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Avaris Torrin (featuring PNPC Artem Dragumov) - Coming Up Short


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((Quarters - Torrin and Dragumov ))
::Avaris had been hard at work for nearly three hours after leaving Sickbay with the recording Dr Renos had given him, with no success. He had used a personal portable computer terminal, having learned his lesson about using the ships system for less-than-authorized means after the first officer had instructed Security to search their rooms terminal to discover how he had accessed the intelligence report on himself . It was an empty meaningless trick, he still needed to use the Apollos network and no amount of wizardry could truly stop Security or Intelligence from knowing what he was up to if they were determined to find out, their skill with the machines surely being much greater than his own. But he was at least determined to make them work for it if they decided to monitor his activities. ::

::It was late and he knew it was poor planning if he wanted a good nights sleep, but he was drinking his second coffee since returning to his and his husbands shared quarters. This was usually the point in the evening when Avaris indulged in a drink or five of a stronger calibre, but he did not want his senses dulled as he poured through the various Federation records (and few Imperial Klingon records) he knew how to access, attempting to match the J'naii deviant from the recording to any record of business from outside nir planetary bureaucracy. ::
::He was coming up infuriatingly short. Whoever this person was, they were not someone with a high profile outside of the J'naii system that he could find. He had placed several calls to colleagues that he knew were able to get into systems he could not, sending them still images of the deviants face rather than the whole recording as a matter of safety, but had been flatly refused assistance by some of his more emotional former friends, and had not heard back from any of the ones who didn't just hang up on him or decline his call outright. Nyxa had been willing to help, and she had the greatest skill when it came to hacking into records, being the groups de-facto information broker back in the day. She claimed her library of stolen intelligence rivaled even the Tal Shiar in its heyday, but in Avaris' experience, if it took her longer than an hour to find anything, she probably didn't have it. ::
::It was looking more and more like the only person he knew who would be able to find this person was the one person he had tried first, and who had reacted so angrily to his call that he had hoped to avoid asking her for anything ever again. Andressa Castyr, someone who had at one time been not only his best friend, but also someone he thought of as a sister, and who had never forgiven him for running off with a human soldier. ::
::Most of the friends he had reached out to (and who agreed to speak to him at all) had uniformly had the same initial suggestion, "have you talked to Andressa? She is still a really close friend of Jennys", the others had all moved onto other projects or had never been involved in the J'naii deviant underground in the first place, and so they kept telling him over and over again the same unwanted advice - talk to Andressa. ::

::He did not want to talk to Andressa. He did not want to ask for her help, the price of which was being told again in no uncertain terms that he was a sniveling turncoat invertebrate with no right to occupy space in the galaxy, let alone in circles of radical action. He knew her reaction was more a reflection of her emotions, and less so legitimate criticism. She had loved Jeheran as much as he did, and had never forgiven Avaris for moving past her brothers death when she herself could not. but his own insecurity in the choices he had made over the last 15 years made it difficult to hear nevertheless. The very fact that he was sitting in quarters on a Starfleet vessel, awaiting his security officer husbands return from duty, and planning his Civics class for the grade 7 and 8s (where he would be expected to, with a straight face, explain to children why Federation democracy was the pinnacle of galactic civilization) made her pointed disapproval ring less hollow than he would like it to. ::
:: But it was important to him to do this, he needed to be a part of something again, to fight for something, to rage against something. He felt like a plant starved for solar radiation, withering without the nourishment of fire and passion. If getting back in the game cost him some dignity and meant facing the wrath of a Castyr sibling, it was a price he would simply have to pay. ::

::He began writing her a message, unable to face a conversation, and having been told not to call her again anyways. He thought about attaching the whole recording, but fearing its interception, attached only still images. He carefully couched his words in innocuous-sounding language to avoid it attracting attention, and to avoid needing to encrypt the message (which in and of itself would attract attention). ::
::As he was nearly ready to send the message off, the door chimed its acknowledgement of Artems fingerprints and whooshed open. Avaris clandestinely pulled up his lesson plan, feeling a little guilty for keeping his new project a secret from Artem, but also feeling that the tenuous peace they had arrived at would be needlessly jeopardized if he were to see him snooping around in Federation records. ::

Torrin: And how did you survive the destruction of your lair, minion of Shake-o-Tron?

::Artem chuckled::

Dragumov: Do you know I met someone else today who has never heard of that program? a new colleague of mine Ensign Severina, or as you were introduced to her, the evil Lord Shake-O-Tron. She is from that parallel Earth that is still run by the Roman Empire, and she hasn't heard of it either.
Torrin: Oh thats really interesting, I thought Magna Romans usually served in marine corps together... they don't usually like trying to mesh well with alien crews.
Dragumov: Well this one is trying, and she doesn't know about your weird Federation superhero holoprograms either.
::Avaris laughed and stood up, approaching his smaller husband and putting his hands on the mans waist ::

Torrin: Well congratulations. Your lack pop culture knowledge comes second to a woman whose entire civilization is basically unchanged ancient human history... Ill put in the request to throw you a parade about it. Do you like the sound of 'Ensign Dragumov is Not the Most Out of Touch" day?

::Artem smirked::

Dragumov: I do... with one small adjustment.
::Avaris raised an eyebrow and [...]ed his head inquisitively::

Dragumov: Its Lt. Dragumov now.
Torrin: Oh really?

Dragumov: Yeah, Admiral Jaxx promoted me, said it was because of the bridge service when I first arrived.
Torrin: Oh well, that's good right?

::Artem scoffed::

Dragumov: Good? Thats amazing Avaris! I have only been here for less than a week, its almost unheard of!
Torrin: Oh well... congratulations buddy.
::Artem's face betrayed some disappointment. Avaris was not doing a good enough job at being enthusiastic about the news. He tried to seem a little more excited ::

Torrin: You know I don't know how these things work buddy, that sounds really great though! I'm happy things are going so well for you already.
Dragumov: You don't have to pretend to care Avaris, I know the whole Starfleet thing isn't your thing....
Torrin: ... don't be like that mister, I am happy for you because I know how important it is to you. I'm sorry I didn't realize how big a deal it was.
::Artem was looking away from him, and Avaris gently took his face in his hands and turned it back towards his own.::
Torrin: I am sorry I didn't know it was such a big deal. I'm very happy for you.
::Artem smiled weakly, but seemed to accept that Avaris was being genuine. Avaris was not being genuine. His head was still full of the work he wanted to be doing to help Dr. Renos. But he needed to recover from seeming ambivalent about the news, their emotional ceasefire was hanging in the balance. ::

Dragumov :: changing the subject, and looking at Avaris portable computer terminal:: So what are you up to right now?

::Avaris lied flawlessly, too easily, guilt bubbling up like bile::
Torrin: Just a lesson plan for tomorrow. Federation Democracy and Systems of Warp Civilization Governance. I am thinking about taking the kids to the holodeck to go through the educational Paris program, seeing all the capitals landmarks and government buildings to start it off.
Dragumov: Well are you almost done? I want to call papa and tell him my news...
::The sentence ended with a clear but unspoken "... he will understand how big a deal this is and react appropriately". Avaris smiled a bit sadly, he really had not meant to be so insensitive, but putting on a game face replied ::
Torrin: You can use the terminal now buddy, I can keep working on my computer in the bedroom. Don't be long though...
::He kissed his husband, trying his best not to feel guilty about lying, about not caring about Starfleet promotions, about secrets, about not wanting to kiss his husband but doing it anyways to distract him from getting angry and throwing a tantrum ::
Torrin: .. we have a lot to celebrate Lieutenant.
::He winked at Artem, and gathered his computer and a few PADDs and went off to the adjacent bedroom. As he opened up the portable computer again he heard Artem speaking with his father in the other room. It was funny how he was vaguely aware that they were speaking Russian, even though the universal translator allowed him to understand it, there was a certain quality to the language that, even though it came through as Standard to his ears, was clearly being filtered from a rawer, more brutal, honest and robust tongue. He heard the old man asking about him, "And how is the Maquis?", just as he brought up his message to Andressa again. He smiled at the pet name his father-in-law had given him, finding himself missing the wine-soaked political debates that they used to have back when they saw more of each-other, in their years on Earth during Artem's Academy training. Ivan Dragumov laughed heartily and clapped his hands when Artem told him his news, the correct reaction to something so extraordinary and exalting. ::

::Sometimes Avaris truly wished he cared as much as almost everyone else about the things most people cared about. But tonight he didn't even bother longing for a happier, more normal outlook on the universe. He had his own things to care about. He cared about Jenny. ::
::Putting the finishing touches on his message to Andressa, he sent it off. A moment later, the computer informed him it had been received. With Artem on a call at the terminal, she would have to leave a message if she wanted to call him to tell him how low he was, which was perfect, he didn't feel like listening to it tonight. He was fragile enough he might end up believing it, and that would not help his marriage or Dr Renos' comrade. ::

::He then pulled up his empty lesson plan, realizing that he actually did need to do it, and that having not yet started, he was going to need to scramble if he had any hope of sleeping tonight. ::
oO An Ode to the Gloriousness of Federation Democracy - Ironically Prepared by Professor Avaris Edral Torrin Oo

Avaris Edral Torrin
Civilian School Headmaster
USS Apollo A
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