so I ALWAYS look forward to any interactions with @Randal Shayne and @Alvarez and this latest one on our Shore Leave had me rolling.
For a little context, Maria had just discovered an ancient bootleg still in one of the many compartments of the Arrow (which is filled with knick-knacks from the previous "lost" crew) and she brought it to Shayne for inspection. What follows is the scene afterward:
((USS Arrow, Deck 1 - Captain's Ready Room))
Shayne didn’t react for a moment; it was not uncommon for him to be lost in space, but it was patently unusual for him to reflect on events so recent. The conversation with Rodan had… shaken loose something inside him, and though he wasn’t certain how to manifest the change, he knew one was needed. Not a permanent one, mind you- a momentary dabble, a dip into possibilities.
Now, though, he was needed. He shut off the feed to the bridge- no need for people to think he was quite so paranoid- and turned his attention to the door.
Shayne: Come on in.
He regretted the informality of address as the one person he could not imagine would still be on the ship strolled in. Alvarez, the sort of person Risa was simply built for, had to know that they’d not be staying in orbit forever. What was she doing here, now?
Alvarez: Evenin', cap.
But if her presence alone was a mystery, the thing she carried under her arm was easily twice as curious. It looked like it had been pulled straight out of the S.S. Anachronism; bits and pieces that belayed an age less than two decades hung from it limply, like it was a reluctant child in Momma’s hands. Shayne’s face immediately turned stoney.
Shayne: So help me, if that is part of the computer core...
Alvarez: :: She grinned. :: Well, that's one way to greet your favorite bridge-duty ops officer.
The commander’s face, already foul, turned properly villainous. There was time aplenty for Alvarez’s ridiculous games. This was his shore leave too! Couldn’t she just… behave? For five minutes?
Alvarez: Found this on deck five. In that closet we could never open.
Shayne squinted, and leaned in. Now that he was looking at it without fearing it would explode as some moxie-toxic prank of the ensign, he was fit to realize that it was definitely a jury-rig of some sort- a mess of EPS taps, an ionic coupler here, a distributor module there… and all of it looked to be from a time before Shayne was scurrying underfoot in an engineering department.
Shayne: Well… what the hell is it?
There was nothing quite so frightening to an otherwise calm Shayne as a smile from Maria Alvarez.
Alvarez: I thought you'd have recognized a proper piece of tech back from your good old days!
Shayne: They were either old or good.
Now he stood, attempting to inspect it for something he recognized personally. When it arrived, he understood where he’d seen it before instantly; on his cadet tour, aboard a Miranda class that was easily 85 years his senior.
Shayne: Ensign, I’m not a fossil. Yet.
Alvarez: :: She raised a hand in surrender, with a toothy smile. :: My mistake! :: She repressed a chuckle, paused, then explained. :: Anyway, it's a stil. Circa 2322 - older than any Saber by twenty years. Figured you should know I found it, since I'm supposed to be on good behavior and all that...
The PADD slid toward him was filled with more information than was available to the naked eye. He looked at it ruefully, but if he was being honest, the designation of “stil” was all he needed to make a decision.
Shayne: Good thinking. Go ahead and scrap it before the crew gets any ideas.
The stress on the word “crew” made it clear that he was attempting to mention Maria without mentioning Maria; while a couple of others aboard might try to actually make use of the stuff, one of them was working against an alcohol addiction, and the others were not so blessed with free time or means to enjoy whatever ill-conceived [...]tail this [...]ameme contraption could craft.
Alvarez: You sure you don't want to keep it? Would be nice to honor the previous crew, and it could go a ways to lift the crew's spirits.
Pun aside- and it was a good pun- Alvarez had, perhaps unintentionally, hit the nail on the head. When Arrow was first discovered, there was very little data connecting what had happened to her original crew to the ship’s dilapidated, damaged state. The Saber class vessel had never quite recovered from the wounds she’d sustained during whatever painful, abandon-worthy events had led to her situation. Even Starfleet Command had remained tight-lipped, though Shayne had it on good authority that it was because they were as in the dark as he himself was. Either way, any piece of evidence would be helpful.
Shayne: Alright. Take some scans of it. If it makes you feel better, download the schematics. But I want this to not get to the rest of the crew.
Alvarez: Oh, come on! We can't chuck it without at least sampling what it can do first, can we? There's a good liter of stuff left over from last time it was used. Scans clean.
Apparently, Alvarez was possessed of more pockets than Shayne, because, as smooth as could be, she pulled out a clear bottle of something from behind her.
Shayne: Oh, now wait a minute- if you intend to put whatever dregs are left into that…
Alvarez: Please? It's not some ancient alien gateway or god-molecule needing destructing. Surely it would be nice to rescue some old tech? At least toast it before sending it off to a museum. We're off duty. I'll go first, if you're scared.
The commander had worked very, very hard to suppress his darker side. Few knew of it beyond the occasional irascible condemnation or biting comment. But the effort was real, and present. Among these efforts was a generalized abstention from alcohol- it made everything more difficult, and it simply wasn’t worth it. Another facet was his emotions; despite having achieved much from an objective perspective, there was a… wrath within the man that could only be derived from feeling as though he had not proved himself, now or ever before. He tamed it, did not let it rule his decisions, but it required constant attention. Now, with shore leave, an oncoming inquiry, and a smirking ensign that was challenging his courage, the commander had simply had enough.
Shayne: Fill the bottle.
The man watched as Alvarez maneuvered the remaining fluid from the still into the bottle. It looked slightly meaner than conventional alcohol, though that was not something that was given much attention in the commander’s mind. He was singly focused on one thing alone. About three quarters of the liquid was left in the still as the pour neared the top.
Before the bottle could be properly topped off, Shayne snatched with the reflexes that years of desk duty had started to dull, and without hesitation, sat back to chug.
Even the smell was enough to peel the flesh of his chubby face from bone. The first taste, though, was torture. He was a sensitive man, and in his fury, he had forgotten this fact. Fire would be preferable, he decided, as the first swallow lashed at his throat. Again he swallowed, his mouth ablaze. Tears had already started to form at his eyes, and mucus began to flow freely from his nose, and still he drank. Somewhere between his mouth and his esophagus, the liquid became white-hot daggers, driving into the flesh of his gullet, each inch a new, self-induced agony. Veins began to splay outward as the lack of oxygen joined the conspiracy, but finally, with eyes reddened with sclera, the bottle was empty. Refusing the urge to throw the container away, he instead demanded control of his body once more, and slowly placed the bottle back onto the table. He gazed at Alvarez, not minding the suddenly frazzled appearance he’d given himself.
Shayne: Oh my.