This recent joint post by @Irina Pavlova and @Randal Shayne just absolutely blew me away. I am not afraid to admit that it made me a little misty eyed as I read it.
Because NOT ONLY is it a beautifully written piece of scene work by two immensely talented people (people I just so happen to serve with #humblebrag). But it speaks to the amazing dynamics we can find between our characters, as well as just how rich the personal lore/canon people have built here over the years is. Sims like this are precisely why I wanted to join up and I thank y'all so much for allowing me to do so. And thank you for providing me amazing things like this to read. Enjoy.
Pavlova: I pulled her marksmanship scores from the academy and they are better than average. Shooting skills aren’t my concern, its her attitude that bothers me.
::Shayne nodded at that, understanding. Waters was obviously dealing with a lot, but the “woe is me” routine had to stop. They were bound for more trouble than any of them were prepared for if she didn’t. Fortunately, her recent chat with the helmswoman gave him a small inkling of hope in the matter. Only time would tell in the end.::
Shayne: You’ll set her right. This isn’t about her shooting. Gotta get her to move past whatever’s holding her back.
::Shayne would not give Pavlova the satisfaction of hearing that he could think of no one better qualified for the job.::
Pavlova: I figured you would say that. By the way, you might want to pick up the pace or you’ll still be here for tomorrow’s shift.
Shayne: Sounds kind of relaxing, actually. I could grab a spare cot, and just tear paper away. Rip. Rip. Rip.
::Indeed, for some strange reason, the prospect had a strange sort of appeal. But he could think of no more effective ways to start the rumor mill and earn the captain’s wrath than by spending the night in Pavlova’s security office.::
Pavlova: You want a drink? We are off duty now, and by your sluggish pace you’ve got at least another hour or two of work ahead of you.
::Generally speaking, Shayne was not a big drinker. It didn’t agree with his temperamental stomach, and it didn’t do favors for his head, either. But it had become something of a tradition between the two of them recently. At first, it was a matter of relaxation. Then it was a matter of medication. Now it was… what? Tradition? He wasn’t sure he knew anymore. But considering the fact that he still had no idea what was waiting for him in the box, he could think of no better way to steel himself.::
::He turned his head to accept the proposal, but Pavlova was already up and grasping several objects from inside a… was that a freezer? She brought them back to the desk, and Shayne looked at her in untempered astonishment, tinged with a drop of jealousy.::
Shayne: You know, I seen me a mermaid once. I’ve even seen a shark eat an octopus. But I ain’t never seen no phantom Russian minibar.
::The first officer watched as his frenemy poured a reasonable amount into the glass before Shayne, and then forego any pretense of civility by filling her cup to the brim.::
::Shayne took a small sip of his vodka as Pavlova downed hers with the experience of someone who’d done it often. The stuff was noxious to Shayne, but he would not be outdrunk by Irina. He braced himself, and knocked back the rest of it, trying desperately not to appear in pain as his esophagus swiftly turned to liquid.::
Shayne: Well, if it’s a rabid vole, at least I’ll be able to laugh at it now.
::Nevertheless, he quickened his pace. If he stayed here too much longer, Irina might feel the need to pour them both another shot, and whether he ended up enjoying it or not, the result would not be good at all. Still careful to keep count, he began tearing at the paper in earnest.::
::Irina saw him speed up his pace and couldn’t help but smile, then downed the rest of her drink and filled it up again.::
Pavlova: That’s the spirit!
::He tore and tore and tore, and got passed two hundred, and very narrowly missed tearing the oddly folded… something. Curious, he carefully removed it, and looked at it. This was no rabid vole. This was no Jack-in-the-Box. This was… an old piece of paper. Very old by the looks of it. On it was the sigil of the NX-02, and on the bottom…
Commodore Vittorio Moretti
USS Columbia, Commanding
Shayne looked at Pavlova, eyes wide.::
Shayne: Now, wait just a minute…
::Either this really was an elaborate prank, or Pavlova was actually giving him something truly, substantially valuable. Something unique.::
Pavlova: What? You haven’t seen linen paper before?
::He honestly didn’t know what to feel. If this was a joke, he was going to feel mighty foolish. But he had a feeling this was more. And if it was…::
Shayne: ::Quietly.:: Is this real?
Pavlova: I don’t know, how much did you drink? Of course it’s real., but its also still wrapped, so keep unwrapping.
::He knew the feel of what he was touching, and with a final tear, beheld the contents. Inside was a vibrantly colored, fully embroidered patch. The dark blue and red trim circled the image of an old Earth starship, and the words along the edge boldly proclaimed “Columbia.” On the bottom was Latin, and though he’d taken several years of it in school, he needed none of it to speak the motto emblazoned on the bottom.::
Shayne: “Fortune favors the bold.” Irina, this is… incredible.
Pavlova: I know, right. I mean, of course it is.
::Shayne tried to frown at her words, but he couldn’t. It was absolutely gorgeous.::
Shayne: How the hell did you know I collected patches? I haven’t told anyone that here.
Pavlova: What kind of detective would I be if I couldn’t find out all of your secrets?
::Shayne’s eyes squinted at her shrewdly. He kept his secrets very close to the chest, thank you very much, and he disliked the thought of Pavlova having anything on him, however innocuous.::
::But the patch was really nice.::
::As he ruffled further, he found the rank pips for a 22nd century lieutenant commander, and pulled them out slowly as well. He held it in his hand, sighing gently. It was gorgeous. Patches were his hobby, but rank and insignia of any sort stoked his fire.::
Shayne: All my secrets? Nah. But you’ve found the important one.
::Irina was very happy to know she still had it.::
Pavlova: I guess that means I won’t be transferring to Janitorial, which is what I was planning if my detective work had been poor.
::But there was more. On the bottom was a heavier package, and unwrapping it revealed… a jacket. No, Shayne realized. Not just any jacket. A certain dark brown leather affair. And on the side… was another Columbia patch.::
Shayne: Oh, no way.
Pavlova: When mine was issued, I bought an extra for …., for someone important to me. Since I returned and learned of his oO and EVERYONE ELSE’S Oo passing, I’ve just kept it in storage. I know how much affection you have for your Columbia, so I thought you would appreciate this piece of my Columbia.
::The rivalry, or whatever it was, lay forgotten in that moment.::
Shayne: This is absolutely incredible. Thank you.
::He tried not to offer thanks too readily- in his experience, it was all too easy to confuse appreciation with an excuse from reciprocation. But here, there really wasn’t much else to say.::
Pavlova: I’m glad you like it. When you wear it, I hope it brings you good memories of your friends from your Columbia, and those who came before.
::She had meant the gift just as a simple movement of an item, from someone who no longer needed it, to someone she knew would treasure it, but memories got the better of her and a tear slid down from her left eye, over her cheek and then down onto her shirt.::
Pavlova: Too many of us never finished our tour. 36 went down to the surface of Kjenta II, but only four came back.
::She didn’t mention those rescued a few years later on the Thunder and not disclosed to Starfleet for their own protection.::
Pavlova: 48 went into stasis, and only 12 came out. Out of all of us, only two are still in Starfleet.
::Another tear, this time from her right eye, and again ignored.::
Pavlova: That jacket was meant for Katya’s father. I didn’t know I was pregnant when we shipped out, and we’d only been intimate the one night before, but we were best friends, inseparable since before either of us could even crawl. I was two months older, and Dimitri lived two doors down in our apartment building in St. Petersburg and my grandmother used to take care of both us while our parents worked. He was closer than my own brother and sister, but when the time came to join the defense forces, I was selected for recon sniper and he for navigation.
::She wiped a finger across her left eye, catching the forming tear before it could fall. She turned slightly away and took the opportunity to refill her glass and his, careful again to pour his very short to just one shot while actually overflowing her own by a few drops.::
Pavlova: Damn. Sometimes its all just a little too…
::She turned back, eyes slightly redder than usual and raised her glass.::
Pavlova: To those who didn’t come back, either completely or in part. Vittorio Moretti, Nicholas Lennon, Lan Treng, Prea Rashingham, Bill Thomas, Joan Hudson, Naomi Sakamura, …
:: she went through the entire list, unerringly, of everyone who set sail with her that 20th of July in the year 2169.::
Pavlova: Gregori Stetlin, Eva Hauser, Graciela Solis, ::beat:: and an impossibly young Irina Pavlova.
::With the list complete, she raised her glass an inch or so, then downed it all again.::
::Shayne watched, his elation taking on a grim stoicism. In a way, he almost wished he’d been there, if only to offer some kind of comfort to Pavlova. Would she take it if he offered? Would anything be served by commiserating? What could he do to make her feel the slightest bit better about her trauma? Nothing, he decided. There was nothing he could do, and it tasted like the bitterest ash. He had never subscribed to that mentality before, but in the face of grief like this, loneliness like this, of a sort that he could barely get his head around, nothing he could say would do much. Even trying to put himself in her shoes seemed like an insult of the highest order. So he simply sat there, uncomfortable but ready to listen, and found the slightest scrap of comfort in seeing that this person was a person. Not invulnerable. Not godlike. A person. And that he could drink to, shared experiences or no. He lifted his glass.::
Shayne: To the impossibly old one as well.
::Holding her with his eyes, he downed his glass again, enduring the stinging sensation as a rite of passage and enjoying an act that bore weight.::
Pavlova: Yeah, her too.
::Her voice was soft, another tear rolled down, but there was something more, a hint of a smile.::
Pavlova: You would have liked them.
::She poured them both more of the no-longer-ice-cold vodka and proceeded to tell him about those who had come before until far too late and far too many shots.::
LtCmdr Irina Pavlova
Chief of Security, USS Eagle
Author ID O238908HA0
Lieutenant Commander Randal Shayne