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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #7: "The War-Brotherhood of Irkhuit"

  1. #251
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham returns Marala's smile. "Well, my, ah, career in Starfleet hasn't always been, uh, exemplary...I guess there's a lot to catch up on. But..." He gives a thumbs up. "I definitely know a lot of people in a lot of different roles who can give Nikolai an introduction to careers in Starfleet."

  2. #252
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Mrs. Soerdajaya's text blinks three times and fades away. Kylah then cannot find it anywhere in her communicator or comm account; it has disappeared as completely as if it were never there.

    Onn's latest stint as BCDO ends without further incident.

    Marala squeezes her future husband again and kisses him. "I know he'd get a kick out of that. And if you know any famous nullball players, well, that'd be just fine, too...."

    The forty selected Novy Rostov evacuees beam over to the Ain't She A Butte without any problems, thanks to Onyibe's, Rangin's and Graham's preparations. The Yorktown, Ain't She and the other ships in the convoy arrive at Beta Antares IV a few days later and take up orbit. The great majority of evacuees beam down to the surface, where Federation colonial resettlement personnel stand ready to help them. The heavy cruiser is put back in proper order by her crew, soon once again "ship-shape and Bristol fashion," and shore leave was granted to any crewmember whose duties did not require them to remain aboard. The Van Gogh painting Poppy Flowers is taken by shuttlecraft, under heavy guard, to the New Getty Museum on the planet for temporary display. The Sarafina is returned to her owners by the Yorktown's prize crew, but her captain remains in custody, charged with several offenses for refusing to assist in NR's evacuation and then resisting the seizure of his ship.

    Three days after the Yorktown's arrival at Beta Antares IV, Lt. JG Booker Graham's and Marala Gromov's hastily-arranged wedding ceremony is about to begin in the ship's Arboretum on Deck 22. All of the crew are invited. Graham is in full dress uniform, as is his best man, his longtime friend, cabinmate and fellow Security officer, Ens. Faisal Mahmoud. The bride, whom Graham (like his fiancee, a traditionalist in some ways but not in others) has not yet seen in her wedding dress, is in an adjoining compartment for the moment. With her is her son, Nikolai; her friend and maid of honor, Dr. Denise Cobb (the NR physician who assisted Dr. Nathaniel Bennett what seems like an eternity ago); and her and Nikolai's old family friend, Jeremy Cornwall, who was delighted to accept the bride's request to walk her down the aisle.

    A few dozen Yorktown crewmembers and NR friends of the bride's are already in the Arboretum, the flowers, bushes and shrubs of which have never looked better. Three rows of chairs await senior officers and selected guests, facing a small, elegant arch set up for the occasion. A Lyceum quintet is playing soft music in one corner; a tempting array of food and drink await the guests on nearby tables for later.

    The Captain and First Officer enter, also in dress uniform. They spot Graham and Mahmoud, and approach. The junior officers come to attention. Singh shakes the groom's hand, smiling broadly. "At ease, gentlemen. I haven't done a wedding in a long time, Mr. Graham. Many thanks again for asking me to officiate."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 06 Nov 2021 at 10:47 AM.

  3. #253
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham nods to his commanding officer. His smile is a best effort, too much going on in his head and heart to match hers.

    Nonetheless, he speaks with conviction. "I'm honored you accepted, Captain. And..." He clears his throat. "I'll always be grateful you...made this possible."

  4. #254
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    Standing by the Lyceum quintet, Kylah listens to the music with pleasure. Her gaze flicks over to Lt.JG Graham, hoping to speak with him just to wish him luck, but the Captain is occupying his attention and Kylah certainly will not interrupt. How handsome he looks! The dress uniform suits him. She is hardly close enough to sense exactly what he is feeling--not that she would, as he is entitled to his privacy. But even from here, she knows him well enough to note that he seems on edge. But that is natural. Nervousness and anticipation are so very common ahead of such a ceremony.

    The Arboretum is its usual pastoral self, so lush with plants, trees, flowers she cannot name. What a beautiful place for a lovely occasion. Something for every sense--even taste, she notes with a little longing inspection of the table laden with food. Ever since the ship reached Beta Antares without incident or word from Mrs. Soerdajaya, Kylah's appetite has been robust for the first time in ages.

    She places a hand on her abdomen, almost affectionately. Barely a week ago she received a new uniform to match her smaller figure. Now, dressed in a pink satin gown--something she only brought with her from home because it would be unthinkable not to have one formal dress--she suspects if she keeps eating the way she has, this will again fit her properly, instead of being less form-fitting than Elasian style dictates.

    Her eyes scan the room to see if Velir is here. She did not get a chance to ask him if he would attend, and considering the unfortunate tension between him and Lt. Graham, she thinks it unlikely. Still... she glances over to the chair set aside for her. It would have been nice for him to be among the crowd.

    Whenever there is a free moment to approach the groom-to-be, Kylah will make her way. Until then she listens to the music and--if the ensemble finishes before Lt. Graham is available--she will compliment them on a beautiful performance so far.

  5. #255
    Oliphaunt SidonianGal's avatar
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    Nia exits the turbolift and moves toward the entrance to the wedding venue. Unconsciously she smooths her uniform and pauses, stepping to the side to let others through.

    The Arboretum. Why did it have to be the Arboretum?

    Their first real night together. He's provided a picnic, music; honesty. They told each other some of their histories, feeling achingly vulnerable yet also unaccountably safe, being so open with each other. The murder of his beloved wife; her breeding contracts and lost children. But they shared much more pleasant things, too. Gossip. Silly trivia about their Academy days. Books, films, music, sports. And after...
    Time passes and when Nia has licked her fingers of the sticky-sweet juice from the last slice of pear, there's a longer pause as she looks across at Booker--easier to do now that the candles have melted down considerably. The music from his tricorder fills in the silence. "It'd be a shame to waste the accompaniment," she murmurs. Smoothly getting to her feet, she holds out a hand to him. "Dance with me?"

    "Dance?" Booker blurts out, surprised by the question. He laughs. "Well, yeah, maybe you are 'full of surprises.' But I guess did bring music." He takes her hand and stands up. "I, ah, really hope your scales protect your feet, though..."

    It's only a short distance for their lips to move across each others' cheeks into a kiss. Kisses. They are passionate, but not rushed: it's as if the quiet intimacy can and should continue indefinitely...

    Nia could happily continue swaying gently up against this muscular, tender man, feeling his mouth on hers--as delicious as anything from that picnic basket--until the tricorder runs out of music. But... not tonight. Damn it, she thinks, but pushes the thought away because she wants just one more kiss...

    Finally she breaks to catch her breath. "Book," she whispers, brushing her fingers against his firm jawline. "Book, it's...getting late..."

    Graham stops his rhythmic (well, sort of rhythmic) swaying and touches her cheek. "You're right..." He sighs as well. "It wouldn't be in keeping with a proper picnic if I didn't walk you home," he offers. A few moments later--basket packed--they walk arm-in-arm, unhurried, to her quarters. Neither feels the need to speak--in fact, the tricorder is still playing its strolling musician soundtrack--but once they reach Nia's door Graham's the first to break the silence.

    "One more dance, inside?" he asks quietly, holding her eyes.

    She hesitates once again but smiles and takes his free hand in hers with both tenderness and conviction. She gestures toward the door and leads him in as it swishes open.
    Nia's eyes close at the memory of the rest of that night. So much exquisite pleasure, but they hadn't really even started when she'd fucked up. She was supposed to start her overnight Bilitrium treatment, but with Book in her bed, she'd let time get away from her. Sex with him was more important to her than breathing. That should've been flattering, she thinks dryly. But she'd crashed and he'd helped her all night. Held her all night.

    With a shake of her head as if annoyed by a fly, she brushes her hair back--she's worn it loose, the one concession to beauty she's made other than the not-very-beautiful dress uniform. Okay. Strategy: to avoid looking at Booker. Find someone, anyone, to laugh with. Ajay. Giya. Even Delaney and his goofy puns.

    Nia lifts her chin, squares her shoulders and enters the Arboretum.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 06 Nov 2021 at 03:14 AM.

  6. #256
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    "Understood, Mr. Graham, and you're welcome," the Captain says with a knowing look. She, Graham, Vargas and Mahmoud chat briefly before the two senior officers drift off to talk to others gathering in the Arboretum. Mahmoud decides to check on a few last-minute details before the ceremony begins.

    Lt. Cecilia Bennett, in a sea-green gown with her dark hair up in an elegant chignon, enters on the arm of Lt. Guillaume Vaudreuil. They greet several other friends.

    The Lyceum ensemble is still playing, but Kylah - whose own stylish pink gown has already drawn several admiring glances - sees that Graham is, for the moment at least, alone.

    Onn enters the Arboretum and notices several familiar faces, including the Captain and First Officer, as well as some unfamiliar ones, which she knows must be of NR evacuees still on the ship. She sees Mahmoud walk away from Graham, leaving him by himself.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 06 Nov 2021 at 10:54 AM.

  7. #257
    Stegodon Rangin's avatar
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    Given a choice of attending Graham’s wedding or cleaning out a pen of Denebian Slime Devils then the choice was obvious. Do neither and find something more interesting to do. Let Graham have his day, everyone else on the ship can be happy for him, but something still feels rotten in Rangin’s thoughts about the whole situation.

    No, best thing to do is ignore it, shore leave somewhere far away out of sight and out of mind. There is no point being around and making the entire crew uncomfortable given the current animosity between the pair. Rangin is not stupid enough to incur the wrath of the senior officers should anything happen.

    And as things often happen when the pair of them are around, the gods forbid that Kylah is in the mix as well, that just staying away is the most sensible thing to do.

    Since the accident, Rangin decides that any form of excitement can wait for another day and if Lt. Cmdr. Roble allows it, Rangin will be spending some peaceful time away from it all.

  8. #258
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    It was never ending, first cooking for all the refugees and now spinning up a wedding banquet on the spot. Fortunately a few calls ahead to Beta Antares and quick restock of supplies had helped Andy Johnson to alleviate some of the pain this could have caused. As he looks round from his vantage point, he watches the various staff getting the food ready before nodding to himself at the job well done. Dressed in his finest, neatly pressed and buttoned up, Ajay heads to the arboretum, partly to get an idea of the guests for the reception and to enjoy the ceremony, safe in the knowledge that it is not him getting hitched.

    As he enters slightly after most others he spots one lone figure and he sidles quietly up to her.

    "Afternoon Lt. Onn, it's been a while. How are you?" he says without the hint of innuendo that normally peppered their conversations.

  9. #259
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    Pleased to find Lt. Graham free for a moment, Kylah weaves her way through the guests until she has reached the groom-to-be.

    She looks up at him and smiles. It is still a rare expression--not only because her own circumstances have seldom given her cause to use it, but because smiling is infrequent for Elasians in general. But right now, she feels very happy and cannot hide it.

    Delicately she reaches a hand out to touch his wrist, and--if he offers--to shake his hand. "I know you are busy. I just wanted to wish you good luck. You look very elegant. I know I have seen you in dress uniform before, but... not with..." Kylah's free hand gestures vaguely as she tries to find the right words. "Not the way you look today. I am very happy for you. Even if I do not--"

    Even if she does not entirely understand this sudden change in his romantic circumstances. Just over a week ago, she found him in Lt. Onn's quarters, and it was clear they were together. Not just together, but.. together. But it is not her business to ask. Men are still inscrutable, in many ways.

    "Even if I do not know Ms. Gromov. I hope I will have the chance to rectify that," she adds shyly. "How are you? Are you ready for all this?"

  10. #260
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    Nia sees Booker alone, temporarily, and her body actually jerks with the immediately halted impulse to head straight to him. No. What would she say? Congrats? Not now. Maybe after, if she can stomach it. What a coward she's turned out to be. Shameful.

    Forcing her gaze away from Book, she can't avoid noticing Cece on the arm of Vaudreuil. Somehow this doesn't surprise her. She's long been aware of Vaudreuill's admiration for the Navigator. It's about time he acted on it.

    The other woman's beautiful gown makes Nia self-conscious. So elegant, graceful, feminine. And now a small, pink-clad figure hurrying toward Booker catches Nia's attention too, mainly for wearing... Good grief. Nia has a rather revealing negligee that offers more chest coverage.

    She smells a pleasantly familiar aftershave, and immediately after it registers, an equally familiar voice murmurs beside her. Nia sighs in relief and turns. Ajay looks better than anyone has a right to in his uniform. "Now that you're here, I'm doing well. You're a sight for sore eyes, and yeah. It's been way too long." The urge to hug him is overwhelming--almost as much as the desire for him to hug her.

    A sure sign she's not doing as 'well' as she claims. She's not a huggy person, nor is Ajay. Usually, if their bodies touch they're not fully clothed.

    "We've got a lot to catch up on, mate," she says under her breath with a smile plastered on her face. "Because I'm actually kinda sucky. How about you? Are you here as a guest or will you be on duty to deal with the spread. Which looks great, by the way."

  11. #261
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham's surprised - pleasantly surprised - to see what looks like an authentic smile from Kylah.

    God knows she deserves it after everything she's been through, whether or not some bad judgment calls might've made things harder than they had to be.

    Graham accepts her offered handshake. He shakes his head slightly. "You're too kind, Kylah. I'm the lucky one here...assuming, Ms. Gromov, for her part, is indeed ready for this."

    He pauses and sighs. "But I can't say it's not... weird, I guess. I wanted nothing more than this when we were 17. Now--" he shakes his head. "It's a hell of a way to wind up at that childhood dream... a lot in between...." A hint of pain can't help but leak into his tone. He pushes it back.

    "But -- hey, ...the song?" He perks himself up. "If you're willing and able to play it... you don't have to, but -- speaking of the past -- it would be... a nice surprise for her."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10 Nov 2021 at 09:24 AM. Reason: Edited at g_u's request

  12. #262
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    Shore leave having been granted to any crewmember whose duties did not require them to remain aboard, Rangin may beam down to Beta Antares IV if he wishes. It is a fairly typical Class-M Federation member world with the usual mix of cities, towns, open spaces and both indoor and outdoor recreation.

    Before speaking to Onn, Johnson saw that all was in readiness with the refreshments on offer in the Arboretum; the Mess stewards have things well in hand.

  13. #263
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    “Me, I’m knackered after all the colonists needed feeding for the last few days and could do with some more downtime bed-wise,” Ajay replies conversationally but hiding the traces of tiredness as he stands next to Nia. While he is not totally on the job at the moment, he is not going to let the team down by appearing as anything less than a highly trained professional.

    “I’m on drinks for after the event, at least making sure glasses go out full and come back empty. I do have a couple of interesting bottles stashed away if you’re interested. The spread will be fine, I just hope Ms. Gromov’s Karavai* tastes as good as it looks. She spent a little while in the Galley putting it together, although I’d not be surprised if Lt Graham knew nothing about it.”

    While it’s easy to chat about the bride and groom, it’s probably doing nothing got Nia, so Ajay decides to change up the topic and possibly divert her current train of thoughts.

    “So, enough about them, and yeah, life kinda sucks as well. Once the reception is over, I’m on the first shift for the drinks, then free for the rest of the evening. If you wanna go commiserate, indulge in that alcohol I mentioned, and go laugh at how bad we both suck, I’m up for that.”

    Ajay winces slightly at the last comment, it could be taken either way and a few months ago, it would have meant an open invitation. But at the wedding of her very-recent EX, it’s probably not the comment she is looking for.




    * Karavai - Russian Wedding Bread

  14. #264
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    Kylah can see and feel the emotions churning within Mr. Graham's gaze and his heart. She cannot identify exactly what is causing it, but knowing what little she does of his past, she can guess.

    She covers his hand with her own, sandwiching them together. "The path was long and painful," she says softly. "But you have your daughter. And the memories of her mother, which I know you will always cherish. You deserve joy, and I wish it for you."

    She smiles again. "As for the piece... yes, sir, I have learned it. My lute is by my chair." Kylah glances over to the seat against the wall, the case for the borrowed Vulcan lute tucked underneath. "The song is beautiful and I hope I do it justice. I forgot to ask, though: Do you wish it to be the processional, or has Mrs. Gromov already chosen that?"

  15. #265
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    Nia, despite her promise to herself, is glancing over to Booker and Kylah. Though distracted, she matches Ajay's banter. "I don't recall you ever complaining about how bad I sucked."

    At last she drags her attention back to her friend. "Yeah, I would absolutely love to get drunk. Really sloppy, no-holds-barred, obnoxiously drunk. Engies-on-shore-leave drunk. But you forget alcohol won't do it for me. The hardest rotgut might as well be a milkshake."

    Most Sidonian lifeforms evolved the ability to synthesize almost any water-based fluid and filter out any impurities. Alcohol, mud, even urine--all could be life-sustaining, if not ideal.

    "Certain drugs work, as I learned during my experimental spree at the Academy," she muses, then sighs. "But those days are long gone. Any wonder I specialize in other forms of recreation?"

    Out of the corner of her eye she spies Cece again, and that glimpse--plus the sight of Kylah seconds ago--only makes her move closer to Johnson. "I'll take you up on the invite even without the drinks. But first... Aje... I'm gonna ask you something that I really hate myself for asking. I don't believe it's gonna come out of my mouth but--you're literally the only person in the galaxy I trust not to mock the hell out of me for it."

    She pushes her hair back, smooths the front of her dress uniform again, and faces him square on. Her eyes staring up at him are wide green and atypically vulnerable. "Do I... look... okay?"

  16. #266
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Not for the first time, Graham is struck by the contrast between small, smooth hands and his scarred mitts. Scarred from suffering pain, scarred from dishing pain out.

    But the moment gives his something to hold onto: you keep showing up so Kylah's hands, Lizzie's hands...Nikolai's hands...never have to look like mine,

    "Well..." he clears his throat. "Well, I deserve some credit for 'playing dumb,' in this case, in any event." He gives Kylah a small smile. "Ms--Marala--is expecting a traditional wedding staple, 'Here Comes the Bride.' I didn't bring anything else up." He nods contemplatively. "Let her take her first step...then, have at it...and--thank you."

  17. #267
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    Mahmoud comes back over. He smiles at the Communications officer and says, "Hello, Ens. Kylah. You look great!" He says to Graham, "I think we're ready to start. You OK, Book?"

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    When Ens. Mahmoud appears, Kylah blinks in surprise and offers a quick "Thank you" for the kind compliment. "Best of luck again, sir," she adds to Mr. Graham, before backing away and heading to her chair. On the way she spots Mr. Johnson and Lt. Onn, and while the latter seems proud and confident, Kylah cannot help wondering how she really feels. This was all so sudden. But Mr. Graham clearly has no regrets, and Lt. Onn is standing quite close to the young chef. Perhaps she and Mr. Johnson are now...

    She shakes her head and sits down. The romantic entanglements on the Yorktown are none of her business. Just one, her own. And it is hardly... that is, she and Velir are not really...

    Biting the inside of her cheek, Kylah turns around to see if Velir has arrived. She had already made up her mind that he would likely not attend, but she never asked him, and it strikes her that she should have. She discreetly--as discreetly as possible, anyway--slips her communicator out from where it's been warmly nestled, tucked in her dress's bodice. Then types a very quick note.
    RANGIN, VELIR, LT.JG. - The wedding is about to start, if you had plans to attend. Or are you taking shore leave? I just wondered if I would see you here. -- KYLAH
    Once the message is sent, she keeps the device in one hand, making sure to mute the notification sound, and then takes the Vulcan Lute carefully out of its case. It will remain down by the side of her chair, leaning up against the wall, to be ready for her when it is time.

  19. #269
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "I'm good, Faisal," Graham replies quietly after Kylah leaves. "I'm glad you're here."

    He squints and growls, but nonetheless isn't able to suppress a smile. "Try not to step on Marala's foot or anything, 'K?"

  20. #270
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    Mahmoud chuckles. "That's the plan. Other than not losing the rings, I think keeping clear of the bride's feet is right near the top of every best man's list of key responsibilities."

    The Captain makes her way to the wedding arch, a small book in her hands, and stands beneath it. People begin taking their seats. Jeremy Cornwall comes into the Arboretum, peers around, exchanges a nod with Mahmoud, and disappears again.

  21. #271
    Stegodon Rangin's avatar
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    Getting away from the USS Yorktown was a good idea and taking shore leave to avoid the ceremony's an even better one.

    Sitting on a hillside in glorious sunshine in one of the national parks and seeing the sweeping forests in front of him reminding him of home, although without the illegal mining and dropships swooping in and out of the area as quickly and as stealthily as they could.

    Rangin is not sure why he is thinking of it, but listening to the sounds of the birds around helps to give a little peace to whatever his is thinking.

    The message comes in and he absent-mindedly opens and reads it. Ah, well, there goes his sense of calm as Kylah brings himself back into the harsh reality that someone several kilometers above the surface, Graham is getting married. Rangin had been hoping that being on the other side of the planet might help get him a little further away, but it is not meant to be.

    Wait, what was the old earth custom. He holds up the communicator and snaps a picture of the beautiful vista in front of him and sends the image back to Kylah.
    KYLAH, ENS. - Wish you were here. VELIR
    He sends the message off and then sits back to once again relax.

  22. #272
    In the Galley Ajay's avatar
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    “You’ve looked better, I’ll be honest.” Ajay replies casually to Nia’s question, “Didn’t think you the type to get misty-eyed over someone, so he must have been good. Hope he makes the next one as happy as he did you for those weeks, but life’s what it is, roll with it and move on.”

    He looks around at the rest of the congregation and sees a lot of happy, smiling faces, all looking to wish the best towards the happy couple.

    Ajay looks over at the ceremony beginning to form up, “You know, If you want someone to come sit next to you and hand hankies across as things go on, I’m happy to do so. Just let me know if you're going to object, so I can sit on you.”

    He looks back towards his long time partner in, well, many things. “Time to let him go, NIa. It was never meant to be. Be happy for him in his new life. I’ve seen enough vids of weddings where a calamitous ex makes a fool of herself. Then again, you’re not the type to throw yourself at the groom, more find some poor unsuspecting fool with a penchant for pretty ladies and make off with him.”

    Ajay can’t help grinning at her remembering several times that Nia has done precisely that, including one very boring event when he first met her. “Don’t worry, you still got plenty of friends to lean into if you need them. And If you’re still bored, always dangerous with you, I’ll introduce you to a few things that will have an impact and, yeah, I have a bucket of ice on standby.”

  23. #273
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    Kylah feels the buzz in her hand just as she spots the Captain approaching. She takes a swift look at her inbox, and the beautiful, bucolic image Velir sent her--and most of all, the implied invitation of his brief message.

    Glancing up to make sure no one is paying attention, she lets her thumbs fly to dash off a response to his Wish you were here....
    VELIR - Perhaps, if there is time after the ceremony--and if you do wish it--I could be? -- KYLAH
    She closes the communicator and, feeling a little guilty, tucks it back out of sight. As a guest she should remain attentive and thoughtful during this happy day in Lt. Graham's life. Still, she smiles inwardly and rubs her bare arms, now tingling with goose bumps at the prospect of being somewhere so lovely with Velir. At his request.

  24. #274
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    Nia has to shift her gaze quickly away from her friend, not wanting to show how disappointed, and even a little hurt, she is. He's been around long enough to know that when a woman asks a man how she looks, the blunt, unvarnished truth is rarely the right answer. But Ajay isn't just any man, and she knows that. She loves that. So she has no one but herself to blame for his not being willing to pacify or feed her ego.

    "Well. Gotta admit, that's... not the answer I wanted," she says, watching Singh move up to the groom-to-be. "But maybe it's the one I needed. You're right. Wasn't in the cards. Something always got in the way. That's why I don't actually know how 'good' he was. We hadn't even gotten that far..."

    She shrugs and, tilting her head in the direction of a couple of empty chairs, starts to lead him forward. When she reaches the first empty seat she realizes she'll have an unobstructed view of Booker. And vice versa. But the latter would only matter if he looks.

    He would've been good, she knows. Not just the way Ajay means. Book would've been good for her. But... again: didn't happen, won't happen.

    After sweeping her hand underneath her skirt, she sits down. "Of course I'll move on. I'm amazing at choosing options when there's only one left. As for the fools I can grab, unsuspecting or otherwise--yeah, I know, that's never been a problem. This just felt..."

    No sense finishing that sentence, so she just pats the seat beside her waiting for Ajay to park himself. Suddenly she sees another day just last week; another visit to this very floor. When he told her about Marala.
    Booker raises a fist, arm tense and trembling, wanting to lash out at something. He turns away, takes a deep breath, and then turns back to Nia, almost whispering: "If it...ah...if something should prevent me from serving on Yorktown in the future, I want you to know...you're as special as anyone has ever been to me, too, Nia."

    While Booker speaks, Nia's eyes widen, and her lips part in a deep breath. Once he's done--saying such humbling, loving things to her--she finally exhales. "Oh no... oh, Book..." She stares at his deep eyes and, briefly wordless, lifts his hand up for a tender kiss before leaning her cheek upon it.

    "First, thank you for that. I--I don't really know what to say." The misty, exotic scent of the room fills her lungs as she tries to find the right words. "You aren't going anywhere," she says firmly. "Or at least--if you go, I'll be right beside you. Because if you have to do anything--" Nia pauses. She steps closer to Book. "Whatever you need to do, I'll help."

    Nia looks intently at Book's strong, weathered face. She touches his cheek. "Promise me you won't do anything rash," she says, before lifting an eyebrow. "Which I define as anything you'd do without telling me. I want to help, if I can. Don't shut me out."
    Don't shut me out. Nia almost laughs at herself. So noble, so heartfelt. But she'd meant it. She wanted to help, and she did. And truth is, she'd do it again.

    She sighs. "The same biology that makes me unable to drink makes me unable to cry. Not much, anyway. So keep your hankie. But don't worry, I have no plans to wail and object. Although if you're offering a lapdance, I won't object to that, either." Nia leans over to kiss his cheek, murmurs a soft "Thanks, Aje". And--with a bright smile that might as well be a papier-mâché mask--turns to face the future that just one week ago, when Booker told her just how much she meant to him, she'd never have foretold.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 14 Nov 2021 at 07:30 PM.

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    "Please be seated," says the Captain, "and let us begin."

    As the crowd settles in, Mahmoud takes his place beside Graham, a few paces to the Captain's left.

    The Lyceum ensemble plays a stirring tune, and Nikolai comes down the aisle between the chairs, dressed in a dark civilian suit just his size. He looks nervous but dignified - as much as anyone his age can be - and is clearly glad to finally take his seat in the front row. Dr. Cobb is next, in a dark green dress; she comes down the aisle and stands to the Captain's right.

    Next comes Marala, on Jeremy Cornwall's arm. The old man is dressed similarly to Nikolai. Marala's dress is simple but beautiful. No frills, with nothing to be added or subtracted - just like her, and blue like her eyes, too, the groom thinks as he looks at her, almost transfixed. The dress hugs somewhat more pronounced curves than she had back in the day, when she and Booker were teenagers, but it is unmistakable. Booker recognizes it as her prom dress, or something very similar to it, from what he thought had been their last date, long ago. She carries a bouquet of perfect lilies, taken from the Arboretum less than half an hour earlier, and is beaming with happiness. When she and Cornwall stand before the Captain, he kisses the bride on the cheek, smiles at Graham and gently places her hand in his before sitting next to Nikolai. The music draws to a sweet close.

    Capt. Singh smiles at the bride and groom and then looks out into the shining faces of the crowd. The Arboretum is by now quite full; many more of the Yorktown's crew are watching shipwide over the comm system. She clears her throat and says, "Since the days of Earth’s first wooden sailing ships, all captains have enjoyed the happy privilege of joining two people in the bonds of matrimony. And so it is my honor to unite you, Marala Gromov, and you, Lt. (Junior Grade) Booker Graham, in marriage. I do so in the sight of your shipmates and friends, and in accordance with our many customs and beliefs, so that you may pledge your love and fidelity to one another. Today, even as we remember those so recently lost on Novy Rostov, we come together to celebrate this happy occasion, and the beginning of a life together for two people unexpectedly but joyously reunited after many years apart." She consults her book. “The bride and groom have written their own vows, consistent with, and drawing from, the traditions of their homeworld of Earth.”
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 20 Nov 2021 at 09:07 PM.

  26. #276
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    So much flashes fast and furiously in Graham's mind: there was a time when the two things I hoped for most, and despaired of ever having, were a commission in Starfleet and Marala at my side.

    And yet in between then and now, I loved a wife, lost a wife...and Marala lost a husband.

    He's grateful the Captain is calling the shots, because he's overwhelmed--by the thought of Marala and Nikolai being left behind on the colony.

    It's never more clear that was not going to happen--if it cost me everything. How could it have been a possibility for a moment...

    That doesn't matter, Booker, he reminds himself. It's in the past.

    And YOUR past doesn't matter either--it's all about doing right by Marala and Nikolai. And Lizzie. Doing better by her.

    Appreciate the moment, you idiot, he tells himself. You loved--love--Marala. And for some reason this beautiful strong woman loved--and loves--you.

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    Kylah leans forward attentively to hear all of the Captain's preamble and, especially, the couple's vows. She is now not certain when Lt. Graham wishes her to play the song, as there was no opportunity during the processional after all. But she trusts that he will give her a bit of a warning when the time is near. Kylah frowns, trying to recall the traditions of a secular marriage ceremony so she can guess when a song would be appropriate. Perhaps while they exchange the rings?

    Though the prospect of marriage is not a pleasant one for Kylah herself, she can see what a beautiful notion it is when undertaken by people who are actually in love. She releases a contented little sigh and continues to watch.

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    The bride and groom turn to face one another and take both of each other’s hands as Singh reads, “The union of a husband and wife in heart, body and mind is intended by the Creator of the Universe for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort they may thus give one another in time of adversity; for sexual and emotional fulfillment; and for the creation and nurturing of children, when such is the will of the Creator and of those entering into this most holy joining. Therefore, marriage is not to be entered into hastily, or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the principles for which it was established long ago. Into this sacred union our friends Marala and Booker now come.”

    She looks up. “If anyone has just cause why they should not be lawfully married, speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

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    They really use the 'does anyone object' part? Nia almost laughs. She thought it was a dramatic device used by old films. She can't think of what would cause someone to voice an objection in the middle of a wedding. Why wait until the last possible moment? If Nia had objections, she'd make 'em clear as soon as possible.

    But she hadn't even objected when Book told her that no, this wasn't just a fake wedding used as an excuse to save Marala's life. Apparently during the interim between Nia's having suggested it, her hours in confinement and then on Bridge watch, and finally her bumping into him in the corridor outside Security, he'd gone and made a huge life decision. He and Marala were truly in love, presumably always had been, and this was the Real Thing.

    Nia had five seconds to process this and, maybe because she was shocked or defiant or proud, she just congratulated him. No big deal. Said a few casual things she barely remembers and then got the hell away from there.

    She sits still now, doesn't blink or shift or even breathe. Just maintains her pleasant, calm facade and stares at Booker's face while waiting for this whole fucking thing to be over.

  30. #280
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    Ajay sits quietly next to NIa as the ceremony continuing, trying to keep focus on the couple up front, but his mind keep wandering around looking at the people even as his ears keep listening in. In general, most of the people here seems rapt in attention as if they have never seen a wedding before. A few dabbed eyes, a few noses blown, a few people thinking like him and waiting for the reception to open.

    Then his ears pick up the vows and he side-eyes across to Nia, seeing her sat still and unmoving with more than a hint of granite in her face. If she plays poker, she could bluff anything on that face.

    At the call for just cause ringing out from the captain, Ajay reaches a hand out and wraps it around her upper arm, not as a way to stop her leaping up, he knows she is far better than that, but as a gesture of solidarity at what she is losing at this moment in time.

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    The Captain looks around, Cmdr. Vargas raises an eyebrow, and the half-serious glare which Mahmoud turns to the crowd elicits a few chuckles, but the room is otherwise silent.

    Singh continues, “Very well. Marala, willingly, freely and by your most solemn vow, do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in the covenant of marriage? Do you swear to love him, to comfort and honor him, forgiving him when he errs; in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer; and, forsaking all others, to be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?”

    The bride smiles at Graham, a sweet, shy smile that reminded him in spades that this was once the person with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. “I do,” she says, and squeezes his hands.

    Singh turns to Graham. “Booker, willingly, freely and by your most solemn vow, do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together in the covenant of marriage? Do you swear to love her, to comfort and honor her, forgiving her when she errs; in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer; and, forsaking all others, to be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?”

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    At her friend's warm, supportive touch, Nia leans just slightly toward him, a micron closer, allowing the comfort because she needs it. Really, this is worse than she expected, every word by the Captain and now Marala herself sinking into her gut like depth charges striking her with a shocking thud.

    "Forgiving him when he errs," Nia hears, and swallows with difficulty, her throat so tight it's painful. Like when he calls you 'Jane' after a night in your arms, for example. Or was that just me? So forgettable, just a placeholder between the great loves of his life?

    Nia takes a deep breath and exhales. Almost done now.

  33. #283
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    The words "as long as you both shall live" hurt.

    A momentary white hot lance of pain knifing through his gut. Jane took that vow. I took that vow with--for--her.

    But it passes, with--at most--a slight wince, he thinks, maybe an little involuntary twitch of his hands.

    Maybe this is a shot a redemption. Maybe this my chance to repay Marala for all she did for me when we were kids and I was--a mess. A different mess than I've been since, but one that might not have made it out of adolescence in any kind of a good way.

    Despite the momentary invocation of painful memories, he doesn't want a drink.

    He wants to say "yes."

    He glances down at their entwined hands, and then comes back hold Marala's eyes.

    I'm so much stronger than I was, then.

    He returns her squeeze, gently but firmly.

    "I do, Captain."

  34. #284
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    Marala is close to tears - happy ones, Graham can tell - but she does not cry.

    Singh nods to the bride's friend and maid of honor, Dr. Denise Cobb, who steps forward and faces the crowd.

    In a clear voice, glancing now and then at a small book in her hand, she says, "A reading from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians: 'If I speak in the tongues of people and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I was grown, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.'"



    On the planet below, Rangin sees someone else approaching, coming through the woods along the hillside trail.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 20 Nov 2021 at 10:48 PM.

  35. #285
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    Relaxing on the hillside, Rangin lowers the binoculars he had been using for spotting the animals in the area and looks across at the person coming up the trail.

    While they are in the area, the animals will certainly be hiding until they have passed, given their obviousness to the surroundings.

    Too early for Kylah, probably some more walkers on the path, he thinks to himself as he raises the binoculars once again to get an early view of who they might be.

  36. #286
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    Kylah wraps her arms around her middle, hugging herself as she listens to the beautiful speech. Much, but not all, is familiar--she must have read it either at the Academy or during her private tutelage back home, where she focused on learning Federation Standard and human culture. She has to correct her earlier speculation--this is not a secular ceremony after all, given this passage and the earlier reference to a Creator. This surprises her, as she does not picture Lt. Graham as religious. Of course, the service might have been requested by Mrs. Gromov. Almost Mrs. Graham now.

    She closes her eyes to commit to memory the lines that she found particularly moving. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

    Patience. Kindness. Protection. Will anyone love her in such a way?

    Trust. Hope. Perseverance. Will she ever exhibit such qualities? Ever be brave enough to exhibit them? Or choose the right person with whom to exhibit them?

    When she sees a mental image of Velir's face, she opens her eyes. That is impossible. They are friends, yes, perhaps a little more, but he would never... no. It is impossible.

    Even if it were possible for him to have such faith in her, she will not let herself dream of making such a commitment to him or any man. Not of her own choice. Not until she is no longer under her uncle's guardianship. Fourteen months more.

    Kylah watches the couple with admiration--how much they have been through and suffered, to find each other again!--and, just as strongly, yearning. With no religious belief, certainly none in any benevolent creator or greater power, she cannot pray. But she hopes with all her heart that the passage's final words are true, and that she will somehow fulfill them.

    Love never fails.

  37. #287
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    When the speech starts and it turns out to be related to one of the human tribal faiths, Nia zones out and can't help a quick visual survey of the Arboretum crowd. Many seem mesmerized. Kylah, for one, looks ready to burst into rapturous applause. And if she keeps leaning over, she's gonna burst herself right out of that ridiculous neckline.

    This possibility raises a tiny smile. Now that'd certainly take attention away from the lovebirds.

    Despite Nia's irreverent thoughts, the woman's speech slowly breaks through her disinterest. The repetition, that's what gets her. It's a cleverly crafted text, beautifully achieving its purpose of hammering home one singular, sentimental message.

    If, back at the Academy, Nia had been assigned to write something wholly, utterly foreign, something to express notions that are downright anathema to Sidonian culture... well, she'd do a terrible job, she's no poet or any artsy type. But Nia wouldn't need anything original, 'cause this speech would be dead on. Even ignoring the language barrier, no Sidonian--or at least none in the Ve region, Nia's homeland--would comprehend a single word.

    Unfortunately, Nia does. And all she hears is: Without love, you mean nothing. You are nothing.

    She could lead a mission and save thousands of lives; she could discover new civilizations and introduce them to the wonders of the universe; she could be lauded as the best pilot in the Alpha Quadrant; she could--as she did-- have as many children as her body could produce in eight short years, performing the most treasured, most sacred act of her people.

    But she's alone. And here, on this ship among a population of nearly a thousand who are nothing like her and who literally breathe different air, that's what matters.

    Of course Ajay next to her doesn't think that way; Nia knows that. Some of the others, too, probably many. Still, this litany of reminders slamming toward her one by one... it seems almost hostile. Dangerous. She's trying to navigate a deadly asteroid field in a shuttle with shields at 10% and fried thrusters.

    She sits back as if bracing for impact, frozen but inwardly screaming at herself in contempt. It's an ancient made-up myth like Sid'Os, just pretty words written who-knows-how-many millennia ago. It's not about me. Or about me and Book, I didn't even know him that long, and obviously not as well as I thought. So why am I such a mess, I shouldn't be reacting like this, what the fuck is going on?

    To the crew she stays as serene as a sated dezora lying on a sun-baked rock. But the asteroids are tearing the shuttle apart and Nia Onn has no idea how to escape.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Nov 2021 at 06:41 PM.

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    Singh says, “Will those of you witnessing this ceremony do all in your power, with love, truth and reason, to uphold Marala and Booker in their marriage? If so, please say 'We will.'”

    Virtually everyone says loudly, “We will!!!”

    The Captain then nods to Mahmoud, who produces two simple gold rings. Singh raises a hand and says, “Bless these rings, O great and infinite Creator, that they may be signs of the vows by which Marala and Booker have bound themselves to each other in love, now and forever.”

    The couple places the rings on each other’s fingers. Singh says, “Mr. Graham, you may kiss the bride.” She grins. “That’s an order.”



    Rangin sees that two unfamiliar humanoid aliens are approaching. They both appear to be male. Each is dressed in oddly stiff-looking clothing and carries a metal pole or walking stick; one also has a backpack of sorts.

  39. #289
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    It takes Graham a second to process the reality of what's happening...

    It was only Nia, so recently, that made me think I might fall in love again.

    And now I'm marrying the first woman who made me feel I could be a man worthy of love.

    To save her life, and that of her--as I failed to do for the mother of my daughter.

    What's gone can't come back, Booker.

    What's here is your chance to do right by a beautiful woman and soul.

    When Marala had romantic overtures toward him on the colony, he had demurred.

    Not any more.

    He bends and gives her a kiss that's gentle but insistent enough to try to convey that's where he now stands.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 26 Nov 2021 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Gender fix for Graham's offspring

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    A rush of warm and pleasant feelings suffuses Kylah's heart, so happy for the couple after losing so much. Hurriedly she picks up the lute, concerned that she might have missed the opportunity to play the song Lt. Graham wished. Now seems to be an appropriate time, she hopes, and softly begins to play Greensleeves.

    Given the joyful moment of this kiss, she makes a quick judgement call to start at the middle section before returning to the more melancholic part of the tune. Also, she decides not to sing. First, because she is not the focus of this event and would not want to draw attention from where it belongs. But mostly, the beginning lyrics are not appropriate for the event. The object of the singer's adoration has 'cast him off discourteously,' obviously not returning his love. Hardly descriptive of the newlyweds.

    Amid almost universal gladness in the surrounding crowd, Kylah cannot help noticing one jarringly out-of-sync emotional reaction--pain is the closest way to describe it. The feelings are too diffuse, and the feelings of delight around her are too powerful, to identify the source. Of course she continues playing--the lovely song is quite simple for her--but darts her gaze around to see if anyone needs help.

    Curiously, despite the strength of the emotion, strong enough to reach Kylah in a fairly crowded audience, she can see no one in visible distress. A good sign, she supposes, although the feeling remains, like a dissonant note in an otherwise perfectly harmonious chorus.

    She refocuses on the music and the lucky married couple before her.

  41. #291
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    Walkers, Rangin thinks to himself, probably following the same trail that he did to get up to this lovely spot.

    He turns back to the view in front of him and looks back around to see if he can catch a glimpse of more of the wildlife.

  42. #292
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    Marala returns Graham's kiss with definite enthusiasm. When they both came up for air, to general merriment and shouts of encouragement, the Captain, smiling, quiets the crowd. “Just a little bit more to go, please, everyone.” She reads from her book, “As Booker and Marala have here given themselves to each other by solemn vows, by the joining of hands and the exchange of rings, I now declare, by the authority vested in me by Starfleet Command and the United Federation of Planets, that they are husband and wife. May the Eternal Guardian of us all, the God of all Earth and the vast and boundless Universe beyond, bless and keep them, both now and forevermore. Those whom the Creator has joined together, let no one put asunder. Amen.”

    “Amen,” Vargas and many others in the assembled crowd say. Singh snaps her book shut, confetti flies, Kylah's lovely tune is more or less drowned out (although not before Marala blurts out with obvious delight, "Oh, Boojee, you remembered!"), and the crowd surges forward to congratulate the newlyweds. Mahmoud is second only to the Captain in embracing Graham and kissing the radiantly-smiling bride; Nikolai is not far behind.



    Rangin sees a small flock of birds about a kilometer to the northeast; with his binoculars, he identifies them Jefford's sparrows, a somewhat common native species. The two aliens reach him and stop; they do not seem winded from their climb. One bows slightly and says in a calm, rather flat voice, "Hello, friend. Enjoying your day, yes?" The Coridanite xenobiologist doesn't recognize their species: they are each pale blue, hairless, with a prominent cranial ridge and irregular, dark-blue markings on both face and throat. They have what appear to be ear slits set well back on either side of their heads.

    The aliens look like this guy, of a species as yet unnamed on ST: https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Grathon_Tolar
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 27 Nov 2021 at 05:36 PM. Reason: added Marala's reaction to Kylah's tune

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    Kylah smiles as the celebration begins, especially when Marala expresses her surprise about Greensleeves. Music is such a vital aspect of memories of all kinds, good or bad, and it is clear Lt. Graham evoked some happy, meaningful experience from their past.

    But Kylah can hardly hear herself, and she knows she is superfluous. Drawing the song to a close, she returns it to its case with great care. I do not even remember who gave this Lt. Thalen for me to borrow. She wonders if that person is here now; she really should thank them.

    After snapping the case shut, she stands and watches the couple's friends offering their congratulations. Her hands massage each other absently while she glances around for someone friendly--perhaps Lt. Thalen, Mr. Alvarez or Ens. Sasok, with whom she was able to assist in fixing that errant exploration probe and they had some nice rapport. Or Dr. T'var, she must be here if not on duty. Kylah would rather be sociable than walk through the crowd alone. Still, while she continues to look, she joins the line so she, too, can congratulate the couple.

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    Kylah does not spot Thalen or Alvarez in the noisy crowd. Ens. Sasok is across the Arboretum, talking to Lt. Cmdr. Roble and a gaggle of other Science personnel. Dr. T'Var is not far from them, smiling at something Dr. Villa is saying to her. Kylah recognizes a bearded young officer, also in Science blue, approaching her: Ens. Frederick Mayhew, the ship's new geologist, whom she met not long ago. He comes up to her, a big smile on his face. "That was a beautiful tune, Kylah. What was it? I didn't recognize it, although I probably should."

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    Rangin looks across at the two walkers and his eyes light up at the new species in front of him and he really wishes he has a tricorder about now, as he starts making mental notes of their appearance and wondering where they had come from or if there were any other spacefaring species they were closely related to.

    “Good day to you both and yes, it’s a lovely day indeed with a beautiful view. If you don’t mind me asking, have you travelled far?”

    Suddenly missing out on Graham’s nuptials is the good option.

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    Kylah smiles at Mr. Mayhew. They shared a pleasant albeit brief breakfast earlier in the week--breakfast for him, lunch for her. She cannot actually be certain he found it as pleasant, since she was exhausted and barely sentient after yet another double watch.

    She thanks him for the compliment. "It is called 'Greensleeves.' From your sixteenth century, I believe. The sixteenth century," she corrects herself. How odd, it has been a long time since she made an error regarding the Terran (and thus mostly Starfleet-standard) century system. "Lt. Graham said it was a special song to him and Ms. Gro--Mrs. Graham."

    With another smile, Kylah glances at Mr. Graham. "He would be delighted to have heard me use that name. Of course by now many people have probably repeated it to him... perhaps to the point of excess. Though I doubt there is such a thing as 'excess' to either of them, on that front."

    An amused little shrug brings her focus back to Mr. Mayhew. "Have you been to many marriage ceremonies, Mr...." No, he has used her name casually; she has not yet done so, but she reciprocates with a slightly tentative, "Frederick?"

    "

  47. #297
    In the Galley Ajay's avatar
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    “Boojee?” Ajay whispers quietly to Nia trying not to chuckle, “I didn’t know that one. Did you know?”

    He remains seated next to her watching the rest of the crowd surge forward and while he can appreciate the elation of the rest of the group, someone needs to, if not watch out for Nia because she’s a big girl and can take care of herself, provide a little support and such like to get her through this because Nia watching her lover of a few days ago marrying his childhood sweetheart - just because she is there - is going to be on one of those top-ten lists of worst life moments ever.

    “You holding up ok?” he asks slightly more seriously this time, waiting to see how she is reacting to the hubbub around.

  48. #298
    Oliphaunt SidonianGal's avatar
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    The kiss is everything Nia feared. She watches dully and applauds just as dully. She's just noticed music coming from somewhere when the bride exclaims in joy.

    Nia blinks in disbelief and feels a swell of... something. Humor? Not really. But also not... not humor. Somehow that makes sense to her.

    Feeling like one of the dozen curious xenobiologists who virtually swarmed around her as soon as she stepped onto her first Class M-based starship--examining her, studying her, except now she's the one doing the objective viewing of herself--she turns to Ajay to respond to his questions.

    "Thanks. I'm okay." Rising, she smooths her skirt, then waits for him to join her in line. When he does, she adds under her breath, "Maybe a little better now that I realize he's gonna have to hear that ridiculous nickname for the rest of his life."

  49. #299
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    The alien who had not spoken before says to Rangin, "We have come up from the city, friend. A most pleasant walk, yes." They both look very attentively at Rangin. It is almost but not quite creepy.

    Mayhew says, "Oh, God, yes. I've heard that reading from Corinthians at least a million times. I have four older sisters and so many big cousins that I probably averaged three weddings a year before I joined Starfleet. Too much of a good thing sometimes, y'know - not so many since, fortunately. How about you?"

    Graham and his new bride are still surrounded by lots of happy, smiling people. The noise has now died down somewhat, and the Lyceum ensemble resumes playing.

  50. #300
    Administrator choie's avatar
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    Kylah is impressed by the experience of having so many siblings and cousins to share such celebrations. "This is only my second. My cousin Elaan was married less than a year ago. She is now Queen of Troyius, our neighbor planet. The ceremony was...very different."

    She pauses, taking in the greenery, unusual and sweet-smelling flowers, along with the warm lamps that tend to them all; the exquisite music, including the song that was deeply meaningful to the bride and groom; the casual ease of the ceremony itself. And above all, the couple.

    They do love each other. Kylah cannot quite pinpoint the exact flavor of their connection--that of deep friends, or nostalgic childhood sweethearts, or the deep abiding relationship that has been nurtured from a seed to a blossom, weathering storms as well as sunny days. The sort I would wish, with a husband, she thinks with a yearning rarely indulged in.

    Something tells her that the Grahams do not quite have this--not yet. Theirs is a connection that began so long ago, was quickly extinguished, separated into two separate lifetimes, and now abruptly rekindled. But they can develop the other, deeper love in
    time.

    Regardless, the entire service, with all the natural beauty, high-spirited friends and colleagues, deeply felt spiritual passages, and mutually loving couple--it could not have been more different from Elaan's ceremony. Kylah expresses this to Mr. Mayhew, as tactfully as possible. "Marriage is not...sentimental," she says. "If you were to attend a wedding, you might find it closer to watching a theater production. Or a sports competition."

    Noticing that things are slightly calmer, Kylah nods toward the reception line. "I should like to speak with them. Would you join me? Oh.. I am sorry, perhaps you prefer to enjoy the food and drinks. I do not want to presume you'd wish to speak with them, if you do not know Lt. Graham very well."

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