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Jo Marshall

Captains Council observer
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Everything posted by Jo Marshall

  1. ((USS Gorkon, Deck 5 5OQ23, Tasi’s Quarters)) ::There was nothing more boring than waiting and after the last mission Tasi needed to talk to a friendly face. On the Gorkon she hadn’t really connected with anyone yet. There were a good number of people she could call on Deep Space 26, but the time difference meant most would be asleep or on the night shift. That’s what she told herself but deep down she knew it was a deflection from the real reason she had chosen to dial up this particular old friend. Finally, the slowly spinning Federation Symbol and ‘connecting’ progress bar were replaced with a familiar face. Tasi’s slack jawed, glazed over expression instantly melted away. She beamed at him with sparkling eyes and a playful smile.:: Tasi: Hello Commander. I hope you’re not too busy for a social call. I thought I’d keep that promise about keeping in touch. Tasi: oO I hope he wasn’t just being polite about that. Oo ::Tasi didn’t usually use rank around her friends - not off duty. She hadn’t seen Shayne since Commander Brell’s promotion to Captain and before that they’d fallen out of touch for some years. His career had prospered while hers had stagnated and she didn’t know how informal she could be with him yet.:: ::The face that appeared on the screen could not have been more welcome. The melancholy that always followed social occasions had weighed down on him since the end of the promotions ceremony. He’d been hoping- vainly, he’d expected- for a pleasant interruption to his musing, and a restoration of the energy that had been drained from his every faculty. Shayne was not a social person, but for a select group, that fact seemed to not apply. Take Tasi, for instance.:: Shayne: ::Feigning irritation.:: Look. If we’re on the bridge, call me commander. If we’re in the presence of an admiral, call me commander. Anything else, please just call me Shayne. ::She was one of the few people he preferred to drop rank around- not because he was a career-minded, bureaucratic paper-pusher obsessed with position and title, but because it simplified so many situations that might otherwise veer in an unpredictable, uncomfortable direction. Besides, Tasi had kept her promise to keep in touch with him, and Shayne was hardly going to punish her by insisting on strict military protocol. For the length of this conversation, “proper” bearing could find an airlock to fly out of. He gave a small grin, which she returned. It felt good to know that they could still have good-natured banter like this without having to worry about the rank barrier.:: Shayne: ::Utterly genuine.:: It’s good to see you. ::He realized he’d been holding his breath, and he released it, hopefully escaping the notice of the perceptive Tasi. Fortunately for him, she was too occupied suppressing signs of her own relief to notice his.:: Tasi: Thank you. It’s wonderful to see you. What’s new with you? ::Before he could stop himself, a putrid wave of resentment and cynicism rolled over him, a mere drop in an ocean of festering negativity. Pond’s disappearance had gnawed at his soul for months now. Though he’d tried to contain it, he suddenly felt utterly exhausted, and the moment he’d spoken, he knew he was making a mistake.:: Shayne: I haven’t died yet, so the usual. ::He bit his lip loathingly, wishing he could take back his words, and the vigorous anger he’d flashed at Tasi. She was so not deserving of his rancor- indeed, she was probably the one that would help him do something about it. Shayne generally despised counselors, and their offices, and their practiced strokes that delved into the psyche. As far as he was concerned, they could keep their intellectual tenderhooks to themselves. But with Tasi, it was different. Deeply different, and he was still at a loss to explain why, exactly. But it didn’t matter. He could not afford to lose her.:: ::Tasi was stunned. She’d had friends and patients lash out in this sudden, unexpected way many times before. Sometimes there were behavioural tells that gave subtle clues that this could be coming. Other times it hit you like a punch in the face. This felt like the latter. She hadn’t seen it coming and didn’t know what had provoked it. This didn’t seem like the Shayne she knew, but then how well could she say she knew someone she’d barely talked to in years. She became aware of her heart pounding harder and faster in her chest and took a slow, deep breath, collecting her thoughts before replying with a measured tone tipped with concern.:: Tasi: It doesn’t take a counsellor to see something’s troubling at you. Would you care to talk about it - friend to friend? ::Counselors! Why did they have to be so infernally perceptive? Of course, it wasn’t like he’d done a good job of hiding his distress. He glanced at her, and for a moment in time, it seemed like she was strained, worried.:: ::Afraid.:: ::And it felt wonderful, inexplicably so, disgustingly so. It felt so utterly etherial to be the one causing concern, instead of the one marinating in his own terrors and doubts and worries and miserable musings. For an instant, he was free.:: ::And then it all came crashing back down. How dare he feel anything positive about his friend’s discomfort. How dare he turn her well meaning, loving concern into a stepping stone for his own emotional strength. How dare he use her, the first friend he’d ever had in the fleet, and nearly the first one ever. He couldn’t have felt more soiled if he’d messed his trousers. He took a shaky, self-hating breath, and began to repair the damage.:: Shayne: I apologize. You, of all people, do not deserve me as you see me. ::Already exhausted, he let it all go, far more easily than he normally did with privileged information of this sort.:: ::He stared at it, at Tasi, at it, back at Tasi.:: Shayne: Pond has vanished. I don’t know where she is, or even if she’s alive. I haven’t spoken with her in months. ::As he said this, he began to pace, and absentmindedly fiddle with his full, lush ponytail. At the word “months”, he twisted, and ripped a sizable wad right out of his head.:: ::He stared at it, at Tasi, at it, back at Tasi.:: Shayne: ::Matter of factly.:: Ow. ::Whoever this Pond was, she clearly meant a lot to him for him to be so worried. It was hard to resist the urge to tell him everything would be okay. It never felt like things would ever be okay again when wrestling with grief and loss. Life moved on though. It was the harsh truth and to say so would be nothing other than callous. His emotions were completely normal though it would come as small comfort. Time was the only thing that could ease his pain, and having channels to vent his emotions. She wasn’t his counsellor - he had options aboard his ship for that, but that didn’t mean she couldn’’t be there for him as a friend.:: Tasi: I am sorry Randal. There’s nothing anyone can say to ease the pain and worry of someone we care about going MIA. I’m sure it comes as small comfort right now, but it’s normal to feel worry and grief. I just want you to know that I’m here for you. Do you want to talk more about it? Shayne: No. Most definitely, assuredly not. ::There was nothing more to say on the matter- certainly nothing Tasi deserved to receive. Maybe a trip to the holodeck would be in order, before he beat someone into a pulp. Or ripped out any more of his usually well-tended locks.:: Shayne: The Gorkon! How is it? Finding your way there? Is it as crazy as I’ve always heard? You know, I always wanted to transfer there, just to see what it was like. ::Through the midst of this loud, forced menagerie of preposterous questions and outright falsehoods, he could feel the disciplined part of himself recoil in horror at his explosive exposition.:: Shayne: oO Shut up, you ragged, impotent fool, shut up! Oo ::His goal had been to cover his despair, but he had failed spectacularly. Tasi knew this was a deflection. He was hurting very badly and didn’t want to talk about it. She wasn’t here to force him to do it. She shifted her weight in her chair and smiled with all the grace of a queen, choosing to pretend Randal wasn’t acting to wildly out of character for him. Instead she chose to focus on the question itself, answering in good humour.:: Tasi: It’s not what I expected, but then is that really a surprise? Things so often seem to go that way where Starfleet is concerned. My first mission has just concluded.. It… could have gone better. ::He listened as if his life depended on it, using her words and her voice as a life preserver. He knew that, from this point on, he could only speak truths, else he give away even more of his distress to the one person he both cared about and was able to protect in this moment.:: Shayne: ::Sensitively.:: What happened? ::She didn’t want to speak ill of the crew, or of the first officer. It wouldn’t be proper to talk of the mission and the diplomatic incidents caused by Commander Sevo, or Doctor Sim. They were good people and it wouldn’t do to spread gossip that might negatively affect their reputation. How many lives had the joined Trill seen? Not enough, clearly. Tasi had thought someone who had lived many lifetimes would be much more diplomatic. Instead, the red-headed woman suffered a short temper. Doctor Sim on the other hand, Tasi wasn’t sure if he was just young and inexperienced or if there was some underlying issue she should be aware of. She would talk to him about what happened in due course, but for now, her friend had her attention and he was awaiting a reply.:: Tasi: I think the important thing is that we did achieve our goal… We just did it in a more round-about fashion than anticipated. We have some downtime now on Trill. ::”Roundabout”. Despite their goals and training, that’s how most of their missions seemed to progress.:: Shayne: I’m just glad you’re alright. Tasi: Thanks, my friend. You know there’s something I’ve always wondered… ::There was a strange shift in the air around him, almost like the calm before the storm. Unconsciously he recognized it, and it frightened him for some reason.:: Shayne: Uh oh. ::It was his customary response to, well, anything really.:: Tasi: Are you made of copper and tellurium? ::He’d been expecting something… unexpected, but this trounced all that. It was such a seeming non-sequitur that his brain actually stopped, locked up, and refused to process it.:: Shayne: ...what? Tasi: Because you're CuTe. ::It was strange. He hadn’t thought it possible for his face to literally feel as if it was sliding off his skull. And yet, Tasi, as she had done many times before, was proving him wrong. Part of him was desperately confused. Never had Tasi given him any reason to think that they were anything more than close friends. That part of him was spiraling out of control, and Shayne had little hope of ever seeing it again. Bye bye, fragment of sanity. The other dominant emotion at the moment was a piercing… pain? Yes, pain. That pun was… astonishing. He felt his brain give up, and fizzle out his ears in a vaguely diarrhetic release of synapses. Compared to the cute romantic overtones Tasi, he just felt… shattered. :: ::Tasi watched his reaction coyly, and Shayne desperately hoped that his face was simply blank. It was a monumental effort to incite any sort of functionality, but he managed to smile, clear his throat and lean forward.:: Shayne: How long? ::”How long have you felt this way” seemed brusque, cruel almost. He’d have to break the news to her, and then try to smooth over the feathers. God, why did people find him handsome, or desirable? Then he wouldn’t be in this well-intentioned mess.:: Tasi: Does it matter? ::Her heart sank. While she hadn’t expected much, her heart still sank to see the expression written plain across his face, and to hear his strained voice. It was as she had always thought. What was she thinking? She held her breath in anticipation of the inevitable rejection.:: Shayne: Tasi… um… I… I really don’t know how to break this to you, so I’m just gonna say it. I have a girlfriend. We’re… we’re nearly engaged. Tasi: oO Nearly? Oo ::He felt his heart fracture a bit at those words, knowing how crippling they’d be to him if their situations were reversed.:: Shayne: oO And “have”? No, that’s not entirely true. Right now, all you have is hopes and memories. But you can’t give up now. She’s out there! Oo ::What could she say? She’d made him feel more awkward. This was supposed to bring a smile to his face how? It all seemed so foolish in hindsight. The corners of her mouth turned down, betraying her true feelings before she forced the most natural smile she could muster. She had learned something more about her enigmatic friend at least. Could things have been different had she been more courageous?:: Tasi: I’m really happy for you Randal. How did you meet? ::Her tone was as genuine as her interest. Regret might fill her thoughts later, but right now she still wanted to be the best friend possible. Maybe talking about his girlfriend would cheer Randal up.:: ::Despite the circumstances, he smiled grimly, recounting their first meeting.:: Shayne: A birth in Sickbay brought us together. An overdose brought us… close. ::He remembered the shifting, waving patterns in his eyes as the pain killer had done its work altogether too well. It had lowered his inhibitions, to the point where the usually silent helmsman had confessed his feelings about Pond’s beauty. One thing lead to another, and they were a couple. It was the fondest memory he’d ever had on a biobed.:: Shayne: And now, she’s gone. ::He hadn’t meant to say that, and he certainly hadn’t meant to say it so casually. But the damage was done. Again.:: Shayne: She was transferred, or lost, and I don’t know where. I don’t know why. And I don’t know when. No answer. But I can’t contact her. It’s driving me insane. ::No wonder he was behaving abnormally. The amount of stress and worry he was under. Tasi’s expression was completely serious and her heart went out to him.:: Tasi: I’m so sorry Randal. That’s truly awful. I can only imagine how difficult that must be for you. ::Someone would know what had happened to her and she was sure Randal would have chased down every avenue to find out what was happening.:: Tasi: No one was able to help you locate her? Shayne: No one wants to. I can’t get a clear answer out of anyone. ::He seethed, and wondered how long this could continue.:: Tasi: I hope you’re able to hear from her soon. Shayne: ::Smiling weakly.:: Thanks. ::The silence was deafening, and Shayne nearly tapped his fingers.:: Shayne: Well! It was… um… great to, you know, talk to you. Tasi: Sure. Goodbye Shayne. Take care. Tasi: oO That was a complete shuttle crash. Oo Shayne: Take care. ::And with that, he slammed his finger onto the off button with such vigor he felt his joint crack. He placed his head down on his desk, and didn’t lift it for a good six hours.:: ::The screen went dark much more suddenly than expected. She got up and flopped onto her bed, letting out a long sigh. That was embarrassing, especially for someone who was supposed to be good at talking to others. In that moment she felt like a fraud.:: Tasi: oO There’s one person I’ll never hear from again. Oo ::Exhaling loudly again, Tasi grabbed a pillow and put it over her head. She remained that way until the computer reminded her of a camping trip she was committed to attending. Reluctantly, she got up and started to get ready for it.:: ------------------------------------------------------------- Lieutenant Commander Randal Shayne Ops Officer/Second Officer USS Blackwell NCC 58999 G239202RS0 AND Lieutenant Tasi, Counselor - USS Gorkon Simmed by: Rear Admiral Renos Executive Council & Captain's Council Member A238805EB0 -------------------------------------------------------------
  2. Jo, in a dress! Scandalous. Hairstyle borrowed from Petra. Not literally.
  3. (( Agricultural Administration Building - Ih’aesn - Sikuna )) :: Nugra was caught between feeling surprised by the fact that their situation had gone downhill to realizing that it always went downhill. Yiggtissi's suit had been compromised and the governor of this city was dead. He had two Starfleet officers to protect in case the colonists became a mob. He was not in the mood to kill anyone at present. :: :: Stepping out into the hallway while everyone followed their assignments, Nugra pulled his PADD out of his pocket to quickly get an idea what was going on with the other teams.:: :: There was a strange tickling in Kaji's mind as she neared the compound, like a familiar presence, and she slowed to pinpoint it. She frequently recognized the sounds of people's mental "voices", but not just a sense of presence. Stretching her telepathic senses, she searched for the source, but it seemed far away to the north. A mystery for later, then. :: :: Talia pushed her way through the Admin building's doors, grateful for the shelter. There were only a few military members around, most non-essential personnel having been sent home. A guard scanned her badge, as she was a civilian currently and not in any uniform. She traced her way through the corridors to the governor's office. Atlai had told her to meet the Starfleet team there. But when she turned the corner and looked down the hall, Talia stopped cold. :: :: It felt like her mind had frozen, incapable of actually processing thoughts. The figure at the end of the hall loomed over his surroundings just as he loomed over both her dreams and nightmares. The damn Gorn would just not leave her in peace! Was he to haunt her waking hours as well? Countless nights spent curled up in bed, too afraid to go back to sleep and relive his death yet again wasn't enough? Or the other nights where she wished she COULD get back to sleep to continue a different sort of dream, where they were just together? :: :: It took the mundane action of him checking his PADD to snap Talia out of her stupor. This wasn't a hallucination, it was Nugra. In the flesh. That stupid, beautiful, scaly flesh. :: :: Upon seeing a report that negotiations were not faring well, Nugra let out a grunt of irritation. Hopefully, Sevo was not going to punch a Romulan...again.:: :: The irritated grunt got through the last of Talia's disbelief. :: Kaji: :: striding towards him:: Oh gods, oh gods. Nugra! :: She threw herself at him, probably before he even knew it was her, but she didn't care. Decorum be damned, she wrapped her arms around his neck and held on for dear life. :: :: It was the scent at first that he detected but his brain refused to register it as being true. The PADD had his attention but it was the squeal of her voice and the arms that tried to wrap around his bulk that broke him out of the thought and into shock. He [...]ed his head to see what had gotten a hold of him and was met with a head of curly hair, black eyes, and the happiest grin he had ever seen. :: Nugra: oO Talia! Oo :: A million emotions soared through him in the half a second his mind hesitated. She was on Obsidia Colony and he had been long gone, hidden in the depths of the Gamma Quadrant on the USS Athena. How was it possible that they had met on a Republic world. His mind struggled to form words to speak to the woman he thought he had lost forever. :: :: She couldn't let go, even though her feet were dangling six inches off the floor. She just buried her head in his neck and hoped he couldn’t feel the tears. :: Kaji: How...How are you even alive? :: There were no words. How could he say anything to her right now when his heart felt like it was going to explode. He wrapped his giant hands around her waist, hefted her to eye level and gave her a crushing hug of joy. Only one word got out of this lizard. :: Nugra: ::choked up:: Talia. Kaji: You freaking lizard, you couldn’t even send me a note, like “hey I’m not dead anymore, so you don’t need to keep grieving”-- not that I was grieving your ugly mug, because you’re too stupid to…killing yourself like that to “save everyone” or whatever. :: Talia felt that her points were being undermined by the sobs breaking through and garbling her words. :: Nugra: Starfleet Intelligence…. Kaji: :: freeing one hand to slap the back of his head:: That is an astoundingly terrible excuse. Nugra: I should have sent you a note once I was released but...I didn’t know what to say. Kaji: Anything. Anything would have been good. Nugra: ::sheepishly:: Hi, Talia. I am alive. Kaji: :: mumbling as she buried her face in his neck again.:: [...]. I missed you. Nugra: I missed you too. :: Another voice broke into the conversation that snapped Nugra back. :: N’Lee: ::grinning:: As sweet as this is, Captain, I need my doctor. Please put her down. :: Chagrined, Nugra put Kaji back on her feet and gave his uniform a dutiful but too long tug before straightening back to business. :: Nugra: Of course, Sub-Commander. :: To Talia:: Doctor Kaji. We seem to have an outbreak and one of my crew members may have become infected. Shall we? Kaji: :: with a lightness she hadn’t felt in over a year, she laughed,:: Yes, Sir. :: As Nugra walked past N’Lee, he heard the Romulan whisper to him. :: N’Lee: ::grinning:: Don’t worry, Nuggs. I won’t tell the Admiral you were hugging doctors in a middle of a crisis. JP By… -- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Captain Nugra Taskforce Security Liaison Publicity Facilitator The Archivist '17 Simming Prize Laureate USS Gorkon, NCC-82293 V238008N10 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ & --------------------- Dr Talia Kaji Civilian Medical Doctor Romulan Vessel, Mhr'Vaat E239008TK0 ---------------------
  4. ((Tasha’s Quarters, USS Gorkon)) ::Tasha grinned, picking up the miniscule nacelle. She could feel each and every bump and imperfection in the material. Her new, cybernetic fingers were much more sensitive than her flesh and blood ones. The technology had been pioneered by Doctor Noonian Soong, and introduced to the federation through Data.:: ::Soongs work in the cybernetic field had been one of Tasha's main sources of inspiration during the construction of her prosthetic. She had reviewed technical information regarding Data's arms and read papers written about him. She glanced across the room to where a picture of Data now hung on the wall, holding a proud place between her Claymore and a model ship.:: ::It was odd, Tasha wasn’t quite sure why she had replicated the photograph. As Tasha, and almost everybody knew, Data had been killed in 2379 aboard the Reman Scimitar. Yet Tasha felt that his legacy survived, most notably to her through the advances he had led in the field of cybernetics, and now through her left arm.:: ::Upon returning to her quarters after the surgery one of the first things she had done was replicate the photo and place it on the wall. She felt it was her way of honouring him, and thanking him for what he had, indirectly, done for her.:: ::She smiled and picked up a pair of small, delicate tweezers and a small brush. She used the tweezers to pick up the miniature nacelle and dipped the brush in a pot of glue. Working carefully Tasha attached the nacelle to the pylon then placed the finished model aside to dry. Once it was dry she would paint it, and then it would truly be finished.:: ::Tasha heard a quiet meow as Spark jumped onto her lap and rubbed up against her, demanding attention. She smiled and rubbed his head, hadn’t Data had a cat too?:: Ensign Tasha MacFarlane Engineering Officer USS Gorkon G239311TM0
  5. Nothing like a good old space-regeneration inside a liquified space-being that reabsorbs space-vomit.
  6. A moment of silence, please, for the glory of Mek'tul.
  7. Lieutenant Cory Stoyer Lt.Cmdr Alexander Williams Captain Roshanara Rahman
  8. ((Temporary Officer's Quarters, USS Gorkon - Grace's quarters - Four days post mission, En route to Earth)) ::Grace had only seen Millis out a few minutes before when the door chime went off again.:: Freeman: Who is it? Bancroft: It's... me. ::Grace leapt to her feet from the comfy chair and the book she'd gone back to reading went flying from her lap. She quickly hid the bottle that Millis had left in her recently replicated go-bag, which now contained all of her armor, zipping it so it was covered, and then moved to the door.:: Freeman: Door open. ::The door swished open to reveal Colleen, hands twisted in front of her and looking like she was about to turn and run away. The two stared at each other for several seconds, Colleen's hands pausing, and then Grace sighed and stepped back.:: Freeman: Well come in. ::Colleen did, entering the room and letting the door whisk closed behind her. She stayed just outside of its sensor range as if she was still considering turning around and leaving, her nerves jangling. Grace walked back over to the chair and sat down in it, legs curled under her, retrieving the book and setting it on the table as she did. They watched each other, silently, for a solid thirty seconds, before Colleen walked over to one of the chairs at the table and flipped it around, sitting backwards on it and leaning against the backrest. Grace continued to watch silently for several more moments before speaking, her voice quiet and full of too many emotions.:: Freeman: So...? Bancroft: ::Suddenly:: I shouldn't have come. ::She jumped to her feet and headed for the door, definitely not sure of what she'd wanted now — sure, she'd sort of known on her way here, but apparently it'd all been washed away when she walked through the door.:: Freeman: ::Quietly:: Don't go. ::She stopped, still turned away from her ex.:: Freeman: Please, stay, sit. ::Colleen stayed standing for several seconds, swaying slightly like she was about to bolt out the door, but with an effort, she turned around and headed back to the chair, resuming her position.:: Freeman: I... I'm sorry. Bancroft: For what? Freeman: For everything. Bancroft: ::With a brief, hollow bark of laughter and leaning back slightly:: Define everything. ::Grace half glared at Colleen, wishing the other woman would just give her a bit of a break, while Colleen's mood turned towards anger. She wasn't sure what she'd been expecting here, but it wasn't living up to her (admittedly irrational) expectations.:: Freeman: For breaking up with you so suddenly. For not telling you my plans. For how we met on that planet. For... for everything, dammit. It wasn't my intention to hurt you, but things happened so fast back then, and then the other day... ::She threw her hands out to the side in a helpless gesture.:: ::Colleen stared quietly at Grace for a few moments before responding.:: Bancroft: You left me, completely out of the blue, and then just dropped off the radar. Disappeared. I tried to contact you, Grace. Freeman: I know, I know! And I wish I could have responded. I'm sorry. I was under orders. I've been under a communications blackout with the rest of the universe for the past year something. ::Colleen made as if she was going to throw something at Grace, but there was nothing to throw.:: Bancroft: ::Voice gaining in volume:: You interrupted me. You were my partner and my best damn friend, and you up and disappeared. I understand that communications blackouts are a thing, but for an entire year? ::Almost yelling at this point:: That's absurd! Surely you could've messaged me, at least — at least once! We were engaged, for fraks sake! ::Grace shook her head, short and sharp, and her next words came out like steel.:: Freeman: No. I couldn't have. ::Voice softening once more:: It's been a really... really long year. ::Colleen looked hard at Grace as she spoke the last sentence, and noticed just how deep the crease lines on her ex's face were, how much her eyes had changed — almost as if storms had taken up residence in them — and then there was the matter of the scars. Four, easily countable from three meters away, and that was just on the face and right arm. Two more on the left arm with slightly more looking. Grace had changed in the time since they'd graduated the Academy.:: Bancroft: ::Much quieter:: What happened out there? Freeman: A... a lot. ::They sat in silence for several minutes, then Colleen slowly stood and walked to the couch, sitting down on it so she was facing its other end. Grace watched her sit down before moving to the couch herself, leaning against the opposite end so she was facing her old girlfriend. She moved one foot to touch Colleen's leg, hesitantly, but Colleen didn't push it away, to both of their surprises.:: Freeman: You know... how Starfleet is supposed to be peaceful? I mean, Dominion war and a few others excepted, but Starfleet is supposed to be for exploration, right? ::Colleen nodded, staying quiet. It seemed like Grace was finally starting to open up, and she didn't want to interrupt that.:: Freeman: Well... yeah. Part of Starfleet does that, anyway. Most of it. Then there's us... the Rangers. We're for when the peaceful solution doesn't work. For when the enemy thinks sideways, and most of Starfleet doesn't want to think that way. ::Opening her mouth to protest, Colleen stopped and thought better of it.:: I was recruited to join the Rangers in our third year at the Academy. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, weighing my options. There was a lot of... stuff there, a lot of... ::She circled her hands through the air, as if trying to spin the words out:: Stuff. They told me I was a perfect fit for the Rangers, aptitude tests, etc. Didn't even know I'd been through any of those. So they told me what it'd be like, and it sounded like fun? Like a challenge? A bigger challenge than I was going to face elsewhere, aboard some random starship. And they needed intelligence officers. There were only like three of us who made the cut in the end, and I was one of them. ::Grace paused here, voice quieting further as she thought about the past and tried to relay it to her old friend. A lot had happened in a short amount of time of their life, especially for her, and she was only allowed to talk about parts of it.:: Freeman: One of the first things that was... strongly suggested... to us as candidates was to make minimal personal ties. To cut those we could. Being a Ranger is a dangerous job, and you never know what's going to happen out there. I guess the reasoning is that the less ties you have, the more effective you have. The less distracted you are. So... so I threw myself into it. You weren't the only one I left in the cold, and gods, I'm so sorry... ::she trailed off for a moment before refocusing and continuing at Colleen's half-heartedly annoyed look.:: I threw myself into the training and worked at it, so hard. They didn't give us any time off. From the time I said yes to the time we hit the field, there were no more breaks. Each semester, we trained while we weren't in class. Between semesters, we trained from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. Barely stopped to eat. And oh, was it hard training. I spent a lot of time burying all the old memories, including... well... us. ::Here, she had to pause again. She could say even less about what happened after training, and she had to keep her head straight.:: Freeman: It was mission after mission. No real downtime. Always on our feet. I barely sleep anymore, and if I do, it's only a few hours a night. Still manage to stay solid though. ::A touch of pride showed through at that.:: Bancroft: Probably not something to be proud of, Grace... Freeman: Hush. ::She smiled, ever so slightly, for the first time since Colleen had entered her room.:: And it continued to be mission after mission. I think in that year, we took one shore leave? And it was cut short. Our team was run ragged. This was supposed to be our last mission for a while, so I'm hoping this shore leave actually lasts a while. ::She sighed:: What I'm about to tell you is entirely classified, and I would probably get in trouble for telling you this — but since I'm the only Intelligence officer on the ship that's active Intelligence, we're probably good — I hope. ::Colleen raised her eyebrows at her former fiancee, but didn't try to stop her from saying it. She knew she probably should, but wasn't sure she cared right then.:: Freeman: My unclassified kill count continues to sit at zero. ::She paused, taking a breath.:: In reality, it's over thirty. ::At that, Colleen's mouth dropped open. Her brain skittered over the information, trying to absorb it. This was Starfleet, and they weren't in the middle of an active war. Nobody was supposed to have an active kill count! No one! And, kill counts only counted for direct combat - most security and tactical personnel didn't even have a kill count, and that was a reluctant part of the job description.:: Bancroft: ::Flatly:: What. Freeman: Some of them were self defense. Most of them... weren't. And I had the second lowest kill count on the team. ::Well, that had definitely been too much information, but that cat was out of that bag.:: oO Bad Intel officer! Bad! Oo Bancroft: How... Freeman: Classified. Every single mission... they were all classified, so only certain people are even allowed to know that. You, ah, probably shouldn't tell anybody that you know that either. ::Grace twisted her mouth in a lopsided half-smile that only counted as a smile in pure mechanics. There was no joy behind it. The two were both quiet for a moment, and Colleen's mind continued to run in overdrive.:: Bancroft: I don't... I don't know what to say to that. Freeman: Yeah, sorry. There isn't exactly much to be said. It's just... a thing. Terrible, mind you, but a thing. Bancroft: Right... Um. ::Colleen curled into herself slightly, unconsciously pulling away from Grace, but only a bit.:: Freeman: Sorry. For that. ::She waved her hand in the air, as if trying to wipe away what she'd just revealed.:: Bancroft: I... I mean, it's part of it, but... ::There was another uncomfortable silence, like too much of the time in this conversation had been already. They both cast about as if trying to find a nicer subject to talk about. Unfortunately, between them, there wasn't much light or nice to discuss.:: ::The two women sat in silence, on the couch in Grace's quarters, both trying to find something to talk about after the bombshell Grace had dropped. Colleen seemed like she'd gone non-verbal, and so Grace finally spoke up. Freeman: I'm sorry I left you. Bancroft: ::A little bit of the anger returning to her voice:: We were engaged. Freeman: I know, Colleen. And... ::Here, Grace paused, and stood up. She paced to the bedroom, where her bag of personal effects sat, having been transferred over from the Drake that morning right before they got underway. She dug into the bag and retrieved what she needed before returning to the couch and flopping down on it once more. This time, she dug both feet under Colleen's legs, almost as if it were a subconscious reaction to being close to Colleen. She moved something around on her left hand, covering it with her right for a few moments, before sighing and holding up her left hand. On it was the engagement ring that Colleen had proposed with, and which had never been returned. Colleen's mouth dropped open slightly once more at the sight.:: Bancroft: You... you didn't get rid of it. Freeman: Nope... keep it with me. Bancroft: But... why? Freeman: ::Exasperated:: Isn't it clear? Bancroft: You either. Freeman: Me either! Of course I never bloody well got over you. ::Her German accent, so well hidden by time, slid in with the last few words, before she reigned it in.:: Wait, you either? Bancroft: Duh. ::They stared at each other for a few moments.:: Freeman: So... what? Bancroft: I don't know. I... we're in Starfleet. We don't know where we're going to be next week, much less in a year. ::When Grace spoke again, it was with just a tinge of hope in her voice.:: Freeman: Yeah, but they work to keep couples together... Bancroft: ::With her voice flat once more.:: And. You're a Ranger. Freeman: Yeah... Except... well. Um. ::She sighed.:: The 451st is being rebuilt. Despite me being the only surviving member, and despite the really bad recent history, somebody thought it was a good idea to rebuild the 451st, and then... well. Then Fleet Captain Reynolds transferred the 451st here. To the Gorkon. ::Colleen was speechless as her brain continued to try to process everything. It seemed like she'd had a hard time processing anything these last four days.:: Freeman: That's a thing. I'm gonna be here for a while. Bancroft: ... Then maybe I should request a transfer off. ::Grace was quiet for a few moments, taking in Colleen's words.:: Freeman: Oh. Bancroft: Yeah. Oh. You screwed me up, Grace, you screwed me up bad. I thought I'd finally started to get over you, but then I saw you in that cave and... everything went sideways. Again. Freeman: I... I know. I'm sorry. Bancroft: Take the damn ring off. Freeman: ::Shocked and hurt:: But... Bancroft: ::Quickly reigning herself back in:: Sorry... sorry. No. You don't have to. Just... it's such a reminder, Grace. Of what happened. And of the pain. Freeman: ::Very quietly:: Do you want it back? Bancroft: No. ::Colleen shook her head, almost violently, while Grace covered her left hand with her right, almost as if trying to protect herself. She pulled her legs back, to her chest, no longer touching Colleen.:: Freeman: ... Oh... Bancroft: I never got over you. Okay? And now you're here and I'm just... all turned around. Freeman: That's... understandable. I'm sorry... Bancroft: Quit! Quit apologizing. Freeman: I— hmph. ::And then the silence descended once more, like a hawk swooping in for the catch. Neither was comfortable with the other, but neither wanted the other to go away now. Emotions that hadn't seen the light of day for almost two years were rearing their ugly heads, and the bonds that each had thought were finally broken were mending, even against their will. When they spoke again, it was quiet but still clear over the rumble of the ship's drives pushing them through the slipstream.:: Freeman: So... what now? Bancroft: I don't know, Grace. I just... don't know. Freeman: Well, I know we're on our way to Earth, and there's a bunch of bars near the Academy... and I haven't gotten good and smashed in a long while... Bancroft: A bar doesn't count as a date. ::Realizing what she said, Colleen clapped a hand over her mouth then swore a few times.:: Freeman: ::Wryly:: Well, now that I know where your mind is at... Bancroft: ::Blushing hard:: I still... I need time! Give me a few days, okay? I'll... I'll contact you. And we'll see about a drink. And... ::Colleen stood up, abruptly, and moved swiftly to the door.:: Bancroft: And we'll talk then. I'll see you later, Grace. ::And with that, she was gone, leaving Grace to watch the doors woosh silently closed behind Colleen's back.:: -- (PNPC) Ensign Grace Freeman Weapons and Intelligence Specialist 451st Rangers Platoon USS Gorkon (Simmed by) And >\/< Ensign Colleen Bancroft Security and Tactical Officer USS Gorkon G239404CB0
  9. ((Temtibi Resort Beach, Risa))Bancroft: Hey boss, can I get a beer please?Millis: Got a nice ale. ::He turned back to the bar for a moment before returning and handing over a bottle.::Nkai: Make that two!Bancroft: Thanks.::She took the beer that was set on the counter.::Bancroft: Hey, I'll see you all later. Jayla, thanks for the race.Soyinka: Sure thing! Enjoy your evening!Millis: Welcome to the Gorkon.Nkai: Come back soon!Marshall: Look me up tomorrow!::She raised her drink to them all, took a sip, and set off in search of a quiet spot by the water. After a moment, she changed course and made a quick detour back to her hotel room to grab her personal PADD before heading back outside to resume her search of a quiet spot by the water.::::It was an absolutely beautiful evening. Colors shot across the sky above her in an amazing display of reds, pinks, purples, blues. A basically perfect evening. Close to the water, a bonfire was being lit, to which Colleen smiled - she'd always loved fire. She wandered quietly towards the water, towards a spot that was away from the majority of the people. After a few minutes of quiet wandering, occasionally sipping from the ale in her hand - it was decent, Millis was good at this - she was close to the water, and began walking a parallel path to the shore, towards a cloister of trees in the near distance.::oO When was the last time I was on a beach? Two? Three years? Not since her. Oo::Despite the relaxing nature of the drinking, it was also wearing on her depressive side.::oO Go figure. Oo ::The thought shot wryly through her head. She snorted softly. Eventually, her wandering led her to the stand of trees, and she sat down at the one closest to the water, leaning back against it. She slipped off her shoes, setting them aside, and dug her toes into the sand for a moment before removing them, stretching her legs, and letting the water lap at her feet.::oO A good tree. Blocks most of the noise from the crowd, gives a little privacy while not entirely blocking everything out. A very good tree indeed. Oo::Colleen took a sip of the ale again before digging the bottle into the sand beside her, where she wouldn't knock it over easily. The water was soothing in its sloshing, and reminded her of camping trips with her parents, when she had been a lot younger. And, of more recent camping trips.::oO Ah, Grace. Where'd it go wrong? Oo((Flashback - Campground, California Coast, Earth - c. Early 2390))::Colleen grinned as Grace Freeman flopped into the sand beside her before coming back up sputtering.::Freeman: Crap! Sand. Mouth. Bad combination.Bancroft: You dork. How did you not see that one coming?::Grace lightly punched Colleen's arm, managing to land it right over the birthmark - again. She always managed to.::Freeman: You know you love me.Bancroft: Well duh. ::She paused.:: You're still a dork.::Grace rolled her eyes.::Freeman: So you decided to take on a minor, on top of your dual major? I never figured you'd be that much of an overachiever.Bancroft: In my defense, it's only like... three or four extra classes. And I'm still going to have room left to spare in my schedule.Freeman: Colleen, you're turning into a workaholic.::Colleen snorted and lightly punched Grace's arm in return.::Bancroft: But not too much to push you out of my life. ::She leaned over and kissed Grace's cheek.:: I love you.Freeman: ::A moment's hesitation.:: I love you too, Col.((End Flashback))::Colleen surfaced from the memory to feel a couple tears rolling down her cheeks. Silently cursing, she wiped the tears away.::oO I'm strong. Grace is old news. Get yourself together, girl. Oo::With another small snort and an eye roll, Colleen took a large swig from the ale. Half the bottle was gone now.::oO Have to slow down or I'll be going right back to that bar to get another, too soon. Oo::The memory had been from January or February, middle of the first semester that year. She and Grace had taken one of the few long weekends during the Academy to go camping. Despite it being plenty warm out, there hadn't been that many people at the campground that time of year, a fact for which she remembered being thankful for. The whole trip had been like a break from reality, a time when the other worries, the future plans, the problems, had simply... not existed.::::It hadn't been eight months after that trip when Grace had broken up with her. Colleen still wasn't sure why the other woman had left, but it still hurt.::::With active determination, Colleen put her PADD into her lap and pulled up her messages. A couple random blast messages from Starfleet, a message from one of her old classmates from CAP-A, and a message from Ensign Hannah Ramsey. Smiling at the last one, she pulled it up, read it through, read it through again, then pulled up the reply function.:: >\/< Ensign Colleen Bancroft Security and Tactical Officer USS Gorkon G239404CB0
  10. ((Temtibi Lagoon Resort, Risa)) ::Stars were beginning to peek through the darkening sky, while one of Risa's two moons crept above the horizon. The beach party was beginning its transition from family fun to wild night out, and the bonfire in the centre had been coaxed into life. The scent of grilled food was creeping through the air, enough to tempt even her dampened appetite. ::Her attention drifted from the antics in front of her, out towards the sea. It was as though there was a lead weight attached to her mood, dragging her down despite the buoyancy of the party around her. The healing wounds scattered across her middle were crossing the line from aches to pains, and it was increasingly hard to steer her mind away from the events that had left her with them. ::It would be easier if she could be angry at the two men who'd tried to murder her. But how could she? They were hardly wrong for hating her -- she *had* killed Væbn's brother, and Volkov's son *had* died because of her orders. Brunsig: A word. ::She startled, so lost in her own thoughts she hadn't noticed his approach. Tall and broad, with a short crop of white-blond hair and startling blue eyes, Walter Brunsig was usually hard to miss.:: Reynolds: Now? Brunsig: Well gee, Cupcake, only if there's a gap in your busy schedule of staring vacantly into the middle distance. Shall I wait here while you check your diary? ::He scowled at her, and she replied with a roll of her eyes and a heavy sigh. How often had they danced this dance? She'd lost track over the years, but there was odd kind of comfort in its familiarity. ::Lifting her hand, she gestured for him to lead on. He peeled away, at a gentler pace than his usual, which allowed her to walk alongside him without any difficulty as they put some distance between themselves and the party. It was particularly appreciated, given how sore her midriff still was. Perhaps that was why he was taking it easy.:: Brunsig: Spit it out. ::But not too easy.:: Reynolds: What are you talking about? ::He scowled at her again. Maybe he thought she was being deliberately obtuse, but she had genuinely no idea what he was talking about.:: Brunsig: You look like hell, Quinn, and I'm not talking about the fact you checked out of sickbay before you should've done. ::Their footfalls were soft on the white sands as they walked, her feet clad in sandals, his in a pair of tan espadrilles. The beach was quiet at this time of day, the setting sun sending revellers toward Risa's many restaurants, bars and clubs, and so the empty sands afforded the two some privacy.:: Reynolds: I've had a long day, that's all. Brunsig: Orrey? ::How did he know? He must have seen them talking earlier. She nodded, slow and thoughtful, her gaze on the sand in front of her. Whatever else there was to be said about him, Walter Brunsig could keep a confidence.:: Reynolds: He's sick. ::She paused.:: Dying. The doctors don't think he'll see next year. ::A long silence followed. The only sounds that of the nearby sea, lapping gently against the golden shores, and the muted music of Millis' party in the distance. There was a gentle breeze, cool but not cold, and Walter's loose, light blue shirt fluttered in its grasp.:: Brunsig: You sure can pick 'em, Cupcake. ::::He shook his head in a show of vague despair, while her answer was a weak ghost of a smile, gone as quickly as it appeared. He wasn't wrong. She really did seem to have knack for picking broken men to grow fond of: Tildaen, Pedro, Alleran, Kael, Harry... ::And of course, there was Walter himself.:: Reynolds: What would you do? If you knew you had just a few months left? Brunsig: Get drunk and stay drunk. ::An answer that would surprise no one who knew him. That was to say, as much as Walter allowed anyone to know him.:: Brunsig: You wouldn't? Reynolds: ::She shook her head.:: I have my kids to think of. And I don't drink anymore. Brunsig: You're going to tell me that story some day. Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: Some day. ::Maybe. She wasn't sure how to tell the tale. Least of all to him, who was unknowingly at the centre of it. Perhaps that particular story was best kept between the counsellor and herself.:: Brunsig: When are you shipping him home? Reynolds: He wants to keep working until he can't anymore. We're probably already at that point, but… ::she shook her head.:: I've given him one more mission. ::She shot him a sidelong glance, anticipating his response.:: I know, I know; that's one mission too many, he should already be at home with his family, he should already be under the care of specialist doctors, he's-- Brunsig: --being indulged by a commanding officer who should know better. ::He had her there, and she heaved a heavy sigh of defeat.:: Reynolds: Yeah. Brunsig: Then why are you doing it? Reynolds: Because… ::She looked down at the sand, a guilty frown pulling at her brow.:: I can't decide if I want him home for his own good, or for mine. I don't want to watch another friend die. ::Ever since Jansen had told her about his condition, she'd often found herself remembering Alleran. The Trill had been betrayed by his own body, unable to sustain the connection between host and symbiont. She sat with him through his final days, watching him fade away, holding his hand until he'd passed. The idea of living through that again with Jansen was terrifying.:: Brunsig: We're all cowards when it comes to that kind of crap. Reynolds: Thanks. ::She paused, squinting at him.:: I think? ::He answered with a non-committal grunt, and they were both content to leave it at that. They walked together in an almost comfortable silence, though she found herself increasingly distracted by his physical presence at her side. ::A bright flash of light and a thundering crack sent her heart hammering against the inside of her chest. She whipped around, trying to locate the source of the explosion, stilled only by a warm hand on her shoulder and the sound of his voice.:: Brunsig: Quinn. ::He jerked his head up, toward the sky. She followed the gesture, her heartbeat as loud in her ears as the colourful fireworks booming and crackling overhead.:: Reynolds: Oh. ::She cleared her throat, cheeks beginning to burn, embarrassed at her own panic. Her heart was still hammering inside her chest, and she was mortified to find that she was shaking a little. Walter gave her long look, his hand sliding off her shoulder.:: Reynolds: I'm fine. ::She paused.:: I will be. I'm just… a little jumpy. Brunsig: A little. Reynolds: I'm fine. ::It didn't sound any more believable the second time around, and the look on his face said exactly that.:: Brunsig: You'd better be making your counsellor earn her paycheck. ::It was also her turn to scowl. She was, but that was hardly the point. Walter was every bit as bad as she was when it came to counsellors. Both of them had spent far too much of their lives avoiding the help the profession could offer, rather than embracing it.:: Reynolds: Pot, kettle..? ::His grin was a flash of lightning; electric, sudden and brilliant. It changed his face and she found herself smiling back, her fears ebbing. He held her gaze for a moment, and then the smile fell away, turning away as an expression much harder to identify crossed his face. His eyes settled on the flickering lights at the far end of the beach, providing a convenient subject to change to.:: Brunsig: So is there booze at this party? ::She almost laughed. In light of who organised it -- and the fact the Gorkon was a dry ship -- it was a foregone conclusion.:: Reynolds: Well, it's Millis' brainchild, so short of a dramatic personality change on his part… yes? ::That was all the answer that was needed, and he turned back to retrace his steps, Quinn falling in alongside. She could see their footsteps trailing away, and some had already been washed away by the encroaching tide. Would that the past could so easily be cleansed, and regrets so easily made right.:: -- Fleet Captain Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  11. Conan just cracks me up. I could picture the Lawrence of Arabia stance.
  12. Brunsig is awesome. This post was just a riot from start to finish.
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