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Round 1 Lt.Cmdr Aron Kells & Ens. Didrik Stennes: The Human Tint


Whale
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(( Mess Hall ))

:: Aron entered slowly this time. Even though it was, days into the trip back, too late to assume the ordeal was a lucid dream, he walked as though it was - as if any movement, any heavy step or rough encounter with the edge of a table would wake him up.

Not that he would mind the waking. But he felt the same purpose to this mission of his that he was used to feeling in dreams, and he was going to see it through.

Aron sat down at the table Didrik still occupied. Of course, he had been thinking about what he would say since he’d caught that glimpse, but now that the time had come for the saying, his power to speak had left him. He couldn’t imagine it was much easier for Didrik, as he was confronted by an unknown man in a uniform that looked like a costume version of his own. ::

:: From the corner of his eye, Didrik could see the man's approach, but paid him no mind until he pulled the chair from beneath the table and sat himself opposite. Didrik raised his head from the PADD he was reading and immediately felt uncomfortable. This man, whoever he was, had a look about him that caught Didrik off guard. Nothing about his expression, his body language, indicated he was a stranger about to introduce himself, as Commander Rogers had done a short while before, and a half-dozen other crew members had done since his arrival in the Mess Hall. This was something different, someone different altogether.

Man has yet to build the computer that can calculate more quickly than a human who's beginning to feel awkward in public. In the half-second that followed Didrik's initial glimpse of the visitor across from him, his mind leafed through its own memory files to find a face he might have encountered in his 28 years that matched the one before him now. It came up empty.

In the next half-second, the years of Starfleet protocol and training he'd received kicked in, and connected several dots. This man was obviously Starfleet, and though he appeared to be a science officer, the uniform was unlike any he'd ever encountered. It was, for lack of a better word, cooler. Didrik unconsciously sat up straighter once he noticed the insignia of a lieutenant commander, and felt compelled to break the silence before another second passed. ::

Stennes: Can I help you, sir?

:: Architect, how could he answer that? Aron took the high road of the unoccupied seat and said nothing until the table was safely between them. ::

Kells: You are Didrik Stennes, aren’t you?

:: An answer formed on Didrik's tongue, but he stopped before he spoke. Commander Rogers certainly wasn't kidding when he said the Drake provided plenty of opportunities for her small crew to interact, but the mysterious lieutenant commander's tone resonated as something different from small talk, something Didrik was helpless to place a label on. He felt like a child in a roomful of adults, all laughing at joke he doesn't understand. Didrik wanted in on the joke, but ego won out over curiosity, and he fired off a quick deadpan reply. ::

Stennes: Don't tell me I've already got a reputation on this ship. I swear, you nearly shred one shuttlecraft into tritanium confetti, and almost kill five people in your first day on the job, and suddenly everyone thinks you're some kind of loose cannon.

Kells: Do you know who I am, Ensign?

:: Why off Earth had he decided to take that tack? He had no reason to start by intimidating Didrik, and certainly he didn’t want to include rank and order between them. Unless he did? He wanted to shake his head: Nothing he had ever experienced or trained for told him anything about this situation. ::

Stennes: No, commander, I don't believe I've had the pleasure just yet; I've only been aboard a short time. You certainly seem to know me, though, and frankly, I'm curious as to how. I doubt copies of my senior honors thesis are floating around the quadrant like the latest bestselling holo-novel.

Kells: I’m Aron Kells. Drake’s chief of science … or at least I will be in five years.

:: Didrik wasn't sure what to make of Aron's introduction. Most people didn't dive right into career ambitions and future plans as an icebreaker. Everything he'd learned in Starfleet exopsych classes, however, taught him to be open and accepting of others' cultural quirks. It just went to show that sometimes, there were none stranger than human beings themselves.

:: For his part, Didrik opted to tread more carefully from this point forward, and his words now carried the tone of someone talking to a senile relative: half-mollifying, half-patronizing. ::

Stennes: Mm-hmm. Well, it's certainly nice to have goals. I myself hope to have some tactical and command experience in five years' time. :: Awkward pause. :: Well, if you'll excuse me, I have to be going.

:: Didrik started to stand, but his departure was interrupted when Aron beat him to it. Aron put his hand on Didrik’s shoulder, with a not-unkind pressure that suggested it would behoove him to stick around. Aron only had his few inches on Didrik, but he knew - he remembered - that they were enough to make him uncomfortable. And Aron needed him to feel a slight discomfort. ::

Kells: It’s not a goal. (beat) Shall I tell you about the love of the outdoors you grew into, thanks to that trip to the Galena Highlands on Tellar - or hiking the L-langon Mountains? Or when you were nine and you decided to write your own newspaper, and fixed it so that it would display on every computer in the house, including the replicator. All Hera wanted was breakfast, and she got instead an uninterrupted flow of household information. She still remembers. (beat) As do I. As I said, it’s not a goal.

Stennes: ::Sitting back down:: Okay, I’m listening.

:: Aron took no breaths, but said it all in a rush. ::

Kells: I’m from the future. That will become common knowledge soon enough. Not far in the future, all right, but far enough that I know the next decade of the lives of the people on this ship. (beat) Including us. You and I.

Stennes: You and I?

:: A memory flashed past. He was 24, and had just arrived on Bajor after withdrawing from the Academy, two years of recent Bajoran language study under his belt. While riding the overland transport to Rakantha Province, he deactivated his universal translator amidst the chatter of the other passengers, and realized how little of the language he could truly comprehend. He caught the words, but he was incapable of stringing them together to create meaning.

:: That was how Didrik felt right now, but he wouldn't have the good fortune to be ignorant for long. Already, he felt himself being pulled in by the gravity of Aron's words, and like an old Earth photograph that had been thrown into developing fluid, a clear image was forming.

Stennes: You and I. You and I. You mean, we were… (( Long beat, almost too long. )) Why are you telling me this? I don't think this is something I'm supposed to hear.

Kells: (beat) Do you have regrets?

Stennes: What does that have to do with anything? Besides, if what you're saying is true, I'm sure you've had plenty of chances to hear them already.

:: Didrik's normally patient façade was beginning to show the slightest of cracks. Completely unprepared to know what he now knew, he felt a childish urge to level the playing field by lashing out, or by closing off completely. The funny thing was, as much as Didrik didn't want to believe it, it looked as though Aron was reading his expression, and understood what was going through Didrik's mind. ::

Kells: I have heard them, yes, but I want you to tell me anyway.

Stennes: I don't know if I'm ready to discuss that with you. You may have had a decade to get to know me, but on Stardate Today, we’re strangers.

:: When used like weapons, words can inflict more damage than phasers, and in his immature bewilderment, Didrik hoped his last sentence carried the sting he intended. Aron continued nonetheless. ::

Kells: Well, here are my regrets: That because of my own curiosity, I killed seven people during the Drake’s mission to the Ring … and that I lost the man to whom I wanted to give my life to, because of my inability to express that desire. Wait. I’ve corrected the first - Dantin, Sullivan, Hya, they survived. But the second... The logical thing would be to get to know you again. See what happens. (beat) I am a weak man. I can’t look at you and compartmentalize. So call it another weakness, but I had to tell you.

:: Didrik finished off the last milliliters of not-quite-ice-water left in his glass. ::

Stennes: And what am I supposed to do with this information? What were you hoping would happen? You might be relieved to have gotten everything off your chest, but I've just had the rug pulled out from under me.

:: Aron shoved the hair behind his ears - a nervous tic that he had only learned he had when Didrik had pointed out. Or would point out. If he hadn’t screwed about with that, too. ::

Kells: As I had, in coming here. Coming back here - to your time.

Stennes: I… really need to go now.

Kells: Fine. That’s fine. I just want you to, all right, think about it. Okay?

:: But how could Didrik possibly answer a question that wasn’t a question at all? Aron felt the desire to reach out for his hand, but restrained it: He’d shown enough already. ::

====================

TBC!

Lieutenant Commander Aron Kells

Chief Science Officer

&

Ensign Didrik Stennes

Helm Officer

USS Drake

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