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Oddas Aria

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Posts posted by Oddas Aria


  1. ((OOC - a couple things before we get started: (1) This is in no way connected to our current mission, plot, or story. For the new folks, the [BELOW] tag is something we've been trying out to give players the chance to write off-duty/non-mission-related posts in order to flesh out their character, build descriptions of the ship, etc. (2) This JP is one that Justin and I have been working on for about 2 months now as a special Halloween treat for you all. We hope you enjoy it! (3) It uses the old format, but as we haven't formally adopted the new one until Friday, I pray your indulgence. Now, please enjoy PART ONE!!))

     

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    ((USS Eagle, Deck 3 - outside room 332, Quentin Collins’ room [stardate 239610.31 - Quentin's birthday]))

     

    ::Kayla paced in front of Quentin’s door in what she felt was a very impractical dress. She couldn’t figure out why she was so nervous. She’d been preparing this surprise for her friend for weeks now, and was SURE everything was perfect. She knew the details were just right - that had to be priority one. Quentin would know if anything was out of place. Of course he would be too considerate to say if anything was wrong, but she knew, given how much of a classic horror buff he was, that if anything was off … well, she’d done a ridiculous amount of research in preparing this surprise, so everything was as good as it could possibly be.::

     

    ::She came to a stop, still facing down the corridor toward her own quarters. Charlie had Katya over tonight for a sleep-over, so by now they’d probably be giggling about … something. It wasn’t too late for Kayla back out. She could just contact Quen and say she was tired. Or that she wanted to keep an eye on the girls. Or … something. oO Coward. Oo Turning, she faced the door. With a shaking hand, she pressed the intercom button. The answer came almost immediately.::

     

    Collins: Come in!

     

    ::Entering the room, Kayla saw Collins dressed in a 3-piece suit from late 19th Century western Europe. The stark black contrasted nicely with the starched, high-collared shirt he wore under his vest.::

     

    ::Quentin Collins was all about an occasion to dress, but he usually liked to know the reason that way he could keep an eye on the social horizon as it were. The whole thing reminded him of one of Mother’s themed costumed affairs, but there was no way Kay could know about those horrors. As she entered, he was fussing with his sleeve cuffs.::

     

    Collins: Hey, are you sure about these costumes? I mean, you look fine, but I feel like I’m being strangled by a very weak person right now.

     

    Drex: ::chuckling:: Yes, they’re a must. I don’t know what YOU’RE complaining about. You’re not wearing a bodice.

     

    Collins: ::He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it into a tight smile.:: Touche.  Fair enough. So what’s this all about?

     

    ::A mischievous smile pulled at the corners of Kayla’s painted lips. For some reason it made Quentin the fun kind of nervous.::

     

    Drex: You’ll see. I’m not ruining your birthday surprise by telling you what it is before you’ve even opened it!

     

    ::The look on his face was priceless. She almost laughed out loud, but was enjoying the feeling of having the upper hand, so she fought the urge.::

     

    Drex: What? Did you think I didn’t know? What kind of department head do you take me for, Mister Collins?

     

    ::To say his birthday was a sore subject with him would have been the understatement of the century and it would take twice as long to get into it fully with her. But now he was free and in open waters, as it were. What was to stop him from finally taking it back. He pulled down his suddenly very comfortable topcoat. And snapped up to look at his friend.::  

     

    Collins: Ok, Chief. Lead the way.

     

    ((Deck 6 - Holodeck 1))

     

    ::The pair had drawn some raised eyebrows on their trek down to the holodeck, but no one had actually asked about their odd choices of off-duty attire. Now they stood in the familiar setting of yellow grid on black.::

     

    Drex: Ready?

     

    Collins: You know I am. Kay, what IS this?

     

    Drex: ::ignoring her friend’s question:: Computer, load program “Drexula” and hold visuals at time index 0.01.

     

    ::The change was nearly instantaneous. The grid vanished from the walls, floor, and ceiling, changing to a scene completely different. That much typical in the holodeck. Kayla’s special touches to this program however, was a strange hum. It was everywhere yet nowhere but in their ears.::

     

    ::It felt like a light crackling for a second between Quentin’s ears. He worked his jaw a second and felt instant relief. It was like diving a bit too quickly, but the steady hum still buzzed through his mind pleasantly.::

     

    Collins: What’s that hum?

     

    Drex: It’s binaural tones. Back in the early 21st Century, there was something of a craze with them. The science behind them is essentially that they can alter the listener's brainwaves. I wanted this particular simulation to be more … immersive than others. Don’t worry too much though, you shouldn’t even notice the sounds after about two or three minutes.

     

    ::Quentin just stared, now starting to get the less fun kind of nervous. But the Chief seemed to have everything well in hand. Kayla was pleased that he seemed to appreciate the extra effort this took. Realistically, the setting and plot were simple enough. Syncing the binaural stimulus was the real tricky part.::

     

    ::Now that the binaural shock had passed, it was time to begin. They looked around at their surroundings. They were in a small village or hamlet nestled in a rather austere but lovely range of sharp mountains. Kayla knew them to be the Carpathians, but now was not the time to play the tour guide. A man whose face was so weathered it masked his age with great alacrity walked briskly up to them. His billowing pant legs, tucked into the tops of his tall boots, made a swishing sound with each step. As he drew closer, he stretched out a leathery hand in stiff but genial greeting.::

     

    Popescu: Welcome! You must be the visitors I was told of. I am Popescu Alexandru.

     

    Drex: ::whispering to Collins:: Surname first. You should say hi first. Patriarchy, and all that.

     

    ::Quentin shuffled awkwardly up to the man, still trying to drink in all the details of their new setting. It was painfully familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it yet. He would get there eventually, but first he had to get through this interaction first.::

     

    Collins: Oh, aye. The name is  Collins from up London way and this is my...secretary Miss Drex. Assigned by the firm, you know how it is. But she does good work! Well, her knees are going but STILL!

     

    ::He winked over in Kayla’s direction, relishing the sudden pointed scowl she wore. She may have put all this amazing time and effort into this whole charade, but that wasn’t going to stop him having a BIT of fun with her.::

     

    Popescu: Good, good! Yes, I run the inn right up the road, I received word three days ago there would be two visitors. Tell me, what brings you to our quiet village?

     

    ::Kayla stepped up to deliver her line, all but shoving Quentin out of the way to do so.::

     

    Drex: We have been invited by the local count has invited us to the castle for the weekend.

     

    ::Alexandru’s face turned ash gray so fast, Kayla thought for a second it could have been a glitch in the program. When he crossed himself though, she knew everything was still working properly.::

     

    ::Quentin [...]ed an eyebrow at the sudden display of ancient superstition. Excitement started to rise in his throat. He had a sneaking suspicion as to where they were now. He felt stupid he didn’t get it sooner.:: 

     

    Propescu: M-may I ask … forgive me, but … why would you go to the castle?

     

    Drex: It’s old, we’re curious, and vampires are just a superstition? What more reason do we need?

     

    ::Propescu Alexandru crossed himself again at the word “vampire,” and muttered something under his breath the program didn’t bother interpreting. Kay shot him a look again, telegraphing his cue. He beamed and stepped back onto “center stage” through the packed mud of the old way street. Clearing his throat to speak, he tried to do his best impression of his dad. All business.::

     

    Collins: We have been invited by the Count as potential investors in a looming property deal, good sir. We haven’t the time to faff about with ancient superstitions. Please, sir, my associate and I are weary, if you won’t cart us to the Castle, surely you can provide us rooms for the night. We have coin to pay.

     

    ::He shrugged a bit toward Kayla, assuming if she took the time to detail all this, surely she gave them some kind of walking around money.:: 

     

    Propescu: I regret that I have no rooms for to offer you on this evening.

     

    Drex: ::noticing his English grew worse with his agitation:: I thought … didn’t you just say you’d been told before that guests would be coming, and that you had made preparations?

     

    Propescu: ::looking mildly ascanse at being called out by a woman:: That was a mistake of my own. It has just returned to my mind that those rooms were taken by two other visitors - doubtless the ones about which I was alerted. My deepest apologies.

     

    ::Kayla looked at Quentin with a not entirely affected look of annoyance, but shrugged. She’d built in several layers of adaptive programming in this programming. The characters would respond not only to direct stimuli, but to stimuli generated by interactions resulting from the responses of less visible interactions. Right now, it seemed that this innkeeper, with all his words of welcome, was longer interested in playing host - however temporary - to those that had been summoned by the count.::

     

    Drex: Well then, is there a carriage or cart we can hire to take us to the castle early?

     

    Propescu: That may be difficult to arrange, but I will talk to some associates of mine to see what can be done for you. Please take in the sights of our village while you wait.

     

    ::Quentin huffed, leaning a bit more into the character he was playing with in the early moments of their holo-adventure. The Chief looked like she was having fun too, but he couldn’t help but notice a ripple of annoyance through her face. Was the program not giving up narrative like it should be? That innkeeper certainly turned about weirdly after she mentioned The Count. But that was all part of the fun for Quentin. He knew for sure (mostly maybe) where they were now. Now the real fun of testing the boundaries of the narrative could start.:: 

     

    Collins: Good DAY, sir.

     

    ::He turned away from the now trembling man and finally allowed himself to absorb the rest of the details of their surroundings::

     

    ::The scenery was indeed extremely picturesque. The thatched-roof buildings that lined the streets bore brightly-colored shingle signs advertising a variety of services. A butcher, cobbler, hooper, blacksmith, and several others were among those that lined the main, cobblestone road. Off this way, there were smaller buildings, doubtless the homes of the tradesmen and women that ran these businesses. Though modest, the hamlet appeared to be comfortably prosperous. Nestled between two large mountains, Kayla supposed they were sheltered from the worst of inclement weather conditions. The flora of the immediate region boasted delicate but hardy greenery, mostly short and scrubby. Looking further, around the cluster of buildings, Kayla noted that there were no old growth trees near the town, even though the lower rises of the surrounding mountains were carpeted by trees so ancient they bore heavy mantles of lichen and thick mosses. It was almost as though the people of this township were beating back the very landscape, and were content insofar that this waged war against nature was successful. It gave Kayla a momentary chill, but having no reason or inclination to dwell on such speculation, she brushed it aside as a thought bright on by the strange start to their adventure.::

     

    Drex: Well, it looks like we have a little time before we leave here. What are you in the mood for? Shopping? Sightseeing?

     

    ::He turned an instant about face toward his friend with a huge smile on his face. He held out his hands to her.::

     

    Collins: I just have one question. And I really need you to be honest with me.

     

    Drex: Always. What’s your question?

     

    Collins: Is this Dracula? Did you make me a whole Dracula thing?

     

    ::Kayla looked at Quentin somewhat coyly.::

     

    Drex: I’m not saying it’s not, but at the same time … not exactly? It’s based on the book, but I’ve set this some time before Jonathan Harker’s visit. In other words, we’re us - visiting the count per his invitation. ::suddenly nervous that she’d spoiled the present:: Does that sound ok?

     

    ::Quentin instinctively clasped her hands and started to, for lack of a better term, freak the eff out, bouncing on the balls of his feet still with his friend’s hands comfortably clasped in his own. His whole history with gifts was horribly spotty, but this? This was…::

     

    Collins: This is everything, Kayla truly. Thank you thank you thank you. Also I’m sorry if I got mud on your dress.

     

    Drex: ::laughing:: No, the dress is fine. I’m so glad you like the program, but it’s only just started! Wait till you see … wait, no. You’ll see.

     

    ::He unlatched her hands and started to whirl around the village. The detailing of the whole thing was almost intoxicating. Once Quentin found his bearings he started to try and take in the finer details. He spied a few of the more homely structures occupied, faint fires burning behind the curtains. But as he started to look at them, and the peeking occupants found therein, they snapped the curtains back shut as if trying to ward them away.

     

    Quentin thought it was a nice touch.::

     

    Collins: I’m guessing it isn’t just Propescu that’s scared…

     

    ::Almost as if on cue, a wicked crack of lightning split the darkness of the sky, casting a pallid shadow over the village momentarily. Quentin’s skin goose-pimpled instantly and another grin split his lips.::  

     

    ((Short timeskip))

     

    ::The jangle of tack and the clopping of horses’ hooves announced to Kayla and Quentin that their ride had arrived. Turning, Kayla caught her first glimpse of the driver. He wore a billowing rough (but immaculately white) linen shirt, laced up the front instead of buttons for closures. On his legs he wore deerskin trousers tucked into his tall boots, and atop his head sat a very wide-brimmed hat. All-in-all, she assessed him to be an experienced and capable coachman.::

     

    ::When the cart stopped only about a dozen feet from where the pair of scientists stood, the pair of horses motionless - eyeing the strangers, the coachman leapt nimbly from his seat, somehow missing the several mud puddles in the road. He had covered the distance in a trice, greeting them and offering his assistance.::

     

    Coachman: Welcome. My old friend Propescu tell me you are in need of transport to the castle. We must go quickly or not at all. I will not journey after nightfall.

     

    Drex: Why’s that?

     

    Coachman: There are wolves in the area … and worse.

     

    ::A beat passed while he considered the “worse,” but he did not elaborate. Instead, he shook himself and asked after any luggage they had and needed his help with. As neither Kayla nor Quentin had any, they were helped aboard the carriage, and the coachman whipped the horses into a brisk trot. In what felt like seconds, the tiny town was little more than a barely-distinguishable smudge in the otherwise unbroken landscape - impossible to spot unless you knew where to look.::

     

    Drex: ::to the coachman:: How far is it to the castle?

     

    Coachman: Approximately 4 hours’ at a gentle pace for the horses. Today we go a bit faster. I do not wish to be travelling late, though tonight I think it may be safer than other nights.

     

    Drex: Why’s that?

     

    ::It took the driver a full minute to respond to this. Kayla wasn’t sure if he was trying to formulate a response, overcoming the language barrier, or hiding something. When he finally spoke, it did nothing to assuage these fears.::

     

    Coachman: The dangers will be preoccupied.

    ::Quentin almost blanched at the comment. At first he was completely delighted by the off putting old-world detailing of the simulation. The mysticism, the ritual of it. It was some of the same things that drew him to his hometown’s lore.

     

    But then the odder instances started to bug him. And in the sort of anxiety inducing way, not into the “solve this puzzle” sort of way.  In the time it took them to hitch up to this coach and travel a ways, Quentin Collins decided he was going to start taking this seriously. Not that he wasn’t before mind you, since this was a dear and thoughtful gift from an even dearer and even more thoughtful friend.

     

    But even she seemed like something was off. And when the two of them worked a problem, the cosmos itself would reveal its secrets. He shifted across to Kayla’s seat, finally able to see the Coachman a bit. Raising his voice above the thundering hooves of the horses, he started prodding.::

     

    Collins: What could possibly preoccupy danger?

     

    Coachman: I’m afraid I do not understand.

     

    Collins: You said they would be preoccupied, what could occupy dangers? Something even more dangerous perhaps?

     

    ::a Sudden icy burst of wind shot through the carriage windows, catching Quentin right through the arms, where his topcoat sleeve met his vest. It chilled him to the bone, so much so he automatically tightened his leather gloves at the wrist. An ancient physical tic from back in Maine.

     

    Gazing out of the window at the rushing, seemingly endless woods whizzing past them along the path. He blinked against the biting wind. The dark seemed to...blink back. Dozens of blazing red eyes bared themselves through the woods. He blinked again and they remained. He felt his throat start to dry.::

     

    Collins: Kay...did you program this?

     

    Drex: Sort of?

     

    ::She wasn’t trying to be cryptic. It was the truth. She’d only programmed the parameters and constraints of the characters and environment of the simulation. After that, she let the AI drive the particulars. Not wanting to betray her own unease to Quentin, she shrugged in what she hoped was a nonchalant way.::

     

    Drex: I’m sure it’ll be fine. The safety protocols are in place.

     

    ::Still, the binaural tones (now completely forgotten consciously and no longer recognized by either of them) continued entwining their way into the minds of both Kayla and Quentin. The chill blast through the carriage window was accompanied by a shift in tone. The shift in tone was accompanied by a sensation deep in the most primitive corners of Kayla’s mind. There was a predator nearby, and her very survival depended on her staying alert.::

     

    ((timeskip - 2 hours later))

     

    ::The carriage came to a fairly abrupt halt in front of the massive, iron-banded, oaken-timber double doors as though the horses were loathe to stop moving. Even at a halt, they stamped their hooves and champed their bits, anxious to be moving away. The coachman leapt from his perch almost before the carriage had stopped moving, and was now holding the door open. It was less a gesture of civility than it was an unspoken plea for a quick exit. The two obliged, though something in them said it was the opposite direction they ought to be moving - back toward the town.::

     

    Coachman: ::driving away as soon as he was back in the seat:: Fare well. I will say a prayer for you both.

     

    ::Before they could answer, the coach had rattled away at a gallop, and was now out of the reach of their voices.::

     

    Drex: Well that was ominous.

     

    ::Quentin gave a snorting guffaw at Kayla’s stating of the obvious. He pulled his topcoat tighter around them as more wind howled through the trees and cobblestones of door stop they now stood upon. The stones looked impossibly old, matching the immaculately shone wood of the doors, which somehow looked older still. Quentin’s mind flashed quickly to The Old House, tucked away in the rising vines and brambles of the Collins Estate. That house scared him then and this one scared him now.

     

    Gooseflesh pimpled on the back of his neck. As if someone...or something was watching them.:: 

     

    Collins: Oh REALLY? Whatever gave you that idea? Now what?

     

    Drex: ::shrugging:: Shall we knock?

     

    ::It was of course, rhetorical. Kayla steeled her resolve fighting down the irrational urge to run after the carriage, and knocked three times loudly on the front door. They waited for an answer for a full minute before knocking again. Still no answer. Quentin tried then, pounding on the door as the fear of what it would mean to be locked out in the open at night settled into Kayla’s heart, chilling her to the bone.::

     

    ::As the sun sank below the crest of the western mountain ridge, the pair heard a heavy scraping sound from within - as though a great bolt were being drawn. Following that was the groaning creak of the massive hinges were brought into service. The ground around them was suddenly flooded with quavering yellow light from a candelabra held in the left hand of the tall man who had opened the door. The light was such a welcome sight to Kayla that she rushed forward toward it as though she were a moth.::

     

    ???: Good evening. I apologize for the delay. My … staff is otherwise detained. I am your host. Please do enter my home.

     

    ::Quentin carefully followed Kayla and their new host into the cavernous hall. It looked to be the height of opulence, if the whole hall wasn’t covered in thick, milky cobwebs. Quentin almost had to step around them as to not be tangled in them. Their host seemed to float through them with ease though, still holding aloft the ornate golden candelabra. As the light bathed them all, he got a closer look at the man’s clothing. Which was a perfectly put together old style tuxedo, adorned with a lavish, possibly silken cape clasped with a heavy jeweled clasp.

     

    But there was something about his eyes. Though his demeanor seemed warm and inviting, his eyes reflected...none of that. Instead they looked empty, vacuous...hungry almost. Quentin tried to shake away the feeling, clearing his throat and finally speaking.::

     

    Collins: T-Thank you for your hospitality…

    ???: It is my pleasure, I assure you. You have no doubt ascertained that I am the lord of this house. I am Dracula. ::not hesitating:: Please, my friends, leave any baggage you may have here, and it will be attended to. You must be hungry after your journey?

     

    ::In response to this suggestion, Kayla’s stomach made a sound somewhere between a cranky weasel and an annoyed stock investor. She looked briefly to Collins, then to their host.::

     

    Drex: I am actually.

     

    Dracula: Then let us not waste another moment. You will I pray, forgive me for not dining with you, but I have supped already, having business to attend to this evening.

     

    ::The elegant man led them to a long room off the main foyer (if in fact it could be called that - the proportions put some cathedrals to shame), where a banquet table lay waiting for them. Two places were lavishly set with covered dishes. These, their host lifted by his own hand, revealing a sumptuous feast of roasted meats, root vegetables, and a steaming soup that looked deeper and richer than anything Kayla had ever eaten. Her stomach gave another excited “gruggle” at the sight of it all.::

     

    Dracula: ::beckoning with a long-fingered hand for them to take the prepared seats:: Please come and eat to your hearts’ content. I will return when you have finished and show you to your rooms.

     

    ::And with that, the Count swept from the room, leaving Kayla and Quentin to the meal before them. She was famished, but Kayla hesitated, looking at her friend. Her conscious mind knew she was in the holodeck - that none of this was real, but the primitive parts of her brain were screaming at her. Some yet unforeseen danger or threat lurked within these walls. It couldn’t be the food though, right?::

     

    Drex: What do you think? Shall we eat?

     

    ::Quentin gave a hearty exhale of breath and picked up a yeasty and somehow still warm roll from the sumptuous spread.::

     

    Collins: I suppose we have to, right?

     

    ::Even though his mind told him that the only thing he was holding was a lovingly created patch of photons, the warmth and smell wafting off of it told another, more vivid story. It was almost intoxicating. He was about to give up the ghost and take a bite when he saw something else even more intoxicating. In an entirely different way.

     

    In the darkness of a room housed in the balcony above he saw three sets of gleaming, dreamy eyes. One a deep blue. The other a warm hazel. The last a glittering emerald. He started to open his mouth to speak, but he was...moving somehow. Floating almost, just above the dusty stonework of the flooring. As he got closer (though through no real will of his own), more and more smells replaced the musty odor of the main hall. Lilac, jazmine, and rosemary. He didn’t even notice when he crossed the threshold into the darkened room.

     

    He started to turn, seeing Kayla still standing a level below. He opened his mouth to speak but the door slammed shut before he could. Six strong hands then grabbed him roughly, pulling him into the void.::

     

    ::Kayla panicked. Quentin had just been … abducted? Captured? At any rate, she didn’t like to think what those three had ultimately in mind for her friend. She scanned the table in a fevered attempt to find something that could be used as a weapon.

     

    ::Grabbing a long, thin-bladed carving knife, she sprang from the table and sprinted in the direction her friend had been dragged.::

     

    Drex: QUENTIN!

     

    ::Her voice broke as she called out over and over. There was no sound for what seemed to her an eternity, but which was in reality, merely five seconds. At the far end of the dimly-lit hallway, Kayla heard the soft click of an old door latch catching. Without thinking, she turned and ran, gathering up her skirts as she went so she wouldn’t trip.

     

    ::When she reached the door, she grabbed at the handle. It was either stuck or locked. She banged on the heavy door with the butt of the knife, screaming for the door to be opened. She stopped abruptly though, when is swung smoothly on its hinge.

     

    ::What was even more alarming was the room she now saw. It was completely empty. She took one tentative step into the dark and drafty room. The gauzy curtains swayed gently in the draft from the partially opened window. This was the only movement in the room. Other than the dark, undulating fabric, the room seemed to resent her mobility.

     

    ::Thoughts of her friends peril tried to push their way into her mind, but Kayla was powerless to look away from the curtains … the Count. Had he been standing by the window the whole time? She didn’t remember seeing him when she first opened the door to the room.::

     

    Dracula: I trust you … dined well?

     

    Drex: ::dreamily:: Quite well. Thank you.

     

    ::The count moved smoothly - so smoothly in fact, it could have been called a glide - toward the young blonde woman.::

     

    Dracula: That is good. It would not do to have you … malnourished.

     

    Drex: ::Her head swimming:: You’re too kind.

     

    ::A yell from somewhere else in the castle snapped Kayla back to herself as effectively as a bucket of ice water. Before her still stood the striking form of her host, but now she was aware of the immediacy of the danger. She struck out with the knife still in her hand, but hit nothing but air. Smoke? Where the Count had been an instant before was now an already-dissipating cloud of black smoke. Kayla didn’t need to think twice. She turned on her heel and ran toward the sound of Collins’ voice.::

     

    ::Quentin wasn’t sure how much time had passed. An hour? A day? A week? There was only the women and the sickly sweet taste of their lips upon his. Though he was dragged into the darkness, soon the antechamber was bathed in an amber-gris glow. A glow that had eliminated from the lit braziers that lined the stone walls. The smell of fresh earth also cut through the intoxicating scents of the women.

     

    But it didn’t jibe the visuals of the chamber, which suggested that they were at least a few stories up. At least that’s what the gleaming moonbeams and pockmarked starry sky provided in evidence. As soon as he started to think about it, however, more lips were on his again, tossing his mind back down the dark well of passion. One that he assumed had been paved over long ago. The women seemed to speak with one voice, vibrating through his mind like a psychic drawl.::

     

    The Brides: Do you desire, Quentin Collins?

     

    ::He was momentarily stunned. He hadn’t spoken to them. Hell, he barely had a chance to speak. But his voice was parched with the earthy smell. Lips chapped with...repeated contact.::

     

    Collins: I...w-what’s happening?

     

    ::He was turned again, peering directly into the eyes of the amber haired woman, who seemed to be their...leader? Or at least the center of the triumvirate.::

     

    The Brides: Do you ache, Quentin Collins?

     

    ::Sudden cold bit through his now lessened layers. Somehow his topcoat and cravat had been shed and now his sleeves hung open, as well as his vest. He tried to button it back but it appeared that the buttons had been torn away. How? And Why?::

     

    Collins: I can’t….why can’t I feel my hands?

     

    ::He looked down, his fingertips were starting to turn blue and as sort of streaky liquid dripped from one...drip drip dropping...onto the stone floor. Which was at least twelve feet above him. He was free-floating, hands still exploring his body lewdly and in a way that made him increasingly uncomfortable.::

     

    The Brides: We can make you feel, Quentin Collins. Feel everything and nothing. Far more than the seer you pine for.

     

    Collins: What are you-

     

    ::He finally blinked hard and saw the liquid for what it actually was. Blood. HIS blood. Dripping from various punctures from around his arm...and neck...and chest. He looked up again and finally saw the women for what they really were. Monsters, with fangs bared, swimming amid gauzey, dusty nightclothes.

     

    Someone was screaming and Quentin thought it might have been him, but he couldn’t be sure. His head swam with the bloodloss and his sudden, hard drop to the stones below. The now hissing women whirled in mid-air about to bare down on him. Had it not been for the sudden entrance of the equally harried Kayla Drex, they would have surely swept him up again. She turned a confused eye to the floating women and back to him.::

     

    Drex: WHAT THE F-

     

    Collins: I DON’T KNOW!

     

    ::He quickly snatched one of the braziers off the wall and started to wield it drunkenly at the still advancing women.::

     

    Collins: I t-think I’ve had enough fun for one night, haven’t you?

     

    Drex: ::holding the carving knife out toward the three “women”:: Absolutely. Let’s get the heck out of here.

     

    ::They backed out of the room. It didn’t appear as though the women had followed - at least not as far as Kayla could see. There was no one chasing them through the halls of Castle Dracula, but each and every door they passed (and there were many in the ancient house) blew open as if some unseen pursuer was in an adjoining hall, and repeatedly wrenched door after door open, hoping to be just one step ahead.::

     

    ::Kayla and Quentin at last, in a flop sweat and both panting hard, gained the open air of the main foyer. This place, with its grand sweeping staircase had seemed so grand and rich. Now it felt cold, abandoned, dangerous - a trap now seen. Carefully but swift as hares, the duo raced down the stairs. Kayla felt certain more than once she was going to tread on her damnable period-accurate skirts and break her neck falling down the hewn stone staircase. Thankfully, she and Quentin reached the floor level, and flew to the foreboding oak doors.::

     

    Drex: ::panting:: Help me open the door. It’s too heavy for just one of us to open.

     

    ::Collins positioned himself in a way that allowed Kayla to grab hold of the wrought iron handle while he pulled against the frame. He gave a quick three-count, and they pulled. For an instant that felt like a lifetime, the door did not budge. Kayla’s heart sank, but then soared when the oaken barrier yielded to their efforts. They widened the opening just large enough for them to slip through, and ran with all their might.::

     

    ::She never could say afterwards what compelled her to look back as they ran, but what she saw would haunt her dreams for some time to come. The Count, robed in a black travelling cloak came after them. In her haste, she couldn’t be certain, but at the moment she would have sworn he was … FLYING. His bat-like shape moved smoothly and swiftly toward them, narrowing the distance between him and the two humans.::

     

    ::Kayla’s foot was suddenly soaked, and she felt her ankle roll as the ridiculously impractical shoes she wore slipped on the river rock. She cried out in pain, but the primary thought in her mind was that her foot was wet.::

     

    Drex: Quen! We’re in a stream!

     

    Collins: ::pulling up short:: What? Yeah, I guess so. Let’s go!

     

    Drex: I can’t run, Quen, my ankle. We have to get to the other side of the stream.

     

    Collins: Why the stream?

     

    ::Then the penny dropped. In his terror, he had forgotten everything he’d known about vampire lore. They had to stop and count small items thrown in their path. They had no reflections. THEY COULDN’T CROSS RUNNING WATER!::

     

    Collins: Kay, you’re a genius!

     

    Drex: Stow that, sailor; help me get across!

     

    ::He jerked back to his senses and draped one of Kayla’s arms over his shoulders. He helped (half-carried) her to the far side of the stream, where they collapsed, feeling safe for the first time in what felt like years. On the far side of the water, they saw the shape of Dracula darting upstream and down, looking for a way to cross … but he was trapped. They truly were safe - at least for a while.::

     

    Collins: You bloody genius, Kay.

     

    Drex: … Oh for crying out LOUD!

     

    Collins: ::confused:: What? What’d I say?

     

    Drex: I’m no genius! I’m a freaking MORON!

     

    Collins: What are you talking about?

     

    Drex: I just remembered something else.

     

    ::Collins just looked at her, waiting for the revelation.::

     

    Drex: Computer, end program.

     

    ::The countryside vanished, to be replaced by the yellow grid on sterile black.::

     

    Drex: We were in the holodeck the whole time. ::blushing:: Maybe I overdid it a bit with the binaural waves. I was completely sure it was all real.

     

    Collins: … me too

     

    Drex: I won’t tell anybody if you don’t?

     

    Collins: Deal.

     

    Drex: Happy birthday, Quen. Now can you help me get to sickbay? I think I sprained my ankle in these ridiculous boots.



     

    END



    ((OOC - Thanks for reading! We really hope you enjoyed it. Happy Halloween, everyone!))

    Lt Kayla Drex

    CSO, USS Eagle

    E239510KD0

     

    ~ and ~

     

    LT jg. QUENTIN COLLINS III

    SCIENCE OFFICER

    U.S.S. EAGLE NCC-74659

    E239512QC0 

    • Like 1

  2. ((Stationside – The Brewhaus Gastopub))

    ::Why were relationships hard?  Why was talking hard when one felt stupid about something?

    He was Wyn Foster.  He had this façade that nothing was hard unless it was heroic.  Laboring over how best to explain his feelings for a longtime friend was not heroic.  It was just… awkward.::

    Foster: So yeah, half of me is elated by this new possibility because you’re cool and I like you and half of me is feeling that I’m a complete moron.  ::he paused an added with a mutter.:: And I hate feeling stupid.

    Blackwell:::At first a tinge of pink appeared when he called her cool…she felt giddy and light from the beer combined with the emotions, but as he dropped his voice, she furrowed her brow at that and moved to sit closer to him in the booth:: Oh Wyn….First off, you are not -stupid-. you are not the only person…human or not, to miss cues some think are obvious. Even I miss cues that I should have seen…hindsight is 20/20 and besides, I shouldn’t have asked it like that. I tend to think I’m just…I don’t know, obvious.  See it this way, Saveron..only knew my mind once I told him…so…:: She shrugged::  I guess sometimes I’m better than I know at pushing down things.

    ::Well if Saveron missed it, maybe it was excusable? 

    Wyn leaned forward letting his antennae rock back and forth, absorbing all this information.  It was still a lot to take in.::

    Foster: I guess you are.  ::He admitted in something of a compliment.  Not the best compliment mind you, but he was pretty impressed.  It meant she had another layer of subtlety that was previously unrecognized.:: Still begs the question why?

    ::Yep and still no pulling punches.  He wanted – perhaps needed – more information and he wasn’t above being sassy to get it.::

    Blackwell: As I’ve said: fear. I convince myself that…confessing those sort of things to people will just go badly, and there have been times I’ve irritated you ::She eyed him for a moment with a crooked grin:: Anyways…I just got …somewhere along the way, good at compartmentalizing at times…even if there are points where my mental boxes are occasionally a troublesome Pandora’s box for the opening. Either way…don’t feel stupid. ::She put her hand on his arm:: What counts is that we are here now…  ::She could feel two things – first, her heart beating just a bit faster despite sitting, and she couldn’t tell if it was her body working to burn off the alcohol, or simple the fact she was so close to him now that she could see the way the light caught his eyes and hair. She slowly slid her hand down his arm and took  his hand in hers. Her green eyes met his and then she brought his hand to her lips and kissed it gently::  Let’s not dwell on what could have been or what should have been…and accept that..maybe things just sometimes fall into place a little later than anyone would like…and that might make it all the sweeter.

    ::Wyn had been about to sass back that everyone irritated him at one point or another, up to and including himself.  Irritation was a fact of life even – or especially – in ones you loved.

    But then she touched him. 

    There were a few things that Wyn hated to admit because, being raised by Terran – subsect: American – cultural standards they communicated weakness.  But they were things that his Andorian biology craved.  Touch was one of the biggest ones.  Andorian homes were small to conserve heat, and families included quads and multi-generations.  Many people sharing heat meant a lot of close contact was simply natural.

    Take that away and you ended up with a man who wanted something without realizing it or even understanding why until it happened.  His expression warmed gently::

    Foster: You know… I like sweetness…

    ::Real smooth, Wyn.  Still, could have been far worse.::

    Foster: You sure about this?

    ::Equally smooth.  But honest, checking temperature.::

    Blackwell::She leans in, and her voice dropped to whisper warmly to him:: Oh…the beer is making me a little poetic but it isn’t the beer that has me currently intoxicated ::And she leaned in for a gentle kiss on his lips, pulling back only because the waiter came back with their food. She cleared her throat, free hand going to her neck sheepishly and she loosened her grip to release his hand::

    ::Saved by the waiter?  Or delayed by the waiter?  Oh this was going to be one heck of an interesting night.  Wyn Foster tended to not regret things and he was steeling himself to not be tentative and not regret anything.

    So, drink your beer, Wyn and let’s see where this went.::

    Foster: Well that was an quite the timing.  But hey, with beer goes food.

    Blackwell:: Oh..I should eat. Lunch was a quick protein bar ::before admitting:: and really it was more ‘brunch’ ::And she started to pick at one of the appetizers before he could protest too much::

    ::He started to click his tongue at her and then smiled.::

    Foster: Should I chastise you for that?  I mean I can…

    Blackwell:Well, maybe you’ll just need to be around more to make sure I have breakfast ::she said teasingly:: 
    ::Oh, that was innocent, and naughty all at the same time.  He had the good graces to tinge faintly navy.::

    Foster: Well, then… you know we could plan on that.  I’m thinking food, more beer and didn’t I owe you a dance?  Then you know, we make sure you get breakfast in the morning.

    Blackwell: That is what I was hoping you would say…

    ::He beamed.  Glasses clinked.  No regrets.::

    ~*~
    ~fin~
    ~*~

    Lt. Commander Shar’Wyn Foster
    Chief Medical Officer
    USS Eagle

    "Why do we fly?  Because we have dreamt of it for so long that we must"

    ~Julian Beck
    E239010ST0

    • Like 2

  3. ((Rue’s Quarters - U.S.S Eagle))

    ((2 days post mission))

    ::Rue was sitting on the couch, starting quietly out the window that allowed her the view the void of space. After the mission and the excitement, she had slept… and then had a long, thoughtful talk with Saveron. It was a conversation that she knew she had needed to have with him, she only regretted that it had been well… too little, too late. She closed her eyes, leaning back her head against the frame of the window. It hurt. Losing what could have been hurt. More than she wanted to admit. The temptation to sit on that thought, that hurt, and simply hide out for shore leave was there, but she had to consider… that simply would be doing the same thing that had caused her hurt in the first place… hiding, and concealing. So instead, she hit the comm badge on her shoulder to Wyn Foster::

    Blackwell:: Hey Wyn ?

    Foster: =/\= Hey what? =/\= ::The Andorian’s voice was sharp and dry as ever::

    Blackwell: =/\=Feel up for playing bartender tonight and hanging out? Perhaps you, me and Choi? We could even watch a movie… that you and Choi choose. =/\= ::she managed a sound of humor following that::

    Foster: =/\= Sounds horrifying.=/\= ::There was a thoughtful pause:: =/\= I’ll bring the good alcohol. =/\=

    Blackwell:: Sounds good. See you then.

    ((Time Skip - Wyn’s Quarters, U.S.S Eagle))

    ::Wyn no longer had the expansive set of family quarters that he did on the Galaxy class USS Constitution-B.  Then again he wasn’t looking over his dad, an adopted kid and an adopted hologram… well he still had the hologram, and the hologram’s holographic dog but his Dad (who truth be told looked after Wyn as much as Wyn looked after him) had taken a nice cushy starbase position, Ozameen was now old enough to enter Starfleet Academy on his own… and Wyn was now in a modest set of senior chief’s quarters on this tiny ship, with Mark set up in a makeshift hologram recharging area in sickbay.

    And even with all those changes he still had enough time to set up a bar.

    He also did the nice thing for his guests and raised the ambient temperature of his quarters by quite a few degrees.  Just so it was warm enough for humans to be comfortable, but no so warm that Andorians were miserable. There was a fairly known understanding that ‘one should bring a jacket’ when visiting Wyn’s quarters.

    He did not, however, adjust the lights.  Heat he could handle, bright lights were his nemesis and foe to all things drinking and carousing.::

    Foster: So, hey come on in.  ::He looked up as the door chime rang and the door opened.

    ::Ji-hu ran into Rue just outside of Wyn’s quarters. He still wasn’t used to being on the smaller vessel after the Constitution and then living on an Immense-class starbase. The name said it all. He’d never understood the concept of being fashionably late until ending up on the Eagle. He seemed to be ten minutes early for everything.::

    ::Ji-hu made sure to wear a heavy hoody to Wyn’s. Seoul was steamy and while sunny San Francisco could be cool depending on the seasonal, Wyn’s place was--understandably--always a bit like a fridge.::

    Blackwell: ::She showed up and was wearing an elegantly oversized sweater that fell to her knees like a tunic and leggings underneath and simple shoes, with a light hint of makeup and hair done. She carried a box in her hands. She stepped in and looked about:: Nice place already

    Choi: Aww, I miss your big dining room table. Guess that’s the switch off from a Galaxy-class.

    Foster: Yeah, small place.  Everything here is smaller. That’s OK - it just makes the bar look bigger.

    Blackwell: :She grinned at that and stepped in with her box:: There are so many jokes I just won’t make.

    Choi: ::grinning:: I… well… I won’t say anything.

    Foster: Did you eat yet?  I don't want anyone drinking on an empty stomach.

    Blackwell: ::She held up the box:: That is what this is for. I had the replicator make a series of small snacks and hors d’oeuvres to eat while we drink.  

    Choi: I ate, but I’m always up for snacks! What’re you serving tonight, Doctor?

    ::Only a few people knew that Wyn Foster was a competent chef.  Not a gourmet chef by any stretch of the imagination, but competent.  He had grown up making dinners with his Dad and kept the tradition alive with his odd little blended family on the Constitution.

    But his forte was mixing drinks.  He knew hundreds of classic [...]tails from various species, and had a good nose for mixing things to people’s tastes.  Tonight they would be drinking his favorite.::

    Foster: Samarian Sunsets!

    Choi: Sounds good to me, make mine a double! I need it after the last few days…

    Blackwell:She looked to Wyn and nodded to what Choi Said::

    ::Ji-hu took a seat at the corner seat of Wyn’s bar, his back against the wall.::

    Choi: I’m glad we’re finally getting a bit of time together. Launch was pretty nuts. How’ve your duty shifts been?

    Foster: I got stuck in sickbay.  Nothing new there.

    ::He harrumphed as he mixed the alcohols for the sunsets and gently layered them in the glasses before he prepared to add the pinch of acid that would make the sunset bloom.::

    Blackwell: I’m getting the hang of it, ::She grinned a bit:: It was a bit nuts but… nice to have control of the wings around us.

    Choi: Yeah, I got to work with some of the senior officers down on Verellia. And Ensign Drex. ::taking a sip:: She was amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was running Starfleet by the time the year is out.

    Foster: ::ever the pragmatist:: She’s an enthusiastic kid, but I wouldn’t wish running Starfleet on anyone...

    Blackwell: ::She giggles:: I like Drex. She’s fun, intelligent and has energy. She’ll do well here.

    Choi: Everything okay, Rue? You seem a little… blue. ::to Wyn:: Not that there’s anything wrong with being blue!

    ::Wyn blinked at that - not the ‘blue’ comment but that he picked out Rue as being down after she was giggling.  Either that was T’Choi talking or he was shooting blanks in the dark.::

    Blackwell::She paused, and wondered briefly if what ever had happened to Choi in the past few months had given him additional sensitivity, or if he had always been so empathetic. She started setting out the treats she had brought - Crab Rangoons, bruschetta, fried shrimp and sauce and some chicken wings things along with some fruit and vegetables and considered what to say:: I… did need a little company tonight, if that is what your asking… hence why I strong armed Wyn into a little get together. ::She chuckled:: Everything is fine.

    ::Ji-hu shot Wyn a look.  He’d had enough drinks to notice she didn’t seem to be her usual high-octane self, but Wyn knew her better.::

    Foster: What?  ::He used the opportunity of Choi looking at him to flick Choi’s glass, causing a cascade of colors to bloom throughout his drink as he handed it to the engineer::  You’ve never seen her down before?

    :Rue felt a pang of guilt. She relied on Wyn...too damn much. And she was in a way, doing it again. But she hoped instead to push away from that, she wanted support, to feel cared for, but...in a way that everyone was enjoying the benefits, not just her. Then again, the advice that Saveron had given her echoed in her mind::

    ::Wyn was starting to wonder if he was the only person who saw his crew through their ups and downs, at their best and at their worst.::

    Blackwell: ::She looked between the two and settled in a seat at the little bar and rested her chin in the cup of her hand:: I… don’t want to make tonight about discussing my problems, gentleman… and it isn’t really a problem. It’s something that makes sense, just still… stings. Like certain healthy medical procedures… right Wyn? You hate the initial feeling, but know you need it done.

    ::Stings.  ::His antennae flared up, it was time for Wyn to be the mind reader.  His guess was Saveron was what stung. The oh so logical Vulcan didn’t want attachments, and after a failed marriage and then a romance that turned into stalking Wyn could understand why.  Still Rue was a human and no matter how hard humans tried to not get attached… they got attached.::

    Choi: ::nodding sagely:: Like regular checkups and annual stress tests! ::eyes going wide:: Oh yeah, I still haven’t done my stress test this year...

    Foster: You should get in and get that over with, before the mission while you can still use the holodeck instead of running on a treadmill in Sickbay.

    Blackwell:: She chuckles:: I hate getting shots, but I know when I need them… Right around when Wyn tells me.

    Foster: Hey, at least you listen to the reminders - that’s better than some crew.  ::he smiled a bit::

    Blackwell: ::She returned Wyns smile and shrugged:: Well, I like to ...try and not be a pain in the [...]. Sometimes…….but hey, in terms of how things are going overall, I think ...for a first mission, things are going well. The new crew is easy to work with thus far, It’s good to have you back Choi, and my room is very nice, if smaller. It’s cozy. I sort of wish I had a pet though. Maybe I need a holocat. 

    Choi: I could mod you a program! There’s some really interesting new holo-companion lines coming out of a Starfleet R&D for deep space installations! Their cats have extra disdain subroutines and the kinetic meshing is superb! You can really feel it jumping on your face at four in the morning!

    ::As if on command, Olaf whuffed and trotted out from Wyn’s bedroom to lay his head in Rue’s lap, looking up at her with big brown eyes as if to say she was Momma::

    Foster: He still remember you.

    Blackwell: Oh my gosh! Olaf! You kept him? He’s here? ::She looked extremely pleased and leaned down to give Olaf a face pet and squeeze, and started making cooing noises::

    Choi: ::sagely:: I’d hope so! You can’t just throw out a pet, even if they are holo-simulated!

    Foster: Of course we kept him!  He sleeps with Mark when Mark recharges off duty.  It’s just that these quarters are quite a bit smaller than the ones on the Conny.  We’ve had to make some adjustments.

    Blackwell: It is fine...I am just glad to see him.

    Foster: Ok, I’m mixing a second round, who wants one?

    Blackwell: Me!

    Choi: I… I guess! Another double, Dr. Bartender!

    : :And that was the start of what would prove to be a very interesting evening…::

    ((Shar’Wyn Foster’s Quarters - USS Eagle))

    ::Over an hour and many drinks later and no matter how cool Wyn Foster kept his apartment it was starting to feel quite warm.::

    ::Rue had… after a few drinks, had to shed the sweater. She was wearing a light tank top underneath that was modest enough, but it let her cool off, but meanwhile, she had leaned back to listen to Choi tell stories. Her mind was feeling warm and fuzzy and wandered from the way that shadows caught Wyn’s attractive cheekbones, and How Choi’s face was so kind when he laughed. She couldn’t help but just lean back and enjoy their presence, and the view a bit while she sipped another strong and well mixed drink::

    Choi: … and then I said, “You put your hyperspanner in there and it's going to cause a haptic spooling cascade!”

    ::Ji-hu laughed, sloshing his drink slightly. He missed working on his R&D lab on the Constitution, reminiscing with Wyn and Rue about the crew had reminded him of that. He’d have to have a conversation with Commander Oddas about setting up a field lab on the Eagle. He’d already been eying a piece of property on the stern section with a perfect view of the nacelles.::

    Choi: ::pause:: Get it? With the response time the temporary storage on the prosthetic would have caused a cascade to make it look like… the hand was… you know... 

    Blackwell: ::She laughs hard and leans back:: OooooOoo. Naughty naughty Choi!

    Foster: Well I’m glad you guys got it because I didn’t get a dang thing.  ::He grumbled into his rapidly emptying cup.::

    Choi: ::slurring a little:: Sorry, been awhile since I’ve been out drinking with crewmates! Didn’t really get to know anyone too well on Starbase 104, lots of turnover in the R&D department. Anyways, you know, haven’t had this much to drink in ages!

    Blackwell: Aw, that’s a bummer.

    Foster: Turnover?  You mean you didn’t keep all those charming companions like that Tellarite and stuff?

    ::That was as accurate as drunk Wyn got.::

    Blackwell: Oh that Narrows it down, Wyn!

    ::He threw his arm around Wyn and Rue.::

    Choi: Sure have missed the two of you! We should do this after every mission!

    Foster: The drinking or the hugging part?  ::he asked as he rocked to one side, not resisting the hug.::

    Blackwell:She blinked as she was caught in the embrace, feeling herself embraced. She laughed and then joined in, stretching an arm to hug Wyn, and Choi:: Aw, but Wyn doesn’t like hugs!

    Choi: ::squeezing Wyn slightly:: Too bad, Dr. Foster! We’re treating your grumpiness with a regimen of more hugs!

    ::Ji-hu realized how ridiculous he sounded. He should probably drink some water…::

    Foster: I never said I didn’t like hugs!  ::he tsked his tongue against the roof of his mouth::  It’s just not something you rush up and do in broad view of others now is it?

    Blackwell: So worried about keeping up appearances aren’t you, Wyn? ::She teased at him::

    Choi: ::teasing:: He has his reputation as a surly medical professional to keep!

    Foster: I’m pretty sure keeping up appearances is a human thing.

    Blackwell: Hmmm, a little bit, yeah ::She shakes her head and laughs with a ruefully:: the problem with that is we get so mixed up in … keeping appearances, we just end up living with a lot of regret... but… I’m gonna change that for myself. ::She nodded, as making some sort of promise to herself, or the booze, or both. Either way, she then downed what was left in her glass in one, long, satisfied drink::

    Choi: Oh yeah? What’re you gonna change, Rue-Rue?

    Blackwell: By… not worrying so much about appearances… and missing opportunities because of it… ::She started to blush deeply and look at them both:: woo...the liquor is talking now, Quick Wyn, get me more booze to make it stop! ::She laughs, and then goes suddenly quiet, and in a quick movement, she leans in and kisses Wyn, warmly, and gently, and looks to Choi, and gave him a gentle kiss as well, and blinked as if she wasn’t quite ...sure the magnitude of what she had done, and stared for a moment:: ….More booze?

    ::Wyn just stopped at that, antennae curling in confusion.::

    ::Ji-hu blinked, his head spinning a little bit from the drink, still not sure what just happened.::

    Choi: Just water for me. ::pause:: That’s… that’s not a comment on you… you know! I just think I’m going to fall over if I drink any more!

    ::He shot a look to see how Wyn would react. He knew they were close friends but Ji-hu always wondered if there was something more between Rue and Wyn. He also valued their friendship… and of course more with Wyn, but he knew how feelings could make things change between people.::

    ::Silence.  More silence.  Slowly all eyes fell onto the most explosive person in the room.::

    Foster: Wh-- what the hell was that?!  ::He finally blurted out, looking between them.::

    Blackwell:She swallowed and felt her heart beating through her chest:: Wyn...It was ..a kiss.

    ::While Rue was heartfelt, Ji-hu was oddly silent.

    Wyn’s antennae curled in dismay, wondering if the pair of them were trying to pull a cruel joke on him.  He didn’t want to believe that they would… but this toyed with his emotions, and a core that badly wanted some sort of closeness with people while a massive part of him shielded himself from the pain of failed relationships.::

    Foster: Yeah, ok, kissy drunk.  ::He frowned a little, looking between the pair.:: Right, sure.

    Blackwell: Wyn ::She straightened, and while the liquor was still addling her brain, a sense of adrenaline was was sobering her up very quickly::

    Foster: Yes?

    Blackwell:....What….am I missing? Why are you so...[...]ed? 

    Foster: I’m [...]y because I’m confused.  ::He said bluntly, pouring his companions both a water and himself a double shot of the strongest thing on the bar.::

    Blackwell: Confused...how? ::Oh, it was a stupid question, but her brain was working at the speed of molasses and she was just trying to comprehend the magnitude of how badly she had just screwed this up:: Why?

    ::Wyn blinked, not really angry at Rue, but feeling perhaps more than a little drunkenly hurt at Choi’s silence.  Then again it was a trend for the two of them when relationships came to pass.::

    Foster: Why shouldn’t I be confused?  I used to date him ::he pointed at Choi:: I’ve known you forever and a day ::He pointed to Rue:: I’m drunk and I’m biologically hardwired to be attracted to both sexes.  ::And he was none too happy about that either.::

    Blackwell::She set her empty glass down and leaned forward, pressing her hands together::  ….You’re right, you have every right to be confused...and angry. ::she pursed her lips, and stood up, which she soon realized was likely a mistake, but rather than undoing it, she leaned a hand on her chair:: Truth...is ….I’ve been attracted to you for a long time. Started...as a girlhood crush..grew into something more. ::pushed her hair back from her face:: Which...I...fought back after you and Choi got together...since well, you deserve...happiness and Choi made you happy. ::she exhales and throws her hand up::  But nothing - and I mean nothing- of my friendship to you was artificial, or fake. ….::and her mind jumped as she still attempted to sober up, but the words came tumbling out::Then I was...attracted to Saveron...for a long time, probably since after the Hinji mission..and well, chickened out on that…::She frowns a bit at herself:: I’m a -coward- when it comes to people. I can face enemies, surgery, my own death, but when it comes to people, I choke.
    ::Wyn Foster hit a dead stop and he tinged a very curious navy tone.  It was irritatingly cute on his pale blue skin.  He tried to maintain that gruff pessimistic doctor demeanor, but it crumbled into one seeking word question uttered in soft tones.::

    Foster: Why… didn’t you… tell me?

    ::He felt supremely stupid that he never noticed.  Able to perceive a heart murmur at thirty paces but see a relationship right in front of his face?  Pure miss.  Way to go, Wyn.::

    Blackwell:: ..Why? Well hell, Wyn, maybe because I was afraid you, Saveron, everyone else would just turn either be hurt because of me, by me, and not only would you be hurt, I’d lose you. ::She had a bit of vehemence in her face, starting to work herself up::. First, I know damn well I am a mess of a person. I’m cracked in all sorts of ridiculous places and its stupid  and -no one- but me should have to try and fix it. Second, while you won’t let me in further than the shallow end of your particular pool Wyn, I know things have happened to you since you’ve joined starfleet. I don’t know the facts, but I see the self deprecation, I see the when you get bitter and [...]ed off. And you don’t need to try and fix me and handle my nonsense while you are dealing with your own baggage. ::She would look for her sweater, suddenly feeling cold::

    Foster: You’re not a mess of a person and Saveron will always be your friend.  ::He sassed back in a sharp, confident tone, carefully sidestepping the other question posed.::

    ::Choi stuttered a little and whispered a question only Rue could hear.  Well, that wasn’t true, Wyn’s hearing was far better than Rue’s but he wasn’t listening at the moment, she was.::

    Blackwell:: No, Choi, me kissing you isn’t a false reaction either. I get attracted to people, you included. Probably some repression on my part and then I let it out an inch and it just goes stupid ::She started to try and slip on her sweater, getting entangled in the thing, and trying again::: Why did I kiss both of you - first, I meant what I said, I’d rather start feeling like rubbish because I was too bold rather than regretting never taking a chance….And frankly put, the first thought that popped in my brain after I kissed Wyn was that if I kissed you too, besides the fact your a handsome man, was also that you could then be [...]ed at me and not Wyn for my actions. 

    ::Ji-hu seemed both drunk and embarrassed by this and went quiet.  Wyn on the other hand fixed his clear blue eyes on Rue.  He wasn’t sure who was taking this harder - Choi who felt awkward because he was not attracted to Rue in that way or Wyn, who was biologically wired to be attracted to both sexes equally and, in fact, was attracted to Rue in that way.  And Choi in that way.  And at the moment being attracted to either one seemed an absolutely horrible, unprofessional idea.::

    Foster: I don’t think anyone’s [...]ed.  Unless we’re talking [...]ed as in drunk [...]ed.  ::He drew in a breath:: but gotta admit, Rue that’s as Saveron would say, pretty dang illogical, dontcha think?

    Blackwell: Well no, I know I don’t make any sense. I’m a human, we don’t make sense at all, and...damn sweater! ::She huffed and finally just wrapped it up in her arms and exhaled again, leaning against a piece of furniture to keep her upright: I’m.sorry….I go..going to leave...just as soon as the room….stops spinning.

    ::Caretaker mode kicked in and he grasped her elbow.::

    Foster: No, you need to be safe.  Sit down, rest.  Everyone keeps their clothes on, everyone sleeps, we eat breakfast in the morning and can talk about this with a clear head.  Sound good?

    Blackwell:::She looked as her elbow was held and she seemed to think long and hard for a moment, until her own treacherous lack of equilibrium made the decision for her and she nodded. She glanced to Choi for a moment and blinked a bit:: “Choi?”

    ::He looked over to Ji-hu::

    Foster: I think he’s already asleep.  ::He drew in a breath.:: Lucky him, maybe?

    Blackwell: Maybe. ..:She gave a slight huffing chuckle:: I...I don’t know if I want water or another drink now...

    ::He sat down and looked at her earnestly::

    Foster: You wanna talk about this now so it’s not so awkward in the morning or sleep on this now and talk about it in the morning?

    Blackwell: ::She followed him and sat down across from him and held her tangled sweater in her arms and blinked for a moment:: Now, we should talk now. I...I just don’t know what to say….I don’t know if I should start trying to fix this or …::she pushed some hair from her face and paused:: Just...hear you out. Why don’t you go first...I babbled.

    Foster: What do you want me to say?  ::He paused and realized that sounded crass about a half second after he said it.:: I mean… where should I start?

    Blackwell:::She exhales slowly:: I...I don’t know. Maybe...can...this be fixed? I mean...have..I broken our friendship? ::She looked fearful for a moment, her hands wringing into her sweater::

    Foster: Why would you break our friendship by being honest?  [...] I’ve said worse things and I was sober.

    Blackwell: ::She exhaled slowly:: No, you...are right. Saveron wishes to remain friends. He was ...worried that I had high expectations but I told him..clearly that what was between us...was...without strings. Did I hope a little bit? Certainly...but I..understand where he is coming from….I...just was also thinking about other things. He said …::She paused a bit:: He said that if there was one thing I should do..is give others the chance to care and protect me…::she gave a huffing laugh:: I’m sure you, as a good doctor, would agree

    Foster: I do agree. ::He nodded an even assent::  As you support your crew and friends, you deserve love and support.

    Blackwell:::She smirks faintly:: And do you think everyone deserves that? Is that a prescriptive statement?

    ::His antennae dropped.  He had walked right into that one.  He would blame being drunk.::

    Foster: Well, yes.  Everyone needs love and support.  ::A gruff grumble.:: Even me. I admit that.

    Blackwell:::She grinned a bit and leaned in towards him:: So my question is...when will you let others care for you?

    Foster: Well, yeah.  ::He huffed a little.  He was a little too drunk and too defensive to completely let his guard down.  Besides they weren’t really alone. Still he was trying.:: I mean I can be affectionate.

    Blackwell: Oh, yes, I know you give affection...but..you are very much the one who wishes to fix things from what I’ve seen, there are very few you allow...to help, and know what is beneath that ...adorably cantankerous surface

    Foster: Adorably cantankerous?  ::He perked a brow and an antennae in unison.  He was slightly flustered and slightly flattered by that.:: is that flirting?

    Blackwell::She laughs:: I’m drunk still…….I might not have the courage again so of course I am going to flirt….::she pauses: :unless you tell me to stop. Even drunk, I know...no means no….::she grins:: Knowing and No-ing?

    Foster: Nah, flirting is better when sober. ::He tossed back lightly::  Then it’s like this delicious game of cat and mouse. You chase, you pounce, one gets eaten, you die.  ::A smirk:: of pleasure… good metaphor. ::He looked oh so innocent at that.::

    Blackwell:::she paused at that and just threw her head back, giggling::

    Foster: What?!  It was a met-a-phor!  You learned that one back in middle school!

    Blackwell: It...It was a good metaphor. :Her giggles subside to softer chuckles:: I just had a terrible image of a cat with two antenna...Little blue cat ::She snickers and leaned back into the seat she occupied, curling up her legs and her head on the arm of the chair, having given up on putting her sweater and just using it as a blanket of sorts:: I...I just had an image and had to giggle…..::She pauses and looks to him: I...guess tomorrow the awkward question ….is...if I were sober, would you want to continue the flirting?

    Foster: I mean I like to flirt so is that really a question?

    Blackwell: You know what I mean, I..I guess, your not going to feel..insulted..or like this was ...cheap?

    Foster: It’s only cheap if you’re doing it dishonestly.  ::He said with conviction.:: I like romance, I like relationships.  I don’t find them awkward in the same ways humans do. But I hate being lied to and I hate being betrayed.  ::He really hated that second one, deep to his core.:: So avoid those two and you’re golden.

    Blackwell:::She stiffened for a moment and swallowed:: I won’t ever lie, nor would I betray you. I know that pain far too much, Wyn. I’d rather …...never mind,,,::she shook her head and then looked back at him at the second part:: Wait…..::She paused and sat up at that:: You...like romance? Relationships? Why Doctor Foster...are you telling me I was mistaken with the seeing you as the Bachelor Physician?

    Foster: ::He coughed:: Well, at one point I was quite the Casanova… but then a Starfleet commission happened and it’s been pretty dull since then.

    Blackwell:::She raised her eyebrows at that and gave a lopsided grin:: Oh, Oh now I want to hear stories.

    Foster:They’re not very interesting…  ::He coughed.::

    Blackwell: Oh come on...you’ve seen my personal life…..I told you that ..Saveron was quite an experience...why not share with me...a little?

    Foster: I mean I have a bartending license for a reason.  You get invited to all the best parties in the Academy and you can hit on all the cute chicks and guys… I’m an equal opportunity flirter.  Well, you know what, sometimes drunk partying students really wanna go home with the weird short blue guy with the odd accent. ::he offered a charming smile.::

    Blackwell: Oh really….::She smiled demurely, and batted her eyes teasingly:: Prove it.

    Foster: What do you mean prove it?  ::He huffed:: Fine. I can dance. ::He said with confidence.::  Bet you didn’t know that.

    Blackwell: Oh really now? Let’s see ::She gestured for him to stand:: I am so curious now. I dance a bit myself  ::She stood slowly, testing her ability to remain steady and finding some of the inebriation had left her system::

    Foster: Steady there, cowgirl.  ::he caught her, and then straightened to a proper ballroom dance posture with the correct hand placement.:: So, who taught you how to dance?

    Blackwell: It was an agreement with my mother...I’d take a class that wasn’t focused on martial arts or fighting...and then take a class of my choosing. She chose ballroom, I chose Krav Magna. A bit of Swing, then I chose Mixed Martial Arts...so on and so forth. I can’t sing worth a damn like she can...so she was pleased to at least see me learn a bit of creative dance. ::She straightened as well and placed her hands correctly on him, ready to allow him to lead::

    Foster: Swing dance, huh?  I don’t swing too well, either.  But Dad always said it was good to learn something to keep friends and enemies completely off balance.  He didn’t have an ear for music, but he was well coordinated and good at dancing. So dancing it was.

    ::Antennae meant awesome balance, and that meant no stepping on toes whatsoever.  Wyn was quite graceful as he led her around the small quarters in a gentle step without music.::

    Blackwell:::She found herself a bit giddy as they danced, impressed that first, she was still upright. Second, that indeed, he was so graceful, and third, still felt a little bit of the fluttering in her stomach. She kept her hand on his and moved with his pace, and snickered softly:: Oh very well, Wyn, you are indeed the Bartending Dancing Doctor ...charming women and men close and far

    Foster: Hey, I worked very hard to make that so.  ::He said with a hint of pride.::

    Blackwell: You know I am, even as my head is truly deciding if this was wise….but...I would rather a night end with a dance than regrets...so I cannot complain and sometimes I have to say, I love the weightless feeling a bit of true alcohol gives, makes being ...somehow...makes things a little more dreamy.

    Foster: Maybe we should sit…  ::He offered gently, bringing the motion to a stop.::

    Blackwell: Mm..you think about how much liquor you put into those drinks, and then you consider how drunk I still am?

    ::He put a hand at her back to guide her gently to the nearest couch.::

    Foster: That is what we used to call ‘a lightweight’  ::he chuckled.::

    Blackwell: Indeed...I would gauge myself as still a good 8...with 10 being close to falling asleep on the floor singing show tunes….1 being stone cold sober.

    Foster: Did you want to be a perfect ten?  ::He queried gently::

    Blackwell: Oh no, I won’t complain….I needed this…

    Foster: Then how about I get you a blanket and we call it a night?

    Blackwell: Mm….wouldn’t it be hard to sleep...with it so warm for you? ::Even if she was a little chilled, she wasn’t blind to the fact he needed a chill environment:: ..I can head back to my room. I’ll make it...

    Foster: No, my personal bedroom is about fifteen degrees colder.  Twenty if I’m in a bad mood. But I’ll get you a heated blanket nonetheless.

    Blackwell: ...Oh, I see. ::She nodded slowly and would lie down on the couch, curling her legs up a bit and resting an arm under her head:: Mm. Couch. And a ...warm blanket...would be nice….

    ::It didn’t take long before he returned with two nice fuzzy heated blankets.::

    Foster: Blanket for you, Ma’am…

    ::Oh, nope, she was out like a light, too.  He turned both of the heated blankets onto medium and draped one over Choi, patting him on the head as he did so.::

    Blackwell::She was softly breathing when he came back, the liquor having lured her into a deep sleep, One arm under her head, one hand on her stomach, and legs having loosen to stretch out::

    Foster: And one for you.  ::He tucked Rue in, kissing the top of her head before he was done.:: Sleep well my drunken little princes and princesses.  May we not feel too awkward in the morning.

    ::And Rue would snuggle deep into the blanket, mumbling something softly before falling into the lush sleep of liquor and warmed blanket::

    ~*~

    A JP By:

    Lieutenant (JG) Choi Ji-hu
    Engineering Officer
    USS Eagle
    C239402CJ0

    ~and~

    Lt. Prudence Blackwell

    Chief HCO

    U.S.S. Eagle

    G239308PB0

    ~and~

    Lt Commander Shar’Wyn Foster

    Chief Medical Officer

    USS Eagle

    E239010ST0

    • Like 2

  4. My original ship put tag in the in the subject lines, so I decided to keep them up on the new ship.  I've found them useful to determine who is being referred to in a particular post.

    The same with TAG/TBC.  They are most likely redundant standing for TAG and 'To Be Continued' and most players putting 'NT' instead when there are 'No TAGS' for other players to respond to.  Its possible for a minor thread to end during an adventure even while the larger adventure to continues. 

    Neither of these conventions are used at the Academy because not every ship uses them and it seems both of you have found your way to ships that do.  Its one of those things that can vary from ship to ship.

     

    • Like 1

  5. ((Brigand Cruiser “Rebuke”, Corridor - Deck Unknown))

    ::The sound of screaming wasn’t exactly a rarity in those decks of the Syndicate ship Rebuke. However, it was the first time those walls had heard the laboured cries of a Laudean. By now the wailing had subsided into eerily melodic whimpers and gasps for clean air through the stench of her own sweat, blood, burnt hair and embarrassing urine. It wasn’t the poor girls fault. The urine wasn’t from fear or some unintended involuntary response. It was a side-effect, a by-product, of the electrical currents that were being forced through her from the electrodes attached to her fried, crispy and patchy haired scull. The room had seen this kind of thing before. It wasn’t about torture. - that was just a pleasant coincidence. The purpose of the currents, drugs, and implanted memories were about reprogramming. It forced those outside of the Syndicate to become the most loyal of operatives.::

    ::The young Laudean woman Fasha wouldn’t be able to remember any of this place, nor the horrors that took place that day. She would wake up shackled in a cage with the others. Scars healed by dermal regeneration her head shaved clean. Her luck was about to change. She was going to be rescued. But she would be haunted by the shadows of these forgotten memories forever. They would lie deep in the black ocean of her subconscious. Then, one day, when her unseen masters were ready her memories and self would fade away and be replaced by what ‘they’ wanted her to be. Although she would live and move on, her life would never be hers again. She didn’t know it yet. How could she? But her tears that day were not shed for her pain. They were shed by her subconscious for her death.::

    ((Brigand Cruiser “Rebuke”, Main Bridge))

    Conn: The Thunder has dropped out of warp Magren.

    Jishi: So quickly? ::She laughed as she sat up in her chair.:: The Romulans would rule the galaxy if the Tal’Shiar moved as quickly.

    ::They had just informed the asteroid outpost of their pending arrival less than twenty minutes ago. Their operative must have been in the right place at the right time to get that tidbit of information so quickly and relay it to the Thunder. Her comment didn’t seem to be sitting well with their Romulan attache.::

    Romulan: They move too quickly. Nothing verified, motives unchecked. If the Tal’Shiar worked as they do, the empire would have revolted or fallen centuries ago. They fell for your ploy far too easily. ::In a passive aggressive defiant tone.:: Perhaps, they merely lost track of us and decided it best to stop.

    Conn: Impossible! ::In protest of the accusation.:: I made certain they would be able to track us.

    Jishi: No. They were tracking us. They know where we are going.

    ::Jishi was confident in the plan and pleased with their progress. By the time they arrived at the asteroid outpost their Laudean sleeper would be ready. Starfleet would do what they always do - swoop in and save the day. Little did theyy know they would be returning to Til’ahn with a ticking time bomb in the facade of Laurel Fasha...::

    ((Brigand Cruiser “Rebuke”, Corridor - Deck Unknown))

    ::The room was quiet now. The corridor no longer echoed with terror and pain. Inside, on a dirty biobed, the living corpse of young Fasha lay cleaned and pristine like an ancient monarch on display. A dim, cold white overhead light, cast dark shadows over her calm face. Her eyes moved behind closed lids as she dreamed about sweet treats, beautiful creatures of fantasy, or whatever young Laudean girls dreamt about. Her mind and body experienced the kind of shock and trauma that a mind instinctively buries to protect itself. It would be weeks before the wraiths and demons of her death started to haunt her dreams. Then a few more before they started haunting her days too. But for now, at least, the numbness brought her peace.::

    PNPC Magren Jishi

    The “Rebuke”, Commanding Officer

    And The Corridor - Deck Unknown

    As simmed by 


    Commander Jorey - Commanding Officer
    USS Thunder-A
    Veteran Affairs / Training Team / CC
    T239002BJ0

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