    Default Star Trek RPG - Mission #5: "Of Captains and Capos"

    Star Trek: The Yorktown Chronicles

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

    Mission #1: "On the Brink": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...the-Brink-quot
    Mission #2: "Primum Nil Nocere": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...il-Nocere-quot
    Mission #3: "Some Other Side of Paradise": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...-Paradise-quot
    Mission #4: "Codex Aelyrr": http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...ex-Aelyrr-quot

    It is February 14, 2270.

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

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

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

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

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

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    Captain's Log, Stardate 6027.7. It's been just over a week since we rendezvoused with the Watney, said farewell to our new Aelyrr friends and transferred our Klingon prisoners. We've now returned Dr. Brold and his team to Anubis, having finished testing their prototype sensor module in the FGC 23 pulsar cluster. At Science Officer Roble's request, I've issued a commendation to Ens. Rangin, whose biosensor wizardry was key to the tests' success. Having resupplied and taken aboard new personnel at Anubis, including a new Assistant Chief Engineer and Assistant Science Officer, we're now on routine patrol in the Whalen sector. All is well.

    It is 0815 hours. Your morning watch on the Bridge is due to start at 0900. What would you like to do before then?

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    Collins, dressed and ready to go, turns to her roommate. "Would you like me to wait for you, and go to the Mess together?"

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    Kylah stares down at the end of the long braid of hair she has woven--a task to keep her hands busy and her mind occupied--at least somewhat--rather than focusing on the dread of this morning's watch.

    Collins's question is the first hint of a conversation between Kylah and her roommate for the past week. After her horrible epiphany after the funeral reception, Kylah successfully begged Lt. Thalen to put her on the late-night watch and keep her off Bridge duty; she was safely hidden out of sight in the Communications center.

    This way she was able to evade not only Darren Zweller, but most of the colleagues likely to seek an explanation of her behavior at the reception. Only two got past her defenses: first, Dr. T'Var, whom Kylah reluctantly consulted to find an answer to her impaired empathic abilities, which fortunately have begun to return.

    Second was Mr. Graham, who had purposely stayed up late to waylay her at the Turbolift just outside the Communications Center before she began her watch. She did her best to brush him off.

    Among these failed attempts to ignore her colleagues, she does not count the messages, both voice and text, from Ensign Rangin. Kylah has not listened nor read any of them.

    But despite Lt. Thalen's best efforts and his kindness, he could not enable her avoidance forever. Vargas and Singh would have begun to ask questions. So today, Kylah is back on her usual schedule, and worse, back on the Bridge. Since she cannot avoid it, Kylah hopes against hope that the science station will be occupied by Hayes or Roble.

    Kylah is about to refuse Collins's offer, but suddenly thinks better of it. She is much less likely to be confronted by any personal questions if she is not alone. "Yes, please," she says, looking vaguely in Collins's direction but avoiding the other woman's gaze. "I am almost ready."

    She finishes tying back her braid, fastening it with a small bronze clasp. The face staring back at her in the mirror looks plain, pale and prim, not at all Elasian in style or manner. Kylah takes a deep breath, then rises and joins her roommate.

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    "You seem to be getting back to yourself," Collins says as she and Kylah head to the Mess. "I know you went through something awful last mission, but you really shouldn't cut yourself off from the people who want to help you. This crew is your family while you serve. Trust us to help you." Collins hasn't a clue how to help the girl, but her concern is genuine. "I can't empathize, I've never been in that situation. But I can listen, if you want to tell me about it."

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    The corridors are full of people on their way to breakfast or to their duty stations for the beginning of the next watch. Chief Engineer Cheverez passes by, speaking to an angular, middle-aged black woman in Engineering red with the single gold braid of a lieutenant on her uniform cuffs.

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    As Rangin has done for the last few days, he's already sitting in the lower Mess Hall tucking into a large plate of breakfast with a coffee alongside. For the last few days he has buried himself in his work, ignoring the rest of the world as much as a starship counts for it, and filling his mind with biosensors and technical descriptions and problem solving.

    That had kept him going for the last week, but now it was over and Dr Brold's team had departed, he felt weary as things he had used to sustain himself are no longer effective. Especially as he is going to have to face the world again and starting with another Bridge duty.

    It also means facing the other issue...problem...Kylah. She had not returned his calls and he still has no idea what he is missing. All he does have is a vague, nagging feeling, that something is up, but how to go about working out what it is now that Zweller has departed is beyond him.

    He looks back down at the plate, stifles a yawn and continues eating.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Kylah shifts her attention from something far beyond the corridor back to Collins beside her. "That is thoughtful of you, Lieutenant," she says quietly. "I do not wish to be a burden on everyone. The incident is over now. I would rather emulate you, if it were only possible. You experienced something..."

    She hesitates, unable to think of the right words to describe a frightening miscarriage, especially with someone who is as businesslike as Collins. "--Something I cannot fathom, personally, but my mother went through it, several times. I have seen how painful it can be. Yet you have been able to continue as you were, eventually. I wish I had your resilience. I just want to forget everything. Anubis, OC3... everything."

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    Collins smiles a little "Heh. Yeah, I'm a model of composure." She shakes her head. "I'm not completely over the loss, yet. Every now and then, I get a little blue over the whole thing. But I'm coping. The trick is to call on your Starfleet training. Stand tall, work true. And find someone you can let it all out with. I'm lucky. I have two people. Ensign Cooper and Ensign Graham. Graham is like a big brother. And he's been through a lot himself, so he understands things. And Cooper, well, talk about your great stress relieving activities." She winks at Kylah and smiles with a little mischief behind it.

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    Graham fills his time before watch with the painful but necessary rehab exercises needed to get his leg back to full fitness.

    Actually maybe not strictly "necessary," I've been pushing the limits on all the routines I can safely do on my own. But the Doc hasn't asked...so I haven't told.

    He's eager to get back to normal. In more ways that one...

    Once he's able, he's eager to start Ens. Kylah's self-defense lessons. Not that she seemed especially eager herself, he knows, from the one time he went out of his way to catch her during her new strange hours.

    But I feel sure they're...appropriate. Maybe...necessary.

    And it's hard for him to say what's "normal" between he and Nia. Nothing's been "bad"--they've had some walks, dinner...

    Speaking of "don't ask don't tell," he thinks. I guess we've kind of just decided to mutually politely ignore the awkwardness at the funeral.

    Better than letting it get between us--except of course it is between us.

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    Graham's physical therapy is going well. A trained Medical therapist meets him as needed; today he's solo. Dr. Villa has been pleased with his progress.

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    Holding her tray of still-uneaten breakfast, Nia finishes joking with some Engineering friends already exiting the Mess before she heads off to find a table. There are any number of groups where she'd be welcome for a laugh before the day watch begins. Then one person dining solo catches her eye.

    She twists her lips in hesitation. Booker wouldn't like it. Then, realizing that unless and until he opens up to her, she's not going to live her life stuck in the stasis field he's placed their relationship in. Ever since the funeral reception, they've enjoyed themselves on a few casual dates, and some even more enjoyable (and much less casual) necking.

    But a barrier's been erected between them and it doesn't seem likely to be disengaged any time soon. All she knows is, it's certainly not her doing.

    When a flicker of guilt nags at her, Nia scowls. It's not. Damn it.

    With chin tilted in mild defiance, she slips around the table to view the somewhat dour face of Ens. Rangin. "You saving this seat, Rangin, or can I join you?" She doesn't give him time to refuse, instead gracefully sitting herself across from him and raising her cup of coffee. "At least let me offer my congrats on that commendation."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 20 Apr 2016 at 10:14 PM.

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    Kylah understands Collins's meaning--even if she hadn't, the wink would have made it clear. She tries to smile in kind, but her lips twitch as if in a mild spasm, and instead she just nods.

    "I am glad you can--that you and he are able to...ease your stress with each other in such a way. My experience differs." The words are blunt, and the moment they are out, Kylah is aghast that she expressed such a thought. She pretends to find the corridor walls very interesting in an effort to hide her flush. "But--but you are right that I should rely on my training. I have forgotten that. And not just Starfleet's training, but how I was raised. I would be ashamed if my parents, long resting in the realm beyond, could see how low I have sunk."

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    Kylah's last comment confuses Collins. "Sunk low? You're a Starfleet officer! Serving on a Constitution class ship! There is nothing 'low' in that. Yes, you were assaulted and robbed, but that was not your fault. You didn't go to Anubis looking to be attacked. Stop blaming yourself and move forward." Collins continues to try to bolster her roommate's confidence as they reach the Mess and she chooses yogurt and fruit and a large coffee for her breakfast. "No one has invented a working time machine yet, so you cannot change the past. You've gotta live in the now and look to the future." She waits while Kylah chooses her meal, then will find a table where they can sit and continue talking.

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    Rangin looks across the table at Lt. Onn, a fork half raised to his mouth, as she slides into the seat. As he slowly places the cutlery back on his plate, he cannot help but furrow his brow while speculating on what Ens. Graham's current arm candy is up to. Probably highly unfair on Lt. Onn who certainly had more intelligence than the knuckle-dragger, but apparently a complete lack of good taste.

    "The seat's free and thank you ma'am, I just did the best I could to help with the testing. It was nothing special, just application of experiences I've had," he replies politely keeping his voice even.

    Rangin raises the fork back to his mouth and begins chewing away.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Kylah chooses a bowl of fruit salad, grateful that Collins did not look at her when essentially saying Kylah is not to be blamed for what happened on Anubis. Collins is wrong, of course, but Kylah can hardly explain why. When following Collins to sit at a table, she keeps her eyes on the tray and nods at the other woman's words. "I am sorry, I did not mean to imply anything about my status on the Yorktown." Not that her status is very high, especially considering what a constant source of trouble she seems to be. Kylah doubts very much she will rise any higher, unless her uncle manages to finagle a promotion the same way he managed to speed her through the Academy and land her on a Constitution class ship.

    "By sinking low," she continues, moving the fruit around with her fork, "I meant what you are saying. I am not behaving as befits either a member of my family or a Starfleet officer. I must try to do better. I must do better. As you do." Kylah finally looks up at Collins. "Did you always have confidence? Ambition? You seem very driven. Is that what keeps you from weakness?"

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    It's impossible for Nia to miss the ensign's cool, measured demeanor, which is only just the right side of polite. But it's certainly possible for her to ignore it, for now anyway. "Right. Just some tests. I get it, you're an unobtrusive man, not the braggy type. I bet you might even think no one notices what you do for the ship. But you're wrong. I've noticed it."

    She sips her coffee, which is too hot and makes her scowl as she sets it down. "You've been on a roll since that Sakathian mission. I'm tight with the engies, and they tell me you're the one who basically prevented Delaney from sacrificing himself. Plus, if I'm not mistaken, on OC3 you singlehandedly took down that murderer, a guy with supernatural mental powers."

    Nia swirls her spoon around her cup a few times, then lifts it, blowing on the liquid to cool. Her eyes take in Rangin with interest. "And regardless of... whatever the hell is up with your romantic situation, which don't worry, I know it's none of my business... you still helped find the little lost princess back on Anubis. Pretty sure she'd be dead now if it weren't for you.

    "So, yeah," she concludes, raising an eyebrow. "You were more than due for a commendation. Frankly, I think you'd've been promoted by now if you were in one of the ship's pet departments, mentioning no names." But her head tilts slightly in the direction of a group of red-shirted security officers.

    She smiles wickedly. "Anyway. With Brold and his crew finally gone, I guess you'll go back to studying weird life forms, huh?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 21 Apr 2016 at 04:53 PM.

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    Collins smiles at Kylah "Driven? Yes. Confident? Not so much. But I pretend to be. And if I pretend to be confident long enough, then eventually, it won't be a pretense." She takes a big swig of her coffee and lets out a sigh of satisfaction. "Caffeine helps. A lot. Maybe that's why I love coffee so much. Instant confidence. Maybe try it, sometime. It's kind of bitter if you don't add any milk or sugar, but the jolt it gives is worth it. It also mixes well with hot cocoa."

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    Graham doesn't have a ton of time, but he's taken to a variety of high-protein energy bar designed for a high-metabolism species that he initially described as "weird" but has re-considered to be "addictive" so he swings by the mess....

    ...Where he's not sure how to react to the fact that Kylah and Collins are sitting together (basically good, but maybe I shouldn't butt in, the closer those two are the better) while Nia is talking to of all people Rangin (not that I have any worries about any threat to Nia from that piece of shit, but I don't want to spoil my appetite...)

    Bar--bars--in hand, he looks for some of his Security colleagues as the best available option. Might as well check in on what's going on in the department, he thinks.

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    The Mess Hall is somewhat crowded, but Graham easily spots a table of redshirts. Lt. JG Ryan Jones is shoveling in scrambled eggs as he talks to Ensigns Euterpe Terezis and Jeanne St. Croix; Spec/1 George Fox and Spec/2 Vasosz, a Borothan, seem to be half-listening as they eat. There is an empty seat at the table.

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    Graham walks--almost not limping, at this point--over to the empty seat at the table where his Security colleagues are seated.

    "Hey, St. Croix," he says when there's a break in the conversation, "I doubt I was ever going to out-race you, but now I think we can be certain of it."

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    Rangin's head doesn't move from where he is looking at his plate while taking another bite of his breakfast, but his eyes move up as he tries to work out what Lt. Onn is about. Given everything, she can't just be making polite conversation, which means she is likely talking to him for a reason.

    He looks at her quizzically as she rattles off a litany of the past few weeks and is genuinely surprised when she mentions that she thinks he deserves more than just the commendation.

    Rangin smiles wryly and shakes his head before sipping at his own coffee. "I'm going to have words with Gordon, but yes ma'am that's reasonably accurate. Although, perhaps they missed out the bit where Fujishiro and I were both infected, not to mention that on OC3 all I did was be unnoticeable enough so I could hit someone with a phaser at 10 paces. Hardly heroic if you ask me."

    Rangin puts the cup down and picks the cutlery up again. "And yes ma'am, with Dr Brold and his team happily transported back to Anubis, I'm sure Lt. Cmdr. Roble will find me something to do. However, there are no further weird life forms on board, I know them all to a degree. In fact the only one I've had no physical experience with, is Sidonian."

    Rangin looks back at breakfast and starts to eat again, but pauses with a fork half raised as something nags at him before lowering it again.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Rangin's last words nearly make Nia spill her coffee as she laughs. "Physical experience," she repeats, delight warming her voice. "Oh, my. If I wasn't otherwise engaged, I'd be taking those words as an invitation--or a challenge." She sips her coffee, still chuckling, and then sets it down.

    "But while any number of guys, and not a few gals, would've meant it that way, I don't think you're one of them. Not just because I suspect you think I'm tainted by association with your nemesis, who's just walked by unless my peripheral vision is playing tricks on me."

    Nia leans back, assessing Rangin critically. "But also, there's that other weird life form, the one who secretes tears that supposedly enslave men. To speak frankly without infringing on your privacy... I don't get everyone's fascination with her. I don't get her.

    "The way people talk about the girl, she's either a delicate flower who can't survive outside of a hothouse, or she's a malicious hellcat ruining the lives and possibly careers of one man after another. That murderer, the Vice Admiral, some random business guy, and the freaky rock star, just to name the folks she supposedly hooked up with on OC3. And on the ship... well."

    She makes a pointed look at Rangin. "Ignoring present company, and my friend whose name I'm still keeping out of this, there was that whole incident in the rec room a few weeks back with a certain transporter engineer. The gossip's still flying around about that. Half the crew are saying stay away from the crazy, the other half are like, bring it on."

    Folding her arms to lean on the table, Nia frowns, genuinely interested. "I have to say I'm kinda surprised that you seem to be in the second group. No judgment, if drama is your thing. And I'm not even saying I believe either the gossip or the paeans to her virtuous victimhood. Like with most things, I think the truth lies in the middle." She gazes down at her tray, shaking her head.

    "I don't know. I'd like to understand what's up with her, because right now she's causing issues between me and my friend, and I'm... I'm not comfortable with that. I don't expect you to fill me in on private stuff, but... speaking as a scientist, you must have some thoughts on her. I once joked with Booker--"

    Nia cuts herself off, then smiles crookedly. "There I go, I already broke my 'no names' policy. Let's just say I once offered the opinion that whatever's in those Elasian tears might extend to pheromones surrounding her. There must be something that draws drama around her like a magnet and makes people go nuts in her aura. That rec room incident, which I'm sure you've heard of... the Anubis mess... the scene in Sickbay not long after... and most recently even at a funeral, for pity's sake.

    "So tell me, Mr. Xenobiologist. Is there something she's emanating other than those famous tears?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Apr 2016 at 08:49 AM.

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    The coffee on Collins's tray demands new respect from Kylah, and she looks at it almost longingly. "You make it sound like a drug," she murmurs. Her focus shifts from external to internal. "Dr. T'Var gave me some medication, once. Right before we went down to OC3. It was calming, though, not... empowering. The way you describe this. Either way I did not feel comfortable with it. Its effects were too ephemeral. Whereas your confidence..."

    Kylah looks back up at Collins. "You say it is a facade. Maybe one time I would have understood that, even knew it. But I cannot now. Recently it seems my--my ability to judge others' internal lives has been..." How do I put this? "--Has been wrong, more often than not. I am at a disadvantage. If your confidence is an act, you are very good at maintaining the impression of one who is certain about things. At least to me. I admit I did not always admire that about you--I am sorry to be blunt, but it is true. Just as I know you felt otherwise about me.

    "Now, though... I would give anything to return to who I was before I joined the Yorktown. I never expected things to change so much. To the point that I am afraid what my uncle--my Guardian, I mean--will see, once he visits. As he has promised to do."

    Threatened, more like. Aldaan's last message, received this past week, was almost painful to read. Having heard of her exploits on OC3, and now her attack on Anubis coupled with the loss of her zither, her knife and her mother's jewels... Her uncle made it clear that he would deliver a replacement set of knives personally. And that she is to expect a visit at some point, sooner rather than later.

    Kylah shakes her head slightly and stares at Collins. "Mr. Graham said I should learn how to defend myself. In addition to this caffeine, does some of your confidence come from your... physical abilities? You seem to spend a lot of time in such activity. Not just with Ensign Cooper, but--" Realizing her gaffe, Kylah drops her fork. "I am sorry, that came out... I meant your workouts with him." She tightens her lips. Every word seems to embarrass her further.

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    Collins feels some empathy with Kylah, but only as far as being young and in unfamiliar surroundings go. When Kylah catches herself in the double entendrè, Collins giggles a little. "Yes, I guess keeping fit is part of it. I feel strong and that helps with the confidence. I know I'm agile and quick, and I'm always working to improve that as well. Why don't you come with me after watch. I'm sure we can find some light cardio for you to start with. And if you keep at it, you'll feel better in no time." Collins finishes her breakfast. "I'll work with you, and help you along, if you'd like. Ready to go?" She gets ready to stand. She doesn't want to rush the girl, but it is getting close to start of watch.

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    St. Croix looks puzzled for a moment, but then she bursts out in a laugh. "You may be right, Mr. Graham. When you're feeling better we'll just have to put you to the test."

    "Pull up a seat, Booker," Jones says. "Good to see you. How are you doing?"

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    With a quick glance at her mostly uneaten food, Kylah nods at Collins's question and pushes away from the table. Before emptying her tray, she picks up a grape and stealthily pops it in her mouth. When she saw Dr. T'Var earlier in the week, the doctor had noted her weight loss, though it was nothing she seemed to find worrying.

    Kylah feels as if she is always hungry but has been skipping meals more and more. She has noticed that her chest and hips are not stretching her uniforms as much as they used to. Perhaps the less prominent those particular attributes are, the less unwanted attention she will receive.

    After everything with Jan, Zweller, Ferguson and/or Velir--Ensign Rangin, she corrects herself--she wants to be as invisible as possible. As it is, for the past week she has been on guard, waiting for some axe to fall. She is not naïve enough to think there will be no repercussions from... whatever they did.

    Avoiding this frightening direction of thought, she talks quickly to Collins. "It is kind of you to offer, and yes, I would be grateful for some lessons. In truth, I am not very good at sport. Of course, there were the athletic requirements at the Academy..."

    She decides to leave it at that, not wanting to admit to Collins just how poorly she did on her physical examinations. Collins will discover that for herself, no doubt.

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    Graham clap Jones on the shoulder and takes the offered seat. "Don't mind if I do." He shakes his head. "Well, twenty years ago if that Klingon had full-on shot my leg off I'dve picked it up and used it to give him a helluva beat-down." He shrugs, glancing around the table. "Now--well, it's taken a few days on ice and a lot of tender loving care from the torturer--I mean, the therapist--to get back on my feet, but the doctors say nothing's permanently screwed up."

    He smiles. "With my leg, anyway. But I'll say I've got to give old Vargas some credit: he was positively Commander Florence Nightingale when he came by to see me while I was laid up. I first figured it was to chastise me for being late for my watch, but he was all right."

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    "We're all glad to have you back," Jones says, as the others smile and nod. "Anything we can do to help, just say the word."

    Kylah notices Thalen entering the Mess Hall.

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    A swell of obligation and genuine gratitude fill Kylah's heart at the sight of her superior officer, and she excuses herself from Collins for a moment to walk up to Thalen.

    "Pardon me, sir?" She clasps her hands together to restrain herself from touching him, as she normally would--an Elasian gesture to display courtesy. "I just wanted to thank you again for your patience and--and generosity--over the past week. You helped me more than you can know by indulging my requests, which must have seemed..."

    Kylah's gaze flickers to the floor as she shakes her head, trying to sum up her cowardice without revealing its source. "...They must have seemed random and capricious. And I have no doubt they frustrated and even inconvenienced you or others. I know I have already apologized for requiring such accommodation, but I do so again. And Lieutenant, I vow, somehow, to live up to your confidence in me."

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    Rangin listens carefully while Lt Onn speaks and reveals a few things it appears he is unaware of. But still he's not quite sure why she is asking about Ens. Kylah and surely it's not just because Ens. Graham has a really bad case of over protective parent syndrome.

    A few enquiries around the Science lab had mentioned what kind of person Lt. Onn is, certainly well respected and liked, the only consideration that most mention is her large appetite and not necessarily of the food kind. Of course, there was one joking comment that the reason Lt. Bennett carries out all the inductions is to get first pick before Lt Onn sweeps them up. How much in jest this is though, Rangin is unable to tell. If he didn't know better he'd almost swear she is looking to make Ens. Kylah a notch on her bedpost and wants to make sure nothing untoward may occur.

    Mirroring her pose, Rangin leans on the table, "Well Ms. Navigator ma'am, if there is anything physiologically different than you would have to ask Dr. Villa, though I'm sure patient confidentiality would be in force at that point. But from me, she has the most serious case of misfortune and misjudgement I have seen in a long time. She's not delicate or a hellcat, just someone who is, to be honest, a little inexperienced in dealing with what it means to be not just a Starfleet officer, but on a more general level. But no, there are as far as I am aware, no extra pheromones or other physical attribute affecting those around her. Well, other than the fact she has the most entrancing smile."

    "Now what has passed between us is a matter for us alone, a gentleman never tells, but I will be honest and say I hadn't heard of any trouble she had had in the rec room, but perhaps I can guess at the person in question." Rangin thinks back to their first time together, almost a date, when she had asked about a certain man who had given her a little bit of grief. His face darkens slightly as he remembers, "Lt. Ferguson, perhaps? if it is, I'd be interested to hear more ma'am."

    He sits back and muses slightly. "I will also just say that, no, Ens. Graham is not my personal nemesis, he doesn't even rank in my top ten list of people to run from, but he seems to think harassing me is his own personal right. As to the precise reason, I also do not know, and to be honest, I don't really care as it's his problem not mine..."

    Then Rangin leans forward again, with a wicked grin and drops his voice slightly "...and you are right ma'am, it wasn't an invitation and I doubt I would be much fun as a challenge. Though what I've heard your being otherwise engaged involves a few more than just the one. Besides, I've done my playing around, although it still leaves the temptation to consider it and send your current arm candy into apoplexy. But I don't think that would be gentlemanly, do you ma'am?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Nia enjoys listening to someone she's never heard say more than two or three sentences together. Not as shy or retiring as she thought, which admittedly is what Booker's told her. Repeatedly.

    But his use of the word enchanting regarding Ensign Kylah... that's more poetic than she expected. And the look in his eyes when he says it, maybe even picturing her as he does, is an intriguing mixture of tender and wistful--even regretful. Definitely not predatory.

    She responds lightly. "Well. If you wanted to make sure that I know you're not interested, you just did two things right: calling me ma'am like I'm your grandmother--I'm Nia when off-duty--but worse, you went and called me a navigator." She points a mock accusing finger at Rangin. "I'm a pilot and engineer, full stop. Meaning I like taking action and getting down-and-dirty whenever possible.

    "I could sit at Nav easy as pie--the airships I learned on and even built back on Sidonia all required me to use both skills, none of this fancy dual station jazz; same with shuttles, which is why I'm Singh's go-to whenever possible. But Nav alone doesn't float my boat. Give me real mechanics every day. Navigator! Hmph."

    She smiles to show she's not actually angry. The guy seems to expect attacks or insults, regardless of his insisting Booker Graham's not his nemesis--or he wouldn't be so delighted to consider sending Booker into a jealous fit.

    The defensiveness probably comes from the Coridanite thing, Nia guesses. She can understand it: it's not easy to have a background where everyone leaps to assumptions about you.

    So, Miss Smartass, if you can empathize with a Coridanite, why are you so tough on the Elasian chick?

    Taking a large, annoyed chomp of her biscotti, Nia tells her inner voice to shut the hell up. She notes that others are beginning to leave the Mess, and mentally gives herself another five minutes of info-gathering. After crunching away on the remainder of her biscotti, she refocuses on Rangin.

    "I am glad you care about being gentlemanly. That jibes with what I've heard about you from various sources... all but one or two. Including Kylah. But every time I see her, the kid looks closer to a breakdown, so she's not necessarily reliable. Heaven knows how she passed her psych evaluation. But I dunno. Maybe she wasn't always like this.

    "That Sakathian zombie fest... that was her first mission, right? Might've been her first time in danger. And her first kill, if she phasered any of them. Maybe that's why she went hog-wild, jumping on every guy on OC3, assuming the rumors are true." Her tone has shifted from wry to reflective. Nia's trying her best to understand the girl. "I can appreciate that. Being with someone can be... life-affirming. If it's with the right person. Or people."

    She returns to look at Rangin. "That pretty much explains what you've heard about my various, uh, engagements. My people back home have a life-expectancy of about 40. I'm 34. Being off-planet probably extended my lifespan, but I really don't know for sure. Plus having the freedom to... well, wait a minute, we're not supposed to be analyzing me. Sorry."

    Her smile is now crooked. "And that's the weird thing. I've been on the ship for two-plus years and have slept with, like, a third of the crew, but there are still fewer bitchy reports of my varied activities than Kylah's after having joined the Yorktown only... what, a month? Six weeks? And believe me, I'd know. I'm best friends with the biggest gossip on the ship, bless his heart.

    "So why the difference? She's doing something weird. For example, that rec room debacle. You seriously haven't heard about it? I guess right after you were on a mission, so you must've missed the brouhaha."

    Nia brushes a napkin across her mouth and leans forward again. "You're right about the male half of the participating duo, which kind of surprises me. Either an amazing guesser or you've seen something between the two of them..." She flips a hand in a kind of shrug. "Sources say that the pair were having a normal conversation, that she looked intense--not a surprise--while he looked guarded as hell. No one heard anything at first. Supposedly she stood up, leaned over him, acted almost threatening." Nia raises an eyebrow. "To the degree a shrimpy little thing like her could be threatening, anyway.

    "And that's when he blew up. Yelled at her to stop harassing him, that he wasn't interested in her, and that he'd report her if she kept pursuing him. After he ran out, she stood there looking like a paralyzed tomato. And that's when Booker stepped in and took her away."

    This time she shrugs for real. "Right after that, she was on OC3 and allegedly making conquest after conquest. You were there. With you, did she seem like the aggress--okay, this really is none of my business. Sorry." Nia sucks on her bottom lip in thought. "I'm serious, though. How sure are you that there's nothing to this physical symptom thing? Have you ever actually tested or examined her? Uh... scientifically, that is?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 23 Apr 2016 at 07:16 PM.

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    Thalen smiles in a kindly way and bows his blue head, inclining his antennae towards Kylah. "Your thanks are appreciated, your apologies are unnecessary, and I'm sure you'll do a fine job back on the Bridge, Mr. Kylah. Do you feel ready?"

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    Collins nods s Kylah excuses herself. "I'll see you on the Bridge." She busses her tray and heads out as Kylah approaches Thalen.

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    Kylah nods with as much certainty as she can. The mere gesture feels like a lie--has anyone in Starfleet ever been as uncertain as she?--but she hopes her fierce desire and sheer desperation to persevere will make it so. "Yes, sir. I look forward to resuming whatever duties the ship requires of me."

    A little twinge of discomfort returns once Collins exits and Kylah remains behind with Thalen and the other crew members. For the past week, when left mostly to herself in the back of the Communications center, or briefly in Collins's company in their quarters, Kylah found it easy to forget that her empathic abilities had disappeared.

    Now, with a mess hall full of individuals whose emotions normally would have radiated to her like an ever-present hum of static, Kylah--despite a degree of recovery--still notices how muted and dull everyone seems. It is like seeing the world through a sepia-toned filter.

    She always wanted to be normal, to experience a rest from the barrage of others' emotions. The phrase be careful what you wish for has never seemed so accurate.

    But she keeps her expression enthusiastic and her gaze steady. "If I may ask, sir, are we headed to a specific destination? Is there anything in particular I should be scanning for?"

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    Thalen says, "No, we're patrolling in the Whalen sector. Back and forth, looking for trouble. Just keep an ear on the usual frequencies and help the Captain, as needed. Good luck!" He leaves her to get his breakfast.

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    Kylah nods her thanks when Thalen leaves. As she turns to go, her scan of the Mess takes in a sight that catches her breath.

    Lt. Onn and Mr. Rangin, at a table. The lieutenant looks... the way she usually does the few times Kylah has seen her: comfortable, composed, and somehow giving the impression that she's hiding some secret amusement. That the older woman is aiming this toward Ensign Rangin--and his wry smile, in return--makes Kylah's hands tingle with the sudden desire to grab the knife at her side--the one that no longer exists--and fling it so that it lands expertly in the center of the table between them.

    If Kylah's fears are correct, the ensign has already got what he wanted from her. The revolting trap has been sprung, and Zweller had his revenge, shared with his friends. So why should Rangin not move on to someone closer to his own age, someone who seems far less of a scared rodent than Kylah?

    Anger clenches her jaw. She inhales and looks away--catching a glimpse of Mr. Graham as she does. It takes all her self-control to prevent herself from running to him and reporting what happened.

    But what is there to report? Thus far there is no proof. The note? Meaningless. No apparent medical proof, not that T'Var has found as yet. And the curious destruction of her old communicator... Perhaps by the end of today, Lt. Delaney will have had time enough to examine the device and let her know why it stopped working. But what if it has nothing to do with... whatever Darren Zweller did? Mr. Graham cannot investigate something she cannot even remember.

    She tears her somewhat desperate gaze away from Graham, steels herself, and leaves in a hurry to reach the Bridge. Kylah promised Thalen she is ready to perform her duties to the best of her ability, and she cannot fail him. Or herself.

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    Rangin listens quietly to Lt Onn as it appears that a few things had occurred he isn't aware until now. There's a slow set of nods as she continues to fill in the gaps. Rangin sighs as she finishes and he scrumples up the paper napkin and drops it on his plate not really feeling like finishing off the rest of his meal.

    "Well, Nia, that answers a few questions. No, I really didn't know about the rec room but I honestly shouldn't be surprised. Also Sakath was not a nice mission and, if it was her first it's a bit of a baptism by fire."

    Rangin harumphs as he looks across the table at Lt Onn, eyeing her up and trying to work out whether he should tell her anything further, after all he did try to hold to the general privacy rule. But then it might help and as he considers the options, his fingers gently drum out a tattoo until he comes to a decision.

    Rangin leans forward slightly across the table, almost conspiratorally, "If I understand what you say, then that incident in the rec room was not her first encounter with Lt. Ferguson. I don't precisely know what happened, but I had the feeling it wasn't pleasant and I did say she should perhaps give him a wider berth, but it appears she decided to do her own thing. Hence that scene."

    "As for OC3, we were run ragged most of the time. If she was making conquest after conquest, she was doing it on a heavily sprained ankle, which isn't conducive to carrying out those kind of meetings and most of what was reported is complete junk." He beckons Nia closer across the table. "It really didn't help that Security then nearly got her killed. And I'm saying that in spite of, not because of, Graham. He didn't have anything to do with it. Follow that up with constant rumour and gossip and what do you expect."

    Taking a sup from his remaining coffee Rangin leans back slightly, "As for something extra, I know she is worried about the standard Elasian issue, almost paranoid about it. No, if she wanted power over people she'd be using them left, right and centre, but she's very careful...conscientiously so, to make sure it doesn't happen. But you never know, perhaps I should find if there is something else, especially after OC3."

    He nods a few times to himself, memorising the things he needs to follow up on, before relaxing slightly and smiling back at Nia. "I suppose I should head for my shift on the Bridge, but before I forget, my apologies for comparing you to a mere navigator, Nia. " He rolls the name around as he says it, allowing it to come out closer to Near. "An appropriate name indeed," he chuckles quietly. "I'll be honest, I'm curious to find out more about the Sidonians direct from source. That is if you wouldn't mind spending a while talking some time. Though I can certainly understand should you wish to decline." Rangin's eyes flick across to where Security are being as loud as usual and then back again to Nia.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Nia rests her chin on her hands, which are clasped as if in prayer. Rangin's words are affecting. Or effective, as Book would say. The Coridanite knows how to be charming and pull off sincerity. Is it real?

    She's not easily fooled by men. And it seems Rangin could easily have made Kylah sound like a manipulative maneater; Nia's given him every opening to blame the girl for everything short of murdering that resort-spa guy herself.

    Plus it wouldn't be out of character for him. From what she heard about what happened after Kylah's kidnapping--the confrontation between Kylah and Rangin in the Sickbay, witnessed by multiple people including Booker--Rangin had a wildly different opinion of Kylah's motives, and was happy yelling it to all and sundry.

    Now he's defending her, and it's Kylah who's doing all the accusing. What the hell is going on with these two?

    "You've given me a lot to chew on, Ensign," Nia says. "This is one complicated girl--it's as if everyone sees her completely differently from everyone else. I almost wonder if she really exists, or she's someone we're each projecting." She shrugs and puts her coffee back on her tray. "Well. That OC3 mission sounds eight kinds of fu--uh, messed up. Glad I wasn't involved. Although maybe I'd understand you guys better if I were."

    She sits back. "Thanks for the chat, and for not treating me like the enemy just because I'm... something... with Booker Graham. I'm as open-minded as they come. Ask anyone." Her sly smile probably resembles the reptiles she evolved from. "And consider your invitation accepted, Ensign. Maybe if I give you what you want, you'll let me call you by your first name?" With a nod, and telling him she'll see him on the Bridge, she picks up her tray and returns it where it belongs.

    Next, Nia walks slowly over to the table that's been taken over by Security. "Morning, officers," she says, giving a special smile to the three or four who are especially... familiar... though only brushing past Booker. Already knowing the answer, she asks: "Anyone on Bridge duty this watch? And if so, wanna join me on the way?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 25 Apr 2016 at 07:22 PM.

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    Graham's enjoying his tasty snack and his colleagues' company, disturbed only by a brief glimpse of Kylah looking...distressed, I guess. But she takes off so quickly there's not enough time for him to decide if trying to ask what was up was even a good idea--never mind lurch to his feet after her.

    And he's studiously avoiding looking at the table where Nia is talking to Rangin. About what he can't imagine.

    But he's certain wandering over there would ruin his day, most likely in more ways than one: wasting my breath on Rangin is bad enough, but potentially pissing Nia off after the weird thing we're in right now...

    Heading out without saying anything to Nia doesn't sit well with him anyway, so he's relieved when she...saunters, I think that fits...over.

    "I'm headed that way, ma'am," Booker says, pushing himself to a standing position.

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    Although they greet Onn politely, none of the other Security officers are headed up to the top deck, as it happens. Booker and Onn walk out of the Mess together.

    On the Bridge, Kylah relieves the duty Communications officer and takes her seat. Collins does the same at the Security console.

    Capt. Singh is in the big chair. She nods to both Kylah and Collins when they come in. Lt. JG John Brooks is at Nav and Lt. JG Faraz Pourtash is beside him at the Helm. Lt. Gennadi Antonov is at Science I; Ens. Sasok, a Vulcan male and a warp field specialist, is at Engineering. The other Bridge posts, including Tactical (Graham's eventual destination), are unmanned for the moment.

    The stars stream past on the Yorktown's main viewscreen, as the Starfleet heavy cruiser maintains a standard patrol course at Warp 3.

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    Rangin watches as Lt. Onn makes her way across to Security, no longer interested in maintaining a facade for her in the same way as it appears she had dropped whatever pretence she was wearing.

    Well, well. Didn't we drop back to on duty quickly, once I'd finished speaking. Back to just plain old Ensign and off you go, bold as brass and heading for the knuckle-dragger. I wonder what it was I said that you wanted to hear?

    Seeing her talk to them, it's no surprise when Ens. Graham joins her in walking out of the Mess Hall. It appears that Lt. Onn is less impartial than she mentioned. Then again, it seemed to be a common trait with certain women running to him. Maybe Graham is the one with the pheromones instead.

    Rangin waits a few moments in front of his empty tray, before picking it up and leaving after them. While heading for the Bridge he considers that it appears Graham has decided to send his flying monkeys to talk to him instead of an outright confrontation. Let them come, he will be as polite as always.

    On the subject of apes, as he steps out of the turbolift and onto the deck, there is an amused smile at the thought of Ens. Graham with teeny, tiny wings struggling to get off the ground going Ugh, why me no fly.... He nods to Lt. Antonov on the way past and settles into Science 2, starting up the main scans and reports before turning and enquiring if there is anything extra he should be aware of.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Kylah is somewhat glad to be back on the Bridge. At least there are no bad memories here. Nevertheless she keeps flashing brief glances to the turbolift and the Science officer she does not know, hoping he will be manning the station by himself.

    But not long after, the doors open and the familiar, compact figure of Velir Rangin appears, walking up the stairs to take his place. Kylah only lets herself get a flash of his shape and face before forcing her gaze back to her own monitor. She cannot help shuddering; her skin now has the sensation that mites are crawling over her.

    From what little she saw before turning back to the terminal, he did not even toss a look in her direction when he entered. She is back to being nothing. Kylah is not sure which is worse: to be caught by his smug appraisal, or to be ignored as if she is no longer of use to him.

    Focus, she tells herself while her shaky fingers adjust her earpiece. Focus. You could not expect to be fortunate enough to have avoided him today. The fates are not that kind.

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    Nia walks slowly alongside Booker, the silence between them growing more evident. She sees Rangin pass them, his gait quick and businesslike as he reaches the turbolift.

    She slows down even further. Getting into the same lift with Rangin and Booker is not an option. The mind boggles.

    Once the door slides shut, she waits two more seconds and finally lets her arm brush against Booker's in a way that could appear accidental--except to him. "Don't know about you, but I had an... interesting breakfast," she murmurs casually. "But I'd have a much better lunch if you'll share it with me."

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    "Well the bar for dining companion looks to be pretty low today," Graham replies wryly, grimacing slightly. He rubs his head.

    "Sorry...ah, I'd like that." The brush of her arm against his momentarily cuts through the sort of...gloomy fog that's surrounded them since the funeral, and he can't resist giving her hand a quick gentle squeeze. "Very much, Nia."

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    Once seated, Collins checks the previous watch's security logs. If there is anything of note, she will inform the Captain and follow up on it. Otherwise, she just monitors the feed, awaiting specific orders.

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    Rangin sees that ship's sensors are operating at full effectiveness. Nearby space seems to hold little of interest, however, other than a brown dwarf star just over half a light year away. After a minute or two, Antonov looks up from his work, smiles and says to him, "You're welcome to take Science I, Ensign. I'm just going off-duty."

    Through her earpiece, Kylah notes that there appears to be only routine intership comm traffic at the moment.

    Collins reviews the previous watch's Security logs. Two storage-compartment doors in Engineering which should have been locked were found unlocked within half an hour of each other; nothing appears to have been taken. Cmdr. Vargas initialed the report half an hour ago, indicating he'd read it.

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    Nia smiles and squeezes Booker's hand in return. "Good to hear." As the turbolift zips its way to the Bridge, she continues, "And as far as my dining companions are concerned... I was fishing for information, that's all. I wasn't particularly concerned if the catch seemed slimy. Although honestly I didn't and still don't see him as a monster." She gives Booker a side-eyed glance. "Except that I couldn't get him to warm up to me. So he's clearly a sociopath, because who could resist this?"

    With a final grin she releases Booker's hand before the door opens up to reveal the Bridge.

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    Graham starts to smile, then, realizing that as the doors open he'd likely look like a grinning idiot, assumes a straight face.

    Taking a brief moment to appreciate Nia's figure walking away from him, he gives Collins a quick thumbs while on his way to his station when he can catch her attention.

    He detours as necessary to come within speaking distance of Ens. Kylah. "Good to see you back on station," he says quietly with a little encouraging nod.

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    Pourtash sees Onn and yields his seat at once. "The Helm is yours, ma'am."

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